His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros travelled from New York to the Bahamas this week to meet with government officials, visit with the local Greek Orthodox congregation and view first-hand the devastation wrought in Abaco and Grand Bahama by Hurricane Dorian. Arriving on Sunday, October 13, the Archbishop led that morning’s Divine Liturgy service at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in downtown Nassau. The following day, he met with Governor General C.A. Smith & other officials to discuss the extent of the damage caused by the storm and strategies for longterm relief going forward.
The delegation took part in a fly-over of Abaco and visited Grand Bahama, where the Archbishop met with Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, Grand Bahama Port Authority president Ian Rolle, and talked with storm victims, disaster relief workers and government officials on the ground. “My heart was deeply moved by not only by the sight of this catastrophe and the profound suffering, but also by the courage and strength of the Bahamian people,” he said. “I am very proud of the philanthropic work of our Greek Orthodox community there. I pray that the Lord grant abundant mercy to them, so that a swift and full recovery may be achieved.”
Ahead of his first visit to the Bahamas, Archbishop Elpidophoros said he was “anxious to visit the Faithful Greek Orthodox of our only Parish in the Caribbean Sea, and also the wider community of the Bahamas.”
“In the company of International Orthodox Christian Charities and with a delegation from our Archdiocese in New York, we will bring our consolation and tangible assistance, and seek together how to help with their needs and concerns over the long-term recovery. They are all our sisters and brothers, and our hearts are open wide to be of service to them in Christ,” he said. The delegation presented the local parish with $126,000 to be used as part of the ongoing hurricane relief efforts. In addition, the Archdiocese will partner with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) to identify longer term relief efforts for the Bahamas and is encouraging the Orthodox Christian faithful of America to assist in the relief efforts for The Bahamas. During Sunday’s service, the Archbishop conveyed the love and support of the entire Archdiocese for the faithful of The Bahamas and the nation.
“Although geographically we are separated by many miles of ocean, spiritually we are closer than neighbours. In Christ, we are one family, brothers and sisters together; in Christ, we are one Body, and members of one another,” he said in his homily.
After the Liturgy, the Archbishop spoke directly with the children of the parish, encouraging them to help those in need by sharing their time and concern. Born in Istanbul, Archbishop Elpidophoros was elevated to that position in May 2019 and is the first every citizen of Turkey to be enthroned as an Archbishop in the Greek Orthodox Church.