A native of Greenville, SC, born in 1938, Bishop Dimitrios (Couchell) of Xanthos attended Northwestern University and graduated from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 1963. Following a year of studies at Yale Divinity School, he was employed in September 1964 to initiate a Campus Ministry program for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. This resulted in the establishment of the Campus Commission, under SCOBA in 1965, and the publication of "Concern" magazine, a quarterly for Orthodox Christian college students. He visited over 500 campuses during this period, establishing contact with several thousand Orthodox students and faculty, and more than 100 Orthodox Christian Fellowships.
On behalf of the OCF's, he joined and served on the Executive Committee of Syndesmos from 1971 to 1977, and was elected President in July 1977.
In September 1971, he was appointed the first English Editor of the new bi-weekly newspaper of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the "Orthodox Observer," with a circulation of 120,000. During this period, he served as an officer of the Orthodox Theological Society in America, on the Board of Directors of the Associated Church Press, and represented the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in various capacities at the National Council of Churches of Christ.
In May 1981, still a layman, Mr. Couchell was appointed Executive Director of the St. Photios Foundation in St. Augustine, FL, and was charged with competing and opening the St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine. The shrine opened in February 1982. Located on the site where members of the first colony of Greeks in America gathered for prayer and fellowship (1777), it continues to receive nearly 100,000 visitors each year.
In 1983, Mr. Couchell was ordained to the holy diaconate by Bishop John in Charlotte, NC, and to the holy priesthood by Archbishop Iakovos, in St. Augustine. He was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite in 1985.
In January 1985, the work of the Shrine was expanded to include the mission work of the Archdiocese. This work grew so rapidly that a separate Department of Missions was established, with its own staff and facility. Meeting a great need within the Orthodox world, the work of the Mission Center expanded to include mission efforts around the globe. In 1994, it sought and received the blessings of SCOBA, and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) became the Mission and Evangelism Agency for all the SCOBA member jurisdictions. Fr. Couchell represented the OCMC on the Missions Committees of the National Council of Churches of Christ, and the World Council of Churches, as well as the Orthodox Advisory group of the World Council of Churches. Fr. Couchell served as the Founding Director of the OCMC and the St. Photios Shrine through August 1998.
He was elected to the episcopacy by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on May 18, 1998, and was ordained as Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos at St. George Cathedral, Philadelphia, PA, on Sunday, May 31, 1998, by Archbishop Spyridon. As an Auxiliary to the Archbishop, he assumed duties as Ecumenical Officer of the Archdiocese and General Secretary of SCOBA in September 1998. He served on the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, the Board of Christian Churches Together, the Committee of Religious Leaders of New York City, the Council of Churches of the City of New York, the Board of the St. Catherine Foundation, the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir's Seminary, the Board of the American Bible Society, and continues to serve as co-chair of the SCOBA Joint Commission of Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Christians. Bishop Dimitrios retired from active serve in December 2007.
Bishop Dimitrios was invested in 1980 as a member of the Order of the Holy Lamb of the Orthodox Church in Finland, is listed in Who's Who in Religion 1985, and received the Alumni Citation from Holy Cross in 1990. In 2003 he received the Humanitarian Award from International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). In 2007 he received the Extraordinary Leadership Award from the New York City Council of Churches, and the Peace and Justice Award from the Rainbow Push Coalition for his participation in the delegation to Serbia resulting in the release of three American soldiers.
In 2010, the OCF Board of Directors honored His Grace with the creation of the Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos OCF Endowment Fund. If you would like to make a contribution to the fund, please click here.
We invite you to view our Bishop Dimitrios OCF Endowment Package by clicking on the following links: