A fundraising campaign for the reinstatement of the first Greek Orthodox church in Melbourne, "The Annunciation of Our Lady", was announced by the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV).
Early May 2016, the Greek community witnessed with shock the church to be severely damaged by fire. The flames destroyed almost the entire interior, priceless icons and religious artefacts. The church was built by the GOCMV in 1901.
The GOCMV’s Board of Directors has worked hard in order to secure the planning requirements for the reinstatement of the church, which is registered by the Heritage Victoria as a building of historical and religious significance.
The Board established a Project Steering Committee with the following Board members: Dr Marinis Pirpiris, Costa Markos, Alexi Costa and Angela Georgalis.
Also, the GOCMV’s Board appointed the following team of experts with an extensive knowledge in both heritage matters and ecclesiastic architecture:
- Constantine Moschoyiannis (Morea Architects) – Project Manager & Architect
- Arthur Andronas (Andronas Conservation Architecture) - Heritage Architect
- Peter Paras (FMG Engineering) – Forensic Structural Engineer
- Andrew Christoforou (McKenzie Group Consulting) – Building Surveyor
In addition, a Fundraising Committee was established and headed by Dr Marinis Pirpiris with the following individuals who have an intimate connection with the Church: Bishop of Dervis Ezekiel, Rev. Kosmas Damianidis, Peter Paras, Stella Pappas, Kostas Papakonstantinou, Chris Zapris, Simon Aggelopoulos, Jonathan Aggelopoulos, Costas Markos, Marinis Pirpiris, Alexi Costa, Panagiota Moschogiannis, George Stavrias, Arthur Andronas, Daniel Bellis, Harry Markos, Alex Michaelidis, Spyridoula Bouras, Jenny Krassopoulakis and Angela Georgalis.
The members of the Project Steering Committee met with the Bishop of Dervis Ezekiel to discuss the plans for the reinstatement of the church. Bishop Ezekiel expressed his satisfaction for the plans and his full support to the efforts made by the GOCMV’s Board.
Although the Church was insured, the cost of replacement of certain icons cannot be determined.
The fundraising committee’s main priority is not only to reinstate the Church to its formal status but το add and improve its facilities. The Board wants to create an iconic church that will be symbolic of the Greek presence in Melbourne.
All contributions will assist with many aspects of the reinstatement project. These contributions will be deposited in a separate account and a proper audit system will be implemented.
“It is important that Evangelismos is lovingly restored to its past glory,” said the President of the Greek Community Bill Papastergiadis. “Its structure has not only historical significance but more so represents the ecclesiastical roots and origins of our organisation. The cost of restoration exceeds our insurance payout and community support is vital”.
Assistant Professor of Orthopedics and Chair of the Project Steering Committee Dr Marinis Pirpiris agrees. “With a strong commitment to the history and the traditions of the church, the project will include the reinstatement of the church as a place of reflection and worship, the renovation and replacement of many of the priceless artefacts and furnishings, the repair and replacements of many of the destroyed fittings and the beautification of the church interior,” he said and went on talking about his feelings visiting the church after the fire and the Committee’s plans.
“As the fire crews struggled to put out the fire on the 2nd May, the flames engulfed the interior of one Australia's fire purpose-built Orthodox parish. Despite the fire crews attending quickly, by the end of the day the fire had destroyed many priceless artefacts, many of which will be difficult to replace. I felt a great sense of sadness as I stepped into the Church and was surrounded by a scene of devastation. The soot filled interior, engulfed by the strong, acrid smell of water, foam and freshly burnt paint and timber left me with a deep sense of grief.
“Evangelismos was one of the community's jewels in the crown. It is a heritage listed building representing many of the best elements of a strong community. It was a firm expression of Victoria's understanding, tolerance, inclusivity, compassion and worship. The Board of the Greek Community is committed to reinstating the Church. With a strong commitment to the history and the traditions of the church, the project will include the reinstatement of the church as a place of reflection and worship, the renovation and replacement of many of the priceless artefacts and furnishings, the repair and replacements of many of the destroyed fittings and the beautification of the church interior. As the Chair of the steering Board I would like to invite everyone to support the Greek Community in bringing the church back to its former beauty. Please donate generously and help the Community reinstate this important part of the Victorian historic, religious and heritage landscapes.”
People who are interested in making a donation can call the office of the GOCMV on (+61 3) 9662 2722, or to express their interest by sending an email with their details to