History of St. George Cathedral
Orthodox Christianity (also called "Eastern Orthodoxy" or "Greek Orthodoxy"), the oldest form of Christianity, arrived in southern West Virginia one Sunday morning in 1892, when a small group of immigrants gathered for worship in a rented building at 312 Kanawha Street (now Kanawha Boulevard) in Charleston. The Right Reverend Melatios Karroum led the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, bringing the ancient Christian faith to the Kanawha Valley. The Rev. Michael Husson arrived in 1905, officially founding the parish of St. George, and served for four years. The Rev. George Kattouf then became the parish priest (1909-16), and his tenure was one of growth and progress. In 1911 the parish bought its own building, a red brick house, at the corner of Court and State (now Lee) Streets in downtown Charleston. Shortly thereafter, (the now, Saint) RAPHAEL Hawaweeny, Bishop of Brooklyn and head of the Syro-Arabian Mission in America, visited and consecrated the new temple. Father Kattouf was succeeded by the Rev.'s Murr, Constantine Doumany, and Peter Azar, during whose tenure the Patriarch of Antioch, in 1923, selected Metropolitan Archbishop VICTOR Abo-Assaley to be his representative to the Antiochian Church in America. Metropolitan VICTOR contributed greatly to the parish of St. George. In 1925, he organized a ladies club, the "Shums il Bir," to perform charitable works. In 1927, he was instrumental in the establishment of the St. George Ladies Aid Society, whose members labored for more than fifty years in service to the church. In 1928, Father Azar was succeeded by the Rev.'s Hamati and Nader Boosaffee. In December of 1929, the Rev. Raphael Husson arrived to begin a remarkable 38-year tenure in Charleston. Under Father Husson, the community grew into one of the largest parishes of the Archdiocese. In 1930, construction of a new church began on the site of the existing one. Completed in 1932, it was formally dedicated on Good Friday in 1933. In June of 1938, Metropolitan SAMUEL David formally dedicated the beautiful new iconostasis installed in the sanctuary. In 1946, the growing congregation purchased a house adjacent to the church to accommodate the Sunday School. That house was razed in 1956 for construction of a new Activities Building, housing nineteen classrooms and a gymnasium. It, too, was dedicated by Metropolitan SAMUEL in June of 1958, two months prior to his death. Father Husson's pastorate continued, with the establishment of an Arabic-singing choir and, in 1958, the Ladies Guild, which made tremendous contributions to the growth of the church, and continues to do so today. He also introduced the use of the English language into the Divine Liturgy and other church services. When Father Husson retired, the Rev. Gerasimos Murphy was assigned to the parish remaining through April of 1969. He was succeeded by the Rev. Georges Daoud. In September of 1969, the congregation purchased a parish house in the Kanawha City area of Charleston. One year later, the Rev. George Shaheen became the priest of St. George (1970-74), followed by the Rev.'s George Mitchell (74-76), Hanna Sakkab (Jan.-June, 1976), and finally by the Rev. Olof Scott, who serves the parish until today. In 1976, the parish of St. George purchased property adjacent to the activities building, which later became the site of its new Conference Center. In 1978, land to the east of the church was acquired to serve as a parking lot for the parishioners. The Conference Center, completed in 1982, provides various meeting rooms, a choir room, banquet hall, and kitchen. The banquet hall became the temporary site for all church services during St. George's renovation/expansion project, begun in 1991 and completed in 1992, one hundred years after that first tiny congregation celebrated the faith of their ancestors in a new and challenging land. In 2006, St. George was elevated by His Eminence, Metropolitan Archbishop PHILIP Saliba to serve as the primary cathedral for the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, with the diocesan chancery based here in Charleston. In that same year, His Grace, Bishop THOMAS Joseph came to live in Charleston. Moving into the 21st century, the growing parish of St. George continues to be a beacon for Orthodox Christianity in southern West Virginia.