Knoxville Greek church holds first service after fire

Natalya Mihailova | 20 April 2015
KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A prominent Knoxville church held their first church service after flames broke out in their sanctuary.

Sunday morning, the congregation gather in the gymnasium of Saint George Greek Orthodox Church. Father Anthony Stratis said he was looking forward to the service.

Marian Cakmes, a member of the church says despite the tragedy they will continue to have church service every week.

“We were very upset, as most of the congregation were when they heard about the fire but we feel that with God’s blessing we can continue to go on and rebuild the church that we lost,” said Cakmes.

Church Parish President John Peroulas tells me the the structure is good but they will have a temporary roof placed on the church on Monday.

“The important thing its the iconography, we have iconography in our church that’s valued over $2-3 million but we haven’t got up to the dome to see so we’re going to bring some experts in from around the world to look at it and get their recommendations,” said Peroulas. “Our faith and our love for God, no matter the adversity or tragedy we have, we can overcome.”

“Our parish is heartbroken and devastated by the tremendous loss, but through that loss, many blessings have been found,” said Stratis. He says from Knoxville firefighters working to extinguish the flames with cautions optimism, parishioners working to help save alter items, prayer books and icons to the community contacting the church office offering prayers and help he has found the true meaning of “brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The cause of the fire has still not been identified, but Knoxville Fire Department said there is no indication it was set intentionally. Investigators said they think it may have started from a burning candle or an electrical problem. Fortunately, the church said it has adequate insurance to cover the extensive damage.

“While the building has been damaged, our spirit to continue has not been damaged,” said Stratis. “With so many generous acts of kindness, support, compassion, caring and love shared with our St. George parish, as well as our strong Orthodox faith, how could our spirits and desire to serve God possibly be weakened?  We are lifted up by our parishioners and the Knoxville community to continue God’s work and to give back what we have been given!”

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