“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, October 16, 2007

Sowing More Discord: Yet Another "About-Face" from Denver

(Moderator's Note: As always we have not edited the original document, written on the letterhead of the then Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver, beyond converting it to html for Internet publication and have tried to the extent possible to maintain original formatting.)


October 9, 2007

Reverend Michael Kouremetis
The Esteemed Parish Council
Holy Trinity Cathedral
Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church
c/o 5335 South Highland Drive
Holladay, UT 84117

Beloved in the Lord,

It appears that the spirit of Protestantism seems to want to enter into the life of the parish. Protestantism is when there is no hierarchical structure in the church and anyone can ask or demand whatever one wishes.

In our holy Church from the Day of Pentecost the hierarchical structure has always been honored. Our Lord Jesus Christ is our High Priest Who has established three ranks of the clergy: those of Deacon, Priest and Bishop. Within each rank there are responsibilities regarding how the people are served in their needs. The deacon knows what responsibilities he has, as demonstrated by your devoted deacon, Father Anatoli Kiriev. The priest also knows what authority he has regarding his responsibilities and when he should contact his superior, his bishop.

For example, if a young couple is planning a wedding and wish to invite another priest from another parish, if the priest is from the same metropolis, the priest does not have to receive permission from his bishop. If the priest is from another metropolis, the priest from the other metropolis must receive permission to come into the metropolis from the local bishop; but he also has to have permission from his own bishop to go to the other metropolis.

Keeping this example in mind, lately I have been receiving telephone calls from certain individuals in Salt Lake City who wish to invite a priest who is not assigned to the local parish to speak at Sunday School classes. I am not certain if the request is for Holy Trinity or Prophet Elias Church. In our local hierarchical structure such calls are circumventing the authority of the local priest by calling the bishop.

The head of each parish is the priest. He is responsible for all aspects of parish life, including religious education. Because of this conflict, I realize that in having one Proistamenos for both churches has created confusion. Also, recently when Father Kouremetis was away, and a special problem arose at the Holy Trinity Cathedral which should have been addressed by the Proistamenos, there was confusion regarding the solution of the problem.

As your bishop and metropolitan, I do not mind being contacted in order to assist in resolving issues. But at the same time, when it comes to matters of internal governance in which the bishop's involvement can be misconstrued as interference, the problem should be solved internally. Here I am speaking of local matters and not of the organizational structure of the Church as patriarchate, metropolis, archdiocese, diocese and parish.

Therefore, in order to have a clear understanding of how each church/parish should be administered, I find it necessary at this time to recognize Father Michael Kouremetis as the Proistamenos only of Prophet Elias Parish and Father Matthew Gilbert as the Proistamenos of Holy Trinity Cathedral. I will send letters out to this effect very soon. This will mean the both Father Kouremetis and Father Gilbert must be at every parish council meeting and at all general assemblies for them to be valid.

In regard to inviting clergy of other persuasions or other canonical Orthodox priests for lectures and presentation, permission must be given by the local Proistamenos. If he has any questions or doubts, it is he who would call the bishop, and not anyone who wishes to usurp his authority.

In the final analysis no canonical Orthodox priest has any business in a Sunday School setting, especially when the Divine Liturgy is being celebrated. A Protestant minister can do this because he does not believe that the bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of our Lord. However, if an Orthodox priest does this, people will begin to ask if he really had the vocation for the holy priesthood.

With Paternal Blessings,


+ Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver

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