April 23, 2018
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Greek church marks 80 years in Bangor

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Arthur Brountas was grown before he learned what his family could have lost if St. George Greek Orthodox Church hadn’t prospered.

Construction of the church on Sanford Street began in November 1929 when one of the congregation’s founders convinced a man digging a foundation for a house on the street to dig one on a nearby lot the congregation owned, Brountas, 82, of Bangor recalled Thursday. At the time, the church had just $23 in its coffers.

Arthur Brountas’ father, Peter N. Brountas, was one of several men from St. George who went to a local bank for a loan to pay for the foundation. Times were difficult, Arthur Brountas said Thursday, and the family had little of value to use as collateral.

“So, I finally asked my father what he put up for the loan,” Arthur Brountas said. “He told me, ‘I never told your mother this, but it was the furniture.’”

Arthur Brountas was at the church his father and other relatives founded Thursday to mark the 80th anniversary of the completion of the construction of St. George, which was dedicated on Sept. 7, 1930.

Bangor City Councilor Hal Wheeler presented the church with a proclamation acknowledging the milestone on behalf of the city. The document also honored the contribution of the Brountas family to Bangor.

Arthur Brountas and two of his brothers, George and Nicholas, all served on the Bangor City Council in the 1960s and 1970s. Each man served as chairman of the council, or, mayor. Arthur Brountas continues to work at the Greyhound Bus station he owns and operates on Main Street.

Lee Speronis, president of the parish council, sought the proclamation from city councilors, he said Thursday.

“There’s nothing in this church from the city,” Speronis, 50, of Bangor said Friday, “but we had these three brothers from St. George who were mayors. I thought there should be something from the city to acknowledge that, so I began working with city councilors last year. This proclamation is the result.”

George N. Brountas was Bangor’s first Greek immigrant, according to a church history compiled by Maria Brountas, 78, of Bangor compiled in 2005 to mark the church’s 75th year. She is the wife of Arthur Brountas, whose uncle was the first in his family to settle in Bangor. The younger George Brountas was a brother of Ar-thur’s.

As the only Eastern Orthodox church in northern Maine, St. George has come to serve a more diverse community over the years than the Greek immigrants who borrowed money to pay for its foundation. Today, the congregation includes Russians, Serbians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Albanians and other Eastern Orthodox wor-shippers, according to the Rev. Adam Metropoulos, who has led the congregation since 2001. The priest also holds monthly services for Eastern Orthodox Christians in Waterville and during the summer in Southwest Harbor.

Because it always has been a small congregation, the church has held a high-profile fundraiser in the community for most of its 80 years. St. George’s Greek Ball once was a high point in the Bangor social season. A more casual version of the formal dance held in the 1940s through the 1970s is expected to be held this fall.

For the past eight years, however, the church has raised between 22 percent and 26 percent of its annual budget from the Greek food sold at a booth at the American Folk Festival, according to Speronis.

He said Thursday he was pleased the city had acknowledged the contribution the Brountas brothers and the church have made to the city.

“Throughout its history, St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church and its parishioners have played an active role in Bangor through its active outreach,” the proclamation stated.

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