The parish of St. George belongs to the family of Christian communities who are the direct descendants of the Church of Antioch, the place where the followers of Christ were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:26). After the closing pages of the New Testament, the Christian Faith continued to spread, quickly taking root throughout the Near East, the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Europe. For centuries, the Church of Antioch continued to serve as a missionary center and became a great school of Christian education. After the rise of Islam in the 7th century, the Holy Land and the region around Antioch fell to the subsequent onslaught. For many centuries, although the Arab Christians remained faithful to Christ and the Apostolic teaching, they suffered under Islamic dominion and their evangelistic endeavors were severely restricted.
At the end of the 19th century, with the decline of the Ottoman Empire and open borders in the United States, many people emigrated to the U.S. from the Middle East. Between the years 1889 and 1903, a number of Arab Christian families moved to the Kearney area from Syria and Lebanon. Organizing themselves into the St. George Society, this small Christian community founded St. George Orthodox Christian Church in 1903. Fr. Nicola Yanney, one of the early immigrants to the Kearney area, was ordained the following year, becoming the first resident Orthodox Christian priest to serve an Arab Christian community west of the Mississippi River.
Since those early days, St. George Orthodox Christian Church has grown and prospered. While remaining faithful to their ancestral Christian Faith and proud of their ethnic heritage, the people of St. George have reached out to the community, sharing the precious Light of Christ with all. As a parish of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, St. George continues to serve the needs of Orthodox Christians not only of Middle Eastern descent but from all backgrounds. Today, our parish community is a wonderfully diverse family which exists to bring glory to the Name of Christ and to share Orthodox Christianity with everyone who would like to learn more about the Apostolic Faith of the Early Church. St. George is a warm and welcoming place. Please come and worship with us!
If you would like to learn more about the background of our parish, you may be interested in reading The Lebanese in Kearney part I and part II, as well as The Story of St. George Eastern Orthodox Church, a brief history of the parish from the years 1903 through 1953.