“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, April 11, 2010

"Sorry" Is Meaningless If Nothing Changes

Απο τότε που βγήκε το «συγγνώμη» χάθηκε το φιλότιμο. (From the time that “sorry” became a stock phrase, the sense of honor, and love of honor, was lost.)

We made reference in our Easter wishes to the community that the recent visit by Metropolitan Isaiah gave us cause for hope. He expressed regret, both to individuals and to the congregation, that errors had been made. We were heartened and felt that this was a good beginning.

The incidents of the past few days, during, of all times, Holy Week, have dashed hopes that healing might begin and that a move toward harmony and unity would begin.

We have witnessed a negative and threatening letter signed by our proistamenoi, along with the members of the parish council. The letter criticizes an honorable member of our community – a man who has given much not only to this community, but to Orthodoxy and Hellenic culture throughout this country and the world. Nick Bapis deserves THANKS, not criticism.

Additionally, the letter is critical of Nick Varanakis, Manoli Sargetakis and George Metos. While many who write on this blog have had differences with Mr. Varanakis, the fact is that in this circumstance none of these gentlemen did anything wrong. Despite this fact, Mr. Varanakis was “thrown under the bus” and forced to resign.

In another recent example of inappropriate interference, the parish council demanded that the audit committee sign a confidentiality agreement. This demand is in DIRECT opposition to the Uniform Parish Regulations (as seen in Chapter Three, Article 30, Section 3.)

No one who understands the function of an audit seriously expects the Audit Committee to divulge or discuss individual stewardship contributions or salaries, etc. The people elected to this committee are highly respected professionals who take their task seriously. For four months since time of their appointment, the parish council has refused to allow the elected board of auditors to proceed unless each member signed a confidentiality agreement. Audit committee members rightly refused, citing the UPRs. They also cited the Metropolitan's own Administrative Guidelines for Parish Council Elections that were in effect at that time.
Interestingly, Metropolitan Isaiah revised his own guidelines this past month and eliminated the Board of Auditors from the passage on page 25 as to who may examine stewardship records. (It is further interesting that the Metropolitan's revision violates those often-cited UPRs.) In the face of this eleventh-hour revision, the Audit Committee signed, with reservations, the confidentiality agreement in order that their work could proceed.

In addition to these recent events, our proistamenoi and the parish council now insist that ALL formerly separate accounts must be transferred to the sole control of the parish council. These would include those of the Philoptochos (which has historically had separate accounts), the Hellenic Heritage Fundraising Campaign (which was authorized by the General Assembly as an entity with its own accounts), and the Anthony Skedros Memorial Gymnasium Fund Foundation, along with others.

These recent occurrences provide further disappointment to an already disheartened community that has been praying for a climate of healing after so many years of discord. The Metropolitan expressed regret – a highly positive step. Yet there is nothing that indicates that our clergy and our leaders will follow-up in seeking unity and harmony. Instead, the behaviors that have caused discord are continuing. Sadly, "sorry" is not enough.

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