Moderators' Note: Mr. McGrath gave his permission to print his thoughts.
I am looking at the letter of October 27, from the priests, and a couple of parish council members, wherein they are requesting an endorsement of proposed changes/re-writes of our parish Articles of Incorporation and related Bylaws through a special general assembly scheduled for the 20th @ 2:00 p.m.
It looks to me that if we endorse these changes we would give to the Metropolitan, extra-ordinary powers over the government of our parish, over our real properties, and over our SLC parish regulations.
Here is what I see written in those new documents; their words, their amendments - not mine.
[Notations referring to Articles are the proposed new Articles of Incorporation, and notations to “Parts” refer to the sections of the proposed new Bylaws]
For example, I note the following in the proposed new documents:
- The life of the corporation is perpetual, unless dissolved in accordance with the regulations of the archdiocese. I conclude that this gives the Metropolitan a lot of authority/influence to dissolve these articles of incorporation (therefore dissolve our parish) if he determines it appropriate. [article II]
- Then upon the dissolution of the parish, the assets are distributed and disposed of, according to the archdiocesan regulations. So this also seems to then give the metropolitan a lot of influence/authority over the distribution of our assets once we are dissolved. [article VI]
- We can only purchase, sell, or encumber our real estate if approved by 2/3rds vote of the members and also only with the approval of the Metropolitan (Hierarch). This says clearly that we can only purchase or sell our real estate if he approves of the transaction; again, giving him veto power over any actions taken with regard to our properties. [Part III, Sec. 3]
I do not understand why the parish council did not disclose this in their letters to the parish?
- If we want to make any structural alterations to any “Parish building,” we must receive prior approval from the Metropolitan. He can make his decision based upon any aesthetic issues he may determine exist. We cannot even make a change to a building without the Metropolitan's approval. [Part II, Sec. 4]
- Related to the determination of member of the parish who can vote at our general assemblies, these proposed changes dictate that the definition of members in good standing are those contained in the archdiocesan regulations and our local bylaws, but if there is a difference between the two, the archdiocesan regulations dictate, discarding our bylaws. Again giving the Metropolitan a lot of influence over determinations on who is considered to be a member in good standing and who can vote. [Article V]
- Also, related to the election of parish council members, the rules over this are the archdiocesan regulations and our bylaws, but the archdiocesan regulations have power over our own bylaws. [Article VII]
- The proposed new articles say that our Uniform Parish Regulations can only be amended, revised or restated if they are in accordance with the archdiocesan regulations. [article II]
- If inconsistencies exist between our own articles of incorporation and the archdiocesan regulations, then “the ARCHDIOCESAN REGULATIONS shall govern and control” and our articles “shall be deemed to be automatically amended to the extent necessary to conform to any contrary provision of the ARCHDIOCESAN REGULATIONS.” [Article XI]
This request to accept and make these changes is surprising and confusing to me. I know that I and my family want to be good orthodox citizens and want to operate in general compliance with the rules of the archdiocese. However, I know that being a good Christian orthodox citizen does not mean giving all of this control to the archdiocese?
The current articles and bylaws and parish regulations do not go to this extreme. They have worked well for many, many years.
It seems to me that the parish council should not expect us to adopt changes to our articles of incorporation and to our bylaws without also sending us the current versions of our existing documents along with the new versions. Then with both, I would be able to see what changes I am really making. Without these previous versions, I do not know what changes I am making.
Additionally, it seems to me that the parish council should not expect me to adopt compliance to the archdiocesan regulations, without first sending me a copy of these regulations. It is important to see these archdiocesan regulations because they dictate rules over membership in good standing, and rules over the selection of parish council members. So I should have these to know what I am approving. It should not be expected that any of us in the parish should adopt these changes blindly; without adequate information, and without the appropriate documents.
The parish council is asking me and the parish members in general, to approve their recommendations, which to some extent I would like to do, because they are our parish council and they are expected to be leaders who represent the values of the community. But if I look into what they are recommending (and if I actually read the documents) I do not believe this is in the best interest of the community today, or for the future.
We should be proud to stand up and govern ourselves. We should not follow rules and guidelines we cannot see and have difficulty understanding.
We should not be requested to adopt guidelines not presented to us.
At this point I have to admit that I am inclined to vote no on these proposals. What are your thoughts?
And, by the way, what kind of attitude is it that the parish council will not have a regular general assembly for the purpose of selecting parish council members, unless we do as they say and pass these proposed changes. Do you think this is really, really out-of-line/inappropriate?