The Living Light
The Taxiarchae – Archangels Greek Orthodox Church, located on Bigelow Ave., in Watertown, Massachusetts, was founded in 1951, and serves approximately 1200 families. It is a shared ministry, led by Father Ted Barbas and Father Emmanuel Metaxas. Father Metaxas’ roots in the church, as head priest, go back to 1953. Father Ted took over the role of head priest several years ago, “in title only”, he insists. “Father Metaxas is like my father, we share responsibilities in the church. Greek is his first language, so he has that connection with the community, English is mine…we complement each other”. And many older members remember not just the groundbreaking here in 1949, but also the 1937 church on Arlington St. (the building is still there as the Italian-American Social Club.)
The energetic leadership of Father Ted really shines when he engages church youth. The former youth director for the diocese, he says, “I see the passing down of traditions and rituals, coming from the elders through the GOYA (Greek Orthodox Youth Association), to the youngest children. Responsibilities increase with age and experience. This generation questions their faith, where previous generations didn’t. That questioning is important, and natural to them, and leads to a stronger belief and a closer relationship with Christ.”
This is a true community of the faithful, dedicated to the “living reality of the resurrectional promise”, in Father Ted’s words. At no time is this more evident than during Holy Week, when the church is filled to capacity and beyond, and extra seating is available in the church hall in front of a large-screen monitor showing the service. The growing membership is due in part to baptisms, which bring new members from existing families, but also due to the welcoming and open nature of church leaders, who have sought to reach out at every opportunity. There are Ethiopian, Serbian, Russian and Bulgarian members among the many ethnic communities now served by what has historically been known as the ‘Greek’ church. And of the 40-50 weddings that take place at the church each year most are interfaith, bringing different religious communities together, and bringing many new converts.
My thanks to Father Ted, Father Metaxas and the entire church community for welcoming me and giving me access to their most sacred and personal services and spaces.