The Saint George Episcopal Church and the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church share an address, but hail from different sects of Christianity.
Despite their differences, the two churches have coexisted in harmony and said they hope to partner in community service efforts in the future.
Saint George Episcopal Church, located on the corner of Southeast Cass Avenue and Southeast Main Street, has been opening its doors to the only Greek Orthodox Church in the county to gather in their classroom space since 2005.
Since then, Holy Cross expanded and met with Father Isaac Skidmore of Ashland for occasional services before Father Jerry Markopoulos began traveling from Eugene to hold services at the church, Lisa Buck, church member of Holy Cross, said.
Holy Cross installed a sign outside the church in 2017 after it received permission from Saint George’s and completed renovations on the upstairs for a permanent worship space.
Interim rector Rev. James Boston said the two churches show support and attend each other’s services a few times a year.
“We have fellowship together sometimes. Several times we’ve encouraged people to attend their Saturday service or a special holiday service,” Boston said.
Buck said the two churches hope to partner together to work towards their shared goals and interests, such as caring for the poor or feeding the hungry.
“We have a mutual point of connection where we can join together and we can do some work. So I think that’s in both of our strategic goals for the coming years,” Buck said. “We’ve just been such small parishes, it’s not like we can do that on our own. So partnering together just makes sense.”
Buck said it’s a common misconception that different churches are unable to get along.
“That’s not what you would think. Do you know what I mean? In your mind you would think religion is like the No. 1 place of argument,” Buck said.
Markopoulos said the set up at Saint George is not an unusual one. Churches will meet anywhere they can when they first get started, often times within other churches of different specifications.
“I know to an outsider, it seems really different and strange, but really it’s what we do. It’s what we’re called to do as Christian brothers and sisters,” Markopoulos said.
Markopoulos said the relationships between different sects of the Christian church are strong.
“The dialogue between east and west has continued even though we are not in full communion with one another,” Markopoulos said. “Frankly, that’s not something that gets highlighted on TV ever, but really those relationships are really strong.”
Boston said the two churches come from the same faith of Christianity, which makes their core beliefs similar.
“The similarities are deeper and more important,” Boston said. “If you look at the words, a lot of them are the same.”
Father Markopoulos said the Christian church spilt 600 years ago into the eastern church and the western church.
“Episcopalians are western Christians with a western mindset, and adhere to certain beliefs that are different from Orthodox Christians who are Eastern Christian with an Eastern mindset,” Markopoulos said.
Buck, who grew up in a Baptist church, said there are differences in the approach of Orthodox Christianity and western protestant Christianity. She said she views the orthodox church as a hospital for the sick in a spiritual sense.
“Coming from a western tradition, I would say that the eastern side of Christianity is way more of a spiritual approach,” Buck said.