The Diocesan Chancery
From its consecration on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women, April 21, 1991, by His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, Wichita's St George Cathedral served as the cathedral church of what was then known as the Southwest Region, one of seven geographic regions of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. With the granting of self-rule to the Archdiocese of North America by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch on October 9, 2003, those seven regions were reconfigured and established as nine dioceses. Since the formal establishment of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America and the enthroning of its first bishop on December 15, 2004, St George serves as the Diocesan Cathedral for the Diocese of Mid-America and the seat of the Bishop of Wichita. Because the title cathedral indicates that a church temple so designated is the seat of a bishop (the Greek word kathedra, from which cathedral is derived, means chair or throne), at the time of its consecration the St George community proposed to the Metropolitan that a bishop be assigned to live in Wichita where St George would serve as his cathedral church and where a residence and administrative offices (a chancery) would be provided from which he would oversee the congregations of what was then known as the Southwest Region. His Eminence blessed this proposal and a committee was appointed to locate a suitable property near the Cathedral. On May 14, 1995, a large home on a wooded two-acre lot in the Spring Acres section of northeast Wichita, less than one mile from St George Cathedral, was purchased by the Cathedral community and gifted to the Archdiocese for use as a Chancery. During Metropolitan PHILIP's visit to Wichita the following month he blessed the Chancery, and the building's extensive remodeling and construction began immediately. This work and the complete furnishing and decorating of the Chancery were all made possible by additional financial gifts from the Cathedral, contributions from the other parishes and missions of the region, and generous grants from the Archdiocese and the Order of St Ignatius of Antioch.
The Chancery, a stately two-story red-brick and wood structure, consists of approximately 6,500 sq. ft. of living space on three levels. Its circular drive is lined with parking spaces to accommodate twenty vehicles. Brick paths connect this area to the front courtyard and main entrance, to the rear of the house and two brick patios, and to a garden area in which is located the Chapel of Ss Raphael (the patrons being both St Raphael of Brooklyn and the Archangel Raphael). Over one hundred trees and shrubs are on the property, as well as numerous flower beds, gardens and grape vines, all of which serve not only to beautify the grounds but also to screen the Chancery from Woodlawn Boulevard on the east and from neighboring residential properties on the west, north and south.
At the Archdiocese's General Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, in July of 1995, Metropolitan PHILIP announced the assignment of His Grace Bishop BASIL (Essey) to the Wichita Chancery. His Grace took up residency in Wichita on September 6, 1995, and immediately began what would become an annual round of archpastoral visit to the congregations which he oversees from the Wichita Chancery.
Originally established as the Southwest Region in the 1950's to facilitate communication and cooperation between the eight Antiochian congregations which at that time existed in the four states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi, the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America now consists of over fifty congregations serving 15,000 members in the states of Kansas, Nebraska, western Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, western Louisiana, and Oklahoma.