Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 2 Corinthians 13:11-12
Beloved Faithful of St. Demetrios,
I write to you with the peace and love of Christ. When Presvytera Christie and I received the assignment to serve Camarillo in the summer of 2004, we rushed down from Oakland, looked for a house and put an offer on it immediately. We did not want His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory to change his mind. Serving you has brought me great joy. Your support, enthusiasm, confidence and trust helped us achieve goals many thought were unattainable.
My service as the Proistamenos (lead priest) of St. Demetrios is concluding. I have been asked to pick up a new mantle and serve the Metropolis of San Francisco as the Pastor of Youth and Young Adult Ministry beginning February 1, 2021. A new priest will succeed me as your pastor. I am saddened, yet excited to begin my new role and ministry.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we read, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
We certainly had our fill of those activities throughout the many seasons’ past. The memories made in the last 16 and half years will warm my heart. In the first few weeks of my service here, I was introduced to the earnest pledge for the future. As we were about to realize the finality of our first loan from the bank to purchase the Woodcreek and Santa Rosa property, the bank requested an extra $60,000 to fully secure the loan. I will never forget the handful of faithful parishioners who took out their checkbooks on the spot, and covered that fee. I knew our dream would become a reality. Your dedication and commitment to advance Orthodox Christianity in Ventura County will serve as a legacy.
Enthusiastically expressed in Ecclesiastes, “We laughed and danced!” Boy did we dance! I will forever cherish the Greek Festivals and the hard work exerted by all. I smile when I recall the tired faces that still rushed the dance floor, with amazing enthusiasm, at the end of Sunday evening, when the band played the last song. Everyone found a burst of energy to celebrate our weekend (but really, several-months-long) accomplishment on the dance floor.
Just as Solomon explained, “We built and cried.” I do not ever expect to feel that same emotion that filled my bones the afternoon when we opened the doors of the Agape Building for the first service. During the vespers I took the censor to bless the people and the building by lifting the fragrant incense. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I realized the overflowing attendance. What was once a dream and vision became our reality. There we were, in the building we designed, glorifying God, just as we set out to do. I will never forget how I tried not to break down and cry as the tears streamed down my face.
From a barber shop to St. Paul’s in Ventura, an amazing group of faithful established St. Demetrios. Founded on love and steady growth at Skyway, we set our sights on Woodcreek and Santa Rosa. The Agape building has become one of the most extraordinary structures in Ventura County, and not merely because of the plaster, brick, and design. It is because of you, the people who congregate to pray and grow in your devotion to Christ that set this community and establishment apart.
In Proverbs 27:17 we realize, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Sunday services, baptisms, weddings, births, and deaths are not the only things that mark the life of a priest. Every person carves out and sharpens their own spot in the pastor’s heart. Thank you for celebrating my strengths, while patiently enduring my faults. I tried my best to live up to the standard Christ commanded St. Peter when our Lord said, “Feed my sheep.” Thank you for letting me serve you. I am grateful that you invited me to pray with you and that you entrusted me with your most intimate life moments.
Welcome, support and love Fr. Constantine Trumpower and his beautiful wife Adrienne and three boys as they enthusiastically lead the next chapter in the awesome history of St. Demetrios. Fr. Constantine is an amazing, faithful, and energetic priest. He is wise beyond his years and has a wealth of talent to help you on your journey towards an abundant life in Christ. Over the last few years, and especially these last few weeks, we have developed a deep connection and friendship. He will be a Dodger fan in no-time!
Our youth are faced with a variety of challenges and daily struggles. They are consumed by social media and a society plagues them with overwhelming anxiety and depression. I am not the solution to this crisis, but I am called to assist in introducing Christ and a greater understanding of His truth to this generation. I ask for your prayers as I embark on this new assignment. Please offer supplications to the Theotokos, the Mother of God, and to our patron Saint, St. Demetrios, to intercede for this work I have been called and assigned.
Presvytera Christie, Harrison, Jacob, Elena, and I will continue to call Ventura County home. Although I will not lead the parish, my family and I will continue to live in Camarillo. This new ministry will require travel throughout our Metropolis, but I hope we can still see each other from time to time.
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7)
With great joy, abundant love, and immense gratitude, I remain, respectfully,
Yours in the Service of Christ,
Fr. Gary Kyriacou