Orthodox faithful celebrate Easter Sunday

2013-05-04T21:51:00Z 2013-05-05T23:53:07Z Orthodox faithful celebrate Easter SundayDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Decorating the kouvouklion, or tomb of Christ, with colorful flowers on Friday morning is a Holy Week tradition for Connie Zaharias.

"It's something we all look forward to each year," Zaharias said.

She was joined in her efforts by Angela Coulopoulos, 7, who had to be lifted up by a friend to place a red carnation on the tomb of Christ. 

Zaharias, a longtime member of St. Iakovos Greek Orthodox Church, said Holy Week this year had special significance for her and fellow parishioners.

"This is our first Easter in the new church. We're all excited," Zaharias said.

Easter, or Pascha, was celebrated at resurrection services, which started late Saturday night and culminated at midnight with the lighting of a single candle, the Rev. James Greanias said.

Greanias serves as the priest at St. Iakovos.

The single candle, which is lit from an oil lamp, represents the light that is Christ.

One by one, the raised candle of each parishioner is lit in the formerly darkened room.

Parishioners then take their candles outdoors, where, Greanias said, he invites them to come and see the light.

"It's a beautiful procession," Greanias said.

Greanias said the Orthodox Easter typically follows that of other Christian churches because it follows the older, Julian calendar, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar.

Greanias agrees that this past Holy Week has been special because it's the first Easter in the new 8,200-square-foot building at 34 W. 700 North.

The congregation, which began celebrating services starting in 1981 at a former Methodist Church near Valparaiso University, moved on a temporary basis in 2007 to the old St. Paul's School gymnasium.

"Our goal from the time the church was first founded was to build our own home," Greanias said.

The new building, which includes an office, classroom and fellowship room, will be used as a church home until the permanent church is built on the northeast side, sometime in the next five to 10 years.

"It's temporary, but it's ours," Greanias said.

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