The Greek Orthodox Community of the “Three Hierarchs of Leeds and the Surrounding Districts” was established on Sunday, September 16th, 1962, following an archbishopric decree, by the late archimandrite Methodios Fougias, then priest of the Manchester Greek Orthodox Community and later (1979-1988) Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain.
The establishment of the Community was necessitated by the increase of the number of Greeks and Cypriots residing in Yorkshire in the 1950s, who, before, were forced to travel to Manchester, to participate in its Greek Community’s Church services and relevant activities, a difficult task, taking into consideration transportation facilities of these times.
On Wednesday, September 19th, 1962, in the Anglican Church of St Matthew, two miles off today’s Community Church, the aforementioned archimandrite convened all Greeks of Leeds. There he, first, officiated the Divine Liturgy and, after, he appointed the first Executive Committee of the Community, consisting of:
- Michael Papaioannou-President
- Neophytos Ioannou-Vice President
- Philippos Evdokiou-Treasurer
- Andreas Paraschos-Secretary
- Kyriakos Georgalis-Member
- Andreas Efthymiou-Member
- Paraskevas Kyriakou-Member
- Christos Mastichis-Member
In the first two years of the Community, Divine Liturgy was held only once a month at the Anglican Church of St Matthew, served by the aforementioned archimandrite Methodios Fougias, still priest of the Manchester Greek Orthodox Community.
On July 1st, 1964, hieromonk Kyriakos Ioannidis was appointed the first permanent priest of the Community, thus, Divine Liturgy was offered every Sunday, still, though, at the Anglican Church of St Matthew.
Following the purchase of the Hilton Place building, a proof of the Community’s growing potential, the late Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain Athinagoras Kokkinakis (1963-1979) on his first visit to the newly established Community on 1965 New Year’s Day urged its Executive Committee to obtain their own Church. Thanks to his blessings and the Committee’s strenuous efforts alike (Chairman: Neophytos Ioannou), the Harehills Avenue Methodist Church was purchased for £7,000 the same year; and it still is the Church of the Community. Purchase, however, would not have materialized had it not been for All Saints, London, Greek Orthodox Community’s generous contribution of £6,000 as an interest-free loan; the rest was raised from Community’s members.
A year later, 30th January, 1966, the Church’s gate opened for the first Orthodox Divine Liturgy officiated by the late Archbishop Athinagoras, as time and money were needed so that the interior be redesigned and set up according to Orthodox churches model.
Ten months later, December 1st, 1966, Fr Kyriakos Ioannidis was transferred to London, replaced by the late archimandrite Sofronios Papadopoulos, who served as Community priest for more than thirty-three years. During Fr Sofronios’s incumbency, the Church was repainted, Community School was founded, Community Centre was opened, and the Community in general forged its own character, still unique to date.
The Church was consecrated as the “Three Hierarchs” church by the late Archbishop Athinagoras on June 17th, 1972.
Ever since significant Church interior and exterior improvements have materialized such as the chanters’ podium, heating, rewiring, refurbished toilets, disabled trolley access, new roof, microphones, frescoing etc. Funding came from Community members, state subsidies, and money from the selling of the first Community Building at Hilton Place.
On June 9th, 1986, twenty four year following the establishment of the Community, Methodios Fougias, then the Greek Orthodox Community of Manchester priest and, on the occasion, Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, inaugurated the Community Centre extension, right behind the Church.
1999 onwards, following Fr Sofronios’s retirement, Community Church was mainly served by Fr Samuel Kouspogenis-Savva and Fr David Carnely for twelve and ten years respectively, some of them as co-incumbents. Afterwards, following the former’s resignation, November 2014 to January 2018, Fr Michael Petrakis, detached from Archdiocese of Crete to the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, assumed the Community priest responsibilities. Currently, the Community is served by Fr Stavros Bozos, detached from the Mesogaia and Lavreotiki Diocese, Church of Greece.
The Greek Orthodox Community of Leeds boasts almost five hundred registered families, which altogether constitute a lively and thriving part of Leeds and its surroundings. Nevertheless, except for its permanent members, Community also encompasses hundreds of Orthodox Greeks and Greek-Cypriots, scholars, professionals and students, who find in Leeds and its surroundings a temporary place for work or studies; and in so doing, they too significantly contribute to the preservation of the Greek Orthodox character of the Community.