Rev. Fr. Manuel J. Burdusi - a full time Parish Priest of 29 years assigned to serve the spiritual and sacramental needs of the Parish as well as giving guidance and direction to each member personally.
President - Nicholas Michaelides
Vice President - John Maroulis
Treasurer - Pantelis Zairis
Asst. Treasurer - Anthony Presti
Secretary - Nora Presti
Member - Victoria Alevrofas
Member - Timothy Halkos
Member - George Philipopoulos
Member - Craig Tuthill
President - Maria Kapsalis
Vice President - Elaine Michaelides
Teasurer - Tracy Papadopoulos
Secretary - Anthie Zairis
From 1969 to 1971, a dedicated Greek Orthodox Group established a Greek School for their children on Saturday mornings at St. John's Catholic Church in Clinton, Maryland. As the parents would arrive early to pick up their children, they would talk. Small talk gave way to one idea-why not build a Greek Orthodox Church in Southern Maryland. But, starting a church is not easy. It takes more than a few families, however deep the dedication. So the work began!
The core group talked to the existing parishes of the Washington area, to the Archdiocese, and most importantly among themselves. They needed members and money. So a telephone campaign began to contact many Greek Orthodox in the area to see if they were interested in building a church. A core of builders emerged. Then, they met in a restaurant to make plans to raise money now all they needed was a place to hold services and a priest.
An opportunity arose! There was a property for sale that included 11 acres of land and a four-bedroom house that was purchased by The Greek Orthodox Church of Southern Maryland. In the meantime, arrangements were made with the Bethany Christian Church on Allentown Road so services could be held there. Father Paul Economides was assigned as a part-time priest and a liturgy was celebrated on Sundays. At the same time, the house on the property was being converted into a chapel. But it did not stop there. A cement slab was then laid on the property as dedicated members began to build a church literally from the ground up! The name of the church at that time was the Greek Orthodox Church of Southern Maryland. It was renamed St. Theodore a few years later. The first couple married in the church was Dorothy and Russell Bigelow. The first person baptized in the church was John Penner.
The early years of the Church depended on hard work. Late into the night, members nailed shingles and built walls. To raise money, there were festivals, bake sales, covered dish dinners, family dinners, and apokreatiko dinners. Often, the members just passed the hat. Everyone gave what they could. The glue that held everyone together was the work toward a common goal.
St. Theodore Greek Orthodox Church grew! Father Peter Kostakos followed Father Economides as the second priest of the parish. The church has seen many priests over the years; in addition to Fathers Economides and Kostakos, they include Fathers Hariton Macheriotis, Elias Mentis, Prokopios Nikas, George Gallos, George Chioros, Konstantinos Kostaris, Nicholas Voucanos, Panagiotis Papanikolaou, and most recently Father Patrick Viscuso. Each has left his impact on the building process and with the parishioners they served.
Around 1990, St. Theodore Greek Orthodox Church purchased two properties on Cipriano Road in Lanham-its present location. One of the properties had a house, which the parish members decided to refurbish so it could be used for services until the present church was built. Until the house renovations were completed, services were held at three different places-a nearby church, the Lanham Shopping Center, and at the Marriot Hotel in Greenbelt. When the lower level of St.Theodore Greek Orthodox Church was ready, services were held there until the upstairs was completed. The lower level was converted into a hall and full kitchen. The house is still used today for Sunday School, Greek School, and meeting areas.
At the 25th Anniversary Celebration in 1998, many hard working and dedicated people were recognized. Some were there to receive their praise and, unfortunately through life's circumstances, many were not. St.Theodore Greek Orthodox was built literally one brick at a time. Those who are responsible know what they did where it counts most in their hearts. The history of the parish is not based on any one person but people working together. The greatness of a church is not limited to a beautiful building or majestic stained glass but also includes the character and dedication of its members, past and present. The builders of this church gave the example; it is up to us to continue to build on their proud tradition
St. Theodore lived during the reign of emperor Licinius c. 320 AD, when St. Constantine was emperor in Rome. He was born in Euphraita of Galatia (central Turkey), but he spent most of his life in the city of Heraklia, near the Black Sea. He surpassed most of his contemporaries in spiritual matters, bodily beauty, and eloquence of speech. Consequently he won the admiration of many, including that of emperor Licinius, who appointed St. Theodore the chief commander of the area. St. Theodore worked hard to teach Christianity to those around him. As a result, his enemies sent messages to the emperor about this Christian life and activities. The emperor sent some of his officers from Nicomedia ordering them to bring the saint honorably to him so he could find out whether the rumors were true.
St. Theodore sent a reply to the emperor with his own messengers that it was best if he came to Heraklia with his greater gods, both for other reasons as well as for matters of public interest.
Licinius immediately went to Heraklia together with his golden and silver gods. In the meantime, St. Theodore was encouraged for martyrdom with dreams and vision, which were sent to him by God.
As soon as he heard that Licinius was approaching the city wall, he mounted a horse and went out to meet the emperor honorably, as it was fitting. The emperor entered the city with St. Theodore by his side and immediately asked the saint to publicly sacrifice to the Roman gods. Instead, the saint asked to do so in his home first. At midnight he broke the statues to pieces and gave them to the poor. The next day, Maxentius, one of Licinius’ key men, saw a poor man carry the head of the goddess Diana through the streets of Heraklia. The emperor ordered his spearmen to arrest St. Theodore. Then he had them strip the saint naked and stretch him from his four limbs. Next, they whipped seven hundred wounds on the saint’s back, fifty wounds on this stomach; they also hit his neck with balls of lead. Following this, they scraped him and burnt him with candles. They also rubbed his wounded flesh with bricks and tiles. Then they threw him in prison, securing his legs with a punishing blank, and left him there without food for seven days.
After this severe punishment, they brought him out of prison and nailed his hands and feet on a cross, inflicting even more painful tortures. The saint remained on the cross all night long. The emperor thought that after this inhumane punishment, the saint would have died. But the foolish man was deceived, not knowing the power of God, for an angel of the Lord freed the martyr from his bonds, and he was found wholly cured, chanting and praising God.
At dawn, the emperor sent several soldiers to take St. Theodore’s body and throw it into the Black Sea. But when the men saw the saint alive and healthy, the all pledge their faith in Christ. When Licinius saw that the city was in turmoil, he ordered the saint to be beheaded, which the saint allowed. Thus he received the crown of martyrdom. His holy body was delivered from Heraklia to his hometown Euphraita and was placed in his fathers house, as he had instructed this scribe Augaros, who was present at the martyrdom and wrote down the conversation between the martyr and the emperor.
(This is a condensed version of the life of St. Theodore as it was published by Saint Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain toward the end of the 19th century.)