“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,

and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you:

but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,

but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, KJV)


The word the Athenians used for their Assembly was Ekklesia, the same word used in the New Testament for Church
(and it is the greatest philological irony in all of Western history that this word,
which connoted equal participation in all deliberation by all members,
came to designate a kind of self-perpetuating, self-protective Spartan gerousia -
which would have seemed patent nonsense to Greek-speaking Christians of New Testament times,
who believed themselves to be equal members of their Assembly.)

- Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Letter from the Parish Council and the Archdiocese

Moderators' Note: below is the letter sent by the Parish Council, along with a letter from the Archdiocese. The original may be viewed here.



March 25, 2014

Dear Parishioners,

Yesterday afternoon we received the March 19, 2014 letter below from the Archdiocese. Archbishop Demetrios through his chancellor Bishop Antonios has given us specific direction for moving forward as a united community in Salt Lake City.

Last night, at the conclusion of vespers and before our regularly scheduled parish council meeting, the newly elected parish council members along with the incumbant parish council members took the affirmation of office administered by Fr. Mathew.

Incumbents

Dimitrios Tsagaris
Philip Kithas
Tykie Skedros
Gus Colessides
Chris Sakellariou
Tom Peters
Pete Saltas

Newly Elected

Alicia Mares
Maria Oneida-Hardwick
Cindy Skedros
Greg Skedros
Yiannis Armaou
Nick Bapis
Ted Sargetakis
Steve Gamvroulas

Your parish leadership is in the process of providing input to the Archdiocese for the additional parish council members as mentioned in the letter.

We would like to add our hopes and prayers in addition to those of Archbishop Dimitrios, Metropolitan Isaiah, and Bishop Andonios. We ask all of you to carefully read the letter below and commit yourself to actions that move this community forward in peace and harmony.

And let us remember to love and forgive as our Lord Jesus teaches us during this Lenten season.

In His Name and Service.

Your Parish Council



Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10

March 19, 2014

Reverend Clergy, Parish Council Members and
Faithful Members of the Greek Orthodox Community of Salt Lake City
Holy Trinity Cathedral
279 South 300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Dearly Beloved,

As many of you may know, a meeting took place on Wednesday, March 12th at the Metropolis of Denver which included His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah, Mr. Dimitrios Tsagaris, Dr. Demetrios Skedros and myself. The purpose of this meeting was to find a resolution to the serious issues which have especially troubled the Salt Lake community these past few years. In the words of the Archbishop, the meeting was a heartfelt effort to help the parish overcome its current situation and truly become that what it should be, a dynamic Christ-centered parish proclaiming the message of the Gospel and edifying its members and the greater community. In a sincere desire to calm the waters and to bring healing to the parish so that it could move forward, certain actions were agreed upon by those in attendance.

As a sign of good will and tangible expression of his desire to bring healing to the community and to move forward, Metropolitan Isaiah offered to immediately ratify the parish council elections which took place in November 2013. Therefore, with the blessings of the Metropolitan this letter hereby ratifies those elections, and the parish clergy will administer the affirmation of office (Article 27, Section 4:A of the regulations) to the new council as soon as possible.

It was also agreed that there will be no discussion or steps taken at this time regarding any separation of the two churches of Holy Trinity and Prophet Elias. This is something which had been agreed upon by both the Metropolitan and Mr. Tsagaris last year and all were in full agreement that this position was needed at the present time to restore peace and harmony. At some time in the future, if there is a desire to move forward with such a separation, a committee can be selected from within the community to explore that option and work towards that end.

Since the present parish council does not include an adequate representation of those attending Prophet Elias, it was furthermore agreed by all that as soon as possible the Metropolitan will appoint to the parish council 5 or 6 appropriate individuals who primarily church themselves at Prophet Elias. They will participate as full members of the council until the next parish council election this Fall at which time, they and those current members whose term expires this year, will have the opportunity to include their names on the election ballot for parish council. This process of appointment will be coordinated by.the Metropolis and by my office, with input from the current church leadership. It must be stressed that this "new" parish council must function as ONE body, with each individual, regardless of which church they attend, accorded the appropriate deference - their opinion, concerns and what they view as the needs, heard - and everyone focused on what is best for the entire community, especially the youth who have been unfortunately impacted by all the controversy and negativity.

We are all especially pained by, and are very concerned by the way divisions have been created and ask that for the "good of the all", everyone focus their attention and their energies on working together to rebuild the unity which has been shaken, so that you may be perfectly joined together. Especially the members of the parish council are reminded of the words of St. Paul, who in his epistle to the Ephesians (4:1-3), exhorts the faithful, I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This should be especially true during this sacred period of Great Lent when our attention should not be on fostering turmoil and discord but rather on our reconciliation with our Creator and those around us.

It is indeed regrettable that some have chosen to propagate irrational fears either because they are ill informed or because they wish to use such inflammatory tactics to stir up emotions within the community as part of some agenda. For this reason, I take this opportunity to emphasize to all that at no time in the 92 year history of the Archdiocese, has the Archdiocese or any Metropolis taken the property of any community. Such inferences are irresponsible and pure fabrication and should be totally disregarded.

During the meeting, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah shared with the group that Fr. Michael had expressed in the past a desire to be reassigned. The Metropolitan is now ready to respond to that request and will work with the Archdiocese to find, as quickly as possible, a new assignment for Fr. Michael. Until that time, the Metropolis will continue to see that Father receives his compensation.

It is the fervent hope and prayer of the Archbishop and of the Metropolitan, and we believe of the parish leadership, that peace and harmony once again prevail in the community of Salt Lake and trust that the actions agreed upon at the meeting of March 12th will work towards accomplishing that goal. For this to be achieved though will require the full cooperation of all within the community. No doubt, there may be some in the parish who feel a different approach should have been decided but it was the intent of those who met in Denver to consider, at this time, the greater good and the best way to move forward to accomplish what is best for the community.

May the balance of this Lenten Season be a blessed and spiritually uplifting one for all...a time of reconciliation and of healing.  Above all, May the Lord bless and keep you: The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be merciful to you: The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6: 24-26).

Faithfully in the Service of our Lord,

/s/

+Bishop Andonios of Phasiane
Chancellor

Saturday, March 15, 2014

History Without Context Is Not Valid

It would appear that the latest contention by those who seek to split this community is that there was a letter, written in 1965, wherein there was a stated desire to build a second independent parish in this valley. Said letter does, in fact, exist.

It is, however, pretty clear if one reads this letter, and then examines the follow-up decisions taken and VOTED upon by our parents and grandparents (all of which, including the initial letter, have been well-documented by this community's renowned historian and scholar, the late Con Skedros,) that this community, by 1969, when Prophet Elias was dedicated, overwhelmingly decided to remain UNITED as one community.

So committed were our forefathers to this notion that a General Assembly passed the manner by which, IF the majority wanted to split they could do so - by VOTE, and only with a compelling majority. That, too, was meticulously documented by Mr. Skedros.

"History" absent time, context, or sequence of events is nothing more than a snapshot in time. What is clear is that the majority of these men, along with the rest of the community, decided that a unified community made more sense.

It made sense then, and makes sense now.

We have said it before, and we say it again.

Those who wish to split, contrary to the wishes of the great majority of parishioners in this community, should show the same fortitude as our parents and grandparents and build their OWN church!

Καλη Σαρακοστη!

Monday, February 3, 2014

OUR COMMUNITY'S ONGOING LACK OF REPRESENTATION AT THE METROPOLIS COUNCIL

Moderators' Note: please refer to the attached minutes of the Metropolis Council Meeting held January 25, 2014. The original can be viewed here



The recent Metropolis Council Meeting (held January 25, 2014) indicated why we are, and have recently been, despite our Metropolitan's grudging and presumed "acceptance", in dire straits.

In the midst of this chaos, it is interesting to note that we have NO REPRESENTATION from any of this community's properly acknowledged, elected leaders with the Metropolitan.

The Meeting Agenda SPECIFICALLY describes "Parish Pastors and PRESIDENTS".

Our current, and properly ELECTED, President's name is conspicuously absent! (We don't think this is an innocent oversight!)

Further, the supposed community representative, the ONLY representative currently listed as being from this community, is one who was a past elected president, but who resigned, under rather odd circumstances, in the spring of 2010! Nearly FOUR YEARS AGO!!!

It is further interesting to note that at the Metropolis Clergy-Laity Conference held in Dallas in 2009, this former elected President (along with the Proistamenos-of-Prophet-Elias-only) was listed as the representative from Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, Holladay, Utah.

This same person, who now holds no properly authorized elective or appointive office (since the spring of 2010), is currently listed as a representative from Holy Trinity Cathedral!

SINCE WHEN???

In the meantime, our Metropolitan will not even take calls from our PROPERLY ELECTED Parish Council President of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake - the ELECTED LEADER of the actual LEGAL entity (like it or not!) encompassing BOTH churches - Holy Trinity AND Prophet Elias - in this community!

OUR FOREFATHERS KNEW WHAT THEY INTENDED!

They also KNEW from what - and FROM WHOM - they were protecting us!

WHY THIS COMMUNITY IS PREVENTED FROM HEALING AND PROGRESSING ...

Moderators' Note: please refer to the attached minutes of the Metropolis Council Meeting held January 25, 2014. The original can be viewed here. The excerpt cited below (with emphases) is on page 10.



… and who is the source of these problems? The excerpt from the recent Metropolis Council Meeting says it all!


Having FAILED, again and again, to effect that the parishioners of the Greek Orthodox Community of Greater Salt Lake MUST split their community (although EVERY VOTE AND SURVEY REGARDING SUCH HAS RESULTED IN A RESOUNDING NO!), our Metropolitan continues to work the back-door channels with a minority of parishioners to effect a FORCIBLE split.

Now, apparently, and with no discouragement from their spiritual leaders, this minority has been encouraged to resort to the behaviors of BULLIES to see this done.

WHO sent the request to separate the parishes, when, and UNDER WHAT AUTHORITY???

Meanwhile, our Metropolitan continues to sabotage our properly elected leadership, and we wonder why we cannot progress as a community?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Saving souls..."

Fr. Kouremetis,

Will you please tell us if you condone or condemn
last Sunday's unfortunate events ? 

The Parish will be waiting.

Yannis Armaou

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Parish Council Letter to the Community - January 22, 2014

The Parish Council has responded to the events that took place last Sunday. Their original correspondence may be viewed here.

January 22, 2014

Dear Parishioners,


Your parish council is very concerned with the events at Prophet Elias last Sunday, January 19th.  For those of you who may not be aware, one of the parish council was assaulted in the narthex by one of our fellow  parishioners.   This  altercation  was  physical and resulted in the authorities being called to the scene. No one was injured.


We have filed a formal report with the  local authorities and  our  Hierarchs.  We  are  taking  this event very seriously and will be taking necessary precautions to prevent further violence.


At this time we ask everyone to refrain from altercations in our houses of worship.


In His Name and Service



Your Parish Council

Monday, January 20, 2014

THREATS AGAIN? IT WOULD BE FUNNY IF IT WERE NOT SO PATHETIC!

We are not looking for the PC to fund our Priest, we are doing that OURSELVES thank you very much! As I've said before, stay in your playground and we'll stay in ours. What took place after church today will continue to happen until you and yours get the message that we REFUSE the PC's authority. The PC are NOTHING but simple-minded parishioners hungry for properties, power and control. Don't come to PE looking to cause problems or you will surely find them.

- from the former first "lady" of our community


It should come as no surprise whatsoever that these holier-than-thou "orthodox" "Christians" are not ASHAMED of their disgraceful and cowardly actions, incited by the priest to whom they have a cult-like devotion.

This promised threat is directed toward properly elected officials of OUR community, and presumably, toward anyone they deem as "not belonging" to their cult.

They claim our church now as their turf. Further, as with all BULLIES their "enforcers" chose to pick on the most elderly of the Parish Council members who served that day.

Now they claim that if we don't stay in our "playground" (really?) this will happen again.

Our church, the church where we were married, where we christened our children, where we buried loved ones, where our forebears are memorialized, is called a "playground"?

Again, we call on the hierarchy to put a stop to this lunacy - to these bullying THREATS - before someone gets seriously hurt!




The Time for Laughter Has Passed; It's Time for Tears!

What can one say about a group of people, who, while clearly in the minority (a fact proved over and over again) have simply decided to behave like vicious squatters who claim what belongs to ALL of US solely for themselves?

The facts are still coming in regarding yesterday's debacle at Prophet Elias. We have refrained from commentary thus far in order to give those involved time to give statements to the authorities and to the Archdiocese.

What is clear is that Father Michael, in refusing for far too many months now to deal with, a) the properly elected lay authorities of this community, and b) in using the Nave as his forum, is continually creating what is evolving into an incendiary and now dangerous situation.

We have asked several people if any can ever recall a priest using the Divine Liturgy and the Antidoron to express his contempt for a community's lay leadership. Despite several historical instances of tensions, no one ever remembers such.

For several weeks now, the minority and former anointed appointed have made it their business to harass any Parish Council member, or anyone who has been vocally against the split, who dares show his or her face AT THEIR OWN CHURCH!

Father Michael's comments to the assembled congregation during the Antidoron have, in effect, incited some of his more ardent supporters, first to ugly and unseemly outbursts during services, and afterward, to violence.

Of course, in the manner of all bullies, the most "ardent" of what is becoming the cult of Fr. Michael, chose to threaten, then assault - physically - a gentleman in his late 80s.

This gentleman has served this community long before most of us were born. He was part of that great generation of immigrants who clung to the church and community as a harbor. He is part of what should be our collective memory as he has, for several decades, chanted during liturgies, holidays, memorial services. Agree with him, or not, NO ONE has the right to tell him not to come to his own church, let alone to threaten or to assault him, or other members of the Parish Council, or anyone else for that matter.



To the Metropolitan, to the Archbishop, and to the Patriarch: 

If you cannot understand that your one-sided, top-heavy Uniform Parish Regulations have led to this sorry pass, then woe unto you all!

We have BEGGED you to understand that the clergy you now have here do not lead with a shepherd's love. Instead, they now sow bitterness, hatred, divisiveness. They are directly responsible for pitting us against each other, for dividing families and friends, and for leading with examples of pettiness, greed and arrogance. 

Are you all willing to continue with the ugly construct you have created and condoned until your dithering leads to someone being seriously injured or worse? 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

MEA MINIMA CULPA …

Moderator's Note: (from a previous comment - refer to 2nd comment, previous blog)



We are sorry we had a respondent who had some difficulties posting a comment.

[Strange are the ways of Google, indeed? (NOTE: few others have had problems?)]

That said: please be aware that, a) the hierarchy, the clergy, and the former anointed appointed IGNORED several requirements of the highly flawed UPRs as have suited their purposes, and, b) in this community, it is NOT the job of the Parish Council to FUND a PRIEST - ANY PRIEST - for Prophet Elias ONLY!

That is a MINDSET that exists in a brainwashed small minority of this community, and in the notion that THAT minority can take HALF this community's assets for themselves, and do with such as they wish.

We don't have a "priest at Prophet Elias". We don't have a "priest at Holy Trinity".

We insist on priests who will serve a unified Greek Orthodox Community of Greater Salt Lake. If this Archdiocese and Metropolis won't provide such, they have only to say so.

If the current "standards" in the benighted UPRs, passed through several "kangaroo" Clergy-Laity Congresses insist on something else, so much the worse for them! (Who can take such nonsense seriously, when the hierarchy themselves won't abide by them?)

WE ARE ONE COMMUNITY.

We insist on priests who will serve a unified Greek Orthodox Community of Greater Salt Lake.

We know what our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had in mind! These exist in writing - in resolutions that have been passed.

If you want to change them, bring them to a vote. If you lose the (SEVERAL) votes, be GRACIOUS enough to accept that - and MOVE ON!