“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


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Metropolitan Isaiah's Letter to Our Community, Dated 3 December 2008

Moderators' Note: We are posting our Metropolitan's letter to our community dated 3 December 2008. Any differences in formatting are due to posting in html. We have not altered the language.

December 3, 2008

The Reverend Priests and
The Faithful Members
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church
5335 Highland Drive
Holladay, UT 84117

Beloved in the Lord,

Having read letters and other articles by a small number of members of the community regarding real and imagined problems, my mind goes back to March 1962 when I was assigned as the assistant priest at Holy Trinity under Father Steven Katsaris. In being assigned to the parish I received a bonus in that my uncle, Mr. Gust Kapsimalis, one of my mother’s older brothers, had been living in Salt Lake City from the early 1900’s. He was married with three children, and he was a supporter of the parish. This allowed me to have a stronger feeling for the parish, a feeling which I have continued to hold.

I remember how unhappy Father Steven was with the parish. Certain problems never seemed to be resolved. Even though he had served from 1956, after seven years Father could not wait to leave the parish. Indeed, he did leave in July 1962. In my three years at Holy Trinity, I tried to put my finger on the underlying problems that did not want to go away. I also remember that one of the most dedicated servants of the parish was Lucille Floor, who administered the Sunday School program for over six hundred young people. Thank God for our converts!

The fact that problems appear to exist regarding the Church has been a chronic situation in Salt Lake City among our people. Usually, the scapegoat is the priest because priests do not usually stay long, and what better person to blame for the problems, whether real or imagined? Priests do leave, but the problems seem to come back again. All you have to do is ask Father Dean Gigicos regarding his tenure from 1976 to 1981.

My dilemma has been: why is Salt Lake City so problematic? I can correctly say that a prime reason is its isolation from nearby parishes, whereas in the Chicago area, the Boston area, and also the New York area, all places where I myself have lived and served, have an ongoing relationship of one parish to another. Those parishes see themselves as under the umbrella of the Archdiocese, the Body of Christ, made up of many interrelated cells.

It seems that, in Salt Lake City, a small number of people down through the years have seen the community as an entity which they own. They believe that the ownership of the church is theirs. This may be true only legally, as far as the laws of our nation are concerned.

However, these people fail to see that the Church of Jesus Christ is not a worldly entity, but a divine institution created and established by God. What better evidence can one see, that a web site created by someone in Salt Lake City, and named “Take Our Church Back!” Whose Church is it? Did anyone in Salt Lake City die to establish the Church on earth? Who has the audacity to say that the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ is “My Church”? Ownership of the Church is solely Christ’s. We in the Church are simply members with the hope of attaining salvation in God’s Coming Kingdom.

Could this be the problem which always seems to rear its ugly head whenever someone does not like the priest for whatever reason? Those of you who belong to human organizations such as AHEPA or the Masons, don’t you abide by the regulations of those organizations? Why, then, do some flout the regulations of the Church, which has existed for almost 2,000 years without change or interruption, and want to do “their own thing”? All of us are going to leave this life one day, sooner or later, but the Church will go on. If this is so – and it is – then the Church can also say, “One day those troublemakers will die, but I, the Church, will continue to live on for the salvation of those who will come after them.”

I write these words, not to offend anyone, but to awaken those who have a totally unchristian concept of the Church. Christ our God is the God of Love. Love does not divide; love unites. If anyone persists in spreading division among you that person is in danger of self-excommunication (Rom. 16:17, Titus 3:10, 11) IF they persist in their attempts to cause division, the priests and the parish council have the right to return their stewardship and, thus, these people will not be in the position of being able to attend and vote at any meeting of the community.

It is time for the murmuring and the complaints to cease. The procession of priests who have served in the community is far too long. This is an indictment against the community. When we recognize the churches in Salt Lake City and Holladay as cells in the Body of Christ, which is made up of hundreds of thousands of parishes throughout the world, then we can begin to say, “The Church belongs to Christ Who died to establish Her; She is not our Church. She is the Bride of Christ Who is in the world for our salvation.”

With Paternal Blessings,


Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver

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