Born and raised in New Jersey, Fr. Nicholas attended Hellenic College and graduated as valedictorian in the 1990s. He went on to receive a Masters of Divinity from Holy Cross School Greek Orthodox School of Theology and graduated with the honor of “highest distinction.” He married after receiving his Master’s degree and enrolled in the doctorate program at Andover Newton Theological School, where he received a Doctorate of Ministry with “highest distinction” in the field of pastoral counseling, marriage, and family therapy.

Father Nicholas is currently a member of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the American Association of Christian Counselors.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1996, Father Nicholas served in Washington D.C. until January 1, 1999 when he was assigned as the head priest of the Annunciation here in Little Rock. By God’s grace, this parish has expanded its ministries, programs, facilities, charitable giving, and membership during his tenure.

With a keen focus on youth ministry and outreach, in March 2007, Father Nicholas received the ecclesiastical title of “Oikonomos” by Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit for his dedicated service to the Annunciation in Little Rock and Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Detroit. In 2013, Archbishop Demetrios of America, along with Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, formally bestowed on Father Nicholas the title of “Protopresbyter of the Archdiocese,” the highest rank a married parish priest may attain in the Orthodox Church and Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. While currently serving in a variety of capacities within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Fr. Nicholas’ first passion is parish ministry.

Fr. Nicholas is not only the longest-serving priest in the Annunciation’s 100 year legacy, but a lifelong Dallas Cowboy fan and now a proud Arkansas Razorback fan.

Spreading Christian Faith

The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church located at 1100 Napa Valley Drive in Little Rock, AR is a place where the light of Christ is accessible to all. At the Annunciation (the church name commemorates the event in the Scriptures in which the Archangel Gabriel was sent to announce to the Virgin Mary that she was to bear the Christ), you will find a warm and welcoming place where people of all ages and backgrounds are able to develop a dynamic relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This parish was formally established in 1913 and has been at the top of the hill on Napa Valley Drive since 1983. The parish today aptly reflects America and is comprised of more than 400 families from a broad variety of nationalities and walks of life, all witnessing the Good News and striving to reflect the love of God to all people. Our parish continually strives to provide a holy place of worship that is inviting to all—men, women and children alike.

Though perhaps not as well-known as other Christian denominations, Orthodox Christians belong to the body of Christ and strive to vibrantly maintain sacred traditions that are concurrently scriptural, traditional, apostolic and Eucharistic—traditions that have been passed down for more than 2000 years.

While first visitors to the Annunciation cannot help but notice the in-depth liturgical worship and unique adornment that is the hallmark of the Orthodox Christian Church, it soon become clear that these traditions handed down from the age of the Apostles ultimately help people develop, maintain, and expand their relationship with God. Therefore, the best way to explore and appreciate exactly what the Orthodox Christian church teaches is to attend a Sunday service at 10:00 AM. Only by personally listening to the ancient hymns, prayers, Scripture readings, and observing the worship of the church can one begin to understand what the Annunciation church family is all about. 

Being an active part of the Annunciation Church family is about receiving the light of Christ and making sure to let it shine. To that end, our parish is very active in many ministries on a local as well as global level.

Locally, we have active youth and adult ministries. With age-appropriate youth groups and a vibrant Sunday school program which weaves together the elements of faith and fellowship, our parish strives to give young people the tools to not only meet the challenges of life, but better follow the Lord. In addition, our parish also offers plenty of ways for adults to grow in Christ and enjoy meaningful relationships with one another. From a vibrant ladies philanthropic organization and Bible study classes to ongoing charitable projects, there are always plenty of ways for parishioners to spiritually grow and be fully engaged in community.

Indeed, the passionate commitment to locally share our talents and blessings is perhaps best expressed by our annual International Greek Food Festival on the weekend before Memorial Day. For over three decades, the Annunciation church family has sought to transform some tasty old world recipes into proceeds that help a host of local charities do what they do best.

While our parish is continually looking for ways to use its talents and traditions towards making Little Rock a better place for all, it also strives to share the light and love of Christ beyond our borders. Globally, our parish has been active in numerous projects to support people throughout the US and in places like Africa, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, and Guatemala.

As you can tell, we feel that this parish is a special place where all kinds of people can come together to develop a dynamic relationship with the Lord, experience new and eternal life in Him, raise a family in faith, and help others in His name. We would love for you to come and pray with us—explore Orthodox Christianity and consider joining our Church family. You and your family are invited to visit us at a Sunday service at 10:00 AM (all of our services are in English), see for yourself, and “come receive the light.”

A Brief History of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church

The One, true, holy, catholic, apostolic, and Orthodox Church of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ began on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended from God the Father upon the Apostles.

St. Paul and the other Disciples spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean world during the infancy of the new Church. This was also the time when the books of the New Testament were being written. St. Thomas traveled to India. St. Luke evangelized Greece and the Balkan region. St. James was the first Bishop of Jerusalem and was martyred at around 61 A.D. St. Philip went into Asia Minor. St. Matthew is said to have done missionary work in Ethiopia. St. Andrew traveled throughout Greece, the Balkans, Georgia, and Southern Russia. Saint Timothy was the Bishop of Ephesus. St. Mark evangelized Egypt. St. John traveled to Rome, Patmos, and Ephesus. St. Bartholomew went to Armenia. St. Jude went to Persia. St. Barnabas established churches in Cyprus. St. Titus established churches in Crete. St. Peter was the first bishop of Antioch and was martyred in Rome. "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 2:26).

Roman Emperor Constantine legalized the Christian Faith in the year 313 A.D. Constantinople became the official center of Orthodoxy in 330 A.D. when Emperor Constantine moved the Roman imperial capital there. Thus, Constantinople was known as the "New Rome." Other ancient Orthodox Christian patriarchates include Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria. In 392 A.D., Emperor Theodosius recognized Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire.

The Orthodox Christian Church has been called the "Church of Councils." In fact the first Apostolic Council of the Christian Church was called in Jerusalem at around 50 A.D. (Acts 25). All in all, there have been seven Ecumenical Councils. In 325 A.D., the First Ecumenical Council was convened in Nicea to define the divinity of the Son of God. In 381 A.D., the Second Ecumenical Council was called in Constantinople to define the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The Third Ecumenical Council was called in Ephesus in 431 A.D. to define Christ as the Incarnate Word of God and Mary as Theotokos. The Fourth Ecumenical Council was convened in Chalcedon in 451 A.D. to define Christ as Perfect God and Perfect Man in One Person. In 553 A.D., the Fifth Ecumenical Council met in Constantinople to reconfirm the doctrines of the Trinity and Christ. In 680 A.D., the Sixth Ecumenical Council again met in Constantinople to affirm the True Humanity of Jesus. Finally, the Seventh Ecumenical Council met in Nicea in 787 A.D. to affirm that icons are a genuine expression of the Christian Faith.

It was this historical and ancient church which gathered together the Books of the New Testament, declaring which were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and then canonized the Bible about 400 A.D. The authoritative Old Testament used by Orthodox Christians is known as the Septuagint.

In the ninth century, the Orthodox Christian Faith spread throughout Eastern Europe from Constantinople due to the missionary activities of Saints Cyril and Methodius. Soon, the countries of Bulgaria, Serbia, and Russia were converted to Orthodox Christianity.

Around the year 1054 A.D., the Western Church, centered in Rome, broke away from the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church over issues of faith, dogma, church customs, politics, and culture. Attempts by the Roman Papacy to exert control over the other four Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople eventually led to an official separation. Sadly, this state schism continues to this day.

In 1453 A.D., the Ottomans conquered the city of Constantinople, and this marked the beginning of a long period of unprecedented persecution and suffering for Orthodox Christians throughout the eastern half of Christendom. However, this was not the case in the Slavic part of the world which experienced a period of great growth.

Sadly, the 20th century led to the rise of communism and another fierce period of martyrdom and suffering for Orthodox Christians unfolded to the great detriment of Orthodox Christians in the Slavic world. These two catastrophic developments not only led to nearly a millennia of martyrdom, slavery, and anguish for Orthodox Christians throughout the “Old World”, but effectively thwarted the ability of the Orthodox Christian Church to officially continue its evangelical mandate with the discovery of the “new world,” America. As a result, Orthodox Christians fleeing religious oppression and poverty who arrived in the United States had enlisted the aid of their native lands in order to establish Orthodox Churches in America.

One of the first Greek Orthodox churches was established in New Orleans in 1864, while the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (the governing body of Greek Orthodox parishes in America) was incorporated in 1921. It must be clearly noted that a Greek Orthodox Church is NOT solely comprised of people from Greece and is not ethnically biased. It simply reflects the origins of a particular parish and is in fact as ethnically diverse as America. 

The story of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock began in 1892 when the first Greek Orthodox Christian immigrants arrived in Arkansas. By 1905, enough Orthodox Christian men and women called Arkansas home to begin celebrating Divine services regularly. In 1913, the burgeoning parish had its first permanent priest in Father Kallinikos Kanellas. On June 8, 1920, the Annunciation parish received a State Charter, purchased a church structure, and began building an Orthodox Christian community at 1500 Center Street in Little Rock. 

By the mid-1970s, the parish had outgrown its storied location on Center Street, as men and women from every background made the Annunciation their spiritual home. As a result, the community decided to purchase 4.5 acres of land in West Little Rock. In 1983, construction was completed, and the doors of the Annunciation Church at 1100 Napa Valley Drive were opened.

At the dawn of the year 2000, the parish broke ground on a major expansion project to better meet the needs of its diverse church family. Today, the Annunciation in Little Rock is a vibrant, growing community of faithful servants of God, aptly reflecting the American experience with parishioners representing a host of different nationalities and backgrounds, all united in Christ. Either by birth or by conversion, for 100 years, people throughout Central Arkansas have made the Annunciation the place where they strive to draw closer to God, witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ, and reflect the Orthodox Christian spirit of dynamic love.

In terms of organization, the Annunciation in Little Rock with the Fr. Nicholas as its parish priest is a part of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Detroit under Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America under Archbishop Demetrios, and within the Patriarchate of Constantinople under Patriarch Bartholomew. The parish is the living continuity with Jesus Christ, His Apostles, and all other Orthodox Christians throughout the centuries.

No one has to have Greek ancestry to be a Greek Orthodox Christian! Parishioners of the Annunciation in Little Rock reflect the American experience. They are men and women of all ages and from every conceivable background who are wholly committed to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.