Mix and Match
In his Easter message to the Salt Lake Rotary Club meeting Tuesday,Father Michael Kouremitis of the Greek Orthodox Churches of Salt Lake City told the Rotarians that this year the Greek Orthodox Easter will be on May 5."That's Cinco de Mayo," said Father Michael."That means we Greeks,after a long fasting period,will be able to enjoy lamb tacos."
Just an observation.
Are we not the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake?
Great Mexican historian! (hence the "Mi Patron".)
Friday, March 29, 2013
Mix and Match
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Although your current parish council should have a total membership of fifteen persons, it has only fourteen. Originally a fifteenth member was elected whom I did not ratify because he was one of the persons who brought-about last year's lawsuit against the previous recognized parish council. I must say that I was ready to ratify his election for the sake of peace and unity. However, he prevented me from doing so by sending a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch making a request which went contrary to the Uniform Parish Regulations of the Archdiocese, which our Ecumenical Patriarchate ratified several years ago. After these many months your parish council has ignored its responsibility to fill the position, and thus is ignoring the Uniform Parish Regulations of the Archdiocese. In choosing to "honor" the un- ratified individual, they have placed him above the importance of a properly functioning parish administration. Obviously if the needs of the community as a whole are given a back seat, unity cannot be achieved.- excerpt from Metropolitan Isaiah's latest letter dated March 7. The original may be viewed here.
As a follow-up to our recent commentary on the Metropolitan's latest letter:
Some of the Metropolitan's dwindling number of apologists in this community view these inconsistencies as a means by which he seeks to teach his "flock" HUMILITY.
- Why the sudden concern about having the full complement of elected parish council members?
- Metropolitan Isaiah was perfectly content to live with half a council when he appointed them?
- So now, having ONE empty seat is a concern?
Humility, like all other virtues, is best taught by example.
The example should be that of our Lord Himself:
- Our Lord taught Charity by being charitable.
- Our Lord taught Faith by being faithful.
- Our Lord taught Love by being loving.
- Our Lord taught Kindness by being kind.
- Our Lord taught Forgiveness by being forgiving.
- Our Lord taught Humility by being HUMBLE!
The Metropolitan ends his latest letter to us with the closing salutation: "With paternal love". May our Lord protect us from such "fathers"! Our Lord's Apostolic Successors need to learn His lessons, then EXEMPLIFY them, before demanding such of their flock.
Posted by TOCB Moderator at 11:10 AM
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Moderators' Note: This blog, like the one just before it, is in response to the Metropolitan's most recent letter. The original may be viewed here.
Reading Metropolitan Isaiah’s latest letter with its assertion that he has “kept silent” except in response to letters addressed to him is laughable. He has neither kept silent, nor has he acknowledged the actual reality that exists in this community. He has had ample evidence that the REAL dividers in this community are those who (despite having found themselves on the short end of a valid survey of sentiment in this community, and despite the evidence of lack of popularity for their wish to split, as witnessed with free elections) will not cease in their divisive activities.
The only “increase in divisiveness” in this community is occurring because the Metropolitan has allowed and continues to allow clergy and the minority to engage in continuing and ongoing acts of divisiveness.
He then, falsely, claims that it is the parish council that cannot provide unity. When three unelected people are allowed to create a separate corporation in the name of one church only, and when this unethical activity is not decried by the clergy and the hierarchy, it is obvious from where the lack of unity arises. Further, since the clergy and hierarchy will not put a stop to this nonsense, the majority simply will not support the community wholeheartedly because they fear the Metropolitan might again resort to the shenanigans of the past years. The fact that the community sees that the parish council cannot persuade the clergy and hierarchy to act otherwise further erodes trust. That the Metropolitan fails to see his actions, and/or lack thereof, and those of his priests as the major cause of this problem is beyond ridiculous. It has proved tragic for the vibrancy of this community, and, by extension, the Archdiocese and Metropolis as well. In point of fact it portends a larger tragedy for the vibrancy of Greek Orthodoxy in this country.
The enumeration of “some realities” the Metropolitan sees as existing in the community are based on fallacy:
1. When the Metropolitan deigned to “allow” a general assembly and free elections (which are STILL our right under the flawed UPRs) he first said there were no conditions attached as to the candidates. (Let us not forget, however, that our erstwhile Metropolitan has pointed out, that if he didn't write it, he didn't say it! How convenient! He can dissemble all he likes verbally! Semper fi, yet again! The WORD of this Marine is meaningless!) He reneged when two people he specifically did not want were elected. Mr. Bapis declined to serve and was replaced by the candidate with the next number of votes. Mr. Armaou did not decline. He met the specific criteria demanded by the Metropolitan after the fact, yet was still not sworn in. The Metropolitan now asserts that Mr. Armaou may not be sworn in and does not have the right to send a letter to the Patriarch of his church in protest to the ongoing deception and to the divisiveness being fomented in this community by the local clergy and the metropolis.
2. a) “Speedy” liturgies have been performed by both proistamenoi in this community for a variety of reasons. No one suggested rushing through the Eucharist. A shorter sermon might suffice, or the Orthros begins a little earlier. Ultimate insult? This is simply exaggeration and hyperbole.
b) Insulting the teens in the Oratorical Festival? Please! Again, exaggeration and hyperbole.
c) Since when are specific amounts of stewardship divulged, even to the Metropolitan? And if stewardship had been lower in the years where the Metropolitan, clergy and appointed “leaders” squelched the majority of this community’s parishioners, they can lay the blame squarely upon themselves. The Uniform Parish Regulations currently in effect have succeeded in telling Greek Orthodox adherents in this country that they must accept and obey a lopsided construct in the governance of their church. They have no conciliar power whatsoever if the clergy chooses to squelch them. Their only recourse, if the avenues for redress of grievances fail, is the purse. Don’t blame the parish council, blame the Uniform Parish Regulations and the blatant short-sightedness of “spiritual leaders” and their lay minions who believe they can treat the laity with such ongoing and misguided contempt.
3. Like our Metropolitan, many parishioners in this valley have a long familial tradition of supporting this community in a variety of different ways and for different purposes. His generous commemoration of his uncle is laudable. It makes the uncharitable spirit with which he has viewed us currently so hurtful, so puzzling and so aggravating. In the spirit of the generous and self-sacrificing giving of our Greek immigrant forebears, the majority in this community longs for the days when our community was progressive and thriving. Too many needed projects and updates for our community, especially for our youth, are being left undone because a minority and our clergy will not let them proceed. Any discussion that the clergy and hierarchy do not wish to hear results in their invalidating any meeting by simply leaving, or by not being present. The majority becomes further disheartened, and the Metropolitan wonders that stewardship is less than vibrant.
4. Absentee ballot concerns? Now here's a new one! Apparently the country's recent general election has affected our hierarch! When did anyone ever ask such a question for a parish council election? Of course, when one is inclined to dispense with elections, or to whittle the candidate list so that only the select few may serve, one never needed to worry about such niceties as voting -- in person, or absentee.
5. As for this community's inability to pay its archdiocesan obligations, we submit that if the Metropolitan had not indulged in dictatorial practices these past several years; had he but asked his priests to lead their flock, rather than seek to dominate it; had he currently allowed and encouraged this community TRULY to unite; had he forbidden the creation of a separate Prophet Elias corporation; had he sworn in the parish council members he had said he would seat; had he insisted that his priests actually cooperate fully with the elected leaders this community voted for in the first free election in years; and, if he would stop listening ONLY to a small segment of parishioners in this valley, the situation he describes would not exist.
6. His final “insult to injury” phrase is fraught with self-pity. He was “congratulated” by his brother bishop because he “allowed” a general assembly to take place last April. (This "allowance" is not, and should not be, a matter of a hierarch’s “largesse”.) As for the assertion regarding the actions of certain youths, and their alleged profanity? DOUBTFUL. This is the first anyone has mentioned such an occurrence. Inquiries have been made of persons representing all points of view in this community. No one knows of this! Most assuredly had this actually occurred, the e-mail chains and Facebook rants would have been disseminating the incident like wildfire!
The "realities" the Metropolitan lists are full of exaggeration and hyperbole. They are also designed to inflame a fragile situation and to keep fanning ongoing pressure from a minority - and from a priest who refuses to minister to ALL the parishioners in this valley - to split this community.
Posted by TOCB Moderator at 2:50 PM
Friday, March 15, 2013
This time the Metropolitan is a bit careful to assert that it was Archdiocese attorneys, having been influenced by a few Salt Lake City parishioners, engaging in "un-canonical" (sic) behaviors, who are to blame.
Unfortunately, a few years ago Archbishop Demetrios was convinced by three or four individuals from Salt Lake City that I had ordered the separation of the two churches.This assertion is extraordinarily strange in that the Metropolitan, these past few dismal years, was continually making accusations of “spiritual polygamy”, assertions that the community was (and still IS) de facto split (after he has been actively engaged in helping those who wish to see it split, despite the wishes of the great majority in the community).
Having been in the administration of our Archdiocese forty of my fifty years of service to the Church, I would never had done such a thing, knowing that the official request had to come initially from the membership of a separate parish, as the Uniform Parish Regulations state. I received no such request and no response of official recognition was ever sent by me. (emphases added)
Nearly two years ago, in the face of ongoing, self-created circumstances, Metropolitan Isaiah, strangely enough, received a letter, dated April 12, 2010 (the original may be viewed here). Our full community was made aware of this letter SIX MONTHS after it was written and sent!
We all remember that the Metropolitan, and his local cronies, held this letter, (Mr. Petrogeorge referred to such, but of course COULD NOT, WOULD NOT, read it during the June 2010 Special General Assembly, though he did refer to "something he could not share at the time!").
The letter granted a separate Prophet Elias Charter. Obviously, the Metropolitan told his puppet Parish Council to hold this letter so he could be REALLY, REALLY sure that the community needed separating! (We also recall that he had earlier said he would not forcibly split the community.)
We have all, sadly, learned these past few years that the Metropolitan's "word" on just about any subject is meaningless. (So much for "semper fi" for that former Marine!)
We provide for our readers' re-edification the letter he released to our community, just before he demanded our community be split and HOW it should be split - of course he says he did NOT do this! (Remember the blue and yellow pledge cards?) This letter was released to us six months after he received it, but we're supposed to believe he did not request it!:
GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERlCAWe are asked to believe that Archbishop Demetrios - out of the clear blue! - granted a charter where NONE was requested? Yet in the above-referenced letter the Archbishop refers to the Metropolitan's "letter requesting the granting of the Official Charter of the Archdiocese" for Prophet Elias?
April 12, 2010
His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver
4550 East Alameda Avenue
Denver, CO 80246-1208
Beloved Brother in Christ,
We have received your letter requesting (emphasis added) the granting of the Official Charter of the Archdiocese to the Greek Orthodox Church of Prophet Elias in Holladay, Utah, a community of the Archdiocese and specifically of the Holy Metropolis of Denver.
It gives us great joy to grant the Official Charter to Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, effective immediately.
The Charter certificate itself will be forthcoming as final preparations are being completed for its production. This letter of certification with the official Seal of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America attests to the granting of official status of the community.
With brotherly love and esteem in the Risen Christ,
+DEMETRIOS, Archbishop of America
Strange! These odd denials that are now being made by the Metropolitan, in the face of his writings, his assertions, his actions, and his receipt of letters he had requested, during the past few years just occurred out of nowhere? They were not requested by the Metropolitan? Who else would have the power to request them?
These latest events and assertions quite simply lead to one of two conclusions: a) the Metropolitan is NOW backpedaling to justify YEARS of actions designed PROACTIVELY to split this community on behalf of a small minority; or, b) he simply doesn't remember what he's said or done. The former is simply "more of the same"; the latter would lead us, charitably, to suggest the Metropolitan ought to seek appropriate medical advice.
Either way, our community is well within its rights to insist - immediately - that these absurdities on behalf of the few cease, and cease now!
Posted by TOCB Moderator at 3:19 PM
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Moderator's Note: the original letter may be viewed here.
March 7, 2013
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CLERGY AND THE LAITY OF THE GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH OF GREATER SALT LAKE
Beloved Fathers, Deacon, and the Faithful Laity,
As most of you know, I permitted the general assembly of community to take place a year ago this April for the purpose of having parish council elections, which shortly thereafter took place. Since that time I have kept silent except for several letters I wrote to the current parish council in response to its letters addressed to me.
For the past ten months, during which your parish council has been functioning, I have been receiving an ever greater number of letters informing me of an increase in the divisiveness among you, including among young adults and teenagers. When the parish council assumed its responsibilities ten months ago, it assured me that it would work for the unity of the community. Unfortunately, despite whatever steps the council may have taken, this does not appear to be happening.
Allow me to cite some realities that exist and which speak to this divisiveness and lack of progress toward unity:
1. Although your current parish council should have a total membership of fifteen persons, it has only fourteen. Originally a fifteenth member was elected whom I did not ratify because he was one of the persons who brought-about last··year's lawsuit against the previous recognized parish council. I must say that I was ready to ratify his election for the sake of peace and unity. However, he prevented me from doing so by sending a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch making a request which went contrary to the Uniform Parish Regulations of the Archdiocese, which our Ecumenical Patriarchate ratified several years ago. After these many months your parish council has ignored its responsibility to fill the position, and thus is ignoring the Uniform Parish Regulations of the Archdiocese. In choosing to "honor" the un- ratified individual, they have placed him above the importance of a properly functioning parish administration. Obviously if the needs of the community as a whole are given a back seat, unity cannot be achieved.
2a. On March 1, 2013 Father Michael Kouremetis received an e-mail from one of the current council members.. as.king him. if. he could "perform a speedy liturgy" on Sunday, March 17, 2013 so that the program·of the teenagers involved in this year's St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival could be squeezed in, and so that the Special General Assembly scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on that day could take pace with an adequate number of parishioners present.
Please know that this was the ultimate insult to the Sacrament which promises eternal life to those who seek God's coming Kingdom. It must be known by all Greek Orthodox Christians that the most important act in the life of the Church is the Divine Liturgy which offers to the believers the very Body and the very Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for our eternal salvation. Moreover, the Divine Liturgy is not "performed." It is not a stage production. We commonly refer to the Holy Eucharist as "Communion." The Divine Liturgy is conducted or celebrated with prayerful expressions so that we can receive Communion and thus enter into communion with our Lord and with one another.
Rushing through this most essential and holy sacrament of the life of the Church in order to conduct the mundane is tantamount to sacrilege.
2b. Is the scheduling of this special general assembly not an insult to the teenagers of your community who have chosen to put their faith into words through the St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival, one of whom won First Place in the senior division of the Archdiocese Festival last summer? The Oratorical Festival was planned for that date by the organizing committee last September. Do those who scheduled the assembly realize that they have intentionally or unintentionally expressed to the Church's young people that they, and their words based on Holy Scripture, are not as important as a meeting? Do they realize that the repercussions of such decisions will have lasting effects for the community and the Church as a whole?
2c. It is my understanding that one of the basic reasons for scheduling this special general assembly is the limited amount of stewardship given to the community thus far this year. Yet it appears that this was orchestrated in 2011 and 2012 when people were encouraged to give less stewardship while the previous parish council was in place and then only ten or twenty dollars for each year after that, merely in order to vote at the anticipated parish council elections. Clearly the results of this short sighted and poorly conceived effort are being experienced now and further divide the community. Moreover, another unwise proposal is being discussed in regard to eliminating one of the three priest's salaries in order to address the current financial situation. While this may be seen as a "quick-fix," a responsible approach would not prudently consider dismantling the core ministry.structure of a church. Perhaps if a 2013 budget existed, more reasonable cost cuts could be identified.
3. Is it true .that even one or two members of the current parish council gave only twenty dollars in 2011 and also last year in order to vote? I find this difficult to understand given the honorable history of sacrifice that has been handed down to us by our forbearers. When I was informed that the community was planning a Greek Town Memorial a few years ago, I contributed five thousand dollars in memory of my uncle, my mother's older brother, who came to our country as a very young man to tart a new life in Salt Lake City. I am still grateful to our loving God for allowing me to honor this uncle who helped to start the Holy Trinity parish in 1905, in a way which reflected his life-long sacrifices for his deeply held Greek Orthodox traditions.
4. When the parish council elections took place last April there were 141 absentee ballots. Undoubtedly some parishioners may have been traveling or ill, but the relatively large number of 141 begs the question, who were those people who could not even be bothered to present themselves to the church for the election? In many of our. parishes in our Archdiocese 141 ballots are the total ballots cast at parish council elections. Can anyone explain this phenomenon?
5. In addition to the divided nature of the community, a separatist attitude continues to exist between the Salt Lake City community and the rest of the Metropolis and Archdiocese.:The community did not give its financial obligation to the Archdiocese in 2011 in the amount of $137,000. The other forty-seven parishes of this Metropolis stepped up to pay the amount to the Archdiocese. Ideally the community would owe them a reimbursement, but at the very least an expression of gratitude and a recognition that they too belong to the greater whole.
6. To add insult to injury, although I allowed a general assembly to take place last year in April, certain young people outside of the assembly meeting at the Prophet Elias Church were walking back and forth chanting, "F*ck the Metropolitan!" The irony of this is the fact that Archbishop Demetrios congratulated me for allowing the general assembly and the parish council elections to take place at that time.
Unfortunately, a few years ago Archbishop Demetrios was convinced by three or four individuals from Salt Lake City that I had ordered the separation of the two churches.
Having been in the administration of our Archdiocese forty of my fifty years of service to the Church, I would never had done such a thing, knowing that the official request had to come initially from the membership of a separate parish, as the Uniform Parish Regulations state. I received no such request and no response of official recognition was ever sent by me.
Regrettably, the un-canonical involvement of Archdiocese attorneys convinced certain people in New York City and in Salt Lake City that I was at fault regarding this whole scenario.
It is clearly seen through these examples, as well as many, many others, both blatant anci subtle, that the Greek Orthodox Community of Greater Salt Lake is not unified.. Much wqrk needs to belfol!eJn or er has been divided. This is a difficult endeavor that will require the prayers and hard work, not only of those who have placed themselves in leadership roles, but of the entire body of believers.
A first step in the journey toward unity is to reconcile the financial difficulties that the community is experiencing so that appropriate focus can be turned to more important matters of spiritual edification. To this end, I ask all of you who consider yourselves faithful Greek Orthodox Christians to give to Christ our Lord and to His holy Church at least one per cent of your last year's income as stewardship to the Church for 2013. I am optimistic that this initial effort will both alleviate financial stresses and allow the community to experience a spirit of unity through your joint effort. Moreover, it will establish a stable foundation upon which the community may build for the glory of God and for the benefit of His people.
With paternal love,
+Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver
Posted by TOCB Moderator at 3:13 PM