Greek Orthodox Stewards of America - May 25, 1999
RESPONSE: IS THERE A CRISIS IN THE CHURCH
The allegation that a crisis does exist is a FALSEHOOD. GOAL has created this falsehood by following a simple formula, which is: if something no matter how false is repeated over and over it may be perceived as true. The false information is promoted through mass mailings and the Internet.
GOAL is a group of self appointed Greek Orthodox Americans who claim they represent the "majority" of Greek Orthodox faithful. Their ultimate goal is the removal of the Archbishop. His removal is being used as an excuse to create an altered (untraditional) autocephalous church. They proclaim their activity is for "the good of the Church". Prior to founding GOAL in 1997, some of its active members were on the Archdiocesan Council. Within 20 months, GOAL demanded the Archbishop resign or be removed. This demand was prompted by his "failure" to resolve the years of financial and administrative problems that had plagued the Archdiocese previously. The former members of the Archdiocesan Council never found it incumbent upon themselves to address the problems or to press for reforms, although it is a fact that these problems had existed DURING THEIR TENURE. Why? Obviously, it is easier for them to blame the Archbishop rather than accept blame. It is easier for GOAL to demand the removal of the Archbishop who has not only addressed the financial and administrative problems some of THEIR OWN LEADERS AND MEMBERS OF GOAL LEFT UNATTENDED, but who has rectified many of those problems.
YOUR DOLLAR AT WORK
Is the Archdiocese misappropriating funds? The Archdiocese has taken extreme measures to assure its members that its funds are NOT misappropriated.
BDO Seidman LLP a leading auditing firm completed analysis on the use of Charitable and Petty Cash accounts and compensation of the Archbishop and Chancellor proving FALSE Goal's allegations of wrongdoing. Financial reports with balance sheets and statements of revenues and expenditures are now prepared monthly and issued to the Executive Committee members.
Public disclosure of annual Archdiocesan financial reports are published in the Orthodox Observer.
Your Archdiocesan dollar is divided as follows:
Education 18.6 cents
Administrative Office 18.6 cents
(11% of this is allocated for current expenses of former Archbishop Iakovos)
Operational Expense 18 cents
Diocesan Ministries 16.4 cents
Communications 13.3 cents
Orthodoxy in World 9.6 cents
Community Service 5.5 cents
IT'S IN THE MAIL BUT HOW?
The confidential mailing list of the Archdiocese was removed from the premises of the Archdiocese without authorization (Exodus 20:15), GOAL mailed a newsletter to all members of the Archdiocese on June 24, 1998. The Archdiocese took legal action to protect the confidentiality of its members by requesting return of the list. On Nov. 24, 1998 Judge Chin declined to enter an injunction against GOAL because the Archdiocese failed to prove "irreparable harm" which is harm that cannot be compensated monetarily. Nonetheless Judge Chin stated, "The Archdiocese has a substantial basis for arguing that GOAL misappropriated confidential information. At the same time GOAL has made no effort to deny that it obtained and used the list without...permission."
HOME SWEET HOME
What did happen when an attempt was made to buy a home for His Eminence Archbishop SPYRIDON?
In Sept. 1996 just prior to the Archbishop's arrival, the Executive Committee found and rented a 1,500 sq. foot cottage for $58,000 a year. The cotttage was in disrepair and not appropriate for the leader of over 1 million Greek Orthodox faithful in America. In April 1998 prior to having to renew the lease with a substantial rent increase, the search was initiated to find a suitable home for our Archbishop, with the tacit approval of the Executive Committee. Believing they had the tacit approval of the committee, the Chancellor and Mr. Mavroudis issued a check for $139,500 as a deposit for purchase of a house. At a scheduled teleconference the Executive Committee without discussion voted unanimously against the purchase. It is on the audit books of BDO Seidman that the deposit money was reimbursed to the Archdiocese through a private donation.
HALF TRUTHS ARE NOT THE TRUTH
In his current lawsuit against the Archdiocese a former Legal Committee member demands to inspect the books because he seeks to "stop the current administrations flagrant mismanagement of finances". As proof of administrative mismanagement he attached a 1995 letter written by Nick Tryforos as retired IRS agent, to the Chancellor V. Rev. Fr. George Passias then pastor of St. Nicholas, Flushing NY. Fr. Passias had requested the opinion of Mr Tryforos "on the propriety of a certain agreement" between a local neighborhood thrift shop and the Agape Fund. The Agape Fund is an account held by the priest to help people in need, a vital part of every ministry. However, not attached to his lawsuit is a 1996 letter from Mr. Jerry Dimitriou former Finance Dept. Director of Archdiocese which exonerates Fr. Passias and St. Nicholas of ANY IMPROPRIETY. In fact, Dimitriou stated that he found the Agape Fund transactions to be "well documented and distributed for the philanthropic reasons as was the fund's intent." After having examined four years of St, Nicholas' financial records, Mr. Dimitriou states, "the detail provided in the financial statement is well-documented and professionally presented."
ARCHDIOCESAN PROGRESS REPORT
Since Sept. 1996 under the wonderful leadership of His Eminence Archbishop SPYRIDON the Archdiocese of America has seen growth, change and development at every level, as His Eminence's vision for the Church takes root in our Archdiocese.
Circulation of Orthodox Observer increased per his Eminence to reach all Orthodox, regardless of membership status. Publication increased from 12 to 18 issues/year in-house production and new bidding led to a savings of $10,000 an issue.
- Cost saving measures implemented: 1) All jobs or contracts costing over $500 now require 3 bids 2) Policy has been applied to the general liability and auto insurance package to deliver a savings of $60,000. 3) High cost of 1997 Archdiocesan meeting prompted His Eminence to move meetings from costly Waldorf-Astoria to our Archdiocesan Cathedral Center.
- Ordering of supplies centralized so as to take advantage of bulk purchases, resulting in savings.
- Office of Chancellor progress: 1) Filing system of over 1000 clergy and 600 parishes organized and updated 2) Personnel files upgraded including a computerized system tracking personnel info. 3) New job applications and employment contracts are now in regulation with Labor Laws.
- New Office of Public Affairs established in Washington, DC creates stronger presence and involvement of Greek Orthodox in the Capitol and nation.
- Upkeep and renovation of aging Archdiocese buildings underway to prevent further damage by 2 recent floods.
- St. Basil Academy 1) Renovations of main building, gym, conference rooms, and children dorms 2) New medical/dental center 3) His Eminence's vision to create a "Basiliada" which was St. Basil's idea to serve the elderly, the children and all aspects of the church.
- Religious Education Dept. developing a 5 year catechetical plan.
- Research is being conducted to gain a better understanding of the experiences of interfaith couples in order to minister to them more efficiently.
- Under His Eminence, marriage certificates are being computerized creating a nationwide networking system.
- New Greek Press Office created for dissemination of information to Greek Language Media.
- Office of Print and Digital Media providing public with vehicles of Orthodox witness; and plans to generate revenue through Orthodox publications to fund the ministries of the church.
- Television Ministry Dept. broadcasts programs on national networks, local cable and radio; and plans to create a 24 hour Christian broadcast on the web.
- Internet Ministries Dept. is a presence on the web, having received 7 Internet awards to date and over 24 million hits from over 100 countries.
- Youth Commission was established to unify and support our youth. Youth Dept. produced a CD comprised of youth from each diocese chanting hymns.
CHURCH CONTINUES MISSION
By actively supporting frivolous lawsuits against the Archdiocese and by encouraging parishes to withhold funds and stewardship, members of GOAL try to thwart the Church from continuing our mission to serve Orthodox faithful in the U.S. If they continue to try to undermine the workings of the Church, each one of us may be affected.
How can GOAL constantly attack His Eminence, attempting to impede his work, AND THEN CRITICIZE HIM FOR FAILING TO MOVE THE CHURCH FORWARD?
Archbishop SPYRIDON DOES have a vision to move the church forward while preserving our traditions and heritage. That vision will require ALL GREEK ORTHODOX Faithful to work together. It is time for each of us to have a hand in maintaining the legacy of the Fathers of our Church. The silent MAJORITY must become VOCAL and unite for the ONE HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH!
Write in support of our Church to:
8 East 79th St.
New York, NY 10021
GO Stewards Inc.
P.O. Box 462
Lynnfield, MA 01940
5 Franklin Commons
Framingham, MA 01702
25-52 Cresent St.
Astoria, NY 11102
Greek National Herald
41-17 Cresent St.
LIC, NY 11101
Voithia c/o GOAL Inc.
1 Kendall Sq. Suite 153 Building 600
Cambridge, MA 02139
Note from Stewards´ Website Editor: This newsletter was sent to every parish council president and priest in the United States.
[ Greek Orthodox Stewards of America
May 25, 1999 ]