“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


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Looks Like All the "Fixes Are IN"!

Within the next few days we should all be receiving the "explanation" letter from our Parish Council. The letter contains more than the "explanation" of the Metropolitan's letter, as we will see, but doesn't stray from the doublespeak and secrecy that are trademarks of the current regime. It took only until the second sentence to insult our intelligence where "the Clergy would like to remind all that church is still in session during the summer months..." Apparently there was a time in the history of this community where the church was padlocked during the summer and there were no services?

We will attempt to review the letter through the six issues it addresses. Your comments and opinions are welcome and we look forward to posting them.

1. Holy Trinity and Prophet Elias Heritage Corporation: Apparently this issue is still under "review" by the Metropolitan, Archdiocese, the State Department, CIA, FBI, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Intergalactic Star Federation?... All we are waiting for is "ratification" from the Metropolitan? "Ratification" of what? The UPRs are clear in stating that the Metropolitan ratifies only Parish Council elections, not parish General Assemblies. The doublespeak that has occurred with this issue alone is enough to satisfy a lifetime quota. First the Metropolitan supported the idea, stating that if passed at a General Assembly he would like to make it a model for the Metropolis. The initiative overwhelmingly passes and suddenly we have problems. Letters we have never seen have allegedly come from the Metropolitan and the Archdiocese. So here we are today waiting for "ratification" on an issue that has already been ratified by the community. Obviously, it really doesn't matter what we say; all we need to do is pay our stewardship and the current regime will take care of everything else.

2. Videotape of May 21, 2007 General Assembly: It is no secret that the meeting was videotaped and requests have been made to make the video available. And how were these requests answered? Should anyone be interested in viewing the video, a simple call to the church office to make an appointment for viewing is all it takes. We are reminded however that the "written minutes of the meeting are the only official record of the community." Need we say more? The incomplete, skeleton minutes advocated by the current regime are the only official record. So we must not believe our eyes and ears; we just rely on the recorded minutes - period.

3. Letter requesting assignment of third priest: The letter has not been written, contrary to the mandate of the General Assembly, but our regime has good reason. "The parish council financial committee is updating the current budgets, finances and stewardship conditions so that when the letter is sent shortly, we have updated information for His Eminence." Certainly the "official record of the community" will reflect that the General Assembly motion passed required that all this be done before the letter is sent. Updated information for His Eminence? The mandate was clear. The only updated information His Eminence needs is that the community requests a third priest be assigned and that priest be Fr. Mario Giannopoulos. The request for another priest is being made by the community. To our knowledge the Metropolitan is not requesting this type of information to make his decision. The responsibility for this issue falls solely on our Proistameno who voluntarily stated he would write the letter. It is clear from his inaction regarding the matter that despite his public statements, he has an issue with Fr. Mario being assigned to our community. What could he possibly be afraid of? Is it perhaps that this action doesn't facilitate his ultimate goal of splitting the community? Ultimately what will happen is the Parish Council will declare that there is no money for a third priest. The Metropolitan will then write a letter being "sympathetic" to the financial constraints of the community (which wasn't the case when either of the current clergy were assigned, nor when it comes to our Archdiocesan assessments.) He will also say that the assignment of a priest to his home parish is contrary to "canonical order" even though he has clergy assigned to their home parishes throughout the Metropolis. Stonewall, distract and dissemble - tactics of the current regime both here and in Denver.

4. Splitting the community: The letter tells us, "You may have heard that there are several parishioners who have approached the Metropolitan and the Parish Council about studying the feasibility of having two independent parishes." In a letter filled with disingenuous statements, this one tops them all! Nowhere in the "manifesto" sent by the split advocates (who did NOT identify themselves) does it call for a 'feasibility study'. The "manifesto" is clear only in offering their unsupported arguments in favor of splitting. We are also told, "In discussions with the Metropolitan, he requested that an unofficial committee be established with parishioners from both Holy Trinity Cathedral and Prophet Elias Church. The efforts of this committee will not be under the direction of the Parish Council." Here again we see examples of the backroom shenanigans that has made this current regime infamous. In what forum did the Metropolitan request this committee be established? Could it be that this request was made in that elusive letter we are not afforded the courtesy of reading ourselves? Further, it is unconscionable that this committee would function outside the direction of the Parish Council. (Can you say "violation of the UPRs?") Undoubtedly, this committee will function under the direction of the Proistameno. This committee has been labeled "unofficial" by our Parish Council in their letter. It would stand to reason any information gathered, or action recommended would therefore also be "unofficial", in contrast to a General Assembly which is a duly constituted and official body that issues official and binding decisions. Undoubtedly, to be part of this "unofficial" rubber-stamp committee one must be of like mind with the Proistameno. Those holding dissenting views need not apply.

5. Questionnaire and survey: This ought to be a dandy! We "will have every opportunity to make our position known and considered" through a survey. How very generous and magnanimous to consider our positions! Who will form the questions? Another "unofficial committee"? The same one? It is ironic that the anonymity complained about in the next point is encouraged through this survey. Whatever happened to the concept of open, face-to-face dialogue? We will reserve further comment until the survey has been distributed.

6. Anonymous Letters: The Parish Council believes that sending of anonymous letters is less than productive. Our contention here is this regime has the propensity not to respond to letters whose authors actually have the courage of their convictions and identify themselves. Several parishioners have reported sending letters to this regime, having signed their names, and have not had the courtesy of any response. Discard all anonymous letters, fine. At least, however, have the decency to respond to those that are not anonymous. It would again stand to reason if anonymous letters are discarded, anonymous surveys would be likely to suffer the same fate. Heck, the Parish Council members won't even provide minutes with an account of how each stands individually on subjects of vital importance to the community! But they decry anonymous letters? Apply the standard across the board, gentlemen, and not only when it serves your purposes.

A final thought: the stated purpose of this letter is "to follow up" on matters discussed at the Spring General Assembly. The letter may "follow up" on issues, but it purposely withholds information necessary for informed decision-making. Send us, your contitutents, the Metropolitan's letter discussing the split. Don't make excuses why the mandate of the General Assembly regarding the assignment of a third priest has not been accomplished. Don't try to convince us that only the "feasibility of a split" has been requested, when the entire process reeks of a "done deal". And finally gentlemen, stop insulting everyone's intelligence and just start being open and telling the truth.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Letter From A Fellow Parishioner

Dear Fellow Blog Readers,
I was fortunate enough to attend the last parish council meeting where several things were discussed. Some of the issues discussed I would like to share with you. Before starting let me say that I was not the only parishioner outside of the parish council who attended the last meeting and would like to thank the president and the members of the council who were most gracious to all of us in allowing us to briefly speak about our concerns.
It was discussed during the meeting that the minutes of parish council meetings will now only include action items and no details. In my opinion the minutes of past parish councils were open and honest in that they include more than action items but issues discussed. During my tenure on the parish council we went the extra mile and audio taped the meetings to insure that the minutes accurately reflected the opinions and discussions of all members involved. This way, the community that elected us could see what each of us stood for. I was told by a member of this current parish council at this last meeting I attended that the only reason we used audio tape was because "we didn't trust each other." The use of audio tapes has nothing to do with trust it has to do with being open and honest to the whole community. I hope that this parish council uses the practice of earlier years and offers us complete minutes not just action items.
Also discussed was the letter sent from the Metropolitan and read by the president about splitting the community. A letter was given to each member of the parish council by the executive committee that will go out shortly to the community explaining the letter from the Metropolitan. I am strongly offended and disagree with this parish council sending me a letter explaining what the Metropolitan wrote in his about our community. Instead of sending us their letter, I would prefer they send us the ORIGINAL letter from the Metropolitan. This way I can see for myself and you all can see for yourselves what our Metropolitan is saying should be done to OUR community. What these letters say we don't know yet. This same parish council member discussed above commented that general assembly decisions are just a WISH and what a general assembly decided 35 years ago is not binding today. The fact remains that in 1969 a general assembly voted and passed a motion related to how a split can take place. That motion was not just a WISH and is still binding until another general assembly votes to reverse that decision. Also in attendance at this last parish council meeting were two past presidents who spoke passionately against the split.
I wanted to speak about the split in detail but will refrain until we all receive the parish council's letter which is being sent to the community. Until that time we need to speak loudly about being kept in the dark and treated like second class citizens. Thank you to the blog moderators for allowing us this forum to voice our opinions.
Yannis Armaou

Killing the Messenger

Numerous reports have been circulated that some of our Parish Council members and others in the community are blaming the community’s current woes on the blog. We submit that these people are confusing cause and effect.

Let’s think about this, shall we? The idea for the blog first began because numerous parishioners were frustrated. Their efforts, after a properly conducted special General Assembly, were thwarted by backdoor subterfuge from the minority, in collusion with the Archdiocese. When one parishioner, also a Parish Council member, objected too strenuously to this sorry state of affairs, someone reported to the Metropolitan. Without even bothering to investigate, perhaps ask the parishioner/council member to explain himself, the Metropolitan imposed highly stringent sanctions, most of which he has now rescinded, against the former Parish Council member. While this situation was occurring, there were also the rumblings surrounding the activities of parishioners seeking to split the community. The die was cast.

Those of us who write for and who moderate this blog have been told by parishioners that it provides the only resource where some information is forthcoming. It is also the only place where issues that are pertinent to all parishioners, not just to the clergy and the Parish Council, are discussed. All viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged. Some Parish Council members have claimed inaccuracies. We invite those who feel this way to write us and point out these inaccuracies; if they are right, like all good journalists we will print a retraction along with their views.

There are those who clearly hoped the blog would just go away. The secrecy that the Parish Council has been embracing, not resisting, of late has all but ensured that it will not go away. More and more it appears they are either unwilling or unable to honestly address their constituents’ concerns. We are outraged by the backdoor tactics and by the clandestine attempts to split the community, which is now presented as a fait accompli. These actions have assured the blog’s growing popularity. Add to these local issues the backdrop of a hierarchy that itself is unwilling or unable to address honestly the growing regional and national scandal of sexual abuse cases. Finally, there is a glaring double standard between the behavior the clergy demand from their flock and that which they will condone for themselves. To claim that the blog is the cause of these problems is absurd.

The blog is causing these problems? Or is it that the blog is pointing to them, thus exposing the clergy’s high-handedness and the Parish Council’s inability to address these issues. All any of us have ever asked is that our Parish Council have the courage to stand up for what is right for their community, and operate openly, as did their fathers and grandfathers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

We'll Tell You the Story in Our Own Words

Troubling. No better way to describe the latest Parish Council meeting. Just flat out troubling. What will be described below would not be known to the community were it not for this forum. The current regime doesn't want us to know. The current regime wants to spoon feed us information with their spin. It appears that the community at large is on a need-to-know basis: if the current regime thinks we need to know they will tell us. Otherwise, don't expect any information pertaining to our community be made public until the regime deems the time appropriate.

Our first example deals with a letter sent to the community from the Metropolitan and read to the Parish Council at the June 4 meeting. The letter deals with the issue of splitting our community. No copy of the letter was distributed to the members of the Parish Council; it was only read to them. The best part of this charade is that the Parish Council will be sending us a letter explaining the Metropolitan's letter among other things. To clarify, the Metropolitan's letter has not been disseminated. All indications are that it will not be disseminated to the community. What will be disseminated is an explanation of the letter.

Hard to believe a letter that impacts our life in our community will never be seen. Well, believe it. Apparently, we are not intelligent enough to understand what is written and come to our own conclusions. No doubt, the Metropolitan's letter has been under armed guard since it was received, only to see the light of day at the behest of our regime leaders. It is hard to imagine what the current regime fears might happen should we read that letter. God forbid we know the truth of what is happening on our church. Given the track record of the current regime and especially this Proistameno, truth is a foreign concept. The only truth we will know from them is the truth they will explain to us. We await with baited breath the letter of the Parish Council explaining the Metropolitan's letter lest we read the Metropolitan's letter ourselves and be confused. Gentlemen: SAVE YOUR EXPLANATION AND JUST SEND THE METROPOLITAN'S LETTER.

Secondly, if you have an inkling to find out what was discussed at a Parish Council meeting and think you could peruse the minutes and actually find out what was discussed, THINK AGAIN. Any detailed account of Parish Council proceedings is frowned upon by this regime as it would enlighten the community. At this last meeting, a detailed set of minutes was prepared and presented to the Parish Council along with a watered-down version void of any details discussed. Guess which version was adopted and has become the official record of the community? Go ahead, guess. If you guessed watered-down, you win. Look back at minutes of previous years and compare. What you will find is that minutes of years past are real minutes and minutes of this regime are a joke. Just another attempt to hide what is really happening and try to convince us that all is well.

We won't even begin to discuss the confidentiality agreement this Proistameno has distributed and wishes every member of the Parish Council to sign. The secrecy of this regime is nauseating. The utter disregard for truth and open information reeks of fascism. What a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in. Most disturbing is knowing that nothing will change. As long as this regime is in power and this Proistameno is allowed to pull the strings, nothing will change. This does not bode well for those of us poor peasants on the outside. We are left to wonder and the regime continues playing us. We will be played as long as we allow it. Only we can say that enough is enough. Maybe it's time we speak.

An Open Letter from One of Our Young Parishioners

Greetings Bloggers,

My name is Matthew Hedberg, I have been an active member of the Greek Orthodox Community of Greater Salt Lake for my entire life. I was in attendance at the most recent Parish Council meeting and read into record a petition that I have drafted on behalf of the cosigned youth. I wish to avoid any misconstrued notions that my addressing this audience via this medium is intended to be incendiary or critical of the Parish Council. On the contrary, they were very kind and open towards me, and I observed a great deal of impassioned concern and consideration being taken on behalf of the members of the council as they actively pursued resolutions to the issues that they addressed. That being said, the condition of this community is what it is, the recent actions taken by the parishioners group that wishes to separate the two churches and the Metropolitan’s office are forcing the issue of a schism upon us. My petition addresses five important issues facing our community the most important one being unity within our community and the avoidance of the aforementioned schism. I write to you today to request that those of you who read this blog and have children who may be interested in signing the petition might approach them about reading the petition to see if it accurately reflects their opinions. The legacy being shaped by you today is the legacy that we, the youth, shall inherit. I am not including the text of my petition in this post although I will be glad to do so once all the signatures have been obtained. If you would like to receive an electronic copy of the petition for your children to view please contact the blog administrators at tocbslc@gmail.com or refer to the official minutes for the Parish Council meeting of June 25, 2007. I hereby grant the TOCB administrators of this blog permission to release my email address to individuals requesting further information on this issue.

Thank you for your time,

Matthew Hedberg

Moderator's Note: Matt, thank you very much for your post. Please provide us the petition when it's completed, and we will be happy to post it. Those wishing to review it, may obtain Matt's e-mail address by e-mailing tocbslc@gmail.com.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

So This Is What The Church Is Supposed To Be

"The Church is established not to sow division among those who gather within Her, but to gather those who are divided." These words of St. John Chrysostom encapsulate one aspect of the life of the church we all so dearly love. It seems that these words are more than appropriate in light of the current regime's (along with their minions) mission to split our community.

So the question begs to be asked: What say you? You certainly can't say that your actions aren't sowing division. Is it that you believe you are gathering those divided? Well... are we missing something? Sow division or gather those divided. Fairly straightforward and to the point. Well, what say you?

You speak of being canonically correct with the Archdiocese yet site no canons to support your statement. You contend your position has the full support of and has been encouraged by the Archdiocese for years yet offer nothing supporting your position. Well, what say you? Do years worth of letters exist from the Archdiocese that only you are privy to?

How truly sad it is that the current regime (along with their minions) take a position that promotes division. The minions are just following orders but the regime should know better because of their ordained positions in the church. So, we await your documented, substantiated response to whether you sow division or gather those divided. Well, what say you?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Not Only a Place to Complain

It has been circulated that only complaints and criticisms are circulated on this site and for the most part, that is correct. Until now, the issues at hand and the actions taken or not taken have necessitated only those type of responses. Today, an action occurred that calls for at least partial thanks and praise. His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah, in a letter dated June 19, 2007 to Mr. Nick Colessides, lifted the ecclesiastical sanctions imposed several months ago. His Eminence writes in part, "On this basis, I lift all suspensions imposed on you in regard to the sacraments and services of the Church." While the ecclesiastical sanctions have been removed, the Metropolitan also states, "However I reserve the privilege of not recognizing your candidacy for the parish council for the next three years because of your statement against the Archdiocese."

Thank you and well done praises are due the Metropolitan for finally removing the ecclesiastical sanctions. Speaking the truth and standing up for one's beliefs are not reasons for one to be removed from the parish council and excommunicated. Posing a threat to the agenda and challenging the heavy handed tactics of the Proistameno are also not reasons for one to be removed from the parish council and excommunicated but it apparently was threatening enough in this instance to convince the Metropolitan to impose those sanctions. Be that as it may, the ecclesiastical sanctions have been lifted and for that, thank you Your Eminence.

Let us not forget though how we got to this point. The UPR's are clear in how one is removed from the parish council and those issues have been outlined in a previous article. There is no doubt that soon enough we will be hearing our Proistameno taking credit for having the sanctions lifted. Quick to take credit, never to take blame. Note to our Proistameno: Please spare us the theatrics and heroics. You publicly announced that this issue was between the Metropolitan and Nick and that you had nothing to do with it. We know better than to believe you had nothing to do with it. Don't jump in now and play Superman - we don't buy it.

Welcome home Nick, and thank you Your Eminence.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Suffer the Little Children... ? What the Heck!

It seems our hierarchs, specifically Metropolitan Isaiah, have now moved on to the offensive in defending a priest who now has four victims coming forward alleging sexual abuse.

Despite the mounting evidence against Fr. Katinas, and the emergence of more and more victims, our Metropolitan is vigorous in defending him. The Metropolitan's argument is perplexing. According to him, one can defrock a priest and if he's forgiven he'll be reinstated ... so what the heck? He gives the further example of Ireneos, who was busted down from Patriarch of Jerusalem to monk (yet he could be forgiven and become Patriarch again!) So what the heck?

Nowhere has the Metropolitan decried the activities that brought Fr. Katinas and former Patriarch of Jerusalem Ireneos to their present states. And yes, Fr. Katinas' wife is most definitely to be pitied and does deserve compassion. And the parishioners of Holy Trinity in Dallas most certainly deserve compassion. But NOWHERE do we see ANY compassion or words of comfort FOR THE VICTIMS! "Suffer the little children..." said the Lord. Where is the compassion for THEM?

Just once can we hear some humility with words such as, "we need to do better.... We are doing our utmost to make sure this NEVER happens again...."? Do we ever hear anything like this? Instead when the laity objects we're told we are gleefully airing the dirty laundry, "anthropocentric", or disobedient, unchristian, or not righteous ... Gleefully? Would that we never came to the NEED to air such dirty laundry. And it is not our dirty laundry! It is the clergy's, yet never once do we hear that, do we? No mea culpas from our hierarchs, no sir! Just admonitions to pay, pray and obey, and let God sort the rest of it out. What a callous and medieval mindset!

And isn't it funny that the money is always mentioned? Our metropolitan is surprised and displeased that contributions in Dallas are down 20%! The churches may belong to God, but our bishops act like they are THEIRS - and even though we build them, and we pay for their continuing operation, WE HAVE NO SAY. No, Your Eminence, we are NOT seeking to "punish God". What a convenient and facile condemnation! We are simply employing two ways to get your attention, the only ones that seem to work these days - publicity and the purse. You and your peers airily dismiss any attempts at reasonable and reasoned dialogue, claiming some sort of 'divine right' and admonishing us to not be "anthropocentric". But we submit that we are all made in the image of God, carrying within us His divine spark - an image that the hierarchy appears to dismiss routinely by its actions and words.

Obviously, simple shame is nowhere to be seen. And yes, the hierarchy should be ashamed that they are openly defending the alleged perpetrator and minimizing the pain of his alleged victims. The excuse given is that because the victims are now no longer children, somehow they should just stifle their feelings, though the memory and shame of their abuse lingers well into their adulthood. One priest likened such abuse to "spiritual murder." Why is there no pity for the victims' pain? Why do the clergy continually refuse to accept the responsibility they bear for trivializing something so serious, so devastating and so lingering?

As things stand, it is a wonder that any Greek Orthodox parent would even consider allowing a son to serve in the altar. It is a further wonder that decent and honorable men still wish to serve in the priesthood. Why does the hierarchy do nothing to weed out these blots upon our priesthood and our faith, and instead just shift the perpetrators from place to place - or hide their heads in the sand and just pretend that this CRIME is not occurring? And, when it occurs again are the faithful still going to hear the "what the heck" excuse?

Deafening Silence, Utter Dishonesty, Treachery and the Split, a Fait Accompli!

Since the last general assembly, the silence from our community leaders continues to be deafening. With the exception of the "manifesto" distributed by those who are in favor of a split, one would think that all is well on the home front. A closer evaluation might just reveal the calm before the storm.

At the last general assembly, the Proistameno voluntarily offered and announced that he would personally write the Metropolitan requesting that a third priest be assigned to our community. When asked if the letter had been written, the company line is that the budget, finance, building, or whatever committee is reviewing the matter. The mandate was that a letter be written, not for a committee review.

The real truth is that the assignment of a third priest at this time is not part of the obvious master plan of splitting our community. The Proistameno never intended to write that letter, but has discussed the matter with the Metropolitan. The course of action obviously decided upon is to stall so that the process of splitting (we'll get to that in a minute) the community could proceed. This betrayal of our forefathers’ intentions has been an ill-kept secret all this time; it is now out in the open for all to witness. To put it mildly, we were looked directly in the eye and lied to, again, by our Proistameno. Now, there's a surprise!

This same Proistameno publicly stated at the general assembly that he didn't know anything about the split. Yet he held a question-and-answer session in the church this past Sunday, regarding that same subject – the one he knows nothing about! It has been further reported that he will coronate a committee of ten people from both churches to see how this split can take place. Undoubtedly, he will appoint only those who will return to him the conclusion he seeks. A rhetorical question: Does this guy EVER do anything that benefits the community as a whole, or does he only do things that benefit him and his few select cronies? Ahhh, we digress.

For the record, one of those in favor of the split was asked who gave permission for the meetings to be held in the board room at Prophet Elias. He answered “Fr. Mike.” Wait, the Proistameno publicly stated that he didn't know anything about the split. Looks like we were looked in the eye and lied to again by our Proistameno. Another rhetorical question: Does this guy know how to tell the truth? Ahhh, but again, we digress.

The reality that exists is that it has been communicated from above that this community will be split. We get denials with a straight face, but actions are clearly speaking louder than words. The clandestine behavior and backroom shenanigans continue and we all remain in the dark.

Only actions that facilitate the split are undertaken and approved. For example, at the last general assembly, the pavilion became a top priority, and, as we were told, it will be finished by August 15. Similarly, the dome at Prophet Elias was at the top of the list. The only reason these projects are so urgent is that they need to be finished before we are forced to split the community. Obviously, for the folks who want to split, the attitude is “get as much as you can while you can”. The attitude displays an utterly cynical and transparent ploy to divide that which our parents and grandparents worked so hard to keep together. And our clergy and hierarchy are, sadly, in the forefront of this travesty.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


To those who would split our community, we offer this point-by-point rebuttal of the exegesis put forth by those wishing "independence" for the Prophet Elias "Parish".

First, no one doubts that you are a group of concerned parishioners. No one questions your love for Church, though you seemingly question that of those who disagree with your viewpoint. What is puzzling is your "concern for community". Truly we live in a time where we have lost and forgotten the lessons of history, both in our smaller community and in society as a whole.

Anyone who has lived in any large city in this country, where one church independently tries to form off another, KNOWS that this is a source of strife, jealousy and concern for loss of revenues from higher-paying stewards, key volunteers, etc. For the most part, Salt Lake was able to avoid this rift. This was, specifically, the main reason our grandparents and parents set up the community up in this manner, with the consent of the hierarchy. In fact, they were there at groundbreaking and gave their full blessing.

The notion that the parish priest cannot be the shepherd of this flock because this one community has two churches is nonsensical. For years priests have served faithfully at both churches. Parish Councils have administered for both churches according to the needs of both. The city's faithful have attended and supported both. To ask that this cease is highly unfair. A priest works in the Lord's vineyard. If a priest's assignment calls upon him to work in one vineyard or more than one, it should make no difference. Whether at the monastery, the parish, or on a foreign mission, the priest's calling is the same. In each case he recognizes that every situation is unique. It may be more accurate and genuine to state that the current Proistameno is unwilling, for reasons only known to himself, to put the time in that it takes to serve both churches, unique to this community, and not that it cannot be done. As such, he should have perhaps declined his assignment.

"To help make stewardship the only way to fund the parish's day-to-day operation." Now where have we heard this before? Sorry, folks, but 72% of your fellow parishioners do not agree. And we certainly are well aware of the tactics to which the minority resorted when you couldn't carry the popular vote. The community's overwhelming majority does not rule out other effective means of supporting our Church and its programs - it views them as reasonable, practical and responsible. It is neither reasonable nor fair to seek to impose upon the majority this narrow and parochial view.

The parent/child metaphor employed - that a parent ought to let a child grow up and become independent - is inept. Prophet Elias was never a "child" needing "maturity". Prophet Elias was a co-equal partner that served the Greek Orthodox community in this city by acknowledging and accommodating growth and expansion, yet still maintaining the identity of one community working together. The more apt metaphor is that of a spouse, not a child. PE is, and always has been, "mature". The situation is, and has been, possible because one council and one proistameno worked toward maintaining harmony and progress in the community. The construct was that time, talent and treasure would go where it was most needed at any given juncture. Did it always work perfectly? No, nothing save Christ is perfect in an imperfect world. The situation here was, however, far preferable to what other communties have experienced, where new church expansions as independent entities fostered long-term rancor, bitterness and divisiveness.

It has further been postulated in this screed that "each community is in danger of becoming an impediment to the growth of the other." HUH? "Impediment to the growth of the other?" It is a well-known saying that "he who asserts, must prove." The point here is that numerous assertions, assumptions and outright fallacies are presented as absolute fact. HOW is each community in danger of becoming an "impediment" to the other? The warning sounds dire; are any examples provided?

Then, we see a stunning about-face! After all the fuss about how the co-mingling has been sooooooo detrimental, we see that these folks want St. Sophia supported by both "parishes". They want a youth program that is unified and supported by both "parishes". First of all, other than the fact that St. Sophia is physically located on the Prophet Elias grounds, who told these people that parishioners who mainly attend Holy Trinity don't support St. Sophia? From where did this factoid emerge? St. Sophia's dinner/fundraiser was held at Holy Trinity this past winter. There were just as many folks there from HT as from PE. Same with the St. Sophia 5K fundraiser this past spring. In terms of youth programs, the assertion is made that "larger programs = more youth involved." So a larger community, that has a choice of two parishes unified in one community provides less involvement, and is terrible in all other facets of the community's church life. Yet it is somehow acceptable and desirable in terms of youth and St. Sophia school? Presumably, though, these people would not want festival funds, or are those the exception as well? The logic to all this is profoundly elusive.

Those of us who grew up in this community feel these churches in our marrow. We were perhaps baptized at Holy Trinity, married at Prophet Elias, attended our grandparents' and parents' funerals at one church or the other. The walls of both churches speak to us. The names of those who have gone before us are inscribed upon the stained glass and cornerstones of BOTH churches. They found a better, if not always perfect, way for a Greek Orthodox community to grow and prosper. And they expected
us to carry on their work.

Out of the Closet at Last!

What has been a poorly kept secret is now out in the open for all to see. Of course the movers and shakers behind this scheme have played their cards close to the vest, and it is fascinating that this "group of concerned parishioners who love our Church and Community..." do not have the courage of their convictions in that their names are, as usual, not signed on this 'manifesto' that they are circulating. In reproducing it for the blog, TOCB has endeavored to keep all grammar, syntax, font style and emphasis as close to the original as is possible when converting text to the Internet. We invite your comments, tocbslc@gmail.com.



We are a group of concerned parishioners who love our Church and Community, and who wish to see the community thrive and grow as it should and could. We believe the only way this can happen is for the two Churches to operate independently of each other. We therefore call on the Parish Council to recognize the reality and inevitability of this and begin the process of calmly and thoughtfully brings about the independent status of both Parishes from the current two church/one parish system.


We are not people who seek controversy or a fight.
We do not come before you with personal agendas or vendettas.
We do not wish to imply anything negative about this or any prior Priest, Parish Council or President.














"There's A Sucker Born Every Minute"

P.T. Barnum may not have said what has been attributed to him but there is little doubt our current situation lives up to his profession. Barnum, famous founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus, would be proud to witness this ongoing circus. He would also be eager to do business with us as we are the easily taken suckers.

Our local ring leader along with his counter part in Denver have purportedly exchanged written correspondence regarding the now forgotten special general assembly and the establishment of the defunct corporation. This correspondence is apparently classified as it has not been shared with the members of the community. We ask to see it, the ring leaders deny our request, we don't say or do anything. We are the suckers.

Our local ring leader stands up at the latest general assembly and asserts that he will "personally" write the letter to the metropolitan requesting the assignment of Fr. Mario as an assistant after two motions to that effect were overwhelmingly passed. Almost one month later, no letter has been written. We ask, this time the local ring leader says he will act, nothing happens, we don't say or do anything. We are the suckers.

We have been told about letters written and letters received. We have asked for answers to no avail. The ring leaders, both here and in Denver, remain silent working their back room shenanigans to further their divisive agenda. We do nothing to hold them accountable. We are the suckers.

Barnum could take this show on the road and make a killing. Here's an idea. Let's cut out the middle man and take this show on the road ourselves. This circus is like one never seen or experienced before. We have the perfect ring leaders. We could make a killing and Barnum would be proud.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

No Response? C'mon... You're kidding right?

It should come as no surprise that Mr. Armaou's letter has fallen on deaf ears. Anyone expecting the courtesy of a response to any request is only setting themselves up for disappointment. The current regime has no intention of responding to requests from members of the community.

To be fair, the regime did respond to some members of our community by listening to their concerns at the last parish council meeting. True to the words of the president of our community spoken at the last general assembly, representatives of a group wishing to see Prophet Elias function as an independent parish were present at the June 4 meeting. To say then that all requests go unheard is unfair.

The more accurate statement would be that requests that don't fit the agenda of the regime, and especially the agenda of this Proistameno, go unheard. The division of this community fits right in with the agenda of this Proistameno. Subsequently, two spokesmen from the apparent masses (about 80 people attended their three meetings) in favor of the division were invited to attend the last parish council meeting.

As an aside, at the general assembly when specifically asked who was behind this proposed division, no one seemed to know. Fast forward two weeks and magically we now know at least two who are spearheading this massive (again, about 80 people) movement. No doubt, after the general assembly private investigators were retained to work around the clock and ultimately find the two spokesmen. Ironically, these two spokesmen were in attendance at the general assembly and remained silent during the discussion. Had they only had the courage of their convictions much investigation time could have been saved.

Having digressed, back to the topic at hand. You can only expect responses to requests if this Proistameno deems your request valid. Apparently Mr. Armaou's requests don't further the regime's agenda so, in the immortal words of Seinfeld's soup Nazi, NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!

When are we going to wake up and take back our community? The injustices perpetrated on our community and its members have been tolerated enough. The time has come to stand up and not allow this regime to ignore what we have asked them to do. Ask the regime how many of the directives mandated at the last general assembly have been completed. If you dare ask, you will find that only those things forwarding the agenda of the regime and especially this Proistameno have been done. If we continue to remain silent we deserve what we get.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Letter to N. Varanakis

June 3, 2007

Mr. Nick Varanakis, Parish Council President
Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake
279 South 300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Dear Nick,

Immediately following the General Assembly of May 21, 2007 (exactly two weeks ago) I wrote you commending the success of the meeting. I also kindly requested a copy of the video made of the meeting and that the letter written by our Proistameno to His Eminence regarding the assignment of Fr. Mario as a third priest for our community be made public in the June Messenger. To my dismay I have received no response from you.

I have received and read the June Messenger and while you mention in your letter to the parish the pavilion and dome construction, you make no mention of the letter requesting assignment of Fr. Mario. Is the assignment of another priest to our parish, which we so desperately need, a lesser matter than the others or is this yet another attempt to keep the members of this community in the dark?

It is my understanding, when a General Assembly mandates an action that mandate holds and must be carried out unless another General Assembly mandates otherwise. Was the letter written? If it was written, what did it say and why was it not made public? WHY ALL THE SECRECY? As a community we are entitled to know. This is not a matter between 15 people, the Proistameno and the Metropolitan. THIS IS ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY!!! You, the parish council and the Proistameno have no right whatsoever to play hide and seek once again.

Since tomorrow you have a parish council meeting, I would again reiterate my requests of TWO WEEKS ago. Please make available to me and anyone who requests, the video of the General Assembly AND please publish the letter supposedly sent immediately following the meeting by our Proistameno requesting the assignment of Fr. Mario to this community.

The above requests are relatively simple and I see no reasonable reason why they can’t be fulfilled. The practice of ignoring requests and silence will not make the issues go away. Be a president to the people who have given you their trust. Let’s get away from the silence and secrecy that has been a clergy privilege for years now. ENOUGH!!

It is my understanding that His Eminence will be in Ogden for the choir conference on June 15-17. I would like to request a meeting with him while he is in the state.

I await your quick response and resolution with regards to my requests after tomorrow’s meeting.


Yannis Armaou

Cc: His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah
Rev. Alexander Karloutsos
Rev. Michael A. Kouremetis
Rev. Matthew Gilbert