Moderators' Note: The following e-mail, along with an attachment below it (the original may be viewed here) was sent to Mr. Tsagaris, President of the Parish Council, along with several dozen other parishioners via e-mail in the late evening of August 12. (Note: the Metropolitan's letter is dated August 8)
Dear Mr. Tsagaris,
May God bless you, and your loved ones!
Metropolitan Isaiah asked me to communicate the following to you.
If the Parish Council wishes to hold a Special General Assembly, it must do so in accordance with the Uniform Parish Regulations.
The notice must be sent out at least ten days ahead of the scheduled date, as the UPRs indicate.
The notice must contain the agenda of the single item to be discussed. A special assembly may have only one item to be discussed.
Due to the fact that the confidential information regarding the Benevolent Fund has been printed in the National Herald, the information is no longer "confidential." Therefore, His Eminence's letter to you and the Parish Council, attached in this email, regarding the Benevolent Funds is to be reproduced and is to be e-mailed and mailed to every household and all parishioners, along with the Notice of the Special General Assembly and the Agenda.
With Love in Christ,
+Reverend Luke Uhl Chancellor
GREEK ORTHODOX METROPOLIS of DENVER
August 8, 2013
Mr. Dimitrios Tsagaris, Parish Council President
Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake
279 South 300 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
Dear Mr. Tsagaris,
I thank you for your letter and the enclosures regarding the benevolent funds at the Holy Trinity Cathedral and at Prophet Elias Church.
Allow me first to say that the audit committee of a parish which is elected by the general assembly is assigned to examine the income and expenses of the parish in relation to the approved budget for the previous calendar year. From the photocopies which you sent to me, I realize that the audit committee has overstepped its bounds in two areas;
1. It included the funds of the benevolent fund which is never a part of the annual budget of a parish, due to the fact that it is considered a confidential fund to help those in need, and
2. It included cancelled checks and payment information for the years 2009, 2010, and 2011.
On the basis of this information, I would say that this is nothing more than a witch-hunt to embarrass your priests. Does the current audit committee not have any sense of morals. What is its purpose regarding this procedure? And if these funds are confidential, since they have only one signatory on the checks, are not the Zions Bank and the Chase Bank of Salt Lake City liable for divulging confidential information? Can this happen to other people who do business with these banks?
Now in regard to the information sent to me, I diligently inquired of both priests holding the benevolent funds about the items listed. With the benevolent fund of Prophet Elias Church I received concise information from the priest of the drastic situation the recipient was in due to serious problems which had arisen.
Having reflected on the information I had received, I can say most definitely that the assistance given to this individual was truly of a benevolent nature.
I still cannot understand how the audit committee, which is responsible for the 2012 budget of the parish has information from the Zions Bank for the years 2009, and 2010. If this is not a witch-hunt, what is it?
Secondly, in regard to the information I have of the benevolent fund of Holy Trinity Cathedral, I spoke extensively with the priest since the expenditures include members of his family. I saw that six expenditures are related to a professor of our Holy Cross School of Theology and seminarians studying for the holy priesthood. I know for a fact that all seminarians at our school of theology, as well as students at all colleges have unexpected needs that reqlli.re financial assistance. As to the other five expenditures, they had to do with worship services involving visiting clergy and chanting. Again, I recognize such expenditures as normal, as in all of our parishes in the Archdiocese.
Finally, I really cannot understand your logic in this investigation of your two priests, regarding confidential benevolent assistance, a period covering three years and pertaining to about twenty-five thousand dollars, when your parish did not give its annual commitment to the Archdiocese for 2011 in the amount of one hundred thousand dollars which the other parishes of this Metropolis paid. Your payment for 2012 is delinquent as well as this year's.
It appears that for the past fifteen months the parish council has done little or nothing to bring unity and increased income to the parish. You are one of the wealthiest parishes in the Archdiocese with two million dollars in separate accounts and you are crying poverty. It appears that the time is coming to the point when the Archbishop can declare canonical disorder with the removal of the current council and assuming the administration of the parish until it conforms to the Uniform Parish Regulations of the Archdiocese (Article 16).
I am hopeful that you will not allow this to occur. As members of Christ's Church you have accepted a sacred obligation to serve the Lord and His people. It is not too late to do this. Please know that our loving God oversees the welfare of all His people, including His faithful servants who serve Him as His deacons, priests and bishops. A word to the wise is sufficient.
With deep paternal concern,
/s/ +Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver
cc: Rev. Michael Kouremetis
Rev. Matthew Gilbert
Rev. Elias Koucos
Esteemed Parish Council
The Audit Committee