'Tarpon Boy' Nikitas Lulias Becomes Archbishop Of Great Britain
By Ti'Anna Davis
Tarpon Springs - home of one of the largest Greek Orthodox religious communities in the U.S. - has seen one of its native sons rise to the post of Archbishop of Great Britain.
As a child who grew up in the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Nikitas Lulias participated in the annual epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs. In 1974, Lulias caught the gold cross - and the blessings that are believed to go with it - and ever since, he knew he wanted to be a priest.
Lulias, 64, attended Tarpon elementary, junior high, and high schools, then went on to graduate from the University of Florida.
On July 27, he will become the Archbishop of Thyatira and Great Britain, leading Greek Orthodox Christians under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
“I think (it’s) sort of like an earthquake, and that I'm still living the aftershocks,” said Lulias. “Still trying to deal with the reality of the election and the overwhelming responsibility that it brings.”
He has support from Tarpon Springs, as several of his friends and family will attend the ceremony at the Cathedral of the Divine Wisdom in central London.
“The reaction of the community is also a sense of pride and joy for them because I am a product of the community. It’s not about me,” Lulias said. “It’s about the community. It’s about the fan of Tarpon Springs. It’s about a wholeness of identity.”
Tarpon Springs is known for its Greek-culture influence, but Lulias said the town gives a feeling of belonging no matter someone’s religion or nationality.
“Epiphany is a very wonderful experience in Tarpon Springs because it brings the community together. Not only the Greek Orthodox community, it brings the city of Tarpon Springs together for a common goal and a purpose. That is the idea of celebration,” Lulias said.
Lulias said one of his goals as archbishop is to spread awareness about the crisis of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. He has led three international conferences on the issue for the church.
“We need to teach people and educate them to become responsible and to become aware to implement laws and other things to deal with this crisis and plague upon society,” Lulias said.
Another goal is to educate people about the Orthodox Church and members’ faith.
Lulias said his position as archbishop of Thyatira and Great Britain carries a lot of responsibilities, but he looks forward to spreading knowledge about religious and societal issues.
“After all, one thing we have to do is make sure the world is a better place when we leave it,” Lulias said.