“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


Friday, November 21, 2008

That was the past …

If he said it once, he said it half a dozen times during the past General Assembly when faced with straightforward questions about why 45-plus percent of budget figures were off-limits to any discussion. Our treasurer does not understand that those of us who oppose this mindset will not accept what are clearly dictatorial practices - past, present or future.

Along with other board members, he fails to grasp there are still those among us, not that much older than he is, who remember our parents' and grandparents' examples of leadership in this community. We and they loved and supported our church and its priests. In contrast, however, we learned from our elders and expect and insist that we will have a significant say in the economic issues - all of them - that face our community. We expect our votes, so long as they do not impact ecclesiastical practices, to matter, even if at times they are at odds with the opinions of priests and other leaders. We did not learn from our forefathers (and mothers!) to be a rubber-stamp voting body with a voice that is censored or stifled.

Our forefathers’ major goal for this community was UNITY. It is why they did not want two separate churches in this valley. We, their heirs, voted these past months first for the founding of a Heritage Corporation to properly manage our assets in order to supplement stewardship, while protecting our community’s income properties through good times or bad. It passed by 74%, yet was scuttled by a few dissenters, along with the Metropolitan as being “against the spirit” of the Uniform Parish Regulations. These are the strictures that give our clerics unprecedented control, without review, with the tacit consent of our so-called lay “leaders”. We would point out that with the latest settlement of the Katinas case – and with other victims now suing – this insistence is dangerous! The second vote was whether or not to remain united. The results, despite various attempts to scuttle that vote through fiat, (once again at a Clergy-Laity Congress) were uncovered and have hopefully been laid to rest.

Most of us who write for this blog are not ultra-conservatives who are blindly stuck in the past. Rather, we espouse positive and progressive change, such as the Heritage Corporation as originally designed. We maintain a deep and abiding reverence for our church and the traditions our grandparents and parents built for us. We did not grow up with clergy and bishops who threatened excommunication when they did not get their way. We will not accept such a medieval mindset. We are disappointed and outraged that this board continues to be cowed or overawed by it.

One parish council member had the honesty to stand up and say that a former parish council member’s excommunication and dismissal from the parish council could be a contributing factor to current stewardship difficulties. Fr. Michael’s quip that the excommunication was “temporary”, along with our president’s attempt to gloss over the event as not being “really excommunication” was further instructive. They can deceive themselves, if they so choose. The reality is that the action, temporary or not, was meant to be hurtful and humiliating to the person in question – a person who served this community for nearly half a century. More than that, it was done as an object lesson to intimidate others who might be so inclined. Its ramifications are staggering. Look up Hosea 8:7: “for they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” The fact that many faithful stewards for these past few years have been dismissed from boards, or are now prevented from running for and serving on the parish council, is but further evidence of an exclusionary, punitive and backward-looking mindset among today’s clerics.

In contrast, we respect, revere and honor our parents’ and grandparents’ wisdom. We were taught by them to honor the democratic traditions of both our Greek and American heritage. Following their example, we expect church governance to be informed by fairness, common sense, consensus and majority rule.

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