Archdiocesan Council Holds Fall Meeting in Boston
Nov 2, 2005
Boston, MA - The Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America held it's Fall Meeting in Boston, MA at the Marriott Long Wharf on Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28, 2005. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America presided at the Council Meeting which was preceded by the Executive Committee Meeting on Thursday, October 26.
The Archdiocesan Council Meeting began with prayer in which recognition was made of the heroic day of October 28, as OXI Day for Greece, the day in 1940 when the people of Greece said "NO!" to the fascist army of Italy which wanted to conquer Greece.
The service was followed by the Opening Address to the Council by Archbishop Demetrios, reporting on some of the significant events since the last meeting, which was held in May, including the recent edifying retreat gatherings of the National Presbyters Retreat and the National Sisterhood of the Presvyteras. He continued by stating that two recent important Conferences were held at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, "Poverty in the Ancient Church and Today" and "Christian Spirituality and Violence in the Contemporary World". He also spoke enthusiastically about the recent Clergy Laity Conference of the Metropolis of Detroit in Southgate, MI which he attended.
Archbishop Demetrios continued his Keynote Address with a report on a recent Conference he attended at the Ecumenical Patriarchate that was organized by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the members of the European Parliament who belong to the People's Party (Christian Democrats). This Conference, with participants from a number of European countries, offered an opportunity to remind the Government of Turkey of the deplorable way the Ecumenical Patriarch is treated in and to encourage correction of four major items that are points of conflict and torment for the Patriarchate namely recognizing the title Ecumenical for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, affirming the legal status for the Patriarchate, stopping and reversing the confiscation of properties and the reopening of the Halki School.
He continued by announcing that the Order of St. Andrew of America recently awarded the Athenagoras Human Rights Award to former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, and, on behalf of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, bestowed the title of Archon, noting that Mr. Gorbachev was extremely moved for this honor by the Greek Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Archbishop also spoke on the de-Christianization of society and the responsibility Orthodox Christians have to offer our faith to the world. He stated, "We are in conditions that place us in a necessary course to produce and to offer, in the strongest way, our Orthodox faith and our universal Hellenic inheritance to the world."
He informed the Council that the Holy and Eparchial Synod has approved a standard version in Greek and English of The Lord's Prayer and The Creed that will be distributed to our parishes nationwide and closed his remarks by reminding the Council Members to be vigilant and alert to the attacks on our faith, so that we will be able to offer to our children the rich legacy of the Greek Orthodox faith.
Mr. Michael Jaharis, Vice Chairman of the Archdiocese Council offered his remarks to the group, stating that the outlook of the Archdiocese has improved since the last meeting in response to a number of new initiatives including the current SWOT Survey (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Survey), the restructuring of Communications to better communicate the message of the Church, and the improving of our Information Technology to reach out to others. He continued by stating that the financial outlook of the Archdiocese has also improved considerably. He closed by thanking the members for their commitment to the life of the Church.
The Friday session of the Council was then recessed to allow the Standing Committees of the Council to meet and discuss future goals and recent progress of the institutions and ministries of the Archdiocese.
Saturday's session of the Council Meeting began with a joint report by Youth Ministry, Outreach and Evangelism and Marriage and Family. The Meeting continued with the Report of the Finance and Administration Committee. The Committee reported that the financial status of the Archdiocese has improved due to the increase in Total Commitment Revenue, a contribution towards legal fees and settlements, and a reduction in operating expenses. With these efforts the Committee reported that the debt of the Archdiocese has decreased from $9.9 million in December 2004 to $7.4 million as of September 30, 2005. The Committee also stated that despite the tremendous financial constraints, the Archdiocese has been able to develop new programs and initiatives and continue to offer ministry to our faithful and parishes nationwide. Also affirmed by the Council was the sale of former Archbishop Iakovos' home, with proceeds being designated for the enhancement of programs and ministries of the Archdiocese, not for reduction of debt.
The Meeting continued with a report by William Planes on the upcoming visit of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Tarpon Springs, FL in January 2006 and an invitation to attend this celebration.
The Administration Committee presented a final draft of the Disclosure Policy and Disclosure Statement (Archdiocesan Council, Metropolis (Local) Council and Parish Council) which was approved. The Committee also offered new guidelines for Archdiocesan Council Meetings and sub-Committee Meetings to assist all sub-Committees in their ministry and in fulfilling their goals.
Other reports were presented by the Committees of Religious Education which announced the completion of a new Teen Curriculum, Communications which discussed the need for better Public Relations and more frequent issues of the Orthodox Observer, Technology which stated the goal of securing the history of the Archives digitally, and Greek Education which offered information about the upcoming teacher training seminar. The goals and results of the SWOT Survey were also discussed. The SWOT is an initiative, by the Archdiocese, to review and evaluate the ministries and programs of the Archdiocese in order to facilitate a smoother and more efficient national outreach and to develop a strategic plan for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Following these reports, Mrs. Dee Nicolaou, President of the Philoptochos of the Metropolis of Atlanta, reported on the relief efforts for the victims of the recent Hurricanes and the continued need for assistance from faithful nationwide. As of September 30, the Archdiocese has raised over $725,000 for Hurricane Katrina Relief.
In his closing remarks, Archbishop Demetrios thanked the members of the Archdiocesan Council for their commitment and work, restating the need to have better communications in both process and language.
He continued by offering an insight into worldwide de-Christianization, stating that de-Christianization is a result of apathy and causes spiritual inertia, especially in view of the uncontrollable events that are happening in this world. He also stated that in spite of this apathy we are called by God to be much stronger and remember what Christ said in the Gospel of Matthew (26: 3-46). He urged the Council Members, as faithful Orthodox Christian, not to be asleep when Christ needs them most. This de-Christianization is a call to be alert and vigilant in order to offer, through our Greek Orthodox Faith, the best of Christianity, as a salvation and as a hope for all people.