“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, June 12, 2007


To those who would split our community, we offer this point-by-point rebuttal of the exegesis put forth by those wishing "independence" for the Prophet Elias "Parish".

First, no one doubts that you are a group of concerned parishioners. No one questions your love for Church, though you seemingly question that of those who disagree with your viewpoint. What is puzzling is your "concern for community". Truly we live in a time where we have lost and forgotten the lessons of history, both in our smaller community and in society as a whole.

Anyone who has lived in any large city in this country, where one church independently tries to form off another, KNOWS that this is a source of strife, jealousy and concern for loss of revenues from higher-paying stewards, key volunteers, etc. For the most part, Salt Lake was able to avoid this rift. This was, specifically, the main reason our grandparents and parents set up the community up in this manner, with the consent of the hierarchy. In fact, they were there at groundbreaking and gave their full blessing.

The notion that the parish priest cannot be the shepherd of this flock because this one community has two churches is nonsensical. For years priests have served faithfully at both churches. Parish Councils have administered for both churches according to the needs of both. The city's faithful have attended and supported both. To ask that this cease is highly unfair. A priest works in the Lord's vineyard. If a priest's assignment calls upon him to work in one vineyard or more than one, it should make no difference. Whether at the monastery, the parish, or on a foreign mission, the priest's calling is the same. In each case he recognizes that every situation is unique. It may be more accurate and genuine to state that the current Proistameno is unwilling, for reasons only known to himself, to put the time in that it takes to serve both churches, unique to this community, and not that it cannot be done. As such, he should have perhaps declined his assignment.

"To help make stewardship the only way to fund the parish's day-to-day operation." Now where have we heard this before? Sorry, folks, but 72% of your fellow parishioners do not agree. And we certainly are well aware of the tactics to which the minority resorted when you couldn't carry the popular vote. The community's overwhelming majority does not rule out other effective means of supporting our Church and its programs - it views them as reasonable, practical and responsible. It is neither reasonable nor fair to seek to impose upon the majority this narrow and parochial view.

The parent/child metaphor employed - that a parent ought to let a child grow up and become independent - is inept. Prophet Elias was never a "child" needing "maturity". Prophet Elias was a co-equal partner that served the Greek Orthodox community in this city by acknowledging and accommodating growth and expansion, yet still maintaining the identity of one community working together. The more apt metaphor is that of a spouse, not a child. PE is, and always has been, "mature". The situation is, and has been, possible because one council and one proistameno worked toward maintaining harmony and progress in the community. The construct was that time, talent and treasure would go where it was most needed at any given juncture. Did it always work perfectly? No, nothing save Christ is perfect in an imperfect world. The situation here was, however, far preferable to what other communties have experienced, where new church expansions as independent entities fostered long-term rancor, bitterness and divisiveness.

It has further been postulated in this screed that "each community is in danger of becoming an impediment to the growth of the other." HUH? "Impediment to the growth of the other?" It is a well-known saying that "he who asserts, must prove." The point here is that numerous assertions, assumptions and outright fallacies are presented as absolute fact. HOW is each community in danger of becoming an "impediment" to the other? The warning sounds dire; are any examples provided?

Then, we see a stunning about-face! After all the fuss about how the co-mingling has been sooooooo detrimental, we see that these folks want St. Sophia supported by both "parishes". They want a youth program that is unified and supported by both "parishes". First of all, other than the fact that St. Sophia is physically located on the Prophet Elias grounds, who told these people that parishioners who mainly attend Holy Trinity don't support St. Sophia? From where did this factoid emerge? St. Sophia's dinner/fundraiser was held at Holy Trinity this past winter. There were just as many folks there from HT as from PE. Same with the St. Sophia 5K fundraiser this past spring. In terms of youth programs, the assertion is made that "larger programs = more youth involved." So a larger community, that has a choice of two parishes unified in one community provides less involvement, and is terrible in all other facets of the community's church life. Yet it is somehow acceptable and desirable in terms of youth and St. Sophia school? Presumably, though, these people would not want festival funds, or are those the exception as well? The logic to all this is profoundly elusive.

Those of us who grew up in this community feel these churches in our marrow. We were perhaps baptized at Holy Trinity, married at Prophet Elias, attended our grandparents' and parents' funerals at one church or the other. The walls of both churches speak to us. The names of those who have gone before us are inscribed upon the stained glass and cornerstones of BOTH churches. They found a better, if not always perfect, way for a Greek Orthodox community to grow and prosper. And they expected
us to carry on their work.

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