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Records show that the first Greeks settled in Columbia as early as 1884 while the whole south was in a period of reconstruction following the Civil War. Columbia, although not a port, attracted a steady stream of immigrants for the next 50 years. In fact, the first Greek wedding took place in 1912. The Chulamanos family gave birth to the first Greek-American baby in 1915. In 1929, the Athans, Brethes, Constan, Davis (Dais), Dimitri, Doukas, Manos, Mitchell, Nickas, Papajohn, Poulos, Siokos and Xepapas families established the “Greek Community” officially. A chapter of the G.A.P.A. (Greek-American Progressive Association) was formed to help immigrants acclimate to their new surroundings. Later it was succeeded by AHEPA.
The first permanent institute of the G.A.P.A. was its Greek school founded in 1930. Up until this time, the spiritual needs of the Greeks were served by visiting priests from Charlotte, Augusta, etc. They incorpoarted in April 5, 1936, as the Dormition of the Theotokos parish with George Xepapas as its first parish council president. People wished to have a ‘home’ for their church and in 1939, they purchased a wood frame house at Sumter and Franklin Streets and their first full-time priest, Reverend Efthimios Papazisis arrived. In 1942, the parish was recognized as a parish in good standing with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America and was paid a visit by His Eminence Archbishop Athenagoras (later to become the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople).
The ladies of Columbia, the Saint Katherine’s Society, had organized as a philanthropic society years before becoming a Philoptochos chapter in order to “render assistance, both material and moral to the community”. They worked for the Red Cross during WWII, purchased the church organ in 1982, and purchased new robes for the choir and altar boys, new altar cloths, church office décor, and office equipment. They offer annually to the operating expenses of the church, contribute to the Building Fund, and fulfill their National Philoptochos obligations.
The influx of immigrants following the war made parishioners realize they needed larger facilities. After much work the new church now named Holy Trinity, was opened on April 24, 1949, at a cost of $100,000 for land and construction, and was located three blocks from the original church. In 1951, a newly-ordained priest, Father Homer Goumenis was assigned to Columbia and the church experienced its “golden age” under his guidance as he cemented “the relationship between the community and its priest”. All programs of the church flourished under Father Homer, and the parish was once again blessed with the 18-year tenure of Reverend Theotokis Pappas from 1963 until his retirement in 1980. In 1957 the Hellenic Community Center was dedicated and in 1986, during the parish’s golden anniversary celebration, the Multipurpose Building was completed.
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