“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


Monday, July 2, 2007

Follow-up Commentary to "...the Fixes Are IN!"

Moderator's Note: We are taking the opportunity to print letters regarding the recent mail-out by the Parish Council and to our earlier blog.

Moderator's Note: At Matthew Hedberg's request, and due to the length of his commentary, we are printing, as its own separate blog, his thoughts on the recent communication sent out by the Parish Council and on our previous article.

Greetings once again,

I feel the “Looks Like All the 'Fixes Are IN' ”! post addresses some important issues.

Beginning with the Holy Trinity and Prophet Elias Heritage foundation. I think it is now abundantly clear that our community was not dealt with fairly, or honestly, by the diocese in regards to this issue. The individuals behind the formation of this foundation have jumped through every hoop presented to them by the powers that be and still the Metropolitan’s office impedes progress on this issue. I don’t think I will need to argue very passionately to convince you that Metropolitan Isaiah wants to split Holy Trinity and Prophet Elias. If you do need convincing of this now blatantly apparent fact, I would refer you to his recent actions of requesting that a committee be formed to asses the feasibility of separating the parishes; and his personal opinion letter of August 1, 1991 celebrating the consecration of Prophet Elias Church. With this precedence in mind I am not shocked that the Heritage Foundation is a point of apparent concern for him. I would never presume to know his thoughts and admit my ignorance as to the complex inter-workings of the hierarchy of our church. But this one seems like common sense to me. Not being any sort of businessperson or politician I am not qualified to make any expert analysis of the Heritage Foundation. As a layman however, the one thing that has jumped out at me in my review of the proposals for the foundation, especially the original version, is that such a foundation would make it exceedingly difficult to separate the parishes. Hmmmm…. I wonder why we’re having so much trouble receiving the Metropolitan’s stamp of approval.

Records of General Assemblies and Parish Council meeting should be, in my opinion, recorded. If a written action point version of the minutes is necessary so be it. But, as I proposed during my allotted comment time during the Parish council meeting, I feel that a digital recording of such meetings should be made and posted on the church website so that all information regarding the guiding of the parish is made openly available to all concerned parishioners. The technology IS out there. Every major radio and television news company around the world has a website with on demand audio and visual media. I think it would be a worthwhile investment for our church to adopt such practices for the sake of forthright transparency and open exchange of information and ideas in its governing bodies.

Whilst I commend the Parish Council for its diligence in attempting to ensure that the Metropolitan will be fully informed on all pertinent circumstances within our community as he decides whether or not to assign us our requested priest (Fr. Mario) I would like to pose a few questions. During the course of the Parish Council meeting as the budget was being reviewed the following statement was, to my recollection, made; “We have no money for hiring a third priest at this point in time.” I am not a financial advisor and whilst I have been reviewing the copy of the budget that the Parish Council graciously provided me with I admit, there are expenditures and incomes listed on the budget that I don’t fully understand. I am sure that our treasurer fully understands these documents and should I find time I intend to request an appointment with him so he can help me understand the document in its entirety. This being said, according to the budget, approximately $95,000 exists for “day to day” church operations, tens of thousands more exist in Festival accounts, and what ever happened to the money expended in Father George’s salary that we no longer pay? I would appreciate it if someone could help me understand how we can’t find enough money from these three, and possible other sources to hire Fr. Mario. In regards to the arguments that Fr. Mario couldn’t be assigned here because it is his home parish I think that if such arguments are going to be made, as a matter of fairness, all other priest within this diocese that serve in their home parishes should be reassigned as well. Beyond this, I don’t think it is very logical that a priest is prohibited from assignment within his home parish. Who better than a local understands the issues facing our community, and the unique underlying facets that define the dynamics of our community? I was recently in the parish at Pocatello dancing with Dionysius at their festival. There I met a young seminarian from that community. When we discussed his home parish in Pocatello as a possible future assignment for him I got the impression both from my personal conversation with him and from observing his interactions with the local parishioners that he would be a great asset to the community some day as an assigned priest.

Regarding the questionnaire and “separation feasibility committee.” I am in full support of a questionnaire being issued immediately to the community at large and would also support their issuance on regular occasion in the future. It is important that the wishes of the majority of the community be understood so that leaders can aptly guide the community towards its established goals. This being said, I would fervently request that the Parish Council design the questionnaire to be as encompassing and clarifying as possible. I would call also on all parishioners to participate. This isn’t like voting Democrat in Utah; your opinion WILL influence the outcome of events.

When I attended the Parish Council meeting the president repeatedly stated that the Bishop had stressed to him that he was REQUESTING not COMMANDING that a committee be formed. It seems to me, that since this is only a request, it would be logical to wait until the survey has been completed before we decide whether or not to comply with this request. If the support/desire for a committee is not present amongst the majority of the parishioners why waste the time, money, and effort to form one? The fact that the committee would operate outside the control of the Parish Council is worrisome to me. The president said during the meeting that we have been assured by the Metropolitan that any decision to split the community would be the community’s decision and no one else’s. If this is the case, why would we investigate the possibility of splitting with a committee that is independent of the legislative body elected by the community to pursue and protect the interests of the community?

Anonymous letters; while I feel that the majority of the time these letters are discredited because no author signs their name thereby eliminating the opportunity for rebuttal and response by the receiving party I don’t think it is wise to just disregard them. Do the police disregard anonymous tips? Would the church disregard an anonymous letter containing a bomb threat? Are there not materials in common circulation by our church i.e. prayers, songs sung by the choir, etc. that we don’t attribute to a specific author? While anonymous letters in recent instances may cause more problems than they solve, to disregard them entirely is irresponsible. At the bare minimum read them, circulate them amongst the people they concern, and learn from them. To all those writing anonymous letters, sign your name. Are you ashamed of your opinion, or just scared of repercussions for expressing them? Either way, by not voicing and sticking to your opinions, you hinder this community.

These are my own personal opinions, I would love to hear yours. I would remind you to please approach your children about my petition.


Matthew Hedberg

Moderator's Note: At Jim's Kastanis' request, we are printing his thoughts to the Parish Council regarding their recent mail-out.

July 2, 2007

Parish Council
Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake

Dear Parish Council,
I am in receipt of your letter dated 6/27/07 in regard to the issues currently confronting our community. I concur with most of your decisions on the issues except with issue # 4.” The feasibility of having two independent parishes”.
An issue of this magnitude should not be “unofficial” and left to anyone other than the Parish Council. The Parish Council should go out and meet with the people in the community and study the issue. You were all elected by the community as our representatives and it is your duty to undertake the study of the issue. Half of the Council could survey Holy Trinity and half of the Council could survey Prophet Elias. Then both halves could meet together and make their findings known to the community. This would offer much more accreditation to the study than any 5 or 10 known or unknown individuals selected at random.


Jim Kastanis

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