The new home of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, with a magnificent dome as its centerpiece, is nearly complete on the site of what had been a wooded lot at the corner of Babcock Boulevard and Cumberland Road in McCandless.
The church with its spacious community center is preparing to open June 22 with ceremonies led by Metropolitan Savas, the Greek Orthodox bishop of Pittsburgh, who will knock on the doors of the new church with a staff to mark the start of the first service.
Congregants will be busy celebrating and praying in their state-of-the-art, $8 million church in the days following the Saturday ceremonies and then it will be business as usual, said parish council president George Dickos of McCandless.
Construction manager Rich Ross said the dome consists of more than 1,000 pieces of custom-manufactured cold curved metal.
"The more arches there are, the greater the challenge to make them even," he said, noting that the work, which was performed by Gallery Metal Studding and Dry Wall, was recently featured in a trade magazine.
The Rev. John Touloumes, Holy Trinity pastor, said the Greek iconographers who painted the interior of the sanctuary with representations and portrayals of scriptural events were impressed with the smoothness of the dome.
It took seven artists six weeks to go from white walls to completion using the ancient technique of egg tempera.
"About 3,000 eggs were hand-broken to mix with the powdered pigments," he said, noting that the drawings were first sketched freehand and then created from the background to foreground.
"As it ages, egg tempera hardens and is more durable than acrylics."
By combining ancient church elements and technological advances, the church can broadcast weddings over the Internet to relatives in Greece, as well as provide religious services for shut-ins or the elderly.
The new facility also includes a baptismal font that will accommodate all ages.
The public will have an opportunity to tour the new church from 2 to 6 p.m. July 28, with an open house that will include live music and Greek food, prepared in a kitchen that rivals any hotel kitchen, according to church caterer Frank Erdeljac of Arista Catering and Event Planning.
"We have specialty convection ovens, a braising skillet, multiple grills, hi-tech ovens and an extra-large capacity walk-in cooler and freezer," he said, adding that a separate kitchen called Pastry Heaven is where Greek pastries will be baked for upcoming festivals and events.
The social hall features a 325-seat banquet hall and large-screen HD projectors to accommodate business and social events.
Mr. Dickos said it is Holy Trinity's intention to serve more than just its own congregation.
"Our goal all along has been to make this a seven-day-a-week church, and we wanted to build a facility to support that," he said.
Holy Trinity parish called the North Side home for 80 years until it moved in June 2011 into the former Northway Elementary School, closed by the North Hills School District.
Volunteers are packing and moving church belongings into the new facility.
"I think being in the North Hills is attracting people [to Holy Trinity]," Mr. Dickos said. "With the move our membership has grown, and we hope this continues."
The annual Greek food festival Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 will be held on the 10-acre site, which is expected to become the cornerstone of McCandless Crossing's soon-to-be-constructed town center.
"We're very optimistic that the community reception will be strong," said Mr. Dickos, adding that the building and surrounding landscape was designed to accommodate the church's popular festivals, which feature five days of live music, entertainment and Greek food.
"We plan to make our festivals bigger and better."
Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.