Moderator's Note: this article is printed with the author's permission.
I appreciate your questions. As I have put my reputation on the line, it would be helpful to address this response to a person. However, if you wish to continue to hide behind a mask and fear that your reputation might be in danger. That is okay with me. Here is my response.
Yes, His Grace, Metropolitan Isaiah may sound harsh but he is a good man. Let me explain:
1. A group of our parishioners were called “robbers” and threatened to be excommunicated by His Grace. Let us dig a little deeper to understand “maybe” why these harsh words and threats were used. The church board requests advise from His Grace when an alarming large sum of money is transferred out of a church account into a non-church account. The church board requires that when you desire to transfer a large sum of money (over $800K, or small amount of money) that this action should require approval from the current church body of parish members at a general assembly. Actually it is against church policy to transfer money outside of a church account. In other words, a process should be followed with the proper groups – church board, Prostamino (President if you will) and church members in good standing. A parish council member can not, on his own decide to spend church money. Yes, the correct signatures on the signing cards allowed the money to flow from the church account to a non-church account but the process was not followed. On the table, the president of the parish resigned, “may” or “may not” by his own will. This is a debate among parishioners, but it was an outcome of only two people – former president and His Grace. For what ever reason, the parish president did it for the betterment of himself and us (my opinion). Small note: I was a church treasurer before. This is a touchy way to do business, when you deal with money and the “my way” mentality. HCF own up to your part in this matter. This is a two way street.
Note that while a general assemble can vote to apply church monies to specific projects, it can not vote to transfer church monies to another, secular non-profit entity. Give away church money?
The current problems occurred when the request by the church board to change the signers on the church owned account holding the rest of the funds donated to the church through the HHCC ($1.2MM) was not accepted by the High Tower Corporate Compliance department. There was confusion with the High Tower staff and their expectations and the expectations of the Metropolis of Denver, so the remaining funds in the church owned account (over $1.2MM) is frozen. This means that the church board does not have access to the money (nor does the Hellenic Community Foundation – HCF board have access to the money). Like it or not this is a tough situation for any executive.
Note here that the “robber” name calling letter was distributed only to the HCF board before High Tower Corporate compliance had refused the signature change. This comment by His Grace was in response to the transfer of funds and HCF decision to not give the money back to the church.
After His Grace reviewed the detail documented sequence of events provided by the church board, I can understand that His Grace was “ticked off” and very upset. I am sure that in the business world these prominent business men have been called worse names than “robber” when a “deal” or “major project” or “a new business transaction” goes sour.
Also, have these humiliating names been used by the HCF board in their business experience? Let these men (maybe with women’s help) take a big deep breath and answer the question: Am I a robber? If the answer is “NO” and I (or we the community) do not believe that you are robbers then “MOVE ON”. I agree that I am not in your shoes and this is very difficult. On the table, His Grace (Chief Executive Officer if you will) called you a name. Yes, he rattled your chain. Oh, but a hierarch should be infallible. He should be the example. Yes, His Grace is a real man just like you and I. I can not explain why he did not give you the political correct red carpet service. In my opinion, The HCF board should be thanking His Grace for persecution. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:10). Accept this as a great opportunity to exercise humility. Maybe this chance is given to you to see how you will react. The bright side is that your example will be rewarded with justice after your death. No one escapes death.
Let us be careful when using the words:
1. “honest difference of opinion” or “go back on their word”. Does this imply that the Metropolitan or priest is not honest? Maybe both sides are so busy looking through their perspective that they can’t see the other viewpoint. Maybe you all just do not like each other. Try using empathy and humility. It works. Hierarchs and lay people change their minds at times. All of us will stand before +Christ before the Judgment. The people that bad mouth +His Grace have not seen the many great things that he does. He does not brag and boast about his accomplishments. Examine his entire life. It sounds like you do not know him as you know your personal family. You may not like his style but he may not like yours. I personally think that His Grace is tired of the “dependant” church situation over several years. With all the current disunity, it is time to cut the cords. Research what other priests think. You have misused John Kaloudis’ opinion.
2. “most all of us” or “TINY minority” or “NEVER have a significant number of true believers”. These commenta used throughout emails and the website. This does NOT imply a majority. To me it sounds like that you are speaking about your own business or your personal family. How can one of you speak for the entire church parish? The 87% (or some say more like 95%) people that feel dependant churches is the preferred way. This statistic does not take into account the growth of the parishes over 4 years. The stat does not reflect the spirit of the community – only the disenfranchised spokesman. Over 500 people signed on the website. This is under 250 families if you take into account only church stewards. Many signatures from one family. Signatures of names under 18 years old. Please do not assume that everyone else is on the “dependant” church side. Rather speak for yourself. Again the silent majority are not as vocal as you.
3. “condone conspiracy”. The independent church situation has been in the oven for many years and previously discussed with the Synod of Bishops in previous years. It has been talked about for a long time. The closed door non-sense theory is NOT valid. Two parishes, one community is a night mare for any priest. Go on a personal mission and ask the previous priest and other priests. I asked several my self. Get them to sign your document. At some point it will help us all to forgive His Grace and Father Michael. You can still find ways for checks and balance.
4. “actions on part of a few”. Voting is not the answer in this matter – independent churches. The fact is that ORTHODOXY is not DEMOCRACY. A tough concept to swallow. Like it or not. The community is finally figuring that out after 100 years of existence. If you believe that majority rules then a protestant church may be a better fit for your spiritual life. Many saints were very un-popular and their spiritual guidance was NOT voted on. However, their blood or holy lives reveals the truth. Saint Nektarios was exiled and mocked for his spiritual guidance. Not the most popular person. But his relics exude a sweet smelling fragrance. Many books are written about the many miracles attributed to his life. Please review what issues that he was faced during his time.
5. “an administrative action”. Look at it this way, if you all attend Holy Trinity per your comment then that is a blessing. The Holy Trinity church body will make progress. The Prophet Elias church body will make progress. This will be good for all of us. The brilliant doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, builders, business owners and accountants at Holy Trinity will figure out ways to build schools, build hospitals, social halls and gyms under the new administrative structure (two independent churches). The good news is that it will be easier for Holy Trinity to succeed without having to focus on Prophet Elias as a money pit. Centralized systems sound easy. They are very expensive, require highly skilled PAID professionals (include paying health care benefits) to make them work and require sophisticated computer systems (infrastructure, infrastructure and infrastructure costs). If you argue that this is not true, then why has a centralized system never worked over the past several years? Excuses are nice but the jobs are not getting done. You get what you pay for. We can not even agree on which account to put our money in.
In the past, this community proves that it can not work together to form STANDARD PROCEDURES. Our churches are NOT profit sharing BURGER KINGS. They are more complicated. Can be simple but somehow we complicate them. Our churches are non-profit entities whose ultimate goal is to help us attain salvation. The people running multiple businesses are making lots of money and that is why they bust their chops. If spending your time managing multiple businesses works then just flat out cut a check to the church without telling everyone. This gift will be well received by all parishioners. Be sure to glorify +Christ. He is the one who will give you credit. Currently, I feel no benefit from the wealth of Holy Trinity. I am not sure that the earth quake proof structure will survive an earth quake without +God’s help. I look up at Prophet Elias and I see an empty dome with no icon of +Christ.
Let us set the record straight for the miraculous icon. Bobby Markolous made a mistake when he mentioned that he might have spilled oil on the icon. I heard the comment first hand. I am not sure why he mentioned this. The icon was NOT by an “oil filled Kandili” at the time of exuding oil. Bobby was no where near the icon. Father George Polities is a very humble witness who you are all laughing at. Look Saints Raphael (priest - executed), Nicholas (deacon executed) and Irene (young teenage mayor’s daughter – boiled in front of her parents) were saints in the 15th century. However, their existing relics and volumes of miracles documented that are attributed to these saints discovered in the early 1900’s. You may choose to believe in their relics or NOT believe in their relics. You may choose to believe in the saints or not believe in the saints. Many false stories and rumors take place. As many false stories and accusations were against Saint Nektarios. Quit slandering the icon of +Christ. It is exuding oil again and more witnesses come forward. If you feel the clergy are liars then go join a NON-ORTHODOX church. Then your mind will be at ease and you will be able to stand in church comfortably. Some people are so focused on discrediting Father Michael that it is now an obsession that these people can not see straight. Go watch a football game, you will be better off.
Mr. Unknown Christian, I am not laughing at you, I am not calling you a looser, I am not calling you the evil one and I am not calling you a robber and no current excommunications are scheduled. I am crying that we seem to be acting like the rest of the world. When I use the word evil one, it is because you may or may not believe in a spiritual world. But if you do, the evil one wants to keep us from communion with +God. This is a theme in Orthodoxy. Go read the life of Saint John the Baptist. His message was all about repentance. Let us examine ourselves and find ways to improve one another and quit the mud flinging. There has to be a better way. I am not interested in excuses like the priest or the bishop need to set a better example. Set your own example for your family and myself. Clergy are men like us. Keep the focus on yourself. +God will reward you in the next life - assuming that you believe what the Orthodox Church teaches. Find a way to get the JOB done.
Mr. Unknown Christian, the Synod of Bishops will address your appeal to reverse the current situation. I can live with that reversal, I can move on and I can accept that. My question to you, can you bury the hatchets, move on, and accept the outcome if the appeal fails?
PS If you feel that there has been no justice during these last few months then maybe you are right. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly then maybe you are right. Trust in our + Lord and the truth will reveal itself at some point. Unfortunately, you will get your just reward after your death. That may be a long time.
Sincerely, Mihali Zervos
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Moderator's Note: this article is printed with the author's permission.