Surrey BC Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church 1990
Surrey, BC, Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, 1990
Greek Orthodox Community of Surrey and the Fraser Valley, 1990
Description and purpose
This parish of Saints Constantine and Helen, and the Greek Orthodox Community of Surrey and the Fraser Valley, are formed by and conform to the “Uniform Community Regulations of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada)”.
The Greek Orthodox Community of Surrey and the Fraser Valley in British Columbia is a Hellenic Community that focuses on the the Orthodox Christian Faith, as well as the preservation and celebration of Greek heritage and culture.
The community’s programmes, and inter-agency collaborations, reach out to the members of the Hellenic Community and also to the community of the Surrey region at large. The community offers Greek language classes, seniors’ programmes, church services, youth programmes, and outreach services.
The earliest Greek-speakers in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia lived primarily in the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster. As the population began to increase and these urban areas to expand, regions on the south shore of the Fraser River such as Richmond and Whalley (which became the centre part of Surrey) began to become larger urban centres. After World War II and after certain disasters abroad, many more Greek-speakers began to arrive. Because of the distance to western Vancouver to Saint George’s Church, or later even to the Church of Saints Nicholas and Dimitrios in eastern Vancouver, the desire developed to establish a Greek-speaking parish and community to the south of the Fraser River.
Founding the parish and community, 1990
In the 1980s, the Greek Orthodox Church of Saints Constantine and Helen was established in order to meet the spiritual needs of the Greek Orthodox faithful in the area. At the same time, the Hellenic Community of Surrey and the Fraser Valley was established in order to build and support the Temple, and to meet the cultural needs of the many Greek-speaking people who were now living south of the Fraser River. The development of this parish and community encountered many obstacles and difficulties in the earlier years. Nevertheless, with the help of the Lord, the perseverance of the leaders enabled the establishment of a stable foundation for the parish and the community.
The community’s fundraising events allow their guests and visitors to experience Greek hospitality, "Kefi" (creating merriment) and the promotion of multiculturalism through both the events and "partnerships". The annual Food Festival always features Greek food, dances and music, but it also promotes various cultural group performances and participation as the community celebrates the local cultural mosaic.
New Temple, 2010
In 2010 the present building was purchased in order to give more room to grow and develop both for the parish and for the community. Immediately, renovations began. The basement hall was renovated. The grounds were paved and fenced. A new carpet and pews were installed in the Temple. In May, 2012, the hand-carved iconostas, the bishop’s throne, the chanters-stand and the candle-stand all arrived from Greece. They were installed just in time for the annual festival of the Greek Orthodox Community of Surrey. Further projects that were pending were replacing the existing lighting with new chandeliers ; installing new icons ; constructing a belfry ; making the building more accessible for those having difficulty managing the high stairs.
“The Greek Orthodox Ladies 'Philoptochos' Society of Surrey & Fraser Valley, Saints Constanitine & Helen Chapter #68”
“Philoptochos” means “friends of the poor”, but not only in the sense of financial and material resources. The Philoptochos society also aids people who are poor in spirit, poor in health, poor in emotional stability, poor in companionship, and those poor in whatever is needed to lead a better life. The Philoptochos is the “right arm” of the Orthodox Christian community, and it is always prepared to assist whatever and whenever needed.
The “Philoptochos Society” was originally established when small groups of women in several Greek Orthodox communities throughout the USA were joined together by the then Patriarch Athenagoras (Spyrou), Archbishop of North and South America. He was later to become the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and spiritual leader of world Orthodoxy.
In 1974, the Philoptochos was expanded in Canada by Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios (Athanassoulas). The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society is the women’s philanthropic society of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Canada.
The mission of the Society includes :
To aid the poor, the destitute, the hungry, the aged, the sick, the unemployed, the orphaned, the imprisoned, the widowed, the handicapped, the victims of disasters, to undertake the burial of impoverished persons and to offer assistance to anyone who may need the help of the Church through fund raising efforts ; and, to promote the charitable, benevolent, and philanthropic purposes of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Canada, through instructional programmes, presentations, lectures, seminars and other educational resources ; and, to preserve and perpetuate Greek Orthodox Christian concepts and the Greek Orthodox Christian Family, and through them, to promote the Greek Orthodox Faith and traditions, in accordance with its doctrines, canons, discipline, divine worship, usages and customs ; and, to promote participation in the activities of the Greek Orthodox community, with the co-operation of the Presiding Priest and the Church Community Council. The charitable work of the Society shall be performed with discretion, courtesy and kindness. ‘Freely you have received, freely you give’ (Matthew 10:8). ‘It is more blessed to give yhan to receive’ (Acts 20:35).
The projects which are both national and local obligations of the Philoptochos include :
National Philoptochos Society ; Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada) ; Disaster Relief ; Metamorphosis Greek Orthodox Summer Camp ; Completed Projects within the Church ; Canadian Breast Cancer Society ; Surrey Memorial Hospital : NICU-Neonatal intensive Care Unit & Youth ; Mental Health ; Staples – School Supplies for Kids ; Social services ; Community Greek School ; Food Bank
Every woman in the parish can become a member of the Philoptochos society, and she can give her time and effort. Every lady is encouraged to join.
The Philoptochos society provides various services to the parish. Two of the services include : "Koliva" (boiled wheat), coffee and “paximadia” (barley biscuits) after memorial services. For “Makaria” (a meal following the interment after a funeral), the ladies can provide sandwiches, fruit trays, vegetable trays, “paximadia”, and coffee at a reasonable cost.
Greek Food Festival
Since 1991, the Greek Community has organised an annual Greek Food Festival.
The parish of Saints Constantine and Helen offers Sunday school classes to children from pre-school to grade 6.
The curriculum is based on the teachings of the Holy Bible and Holy Traditions of the Orthodox Christian Church. The younger children learn mostly through a “hands-on”, craft-based teaching with plenty of stories. The older grades (grades 3 and up) do various activities based on the Bible readings. Each year at Christmas, all the Sunday School students prepare and present a Christmas pageant near the time of the Feast of the Nativity of Christ.
This parish’s programme has a very competent staff of volunteer teachers and assistants who volunteer every Sunday to teach and to create an inspiring learning environment for the children of the parish.
One of the goals of the Sunday School is to help the children understand what it means to be a Christian, and the importance of helping others.
“Feed the Homeless Initiative”
This community, in collaboration with “Night Shift Ministries”, is working on implementing the teachings of the Orthodox Christian Faith by reaching out in support to those who need support, care and a warm meal. Every second and fourth Wednesday of the month, the community’s volunteers prepare meals at the community centre, and serve them at “Night Shift Ministries”. They also prepare and freeze some meals for families that may be going through a challenging time, and our priest delivers them confidentially.
“Zesti Gonia Seniors of Surrey Friendship Society”
The “Zesti Gonia Seniors of Surrey Friendship Society” was formed in 2012.
Initially, this was a very small group of senior people who had “a vision” about a mutual support and friendship group, and they did all the work necessary to bring the group into being.
The membership now includes approximately 60 people, and more are welcomed.
In their first year, the seniors’ group applied for and received a grant from the Province of British Columbia. They spent that money to improve the kitchen, which is now completed. “Zesti Gonia” made a generous donation to the Childrens’ Hospital in Vancouver, and another donation to the “Child Development Foundation of BC” for children with disabilities.
The seniors operate “The Kafenio” (The Café) for 9 months of the year. Their income from the “kafenio”, luncheons, and membership is donated to the church each year.
The women of the seniors’ group have formed a Bible Study group that meets every Tuesday in the community hall at noon, and everyone is welcome.
In 2014, the group organised a “field-trip” to Victoria in order to attend the Ypapanti Greek Orthodox Church service, and to visit the Victoria Greek Food Festival.
The ladies also organise a social luncheon, and they meet in various Greek restaurants.
Greek Dancing School
Greece has many regions with distinct dialects, music, food and dances. The Diaspora Dance Group demonstrates the struggles of the Greek people and the festive moments that are expressed through dance. From the youngest dancers to the eldest, it fosters a connexion with one another, and it encourages all to take pride in being part of a community and experiencing history through dance.
Priests who served in the parish
The Priest John Contoravdis was the first priest to serve this parish and community. He arrived in June, 1991, from the USA, and he served for almost 5 years.
The Protopresbyter Dorotheos Tryfonopoulos then briefly served the community until the arrival of Archimandrite Nektarios from Greece.
Next came Archimandrite Damaskinos, also from Greece.
After him, the community was served by the Priest Ioannis Kaoukakis, a graduate of the Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy. He eventually went on to serve the Saint George Greek Orthodox Community in Edmonton, Alberta.
The next priest, the Albanian-born Priest Foti Cici was on loan from the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and he served the community for about 2 years until he returned to his previous jurisdiction.
The Priest Kostadinos (Kosta) Kaltsidis
Born in Vancouver, Father Kostadions Kaltsidis moved with his family to Surrey in the early 1990s. He had served as an acolyte in this parish when he was young. Later, he attended the Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy, from which he graduated in 2002. Two of his classmates served this parish before him. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in 2006, and he served as the pastor in Victoria at the Presentation (Ypapanti) Church before he and his family were transferred to Surrey in 2012.
This parish follows the New (Revised Julian) Calendar.
In 2018, the Priest Kostadinos Kaltsidis is the rector of the parish.
Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Community of Surrey & Fraser Valley
Surrey, British Columbia
Telephone : 604-496-5099
Fax : 604-498-8098
Web-site : http://greekorthodoxsurrey.com/
Food Festival : http://www.surreygreekfoodfest.com
The newspaper (on-line version "Patrides") publishes the news of the parish and the community regularly, as well as news about the other communities.
Father Kaltsidis is in the office from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.
The community office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The Kafeneion is open daily. Please call : 778-395-0225
The Temple and Community Centre are situated on the northwest corner of the intersection of 96 Avenue and 132 Street in Surrey (on the south side of the Fraser River). It is not far to the west from the King George Highway (also called King George Boulevard).
By car :
From Vancouver :
Drive eastwards on the Trans-Canada Highway (a toll on the Port Mann Bridge), until exit #48. Drive south on 152 Street to 96 Avenue. Turn right. The Temple is on the right at 132 Street.
Alternatively, drive across the Alex Fraser Bridge. First follow BC Highways #99 and 91 eastwards and southwards. Cross the bridge, and take exit #8 for Nordel Way (which becomes 88 Avenue). At 132 Street, turn left (north) and drive to 96 Avenue. The Temple is at the northwest corner of the intersection.
From the east :
Drive on the Trans-Canada Highway until exit #50. Drive south on 152 Street to 96 Avenue. Turn right. The Temple is on the right at 132 Street.
By bus :
There is bus service in Surrey near the Temple. Routes 323 and 329 have a stop at 96 Avenue and 128 Street. Route 314 has a stop nearby on 96 Avenue.
It is possible to use the SkyTrain from Vancouver and transfer to a bus in Surrey.
By rail :
Priest Kostadinos Kaltsidis
Telephone : 604-496-5099
Father Kaltsidis also cares for the smaller and developing community in Kelowna :
Greek Orthodox Community of Kelowna
c/o B Gambouras
3546, Athalmer Road
Kelowna, British Columbia
Additional information :