Our Spiritual Advisors
His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Archbishop Elpidophoros was born in 1967 in Bakirköy, Istanbul. He studied at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki — School of Pastoral and Social Theology, from which he graduated in 1991. In 1993, he finished his postgraduate studies at the Philosophical School of the University of Bonn, Germany, submitting a dissertation entitled, “The Brothers Nicholas and John Mesarites: Defenders of Orthodoxy in the Union Negotiations from 1204 to 1214 (in the historical and theological framework of the era).” He was ordained a Deacon in 1994 at the Patriarchal Cathedral and was thereafter appointed as the Codecographer of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In 1995, he was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod. From 1996-1997 he studied at the Theological School of St. John the Damascene in Balamand, Lebanon, where he improved his knowledge of the Arabic language. In 2001, he presented his doctoral dissertation at the Theological School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki under the title, “The Opposing Stance of Severus of Antioch at the Council of Chalcedon,” earning him a Doctorate of Theology with highest distinction. In 2004, he was invited to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA, where he taught as a visiting professor for one semester.
In March 2005, at the proposal of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, he was promoted by the Holy and Sacred Synod to the position of Chief Secretary and was ordained to the priesthood by the Ecumenical Patriarch in the Patriarchal Cathedral. In 2009, he submitted two dissertations to the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki — School of Pastoral and Social Theology and was unanimously elected Assistant Professor of Symbolics, Inter-Orthodox Relations and the Ecumenical Movement. The dissertations are entitled: “The Synaxes of the Hierarchy of the Ecumenical Throne (1951-2004)” and “Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses: Historical and Theological Aspects. Text – Translation – Commentary.” In 2018, he was elected full professor at the same university, a position he held until his election as Archbishop of America.
In March 2011, he was elected Metropolitan of Bursa, and in August of the same year was appointed Abbot of the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of the Holy Trinity on the island of Halki. He has served as the Orthodox Secretary of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation and as a member of the Patriarchal delegations to the General Assemblies of the Conference of European Churches and the World Council of Churches. He was the Secretary of the Pan-Orthodox Synods in Sofia (1998), Istanbul (2005), Geneva (2006), and Istanbul (2008). He has been an active member of the World Council of Churches serving on its Central Committee and also serving on its Faith and Order Commission since 1996.
On May 11, 2019, he was elected Archbishop of America by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and was enthroned at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City on June 22 of the same year.
Metropolitan Nicholas of the Metropolis of Detroit
Metropolitan Nicholas was born in Glens Falls, New York in 1953 to Emmanuel and Calliope Pissare. Metropolitan Nicholas' family also includes two brothers and a sister. When the family lived in Glens Falls, they belonged to the St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Schenectady, New York. Today, Metropolitan Nicholas' family resides in Denver, Colorado.
After graduating from Glens Falls High School, Metropolitan Nicholas was accepted into Colgate University and applied for scholarships. After several interviews, he was awarded the Colgate War Memorial Scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships offered at Colgate. Four years later he graduated Cum Laude with a double major in French and Classical Civilizations, with an emphasis in Latin.
In 1975, Metropolitan Nicholas enrolled as a graduate student at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 1978 he earned a Masters of Divinity degree and was the valedictorian of his class. He continued academic work through post-graduate studies at the University of Athens following his graduation from Holy Cross.
Metropolitan Nicholas worked in public health for ten years in Denver, where he was active in the life of the Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral. In 1983, he joined the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver, working as an assistant to Bishop Philip of Daphnous, who was serving as locum tenens of the Diocese. Later, he served Bishop Anthimos of Denver as an assistant. In 1990, he formally began his service in the Diocese of Pittsburgh as Administrative Assistant to Bishop Maximos.
Metropolitan Nicholas was ordained as a Deacon on July 6th, 1991 by Bishop Maximos at the Annunciation Church in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. He was ordained to the Priesthood by Bishop Maximos and co-celebrant Bishop Philip at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Denver, Colorado on July 13th, 1991. He was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite on the same day, based on his years of service to the Church.
He served as Chancellor of the Diocese of Pittsburgh from 1991 to 1995 and was Chancellor of the Diocese of Detroit from 1996 to 1997. Archbishop Spyridon then assigned him to the parish of Holy Cross in Brooklyn, New York in August 1997. In Brooklyn, Metropolitan Nicholas initiated innovative programs in the parish such as Fair Share Stewardship and the Inquiry Class for parishioners and engaged couples. He also started a Brownies Girl Scout Troop, started the Children's Liturgical Choir of the Dimitrios and Georgia Kaloidis Parochial School, and helped rebuild the parochial school's library.
Metropolitan Nicholas was elected as the Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Detroit by the Holy and Sacred Synod of Constantinople on Saturday, March 13, 1999 (view election document). He was consecrated as Bishop on the Saturday of Lazarus, April 3, 1999, at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Brooklyn, New York by Archbishop Spyridon, who was assisted by Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh and Bishop Dimitri of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese. His Enthronement took place on Sunday, April 18, 1999 at the Annunciation Cathedral in Detroit, MI.
Metropolitan Nicholas has also served the Greek Orthodox Church as a member of the Archdiocesan Council, member of the Stewardship Commission of the Archdiocese, board member of the St. Michael's Home for the Aged, and as a member of the Archdiocesan District Spiritual Court.
In 2002, His Eminence was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan by the Holy and Sacred Synod of Constantinople. This appointment came after the Holy and Sacred Synod of Constantinople elevated the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Detroit to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Detroit. The Metropolis of Detroit has direct spiritual authority, supervision, and pastoral care over its clergy and parishes in seven states, including all of Michigan, Kentucky, and Arkansas, and parts of Indiana, upstate New York, Ohio, and Tennessee. Through his years of service at all levels to the Greek Orthodox Church, his educational background, and his deep and longstanding commitment to the Church, Metropolitan Nicholas has served, and continues to serve, a successful hierarchical ministry in the Metropolis of Detroit.
Bishop Athenagoras, Philoptochos Spiritual Advisor
Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos (Christos Ziliaskopoulos) was born in 1970 in Reutlingen, Germany, and grew up in Greece and Germany. He spent his young adulthood on Mount Athos as a monastic and learned to live a life devoted to Christ and the Church. He was ordained to the Holy Diaconate in 1997 and the Holy Priesthood in 1998 by His Eminence Metropolitan Augoustinos of Germany. In 1999, he was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. On May 19, 2021 he was elected Bishop of Nazianzos by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as an Auxiliary Bishop to His All-Holiness. On June 5th, 2021 he was ordained to the Holy Archpriesthood by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.
For over twenty years, Bishop Athenagoras served as a parish priest starting at the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Germany with successive appointments. He was appointed as the Hierarchical Vicar of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis for two States in Germany. A member of the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Ecumenical Theological dialogues. In Germany, he served as a member of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Councils, the founding chairperson of the Interfaith Council of Religions, and as a chairperson for one of the Assemblies for Orthodox Clergy. He was a frequent speaker at universities, public schools, interfaith groups, cultural associations to discuss Orthodox life and spirituality.
Bishop Athenagoras established the first Orthodox Chapel in the international Frankfurt Airport and a 24-hour Orthodox crisis hotline. Founder of the first Greek Orthodox youth camp in Germany. Spearheaded a 15th-century church building's archeological renovation, built a church and community center from the ground up, and other needed initiatives.
In 2017, Bishop Athenagoras relocated to Toronto, Canada at the invitation of His Eminence Sotirios Archbishop of Canada to serve as Dean of the Patriarchal Theological Academy of Toronto and Office Director for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada. In 2019, he transferred to the United States of America, at the request of His Eminence Elpidophoros Archbishop of America, to offer his ministry to the Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2021, Bishop Athenagoras was appointed Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and as the Spiritual Advisor to the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society of America.
Bishop Athenagoras holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Theology, a Masters of Theology, and a PhD in Theology from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He also took classes in Pedagogics, German Literature, Roman Catholic and Protestant Theology, Judaism, Islamic Studies and Comparative Religious Studies at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Fluent in modern and ancient Greek, German, and English, proficient in Turkish and has a basic understanding of Latin, French, and Koranic Arabic