4 January 2012
Dear Dr. Roussalis,
YOU HAVE STATED IN YOUR RECENT LETTER: His Eminence asks that we have a 100% attendance from our parishes for this vital meeting. If either the parish priest or the parish council president cannot attend, please make sure a representative is sent in your place.
WE ANSWER: Sir, we have NO properly elected Parish Council according to the flawed UPRs that the beleaguered Greek Orthodox Church in this country is forced to operate under; hence even though our assigned priests might attend, no elected president from this community exists. This community has been described (by your colleague, John Zavitsanos at our recent Special General Assembly) as a "pillar" of the Metropolis. Therefore, it is shameful that we do not have a properly elected Parish Council, OR, Parish Council President. The majority in this community has followed proper procedure in asking for a general assembly and for elections for nearly two years now, to no avail. Each petition for such has been thwarted by our priests and lay "leaders" or denied by our Metropolitan.
The Parish Pastor and President Meeting has been developed and used in other Metropolises with very constructive and positive out comes. The specific goals of our Meeting in January are:
1. To discuss the vital role of transparency at both the Metropolis and parish level to combat the spread of rumor and misinformation as well as to maintain a culture of respect, peace, love, and unity.
Transparency? We have been subjected to secrecy, lies and threats for nearly a decade! We have seen our beloved community sundered by our "shepherds". We have had our true leaders sanctioned and libeled. We have had no general assemblies, no budgets, NO ELECTIONS; when we did have them we witnessed stewards of long standing culled from the ballot. Our once-vibrant community has been rendered moribund. Our kids are turned away from our own facilities and forced to hold dance practices in warehouse space, while our youth basketball teams are practicing at local Mormon churches. In the meantime our programs and facilities wither and our priests spout platitudes, when they are not delivering threats!
There is no rumor or misinformation here, sir. Our parents and grandparents fought for their community's right to own its church asset properties in its own name. We do not intend to sully their memory by allowing for even the possibility that a capricious "shepherd", now or in the future, might put any part of this legacy at risk. Considering the financial and other misbehaviors we are witnessing from our clergy, monks and "poimenarchoi" in this country and worldwide, we recognize the wisdom our our forefathers.
As for respect, peace, love and unity, sir, we dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" in the UPR dispute resolutions. We went through all the proper channels. We have witnessed where such "respect" has led us. Respect, love, unity, and peace require a true two-way discourse, NOT dictatorial demands or simply sitting on hands and hoping the problem will eventually go away. Face it, the UPR dispute resolutions are not intended to resolve anything - disputes, sexual misconduct, whatever. They can be easily summarized with the phrase "pay, pray and obey" - and nothing more.
2. To present the Metropolis financial report.
We'd like to see a financial report for our community as well. We haven't had one presented since our last regularly scheduled general assembly in January 2010. Our SELECTED Parish Council doesn't think they have to provide any to the parishioners in this community even though the UPRs require it, to say nothing of the community's 501(c)3 bylaws. Both are ignored. Also ignored is a damning 2009 Audit Report which clearly documents several areas of flawed accounting and governance. We haven't seen any actions to rectify the named problems, nor has a further audit of 2010 been permitted - again ignoring the requirement by both the UPRs and the bylaws. In my parents' and grandparents' day people thus disgraced had the decency to do the honorable thing and RESIGN. Not this group!
3. To explain the present Total Commitment system, and to evaluate the implications for our Metropolis income.
Fascinating! The Metropolitan's actions in this community, along with those of his Proistamenoi and our selected leaders, claiming to act under his direction, have had seriously adverse implications with regard to this community's income. Ironically, this has impacted the Metropolis' income. Economics, Psychology and Ethics 101 seem to have been courses lacking in several of our leaders' (spiritual and temporal) coursework selections.
6. To explain the status of the Salt Lake City situation.
Dr. Roussalis, again with all due respect, you surely must have seen the anguish present in our community when you came here as a Metropolis representative during our Special General Assembly, November 20, 2011. If you interpreted the explicit frustration due to several YEARS of appalling misadministration and governance as "disrespect" you are WRONG. If anything, we respect too much and love too deeply! If we did not, we would have given up and accepted the portions of the latest UPRs that our forefathers would have never accepted!
We had SIX of our fellow parishioners (none of whom are youngsters, two of whom are Archons) who have given of themselves to the utmost in TIME, TALENT and TREASURE, sitting outside their own church, five of them in below-freezing weather during a general assembly that they were absolutely entitled to attend. This was especially true since they were vilified without being allowed to be present to defend themselves! You and Mr. Zavitsanos, along with our SELECTED leaders, made it very clear that the consequences of a "NO" vote would be dire. And yet, reminiscent of the Greek nation in 1941, the people's answer was, overwhelmingly, NO! - OXI! Φωνή λαοὐ, οργἠ Θεοὐ!
What is there to "explain"? We will NOT turn our backs on the legacy the founders of this community left to us. If you, or others in other communities, wish to help us, in a forthright, inclusive, honest and open way, to find a fair and reasonable way forward, fine. If your answer is nothing more than asking us to acquiesce to a continuation of the threats, deceit and abysmal governance that our once-vibrant community continues to endure, then, respectfully, leave us to do that which our forebears would expect of us!
It's simple: you understand, or you do not, or you choose not to do so. There is nothing to "explain".
Barbara Billinis Colessides
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
4 January 2012