“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


Friday, April 13, 2007

Take Our Church Back!

We are currently witnessing a situation that grows more intolerable by the day. Our Priests and Hierarchs demand that we, members of the Greek Orthodox community of Salt Lake City, stifle our voices, suspend our reason, and simply "pay, pray and obey." In response, we have established this blog site to provide a forum for those who want to TAKE OUR CHURCH BACK.

The site will allow the expression of diverse opinions, including those who are in disagreement with our purpose. It is envisioned that the site will be a repository for previous and current opinions expressed regarding events occurring in our community.

*Note, some ground rules: It is requested that those wishing to post messages sign their name and maintain a reasonable and reasoned attitude. From time to time, in providing commentary or opinion, the moderators will post under their own names. The moderators will not edit anyone's posting, including to correct spelling or grammatical errors. The moderators of this blog reserve the right to delete posts that are not signed or that appear to be signed with a ficitious name. We further reserve the right to remove any posting that is deemed malicious, threatening or profane.

For those unfamiliar with "blogging", please feel free to e-mail us at tocbslc@gmail.com. We will post your comments for you on the blog.

Christos Anesti, to all!


yannis said...

April 15, 2007
His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver
4550 East Alameda Avenue
Denver, CO. 80246
Via PDF File E-mail
Original Via First Class Mail
Your Eminence,
Let me begin by apologizing for again taking time out of your busy schedule and allowing me to voice my concerns regarding our parish here in Salt Lake City. I believe writing you to be the best avenue to voice our concerns as you are our spiritual leader.
As you may recall, several of us met with you in your old office in 2002. I was privileged to have been a member of the parish council at that time and had the opportunity to attend the above meeting. You may also recall my adamant and outspoken opposition to the splitting of our community. I have recently come to learn that there is a movement in the parish, as I am writing to you, gathering signatures to not only split the community but to remove the Greek Orthodox Church distinction from Prophet Elias and rename it AMERICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.
I certainly believe that you are aware of this movement but am not sure whether you are aware of the changing of the name. I am absolutely positive that the Proistameno you have assigned to our community is not only aware of this movement in all its facets but is behind it as he was in splitting our Philoptochos. Whether this is at your directive (which I personally believe it is according to your letter sent to the Parish Council on July 18, 2002) only you can answer.
It seems to me, the Proistameno you have assigned to our community has, in such a short time with his words and actions, caused such great division in our community that he has outdone you. This same Proistameno refuses to allow Fr. Elias Koucos to serve at Prophet Elias because “he is not qualified to be a priest.” If this is the case, why did you ordain him to the priesthood? In this case does the Proistameno supercede his superior? It clearly seems to me that he is the new coming of “ΓΕΩΡΓΙΟΣ ΠΑΠΑΔΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ” and you have no say in ANY matter.
Recently, I sent you a letter both by e-mail and standard mail, referring to Fr. Mario Giannopoulos’ and Nick Colessides’ situations. To my dismay, you have taken NO ACTION in either situation. As I mentioned above with regard to the Proistameno you have assigned to our community, I ask the question again, does the Proistameno supercede his superior?
How can your assigned priest get paid by the parishioners of both churches but only know half of HIS community because of HIS refusal to tend to BOTH churches as has been the practice for the past 39 years? I believe that his immediate removal from this community is imperative and with your guidance we will again have harmony and remain THE GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH OF GREATER SALT LAKE.
Your Eminence, I was born a Greek and was raised in our Greek Orthodox Church. I will fight this proposed name change and division of our community to the bitter end even if that means you feel I have provoked you to the point of issuing sanctions as you UNJUSTLY did to Nick Colessides. As we say in Greece, ΦΩΝΗ ΛΑΟΥ ΟΡΓΗ ΘΕΟΥ!!
Having just learned of your surgeries I wish you speedy recovery and many healthy years. I look forward to hearing from you and more importantly to see the proper actions taken.
2751 Highland Drive
Salt Lake City, UT. 84106
cc: His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios
Rev. Michael A. Kouremetis
Rev. Alex Karloutsos
Parish Council Greek Orthodox Church Greater Salt Lake

yannis said...

March 19, 2007

Greek Orthodox Community of Greater Salt Lake
279 South 300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Dear Fr. Michael,

I am taking the opportunity to write this letter due to the recent events concerning a beloved member of our community, Mr Nick Colessides. It troubles me and it pains me as well the fact that you knew the matters concerning the corporation since 2004 and being involved in the committee, being present in the general assembly and to my surprise, being absolutely silent during the session, makes me think out loud if you and His Eminence along with the group of people that were against it thought that maybe it will not pass and that in that case we will look good to the entire community for allowing the general assembly to take place. What did Mr. Colessides do to deserve such a harsh punishment? Maybe his being honest and open to all the actions that the corporation was taking had become a “thorn” in your side because you were being pressured from above?
How much of a private matter is his situation when you (the clergy) stand in front of the people telling them that this is a private matter between His Eminence and Nick? It seems that when confronted with difficult situations among persons your standard answer is that it is a private matter between the individual and His Eminence. The statement read at Holy Trinity was preceded by an editorial remark stating that the reading of the statement concerning Nick’s situation was forced to be read. As I can best surmise, after meeting with the Executive Committee of the Parish Council, you and the committee agreed to have this statement read. Again I would ask, if this is a private matter how does your making it public work to the betterment of our parish? Are you trying to be the new coming of ‘PONTIOS PILATOS’?

If my understanding is correct, you, His Eminence, members of the parish in favor of forming the above corporation and some members opposed to the forming of the corporation met several times. It would seem to me that this would have been an opportune time for either you or His Eminence to voice your objections to the corporation which would have effectively ended any further discussion. It is clear from the events that occurred that you and His Eminence preferred to pretend to go along with the plans only to pull the rug out from under the feet of 72% of the people who took the time to involve themselves in the life of our parish. Those who attended the Special General Assembly were lead to believe that they had a voice in the life of their church. It is obvious that they were wrong as the only voices that were heard were yours and His Eminence’s. This type of behavior, in my mind, validates the above reference to Pontios Pilatos. You and the members of the parish council who lead us down this road should reconsider.

Also, another matter that has been bothering me for some time is the situation with Fr. Mario Giannopoulos. I am of the opinion that his situation warrants the utmost compassion and understanding in light of his raising four children by himself. You have on numerous occasions stated, as you have in Mr. Colessides’ situation, that this is a private matter between Fr. Mario and His Eminence again dodging an issue that your fingerprints are all over. Another excuse you have used is that priests are not allowed to serve in the parish where they were raised. I know for a fact that there are priests in this Metropolis who are assigned to the parish in which they were raised. The Cathedral in Denver comes immediately to mind. My understanding is that he has served in other parishes in the Metropolis of Denver at the request of His Eminence. He serves as a priest everywhere except in the church his children receive Holy Communion in every Sunday. Why would your assistant tell the parishioners at Holy Trinity that he was alone to distribute communion when Fr. Mario was standing in the altar? He either thinks the parishioners at Holy Trinity are fools or he would rather they wait 45 minutes to receive Holy Communion at your orders.

The following comes from the letter His Eminence sent to the Holy Trinity parish in Dallas, Texas on February 22, 2007: “All of us are sinners before God, and all of us come to the Church because we know that God is compassionate and merciful and forgiving. Yet, many of those who consider themselves good Christians have no concept of compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. How fortunate we are, how blessed we are, to have a God Who is all-merciful and all-forgiving. Let us, then, forgive the errors and the sins of others, whoever they may be. We should forgive; we must forgive, for God may have already forgiven them; and we may find only ourselves holding back, like the son who did not welcome his Prodigal brother back to the Father.”

His Eminence’s words are worth noting and helpful to us in our daily lives. I believe that these words have not been put to practical use in either Mr. Colessides’ or Fr. Mario’s situation. What a great gesture it would be for both you and His Eminence to put these words to practical use and reinstate Mr. Colessides and give our wonderful faith back to four innocent children who see their father climbing his personal Golgotha daily.

I am confident that, working with His Eminence, you can rectify both matters and make our community a happy one. As the Proistamenos if you cannot rectify these matters it is a sad commentary as our community needs a Proistamenos who shows the same mercy, compassion and love that he preaches on Sunday’s.

Thank you for your time. I wish His Eminence, you, the Parish Council and our entire community a peaceful and fulfilling remaining Lenten season and a wonderful Pascha.

yannis armaou

cc: His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah
Parish Council Greek Orthodox Community of Greater Salt Lake