“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


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Now All the Fixes ARE REALLY IN: The Letter We've Been Waiting For

The long-awaited and ever-secret letter from the Metropolitan regarding the splitting of our community should be in all our homes in the days to come. Along with that letter we also have the great honor of being addressed by our Proistameno, who it should be noted deliberately did not send or provide the letter to our Parish Council, or to the members of this community, to whom the letter was also addressed. As we did with the recent letter of the Parish Council, we will go through each letter and offer our observations. We begin with the letter from Denver that our Proistameno has kept hidden from his flock.

We can see that this letter was written on May 31, 2007 and is only now being made public. Even more troubling is that this letter was addressed to the Proistameno, the Parish Council and to the Greek Orthodox Community of Salt Lake City. If the purposeful withholding of this letter doesn't raise the ire of our Parish Council, we are all in trouble. The letter was addressed to all the aforementioned. No one had any right to conceal its contents from either the Parish Council or the community as a whole.

His Eminence states that a resolution was passed at the recent Clergy/Laity conference of this Metropolis in Oklahoma City some three weeks before the infamous letter's date. We must remember that Clergy/Laity conferences are events organized by the Metropolis. The Metropolis Council's president is the Metropolitan. The Metropolis Council is comprised of people who are hand-picked by the Metropolitan; in other words his most staunch supporters. The agenda for these conferences is dictated by the Metropolis. It isn't much of a stretch to conclude that the Metropolitan orchestrated the passing of this resolution. With all the issues currently facing the church, it is mind-boggling that this issue was even discussed, let alone a priority. For nearly 40 years we've existed in our present condition, and, as far as we can tell, there has been no discernable harm to Orthodoxy. The harm has not come from the laity, in fact, but from the dysfunctional hierarchy that embraces denial and secrecy. We can all be proud to know that the Byzantine mentality, sadly its deviousness, but not its genius, is alive and well today.

In reading the resolution it is clear that it is expressly addressed to our community. The Metropolitan writes, "On the basis of this resolution which was passed unanimously by the delegates, the members of our Greek Orthodox Community in Greater Salt Lake City have been given a challenge to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church." Those well-meaning delegates have no idea of the history of our community. They have no idea how the late Archbishop Iakovos was adamant that this community remain united. (He didn't seem to think the idea was anti-canoncical!) With the exception of those delegates representing our community, those well-meaning delegates don't live in our community, don't know our parishioners, don't know how our youth feel. Those well-meaning delegates were presumptuous in thinking they know first-hand our experiences in this community. If we have not been "in harmony with the teachings of the church" how is it that we have remained a part of the Metropolis and Archdiocese all these years?

The Metropolitan's directive in this letter is clear, and it resembles nothing our Parish Council told us in their recent "explanation letter." "I therefore ask Father Michael Kouremetis and Father Matthew Gilbert to work together and in Christian love to work out the fulfillment of the resolution with the members of the community." (emphasis added) Nowhere does he say that the "feasibility of having two independent parishes" be explored. He clearly directs that the Clergy/Laity resolution be fulfilled. So much for working together for the betterment of our community.

Of equal "comfort" are the Metropolitan's words regarding "un-Christian polygamy" of which we are apparently guilty. The Metropolitan has labeled many things "un-Christian". Before Mr. Colessides' ouster from the life of the church he was accused of making "un-Christian" comments, without the benefit of being told what they were. Now we are reminded of our "un-Christian polygamy" that has existed in the life of this community for the past 38-plus years. We are also told of the "uncanonical" situation that purportedly exists here, without the benefit of being informed of which canons we have been violating for these 38-plus years. For all these years the canons were not an issue. Now our Proistameno and Metropolitan throw the term "uncanonical" around like candy.

He also accuses "numerous Greek Orthodox Christians in the Salt Lake City area" of having the concept of the "almighty dollar" first in their hearts and minds and on a higher level of priority than their faith, once again without benefit of explanation. We would like to remind the Metropolitan there is only ONE knows what is in our hearts and minds and IT IS NOT HIM!! How insulting for him to infer knowing what is in our hearts or minds! From letters that have been received in the past from the Metropolitan, the same could easily be said of him. Do the words pot and kettle come to mind here? The clergy are supposed to reflect God's love toward mankind. Instead we see threats, deceptions, false accusations, Christ's sacraments wielded as weapons and denial of any responsibility when our precious children are at risk from those who are to be the example of God's love.

Returning to the specific subject at hand, the Metropolitan mentions the formation of a committee not to study the "feasibility" of having two independent parishes but to "deliberate in a Christian manner how (emphasis added) the two parishes will separate much like a daughter leaves her mother in order to marry." Lest we are lead to believe that we parishioners are in charge of nothing, the metropolitan corrects our thinking by stating, "It is a given that the parishioners are in charge of the community properties." He continues, "It should not be difficult for an understanding to take place and a solution reached." Having great confidence in our ability to reach a solution the metropolitan can't resist offering us the solution that has been proposed by those few who are spearheading this effort to split. "It was told to me that one option would be for the Holy Trinity Cathedral to continue to have all the church property in the city plus the apartment buildings and the parking lots, while the parishioners who attend Prophet Elias parish would have only the parish property in Holladay." Well gee, we wonder who it is that told you this was an option? Not to worry though because, "If this is to be your decision. I am willing to approve it." No, Your Eminence, this is not to be our decision. Will you approve that?

The time has come for those of us who oppose the heavy-handed, secret tactics that have been used to beat us over the head for the last five years to stand together and fight for what we believe. The fact that this Proistameno would not distribute a letter sent by the Metropolitan to the Parish Council and the community is insulting. The agenda is clear and the secrecy (not only with this issue but with nearly every other) is utterly unbecoming a clergyman. Our Parish Council needs to acquire the fortitude necessary to put a stop to this behavior immediately. Further, it is time that a transfer is seriously considered; this Proistameno has no credibility left whatsoever. Need we remind our Metropolitan and his lackeys that without the laity there is no Church?

No comments: