St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church is a parish under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco (www.sf.goarch.org), and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (www.goarch.org).
Organized in the early 1980's as the West Valley Greek Orthodox Church, the first parish General Assembly was held in September 1986 along with the election of the first Parish Council. Meeting space was rented at a local elementary school and services were celebrated by several local Orthodox clergy, including Fr. Timothy Tepsic, Fr. Stephen Kachur and Fr. John Angelis.
Working together with the Home Foundation (established by Peter and John Maniatis, of blessed memory), the first church facility (originally built as the Peoria Church of the Nazarene) was purchased in June 1988. In September 1989, Fr. George Patides was assigned as the first full-time pastor, and the community selected Saint Haralambos as its patron saint at a banquet in November 1990. In August 1994, Fr. Michael Pallad was assigned as the second (and current) pastor.
In 2001, the Strategic Planning Committee, after looking at several locations, recommended the purchase of a five-acre piece of land, at the intersection of 75th Ave. and Greenway Road, to serve as the permanent parish location. Following the approval of the Parish General Assembly, the property was purchased in March, 2001.
After paying off the mortgage in 2005, a Building Committee was established with the responsibility of creating a plan to develop the property. In October 2006, the process began by interviewing architects and building contractors. Once selected, a series of focus groups were convened to discuss various design elements of the Master Plan, which consisted of a new Byzantine-style temple, educational building, fellowship hall and administrative offices.
In November 2007, the parish General Assembly voted to approve Phase 1 of the Master Plan (originally to construct a new Byzantine-style temple, but later changed to a multi-use fellowship hall), in addition to starting the Capital Campaign, and selling our current church facility.
In June 2009, St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church purchased our facility, and later that Fall, we were excited to welcome His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco to officiate at the Blessing of our New Land on September 20. It was a wonderful weekend event.
In the meantime, the building plans had been submitted to the City of Peoria, as well as applications for a construction loan. As it turned out, neither of these would be granted according to our desired timeline. The city had returned our building plans with a long list of changes, and with the downturn in the economy, the banks would not give us a construction loan.
The Sales Contract of our current facility allowed for us to continue holding church services on Sunday mornings until December 2010, after which time we could continue to rent and hold services on Saturday mornings. To move into our new building by December meant construction had to begin by January or February at the latest, and we eventually realized this wasn't going to happen.
In November 2009, Building Committee member Mike Danielek found a listing for the Pinnacle Peak Community Church on the website of the same realtor who sold us our current church facility in 1988. After walking through the building with Fr. Michael and a few parish council members, we started thinking of this as an option to consider. Located in north Peoria, about 15 minutes from our current location, the newly-built 12,500 square foot building sits on a seven-acre piece of land in a beautiful residential neighborhood. The building was sub-divided with space for a church, classrooms, offices and fellowship.
In January 2010, the Parish Council called for a Special General Assembly to consider our options, including renting at our current location, renting commercial office space, purchasing modular units for the 75th Ave. site or purchasing the Pinnacle Peak church. Following the presentation, the near-unanimous vote of the Assembly approved the purchase of the Pinnacle Peak church.
With the blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos, escrow was opened and we began planning the move to our new church home. With a minimal amount of interior remodeling, and a tremendous response from parishioners to help pack and transport all the church, kitchen, school and office items, we were in the new church on the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent, March 21, 2010.
No one could have predicted this amazing turn of events, and yet, looking back at how the plans quickly fell into place, we know the hand of God, through the prayers of St. Haralambos, was guiding us towards our new destination. At our Fall 2011 General Assembly, a vote was taken to sell the 75th Ave. property and make the Pinnacle Peak location our permanent home.