Source: The National Herald
BOSTON – The naves in many parishes of the San Francisco Metropolis were filled to capacity this past Christmas season, in contrast with other areas of the country where attendance was sparse.
In an exclusive interview with The National Herald Metropolitan Gerasimos explained, “the naves were filled with people that we have not seen in years. They are returning to their churches and customs. We also see young people who have established their families returning to the Church and it gives us hope about the future,” adding “I hope it continues that way.”
He also said that “recently we had a meeting with the youth at the camping center of our Metropolis with about fifty children, male and female. It was a very productive meeting. The concerns and the questions raised by the children should be addressed by the Church immediately.”
He continued, saying that “we all should create a level of education of Greek-Orthodox nature in order for our children to understand where they come from.” He emphasized that “the issue of the identity of our youth is the first priority of our Metropolis and I should tell you that there is a turn towards Hellenism.”
Metropolitan Gerasimos also said that “one of my first priorities in the New Year will be to teach and strengthen Hellenism with emphasis on the Hellenic Paideia because there is so much potential and interest here. Some children go and learn Chinese and I ask them ‘why are you studying Chinese when you have the Greek, which is the mother of all languages?’”
Regarding how receptive the children are towards their Hellenic heritage and identity, he said “if the parents, the priests, and the bishops show that they care, the children are serious about this issue.”
Asked whether the priests are fluent enough in Greek and appreciate their heritage themselves sufficiently to be able to transmit it to others, Metropolitan Gerasimos said, “I can’t say they all are, and that is the Golgotha for me and for them. About 45 percent understand very well the significance and importance of the Greek language and Hellenic education. Another 30 percent don’t have anything to do with either, purposely or because of their personal illiteracy, and there is another 15 percent who have gone to the other extreme, saying that if we don’t go back to Hellenism the Church is going to lose everything. I personally believe that there is a middle way here as well because we say “everything in moderation” (pan metron ariston). Definitely there should be a more active stance of the Church from what there is today. I make it clear in many ways that I will not ordain anybody who can’t read the Gospel, the Epistle, and the service books of the sacraments of the Church in both Greek and English.”
He added that, “if priests cannot say from the pulpit and the podium that we are Greek Orthodox Christians, and this is what it means to be Greeks, that is the point about the significance of the theological school,” adding, “the entire issue of Hellenism is the Church.”
Asked whether all theological school graduates are bilingual, he said that “that is a question about the policy and mentality of the School regarding the bilingualism of the priests, but it is a question that must be answered by the Archdiocese; I am sorry, but that’s the way things are.”
Gerasimos then addressed the future of the Church and the Greek-American Community, saying, “My wish is that unity and love prevail, for there to be vision at the Archdiocese. There should be planning and a strategy for the Archdiocese, the metropolises and the communities as to where the Church is going to go in the 21st century, because we have not done that, we have not plotted a course.”
Speaking about the Theological School he said “at this moment they are suffocating up there (at the School) financially, let us set aside the other issues at this time. I receive every day e-mails saying for God’s sake S.O.S. – we are drowning”.
As to why things have reached such a dire state, he said “there are many answers to that question and you know things very well.”
The National Herald posed a hypothetical question to Gerasimos about what he would say, if he were to have a heart to heart talk with Archbishop Demetrios, about what the latter should do, first, for the good of the Church and Greek-American Community, and secondly, to preserve his own posthumous legacy. The Metropolitan said that “the issue of the Archbishop is one that neither I nor the other hierarchs can individually determine and resolve. Every Archbishop and every hierarch is a servant of the Church and the People and we serve in our positions temporarily, not forever,” and he added “this is what we must realize and we must start from there.”
When asked if he believes that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is going to miss the train of history for Greek Orthodoxy in America, Gerasimos replied, “I think the Patriarchate and His All Holiness knows history very well and he has full knowledge of the things that are happening around him. At this moment the Patriarchate is being attacked on many fronts and it needs help. The mother Church was, is, and will be the main point of reference for every Greek Orthodox Christian and more than that.”
No comments? Why is that? There is much going on here not seen by GO buying into it…
Greek ethnocentric and Hellenism are the identity of this church FIRST and not Jesus Christ. Is there something wrong with that Biblically or is it just me?
Greek ethnic and culture identity is the strategy to renew the diocese when it comes to the identity of the members. Where is this Biblical focus on that identity being Christ FIRST?…
I don’t see anywhere among those Scriptures that Greek culture and Hellenism is to be our first priority in identity. How about you?
Greek ethnocentric and Hellenism are GOA evangelism and not Jesus Christ FIRST. The identity focus assures us of that. It’s not Biblical. It’s of MAN turned into a tradition of man over God as identity. In effect, it is religious humanism making GO man the center. Never heard it stated quite like that before?
All is still an internally inward focused church toward one ethnic group in a country surrounded by diversity of ethnic groups and the general population not Greek that need Christ’s salvation. That is not Christ in the Gospels. It is totally wrong priorities of church.
If it had been left up to GO, I would have never heard the Gospel, period.
Come to us for salvation from Christ, because we for sure are not going to bring Christ’s salvation to you. We’re just too inwardly focused on our ethnocentric identity as defined by the Metropolitan to reach out to you with Christ’s salvation.
If this church wants to reach people for Christ outside of its closed system, it is going to have evangelize its own first. Oops, now I’ve stepped in it. I’ve identified a serious issue in this church stopping it from being evangelistic first in focus outside of the ethnocentric priority.
When Christ is not the core and central identity of a church, how does that impact evangelism effectiveness?
This is the future strategy of this church. A retread of the past reasons of why it is dying in America. The tire still has a hole in it, and the Greeks are in religious denial to that clear fact. Pumping ethnocentric air into a tire that will only go flat again. It will work for a while, then go flat. It’s ethnocentric hype.
Use what has brought loss of members to keep membership? That’s a new soul winning long term strategy that will grow the church?
When the problem is the solution, the solution will not come. Rational? Realistic? The truth of it?
If you want more of the same problems, use the problem as the solution to the problem. Rational? Realistic? The truth of it?
Yes, keep up the ethnic theme priority to excite people to be more Greek culture practicing. Don’t learn the lesson of the fact that it is one of the serious problems undermining this church by ethnic isolationism in focus over being all inclusive like Christ’s real church is. The true church of Jesus Christ is not what the GOA is practicing. That is quite obvious by what it places first as its identity.
The real questions are three:
1. Has this diocese strategy stopped the hemorrhaging of people?
2. Will a Greek ethnocentric focus in strategy work over the long term to sustain this diocese?
3. Will this Greek ethnocentric focus keep those children of mixed Greek marriage in the church when dilution away from pure Greek is a major problem for this church?
The trinity of the GOA: Ethnocentric, Hellenism, Hierarchy. That is the true identity of this church over Christ as its basis in identity FIRST. That is idolatry. In reality, idolatry of Greek is the first priority.
This idolatrous trinity is clearly seen being placed as spiritual and church reality over Christ in real outreach evangelism to a broken and lost world. Difficult to hear and admit too? It’s objectively obvious to those not ethnocentric subjectively being deceived by it.
Ethnic dress, dance and food…is Christ evangelism relevant to those not Greek and in need of Christ’s salvation? Greek culture focus is a relevant evangelism strategy to reach American’s not Greek for Christ, right?
Yes, restore and reinforce ethnocentric Greek culture and traditions to reach people for Christ and believe that is Christ like in the Gospels. It’s obvious that the Metropolitan still does not GET IT about what has gone wrong with the GOA in the States.
This is no new strategy. It is the same old failed strategy with a new face lift. It’s a Greek face lift on the same Greek face. Why is that? It is because the basis of the strategy is ALL ethnocentric Greek culture, tradition and mindset. It is Greek ethnic religion first and not all inclusive living Christ first in priority.
There is a huge spiritual difference between Greek ethnic identity religion as church and the living Christ as identity of church. Greek ethnic religion identity and living Christ spirituality identity are two diametrically different things. There is a difference between religion of man and the living spirituality of Jesus Christ. The Metropolitan made that clear without him knowing he was doing so. Do I have this wrong?
The way the new strategy is framed, it will for sure reinforce better than ever before the problems that caused the hemorrhaging.
So that strategy is going to stop this obvious problem?…
How many GO have seen a diagram like that before? Like the hierarchy wants them to see such!
This church is operating on the far right side of the Life Cycle diagram, and its ethnocentric strategy is going to keep it there.
And, just where do the monastery cults of Ephraim fit into this strategy?
Where does Aerial Toll Houses fit into the evangelism strategy of this diocese?
The monastic cult headquarters are in the Gerasimos diocese. Telling.
From that cult headquarters, what has systemically spread into the Chicago diocese?
Oh, and is the new Metropolitan in Chicago going to deal with the Ephraim cult problem???
When the basis of the church identity is wrong, all will over time go wrong.
Identity is the foundation, and this church identity foundation is wrong.
Nothing has changed, and time is going to prove this.
You will see what I speak come true in the future.
In fact, it is staring the GO right in the face today.
It’s true today.