The Church of Prophet Elias, located at 15 Leroy Avenue, in Yonkers, New York, as it is recorded in the official files of Westchester County, was established in the year 1940. The official date is March 29, 1940. The presence, however, of the Greek immigrants in Yonkers as well as the formation of cultural, ethnic, educational and philanthropic organizations, such as the Ladies Philoptochos goes back to 1920’s and 1930’s. It is to the efforts of these organizations that the Church of Prophet Elias owes its beginning.
The church building was purchased from the First Protestant Church, otherwise known as the Allison Avenue Christian Church on March 29, 1940. Three years later, 1943, the community purchased another seven lots, next to the Church, which is the Land where the Community Center is located.
The Greek immigration of the 1960’s brought many families into the City of Yonkers and the surrounding areas, such as Riverdale, Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow and Ossining. The community grew considerably and the need for a larger Church and cultural and educational center became a necessity.
By the late 1960’s the Church Center was built to accommodate the social, ethnic and cultural expressions of the Parish. Classrooms were also added for the teaching of the Greek Language and religious studies.
In the mist of completing the construction, unfortunately the Church building that was purchased in 1940 burned to the ground accidentally.
The community was left without a church building and a place for worship. During the difficult times of fund raising programs to complete the Community Center, the decision was made to rebuild the structure temporarily as it was and then proceed to build a new Church.
1n 1982 additional property and open land next to the Church and the Church Center became available. The community in a few weeks raised the funds for its purchase.
In 1990, in the midst of fund raising programs, studies and proposals for the building of the New Church and parking lot, additional open land, adjacent to the Community Center, became available, which the community decided to purchase.
In 1992 with the presence of His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, of blessed memory, ground braking ceremony took place, and officially the construction of the New Church and Parking Lot begun.
The Church and parking Lot were completed by 1998 and on Sunday, January 3, 1999 His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon celebrated the Divine Liturgy and together with the parishioners offered Doxology to our Lord and Savior for blessings fulfilled.
Presently the Parish is engaged in the beautification of the Church interior.
As we look back to the brilliant accomplishments the community has achieved all these years, we look to the future, ever conscious of the fact that we have a sacred duty to our former parishioners, to those who are sleeping in the Lord, and to those who are with us to carry on the rich tradition of our religious and cultural heritage. May the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ guide us to be proven equally worthy of the task.
Researched and written by:
Rev. Dr. Nicholas J. Pilavas, Protopresbyter, Pastor