“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


Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Response from Bill Souvall, Parish Council Member

Dear Gentle Readers, (I love that salutation. I hope Nick doesn't mind that I borrowed it)

I am not a regular reader of the blog but I heard about Nick's most recent posting, and since I was the parish council member who was mentioned in his comment, I thought I might explain my call to my cousin Barbara Colessides (whom I love dearly--always have and always will) that Nick referenced. I explained to Barbara that I understood her and Gus's reasons for withholding the balance of their stewardship pledge from last year. I suggested that if she and Gus chose not to pay that balance, to instead consider a donation to a restricted fund, such as the PE Pavilion fund, which would be administered by the Greek Orthodox Trust Committee for that specific purpose only and would not be subject to any additional fees to the Metropolis or Archdiocese. I never asked Barbara to pay the balance of their stewardship pledge. I also firmly believe that Gus should have been allowed to run for the Parish Council because I know he is as worthy as I am to serve, if not more so, and I expressed my disappointment at the decision to exclude him to all involved at that time.

Since I am writing, I thought it might be the appropriate time to offer a different perspective, my own personal perspective, on stewardship. I don't do this to stir a debate or to complain about, criticize, judge or condemn anyone who has a different view than mine.

I certainly don't always agree with every action taken by our Parish Council (of which I am a member), Clergy, Metropolitan, Archibishop or Patriarch. In many cases, I am shocked and dismayed by some of the things that have happened. However, my stewardship pledge and payment is not between me and any of the above mentioned individuals or entities. I view it as a deal between me and my Creator. I understand all of the above mentioned individuals or entities will get their crack at a piece of my stewardship, but they will each have to be accountable at their day of judgement as to how they handled their actions, responsibilities and commitments. I will also face that same judgement.

I have been unbelievably blessed in all aspects of my life. I have been the recipient of a most remarkable miracle and I know who bestowed that miracle on me (I think we all have received miracles but perhaps we just haven't recognized them for what they are). My family and I have also seen first hand the unbelievable generosity, love and support our community is capable of. I am still in awe and am extremely thankful and appreciative for the unbelievable response of our parish when we really needed it. We would be extremely remiss if we didn't repay the community to the best of our ability with the three T's--Time, Treasure, and Talent. When I think of all the terrific programs and opportunities our community offers, I feel joyful in offering financial support in proportion to my blessings. I simply can't refuse what my Maker has asked of me in Scripture. I am not willing to sit on my Judgement day before my God, who has given me the most blessed life imaginable, and try to explain that I was mad at some people and their actions, and therefore it was excusable or appropriate to change my deal and commitment with Him.

I will tell you that I didn't always feel this way. Before I got extremely sick 3 years ago, I think I would've advocated a more militant approach that others encourage to resolving our challenges. That is why I can understand the responses of some bloggers, although I can no longer agree with them with regard to stewardship. I suppose it took a miraculous recovery from having one foot in the grave to initiate a total overhaul of my priorities. I guess the best way to explain it is that I have experienced what I can only call my "Magic Moment"--a profound understanding and appreciation of the blessings I have received. My stewardship is simply my unconditional gift back to God with my deepest thanks for all he has given me. I eagerly look forward to increasing not only my stewardship pledge each year as my blessings in all aspects of my life increase, but also the support of our various Capital campaigns and other worthy causes and charities.

I will reiterate that I am not interested in entering a debate as to why we should or shouldn't pledge or pay stewardship. If you choose to pay a minimum stewardship for whatever reason, I would encourage you to help out with the many restricted Capital projects we currently have to fund, such as the PE Pavilion, the new HT Campus project, or the PE Dome and Remodel project. I hope and pray that we all take stock of our lives and act in accordance with our blessings.

Love to all and God Bless.

Bill Souvall

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