St Demetrios Parish History

It all started in the mid 1960’s by a question Chris Mallakis of blessed memory posed for some of us:

“WHY CAN’T WE HAVE A CHURCH IN VENTURA COUNTY and not have to drive either to Santa Barbara or Northridge?

Without realizing it, Chris planted a seed that would grow into a beautiful productive tree serving the needs of all Orthodox Christians for the 40 plus years. It was an acorn that became an oak. The history of our St. Demetrios Church has had 3 milestones.

The 1st Milestone

In 1967 His Grace Bishop Meletios gave us permission after previous unsuccessful attempts, to start collecting signatures to begin a church (50 signatures was the minimum needed). His Grace suggested the following name to be used: “Ventura County Greek Orthodox Congregation"

The 2nd Milestone

On October 23, 1977 we opened the doors of our place of worship at the Camarillo Airport. We purchased the non denominational chapel of the former Oxnard Air Force Base which we converted into a Byzantine church. Father Peter Lambert was our assigned priest. I am honored to say that I was the first psalti. There are many hardworking dedicated people known as the original founders. For fear of omitting some names I avoid listing them. They know who they are and may God bless them always. Before I go to the 3rd Milestone I will mention why our church was named St. Demetrios. Four committees were formed, each one working to name our church for the Saint they favored. They were : St. Demetrios, St. Andrew, Sts. Constantine and Helen and Holy Cross. Fundraisers took place and a vote for $10.00 was recommended. As we all know the name St. Demetrios was the winner when it was announced by Bishop Anthony at a grand dinner celebration held in November 1980.

The 3rd Milestone

On Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2015, we opened the doors of the Agape Chapel in our present location. His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos assisted by clergy from neighboring churches led the “ Thyranoixia ” (Door Opening) prayerful service. As you know Pentecost is considered the birthday of our church and for that matter of all Christianity, when Christ sent the Holy Spirit to His Apostles as He had promised and they were emboldened and inspired preaching in various languages the word of God. It’s also the birthday of a new era at St. Demetrios.

We are at a beautiful location, our congregation keeps growing and many activities and religious programs are available to our parishioners led by our capable and dedicated priest Father Gary, we look forward to a bright future for our church. May God and St. Demetrios grant that we achieve it.

Nick Varnava