Assumption of the Virgin Mary has been witnessing to the Christian faith and serving West Texas for over 80 years. Its founding tells a truly amazing American story of faith, strength and perseverance.
In the early 20th century, the men and women who would found our church fled religious and cultural persecution in the former Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey) and poverty in Greece. Many of them had their property confiscated, were driven from their homes and even witnessed family members beaten and murdered. They came to America seeking the same thing that all immigrants to this country sought, freedom, peace and a chance to build a better and more prosperous life for themselves and their children. They eventually found such a place in West Texas.
Exactly when the first Orthodox service in San Angelo was held is not known. The first recorded mention of Orthodox clergy in San Angelo was Fr. Emmanuel Panos, a Greek Orthodox Priest from San Antonio, who participated in the groundbreaking for the new Emmanuel Episcopal Church building in San Angelo on March 28, 1929. Fr. Panos was the first pastor of the recently established St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in San Antonio at that time.
On November 23, 1929, eight months after Fr. Panos’ visit, a large group met in San Angelo and created the “Hellenic Educational Society”. Part of this organization’s purpose was to promote religious studies meeting the needs of members of the Orthodox faith.
In February 1932 the Society began holding meetings in the dance hall above the City Café on Chadbourne Street. Later that year the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary San Angelo was formally incorporated on November 28, 1932. The Church moved to its current location in 1937 and has been here ever since
Assumption was the first established Eastern Orthodox Church outside of the larger metropolitan areas of Texas such as Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The church ministered to the needs of all West Texas and had parishioners as far away as Amarillo, Lubbock, Abilene, Midland-Odessa, El Paso and some places in Eastern and Southern New Mexico.
Although Orthodox churches have since been established in some of these cities, Assumption still ministers to and cares for the faithful all over West Texas, and is still the only fully functioning Orthodox Church between Abilene and El Paso.