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The Greek American - December 5, 1998

A Year Later, GOAL Still Says Archbishop Must

Dino Stamidis

A dissident lay organization known as Greek Orthodox American Leaders, or GOAL held a national committee meeting in Cleveland on December 5, and reaffirmed its controversial stance: Archbishop Spyridon, primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, "must resign or be reassigned."

GOAL was founded in November 1997 by a group of affluent Greek Americans who say they are concerned by the leadership of Archbishop Spyridon. That first organizational meeting was followed by a national conference in March 1998 where nearly 400 participants endorsed a resolution calling for a new Archbishop.

GOAL'S national committee - a consultative body to the organization's board of directors - met on Dec. 5 to advise board members on implementing policy and on refining strategies.

The meeting turned out to be something of a public relations coup for the organization as it attracted rare press coverage from the Associated Press, the Chicago Tribune and The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

"We suddenly see a light at the end of the tunnel," Dr. John Collis, co-director of GOAL, told the Associated Press. The Greek Orthodox Church, he and other GOAL members reportedly said, has been in a crisis for two years.

The Archdiocese, though, sought to paint a different picture.

"The Archbishop has not done anything that would obligate the faithful to remove him as Archbishop," said Fr. Mark Arey, Director of Communications of the Archdiocese, to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

And in Chicago, Fr. Chris P. Kerhulas, President of the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council, was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying that "the further you get away from the Hudson River, the less people care. I don't think 20 percent of our people in Chicago even know about this."

But the parish of the Ascension Greek Orthodox Church in Oakland, California one of the communities farthest away from the Hudson River, has not only heard of the crisis, it has chosen sides. The parish assembly approved a motion on December 7 to withhold dues it must pay to the Archdiocese. Now $61,000 of the $75,000 that the Ascension Church normally pays each year will be placed in an escrow account.

"We think the leadership in the Archdiocese is not responding to the needs of the Church," said Fr. Thomas J. Paris, protopresbyter of the Ascension.

Back at the Archdiocese in New York, the perception is quite different. "It seems to me that there is a misunderstanding of what stewardship is," said Fr. Arey. The parish's decision to withhold financial support, he said, is not consistent with Greek Orthodox tradition. "Giving is without reservation," he said.

[ The Greek American - December 5, 1998 ]
[ Voithia | www.voithia.org/content/ga120598a.htm  -  December 22, 1998 ]