“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, July 20, 2008

Do We Really Need These Confrontational Messages?

Today’s Sunday’s bulletin “The Word” had the following message:

"XRONIA POLLA! MANY YEARS! May PROPHET ELIAS, whose memory we commemorate today, intercede for our parish and all our parishioners, as we gather to celebrate the name day of our Prophet Elias parish. [Emphasis added.] FYI: It is Prophet Elias whose intercession we seek in times of drought or too much rain, and also for problems with hernias."

Over the last week we have been pondering the following:

We have been advised by Mr. Floor and have been assured about rumors at the Clergy-Laity Convention!

We have seen the agenda of this year’s Clergy Laity Convention; it appears to be contradictory to Mr. Floor’s comforting (!) message on rumor-spreading.

Today we see the editor of the Sunday Bulletin telling us that there is a separate Prophet Elias parish. Apparently it is a fait accompli to those in the know.

Can somebody in authority tell the rest of us what is going on? Maybe there is a comforting answer. Maybe we ought not to know.

Nick J. Colessides

Rumor Has It ... or Done Deal?

Let's consider for a moment the events of the past few days:

TOCB provides evidence that the Metropolitan, despite prior promises and present assurances, sent contrary resolutions to the Clergy-Laity Congress which were clearly on the agenda.

In yet another protocol imaged here (with emphasis added), the Metropolitan refers to our two delegates to the Clergy-Laity Congress as representing the "parish" of "Prophet Elias, Holladay".

On the heels of these not-so-subtle communications, we're provided the following verbatim language in our Sunday Bulletin:

Despite our treasurer's assertion of rumor-mongering, the actions and the language we are being presented with bespeak of τετελεσμενο γεγονος - a "done deal".

(Perhaps we should ask for the intercession of Prophet Elias for relief from the hernias we are sure to acquire from strained credulity.)

There is no such entity as a Prophet Elias PARISH in Holladay, nor a Holy Trinity PARISH in downtown SLC. Our parish council members represent this valley's ONE and ONLY parish, the Greater Greek Orthodox Community of Salt Lake City.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rumors? It Would Appear Not So!

Since our previous posting, numerous e-mails have been circulated regarding the "rumor" that the Denver Resolutions with regard to our community would NOT include a resolution that the Salt Lake Community MUST split. We advise those who insist such to check out the Clergy-Laity Congress' Web site - specifically the AGENDA ITEMS.

In reviewing the Denver Resolutions, we would ask that our readers kindly note that in the fifth and sixth paragraphs it quite clearly still contains the language we referred to in our previous blog article, the one presumably based upon rumor. If, in fact, the Metropolitan did not want this discussed, should he not have, by now, sent a revised version of his resolutions for consideration to the Archbishop?

In truth, if this resolution as written, despite the protestations of "rumors", passes at Clergy-Laity, what would prevent our Metropolitan from arguing that he did not "force" the split - that it was simply a decision by the deliberative body of the Greek Orthodox Church in the USA and "out of his hands"? He could, technically, lay the blame at the doorstep of the Clergy-Laity Congress, or at the feet of the Archbishop himself. This would certainly put an end to a problem he has had with our community for decades.

We could, and would, ask, WHY this particular resolution was left in the list of resolutions for consideration sent in by our Metropolitan to Archbishop Demetrios for consideration at this Clergy-Laity Congress? If this resolution truly was not meant to be considered by the Clergy-Laity Congress, the Metropolitan had several months to see that to it this particular resolution was not included in the Denver Resolutions. He did not do so.
This said, if it turns out that the Metropolitan sees to it that this particular resolution is not considered, and honors his word to us, as stated in the December 6, 2007 letter sent to the community, our response will be "bravo".

Those who insist that at this particular point in time our concerns regarding this matter are merely based upon "rumor" are once again wrong. This is NOT a rumor; it is there, in plain black-and-white, for all to see. Οποιος εχει ματια βλεπει. (Whoever has eyes can see.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Will Metropolitan Isaiah Keep His Word?

On December 6, 2007 parishioners of the Salt Lake City community received two letters from Metropolitan Isaiah regarding an apparently ongoing desire on his part to split our community. The first letter explained His Eminence's decision in not assigning a priest the community requested. The second referred to the survey results where 87% of those who returned surveys voted against splitting the community. Among statements His Eminence made were:

  • During the past year, the subject [splitting the community] appeared to become a burning issue with an increasing number of parish members... Unfortunately, before you decided to go ahead with the survey, the usual few members became vocal spokesmen against the recognition of two distinct parishes...
  • Had I been a less patient bishop, this would have been enough for me to declare two separate parishes with two separate councils...
  • After much discussion with Mr. Bapis [editor's note: during prior attempts to split the community] I told him that I would not force the community to become two parishes...
  • I like to believe that I am faithful to what I say...
  • In my forty-five years in the clergy, I have never forced anyone to do my will...
  • I challenge anyone to say that I forced someone to do or not to do a particular thing...
  • In keeping my word to Mr. Bapis and to myself, I will not force the recognition of two parishes."

However, TOCB has learned that in May 2007, our Metropolitan sent a letter to Archbishop Demetrios reporting that the Metropolis' Clergy-Laity conference had passed a number of resolutions. One requested that the matter of splitting of our community be put on the agenda at the national convention. The pertinent page of that letter is excepted and imaged here. It reads:

The second resolution was made specifically to address the irregular situation of our Salt Lake City, Utah community which has two churches and two separate parish programs but operates under one parish council and as one incorporated legal entity. This, of course, is an uncanonical situation. It was tolerated by the Archdiocese many years ago for reasons that may have seemed logical at that time but the reality is that both “churches” need to function as separate parishes. The resolution is as follows:

"The Metropolis council of the Holy Metropolis of Denver and its delegates,
striving to accomplish wholeness and unity among all Orthodox Christians of our Metropolis and the Holy Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, affirm and state that each parish shall be a separate entity within our Holy Metropolis, with its own Proistamenos and Parish Council, in harmony with the pertinent canons of the Church."


That letter's reference regarding our community was addressed to Archbishop Demetrios on May 22, 2007, more than six months before the letters he sent to us in December 2007. Knowing that he had PREVIOUSLY sent this letter proposing for national consideration a resolution specific to our community, how could His Eminence assert to us that he would keep his word and not force a split this community does not want? (We might also ask WHO proposed this resolution?)

Since this resolution is now a part of this year's National Clergy-Laity Conference agenda, are we going to be presented with a "done deal"? We hope, Your Eminence, that we can take you at your word. We are asking you, on behalf of those 87% of us who cared enough to vote (more than one-third of the voting members, which is certainly a sufficient representative sample) and vote "NO" to splitting, does the truth lie with your letter dated on May 22, 2007, or with the one you sent to us on December 6, 2007?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An Uninformed Community

Since the spring general assembly in May, much has happened in our community but little has been reported to the parishioners. Consider the following:

  • Renovations in Prophet Elias have begun under the direct supervision of the proistameno of Prophet Elias only. No general assembly has approved the commencement of the renovations. The parish council found out about the renovations only after they had begun. We have heard that the money for this project was "donated" therefore negating any need for parish approval or participation. If this logic holds, anyone can "donate" for a project of their liking and it would be completed without input or approval. This thinking encourages chaos.

  • Certainly the proistameno of Prophet Elias only and the parish council have forwarded the preliminary plans to the metropolitan for his approval according to the UPR's Article 16 Sections 3 and 4 "Parishes shall submit to the respective Hierarch, for his prior approval related to aesthetic and dogmatic concerns, all preliminary plans for: (subsection B) Any major structural alteration to an existing church structure or other Parish building." Is the parish council aware of this section of the UPR or is the proistameno of Prophet Elias only acting unilaterally?
  • Without question we believe that the proistameno of Prophet Elias only and the parish council have forwarded the final plans to the metropolitan according to the same Article and Section of the UPR "All final plans shall also be submitted to the respective Hierarch for his prior approval."
  • Does the proistameno of Prophet Elias only believe that by holding question and answer sessions after services he is informing the community? As much as he would like this community to be split, the reality is that we are not. Question and answer sessions are held at general assemblies (instead of sitting quietly with his head down) where all members of the community are present instead of in one church after services.
Οποιος δε βλεπει που πατει, στη λασπη θε να πεσει!