“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


Monday, September 8, 2014

Same Old Song, Brand New Verse?

What is a Mission Parish?

A Mission Parish is a stand-alone, independent parish entity operating with the consent and under the jurisdiction of the Metropolis (rather than the Archdiocese). Almost all new parishes start out and operate for a period of time as a Mission Parish in order to demonstrate their viability before obtaining a Charter from the Archdiocese.

How does requesting and obtaining Mission Parish status fit into the Article 20 process approved by the General Assembly in June 2014?

Metropolitan Isaiah will require us to operate as a Mission Parish for a period of time before he will approve our Article 20 application and recommend that the Archbishop grant us a charter. Requesting Mission Parish status is thus a necessary step in the Article 20 process, and is required to complete the Article 20 process of becoming a charted parish.

Becoming a Mission Parish does not stop or replace the Article 20 process; it only augments it as we prove to all, including ourselves, that we are truly a viable parish.

How would a Mission Parish differ from a fully-chartered parish?

A Mission Parish would not have a saint’s name, but would be called something like: “Greek Orthodox Mission Parish of Utah.”

A Mission Parish operates solely under the jurisdiction of the Metropolis of Denver; it would have little (if any) involvement with the Archdiocese.

A Mission Parish would not have a Charter from the Archdiocese, would not be represented at the clergy-laity congresses, and would not be required to pay an Archdiocesan commitment.

A Mission Parish will be assigned a visiting priest that will travel here on a regular basis to conduct services. We could request a full time priest assignment at a later time, and before becoming a fully- chartered parish, but would start with a visiting priest.

A Mission Parish would not have a physical office space or administrative staff. We could establish these in the future, even before becoming a fully-chartered parish, but would not start with these amenities.

How would a Mission Parish be similar to a fully-chartered parish?

A Mission Parish would otherwise operate the same as a fully-chartered parish:

It would hold regular Sunday services.

It would have a Sunday School and other youth programs, along with other ministries.

It would have a Philoptochos-type organization.

It would collect stewardship funds and start a capital campaign (under the Metropolis' tax-exempt status and supervision).

It would hold fellowship, community building and fundraising events.

Where would a Mission Parish congregate and worship?

A Mission Parish would most likely be required to congregate and worship at a location other than Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church. The OCP Steering Council is exploring a variety of options, including the rental of a local reception center that would allow a space for services, Sunday School and coffee hour.

Where would I worship if no visiting priest is available to serve our Mission Parish?

It is our hope and belief that the Metropolitan would work with our Mission Parish to provide us a priest as often as possible. In the event a priest is not available we may consider a non-Eucharistic service that we can celebrate together, or one could most certainly worship at Prophet Elias or any of the other Orthodox churches in the valley.

Does pursuing a Mission Parish mean that we are abandoning our stated goal of obtaining Prophet Elias as our ultimate place of worship?

No. The long-term goal remains the establishment of a fully-chartered parish at Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church. But this will take time, and will require affirmative action by the Archdiocese, or cooperation from the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake (GOCGSL).

To date, the Archdiocese has shown no willingness to assist in the creation of a stand-alone, independent Parish at Prophet Elias. (emphasis added) And there is no indication that this is likely to change in the near term.

Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church is owned by the GOCGSL. Obtaining Prophet Elias would require: (i) the Parish Council of the GOCGSL to put the transfer of Prophet Elias Church to our new parish entity on the agenda for a Parish Assembly, (ii) an affirmative vote of at least 2/3 of the members at a Parish Assembly of the GOCGSL (and possibly 3/4 of the entire membership of the GOCGSL), and (iii) the approval of Metropolitan Isaiah. Various members of the Parish Council for the GOCGSL have made it clear to various members of the OCP Steering Council that they are not in support of and will not take steps to facilitate the creation of an independent Prophet Elias at this time, but may be open to the idea at a later, unspecified date.

The majority of the OCP Steering Council believes that obtaining mission parish status, and demonstrating our resolve and commitment to full independence, may be the only way to move the dialogue forward and achieve our ultimate goal of worshiping as an independent parish at Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church as our ultimate place of worship.

How do we obtain Mission Parish status?

All that is required is a letter to Metropolitan Isaiah requesting that we be immediately organized as a mission parish while we continue to do our due diligence with the Article 20 process. Metropolitan Isaiah assures the OCP Steering Council that he will grant us Mission Parish status upon request.

What are the reasons to proceed with a Mission Parish sooner rather than later?

A Mission Parish can feel its way through the process of becoming a fully-chartered parish at a comfortable pace and elect to request a charter at the most opportune time, all the while operating as a fully-functional church community.

Having a Mission Parish in place only helps us be perceived by the local community as well as ALL ORTHODOX JURISDICTIONS as a legitimate church community worthy of a charter. It would only enhance our position to gain a charter from any other Jurisdiction should the Archdiocese balk or block our entry into its fold.

Not proceeding to organize immediately as a Mission Parish with regular services and ministry makes us look hesitant to proceed as an independent church community not only to our brethren in New York but also at the Metropolis and, more importantly, here in Salt Lake. That perception cannot only harm the process of gaining a charter, it also robs us of our current opportunities for spiritual growth and fellowship as a community of Orthodox faithful. And it gives those who oppose OCP and our goals the impression that we are weak and not really interested in independent Orthodox worship like we claim to be. Finally, it weakens our potential to obtain Prophet Elias, with the cooperation of the Parish Council and Parish Assembly of the GOCGSL or otherwise(emphasis added)

What should I do if I have questions or concerns about the Mission Parish concept?

The OCP Steering Council will hold an open forum at the Cottonwood Country Club on Monday, August 18, 2014, beginning at 7pm where people can come and ask questions about or express concerns regarding the Mission Parish concept. You should also feel free to contact any Steering Council member directly.