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Local Parish

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Use this page for any local parish stuff. The picture above does not mean the discussion must be geared to that particular parish, nor does it imply that any comments are geared toward it. It’s just a nice pic!

26 thoughts on “Local Parish

  1. Manoli

    Dear Editors and Friends,

    I want to report on my experiences from this past Sunday, January 31st, 2015. While sitting in a restaurant for lunch, my wife and I overheard the conversation of the table next to us. Being that neither of us “look Greek” it did not occur to the table next to us that we might possibly understand Greek.

    On the one hand it was entertaining. However, on the other hand it caused an issue my wife and I have talked about to resurface.

    We heard the table next to us complain that the Church service that started at 9am did not finish until 1pm. It was now 1:30pm. Their kids were fidgety, these parents were annoyed and angry. The service was longer than usual. The Bishop was there. After the liturgy and memorial service, the Bishop was cutting Vasilopita andhad comments to say after everyone name/category he cut a slice of bread for. The Chanters elongated the service with their slow articulation. Everyone seemed to get the microphone to speak. The priest spoke, the bishop spoke, the parish council president spoke, the Philoptochos president spoke, and all this after a service that was probably about 3 hours long.

    The people next to us were upset and wondered how much longer will the public continue to go to services that are so long, and unfortunately, uninspiring? They themselves discussed where else they can go to church!

    The question of relevance came to our minds. My wife and I have had these observations before. We questioned whether or not the clergy (with all due respect) have any care or respect for where we are and who we are in today’s world.

    It may have occurred to you that my wife and I were not in Church that day. We are part of the casualties that are continuing add up. We consider ourselves Greek Orthodox, but we rarely go to Church. We do not give to the Church’s Stewardship, but we do give money to charities.

    From what we heard, it does not seem that our Bishops care any more. This restaurant owner should send a Thank You card to the local priest and bishop for increasing his business that day.

    I think Church will be less full next week.

  2. AZspirit

    There is another case of bullying in my parish and it makes me think that I just do not understand how these fundamentalist simple minded arrogant few continue with impunity.

    I was raised to respect the priests and all clergy of our Church. For that matter, from any religion or denomination. I know I am not alone with this.

    But a few weeks ago I witnessed one of the traditionalist fundamentalist Ephraimites bad mouthing the priest DURING services one Sunday morning, I was appalled. Eventually some people around her started “shushing” her to be quiet.

    In addition, there were youngsters chanting services, converts. These same fundamentalist traditionalist Ephraimites accosted them afterwards to tell them they should not be doing that (even though they did a nice job, and the Priest gave them his blessing to do so). I have not seen them since.

    It seems to me more people need to “shush” the traditionalist fundamentalist Ephraimite bullies. If people are not standing up, then they either are indifferent, or they are leaving the Church.

    Enough is enough. I will be more vocal. I hope others do also. Thank you.

  3. Thomas

    My grandmother comes home from Church on Sunday. Apparently the Chanter (a retired priest from Chicago) and the senior priest, get in a verbal fight behind the altar. People in the pews could hear it. I am sorry I missed it. This is from the monasticly disposed married senior priest at our church. Attendance is down. What are we supposed to think?

    • Val

      In our bulletin recently, the head priest put an article that I will post in Greek below. Basically it teaches that we are not to talk to the priest with common and routine expressions such as “Talk to you later”, “What’s up?”, “How’s it going?”, “Goodnight”, or “May you always be well.” Instead the article teaches us to slightly bow our head whenever we see our priest, and say “Father bless.”.

      Hmmm.

      Well I guess if we are being taught absolute obedience to the priest, what do we expect? I think we should respect our priests. But I think some people confuse the priest as being Jesus Christ Himself. Wow our local parish has changed a lot Thomas!

      Am I blowing this out of proportion?

      Here is the original text:

      Η θρησκευτική – Χριστιανική αγωγή, η Ελληνορθόδοξη πατερική παράδοση, ο πολιτισμός μας, η ιστορία μας, η ευγένεια ψυχής δεν επιτρέπουν ν’ απευθύνουμε στον κληρικό τους στερεότυπους κοσμικούς χαιρετισμούς: «Καλημέρα», «Καλησπέρα», «Καληνύχτα». Ή, «να ‘σαι πάντα καλά», «να περνάμε καλά», «άντε γεια», «τα λέμε», που ανταλλάσσουν οι λαϊκοί μεταξύ τους.

      Σ’ έναν κληρικό οποιαδήποτε ώρα της ημέρας και αν τον συναντήσουμε εντός ή εκτός του Ιερού Ναού, με μια ελαφρά κλίση της κεφαλής προς τα κάτω, «δια καταδύσεως ή προς Θεόν ημών άνοδος γίνεται», απευθύνουμε με ταπείνωση και με ευλάβεια το : «Ευλογείτε πάτερ» και Εκείνος με συνείδηση της υψηλής, της αγίας και ιερής αποστολής Του, ως πνευματικός Φάρος Φωτός Χριστού, ως λειτουργός των αγίων μυστηρίων της Εκκλησίας του Εσταυρωμένου και αναστημένου Ιησού, ως Ορθόδοξη παρουσία- μαρτυρία, ως πατέρας όλων, με σεμνότητα και παρρησία απαντά : «Ο Κύριος».

      • Tomk

        Val in response to your post about the message in the Parish Bulletin, you are not off base in your perception of the implication being made. In Chicago there is a steady drone of messages, like the one you quote, given to the Laity at our Ephraimite Parishes. Some are obvious and others are subliminal. Always presented with some greater authority such as something a “Church Father” stated or a Saint. Often the message comes from organizations that support the move of our Faith back to the “dark ages” like the friends of this or that Monastery. Please post the source of the citation to this propaganda. You do not have to mention the Parish; all of us want to discuss this and do not want to incur the wrath of our local Hierarchy.

        What is painful about this posting in your bulletin is the number of younger parishioners that will see the quoted material as “Gospel” and begin to conform their behavior accordingly. Here in the Metropolis of Chicago we have many young adults that have been programmed by one Ephraimite Priest in particular that has delivered hundreds of robotic followers to their hands. I am very ashamed of those who allow this and even find justification for it. How do they live with themselves?

        • Val

          Thank you for the post. In our church’s recent bulletin, there is a page that is under the “Spotlight” section. It looks like is was written by a person named “VatopaidiFriend4” on January 14, 2012. Here is the link to where it was from: http://xristianos.gr/forum/viewtopic.php?f=141&t=3688

          • Tomk

            Val think about the source of the “Theology” being used in your Church Bulletin. It was (as I called it) a group associated with a Monastery, and what a Monastery it is!

            You said the author was “VatopaidiFriend4”. Well the “VatopaidiFriend4″ is a telling sign is it not? Your Priest may be showing that he lacks sensitivity and discernment of character.

            The Vatopedi Monastery is at the heart of the largest alleged land fraud in the history of Greece. Please just perform a Google search using “Vatopedi land scandal”. Yet your Priest allows someone connected with that Monastery to promote a questionable “Theology” upon the Laity. I assume your Parish is in the Metropolis of Atlanta. It should come as no surprise to you that your Hierarch was tonsured a Monk at ……….Vatopedi!

            I personally stopped going to a Greek Orthodox Church for a long time and went to a Carpatho-Russian Parish near my house. I was happy there (at the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church) until one Sunday I noticed the bulletin used a quote like this one (in that it was meant to create obedience to the Priest) from our dear “future saint” Elder Ephraim of Philotheou! He is spiritual brother of the deposed abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi. I never set foot in that Parish again. The leadership of our Faith is in a complete state of disarray. Thus the Ephraimites have made inroads and have selective GOA Priests doing their bidding. I honestly thought our Laity was smarter than that. I would have thought that our Lay leaders would have had the insight to see this and cause someone to act.

            Do you want to know what I see happening in the future? The Laity will leave as they are now. The size of the GOA will constrict and fewer people will have to come up with more money to keep the whole thing going. This will put an enormous amount of pressure on the dwindling number of Normal Priests who already see themselves as tax collectors.

            Sorry Val if my perspective disturbs you, just try being a Greek Orthodox Christian in the Metropolis of Chicago!

            Editors’ Note:

            While the Patriarch did remove Ephraim of Vatopedi as Abbot (see section on Vatopedi) we must also note that we want our readers to be wary against writing off Monasticism in general. Monasticism is a vital and important part of Orthodox Spirituality. We are referring of course to “healthy” monasticism (the kind that is obedient to the Archbishop/Patriarch, the kind that does not denigrate the ministries of the Parish Priests, the kind that does not hurt people by imposing burdens that destroy lives).

            We hear your pain TomK. Keep the faith. People are looking into this. Don’t give up the faith, ever. Thank you for standing up. We encourage all of our readers to write to the Archbishop AND the Patriarch.

  4. Val

    P.S. Oh, and I am sick of hearing about the monastery and how evil we all are. Come on!

  5. Val

    I am in the same parish as Thomas and Ksipnagoa. I do not know why our community is losing parishioners. The second priest is now gone. The chanters are now gone. I hear we are getting another assistant priest from Greece. I am not judging him but I am still uncomfortable with the idea that this Metropolis seems to consistently bring in Priests from abroad. Why?

    Don’t we have priests in America that can be assigned here? Do they not want to come here to this Metropolis? I have lived here for a couple decades now. A persistent theme that I personally have seen is that the priests that are getting assigned here are all immigrants. I am not against immigrants. My Grandparents were immigrants.

    Am I being selfish in wanting a priest thats knows who we are? It makes me wonder if indeed the Metropolitan is attempting to socially engineer (as mentioned in one of the editorials) our Metropolis ?

    I feel the progress we have made in establishing an American, i.e. indigenous, identity, is purposefully being set back 50 years in this Metropolis!

  6. Nick

    Dear Editors of WEAREORTHODOX, I applaud all of you for your fine work. Allow me to give you my take on the problem since my family and I live in the epicenter of the Ephraimite issue. I attend (marginally these days) a Parish in Chicago. I use to go all the time.

    But due to comments made by our Priest, I no longer feel the desire to attend on a regular basis. I guess this makes me a “nominal Christian” according to the Ephraimites.

    Anyway, my Priest came into our Parish and we had about 800 families. We now have 450 families that pay stewardship.

    He does not believe in raising money for our Parish and only seems to “promote” any and all events, fundraisers and services at the Ephraimite Monastery near by.

    I thought this odd so I asked a relative at a nearby Parish in Chicago. He too has left with his family. That Parish had 325 families and now has less than 180. Same thing the Priest (who also has an “Ephraimite Spiritual Father”) cares more about the points he gets shilling for the Monastery.

    What is unique is the problem at both of these Parishes is the unwillingness of both Priests to have fundraisers for their respective Parishes. They both have the annual picnics but little else. At my Parish I can not remember how long it has been since we had a dinner dance.

    It seems that both of these clergymen realize that the Laity will not let the Parish go down in financial flames.

    They use excuse after excuse to justify people leaving. At our spring Parish assembly meeting our Priest justified the emptiness of the Parish and the fall off in membership by suggesting that “our youth are marring Muslims” and then commented on “our youth are cohabitating before marriage”. Not once do any of these Priests that have become such fundamentalists TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MESS THEY HAVE CREATED!

    In their way of thinking they are “cleaning house” and getting rid of the unworthy. I noticed a story about a Parish in Miami having financial issues; guess what, that will soon become the norm. We Greek Orthodox held our heads high about our Church having well educated highly paid clergy. We thought we were somehow better off than other jurisdictions. I for one am feeling less tied to the community because of these fanatics. I can tell you our Parish is on the ropes financially and I will not stick my hand in my pocket to bail out the group that has supported the Priest. Our Priest has some very strong supporters that have build a wall around him. You can not reason with or have a logically conversation with any of these people. Surely that is the sign of a cult!

  7. ksipnagoa

    Our local priests continuously repeat that the local parish is the hospital and the monastery is the emergency room? I understand the parallel. But if this is true, then why is everyone that walks through the door being sent straight to the monastery? In some situations, maybe some might need to be treated by actual professionals in their field (i.e. mental health professionals, marriage counselors, drug addiction clinics, etc.) instead of monasteries that probably do not have these type of professionals at their disposal. Many supporters of Ephraim’s Monasteries do not even believe in using any mental health professionals outside of the church. I know this from hearing our priest clearly state this during MANY sermons. Our priest even told our young and impressionable altar boys that most patients that end up at chiropractors with pain could be dealt with through the priest and confession. I do believe that people could deal with stress alot better through their faith in The Lord, but we must be very careful when making statements like these. There are true medical, scientific (mental health) reasons that people do need to see psychologists and psychiatrists. There are also medical reasons that people do need to see chiropractors, physical therapists, etc. But the Fundamentalists are making ridiculous statements such as these and it scares me. These are dangerous waters to be treading in.

  8. ksipnagoa

    The church is in serious trouble and our leaders are sleeping at the wheel. Where is the leadership? The ship is steering dangerously out of control! Is this the beginning of another great schism, a civil war of sorts? Is this the beginning of the downward spiral of our archdiocese? One of our great Orthodox educators/priest has left the cathedral of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and pursued employment by a for profit company. Dr. Fr. Frank Marangos is a resource/gem that we can not afford to lose. We have lost many other priests as well that are discarded like rubbish for being divorced. This is not a sin. We need these talented priests. What is happening in our church?

  9. SophiaAB

    I ran into someone from Chicago several years ago. I had never met this person before and we began to discuss the Greek Orthodox Church. It seems they were very dissatisfied with the developments of what they viewed as a cult that they told me was operating within their Metropolis. At first I was speechless and clueless. I literally had no idea what they were talking about. By the middle of the conversation after I had repeatedly told them “we do not have that problem here” I began to back pedal on my position.

    I started thinking about a woman at my own Parish. I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She would come to church on a regular basis until she visited a monastery in Pennsylvania. I would run into her in town and ask where she was. She was elusive at first. She said she would go to a Monastery under the “Spiritual Guidance” of Elder Ephraim. She said this is the only place she could “find true Orthodoxy in the United States”. I asked her to come back to Church and she said it was not Holy. She kept using terms like spiritual, clean, pure and westernized or protestant to describe the monastery, our Parish and Priest.

    Since that conversation I began to read GOTRUTHREFORM.ORG. I must tell you that they have converted me 100% in believing and understanding that we have a problem. I fell upon your website and enjoy it equally. Is there any chance someone of authority within our Church will actually take a stand and lead on these issues? Some thing I read on that website plays over and over again in my mind. I do not remember the article it was in, but it was something like “the wolf in my backyard will be in yours soon”. I hope the problem does not find its way here. Oh, by the way; I also learned the hard way that nothing you say or do can change anyone’s mind that is in a cult. Perhaps I will write more about that later.

    • Sophia, your path is not all that unusual. I think most Orthodox still are completely unaware of the Ephraimite/Traditionalist problem within our Church. One of the biggest criticisms that I have received is that “oh, those people don’t exist!” One person even told me that they do exist but it’s just five guys in Mid-West. Yet if people just take the time to look a little deeper into the issues, they’d find (as you have) that the problem is very real and it has woven its way into nearly every area of the country. I’m sure there are exceptions but I would bet that at least 2/3rds of our parishes are affected by this stuff in one way or another. Maybe more. Just look at the stories on this website alone. This is a real problem and none of of us should assume that it’s only a problem somewhere else. The more informed we are the better equipped we will be to deal with the problem.

  10. The only power these people have is fear which is why they so readily use it. Yet Christ taught us to not fear. It makes one wonder where it is that they’re getting their belief system from. As for the comment about “everyone wears black” in Greece, that’s simply untrue. Priests — at least in Athens — do not wear black in Greece during Holy Week they wear purple. It’s been a few years since I’ve watched these videos and at the moment they aren’t working for me but you’ll see lots of priests wearing purple. http://www.ecclesia.gr/Multimedia/video/pashaindex_en.html

    While the threats and comments coming from some people in our Church sound authoritative it is my opinion that once we see the man (or theology) behind the curtain there is little to fear.

  11. ksipnagoa

    In response to Thomas’ post:

    We might attend the very same community! After that very scary presentation many people are now scared to receive communion, because they have not been to confession and received their “OK from their spiritual father” to proceed and receive communion.

    People now think that having Communion will get them “a reserved seat in the kingdom of the Devil” (as was announced by the assistant priest in front of the head priest). I have heard people say “Well, I guess we’re not having Communion this year”.

    Yes many people only go to church during Easter. But instead of educating with inspiration, they are scarring the heck out of everyone. Here is another example:

    Today, during the Holy Friday Retreat, our young children (4-10) were yelled at by one of the priests for not wearing black. They were told not to talk, laugh or even smile, because today is Jesus’ funeral. They were told that in Greece everyone wears black and they should as well. If they expected the kids to wear black, why didnt they announce that? Instead, the kids were chastised. We should not be scaring parishioners, especially God’s little children. People are running away from our church and our faith because of this fundamentalist (and ridiculous) attitude.

    Another example: a few months ago the children of our preschool were told that if they do not do metanies, they will not go to heaven!

    We pray for help! Unfortunately, the Hierarchs are turning a blind eye!

     
     
     
    Editors Note: We are sorry but we felt we had to remove the names of the priests.
     
     
     

  12. Thomas

    We live in a large Greek community in west central Florida. My younger sister came to me after the Holy Unction service on Holy Wednesday and told me that the assistant priest there announced from the pulpit that we must have confession before we have Holy Communion otherwise we will have “a reserved seat in the kingdom of the Devil instead of a reserved seat in the Kingdom of Heaven”. I am in shock and I am so angry. I know we have to have confession. But I never heard of confession being a requirement every time we want to have Communion! I do not agree with this at all. Is this really what our church teaches? I don’t think so.

    • Thomas — no, that is definitely not what our Church teaches. The late great Fr. Alexander Schmemman pointed out that the idea that one must go confession before taking communion “not only has no foundation in Tradition, but openly contradicts the Orthodox doctrine of the Church, of the Sacrament of Communion and of that of Penance” (http://www.schmemann.org/byhim/confessionandcommunion.html).

      I find it very troubling that ANY priest would be able to say such a thing and basically go unchallenged by other clergy present. It makes one wonder just how deep these problems in our Church actually are.

      I cannot stress enough the importance of doing what you’ve done here: reporting on what you’ve seen and heard. The greatest enabler of this — non-Orthodox theology is silence. I am continually told that these people — these Orthodox fundamentalists do not exist. The more we speak out the less power they will have.

      Editors’ Note: Thank you Charles!

  13. ksipnagoa

    The heirarchy knows which parishes are infected and are doing nothing. The Metropolis of Atlanta is infected and the disease is spreading like wildfire. Nothing is being done! We pray for help in the Southeast as well as for Orthodox Christians worldwide.

  14. Spyros

    I know from my cousins in Chicago that things there are bad. All I can tell you is that we have a growing problem here (St. Louis). I attend the Greek Orthodox Parish that is not yet affected by adherents to this problem. Yes we have a few parishioners, but both Priests are not in their camp, yet. I am thankful for the work that the laity are doing by exposing this problem. I have relatives in Ohio and they are now detecting the beginning signs of trouble. Their Parish Priest is now going off the deep end and flooding them with Monastic theology. If some of our Priests are so “hell-bent” on the Ephraimite movement why is it that none of their kids are in one of the Ephraimite Monasteries? I know their leader in the Midwest has daughters, if it is so great why does he go to Arizona to find them husbands and not send them to the Monastery north of his Parish?

  15. Admin

    On Feb. 22, 2012, GoTruthReform.org has been maliciously compromised by cyber cowards who hacked into it and placed malicious code (virus) in it. It is down temporarily. So is the article referenced above. I will post when it is back online. In the mean time, please do not click the link above. Our support and prayers to our brothers and sisters at GoTruthReform.org. Thank you.

    + + + + + + +

    It’s Back, Safe, & Secure!

    + + + + + + +

    As of Feb. 26 2012, GoTruthReform.org is back online! The articles have been restored! It is a safe and secure site that is continuing to serve the Orthodox Community. We are so happy to see it back!

  16. Admin

    Is Your Priest an Ephraimite?

    There is a great article written on a site in Chicago (where this problem is rather poignant). Please go to http://gotruthreform.org/infected-priest/ .

    Is Your Priest an Ephraimite?

    • Tina

      Everything stated in this article is so accurate. I would emphasize one more characteristic – “spendaholic”. I don’t want to sound insensitive, but I used to be on the parish council and a persistent topic of debate was our priest’s insistence that we spend on this and that – even though significant numbers of parishioners were leaving the church and the revenues were way down. I don’t understand how people can become “yes-men”. Where is the reason and objectivity? I am sorry if I sounded disgruntled. I love him, but something is wrong with the direction we are heading.

  17. GusGRKMN

    Can you please tell me how do we know if our priest follows the Ephraim way of thinking? Just because he has a beard cannot mean he is “Ephraimite”. I agree with your statements against Aerial Toll houses, against the idea that sex in marriage is only for procreation, and against the idea of unusually harsh penances. But because Orthodox spirituality is so robust, just because someone likes going to the monastery cannot mean he believes in all this Ephraimite nonsense, right? So how do we know?

  18. Admin

    No Gus, you do not “have” to go to your parish priest (although in an ideal situation, of course, going to your local parish priest would be best). If that doesn’t work out for you, I would suggest someone you have a rapport with; someone that understands who we are; someone that you feel can help you get close to Christ; someone that is about love (from any bona fide Orthodox jurisdiction). I would strongly suggest you do not go to the monasteries of Fr. Ephraim.

  19. GusGRKMN

    My priest keeps announcing to have confession at the monastery. I thought we had to go to him?