His Childhood and Youth
Future Archbishop was born on November 28, 1967, in the village of Makrohori (Bakırköy district), today this is the European part of modern Istanbul, Turkey.
Ioannis was the fourth among five sons in the family. His father, Basilius was from Istanbul and his mother was from the Syrian city of Aleppo. His father’s kindness and his mother’s energy and dignity influenced the formation of the character of their children. His father was in the business of sewing shirts. The import of cheap goods from Asia caused his business to suffer, and the family was hardly making both ends meet. The brothers were growing among children of other nationalities -Greeks, Armenians, and Turks. They were studying together and playing games together. Soon, Ioannis proved to have remarkable leadership qualities. In search for a better life in 1977, the family moved to Thessaloniki, Greece. Their first dwelling was in the basement with almost no furniture. For a short time they had to literally sleep on their luggage bags. It was very hard for the boys. One of the brothers of the Archbishop recalled that in Istanbul they were called “unfaithful” and in Thessaloniki they were called “Turks.” It was in his early childhood that Ioannis began to reveal his strengths of character. He was also capable of prioritizing things and overcoming difficulties. Later, the family moved to a place with the better living conditions. Now, the Technical University is situated in the place where the family’s last residence was.
Ioannis studied at the department of Pastoral Theology, Theological Faculty of the University of Aristotle of Thessaloniki which he graduated with Merit in 1991. It was a very difficult time for the future Archbishop. His family could not help him financially that’s why as a student he had to work every day to pay his tuition. For some time, he worked at the factory that was making New Year tree glass decorations . At that time, his hands were always covered with cuts and injuries. For a short period of time he worked at the Officers’ Club as a coat check attendant.
In 1993, Ioannis finished his postgraduate studies at the Philosophical School of the University of Bonn, Germany. He submitted a dissertation entitled “The Brothers Nicholas and John the Mesarites.” At that time, he got acquainted with the head of German diocese, Archbishop Augustine (Labardakis). His Eminence Augustine became the spiritual father for Ioannis and later he introduced Ioannis to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
In 1994, Ioannis became a monk with the name of Elpidophoros after the martyr Elpidophoros of Persia (November 2/15). In the same year he was ordained as Deacon in the Cathedral of St. George on the Phanar. Simultaneously, he was appointed as the Codecographer of the Holy and Sacred Synod of Constantinople of the Orthodox Church. In a year, he was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate..
In 1996-1997, Father Elpidophoros was studying at the Theological Institute of St. John of Damascene in Balamand, Lebanon where he improved his Arabic language skills. In 2001, he presented his doctoral dissertation at the Theological School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki under the title, “The Opposing Stance of Severus of Antioch at the Council of Chalcedon.” In 2004, he taught as a visiting professor for one semester at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA.
In March 2005, at the proposal of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew he was appointed to the position of Chief Secretary and was ordained to the priesthood by the Ecumenical Patriarch in the Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul.
In 2011, he was installed as the titled Metropolitan of Bursa (the title came from the Turkish city of Bursa, in Greek,” Prussa”).Twelve hierarchs of the Orthodox churches took part in the ceremony at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul, among them hierarchs of Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches as well as of the Orthodox churches of Constantinople, Antiochus and Alexandria . In August of the same year, he was appointed Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Heybeliada (on the island of Halki.)
In 2018, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros was awarded the degree of the Professor of Theology. On 11 May 2019, he was elected by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as next Archbishop of America. He was enthroned on June 22, 2019, in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in New York, the main Cathedral of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America. The spiritual father of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, the Archbishop Augustine of Germany gave him the shaft on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.