April 16, 2010
Reverend Michael Kouremetis, Proistamenos
Reverend Matthew Gilbert, Proistamenos
The Esteemed Parish Council
Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, and
The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral
c/o 5335 S. Highland Drive
Holladay, UT 84117
Beloved in the Lord,
Never in my forty-eight years in the holy priesthood have I seen such blatant disregard for the teachings and traditions of the Church, which our Lord established almost two thousand years ago, and specifically against the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
I am speaking of the removal of funds from the treasury of the parish several months ago. These were funds which were the property of the Church, and which were transferred very quietly to a secular corporation which has no connection to the Church. This action has stolen the responsibilities from your Parish Council, which represents the total membership of the community which voted for it as their official representatives, and which Parish Council is the canonical custodian of all parish funds and property, as noted in the Uniform Parish Regulations, Article 34, Section 1.
From the standpoint of the Church, this is outright robbery.
They who are responsible for this sinful act have in essence excommunicated themselves from the Church, according to the holy canons. They are therefore free to join any other religious body they so choose, but not any other canonical Orthodox Church. If there is repentance on their part, they may return as obedient members of the Church. If they do not, I can formally declare them excommunicated from the Church.
However, in the spirit of Christ our Savior, I will exercise patience. I will attempt to understand why Doug Anderson, Vasilios Priskos, Thomas W. Peters, Basil S. Chelemes, Stella Daskalakis, Chris Gamvrouls, Andy Giannis, Kosta Katsohirakis, Damon Kirchmeir, Mike Makris, Maxine Margaritis, John Pappas, William P. Souvall, Tykie Skedros, and Dimitrios Tsagaris refuse to recognize the canonical representatives of the community who are the current members of the Parish Council, by creating a rival anti-Archdiocese entity.
What is the purpose of such a secular organization in Salt Lake City? Is its purpose to collect monies which would otherwise go to the Church? Is it to take gifts intended for God and to use them in other ways? We know that whatever blessings we have in this life come from God, and it is only proper for a portion of those blessings to be given to Christ our Lord and to His Church.
The actions of this group of people against the community attest to the fact that we are in the last days. Saint Paul brings this out very clearly to his disciple Timothy. He writes, "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money ... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-4)." Again I ask, "What is the purpose of the Hellenic Community Foundation?" It is obvious that the word Hellenic in this title does not mean Orthodox Christian, since the Church of Christ is not limited to only one ethnicity, but embraces all ethnicities. This is why on Holy Saturday morning we chant "Arise, 0 God, and judge the earth; for You shall take an inheritance from every nation." This is also why, at the Agape Vespers of Pascha, the Gospel reading of our Lord's Resurrection is read in many languages.
Finally, if this secular organization continues to act contrary to the teachings of the Church and the Uniform Parish Regulations of our Archdiocese. I will be given no other choice but to formally recognize their self-excommunication by letter to each and every member. with copies to all canonical Orthodox jurisdictions. I pray that I do not have to do this; for I believe that among them there are those who love God and who wish to live according to His teachings for their eternal salvation.
With Paternal Blessings
in our Risen Lord,
+ Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver