Archbishop Elpidophoros Archpastoral Address 33rd Annual Leadership 100 Conference

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros

Archpastoral Address

33rd Annual Leadership 100 Conference

March 1, 2024

The Ritz-Carlton Naples – Vanderbilt Ballroom

Naples, Florida


My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I look around this ballroom today, and beholding your shining faces, I think of this verse from the Holy Apostle Paul:

Truly, we are His accomplishment, founded in Christ Jesus for good deeds, which God has prepared that we should walk in them. *

This is surely a definition of Leadership 100, for God is ultimately behind every success that we could ever achieve. In Greek, the word for accomplishment is ποίημα, which can also mean “creation,” something that is very important for us to consider at this turning point for Leadership.

And what is this turning point? Nothing less than the Fortieth Anniversary of the founding of this incredible organization. As I stand here before you, I am utterly amazed at the success and prosperity of Leadership 100 over the course of the last forty years. You have accomplished incredible works for the sake of the Church.

Chief among them is the support of Leadership 100 for our beloved Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology. Without the investment that you have made in the Σχολή – the largest by far of all your investments throughout Orthodoxy and Hellenism – our precious School might have suffered fatal consequences.

Leadership 100 is a potent endowment, because to “endow” really is to empower, and that is what the Fund has been doing for these past four decades.

Established by my truly visionary predecessor, the ever-memorable Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America, Leadership was brought to life by Greek Orthodox Christians who were true innovators of business and titans of industry. They are the giants upon whose shoulders we all stand, and we honor their sacrifice and their vision every time Leadership moves the Church forward.

I have said it before and I shall say it again: our founders may have passed on, but the foundation that they built remains firm and strong. We are blessed to be the heirs of their dream, conceived forty years ago.

As you all know, the number “forty” is most significant for Orthodox Christians, and Biblical believers in general.

The Flood reported in Genesis rained forty days and forty nights.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land.

Moses fasted for forty days before receiving the Law the second time.

Each of the first three Kings of Israel – Saul, David, and Solomon – reigned for forty years.

The Lord Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert, as did the Prophet Elias in the Old Testament.

And most gloriously of all, the Lord remained with His Disciples upon earth for forty days after His Resurrection from the dead.

I am sure there many other examples, but you see the importance of this number. Forty signifies a period of both preparation, of purification, and of education – as in the case where the Lord taught the Disciples after His Rising from the grave.

So then, we can look back over the Forty Years of Leadership 100’s activities and provision for our Holy Church, and we can see the tremendous efforts to seed and nourish Orthodoxy and Hellenism in America. I can tell you that so many ministries and organizations that some might take for granted would not exist today if not for Leadership 100. To quote from the wonderful parable of the Sower:

Some seed fell on the good earth and yielded a fruitful harvest; some a hundredfold, others sixty and yet others thirty.†

And so it has been with the dispersion of funding of Leadership for the past forty years. There have been many “good and fruitful” harvests, producing much spiritual food with which the Faithful have been fed.

Our gratitude and appreciation for the past forty years will never be exhausted. But what of the next forty? What are going to be the accomplishments and good deeds of Leadership that Saint Paul speaks of in the Letter to the Ephesians that we spoke of earlier?

Here is the challenge for all of us – to envision the next forty years of Leadership 100.

For my part, after spending nearly five years with you, I would at least encourage the following:

1) Understanding that money is a form of energy that allows us to concentrate resources in particular situations, let us look at the global vision for Orthodox Christianity and for Hellenism in America, and frame up strategies for the most effective deployment of these resources where it will be most effective and impactful.

2) Let us broaden the reach of Leadership 100, as has been done already with the Young Professionals and Junior Partners, and let us guide these up-and-coming sisters and brothers through a formal program of mentorship that enhances their Christian life and their appreciation of Hellenism.

3) Let us look seriously at the funding models for Hellenic College and Holy Cross, and see how we can help this vital Institution create a functioning endowment of its own, so that Leadership can be freed up for other ministries, including those involving education – continuing and otherwise.

4) Finally, let us consider how best to re-engage the current membership, who may wish to commit to Leadership 100 with a further gift, thus multiplying the benefits of the existing membership.

My friends:

These are four systematic ways that we can prepare Leadership 100 to be of even greater service to the Church in the next forty years. And I am sure that there are many others. Conferences like this are a wonderful setting to have these conversations and build that future together.

Let us remember that here in the United States we are a very small minority of the society; yet we represent out-sized legacies of both cultural and spiritual significance. In other words, we punch way above our weight.

We are poised to offer to the society the balance, harmony, and rationality of the Christian Faith seen through the Greek Orthodox lens. And we are the living legacy of Hellenism, comprising all the ideals and values that are the bedrock of Western Civilization. In other words, we have so much to give.

In celebrating the past four decades of Leadership 100, and in recognition of all those who have come before us, let us forge together a vision and orientation for the future of this marvelous organization of stewardship and solidarity.

Let us chart a course for the next forty years that builds upon the triumphs of the past, and exceeds the expectations that we hold in common.

If the next forty years of Leadership are going to be as fruitful as the first forty, then the same energy, commitment, drive, and vision with which Leadership transformed the Church in America must be applied to building our future. I have every confidence that together, we will find the path and we make our way to a brighter tomorrow.

Thank you for your attention, and now, if there is time and with the permission of Chairman Logothetis, I believe I can take a few questions.

* Ephesians 2:10.

† Matthew 13:8.

Photos: GOARCH/Dimitrios Panagos

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