New York, NY – The new Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America held the first meeting of its 2010-2012 term, Oct. 15 in New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America presiding. The members of the new Council serve for a two-year term expiring at the next Clergy-Laity Congress in 2012. The Council consists of 125 members of elected and appointed clergy and laity from across the United States.
The work of the full Archdiocesan Council began Friday morning, following preparatory meetings of the ministry committees the previous day. As customary, the opening session convened jointly with the members of the newly appointed National Philoptochos Board. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios offered a prayer service and he then proceeded with his introductory address to this joint body.
In his address, Archbishop Demetrios welcomed new and old members alike and conveyed the paternal and patriarchal blessing of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Archbishop referred to recent events, which he said are promising, provide us with challenges but also increase the responsibilities of the Church. The first such event, His Eminence talked about is the First Assembly of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America which was convened under his chairmanship last May in New York with the participation of 55 bishops from all Orthodox presences. “This is a significant step in the life of the Church,” said the Archbishop especially in light of the leadership role the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has in the Americas.
Archbishop Demetrios listed the 40th Clergy-Laity Congress in Atlanta this past July and the conclusions that were drawn from it, as a second important event. He spoke about the implementation of the theme “Gather My People to my Home, Come and See,” which leads us to cultivate the spirit of mission as we reach out and beyond our parishes and our communities.
The affirmation of office for the members of the Archdiocesan Council followed with the nominations and election of the executive board and officers of the Council. The elected members and officers are: Michael Jaharis, vice-chairman; Nicholas Bouras, treasurer; Catherine Bouffides-Walsh, secretary; and as members George Behrakis, Fanis Economides, Peter Kikis, Anthony Stefanis, George Matthews and George Vourvoulias. Archbishop Demetrios of America is the President of the Executive Committee and permanent members are the Metropolitans members of the Holy Eparchial Synod.
Michael Jaharis, the vice-chairman of the Council in his address to the members said that the Archdiocese is now on a sound base both administratively and financially and thus able to continue its leadership role. He spoke about the creation of committees to deal with special issues like long term planning, youth, education monasteries, etc. Mr. Jaharis also informed the members on the developments with the rebuilding of St. Nicholas at Ground Zero and said that the Church is doing everything possible with the care and attention required in order to reach an agreement with the Port Authority and ensure the rebuilding of St. Nicholas.
The work of the Council continued with the presentation and discussion of issues concerning the life and the ministry of the Church as presented by the various Archdiocesan Council committees, which had met on Thursday, Oct. 14. These committees were Administration, Communications, Finance, Religious Education, Outreach and Evangelism, Stewardship, Greek Education, Marriage and Family, Youth, and Technology.
Convening simultaneously with the Archdiocesan Council was the National Philoptochos Board. At the beginning of the National Philoptochos Board meeting, Archbishop Demetrios announced the appointment of the Executive Board for the two-year term 2010-2012 as follows: Mrs. Aphrodite Skeadas – President, Arlene Siavelis – First Vice President, Maria Stavropoulos - Second Vice President, Kathy Gabriel – Third Vice President, Elaine Cladis – Secretary, Joanne Kakoyiannis – Treasurer, and Martha Stefanidakis- Assistant Treasurer.