Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
Little Rock AR

72211-2312



Who we are

Welcome to the Annunciation Little Rock

The parish of the Annunciation in Little Rock welcomes you to this window into our parish. Much like the American experience, we are a diverse community of men and women from every ethnicity and background, who are bond together by an Orthodox Christian way of life that actively seeks the way of the Lord in body and spirit. While our parish was established in Little Rock, AR, in 1913 and has been in its present location since 1983, we are a part of the Orthodox Christian Church has spanned the globe since 33 AD. Feel free to explore our site and know that the doors of our parish are open to all men and women who are looking to grow closer to God within an Orthodox Christian Church family in Little Rock.



Church Address

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
1100 Napa Valley Dr
Little Rock, AR 72211-2312
United States
Phone: 501-221-5300
Fax: 501-225-6749
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Church Pastor

Rev. Dr. Nicholas J. Verdaris
Rev. Dr. Nicholas J. Verdaris
Pastor
1100 Napa Valley Dr
Little Rock, AR 72211-2312
United States
Phone: 501-221-5300
Fax: 501-225-6749
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Quote of the Day
Psalms 12:6

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

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Rev. Dr. Nicholas J. Verdaris   Edit
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1100 Napa Valley Dr, Little Rock, AR
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Service Times

Sunday Service Times

Matins 9:00am

Divine Liturgy 10:00am

Sunday School 11:15am

Service Times last updated on the 20th of August, 2017   Edit



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History of the church

A Brief History of Our Parish

The founding of the Annunciation parish in Little Rock was typical of the establishment of the vast majority of Greek Orthodox parishes in the United States. At the turn of the century, thousands of young Greek men, many in their early teens or even younger, left Greece to seek a better life in the New World. They brought with them not only youth and ambition, but also the culture and their Orthodox Christian faith of their homeland. Thus wherever they settled in sufficient numbers, a “community” was formed, a call was made for a priest, and a parish was established.

Our Parish

Discover the Annunciation in Little Rock

The Annunciation stands as a testament to the 2000+ year old Christian faith and has been privileged to be an integral part of Little Rock’s legacy for over 100 years. It is a constant privilege and blessed responsibility for the men and women of the Annunciation parish to maintain two millennia of living Christian history, help Orthodox Christianity become a greater part of the American experience and assist all people to discover the rich spiritual life of the Holy Orthodox Church. We welcome you to explore the history of our parish and consider becoming a part of our story in embracing the new life in Jesus Christ at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock.
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A Brief History of Our Parish

The founding of the Annunciation parish in Little Rock was typical of the establishment of the vast majority of Greek Orthodox parishes in the United States. At the turn of the century, thousands of young Greek men, many in their early teens or even younger, left Greece to seek a better life in the New World. They brought with them not only youth and ambition, but also the culture and their Orthodox Christian faith of their homeland. Thus wherever they settled in sufficient numbers, a “community” was formed, a call was made for a priest, and a parish was established.
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It appears that the first Greek to settle in Little Rock in 1892. By 1905, enough immigrants had arrived to be able to create an organization called the “Homer Society.” Visiting priests came by way of Memphis, Tennessee, where a larger group of Greeks had established a parish. Through the efforts of the Homer Society, Father Kallinikos Kanellas was brought to Little Rock on a permanent basis in 1913, and services were held in an upstairs meeting hall near 9th and Main Streets for the next eight years. This hall included a small chapel for Liturgies and Sacraments such as weddings, baptisms, etc., as well as a place for social gatherings. Research indicates that Father Kanellas was one of the first Orthodox priests to come to the United States. Father Kanellas died in 1921 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery where many of the first Greek Orthodox Christians were also interred.

On June 8, 1920, the Annunciation community received a state charter, and a church building at 1500 Center Street was purchased from the Winfield Methodist Church congregation. Extensive renovations were done before the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated—the altar area and iconostasion (icon screen) were installed at the east, as is traditional in Orthodox churches. The first Orthodox Christian worship services were held during Easter Week of 1921.

The first set of icons for the church were, of course, the original ones installed in the early 1920s (iconographer unknown). When new icons were ordered from Holy Mount Athos in 1955, the original set was stored until about 1960 when they were donated to a new mission church in Missoula, Montana. Many individuals donated the second set of icons, which served the parish until the move to the new church on Napa Valley Drive. While some of the icons were used in the new church, a third set was painted by noted iconographer, Elias Katsaros. In 1989 about 22 of the second set of icons were donated to the small St. George parish in Memphis, Tennessee.

In the 1950s, a group of ladies of the parish decided to offer Grecian delicacies to the public as a fundraising activity, they did not dream that it would snowball into the tremendous undertaking that it has become in the form of our annual Festival. After that fantastic reception, the Pastry Sale project grew so that now more than 15,000 baklava and many other sweets and breads are baked for the sale each year. The Pastry Sale eventually developed into our annual International Greek Food Festival held each May.

In 1959 it was noted that in the State of Arkansas when proclamations were issued mentioning the major faiths, usually only Protestants, Catholics and Jews were referred to. Rep. Gale Windsor of Pulaski County was approached and agreed to introduce a House Resolution (No.18, later approved by the Legislature) stating that the Eastern Orthodox Church be recognized as the fourth major faith by the State, and requested communication and individuals in the state of Arkansas to include the Eastern Orthodox Church when referring to the major faiths. This was a common practice in the larger population centers where Orthodoxy had long received this recognition.

The Annunciation Parish celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1963 with the consecration of the church on Center Street by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, prelate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. A gala banquet took place at the Hotel Marion, attended by many dignitaries including then-Governor Orval Faubus.

By the mid-1970s, the parish had outgrown its facility at 15th and Center. In order to construct a church and educational building that would be adequate to meet the church’s needs, the old church downtown was sold and 4.5 acres of land at the corner of St. Charles Boulevard and Napa Valley Drive was purchased from Dr. H. A. (Ted) Bailey. Dr. James Pappas headed the Building Drive Committee and he, along with Gus Vratsinas, personally co-signed a mortgage for the building of the church at 1100 Napa Valley Drive.

In the early summer of 1985, the Parish celebrated its first Greek Food Festival at Napa Valley Drive that today is recognized as a wholesome, family-style annual event that all Little Rock looks forward to. Each year the Festival has grown until it is estimated that our average attendance is more than 50,000. Held on church grounds, the Festival has included all the usual Greek culinary delights as well as Indian, Middle Eastern and Russian foods, reflecting the ethnic makeup of our Parish. Tours of the church have also proved very successful each year, with an average of 2,000 visiting the sanctuary each year to hear the parish priest give informative talks on the Orthodox Faith. Ethnic music, dancing, arts and crafts are all an integral part of this Church’s endeavor to celebrate the multi-ethnic culture of our community and to support the vital work of local charities.

In 1988 the parish burned its mortgage after only five years. Then in 1992, the physical plant was enlarged, adding a classroom, a stage, storage space and playground to accommodate our growth. The expansion was paid for without the necessity of a mortgage.

On January 1, 1999, another chapter in the history of the Annunciation began with the assignment of the Reverend Dr. Nicholas J. Verdaris to the parish. Father Nicholas continued with vigor the work of embracing people from all walks of life and from all heritages in the service of Christ. The parish that was originally founded by a small group of Greek immigrants, today aptly reflects the American experience, and is comprised of over 200 families representing 18 different nationalities, all witnessing to the good news of Christ, striving to reflect His love, and living according to the principles and discipline of the Orthodox Church. As a result of our parish’s steady growth, the many ministries and programs of the parish have expanded considerably. For example, now we have well over 100 children actively participating in our Sunday School program and in our youth ministries, JOY (Junior Orthodox Youth; for children ages 8-11) and GOYA (Greek Orthodox Youth of America; for children ages 12-18). With the continued growth of our parish and through the grace of God, the parish continues to expand its ministries for the young and young at heart.

Towards the end of the year 2000, under Fr. Nicholas’ guidance, a Master Plan was at long last put into action and the parish embraced an exciting building project. By 2002, a tremendous building program was complete and the parish facility had nearly doubled in size. The project included an increase in the number of classrooms, a new and large parish hall (Annunciation Ballroom), reception area (Gabriel Hall), offices, bookstore, etc. The new construction enabled the Annunciation to transform the original parish hall into a well-equipped gymnasium for our youth, as well as a remodel of all of the existing classrooms. Furthermore, parking was increased and the church kitchen enlarged and updated. A bell tower added a Byzantine touch to the facility, in keeping with the original domed sanctuary. It was also during this time that the parish commissioned Mr. Elias Katsaros to produce three very large icons (The Holy Trinity, The Nativity of Christ and The Baptism of Christ) that were installed in the Spring of 2008.

With the building project complete, the expansion of the parish facility was officially blessed on May 31st through June 2nd 2002. The observances were headed by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, together with His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, along with Father Nicholas Verdaris, Father Pierre Delfos and Deacon Teodor Petrutiu. The Annunciation in Little Rock ceremoniously launched into a new era.

On September 21 & 22nd 2013, Father Nicholas Verdaris and community came together to formally celebrate the Annunciation’s Centennial Anniversary. A year long series of parish events and the construction of a special courtyard and fountain to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the parish culminated in one very beautiful and historic weekend.

The weekend began with a Great Vespers Service and the formal blessing of the Centennial Memorial Courtyard (a landmark to commemorate and celebrate God’s blessings upon the Annunciation and the steadfast faith of all of the parishioners). Following the formal blessing and dedication, a formal banquet followed. The historic commemorations culminated with the Arch-hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, September 22nd. The Annunciation Church family was honored to have many friends and neighbors in attendance as well as the the following honored: His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, The Very Reverend Constantine Moralis, (Dean, Annunciation Cathedral, Baltimore, MD) Reverend Protopresbyter Steven & Presbytera Chrysi Vlahos, (St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, North Wildwood, NJ and Previous Parish Priest of the Annunciation, Little Rock, AR, 1964), Reverend Protopresbyter Pierre & Presbytera Harriet Delfos (Previous Parish Priest of the Annunciation, Little Rock, AR, 1981, Reverend Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos (Deacon to Archbishop Demetrios of America) as well as Reverend Dr. Nicholas & Presbytera Maris Verdaris (current priest of the Annunciation, Little Rock, AR 1999); in addition to the clergy guests included, Alex Radulescu (Assistant to Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit), Mike & Lynne Emanuel (Fox News Chief Congressional Correspondent & the festivities Master of Ceremonies) along with Cantors from Hellenic College & Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (Jarrod Russell - First Seminarian from the Annunciation, Little Rock, AR; John Boyer, Timothy Cook, Andreas Houpos, Gabriel Cremeens). At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios presented the Annunciation parish with a gold and silver “Commemorative Church Censor” and then together with His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, they honored Fr. Nicholas and his ministry at the Annunciation by formally elevating him to the rank of “Protopresbyter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese” (the highest rank for a married clergyman in the Greek Orthodox Church).

On August 23, 2015, another historic moment unfolded, as the parish gathered together to bear witness to the work of the Holy Spirit with the ordination of John Jarrod Russell to the Holy Order of the Diaconate. While an important occasion for the entire body of the Orthodox Church, this blessed event was especially significant to this particular parish as it marked the first time in the Annunciation’s storied history, that one of its members was ordained to the Holy Diaconate. Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, as the vessel of the Holy Spirit and in the name of the universal Orthodox Church, laid his hands on John Jarrod Russell and ordained him to the Holy Diaconate during the Divine Liturgy. Following the Liturgy and Ordination Service, the faithful gathered in the ballroom for a beautiful luncheon during which Deacon Jarrod was presented with a set priest vestments from the parish, another set of vestments from the youth of the Annunciation and another set of vestments from the Annunciation Ladies Philoptochos as well as a fourth set of vestments from his godparents, Joe & Dena Chacko and their family (all the vestments were tailor-made in Greece). Father Nicholas then presented his spiritual son a formal traveling case by which Deacon Jarrod would be able to bear and protect the Holy Gifts during his visits to the elderly and infirmed throughout his ministry. The parish experienced as well as embodied the timeless words of the Psalmist when he wrote: “O give thanks to the LORD, call on His name, make known His deeds among the peoples.” (Psalm 105:1). Deacon Jarrod was subsequently ordained to the Priesthood on September 20, 2015 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Carmel, IN where he will began his ministry as the assistant priest.

Today through the Grace of God, the Annunciation in Little Rock continues to welcome men and women who are seeking the truth in Christ contained in the Orthodox Christian Faith, the sacramental and spiritual life of the Orthodox Church, fervent Christian love (agape), and the warmth that can only be found amongst those united in their dedication to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

By James & Helen Hronas
Edited by the Rev. Dr. Nicholas J. Verdaris   Edit


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The power of Christian prayer Thank You, Lord
Your Holy Spirit enfolds me - making me realize I am not alone. Thank You for Your strength, Your wisdom and the comfort of Your presence. Even in the most agonizing times I have the knowledge that You are there, Lord. When all I can do is whisper Your Name, it is enough. You hear. You care. You understand. My praise and adoration, Lord Jesus. Amen.
This page was last updated on the 20th of August, 2017
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