The Saint George Parish
In 1924, two hundred Greek immigrants in central Iowa formed a Kinotis, or Greek society. Four years later, the Greek Orthodox parish was established, with church members from Boone, Perry, Ft. Dodge, Newton, Oskaloosa, and Ottumwa, as well as Des Moines and Valley Junction (now West Des Moines). The parishioners voted unanimously to name their church after their most common given name--"George," for St. George the Great Martyr.
Visiting priests conducted services on an irregular schedule at the old YMCA building at Fourth Street and Keosauqua Way. Later, the parish held services at a hall owned by St. Mark's Episcopal Church, then at East 13th and Des Moines Streets. In 1929, the parish battled U.S. immigration authorities in order to bring Fr. Meletios Kestekides from Greece to be its first regular priest.
In late 1930, St. George Parish moved into its present Greek Revival-style church building after agreeing to purchase the property from Westminster United Presbyterian Church for
$22,000. The Greek community held the first Orthodox service in their own church building on Christmas Day of that year.
At a celebration on November 14, 1937, attended by 800 persons, the re-negotiated $16,000 mortgage was burned and Bishop Kallistos of Chicago consecrated the church building. Dignitaries in attendence at the celebration included Iowa Governor Nelson G. Kraschel.
Group shot of the St. George Parishoners congregation circa 1933