When Archbishop Iakovos first became America's Greek Orthodox shepherd, he spent most of his time helping immigrants follow a familiar faith in a strange land.
That was in 1959. By the time he finished his 37-year reign, the Turkish-born archbishop faced a different challenge -- helping American converts find their place in the unfamiliar sanctuaries of Eastern Christianity.
Iakovos knew that America would change the Greeks, challenging their faith and traditions. He also knew that Americans would change his church, in ways that would help an ancient faith reach modern America. He spent the final decades of his long life wrestling with both sides of that equation.
"I cannot visualize what an American Orthodoxy would look like. ... But I believe that it will exist. I know that it must be born," said Iakovos, while visiting Denver's Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral in 1992.
"I do know this for sure. The essential elements of the Orthodox tradition will have to remain at the heart of whatever grows in this land. The heart has to remain the same, or it will not touch peoples' souls. It will not be truly Orthodox. I know that this will happen here, but I do not know when it will happen or how."
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