A festive comeback: St. George Festival returns to Fishers after taking a year off

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After a year hiatus, the St. George Festival will return to St. George Orthodox Christian Church Sept. 17-19.

Last year, the church didn’t conduct a festival because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Father Anthony Yagze, the new pastor of the church, said he’s excited for the event to return. The festival will be from 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 17, 1 to 10 p.m. Sept. 18 and 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 19. Yagze said many favorite offerings, such as vendors exhibiting Middle Eastern culture with food, pastries and live music, church tours and dancing. There is a silent auction as well.

St. George’s new pastor, Fr. Anthony Yagze, in the vestments he wears before a liturgy in front of the sanctuary inside the church. (photo by Jonathan Matthes)

“Since our church started mostly from people from Middle Eastern countries, the festival was a way to witness their culture, which includes their distinct Christian faith,” St. George Deacon James Childs said. Childs has been a parishioner at St. George for 13 years, becoming a deacon six years ago. “It was an opportunity to open ourselves up to the Fishers community at large, ‘this is who we are and this is where we come from.’”

Musicians will perform live music throughout the event. In addition to the music, dancers also will perform at 6 and 7 p.m. Sept. 17, at 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 p.m. Sept. 18 and at 2, 3 and 4 p.m. Sept. 19.

There will be children’s games and other activities available at the festival, as well.

“Everything for the most part is the same. It’s the same menu we’ve done in the past,” Yagze said. “We will take the necessary precautions and sanitization and all those things to make sure everyone is safe.”

The festival is open to the public, not just members of the church. Masks will not be required.

Yagze said one significant change this year is parking. The fee to park will be $5 and take place at the FORUM Events Center parking lot, 11313 USA Parkway, and shuttle buses will transport attendees to the festival at the St. George Orthodox Christian Church.

The church has maintained its services throughout the pandemic by following COVID-19 protocols and offering livestream options.

“When those got lifted, we saw a nice resurgence of church attendance, but many people tune in (on the livestream),” Yagze said. “Not just locally, people around the country. Parishioners move away from here and want to reconnect back to our parish. That’s been a nice godsend for us, allowing people to stay connected. Our plans are to continue to livestream because we have many elderly who can’t get to church. That’s one of the side benefits of what has come out of the pandemic for us.”

Yagze, who joined the church in Aug. 20 previously served as the director of an Antiochian Village camp in West Virginia for 14 years and at a St. George Orthodox Church in Terre Haute for 18 years. Pastoral assignment is decided by the Orthodox Christian Church Bishops, and Yagze began his tenure with St. George Orthodox Christian Church, 10748 E 116th St., Fishers, Aug. 1, 2020. Father Nabil Hanna, who had served as the church’s pastor for 25 years, moved to Los Angeles in August 2020.

For more, visit stgindy.org.

Attendance was high at previous St. George Festivals, church leaders are looking forward to another big crowd on Sept. 17 through Sept. 19 (photo courtesy of St. George Church)

New offerings

In addition to the festival, the church began increasing its level of community involvement this year. A Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization that promotes neighborhood book exchanges, was established over the summer on the church property.

“There’s a whole assortment of books there that we would like the community to take part of,” Father Anthony Yagze, pastor at St. George Orthodox Christian Church.

The church also was recently designated as an official diaper drop off zone by the Indiana Diaper Bank.

“In the past, we focused our parish diaper drive during the Christmas and Thanksgiving season, and we decided to expand and go all year round with that, so the community can drop off diapers here, ideally during business hours when the church is open,” Yagze said. “Those diapers are then dropped off to Indiana Diaper Bank. Then, they work with local agencies to distribute them to families in need.”

The full-time collection began in August.

In addition to the diaper donations, St. George Orthodox Christian Church offers quarterly blood drives through Versiti Blood Centers. The next drive is 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at the church, and walk-ins are accepted. The other drives are often held at the end of February and in the summer.

For more, visit stgindy.org.


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