“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, December 7, 2008

Dimitri Tsagaris Withdraws His Candidacy for the Parish Council

Moderators' Note: Mr. Tsagaris requested we post his withdrawal of candidacy.

2 December 2008
Rev. Fr. Matthew Gilbert
Rev. Fr. Michael Kouremetis
Parish Council members and Parishioners of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake City.

I was extremely disappointed and hurt to hear that four board candidates were disqualified by our Clergy! After careful consideration, I am sending you this letter to inform you that under the current circumstances, I am withdrawing my application to become a candidate for the parish council in the upcoming elections.

Since the arrival of Fr Michael, our community has been on a rapid decline. My experience as a board member over the past two years has allowed me to recognize this continuing trend. I have often wondered how a charismatic individual such as Fr. Michael could inflict such pain and disorder in this community.

In my opinion, a good leader is one who reflects on his actions, and also one who wishes to hear feedback from his community, whether it is positive or negative. Community members should be allowed the opportunity to express their concerns of the administrative life of our community, without fearing punishment or intimidation. This said, asking the community for responses from the pulpit does not appear to be motivated by a sincere way for feedback; it is an inept way to discuss issues.

The selective enforcement of the UPRs, the fabrication of four disqualifications clearly appear to be measures taken in order to silence possible opposing points of view; it is a medieval practice long discarded by the Orthodox faith, and has no rationale. I would like to know who is responsible for keeping records of church attendance; and, when this “supervisor” was established and appointed to his or her position. These grounds for disqualification are evidently invalid, unless documents outlining the weekly church attendance of each parishioner are kept and can be produced. Also, shouldn’t people be allowed to start getting fully involved in the life of the parish if they had not been so before? Disqualification based on personal insights and opinions posted on the blog appear juvenile. We should be able to freely express ourselves in whichever manner we find appropriate. The blog has served as the only outlet of expression to many parishioners, but has become increasingly negative due to the events taking place in our community. The blog has never discussed a theological issue. The blog can be turned into a good-news forum, when there is good news to report.

I understand that the mandatory seminar for all candidates to the parish council is scheduled for tonight, December 2, 2008, in order to “review the Uniform Parish Regulations and the role of parish council members and oath of office.” As I recall, two years ago when I attended the same seminar, the focus by Fr. Michael was clearly on “who is in charge.” That was in contrast to three seminars I attended in the past conducted by our previous proistameno as well as invited clergy.

If I may suggest, inviting other clergy who served this parish in the past and are very well respected and liked by all parishioners as guest speakers to tonight’s seminar, it would be a good idea and beneficial to clergy and candidates alike. Also, touching on issues such as overreaching egos, extreme impulsiveness, intimidating, controlling, and how to be a good team player, would be very beneficial.

In closing, at this time and under the current leadership, I do not feel inclined to serve on the board. I wish to see a leadership that thrives on growing this parish in the image and likeness of Christ. I consider myself to be a simple person living a simple Christian life. I help my community in any way I can and respect the role of the clergy and the cloth. Respect, however, is earned, not automatic or demanded. I am certainly neither surrendering myself nor I hold any negative feelings towards anyone. But at this time I prefer and elect to serve my church and community in other capacities.


Dimitrios Tsagaris
Cc: His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah

No comments: