“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, September 2, 2012

Metropolitan's Letter to GOCGSL, August 20, 2012

The original of this letter may be viewed here. The letter was also distributed to the community via email by the Parish Council.


August 20, 2012

Rev. Michael Kouremetis, Proistamenos
Rev. Matthew Gilbert, Proistamenos
Mr. Dimitrios Tsagaris, Parish Council President
The Esteemed Parish council Members
The Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake
Holy Trinity Cathedral
Prophet Elias Church
5335 S. Highland Dr. Holladay, UT 84117

Beloved in the Lord,

I thank you for your three letters which I received last week, two dated July 27, 2012 and one dated August 13, 2012.

In regard to your letter pertaining to the state of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake, I am most pleased that it conveys a positive spirit. The focus on unity and progress, rather than the negativity of expressions these past two years is most encouraging. I pray that this spirit will continue to grow and to prevail among you and among all the parishioners.

Allow me to cite one point in the letter. You mention that the Parish Council has chosen to develop leadership centered on parishioner involvement through committees. This is very good. However, please keep in mind that every committee of the parish must have a member of the Parish Council as chairman of that committee. Furthermore, all decisions of all committees are considered recommendations to the Parish Council for discussion and acceptance or rejection. This process guarantees that it is the Parish Council which officially represents the parish membership, which ultimately makes all decisions.

In regard to the other letter of the same date, which requests information about the renewal of the Prophet Elias Corporation, please know that as the hierarch of the Metropolis of Denver, I am obligated to oversee all the parishes which are officially under the Archdiocese through the Metropolis. The community of Salt Lake is reincorporated from 1974 as an independent corporation solely under the State of Utah. The Prophet Elias Corporation on the other hand, is recognized as a legal name under the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. This was my decision in order to conform to the Uniform Parish Regulations. In making this important distinction I am able to recognize the greater community composed of faithful stewards as being an integral part of the Archdiocese.

Furthermore, the updating of the corporate record with the name, Prophet Elias, guarantees that no other entity in the future can legally use this name. It will continue to be identified with the Greek Orthodox Church. This is important in that we see an increasing number of self-appointed clergymen beginning to use the word "Orthodox" as well as the names of the saints to maintain their congregations which are slowly eroding.

Unfortunately, the 1974 reincorporation recognizes the community solely as a secular organization, rather than as a religious entity. The recent decision of the judge who presided over the litigation against parish members shows the confusion, since he never once referred to the matter as a religious issue involving the inner governance of a religious institution. He obviously knew that secular courts cannot involved themselves in the administrative affairs of churches.

Moreover, from your letter you state that the renewal of the Prophet Elias Corporation is divisive in nature. In regard to divisiveness, what can I say about parish funds which must be under the direct custodianship of the Parish Council, but are under separate corporations such as the HighTower investment firm in Chicago, the separate Hellenic Cultural Foundation and the Greek Orthodox Trust Committee? Are these not equally, if not more, divisive than the Prophet Elias Corporation which has no funds?

I urge all of you, as members of the current Parish Council, to work in this vital direction, which has divided the income of the community and consequently divides the current membership of the community. The fact of the matter is that it is the way that the money of the parishioners is divided among those other separate accounts which has created this divisiveness among the membership. A direct consequence of this reality is the fact that the community has paid nothing to the Archdiocese for the year 2011 and very little for 2012. And it appears that there is no thought or willingness on the part of those in control to correct this problem. The forty-eight other parishes of this Metropolis have paid the financial obligation of the Salt Lake community for 2011, and there is no concern by the Salt Lake parish to assume its responsibility and obligation to show that it is a vital member parish of the Denver Metropolis. Is this not a demonstration of separation and divisiveness?

As all of you know, I bent over backwards to allow all the parishioners and others among them to vote and to be voted upon for the sake of assisting your unity. Can I not expect some kind of reciprocity from the community through you, the elected council members?

Please let us be sincere and forthright, since we are serving the Church which our Lord established through the Cross and through His Resurrection. We are responsible first to Him and then to one another.

I remain positive in my spirit that you, as the current Parish Council, will do whatever is necessary to please our loving God and to bring unity, peace, and love to God's people, whom you have accepted to serve in His holy name.

With paternal blessings,

+Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver

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