“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, October 29, 2010

Andrea Kastanis Orton Responds to Elleney Soter

Moderator's Note: Andrea Kastanis Orton submitted this letter in response to Elleney Soter's recent letter to Carol Mikita. Ms. Soter's letter has been circulating throughout the e-mail chain in the community, but we cannot find it on the ksl.com Web site, and therefore cannot link to it. We do not have Ms. Soter's permission to reprint her thoughts expressed through e-mails. For those who have read Ms. Soter's e-mail, Mrs. Orton provides this response.

Ms. Elleney S. Soter

Dear Ms. Soter,

I, too, am a member of the Greek Orthodox Church in Salt Lake City. I’ve been attending Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox church for the past 40 years and have been a faithful member of Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Choir for the past 36 years, of which I recently received a distinguished years of service award. I personally take GREAT offense of the comments you sent Ms. Mikita.

I am a member of regular attendance at Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church and was in attendance at the “unsanctioned” meeting on Sunday, October 24th. No, my face was not included in Ms. Mikita’s camera footage, nor were several others who are regular attendees at Prophet Elias. However, several others who do attend Prophet Elias regularly were. Obviously your facts and response to Ms. Mikita were not properly researched. How did you vet your sources before addressing Ms. Mikita’s report? As a result, your response to her story is greatly distorted and has no basis or fact. This was an open meeting and everyone was invited and had a choice to attend and vote or not. Did you choose to stay away just because it was an “unsanctioned” meeting?

I’d like to know how certain individuals took it upon themselves to make this a done deal when the proper channels to do so were not followed as stated in the historical documents of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake’s minutes of their meeting in April, 1968. A meeting was held in April 1968 authorizing the building of Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church and minutes to that meeting outline what procedures must be followed in the event the churches of the Greater Salt Lake Community decide to become separate parishes. (For your information, a vote for unity was taken back then too, and the result was for unity!) Isn’t it amazing how the former Parish Council President and a former Parish Council Member of that historical decision regarding Prophet Elias back in 1968 where there in attendance at the “unsanctioned” meeting on Sunday October 24th and verified that proper actions were not taken regarding the “split” of the parishes. How can you deny this fact from living eyewitnesses who are dedicated servants of this community?

If a decision had “already been made,” why was this such a surprise when it was announced to the community a few weeks ago? Furthermore, why were the articles of incorporation for Prophet Elias Church of Holladay, UT filed “in secrecy” back in March, 2010 and not disclosed to the general membership of the Greater Salt Lake Community until October 2010? Why were the incorporation papers filed by unauthorized individuals who are not even members of our “appointed” Parish Council? As you know several of our Parish Council members were not elected through General Assembly as indicated in your letter. Clearly this deceitful and underhanded. If this was the desire of the majority, why was this not public knowledge back in March? Since when are secrecy and lies better than total transparency, including media coverage?

The meeting of Sunday, October 24th was not an attempt to bait the media into attending a Mini Greek Festival. It was a way for concerned members of our church to meet and express their true thoughts and concerns without being constantly squashed and shut down at previous General Assemblies. Had you been in attendance, you’d know this. It’s about time we had a chance to be heard! Where were you when back in 2007 a vote was taken and the decision was for unity, just as it was on Sunday, October 24th? So, NO, the decision has not been made!

If we are not a “GREEK” Orthodox church, why does our building state, Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church. Why did you state this in your response to Ms. Mikita? You’re correct; Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church is comprised of Greek, Russian, Serbian, Antiochian, Albania, and Coptic Orthodox as well as many other converts who have joined the orthodox faith. Had you attended the meeting Sunday you’d know two converts spoke in favor of unity.

As a steward of this community, I’m sure both churches could function as independent and thriving communities. The fact is, our desire is to remain AS ONE!! If this can’t be sanctioned by the Archdiocese today, how did they allow us to build Prophet Elias back in 1969 as part of a united Greek Orthodox Community of the Greater Salt Lake area? Unfortunately, there are a few “rogue” stewards who cannot accept this fact and refuse to work together for the betterment of our community. Instead, they continue to undermine and pit brother against brother, sister against sister. Is this an example of Christian love? If things are that unbearable at Prophet Elias, leave and start your own Orthodox Church, but don’t steal Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church from the Greek Orthodox Community of the Greater Salt Lake area. We worked too hard and sacrificed too much for Prophet Elias. What is so unbearable at Prophet Elias? Why is there a need to split the churches? Are there valid reasons for this split? Do we or will we worship any differently or is this just a matter of money, power, and the ability to do whatever without any checks and balances? Elleney, as a Greek Orthodox member, don’t you feel the importance for your family to know their Greek language, heritage, and history?

By the way, how do you know who was and wasn’t in church on Sunday, October 24th? I was, as were a majority of the members who attended this “grand banquet for the media.” Ms. Soter, I do remember what I learned in Sunday School….faith, love, and humility. Where were you??


Andrea Kastanis-Orton
Member of the Greek Orthdodox Community of Greater Salt Lake City

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