On April 13, this blog will have been operating for five years. This same time a year ago we commented on the true costs - the lost opportunities - that this community has endured for nearly a decade. We have tried our best to bring light to the injustices, yet to provide hope in documenting the efforts made by so many parishioners to restore our community to its former vibrance. We, along with others who write and comment here, are proud to be just one small part of that effort. Each year at this time, during the Lenten period, we reflect on the community's ongoing situation, and pray that this will be the year of its resurrection.
Our forebears were progressive and visionary. Such a mindset has been currently discouraged for far too long in this community. This, unfortunately, is the case in other Greek Orthodox parishes throughout this country as well.
At a time when our faith should be a beacon, not just to its faithful, but to all peoples, it is becoming fossilized by its own arcane rules and regulations designed to consign the laity to a regimented, unthinking conformity.
Yet, there is room for hope. Much has been accomplished. The laity in this community, along with others in the country, has declared that it will not foreswear or forsake its legacy.
Twice a majority of the parishioners (in addition to letting its will be known via the Parish Council's own survey) in this community met and asserted that the community would avail itself of the "dispute resolutions" found in the Uniform Parish Regulations currently imposed upon us. This majority did everything to prevent legal action. Many contacted religious and secular leaders. Six went to New York - at their own expense - to meet with our national religious leaders. This community followed the dispute resolutions to the letter, yet found itself thwarted by the local and regional clerics and their minions. They refused to implement the direction of the Holy Synod and Archbishop Demetrios. Thus, sadly - and only after EVERY other option was explored - the civil courts, necessarily, became the last resort. Nothing else seemed to provide any impetus to remedy an intolerable and stagnant situation.
Only our sheer will to do what our parents and grandparents would have done, to refuse to split, to refuse to be intimidated by dire threats of sanctions, excommuications, etc., has persuaded the agents of stagnation. Although the progress seems achingly slow, we have, in the face of relentless adversity, accomplished much:
- The court recognized that it had jurisdiction, albeit limited to civil conduct, to help the community address questions of proper and transparent governance.
- We have succeeded in gaining representation on yet another interim parish council.
- We have conducted a special general assembly at our church and have freely elected a corporate board.
- The elected corporate board members - to their immense credit - have determined to foreswear any sort of unseemly showdown and allow the current interim parish council the opportunity to implement, in a timely manner, our first fully sanctioned General Assembly since June 2010.
- Further, the interim parish council has announced a parish council election at the end of May, where all eligible stewards may run without fear of clerical interference. (We pray this is true.)
Καλό Πάσχα και Καλή Ανάσταση!
Yannis Armaou - Barbara Billinis Colessides
Γιάννης Αρμαου / Βαρβάρα Μπυλίνη-Κολεσίδη