By His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
At the Dinner with the Leadership of the Metropolis of Detroit
April 10, 2022
Your Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit,
Esteemed Members of the Metropolis Council,
Dear Archons, Sisters of Philoptochos and Members of Leadership 100,
Beloved sisters and brothers in Christ,
As part of my plan and commitment to celebrate the centennial year of our Sacred Archdiocese, I am making every effort possible to visit each Metropolis this year, and to spend time with its good clergy and people. Therefore, I am very happy to be with all of you this evening, enjoying your Abrahamic hospitality and warm welcome here in the Metropolis of Detroit.
Your Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas, my much beloved brother in Christ, under your God-inspired leadership, the Metropolis of Detroit has achieved a stability and prosperity that was lacking in decades past. We all know what the City of Detroit has been through with the changing economy. But the Greek Orthodox faithful of this Holy Metropolis have persevered with great ingenuity and creativity. And for this, you are all to be commended wholeheartedly!
As we commence our next one hundred years as a unified and cooperative Archdiocese, we need your ingenuity and spark of imagination to help the entire national Church move forward.
And when I say move forward, I mean in addressing those issues that are most pressing for our people. Chief among them, of course, is the retention of our youth; for they are the Church of the future. But if they are not the Church of the present, the future may not be as bright as we would like to think.
The past century was a time of foundation and building of our Archdiocese: parishes with facilities; Dioceses, and then Metropolises, with institutional depth; and, of course, an Archdiocese that leads the way through National Ministries – with our Theological School in Brookline chief among them.
If we think about the past one hundred years, nearly forty percent was under the leadership of the late and ever-memorable Archbishop Iakovos. His national impact went well beyond our community into the greater society. And as a result of his extraordinary ministry, we have a reach in this country that far exceeds what the tale of our numbers might tell even to this day.
Thanks to the incredible labors and sacrifices of those who came before us, we have the infrastructure of a National Church. But this structure does not work on its own. We have to feed it. We have to strengthen it. We have to use this infrastructure in order to nourish the coming generation of leaders with the content of our faith, thereby helping to build the content of their character. And this is precisely why I am stressing education throughout this entire centennial year.
Education means to lead someone to a greater understanding of the world. We want our young people to be led to a greater understanding of the world of the Spirit. And of course, this means the quality of their education as Orthodox Christians, not simply the quantity of educational materials.
Our young people desire to explore the meaning of their Orthodox faith. For meaning is what gives life to the entire complex of our institutions, customs, rituals and practices. If we truly desire to hand over to the next generation the essence of our traditions – as I have said before – we must give them the fire, not the ashes. Handing over the fire of our faith is a living experience, a lively experience, based on a direct communion with the God Who has ordained all aspects of Church life for our benefit.
This will not be done by resources alone. Or material benefits. Or programs. Or even Church attendance, as vital as it is. It can only be accomplished when we are committed to involvement with those we are leading and with those we are educating. There is a reason that our Lord Jesus Christ used to explain His divine parables to His Disciples in private. He wanted them to understand!
Therefore, I say to all of you, the leaders of the Metropolis of Detroit:
Bring forth your best thinking and your best ideas to the Clergy-Laity Congress this July. Help me build the foundation for the next one hundred years of our Church in America. Together, we have a future brighter than we can ever imagine.
Thank you for your generous welcome, and may the Lord bless us all!