In the 1950’s, there was but a handful of Greek families permanently residing on the North Shore of Suffolk County on Long Island, New York. Due to their devotion to our Greek Orthodox faith, they would occasionally rent the facility and hold services in the San Remo Christian Church of Smithtown. In 1956, this small band of faithful people, came together at the home of John Raptis in Setauket with the idea that it was time to have their own building. They formed a Greek club which they named the Athens Republican Club. The first formal meeting was held at the American Legion Hall in Port Jefferson Village and they elected the first Church Building Committee. They collected four hundred dollars and established a treasury. The priest from the San Remo Christian Church donated one thousand dollars for their cause as well as icons and furniture. With this money and the will of God, they bought a piece of property (90’ by 100’) on Sheep Pasture Road where our church now stands.
The group started raising more money by getting in touch with the other Greek families in the neighboring communities. Much of the money was raised by various chapters of the Pan-Icarian Brotherhood throughout the United States, John Raptis collected additional donations from summer guests at his bungalow park. He also held luncheons and card parties as fundraisers for the Building Fund.
The very first founders of the church were: John Raptis, Demitrios Loizos, Bill Caraftis, Gus Cherouvis, Gus Stamoulis, George Aivaliotis, James Samuel, Theodore Soulopoulos, Alexis Karras, Elias Mazaris, Stamatis Moraitis, Kyriakos Fradelos, Panagiotis Apostolakis, Marika Kratsas, Charles Koutrakos, Evangelos Balafas, Steve Tsarnas, Steve Raptis, George Malahias, Ioannis Poulianos, Elias Poulos, Anthony Poulos, John Politis, Hiraklis Kyriakidis and John Karatzas. The first President and Godfather of our Church was James Samuel. The first Vice President, John Raptis, the first Secretary George Malahias and the first Treasurer was Panagiotis Apostolakis. The first President of Philiptochos, Marika Kratsas, organized the ladies of the community to hold weekly parties to raise money for the Building Fund. They would hold open house coffee and tea parties at their own homes raising one hundred to two hundred dollars each time. This effort strengthened the bonds of the community through socializing and working for a common cause.
On Palm Sunday, April 1959, their dream came true and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption opened its door to the first liturgy. That was the beginning. They worked very hard to buy the land, make a plan and build the little church which would serve the community, friends and compatriots for many years. The annual membership dues at the time was five dollars per family. Their spiritual leader was Father Nick Papapetrou. He was paid sixty dollars weekly. They formed a Greek School in the church’s basement with Katherine Papadakos as its first teacher.
After 1959, they began a drive to purchase neighboring plots of land. As many of the regular visitors and summer vacationers began to settle permanently in the area, they saw their little Greek Orthodox community begin to grow and had the foresight to plan ahead for future growth and expansion. Indeed, we owe a great deal of respect, gratitude and admiration to this small group of hard working, Greek pioneers who had a vision for future generations and who made an unselfish commitment to preserve and promote the legacy of our religious and cultural Greek Orthodox faith on Long Island. The torch has now been passed to us to continue that legacy. Let us make our forefathers proud!