Archbishop Elpidophoros Convenes National Clergy on Pension Plan

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Source: Orthodox Observer

Archbishop Elpidophoros speaking to clergy during the virtual Pension Town Hall meeting on August 11, 2020.

New York, NY – His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros convened the Clergy of the entire Archdiocese today in order to discuss the current status of the Archdiocese Pension Plan. Over 350 members of the clergy attended the webinar regarding the Pension Plan which covers both the clergy and the lay employees of the Archdiocese. Following his prepared remarks, Archbishop Elpidophoros answered questions of the clergy for over three hours.

The Pension Plan is funded by contributions from the Archdiocese, the Clergy and lay employees themselves, and the parishes. It is administered by the Archdiocese Benefits Committee (ABC), whose members are elected by the Clergy themselves through each Metropolis Syndesmos. The Pension Plan has been operating a deficit since 2001, and is now facing a deficit of such magnitude that it requires the attention that Archbishop Elpidophoros has been urging since his election and enthronement.

In his remarks to the Clergy, the Archbishop said:

“When I arrived a little over a year ago, I, like most of you, had little knowledge about the real facts of the impending crisis facing the Pension Plan. Since my ascension to the leadership of this Archdiocese, I have asked for, and consistently pushed for solutions for the Pension Plan to be vigorously pursued. As you, the clergy, assess your options, I promise that I will work with you to find the best way forward. … We may never know why the Plan slipped into its current condition, but one thing is abundantly clear, we have inherited a massive problem that must be addressed for the sake of all the clergy, those nearing retirement, and those a long way off.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers in the Lord, where do we go from here? As I said previously, we cannot change the facts. While our emotions may be very unsettled, they do not help us solve the larger problem. Our only choice is to move forward. And now we have to look at the realistic solutions to the problem that all of us have inherited. … We, the clergy, are the stakeholders of the Pension Plan, and the responsibility for the future of the Plan falls to all of us. I will do my part. I know that your Metropolitans will do their parts, as they are your spiritual fathers. At the same time, we will also need the parishes, and we will need every single priest of this Holy Archdiocese to be a part of the solution. There are many clergy that I have spoken to who know little detail of the Plan, and simply expect their benefits to be there when they retire. This approach can no longer be accepted by us, as clergy. We need to be active, and indeed responsible for the Plan and the decisions being made, for this is our future, and the future of our families. Passive participation can no longer be accepted, we must now, each and everyone of us, become educated and become a part of finding a solution.”

Here is the full text of the Archbishop’s remarks, along with the Chart referenced in those remarks.

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2 Comments

  1. George Matsoukas on

    Why will we never know how the pension plan was so mismanaged? This is unacceptable and may be illegal. Where are the principles of accountability and transparency in all matters pertaining to the finances of the Archdiocese?

  2. I have witnessed and aided Non-Greek Orthodox Christian clergy families who were bullied within the Greek Archdiocese using the Pension Plan to discriminate and sideline them or as one Presbytera coined the term, ‘kicked to the curb’. Sometimes it has just been too painful for us to revisit these injustices. It is less deflating to shake the dust from our shoes and go elsewhere. Yet, if there would be more of a collective consciousness to what is right, legal and the Christian way, perhaps these many unhealed wounds inflicted by the bullies could find healing.

    Unfortunately, these clergy family victims find themselves or parts of their families re-victimized as they try to keep the mission alive of their callings and find themselves a ministry in another jurisdiction or in their communities to only have other harms come their ways of sexual assault and sexual abuse victimization that only add instead of aid to their relief.

    These clergy families with multiplied victimizations and woundedness are at greater risk within their family units for suicide and physical and mental health needs that are then even more difficult to address, because the defaulted Pension Plans are not there to assist in aiding them in medical and mental health care supports. In the community, they are looked at as ‘why can’t your church help you’?; and often, these families do not know how to get by the multiple barriers that arise from being shunned, and re-shunned.

    Looking at how to correct the deficits should begin by addressing these most vulnerable that have been suffering and/or are suffering. Consider what God will be asking about what you know and what you can do or could have done to help your brothers and sisters in ministry that you did NOT do, and how you left them fall victim to predatory practices of the Diocese, parishes, and larger units without making the cry you could have in a timely manner.

    Its is not too late to repent of the silence that has been ongoing in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

    The years of trouble and financial mismanagement in the OCA … were brought to light by a website highlighting the … wrongdoings. It did then bring some change. Yet, greater repentance is still due to deal with woundedness and victimization throughout all the various Orthodox Christian Communities, before we just throw up our hands and say “well sorry folks, there is just no money, and nothing we can do.”

    This should be the bugle call to mission for the Orthodox Christian Laity to look at healing and repentance within their own ranks within the Orthodox Churches in America. It is then and only then, when these disparities and injustices are resolved that matters of unity can find a serious and healthy way forward, and mission work will have the redemptive value of souls being saved vs. souls being lost and uncaring attitudes toward these ‘invisible souls’, as ‘they are NOT ours’, or a “don’t know” attitude, which is all part of the pain and suffering that victims cannot on their own tolerate and need the collective forces or well-doing from the whole of the Orthodox Christian body to overflow with love and kindness to create a well of salvation through fellowship and patient understanding in Christ-like Love.

    1 Matthew 10:15

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