Greek Orthodox Stewards of America - June 10, 1999



By George C. Rockas

On Sunday, May 16, 1999, GOAL struck the Peabody, Massachusetts Church of St. Vasilios, the largest church in the Boston diocese, at its semi-annual parish general assembly meeting. Without notice, twenty-one GOAL Corporation supporters rammed through the general assembly a resolution regarding the so-called "crisis" in the church. Prior to the meeting, no one advised or gave notice to the parish council or to the community at large that such a resolution was going to be offered in the "new business" part of the general assembly. As a result, only twenty-eight people were present when the vote was taken (25 constitute a quorum). The resolution passed 21 to 7. Six of the seven votes against the resolution were from members of the parish council (only 8 of the 15 members of the parish council were present when the vote was taken; one member who was present did not vote). The parish council president was so outraged at these events, he resigned as president in the middle of the meeting and the vice-president ran the rest of it. What was most disturbing was the total lack of respect the supporters of the resolution showed to those with differing views. They were shockingly undignified, heckling and making snide remarks while others with differing views were talking. Their behavior was an embarrassment to Greek Orthodoxy and was foreign to fundamental notions of civility. The behavior of the GOAL supporters, many of whom are doctors, lawyers and professionals (one is even an Archon), was simply stated, rude, crude and uncouth.

To understand better what went on, one must know a little about St. Vasilios. Although it is the largest church in the Boston Diocese, it is amazingly apolitical. Its parishioners are more concerned with issues like theology, prayer, Sunday School, G.O.Y.A., Greek School, and the like rather than with the politics eating away at our Church. Most are not concerned with GOAL and its destructive agenda. At most general assemblies, there is not even a quorum (the quorum is only 25). Unfortunately, May 16 was different. Twenty-one Goalies appeared at the meeting, many of whom seldom show up in church. The now ex-president asked "who are these people." When it was time to discuss new business, a well known GOAL supporter asked the general assembly to consider a resolution dealing with the so-called "crisis" in the church.

During the debate the now ex-parish president expressed outrage that such an important matter was being brought up in this way. As noted previously, during the middle of the meeting he quit the office of president. He and the members of the parish council were shocked that such an important matter was being proposed with no prior notice to the board and to the community at large. After the meeting, the person making the motion admitted he called supporters and friends to pack the meeting. He also admitted that he should have given notice to at least the parish council so that it could have given notice to the community.

During all this time, the parish priest failed to intercede to support the president and the parish council. A number of people on the parish council have questioned whether the priest knew in advance what was being planned. He has denied any complicity in the matter. What can be said with certainty is that he did nothing to stop what was going on. He remained silent while parishioners attacked Church hierarchs. He sat stone faced while a parishioner called Archbishop Spyridon "Hitler." He also yelled at a parishioner who attempted to read a letter written by Metropolitan Iakovos dealing with the "withholding of funds" issue, and told him to sit down, claiming the parishioner was "out of order" because Metropolitan Iakovos "is not our Metropolitan."

The resolution as originally proposed contained a provision dealing with withholding payments to the Archdiocese. Because such a provision is illegal, the parish council would not allow the resolution to a vote. After lengthy debate, the presenter of the resolution finally agreed to strike the provision dealing with withholding funds. After another modification, the resolution was passed by a margin of 21 to 7. What is amazing about the vote is that St. Vasilios has almost 1600 families and between 3,000 and 4,000 parishioners as members. A handful of obnoxious people seized control of the meeting and rammed a resolution through the general assembly without notice. Of the seven people who voted against the resolution, six were parish council members (only eight board members were present for the vote). GOAL supporters pulled a fast one, and they seemed proud of it.People throughout the parish were shocked and appalled after they found out what had been done to their beloved church. Where is the fairness? Where is the respect for the process and for fellow parishioners? It is ironic that Goalies at the meeting accused Archbishop Spyridon of having a heavy hand. Yet they used a heavy hand to trick the parish council and the parish at large. The entire St. Vasilios community, including the ex-parish council president, is owed an apology by all who were involved in perpetrating this shameful incident.

[ Greek Orthodox Stewards of America
  June 10, 1999 ]