|The Rev. Vasile Tudora guides a tour of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church's Byzantine-style cathedral in Euless. Photo: Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall|
"This is based on the style of the cathedral in Byzantium, just smaller," he said. "In Euless, Texas, we have to be more conservative than the Byzantine emperor."
St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church moved into the 8,300-square-foot building in July. But Friday was Tudora's first chance to share it with guests who came for the opening day of the annual Mid Cities Greek Fest.
The tours are part of the festival, which runs through Sunday and for 21 years has been the primary fundraiser for the building's $2.4 million cost.
From the outside, the most striking feature is a 30-foot-wide, 30,000-pound copper dome that's 65 feet above ground.
The building, based on a concept drawn by Mirela Tudora, the priest's wife, has been a decades-long dream of parishioners who made do first with a ranch-style home that was on the 4-acre site when they bought it, then with a large brick building erected in 1988.
Finally, they have a house suited to their faith, Vasile Tudora said.
The tour begins in the narthex -- the first of three rooms that form a cross -- which Tudora said represents the world of the Old Testament. It is an antechamber where people can light candles to pray for others.
The next room, the nave, has pews where parishioners sit for services. It's also where children are baptized, and it represents the world of the coming of Christ, "where we are now," Tudora said. Overhead is an elaborate polished-brass chandelier.
The altar, three steps up and separated from the nave by a low wall, is the most elaborate room, with paintings depicting saints, Jesus and Mary. A small gate in the wall's center opens into the space where artifacts glisten.
"It represents the promised kingdom, opened by the death and resurrection of Christ," Tudora said.
Most who tour the church house are awed by its splendor, Tudora said. But nothing is just for decoration; there is meaning behind everything.
"For us, Christianity is not a religion; it's a way of living," he said.