Anonymous donation brings traditional touches from Greece to this Macon church

Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church continues to introduce traditional touches to its modest-sized white chapel, most recently adding an icon screen to its collection.

An icon screen is a wall of religious paintings that separate the central part of a church from the holy altar. Holy Cross’s screen includes royal doors, eight large icons, two medium icons, a piece over the royal door and 12 smaller icons.

Iconography represents remembrance in Orthodox tradition, said Emily Dermatas, chairwoman of the church's planning committee and choir director.

“It’s like having a picture of a loved one to remember,” she said. “We don’t worship them. We venerate them, and it reminds us of their lives.”

The church, under former part-time priest Rev. John Stefero, worked directly with a Greek-based ecclesiastical furniture company and iconographer and Georgia-based construction company and art broker to bring the grand, wooden centerpiece to life.

Previously home to a Methodist church, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church has been at its location on First Street since 2004.

The icon screen comes thanks to an anonymous donation, the amount of which Dermatas did not disclose. The donation also has allowed the church to install a marble floor and renovate the holy altar area.

The church is continuing service while it undergoes renovations.

Eventually, Dermatas said, they want to fill the entire church with iconography.

Two weeks ago, Father Theodore Ehmer joined the church as its permanent priest.

Ehmer served as assistant priest at a church in Charlotte, North Carolina, before transferring to Macon. He said the Greek Orthodox community here has been without a full-time priest for about eight years, likely due to its size, but the church is growing.

Ehmer said he is thankful for all the changes happening at the church.

“We’re giving a witness to historic Christianity from its apostolic roots,” he said. “I think that’s a beautiful thing.”