“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


Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Deceits Arrive Unabated!

Today, October 9th, we can recall the words of the late President, Franklin D. Roosevelt:

"a date which shall live in infamy..."

Upon returning from the mailbox, Saturday, October 9, 2010, most of us received the following packet of letters (click here), along with the letter from Archbishop Demetrios, which we posted in the previous blog article.

To say that this high-handed, self-serving, set of letters is an outrage would be to UNDERSTATE the level of perfidy and deception involved. Our parish council "representatives" should be ASHAMED, each and every one! To have held this information for five months while important decisions were made involving our community behind our backs and against our expressed wishes is nothing short of SINFUL. It involves bearing false witness, slandering the names of good and faithful stewards of years' standing, and generally thwarting the spiritual well-being of this community's faithful. Our priests and our Metropolitan have set an example of incompetence, of lies, of greed that is staggering in its breadth. What would Jesus do? Surely not this!

The timing of these letters is further damning. "Prophet Elias Church" has been a de facto separate entity since April. Yet no announcement (was this the portion of the letter from the Metropolitan that Michael Petrogeorge was told NOT to read at the June General Assembly?) was made until today.

Let's see, what has transpired since April of this year:
  • Nick Bapis, along with other long-standing stewards known for their tireless efforts and generosity to Orthodoxy were vilified and slandered.
  • Members of the HCF were threatened with excommunication, in effect blackmailed.
  • The Parish Council, with the express support of the Metropolitan, demanded that the Skedros family return monies to the control of the Parish Council.
  • An audit of 2009, finally granted, revealed several glaring improprieties and general incompetence in day-to-day operations (this, by the way, did not seem to move the Metropolitan at all).
  • Funds have been spent by the Proistamenos-of-Prophet-Elias-only without General Assembly approval for his pet projects - all of which were at Prophet Elias.
  • The Metropolitan, our priests, and this not overly competent (to say the least) parish council have asserted their questionable right to control all monies. This, despite the specific vote that fundraising efforts should be undertaken through a separate entity under the auspices of the general membership - NOT the parish council. (The audit should caution against such, even though the Metropolitan, the clergy and the council saw a way to use this controversy for their larger purposes!)
  • The festival and its attendant revenues came and went in September. It's quite obvious WHY the proponents of this outrage waited five months, isn't it? Those monies are specifically mentioned. Surprised?
  • And, finally, last night, before anyone had any word of today's outrages, we had the St. Sophia School fundraising dinner. By the way, one could count on the fingers of ONE HAND the number of people from Prophet Elias attending and donating. NO parish council members were in attendance. Yet, not once but several times, does the Metropolitan designate that St. Sophia now falls under the sole auspices of Prophet Elias Church as a separate entity. One wonders how this bombshell would have affected the donations yesterday evening.
A further item of interest: when addressing his letter to Fr. Gilbert, our Metropolitan expresses his "sincere thanks for your response to my letter of September 16, 2010," thanking him for acknowledging the Metropolitan's "insight and observations regarding the present situation in Salt Lake City. This letter was sent out TWO WEEKS later. No one is given the benefit of knowing Fr. Gilbert's response - yet it is mentioned right at the onset.

The letter is yet again insulting in that it asserts that this split was "inevitable". In fact this egregious action, despite the Metropolitan's previous "assurances", was a "τετελεσμενο γεγονος" a foregone conclusion. The THIRTEEN PERCENT minority, who, along with the "politically correct" Parish Council, Metropolitan and the Proistamenoi, wanted this community divided never intended at any time to honor the will of the majority. They engineered a situation where the cherry-picked "facts" could be interpreted absurdly to effect the outcome they desired. Their collective deception is unchristian and despicable. Our Lord NEVER asserted that the end justified the means.

The final insult is to the memory of those fine men who helped found Holy Trinity and Prophet Elias, and who, almost to a man (and woman) asserted that our community must remain united. Our Metropolitan conveniently quotes a letter on August 12, 1965 where he says the founders conducted a survey that reported the majority in favor of Prophet Elias being an independent parish. Again, the timing is interesting, no?

Considering the Metropolitan's obsession to split this community over the past several years, is it not interesting that this supposed "fact" is just NOW coming to light? The fact ACTUALLY is, that the MAJORITY of these men were committed to a UNIFIED COMMUNITY. Those of us who remember them know this and know many of them would judge these actions against their beloved church community harshly.
Let's get real! The Metropolitan may be entitled to rationalize his misguided opinions; however, he is not entitled to recreate historical "facts". Many of us KNEW and/or were related to the leaders of this era. Most assuredly, if these community leaders and the majority had not been committed to a unified community, the present situation would not be troubling us today. To assert otherwise is simply not true, but then, the truth has certainly been a casualty in this ongoing tragedy.
Yes, these leaders were "truly progressive and, most importantly, lovers of the Church." They are surely rolling over in their collective graves and weeping today.

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