BY PETER CAMERON
Published: June 4, 2014
Standing in his empty 90-year-old church, the Rev. Father Konstantine Eleftherakis pulls a Verizon smartphone from his faded black cassock.
With half the walls at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Scranton covered with fresh and colorful icons, and the other half exhibiting older, smaller and faded ones, the priest projects an apt symbol of the building, which has become a mixture of old and new.
Last fall, two brothers from the city of Thessaloniki in Greece came to the church and revitalized the interior with vibrant portraits of Jesus and Mary, saints and biblical stories, such as the burning bush. But the process to get even half the church painted was a difficult one.
“There were so many disasters,” said Father Eleftherakis.
The worst involved the collapse of scaffolding in front of the altar, which luckily didn’t fall on anyone or damage any of the ornate and delicate church objects and iconography.
The church, built in 1924 by Greek immigrants, also had to raise the funds for the work, which the priest would only say can cost large churches millions of dollars and cost Annunciation “a lot of money.”
Still, the priest jumped at the opportunity to bring the two artisan brothers, Panayiotis and Demetrios Christodoulos, to Scranton. He first noticed their iconography work in a small church in Maine, he said.
“We’re not doing this just because we want the church to look nice or colorful,” he said. “It’s about what we believe. Iconography is so crucial to the daily life of the Orthodox Christian.”
In contrast, the outside of the church is modest and simple. The juxtaposition is supposed to model the way a person should present him- or herself to the world, but also how vivacious the inner, spiritual self should be, he said.
The church eventually hopes to bring the brothers back to complete the rest of the walls, but first needs to raise the money — no easy task for the small congregation.
Father Eleftherakis will be hosting daily church tours at 3 p.m. during the Scranton Greek Festival, which continues through Saturday on the church grounds, 505 N. Washington Ave.