Source: The National Herald
BOSTON, MA – There is only one essential change in the program of the upcoming 44th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, to be held at Copley Marriott in Boston, MA, July 1-5.
On July 2, after Archbishop Demetrios’ keynote address, the theme being “All Things Are Possible to the One Who Believes in Christ” (Mark 9:23), the delegates will not form the usual small groups to discuss and analyze the archbishop’s speech, as is usually the case.
Instead, there will be a three-hour open forum (2-5PM) to discuss the Archdiocese’s dire financial situation. As The National Herald revealed almost a year ago, the Archdiocese is virtually bankrupt. Among other things, it is forced to mortgage its Manhattan office building in order to obtain a $7 million loan just to pay its debts, and lack of funds have halted construction of the St. Nicholas National Shrine. These issues have caused embarrassment and ridicule to the Archdiocese, the Greek-American community, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of which the Archdiocese is an Ecclesiastical Eparchy.
Audits by accounting firms continue, as do cost-cutting measures.
Meanwhile, the New York State Attorney General has expressed interest in investigating the finances of the Archdiocese and the funds for the Shrine.
It should be noted that the Boston Metropolis, which is hosting the 44th Clergy Laity Congress, did not hold its own local version last year or, to this point, this year, as the Rules of the Archdiocese mandate, and no accountability has been given.
The rest of the schedule follows:
June 30: Congress and Philoptochos registrations; National Forum of Church Musicians meeting.
July 1: Orthros and Divine Liturgy at Annunciation Cathedral; Opening at Exhibit Hall and Ribbon Cutting.
July 2: 9:30AM-12Noon, official Congress opening and Archbishop Demetrios’ keynote address; 2-5PM open forum: “Presentation and Discussion Concerning the Financial Status of the GOA”; 8-10PM, Administration Committee and Finance Committee meetings, CLC Ministry workshops and committee meetings, stewardship, outreach and evangelism, youth and young adult ministries, marriage and family, Center for Family Care, Internet ministries, Orthodox parish software, inter-Orthodox, ecumenical, and interfaith relations.
July 3: 9:30-11:30AM: Special recognition of retired clergy; Administration Committee and Finance Committee meetings; 11:30AM-1:30PM, lunch at Hellenic-College Holy Cross; 5:30PM, Philoptochos General Assembly.
July 4: 8-10AM, Administration Committee meeting, 10AM-12Noon, Finance Committee meeting’ 12Noon-1PM: Doxology prayer service, Fourth of July, entire attendees; 2:30-6PM, plenary session.
July 5: 10AM-4PM: Plenary session; Presentation for Adoption of GOA 2019-20 budget; discussion on proposed GOA regulation amendments; 12-3PM and 7-10PM, all other committee reports and CLC business; 10:30-11:30PM, Grand Banquet.
There is one thing clear in all this: Prior to vastly expanded foreign control and the direct reporting of nearly everywhere here to folks overseas– we never had a financial catastrophe of these proportions.
The reporting we are seeing feels a whole lot like when the Roman Catholic church, in the height of the sexual scandal from overseas, imposed greater good conduct rules on — everyone other than the folks who enabled the problem.
It might be time to take another look at how the breaking of the church here in the USA into lots of parts reporting overseas is working out. On the one hand, it’s a good thing what happens during services hasn’t wandered around the random possibilities. On the other hand, these folks and doing the right thing with money are like oil and vinegar.
The only substantive change that would make a difference would be to turn around and walk out of all meetings and leave the rip off artists sitting by themselves. Meeting with them in fake plenary sessions merely enables them to spin the reporting as if they actually lead something. These meetings are a joke and a waste of time and money for precious few parish dollars. Bostonians, have the guts to do what you did at the Tea Party and at Concord and Lexington.
1. Your parish attendees are being charged $700 plus dollars to attend, plus expensive hotel and travel fees. Estimated at $2500 per person. For what? Wasted money for your always struggling parishes. Parishes, especially small ones, are being threatened to “send someone” by the Metro-Thugs. They want revenues. This is a cash call, not a meeting.
2. A weak and non-existent agenda, the hosting Metropolis wanted no part of this event. $200,000 will be spent on the Gala Dinner. Really? The priest pension fund still not repaid. They grabbed the money from their own priests!
3. There is no evidence of any substantive answers to the hardest questions. The archdiocese is stonewalling like the FBI is today with Congress. The answers are there, the offenders don’t want to give them because they are embarrassing.
4. The silly and offensive “innovation” is a three hour open microphone, a la Oprah Winfrey Show. A Hollywood stunt.
5. Will you run to kiss the hands and butts of the robed malfeasors and their deputies? Do you really expect any substantive change, reform, and energy?
6. Watch, ask, and note how many of these clowns head for Greece and Cyprus and Turkey after this event. Ask them about their work schedules and to make their calendars including travel public. There is not one iota of accountability in this entire enterprise. Watch their Byzantine Imperial demeanors. Dunce caps and gold walking sticks. Jesus wore sandals and rode on a jackass. These guys are successors to Emperor Constantine, not The Apostles. Oh, and they will call you Protestant for not being Byzantine.
7. Note particularly the UNAMERICAN tone. No respect for our National Holy Day, yes Holy. The founding of the best country in the history of the world. A working day, a “doxology” in Greek, maybe some local young person to sing “God Bless America”. No other mention of our American Holy Day. Greece First policy.
8. They will sing the Greek National Anthem. Don’t stand ! Greece is not your country. America is our country.
9. It’s up to you to show your pride in your country , the religion taught to you by your parents and grandparents, and your partnership with the church. You are not a slave or serf. The people must give their ASSENT to the choice of Bishop.
10. Above all, please wrap your minds around WITHHOLDING money and support AT EVERY LEVEL, INCLUDING PARISH. Until you squeeze the priests and the priests squeeze the bishops and Metros, and all squeeze the Patriarch, there will be no change. It’s the only leverage we have. Within 3 years, we need a laity conference to plan for SELF GOVERNANCE. We can begin to work on this in the fall.
Good luck, be strong, be courageous in defense of what’s right. And do not be afraid of imposters in robes.
Greetings Dean. I feel your frustrations. God is good. We’ll pray and seek His will in all this.