“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, August 16, 2008

To Survey, or Not to Survey … What, Still More Questions?

Mr. Kastanis is clearly a keen observer of the ongoing absurdity we keep witnessing. Does it not seem obvious that this survey is redundant? We've heard several complaints, along with those of Mr. Kastanis, that it is also a bit selective. Several paid members did not receive this survey. (They have however, received festival tickets to buy and sell. As one member put it, "... they are unwilling to solicit my opinion but are happy to solicit my money.") In many cases, one survey came addressed to "Mr. and Mrs.", assuming that both parties have EXACTLY the same opinion?

And, once again, our intelligence is insulted in that the survey begins with the constant excuse that our "leaders" accept as GIVEN that they can have no say as to the clergy’s actions. The root of our problems begins here. It is not about what they "can't do"; it is about what they "won't do." The expulsion of a previous board, and one of a more recent member, has provided the requisite "scare" needed to induce this board, when facing ongoing clerical abuses, to cave.

Let's get real here, please: surely, most parish council members are fairly aware who attends what, who belongs to which group, and ought to have a fair idea as to who has paid how much over the years. They are also aware why many people have stopped giving as generously.

The majority of questions this latest survey asks have already been answered. No doubt many such answers appeared on the "comments" section of the "split" survey. (Those have never been made public by the way.) The tone, tenor and VOTES of the previous assemblies make it abundantly clear that there is deep dissatisfaction in this community. And falling revenues cannot be explained solely by a withering economy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Who Gets The Questionnaire?

The recent mailing of a questionnaire to the community by the stewardship committee raises more questions than appear on the one sent out. Some people received it in their name only; others received it jointly as husband and wife, and others didn’t even receive one at all. In my particular case, I received one in my name only and addressed to me only. Needless to say, my wife, also being a paid member of the community, immediately placed a call to the church offices.
In all reality will anything be accomplished by this questionnaire or will it go by the wayside as all the others? Surely the parish council and stewardship committee know the mood of the community and why the finances are in the condition they are.

Let’s review again what has transpired in the past year or two to set the now mood of the community.

  1. The community elects a parish council and it terminated by the Metropolitan.

  2. A member of the parish council voices his opinion and is ejected from the council and denied his sacraments.

  3. Good-standing members submit their names for election and are denied. (There must be some kind of a tracking system being kept for ones eligibility.)

  4. A General Assembly has the largest number in attendance in years, if ever, and over 70% approve a motion and it is rejected.

  5. Major improvements to our churches and buildings are implemented without community general assembly approval.

  6. Can anyone with a pet project proceed because he is willing to fund the project, without general assembly approval?

  7. Why are we not PRIORITIZING our capital improvements? Many items need attention more than those currently being attended.

The properties of the Greater Salt Lake Greek Orthodox Community belong to the community. They always have been and always will be as our forefathers struggled and suffered for us, our children and our grandchildren. Clergy come and go but we who live in our community remain to perpetuate our great GREEK heritage, culture and Religion for our children and grandchildren. Parish Council listen to your members of the community and take back control because we are in serious trouble.

Jim Kastanis

The Survey

It seems our Parish Council is now sending out yet another survey? We point out that many have reported NOT receiving these questions, though they are paid members. For those who have not, we are providing, the list the main topics/questions being asked in the survey, and some of the issues of importance, beginning with the introductory paragraph.

In an effort to continually improve our Parish, your elected Parish Council wants to hear from you. Please take a few minutes to complete this questionnaire. Results will be used by the Parish Council to base a work plan for the coming years for this current council and future ones. All information is important, and nothing will be disregarded, but in order for this input to be worthwhile, it is important to limit the ideas to items that the Parish Council can actually influence. [emphasis added]

We are then asked the following 16 questions (we have not added many of the sub-questions due to space limitations):

1. Please list three areas of success in your overall experience with the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake City.
2. Please list three areas of improvement you would like to see for the Parish in the future.
3. With 1 representing very involved and 5 not involved, how would you rate your level of personal involvement with the Parish?
4. Rank in order of value (with 1 being most important and 6 being the least important) your reason in being a member of the Parish.
Social/Cultural (i.e. Greek programs, fraternal organizations, etc.); Influence on Community/Archdiocese Policies; Sacramental Life; Participation in Youth Programs; Participation in Religious Education Programs; Other (Please specify below)
5. Rank in order of importance the things you believe are the most pressing issues the Parish Council should be focusing on (with 1 being most important and 8 being least important).
Stewardship; Youth Programs; Parish Personnel Management (since the Parish Priests are not under Parish council direction, this would be limited to other Parish employees). [emphasis added];Parish Financial Matters – Keep the finances in order; Capital Improvements, such as the dome at Prophet Elias and/or Sunday School rooms at Holy Trinity; Festival Preparation, Parish Asset Protection (i.e. Parish properties); Other (specify below)
6. What do you think is the greatest value of Community membership to you and/or your family?
7. Do you or your family members participate in any of the church’s community-related activities and/or programs? If so, which ones?
8. Have you made a stewardship commitment or donated to Holy Trinity/Prophet Elias during the last five years? Please indicate which years and the respective amounts.
9. If applicable, why did you decide not to make a stewardship commitment or donation? Please choose only One Reason [we must here presume there cannot be many?]
Prefer single contributions to special projects; Prefer single contributions to general operating fund; Don’t understand the Stewardship program; Uncertain of personal finances; Not satisfied with the stewardship program; Other, please specify.
10. Are you and/or your family satisfied with the current Parish Council and their work?
11. Do you feel that the current Parish Council has the community’s best interest at heart when making decisions concerning the future of our community?
12. What suggestions would you offer to the Parish Council?
13. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 denoting effective communication and 5 not communicated at all, please rate how you feel we have communicated to you as a Community Member?
14. Are you/and or (sic) your family satisfied with the office staff of the church and the way they handle your needs when you call or stop by the office?
15. Are you satisfied with the clergy service/accessibility to you and your family?
16. What suggestions would you offer to the Clergy?

Any other thoughts on your mind? Please share them.


Thank you for your input! Please mail the questionnaire back in the enclosed pre-paid envelope. You are not required to provide this information in order to respond unless you would like a member from the Parish Council to respond back to you on a specific item.

Name _________________________________
Address _______________________________
City, State, Zipcode _______________________

Saturday, August 2, 2008


In response to Mr. Varanakis' assertion that the Metropolitan "stands by the letter he provided to our community after the information on our survey was provided him.", we say, as we said we would, "bravo".

We however stand by our blogs regarding the issue, despite Mr. Varanakis' detailed explanations on the nature of the CLC and its myriad of workshops, meetings and resolutions.

TOCB in representing the wishes of 87% of this community's members who voted, had every reason to point out that the issue of splitting our community WAS in fact on the CLC agenda, regardless of whether or not it was discussed. The controversy, in fact, would never have occurred, had the resolutions sent to the Archbishop been amended based upon "the information our survey provided".

In fact, we surmise that had this situation not been exposed, we may have all been facing a highly different outcome.

Further, we find it hard to imagine that some random soul from another parish or state felt self-righteously compelled to see to it that our community was split, and therefore proposed the original resolution at the Denver Metropolis CLC in Tulsa.

Therefore we reiterate the critical question, "WHO initially proposed the resoluton at the Denver Metropolis CLC in Tulsa, Oklahoma with regard to splitting our community?"