Upcoming Events » UMass Lowell’s Annual Zamanakos Lecture

March 31, 2016 7:00 pm
Free and Open to the public
UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center
50 Warren St.
Lowell, MA

Event examines Greek Orthodox leader’s influence on history
Free program explores impact of powerful archbishop who was ordained in Lowell

LOWELL, Mass. – A transformative figure of the Greek Orthodox Church – whose decades of leadership spanned the globe and included activism with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a Presidential Medal of Freedom – will be the topic of a free event at UMass Lowell for the campus and public.

UMass Lowell’s annual Zamanakos Lecture will focus on Archbishop Iakovos, who led the church for nearly 40 years. Born Demetrios Coucouzis in 1911, Archbishop Iakovos was ordained as a priest in 1940 at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Lowell, the first church of its kind in the United States. His path to power as one of the most influential leaders in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America – and his downfall – will be discussed by scholar and author Alexander Kitroeff during the Zamanakos Lecture, which is open to anyone interested in Greek history and culture.

Presented each year by UMass Lowell’s Hellenic Studies Program, the talk – which begins at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a reception – will be held at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell. Public parking is available in the municipal garage next to the venue.

“The Zamanakos Lecture offers a tremendous opportunity to bring top scholars of the Greek world to campus to speak to students and the public. It also reinforces UMass Lowell’s ties to the Greek American community, which numbers more than 13,000 people in the greater Lowell region alone,” said Paul Keen, director of UMass Lowell’s Hellenic Studies Program and an assistant professor of history who teaches about the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

Installed as the head of the archdiocese in 1959, Archbishop Iakovos served in the post for 37 years, guiding the church through significant changes, as the faith addressed the needs of Greek Americans who were assimilating into modern-day life in the United States.

The archbishop met such challenges head on: A supporter of civil rights, he walked hand-in-hand with King during the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in support of black Americans’ desire to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The image of the two religious leaders together has been preserved for history, both on the cover of Life magazine and as portrayed in the 2014 Academy Award-winning film “Selma,” which recounts that tumultuous time in the nation’s history.

A former president of the World Council of Churches, Archbishop Iakovos was also committed to connecting with religious leaders from other faiths. He was the first Greek Orthodox archbishop to meet with a Roman Catholic pope in 350 years and did so in 1959, early in his tenure, when he conferred with Pope John XXIII. He also met with every U.S. president from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter awarded the archbishop the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

During Thursday’s event, Kitroeff will address Archbishop Iakovos’ accomplishments and influence, particularly in the last decade of his leadership, from 1986 to 1996, a time when the archdiocese was challenged by a faction of parishioners who sought more democratic reforms and those who wanted the church to return to more traditional ways. Kitroeff, an associate professor at Haverford College, is an expert on modern Greek history and the development of Greek communities around the world.

The annual lecture was established in 2012 by Arthur Zamanakos in honor of his mother, Maria Nousias Zamanakos; his sister, Alexandria Zamanakos; and his wife, Alice Fleury Zamanakos.

UMass Lowell’s Hellenic Studies Program explores the contributions of ancient and modern Greek culture in literature, history, the sciences and political life. Together with Greek educational institutions, it provides exchange and joint research ventures for faculty, as well as unique academic experiences, applied learning and service opportunities for UMass Lowell students. The program also collaborates with the region’s Greek American community to advance the contributions of Greek people around the world.

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