The Community was founded on 7 December 1989. Created to cover the needs of the people from a Greek Orthodox background, arriving and living in the rapidly expanding area, to support their religious, educational and cultural needs and enable them to practise their language and traditions.
We named the Community after St. Ambrose, as the 7 December is his feast and St. Stylianos (feast 26 November), as he is the protector of babies and children, very popular with expecting mothers too. Our first home was in Fenny Stratford, we found hospitality there in St, Martin's for twenty years. Almost immediately, a School for Greek language and culture was founded and a Ladies Auxiliary Group, honouring St Demetrios followed suit. It was not long that the School, small but successful, from five years old to GCSE and A Level, started admitting adults.
We did our best at the premises we were in, but housing all the needs was not that practical and the search to have our own roof over our heads was not just a vision or a dream but a necessity and from day one this was our aim so we could serve the Community better. Thus, we were on the look from the beginning and as the needs grew, the necessity became a must but the limited suitable venues in conjunction with our limited funds posed difficulties.
Eventually, a light of hope appeared on the horizon in the form of the former Church of St Mary the Virgin, built by the famous Architect George Gilbert Scott in 1864, that had ceased to be a place of worship in 1969, to become a Community Centre. The sale was in Secret Tender and with a small budget available, we were facing a battle. We made an offer though and somehow and with great difficulties we managed to secure a loan. The towns folk were divided in their opinion, "We are losing our Community Centre" said some, " We are gaining a Church" said others, the latter mainly people that were Baptized, married, had Funerals in the Church. We had "a taster" first Vesper Church Service under licence on 14th September 2008, the late former Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateita & Great Britain officiating, with the place packed. A sit down meal for whoever could find a seat and a buffet for the rest followed. Officially the building became a Greek Orthodox Church" in 2009, a place for worship again, after a pause of forty years.
As the building was honouring the Mother of God when built, St Mary had to be incorporated, hence we dedicated a small part of the Church as a chapel under the name of "St.Mary of Vlachernae". Vlachernae, modern name Ayvansaray, is a place near the Golden Horn and Bosphorus in Istanbul, where a Shrine is built on top of the original Byzantine Church which was burnt down and rebuilt a couple of times over the years.
We brought the School immediately to our new premises, and all activities at long last acquired a centre. Yes, the building was ideal but it was a Church without a Church Yard, as the ground next to it belonged to the Parish Hall standing empty and sad. Before long this Parish Hall, built in 1892 by the town's gifted own child, Edward Swinfen Harris, to enhance the Church's work, became available for sale with the same tactic, Secret Tender. We needed the Yard, and the Hall would be ideal for our gatherings and the town would again gain something that was built exactly for this purpose!.
We were enthusiastic, stretched ourselves to the limit, knocked on doors and we took the plunge. We got it. The place was in a desperate state of neglect but we put our minds to the project. We borrowed again. In 2010 the Parish Hall was given the name "Swinfen Harris Church Hall" to keep links with the building's and town's past, refurbished to some extent, and the Church obtained its Church Yard!Our Church Hall with its well-equipped large kitchen, a small back room with bar facilities and secluded landscaped back garden. with a patio, fruit trees, shrubs and herbs, is hired out when is not used for our needs, priority given to local charities. This small area of the town, together with the Church that is situated just opposite the large car park, stood empty and in darkness for a number of years, now is a vibrant part, used many times of the week, almost daily.We are aware that a lot more needs to be done to both buildings, to bring them as much as possible to their former glory. To achieve this, we need support. Any grants, donations, big or small, were and are more than needed. Everything is welcome. Stony Stratford is an elegant place and keeping it as such, is a privilege and also a duty. We are happy to have a home here in Stony Stratford, we are honoured to be custodians of those two beautiful buildings and we are grateful that the town has welcomed us.
The Trustees, Committee Members and our Parishioners express their gratitude to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for their generous and substantial support towards the acquisition of the former Anglican Church of St. Mary which has enabled the Community to expand, not only in terms of numbers, but in activities especially those concerning the young through our school and the “Hellenic Club”.