Moderator's Note: The original letter sent by the Denver Metropolitan may be viewed here. We added it below and have responded to the absurd assertions, point-by-point in said letter.
October 23, 2013
Reverend Matthew Gilbert
The Esteemed Parish Council
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral
279 South 300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Beloved in the Lord,
Having been informed that a general assembly is scheduled in the community for Sunday, November 10, 2013 and being aware of the fact that parish council elections for eight seats will take place before the end of the year, I am pleased to make you aware of the proper procedures that are to take place in order for me to be able to ratify the elections.
There are seven, and not eight seats available.
The Denver Metropolitan very well knows this, and knows very well why. He initially promised NO restrictions, and then reneged (yet again!), refusing to ratify Nick Bapis and Yanni Armaou - both of whom were FAIRLY elected.
The insistence on EIGHT, considering the circumstances he himself effected, is grossly unfair to Alicia Mares, a prominent member of this community, who has admirably and tirelessly served for decades at both churches. She is also one of only two women on the Parish Council, and is also serving on the Executive Committee as well. Since the Denver Metropolitan disqualified Mr. Bapis, she became the person with the next highest votes - the EIGHTH highest votes - and, as such, she deserves to hold her position on the Parish Council for another year.
Further, the Denver Metropolitan's mathematics are highly flawed. If Mrs. Mares holds the 8th spot for the extra year, another seven electees will add up to 15 and not 14, as the Metropolitan has suggested.
As you know, in March and April of 2012, I totally relaxed the qualifications of all the members of the community to be able to vote. However, I never imagined that there would have been 142 absentee ballots cast. With the inclusion of such a high number of absentee ballots (which is usually the total number who vote in parish council elections for an average size parish) - WE ARE NOT AN AVERAGE SIZED PARISH - it appears this was the reason most of the candidates who were successfully elected identify with only one of the two churches. This of course, contributed to the continuing tensions and divisions which have not diminished these past seventeen months.
What the Denver Metropolitan had relaxed were the UPRs after having ignored the same, for years, in denying free elections and open general assemblies; this, in direct violation of those same UPRs! If they're "good" for the laity, they should be "good" for the clergy. (NOTE: They're not good for either!)
As for the absentee ballots, (a) What difference did that make? The elected were ELECTED and by a wide margin, whether in person or through absentee votes, and (b) did it ever occur to the Denver Metropolitan that people in late May (instead of December when elections normally were held and were not, thanks to him) had kids finishing school and were taking early summer vacations?
Those chosen were elected by a community tired of the arrogant manipulations of the Denver Metropolitan, the local clergy, and, the community's former anointed appointed, who could not accept that the majority of this community disavowed their vision for the community and disbelieved their belated claims for "unity".
It is THIS ELECTED PARISH COUNCIL that cares about BOTH churches. The Metropolitan's anointed appointed, caring only about Prophet Elias (and about taking it away from the community as a whole), have, to this day, made no secret that if they wrest P.E. from the whole community they will SELL it (at a handsome profit, to the detriment of the others in the community!) and build elsewhere! The Denver Metropolitan, and the local clergy are conspiring with them and working tirelessly in continuing to facilitate this travesty!
That the tensions of the past seventeen months have not diminished - to say nothing of the previous decade - are due to the Denver Metropolitan's ongoing interference, an intractable and unloving local clergy, and a vocal minority of malcontents who will stop at nothing to STEAL a part of this entire community's rightful legacy.
Now that regular parish council elections will take place for the eight (SEVEN!) positions which will be vacated, it is imperative that we return to the proper procedures which are found in the Uniform Parish Regulations. These procedures have to do not only with the candidates for the parish council, but also for the parishioners who plan to vote. Since the Priest determines whether the parishioners are in canonical and financial good standing in order to vote, as specified in Article 18 Sections 1, 2 and 3, the roster containing the names of the parishioners shall be verified by Father Gilbert and Father Kouremetis as stated in Article 25 Section 2.
We will NOT accept any such interference with our traditional rights as Greek Orthodox Christians and as members of this community.
Moreover, the parishioners who plan to run for the parish council must be nominated on the basis of Article 25, Sections 1, 2 and 3. This means that among other qualifications, they must attend the required seminars, attend the holy services regularly, participate in the sacrament of Holy Communion and respect all ecclesiastical authority.
We've said this before. Respect cannot be demanded, despite any regulations that are IMPOSED from on high; it must be earned. Further, the paradigm "ο,τι κανεις, λαβεις" (as you sow, so shall you reap) is appropriate here.
Because of the appearance of abuse of absentee balloting on May 20, 2012 for the current parish council, I would not be in a position to ratify the elections if absentee balloting were allowed. It is not at all logical for absentee ballots to determine who is or is not elected at a properly conducted parish council election.
'THE "APPEARANCE" OF ABUSE??? How carefully the Denver Metropolitan crafts his poisonous words based on the nonsensical information given to him by the community's former anointed appointed! Again, the Denver Metropolitan cherry-picks the UPRs. Absentee ballots ARE ALLOWED (Article 25 Section 6) under such! Further, our 501(c)(3) community by-laws also provide for absentee ballots. We insist that our Parish Council continue to allow them as well!
Finally, at your coming general assembly, financial reports on the parish budget must be restricted to the parish budget according to the UPR's of the Archdiocese, Article 34 Section 7.
The flawed UPRs can restrict as they like. Our Metropolitan is an expert at imposing restrictions when it suits his purpose, and ignoring them for the same reason.
Regardless. Numbers are numbers. We urge the Parish Council to be honest about them - ALL OF THEM!
Based on this latest vitriolic letter, one of a dismal array of many, no one should wonder why stewardship is down despite the best efforts of the Parish Council and the Stewardship Committee. This bishop's ongoing petulance, obstructionism and disdain point to the MAJOR reasons that: a) this community cannot get back on its feet; and, b) no one will give as generously as they might. For all their dictatorial implementation, if not outright intent, STEWARDSHIP is the Achilles' Heel of the Uniform Parish Regulations!
Who is inclined toward maximum giving when one has a Metropolitan who, a) disparages continually the majority of his flock who are dismayed by his imperious and arrogant attitude; and b) conspires with the local "Ephialteses" to strip this community of its rightful legacy?
With Paternal Blessings,
(We ask our Lord to be spared such; the Denver Metropolitan is anything but "paternal".)
+ Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver