“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


Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Hope of Resurrection for Christ's Church in this Valley?

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.)
Finally, we remain hopeful of a Lenten period this time next year free of the heartache we have endured the past five-plus years; and, with the wishes for a true Resurrection of our Risen Lord's Church in this community and throughout the World, we, the Moderators thank each and every one of you and wish you all    

Καλό Πάσχα και Καλή Ανάσταση!


Yannis Armaou - Barbara Billinis Colessides
Γιάννης Αρμαου / Βαρβάρα Μπυλίνη-Κολεσίδη

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