“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


Saturday, November 24, 2007

The “Scarlet Letter” – “I” for “Ineligible”?

Ineligible, therefore disqualified. This past week, two community members, nominated for election to the parish council of this community, were telephoned by the chairman of the election committee, and told they were ecclesiastically “ineligible” to run for, and to serve on the parish council. The Scarlet Letter, a novel set in 17th Century Boston, describing the story of a woman who is forced to wear a scarlet “A” (for “adultery”) on her clothing comes to mind. Our present-day clergy and their minions cannot stand any scrutiny or accept any hard questions. They view those who disagree with them as "un-Christian" or "non-Orthodox". Thus they seek to put the letter “I” on two worthy gentlemen whom they label, based on ever-shifting standards that few can meet, or have had to meet in the past, as “ineligible”.

Jim Sifantonakis, moved to the U.S. with his family while still in high school. He graduated and went on to get a diploma in mechanical design. He married Katina Limberakis, and together they opened Omega Burgers, in 1976, along with other businesses through the years. Jim currently runs his own contracting business, building furniture and remodeling. With his wife, he has raised four successful children, teaching them to give their time and best efforts to the church and community. A self-motivated, talented man, Jim is honest and generous in always helping the church in any way he can. Jim never says "no" to anyone who asks for his help, and truly enjoys helping others. The church and community trust him with security and cash pickups. He has organized and cooked in the kitchen for countless events. When everyone else anticipates showing up for a party at six in the evening, Jim gets to the church early in the morning, spending the day and most of the party working to make events successful. Through his example he has taught his four children reason, honesty, fairness, humility - most importantly to strive to be good Orthodox Christians and persons of high integrity.

Gus Colessides, came to this community in 1966 from Kavala, Greece at the age of 17. An altar boy in his youth, Gus was the grandson of Theodoritos Colessides, a Pontian Archimandrite who led Pontic Greeks out of Asia Minor and into Greece, and who also was appointed by the Patriarch as Oikonomos of the Theological School at Halki. He served with distinction during his tenure there. Gus graduated from Westminster College in 1970 with degrees in Mathematics and Physics. He married Barbara Billinis in 1973, and earned his MBA from the University of Utah in 1977. He is the proud father of two daughters and the proud pappou of two grandchildren, both baptized at Holy Trinity. He worked in the oil industry for 24 years before retiring, and is still asked to speak as a consultant on trends in the oil and gas industry. He is currently a business consultant and entrepreneur. Gus taught Greek School at Prophet Elias and served on the parish council. He served on the Audit Committee at Holy Trinity Church, Tulsa. In Houston, he served on the building committee at St. Basil’s Greek Orthodox Church. Even after returning to Salt Lake in 2005, he still travels to Houston every May to run the kitchen for four days the St. Basil’s Greek Festival. He coached numerous youth soccer teams, helping several young people to obtain college scholarships, and mentored many young soccer referees through the years.

Jim and Gus are the kind of men any dynamic, open and transparent organization ought to be recruiting. They might ask hard questions, perhaps in ways not always considered politically correct by our overly sensitive leadership, but they are fair. Diversity of opinion generates good ideas and strong action. These people have raised good children, had success in their professional lives, and clearly GIVE BACK in a variety of ways. They exemplify the American Dream while maintaining pride in their heritage and their faith.

To those who think to assign a scarlet “I” to these men and others like them, we say shame on you! And let those among you who supposedly live up to the ever-shifting "standards", set forth by this clergy who can't stand any honest scrutiny, cast the first stones! And keep fooling yourselves into thinking the “I” stands for “ineligible”.

Those who are honest, fair and decent in this community know that the “I” stands for “INTEGRITY” – a trait that is sorely lacking among our hierarchy, our proistamenoi and their lackeys who are supposedly in "good ecclesiastical standing".

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