As if the community has not suffered enough, a parish in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church- had their Parish Council resign citing clergy “bullying” emanating from its hierarchical clergy leadership.
This is another sad episode in the life of this parish. A court found one of its previous priests, Fr. James Dokos, guilty of basically stealing/embezzling money – reportedly hundreds of thousands – from a trust. Prior to litigation, when this was reported to the Metropolis, Bishop Demetri (the Chancellor of the Chicago Metropolis) indicated that Fr Dokos did nothing wrong. Records indicate that Bishop Demetri received money from this priest, and did not recuse himself. The replacement priest, Fr. Angelo Artemas, appears to have been punished by the Hierarchs of Burton Place (Metropolis of Chicago HQ), because he did not make the issue “go away” and actually sided with the parish community. Fr. Artemas was removed from the parish and is no longer in the Chicago Metropolis. Google search this and see how this dreadful horror show unfolded, as reported by various media outlets. Here is one example:
“After Dokos was charged, a prosecutor in Milwaukee had warned Bishop Demetrios against “potential efforts to intimidate witnesses” —
an apparent reference to his impending removal of the Milwaukee priest, the Rev. Angelo Artemas.”
– The Chicago Tribune, Feb. 26th 2016 by Robert McCoppin
And now, 9 members of the Parish Council have resigned, citing that the bullying has produced a crippling tension that has stultified its ministry. It is important to note that these are lifelong members of the parish, as evident in the resignation letter. There appear to be many examples of incompetent, self-serving and unwise leadership issues on behalf of the Hierarchs:
“You know the Greek expression, the fish rots from the head?
Well that’s what’s going on here.”
— Jim Gottreich, former President of the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Council, Glenview, IL
removed by Bishop Demetri (per Chicago Tribune, Feb. 23, 2016 by John Kass)
As if a “domino effect” were taking place, Fr. Dokos was re-assigned after the Annunciation Church, to Saints Peter and Paul. The community was not happy and voiced their concerns through the person of its elected official, Jim Gottreich, Parish Council President. He was removed. They suffered too.
And now this: lifelong members resigning. You know what this means? It means there is more trouble ahead for the Greek Orthodox in America. We know many individuals have left the Greek Orthodox Chicago Metropolis, and beyond. Now we have official church entities calling it quits. It appears that the heart and spirit of these communities are being broken, torn down, and highly disrespected. Out of self-respect, why would they want to remain? They carried the burden a long time because of their love for their community. But enough is enough. Not that any Hierarch appears to actually care of course. One can almost hear a self-deluding thought that might be resonating in the smug space between their ears, “they’ll be back.” God help our Church.
by associate editor of We Are Orthodox – Mr. Steve Johnson