Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church was officially established as an Orthodox Mission Church in Columbus, Georgia under the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in 1995. Father Jon Emmanuelson, from Montgomery, Alabama, served the Divine Liturgy every other Saturday in the Chapel at the Saint Thomas Episcopal Church for nine Orthodox families. Founding members included Dr. Stephen Muse and family, Dr. Andrew Harakas and family, Mrs. Sophia Kontaxis, Colonel and Mrs. Robert Poydasheff, and Mr. Mike Pappafotis. There are currently 40 parish family members. The President of the Council is Thomas Kubik.
In 1999, Fr. Vasili Bitere was assigned to Holy Transfiguration as a full-time priest and six months later was able to secure pledges and raise a down payment to purchase a church building of its own. Within three months of this purchase, the Sanctuary was redone entirely by parish labor and its priest and presbytera’s tireless efforts. Beautiful Byzantine-style iconography was written in English, Greek and Romanian characters by Aurel Onut, a Romanian iconographer.
His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios formally blessed the Sanctuary in March 1999. Approximately 80 people attended the ceremony including local Bealwood Community leaders and area church members, many of whom had not previously heard of Orthodox Christianity.
In August of 2005, Fr. Cyril Garrett came to serve at Holy Transfiguration as an interim pastor until October 2006, when he was assigned to Holy Cross School of Theology near Boston. Since that time, Holy Transfiguration has been blessed with the help of several priests from around the region, most notably Fr. Michael Condos.
During Sunday services, the Lord’s Prayer is repeated in every language represented. The fact that it is repeated in as many as seven different languages reminds us of Christ’s words: the Church is meant to be a house of prayer “for all the nations.” To help demonstrate this, there is a large icon on the ceiling upon entering the church depicting people of all nations gathered around Christ in the New Jerusalem – a unique work commissioned with the blessing of Metropolitan Alexios. It serves as a visible reminder that the Holy Spirit illumines all cultures.
Unique to the parish is its close proximity to Fort Benning. The parish encourages the soldiers stationed there to attend services at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church. It is also active with neighborhood civic and church organizations.
While the church falls under the auspices of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta, it was originally conceived and continues to be truly pan-Orthodox in nature – a church for all nations. Cultural, educational, and socio-economical diversity remain one of the great strengths of our church. All services are in English, drawing from ancient roots in response to contemporary issues. Our community is composed of long-term residents of the Chattahoochee Valley, work-related newcomers, military personnel, college students, and other visitors.