Moderators' Note: below is the letter sent by the Parish Council, along with a letter from the Archdiocese. The original may be viewed here.
March 25, 2014
Yesterday afternoon we received the March 19, 2014 letter below from the Archdiocese. Archbishop Demetrios through his chancellor Bishop Antonios has given us specific direction for moving forward as a united community in Salt Lake City.
Last night, at the conclusion of vespers and before our regularly scheduled parish council meeting, the newly elected parish council members along with the incumbant parish council members took the affirmation of office administered by Fr. Mathew.
Your parish leadership is in the process of providing input to the Archdiocese for the additional parish council members as mentioned in the letter.
We would like to add our hopes and prayers in addition to those of Archbishop Dimitrios, Metropolitan Isaiah, and Bishop Andonios. We ask all of you to carefully read the letter below and commit yourself to actions that move this community forward in peace and harmony.
And let us remember to love and forgive as our Lord Jesus teaches us during this Lenten season.
In His Name and Service.
Your Parish Council
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10
March 19, 2014
Reverend Clergy, Parish Council Members and
Faithful Members of the Greek Orthodox Community of Salt Lake City
Holy Trinity Cathedral
279 South 300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
As many of you may know, a meeting took place on Wednesday, March 12th at the Metropolis of Denver which included His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah, Mr. Dimitrios Tsagaris, Dr. Demetrios Skedros and myself. The purpose of this meeting was to find a resolution to the serious issues which have especially troubled the Salt Lake community these past few years. In the words of the Archbishop, the meeting was a heartfelt effort to help the parish overcome its current situation and truly become that what it should be, a dynamic Christ-centered parish proclaiming the message of the Gospel and edifying its members and the greater community. In a sincere desire to calm the waters and to bring healing to the parish so that it could move forward, certain actions were agreed upon by those in attendance.
As a sign of good will and tangible expression of his desire to bring healing to the community and to move forward, Metropolitan Isaiah offered to immediately ratify the parish council elections which took place in November 2013. Therefore, with the blessings of the Metropolitan this letter hereby ratifies those elections, and the parish clergy will administer the affirmation of office (Article 27, Section 4:A of the regulations) to the new council as soon as possible.
It was also agreed that there will be no discussion or steps taken at this time regarding any separation of the two churches of Holy Trinity and Prophet Elias. This is something which had been agreed upon by both the Metropolitan and Mr. Tsagaris last year and all were in full agreement that this position was needed at the present time to restore peace and harmony. At some time in the future, if there is a desire to move forward with such a separation, a committee can be selected from within the community to explore that option and work towards that end.
Since the present parish council does not include an adequate representation of those attending Prophet Elias, it was furthermore agreed by all that as soon as possible the Metropolitan will appoint to the parish council 5 or 6 appropriate individuals who primarily church themselves at Prophet Elias. They will participate as full members of the council until the next parish council election this Fall at which time, they and those current members whose term expires this year, will have the opportunity to include their names on the election ballot for parish council. This process of appointment will be coordinated by.the Metropolis and by my office, with input from the current church leadership. It must be stressed that this "new" parish council must function as ONE body, with each individual, regardless of which church they attend, accorded the appropriate deference - their opinion, concerns and what they view as the needs, heard - and everyone focused on what is best for the entire community, especially the youth who have been unfortunately impacted by all the controversy and negativity.
We are all especially pained by, and are very concerned by the way divisions have been created and ask that for the "good of the all", everyone focus their attention and their energies on working together to rebuild the unity which has been shaken, so that you may be perfectly joined together. Especially the members of the parish council are reminded of the words of St. Paul, who in his epistle to the Ephesians (4:1-3), exhorts the faithful, I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This should be especially true during this sacred period of Great Lent when our attention should not be on fostering turmoil and discord but rather on our reconciliation with our Creator and those around us.
It is indeed regrettable that some have chosen to propagate irrational fears either because they are ill informed or because they wish to use such inflammatory tactics to stir up emotions within the community as part of some agenda. For this reason, I take this opportunity to emphasize to all that at no time in the 92 year history of the Archdiocese, has the Archdiocese or any Metropolis taken the property of any community. Such inferences are irresponsible and pure fabrication and should be totally disregarded.
During the meeting, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah shared with the group that Fr. Michael had expressed in the past a desire to be reassigned. The Metropolitan is now ready to respond to that request and will work with the Archdiocese to find, as quickly as possible, a new assignment for Fr. Michael. Until that time, the Metropolis will continue to see that Father receives his compensation.
It is the fervent hope and prayer of the Archbishop and of the Metropolitan, and we believe of the parish leadership, that peace and harmony once again prevail in the community of Salt Lake and trust that the actions agreed upon at the meeting of March 12th will work towards accomplishing that goal. For this to be achieved though will require the full cooperation of all within the community. No doubt, there may be some in the parish who feel a different approach should have been decided but it was the intent of those who met in Denver to consider, at this time, the greater good and the best way to move forward to accomplish what is best for the community.
May the balance of this Lenten Season be a blessed and spiritually uplifting one for all...a time of reconciliation and of healing. Above all, May the Lord bless and keep you: The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be merciful to you: The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6: 24-26).
Faithfully in the Service of our Lord,
+Bishop Andonios of Phasiane