After more than a decade of planning and two years of construction, the official opening of the new Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Shinnecock Hills—formerly known as the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons—will be held on Thursday, August 15, at 9:15 a.m.
To commemorate the long-awaited day, set to coincide with the Feast of the Dormition, also known as the Assumption, Archbishop Demetrios of America will preside over the initial church service and lead church officials and parishioners in a ceremonial door opening.
The new church, with its 60-foot dome, massive marble columns and intricate symbolism, also boasts state-of-the-art technology. Modern amenities include heated floors and high-definition cameras within the sanctuary in order to broadcast services live on the internet.
The design, both outside and inside, is based on sixth century Byzantine architecture and the Hagia Sophia, a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica and current museum in Istanbul, Turkey. “We wanted to simultaneously achieve the sense of intimacy and majesty in this church,” said the Reverend Father Alexander Karloutsos this week.
Father Constantine Lazarakis added: “We really took a lot of inspiration from Hagia Sophia, which is the world’s par for excellence example of church architecture—in my opinion.”
The ceremony will be held despite the fact that certain features of the new church are not yet completed. For example, a large mosaic, currently being constructed in Pisa, Italy, that will eventually fill the entire front facade of the sanctuary’s overhang, is not expected to be installed until October.
The symbolic door opening ceremony will include a reenactment in which Archbishop Demetrios will portray Jesus entering God’s sanctuary, as well as a traditional blessing of both the congregation and building with holy water. Archbishop Demetrios will then open the doors and lead the congregation inside to celebrate the church’s first Divine Liturgy.