Eastern Orthodoxy in a Global Age - 2005

The Greek Orthodox Church in the United States:
(Private) Crisis or Transition?

George A. Kourvetaris

ON 30 JULY 1996, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected Metropolitan Spyridon of Italy the first American-born archbishop in the United States. He was to replace Archbishop Iakovos as the new archbishop of the United States—based Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Ethnic media, Orthodox Christians, and Greek Orthodox Americans heralded his enthronement with great enthusiasm. But the initial euphoria of his election and the grandeur and Byzantine majesty of his enthronement on 21 September 1996 proved short-lived, Shortly afterward, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese experienced a moral, administrative, and institutional crisis. In the three years of Spyridon's reign, the turmoil threatened to polarize both clergy and laity and lead to a schism within Greek-American Orthodox communities. In late August 1999 Archbishop Spyridon abruptly resigned. In his letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, he called the reasons for his resignation "totally independent of and unrelated to personal intentions" (National Herald, 21-22 August 1999, p. 1). Metropolitan Demetrios of Vresthena (Greece) was his successor. The anti-Spyridon forces, particularly the Greek Orthodox American Leaders (G.O.A.L.) and the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL), considered the affair a "crisis of institutional leadership" and greeted Demetrios' appointment as "good news."

This chapter is an effort to investigate whether this claim of a "crisis of institutional leadership" is true or if the Spyridon affair is a sign of broader institutional shifts within the Greek Orthodox community. If the former is the case, then Spyridon's replacement might lead to a solution. If again the new archbishop fails to improve the situation, then perhaps Spyridon became the "sacrificial lamb" in a power struggle for control of the U.S. Greek Orthodox Church.

An institutional crisis is a crisis in social change and transition. Leadership or management of an institution is but one dimension of it; hence, an institutional crisis should be multi-faceted. This chapter aims to show that the Spyridon affair has been not only a leadership but also an institutional crisis. This crisis could be a turning point in the life and continuity of the United States—based Greek Orthodox Church in the next century. For analytical reasons, my inquiry will focus on the organizational or institutional dimensions of the crisis.1 It is through an analysis based on published reports, a number of interviews, a mailed questionnaire sent to a number of the clergy in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and interviews with Greek Orthodox and ethnic Greek leaders that an effort will be made to go beyond the head­lines and to try to find the deeper underlying causes of the crisis.

In this regard, the analysis will attempt to answer the following questions: How much of this (institutional or leadership) crisis reflects the demographic transition and shifting membership in the Orthodox Christian communities in general and the Greek Orthodox communities in particular? Moreover, is there unanimity over what constitutes an institutional (as opposed to a leadership) crisis? Do Greek American ethnic elites and Greek American masses (the majority of Greek American parishioners) perceive or define in the same way what an institutional and/or leadership managerial crisis is? In the Greek Orthodox case, do the bishops and Greek American professionals (OCL and G.O.A.L.) perceive Spyridon's style of management the same way as the average Greek American layman and lower-level clergy (parish priests)?

The chapter is organized as follows: First, what were the views of the organizations (G.O.A.L., OCL) and the clergy about the nature of Spyridon's short tenure and the "leadership crisis"? Second, what are the unresolved issues of the crisis? Third, what is the future of the United States—based Greek Orthodox Church in the next century? Readers unfamiliar with the organizational structure of the United States—based Greek Orthodox Church might find it useful to read the appendix to this chapter for a brief synopsis of the administrative structure of the Church.

Accounting for the Crisis, Part I:
The Views of the Clergy

Spyridon's replacement by Demetrios was the culmination of a series of concerted actions on the part of anti-Spyridon forces that succeeded in convincing the patriarchate to replace Spyridon with another prelate. According to the patriarchate, this action prevented further polarization and a deeper crisis in the administrative and institutional life of the U.S. Greek Orthodox Church. What factors contributed to the ecclesiastical crisis and Spyridon's short tenure as archbishop? Were Spyridon's resignation and his final replacement by the Patriarch (only after a protracted delay by him) of his own making and ineptitude or the coalescence of many social forces, groups, and individuals to oust him? Finally, what was the role of the hierarchy of the Church (the bishops) and that of lower clergy in this crisis? Two sets of data will be used to try to answer these questions: first, the attitudes of both high and low clergy toward the archbishop; and second, various pub­lished reports regarding the role of the lay Greek American organizations (G.O.A.L. and OCL) who spearheaded Spyridon's ouster.

First, the high clergy visibly challenged Spyridon's authority on 21 October 1998 with a letter issued by the five metropolitans and presiding hierarchs of the Dioceses of Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Denver. In their letter to the archbishop, the clergy declared their intention to disassociate themselves from his Eminence, stating: "[W]e, the bishops, feel that we bear the responsibility before the mother church and the Archdiocese of America (which is the largest and most powerful province of the throne) to speak out when we anticipate danger. The flock in America is being continuously estranged from the Ecumenical Patriarchate" (Hellenic Chronicle, 21 October 1998).

In their letter to Spyridon (dated 14 October 1998) the bishops took issue with the archbishop for filing a lawsuit against G.O.A.L. (the archdiocese later lost the case). The metropolitans argued that his Eminence did not inform them about the suit, which, according to them, was contrary to church canons. For clergymen, defrocking is the penalty for violating the"canonical injunction against appearing to the civil courts without the permission of ecclesiastical authority" (Hellenic Chronicle, 14 October 1998). According to the metropolitans, the 1977 church charter declared that the highest ecclesiastical authority rested jointly in the archbishop and the synod of bishops. Furthermore, the metropolitans accused Spyridon of acting arbitrarily and excluding them from major administrative decisions of the archdiocese. In short, the metropolitans' letter made reference to six major points including the so-called clear stand of the archdiocesan council, the advice of the bishops, the canonical tradition of the church, the role of the "executive committee" and position of the metropolitans, the protection of the arch­bishop, and the protection of the archdiocese and the church (Hellenic Chronicle, 14 October 1998). It is clear that the metropolitans felt excluded from the real decision-making process of the archdiocese and, according to them, the synodical council of the bishops had become a forum for "non­essential matters" and not a synod of bishops for discussion of substantive issues such as the lawsuit against the G.O.A.L. In closing, the metropolitans assured the archbishop they were prepared to work with his Eminence "on the basis of the Holy Canons and the Constitutional Charter of the Church."

On 9 January 1999, after their letter to the archbishop, the metropolitans sent a report to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and his synod. The full text was published in Greek in the National Herald of New York on 16-17 January 1999, and in English on 23-24 January 1999 (Voithia, G.O.A.L. Internet, 16 March 1999). The metropolitans, in a rather lengthy report (thirteen pages long), laid out the causes of the crisis and the measures to be taken to avert it. According to the metropolitans, the main cause of the crisis was the "inexperience" as well as the "centralized" and "authoritarian style" of Archbishop Spyridon. The metropolitans used harsh and extremely critical language to discredit Spyridon's credibility and undermine his ability to lead the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. They accused him of being "paranoid," "insecure," "authoritarian hyper-papal" (rather strong stereo­types and name calling) and leading the Greek Orthodox Church in America in a destructive and divisive path. The metropolitans raised sixteen questions that (in their judgment) Spyridon had failed to address since he was elected archbishop. The questions dealt with Spyridon's failure to work together with the metropolitans; to restore the synodical system and the 1977 charter; to share administrative authority; to reinstate the dismissed priest professors of the theological seminary at Brookline, Massachusetts; and to restore the trust of "the leadership 100%."

The metropolitans warned the Patriarch that the extension of Archbishop Spyridon's stay could lead to further divisions within and outside the archdiocese, the creation of more "para-ecclesiastical" lay organizations, declining revenues by the parishes, the archdiocese's loss of its leading role in the Orthodox Church of America, and, above all, increased strength of the OCL-sponsored autocephaly movement. The metropolitans also listed additional contributing factors to the crisis including the sexual harassment incident in the Holy Cross School of Theology, relations between the archbishop and the metropolitans, lack of conciliarity and the synodical manner in the administration of the archdiocese, undermining of the role of the presbytery and the deaconate, the division of the flock into Greek and American, and the rise of fundamentalism or "super-Orthodoxy."

Following these developments, the metropolitans accepted an invitation by the Ecumenical Patriarch to come to the Phanar and present their views concerning the crisis in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in the United States before the Patriarch and his Patriarchal Synod. All in all, the metropolitans saw Spyridon as a threat not only to the administration and management of the Greek archdiocese but as a threat to their own privileges and power sharing enshrined in the 1977 synodical charter. Ultimately, it was the metropolitans who opposed Spyridon's leadership and not the Greek American ethnic leadership (with the exception of the OCL and G.O.A.L.).

In the midst of this crisis, in the spring of 1999, I undertook a survey of Greek Orthodox priests (serving as priests in the Greek Archdiocese).2 By no means can the responses be construed as representative, but they give us some idea where the priests stood on a number of issues surrounding the crisis. In summarizing some of their responses one can make the following observations: First, the overwhelming majority perceived a crisis (thirty-one of thirty-eight; six saw no crisis, and one did not know). Second, in the respondents' view, the causes included Spyridon, G.O.A.L., former Archbishop Iakovos, OCL, and Patriarch Bartholomew. Others saw the crisis in more general terms, citing institutional, economic, demographic, and administrative factors. Other factors given for the crisis were: "confused and incompetent leadership"; lack of "education, experience"; "unloving"; lack of "maturity as a national church"; or at a "crossroads of its history." Many thought the metropolitans were the cause, including the lack of gentility in the archdiocese, mismanagement of past and present administration, the changing Greek American values, lack of spirituality, and misunderstanding in goals. Some saw the Patriarch and archbishop as badly misreading the Greek Orthodox Church in America, while others felt there was a priority of ethnicity given over spirituality. Finally, there were those who saw some sort of an agenda, not working through proper channels of redress for grievances, and using the media to attack the archbishop.

Third, the majority of the priests perceived themselves as Greek Orthodox (twenty-two of thirty-eight). Twelve perceived themselves as American Orthodox or Greek American Orthodox, but a large number (six­teen of twenty-seven) did not answer this question. Many respondents defined themselves as Eastern Orthodox Christian priests. The priests' back­grounds were Greek Orthodox priests of Greek American descent, Orthodox Christian priests, and Orthodox priests (eight in all). Only fourteen out of thirty-eight priests (with twenty-four missing) ranked their Hellenic Greek roots as important as Greek Orthodox priests, while twenty-two (with ten missing) ranked their Orthodox calling as priests very important. At the same time, when the question was to rank both equally again, thirteen out of thirty-eight (with twenty-five missing) ranked both Greek and Orthodox identities as equally important. A number of those who answered the mailed questionnaire signed a letter supporting the synodical metropolitans.

About one hundred priests of the archdiocese addressed a letter to the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese on 19 November 1998, published in the web-based Voithia (G.O.A.L.) and the Autumn-Winter 1998 issue of Forum (an OCL publication). The letter focused on a number of points and major factors of the crisis including absence of love and understanding in the Church, lack of appreciation of past accomplishments of the archdiocese; authoritarianism; intimidation; immediate demand for obedience; reference to "enemies:' "modernists;' and "westernizing" elements in the Orthodox Church; lack of commitment to Orthodoxy's spiritual mission in America; reluctance to address cases of sexual misconduct in the Church and its institutions; public relations and news releases that fostered suspicion; cynicism and frustration; and "undermining trust and confidence in the church as a spiritual institution and loving community" (Forum 1998).

The statement concluded with an appeal to the archbishop to work with the shepherds of the Church (the metropolitans and bishops) to resolve a number of issues by establishing a competent and unbiased commission to examine the issues facing the Church and its institutions. They called for honest and responsible discussion of these matters, respect for order (including the Holy Canons, the Archdiocesan Charter, by-laws and policies of church organizations and institutions), the commitment to Christian integrity, and practice of Christian moral values.

Given that Spyridon's own metropolitans and bishops publicly criticized him, it is fair to say that at least part of the controversy had to do directly with the archbishop's leadership style. However, with the exception of a few Greek American lay parishioners and one-fifth of the clergy who were openly against the archbishop, the majority of the Greek American parishioners, the Greek American press, and the Greek ethnic leaders were apathetic or, for the most part, were not actively involved in the controversy. It is also fair to suggest that those who were actively involved with the administrative and financial aspects of the Greek Orthodox communities and archdiocese were more likely to be anti-Spyridon.

Accounting for the Crisis, Part II:
The Views of the Laity Organizations
and Religious and Secular Greek Ethnic Leaders

The two main laity organizations of Greek Orthodox parishioners are OCL and G.O.A.L. Both G.O.A.L. and OCL were articulate in their opposition to the archbishop. Their stances were of great importance because the major­ity of their members had been active within the church and by and large were American-born Greek Orthodox Christians.

The Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL), the oldest lay Greek Orthodox organization (founded in Chicago in 1987), emerged as a reform-oriented group asking for greater input and participation of the laity in the organizational aspects of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States.3. These constitute legitimate issues that deal primarily with the administrative and/or managerial affairs of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. With a few exceptions, OCL's key issues did not have the support of the official ecclesiastical Greek Orthodox hierarchy and the clergy in general. On the other hand, the (self-proclaimed) Greek Orthodox American Leaders (G.O.A.L.) consists of mostly American-born Greek professionals who have been actively involved in the administrative and institutional aspects of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Its members were closely associated with former Archbishop Iakovos.4

One of the main issues that brought the Greek Orthodox American Leaders, Inc. (G.O.A.L.) —a lay Greek American organization out of Cambridge, Massachusetts— into existence in the first place was the archbishop's arbitrary dismissal of the president and three priest-professors of the Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology and their reassignment to Greek Orthodox parishes. This action was taken after an alleged incident of sexual harassment involving two students in the school.5 According to G.O.A.L.'s leadership, his Eminence failed to discuss satisfactorily some of the issues that were important to them —including the financial and administrative aspects of the archdiocese. G.O.A.L. was established after private initiatives failed to resolve these concerns (National Herald, 28 February 1998, p. 1). In addition, G.O.A.L. disapproved of Archbishop Spyridon's handling of a number of issues of the archdiocese and of his administrative style and uncooperative attitude.

On 20-21 March 1998, G.O.A.L. convened its first national conference at Rosemont, Illinois (a northwest suburb of Chicago, Illinois). OCL, the older organization, also joined the conference. G.O.A.L.'s two-day conference expressed concerns for the future of the Church. Specific discussions and resolutions were passed about the archdiocese's organizational structure, clergy sexual misconduct, the maintenance of the archdiocesan regulations, and financial management and accountability (of the Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, the St. Basil Academy, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, and clergy and laity). Over four hundred members and observers (including myself) from many parts of the United States attended the conference. At the end of their conference the overwhelming majority of the delegates voted for a resolution asking for the removal of Spyridon (only half a dozen members opposed the resolution). Their concerns were similar to those of OCL, but unlike OCL, they did not ask for autocephaly.

G.O.A.L. was the product of widespread dissatisfaction with Archbishop Spyridon. As expressed in its national conference, G.O.A.L.'s concerns were (1) the improper firing of three priest-professors and the president at the Hellenic College/Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts (group members considered the firings whitewash of a sexual harassment incident); (2) the archbishop's removal of lay oversight of archdiocesan finances; (3) the possible closing of the Hellenic College/Holy Cross and St. Basil Academy; and (4) threats to remove priests or take over those churches that failed to pay their financial obligations to the archdiocese.

Additionally, an area of shared concern for both OCL and G.O.A.L. was the violation of the 1977 church charter. They saw a hidden agenda spearheaded by the Patriarch who was responsible for appointing the new archbishop, a person known for his blind loyalty to Patriarch Bartholomew. The proposed new charter was allegedly seen as abolishing the traditional role of the laity in the governance of the church (Kopan 1997, p. 8). It must be stressed that the current 1977 charter of the Greek Archdiocese under Article XI granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Section 3 of Article 1 of Chapter 1 of the Special Regulations are matters (other than doctrinal or canonical) which affect the life of the Church, including its unity and administration, and are the concerns of the archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress (Kopan 1997, p. 8). The alleged change of the 1977 charter for the archdiocese with a new one was seen as an effort on the part of the Patriarch to impose a Roman papal model on the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. This fear and suspicion was rein­forced by the fact that the Patriarch proceeded to break up the archdiocese into three separate units (one in Canada, one in Latin America, and one in the United States) and demand that his metropolitans and bishops report directly to him. At the same time, he elevated the bishops to metropolitans and directed all the priests in each diocese to address in the liturgy the metropolitans as archbishops. The bishops saw this as an elevation in status, prestige, and power. In most instances, the Patriarch directed his metropolitans to report to him directly. All these moves were seen by OCL members as Byzantine machinations, and, in the words of Kopan (one of the founding members of OCL), this was a "clear case of clericalism or caesaropapism which have long been condemned by the church.... The church is hierarchical but it is not despotic, it is conciliar and synodical and therefore partakes of the democratic process" (Kopan 1997, p. 8). However, the fact of the matter is that, by definition, the Greek Orthodox Church is not a democratic institution.

In addition to G.O.A.L., OCL, the metropolitans, and a number of power clergy, even former Archbishop Iakovos was critical of Spyridon. In his interview with Theodore Kalmoukos for the National Herald (1998) he expressed his concern about the Church's course and his own failure to prepare a successor. In subsequent statements published in other newspapers, Iakovos was critical of Spyridon for what he termed Spyridon's revival of "fundamentalism" in Orthodox Christianity, which amounted to Orthodox extremism.

In support of Archbishop Spyridon was a cadre of Greek ethnic leaders who were affiliated with church institutions and a number of more traditional clergy. In this group we must include the following: (1) There were Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who supported the archbishop in the Hellenic College fiasco. However, many Archons expressed disagreement with their commander. (2) "The leadership 100" (the most influential group in the Greek Orthodox Church) was divided. They are mainly interested in preserving their $31,000,000 trust fund from encroachment by the arch­bishop. (3) The National Philoptochos Society (Friends of the Poor or the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) was silent on the issue of the archbishop. (4) The National Presbyters Association individually expressed their distress, but as a group they were silent for fear of intimidation. (5) The Alumni Association of Hellenic College/Holy Cross, which tried to mediate the dispute, was rebuffed. (6) The rank and file of communicants, along with individual parishes, professed the unmitigated machination of the archbishop and the mother Church. (7) A number of ethnic newspapers were support­ive of the archbishop including Proine (a daily Greek American newspaper in New York), Paroikiakos Logos (a bimonthly newspaper published in Chicago), and Elliniko Vema ("Greek Tribune," a monthly publication in Chicago). (8) Frank Schaeffer (a Protestant clergyman converted to Orthodoxy in 1990), publisher of the Christian Activist (a journal of traditional Orthodox thought and practice), in his spring/summer 1998 issue, saw the crisis as a war between the Greek Orthodox hierarchy and the traditional Orthodox Christianity that Archbishop Spyridon espoused. According to Father Schaeffer, "the Archbishop has called for a return to Orthodox tradition. This naturally offends non-traditional Orthodox." Father Schaeffer was supportive of Archbishop Spyridon but represented a minority view. (9) Mr. Andrew Athens, president of Symvoulion Apodimou Ellinismou, or SAE (the Council of the Overseas Greeks), Mr. Chris Tomaras, SAE's vice-president in North and South America, and Mr. Theodore Spyropoulos, the president of Enosis (the union of Greek organizations in Illinois and the Greek National Council), published statements supportive of the archbishop in the Greek American ethnic press.

It is plain to see that Spyridon's supporters were in the minority: The majority of professionals and business leaders as well as thousands of Greek Orthodox parishioners were silent or uninformed on the various issues surrounding the controversy. Indeed, it was an elite group of clergy (the bish­ops and a number of American-born priests) and the small professional group of the Greek Americans affiliated with OCL/G.O.A.L. who were most critical of the archbishop and most articulate in spearheading his ouster. Spyridon's replacement with Demetrios was (in my view) a tactical move on the part of the patriarchate to prevent or delay the autocephaly and pan-Orthodox movement in the United States. It must be noted, however, that the selection of Demetrios was not the first choice of the Patriarch and his synod. The OCL, G.O.A.L., and the metropolitans and bishops (including former Archbishop Iakovos) were satisfied with Demetrios and publicly praised him. Demetrios pledged not to pursue autocephaly and to work toward unity.

The Unresolved Issues
in the U.S. Greek Orthodox Church

While temporarily the "leadership crisis" has subsided, the basic issues that have plagued the Greek Orthodox Church remain unresolved. While some of these issues were prevalent even before the crisis, I will focus only on the following:6 first, the role of laity in church governance and the related issues of syndiakonia, synergy, and conciliarity; second, the issue of autocephaly; and third, the role of the Patriarch and the Turkish state in the selection of the Greek Orthodox patriarch.

A. The Role of the Laity: Syndiakonia, Synergy, and Conciliarity

First, historically, the role of the laity in church governance has been important since early apostolic times (Karras 1998, p. 1). Since the founding of the United States—based Greek Orthodox Church in the 1920s, the biennial clergy-laity congress and the archdiocesan council have long been active in the governance and life of the U.S. Greek Orthodox Church. This role is expressed in the ecclesiastical and canonical7 concepts of syndiakonia (co-ministry) and conciliarity (consensus).

In fact, the alleged abolition of the traditional role of the laity by Archbishop Spyridon was one of the main issues that triggered the crisis. In the words of Kopan (1997), "this is contrary to the tradition of the church where the royal priesthood of the laity (I Peter 2:9) has always been an operative element in the life of the church." Kopan argues that the laity at present are "involved in the election of patriarchs and other hierarchs in Russia, Cyprus, Alexandria, and Jerusalem and until 1923 in Constantinople, and continue to serve important roles in the governance of these churches" Kopan further states that "the church is hierarchical but it is not despotic, it is conciliar and synodical and therefore partakes of the democratic process" (Kopan 1998). Karras, a church historian and a former professor of church history at the Hellenic College/Theological Orthodox Seminary, also believes that "there is no such thing as an 'official' church comprised of the hierarchy, which rules and acts independently of the parish clergy, the monastic communities, and the laity." She continues, "there is only the church, and the church is the Laos (the entire people of God)." According to the Orthodox tradition, "the laos is expressed in conciliar fashion within a synod of bishops. This has been its theology and its history from apostolic times through the modern age" (Karras 1998, p. 2).

Since OCL's 1982 inception, the issues of syndiakonia, synergy, and conciliarity (or the traditional role of the laity in the governance of the church) ranked among its main objectives. The concept of conciliarity (as theologians refer to it) warrants a brief excursus: It is one of the distinctive marks of Orthodoxy and pertains to the principle of working together by consensus as bishops, priests, and laypeople (Stylianopoulos 1999). This is not a political principle of democracy. It is the notion of working together on the basis of authentic tradition. His detractors perceived Archbishop Spyridon as a threat to the role of the laity. Spyridon proposed a new charter for church governance. OCL and G.O.A.L. members alleged that the new charter imposed a Roman Catholic model on the Greek Orthodox Church in America. They were alarmed, and demanded Spyridon's removal (Kopan 1997, p. 8).

The OCL leadership argues that the Patriarch failed to abide by the clergy and laity decisions and violated the Archdiocese Charters of 1921, 1927, 1931, and 1977 by proposing a new charter (Forum 1998). The American Orthodox Church is not a state-sponsored Church, so Church and state relationships are different in the United States. In the Byzantine period the emperor balanced the power of the Patriarch, an& in theory, both worked in synergy. In the Ottoman period, the Patriarch became a secular as well as religious leader. Through his dual capacity, the sultan used him in order to facilitate the administration of the Greek Orthodox people in the Ottoman Empire (Roudometof 2001, pp. 52-56). Still, the Patriarch had no other secular authority except in his capacity as administrative leader of the Orthodox millet (Kourvetaris 1999). The Patriarch was an Ottoman pope. Now he is a remnant of the past in a foreign and hostile land and does not fully understand what is going on in the Orthodox Church in America. The balance the laity brings to the Church threatens him.

The OCL group argues that "it is our right and responsibility as baptized ... Orthodox Christians to provide this balance in synergy with the hierarchy, clergy and laity." The Archdiocese Charters of 1921, 1927, 1931, and 1977 institutionalize a model rooted in the syndiakonia of clergy, laity, and hierarchy. This model is totally within the church's spirit and works when not manipulated and corrupted. The Patriarch unilaterally abrogated this model when he failed to approve the proceedings of the 1994, 1996, and 1998 Clergy-Laity Congresses. For OCL, these actions show a lack of respect for the Greek Orthodox Christians in America. The Patriarch furthermore redefined the boundaries of the archdiocese. According to OCL "the Archbishop the Patriarch sent us ignored the synodical system of governance until January 1999 when he was directed to re-institute it."

A fifth church charter was prescribed at the Clergy-Laity Congress in 1998. During the late 1990s, work began in its development. But the com­position of the new charter committee voted upon by the congress's delegates has been ignored and an irregular charter committee was appointed to develop a new charter as quickly as it could. For the OCL leadership these are practices that reflect an Ottoman model of administration. The laity's input is ignored in favor of a monarchical and dictatorial model of governance. This model is contrary to the American Orthodox Church. For OCL, syndiakonia provides a critical link between the Eastern Orthodox tradition and the U.S. cultural context, and it provides the historic model for the Church in America, a model consistent with the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition of church governance.

B. Autocephaly

The issue of autocephaly (self-governance) has been unresolved for a long time in the Orthodox Church in general and within the Greek Orthodox Church in particular. There are those who believe that the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States has come of age and is mature enough to be independent, self-governed, and free from any external administrative control. This is the argument of a daughter-mother relationship between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the United States—based Greek Orthodox Church; it is consistent with Orthodox tradition and is popular both in the United States and elsewhere. The OCL strongly believes that all United States—based Eastern Orthodox Churches (including the Greek Orthodox Church) should become more "American," and the church hierarchy must listen to the laity.

Kopan (1997, p. 8), an active participant in the Greek Orthodox Church for most of his adult life and a spokesman for OCL, puts it as follows: "[T]he daughter American church should be permitted to evolve and develop her own identity and tradition within the parameters of orthodoxy?' And he asks: "[I]f there can be a Greco-Byzantine rite or tradition, a Slavic tradition, or Arabic tradition why can there not be an American tradition?" This is somewhat similar to the colonial metaphor. In a conversation with Mr. Karkazis (another active and founding member of OCL), I was told that the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States is treated like a colony. Just like imperial England, the patriarchate does not allow the United States—based Greek Orthodox Church to gain its full independence.8 The proponents of autocephaly use the colonial metaphor and look at the mother Church as an imperium ruling over Orthodox provinces from the throne —just as it was back at the times of the Christian imperial Byzantium. United States—based Greek Orthodox diasporic communities form the modern-day equivalent of Byzantine (or Ottoman) territorial provinces.

In contrast to those who endorse autocephaly, there are those who believe that the United States—based Greek Orthodox Church lacks the maturity necessary for self-governance. Traditional Greek Orthodox parishioners perceive Hellenism and Orthodoxy as convergent and oppose a separation of the two. This group has a romantic vision of the glory of Byzantium and the Orthodoxy's majestic splendor of the past. This model represents the Eastern school of thought that, in the words of Robert Scott (1999),"seeks to reassert this vision in a social environment, where there is very little emotional and psychological foundation for these seeds to take root and grow? However, the American-born Orthodox Christians, who are now the majority of Greek Orthodox Christians in the United States, do not see themselves as a diaspora.9 While most Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States have been autocephalous (such as the Russian Orthodox and the Serb Orthodox United States—based Churches), the U.S. Greek Orthodox Church is still under the administrative control of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (see the appendix for details).

The history of the Eastern Orthodox Church reveals the reluctance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to recognize various Orthodox rites that led to the movement of Orthodox autocephalous churches (see Roudometof 2001). This means that most Orthodox rites became administratively self-governed and independent of the Patriarchate in Constantinople. For example, after the fall of Constantinople on 29 May 1453 to the Ottomans, the Russian Church declared its autocephaly that became effective in 1589. Likewise, Greece, after gaining its independence from the Turks (1827), did not desire to be under the control of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that was (and still is) under the Turkish Suzerainty. Hence, acting unilaterally, the Church of Greece declared itself autocephalous on 23 July 1833 (Roudometof 2001, p. 103). The autocephalous Church of Greece was considered schismatic until 1850 when the patriarchate finally recognized another fait accompli and approved the Greek Church by synodical decree (Kopan 1997, p. 8).

C. The Role of the Patriarch
    and the Turkish Influence/Control over the Patriarchate

Two questions concern us here: (I) What was the role of the Patriarch and his synod of bishops in generating the crisis in the Greek Archdiocese in the first place? (2) What is the role of the Turkish State in selecting the Orthodox Patriarch? Or to put it more succinctly, "What is going on inside the Patriarchate?"

The resignation of Iakovos, the former primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas in 1996, followed the Ligonier, Pennsylvania, Agreement of SCOBA (Standing Committee of Orthodox Bishops of America)10 hierarchs (30 November 1994) to unite into a single administrative unit, which alerted the Patriarch who disapproved of such a meeting of SCOBA hierarchs and forced Archbishop Iakovos to resign. An effort by Iakovos' supporters to reinstate him as archbishop failed, and the Patriarch began the process of electing a new archbishop for the United States—based Greek Archdiocese. Initially, the Patriarch sent his emissaries (including Stylianos, the archbishop of Australia) and his own bishops from the Phanar to explore the state of the archdiocese. There was a period of drama, anticipation, and suspense concerning the selection of Iakovos' successor. In the 1994 Clergy-Laity Congress in Chicago, Archbishop Iakovos presided for the last time as the chairman of the congress. His entrance into the banquet hall of the Hilton Hotel (holding over five hundred clergy and laity members) had all the trimmings of the Byzantine splendor and imperial Orthodoxy in the Americas. Spyridon, then the metropolitan of Rome, was the special representative of the Patriarch at the congress and delivered an eloquent speech extolling the glory of Orthodoxy and predicting the next century to be the "century of the Orthodox Christianity." Two years later (on 30 July 1996) he was elected the fifth archbishop to lead the Greek Archdiocese in the United States.

According to Counelis (1997) there are two basic ecclesiastical cultures in Eastern Orthodoxy. First, there is "the culture of the state church" (which reflects the ethos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Eastern Orthodox school of thought) and, second, there is a culture of "the state-separated church" (which is more in line with the American Constitution and its explicit separation of Church and state). There is a discrepancy between the basic premises and ethos of these two divergent ecclesial cultures. One is based on American constitutionalism characterized by social compact, representation, constitutional convention, law, and federalism (Counelis 1997, p. 8). This is the model of the American separation of Church and state. The other operates on a diaspora model: Based on tradition and canonical practice, the patriarchate considers the overseas Greek-speaking Orthodox people as Episcopal regions or eparchies reminiscent of the Byzantine empire and the Ottoman Millet system of imperial Orthodoxy. It is clear that the patriarchate has been a principal cause of the so-called leadership crisis. Despite the appeals of OCL members and other concerned communicants (including the bishops), the patriarchate elected Spyridon as the next archbishop.

Counelis (1997, p. 16) argues that four occurrences directly but invidiously reflect upon the wisdom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, namely: (a) the unilateral mutilation of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America; (b) the selection of Archbishop Spyridon for his one and only quality of absolute loyalty; (c) Archbishop Spyridon's mishandling of the student sexual harassment events at the Hellenic College/Holy Cross; and (d) Rev. Dr. George D. Dragas's reprehensible newspaper interview and his ill-advised "inaction" on the accused students' cases. All these occurrences demonstrate a state-Church mentality applied to the Holy American Church whose Orthodox Christian ecclesial culture (i.e., phronema) is based upon and practiced through lawful and law-abiding state-separated church principles. Those who supported Spyridon saw the cause of crisis not in the patriarchate but in the anti-Spyridon forces associated with G.O.A.L., OCL, and former Archbishop Iakovos and his cronies. Those who were supportive of Spyridon saw his replacement by Demetrios as a personal defeat of the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Since the Ecumenical Patriarchate is responsible for the selection of the overseas archbishops, our next question is how is the Patriarch elected to begin with? What is the role of the Turkish state in the selection process of the Patriarch? The succession of Ecumenical Greek Orthodox Patriarchs is not determined by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church, as ecclesiastical tradition prescribes, but by the government of Turkey (Dombalis 1998). In doing so the Turkish government violates two international treaties (the Treaty of 1860-1862 by Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne), both of which guarantee freedom of religion including the selection of the Orthodox Patriarchs by their own ecclesiastical synods. According to patriarchal records, the historical record of the treatment of the patriarchate since the days of the Ottoman Empire has been one of repression, control, and destruction. Dombalis (1998) described the repression of the Patriarchs as follows:

From among the 162 Ecumenical Patriarchs who held the Patriarchal (See of Constantinople from 1453 until the present) 105 patriarchs were driven from their seat, 27 patriarchs abdicated, and 6 died violently by hanging, poisoning, or drowning. Only 23 patriarchs died of a natural death while in office. On the outbreak of the War of Greek Independence in April 1821, the Ecumenical Patriarch Grigorios V was executed by hanging at one of the gates at the Patriarchate in Istanbul (Constantinople), for he had failed to observe the implicit contract to act as the guarantor of the loyalty of his Greek flock to the government. The ever-remembered Patriarch's remains endure not so much in a grave as in the human heart.

The repressive policies against the Orthodox Patriarchate are an extension of similar Turkish policies against the Greek minority in Turkey. Article 2 of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) excluded the Greek inhabitants of Constantinople from the exchange following the Greek Asia Minor War of 1918 to 1922 between Greece and Turkey. The treaty provided that a Greek community of 120,000 would not be affected (which corresponded to the number of Muslims in Greek-controlled western Thrace). While the Muslims thrive at present in western Thrace, the Greek Orthodox minority in Constantinople is only two thousand (most of whom are elderly). Since 1955, the Turkish government has systematically obliterated the Greek Orthodox community. On 6 September 1955, anti-Greek riots broke out in Constantinople. This is known as "kristaalnacht" (Turkish style). The New York Times reported in September 1955 that "more than 4,000 shops, mostly Greek or Armenian owned were totally wrecked by the rioters the night of September 6." The Helsinki Watch also confirmed the magnitude of the destruction: "more than 9,000 Greek shops were destroyed, 38 churches were burned, 35 more churches were vandalized; more than 2,000 Greek homes were vandalized and robbed; and 52 Greek schools were robbed of their furniture, books, and equipment" (Karakostas 1998, p. 5). The anti-Greek riots took place in the aftermath of the bombing of the Turkish Consulate in Thessaloniki, Greece. The house in which Kemal Ataturk was born had also been damaged. Later the Turkish Court found, among other things, that the bombing had been ordered by Prime Minister Menderes to incite and justify anti-Greek violence in Turkey. The New York Times on 19 October 1960 reported that riots were designed to stir up Turkish nationalism in a dispute with the Greek government over Cyprus. Later Turkish Prime Minister Menderes was executed for being responsible for the riots and other offenses. Former President Boyar was spared due to his advanced age (Karakostas 1998, p. 6). Turkish hostilities against the Greek Orthodox minority in Constantinople continued until 1995.11

The Future of United States—based
Greek Orthodoxy in the Twenty-first Century

The question that still begs an answer is: Is the crisis over? Was the replacement of Spyridon by Demetrios, a low-key and scholarly clergyman, the end of the turmoil? The Orthodox Church is a religious corporate hierarchical institution analogous to the Roman Catholic Church with its Patriarch, arch­bishops, bishops, and the institutional elites and hierarchs. Church authority (a form of institutionalized power) is vested in the offices/positions of its hierarchs and given by canonical church tradition. Church authority exercised by the hierarchs manifests itself in rituals, symbols, and the various church artifacts such as icons, bones of saints and martyrs of the faith, and images taken from the Old and New Testaments and the life of the Church. Special vestments and paraphernalia of the hierarchs and the clergy have particular meanings and symbols. These symbols are powerful signs in rituals and play important roles in the life of the Church. Hierarchical organizations use them to communicate power relationships (such as in the military or in the Church). A potent means of legitimization, ritual presents particular images of the universe and can develop strong emotional attachments to them, such as in religion. In addition, rituals structure our cognition, as well as our perceptions, and thus discourage critical thinking. Through the manipulation of symbols, the powerful maintain their power. By using highly emotional symbols such as flags, national anthems, patriotic songs, and parades, political leaders manipulate citizens. These symbols, in turn, transmit ideas of nation and political order that give meaning to our lives and connect the past, present, and future. In this instance, the Orthodox Church more than any other branch of Christianity employs an avalanche of rituals and symbols shrouded in the canonical church history, tradition, mysticism, and legend that go all the way back to the early centuries of the Christian Church.

Since the demise of communism in the former Soviet Union and East European states, in countries where most Orthodox churches are, there is a revival of Orthodoxy after almost fifty years of religious suppression by the communist regimes. At the same time, we witness a gradual decline of Christianity in general, and Orthodoxy in particular, in the Middle East. Islam has dominated the region. Both Christianity and Judaism are minority religions in their place of birth. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the Islamic states in the greater Middle East region allow for no separation of Church and state, and minority religions are suppressed. The problems of the patriarchate in Constantinople are replicated in the other Orthodox patriarchates in Alexandria, Egypt, Antioch, Syria, and Jerusalem. Especially in Jerusalem, the Orthodox Christians are at a disadvantage, not only among the Palestinian Arabs (who by and large are Muslims), but also among the Jews in Israel. For example, Israel withheld recognition of Erenaios as the elected Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem (the Palestinian Authority has done so).

The continuing existence of the patriarchate in Constantinople is problematic due to the fact that the Turkish government has made it impossible for the Greek community to continue to live there (120,000 strong Greek community in the 1920s to only 2,000 today). Therefore, there is no future of the patriarchate other than as a shrine of Byzantine glory and Orthodox majestic vision. At present the patriarchate suffers from asphyxia and has become a prisoner of Turkish control without its ability to function as a great Church with a glorious history. Inevitably, the patriarchate has to relocate elsewhere if it wants to continue its role as a world leader in Orthodox Christianity with the Ecumenical Patriarch as the "first among equals" in the Orthodox cultural universe.

As far as the future of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States is concerned, it is my view that it will survive in the next century, but not the way it is presently structured. All indicators and surveys show that the United States—based Eastern Orthodox Churches are undergoing a transition toward autocephaly and Americanization. Already various United States—based Orthodox jurisdictions have undertaken missionary evangelism in many parts of Africa, Asia, and North and South America. Also, the Antiochean Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, and many other Orthodox jurisdictions already have declared themselves autocephalous. What has already happened in other Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions, sooner or later will happen in the United States—based Greek Orthodox Church as well. The divergence between Eastern Orthodoxy as a sacred identity and Greek ethnicity as a secular identity will persist and even become more pronounced. Sooner or later it will reach the point where Hellenism as a Greek secular culture will survive in two forms: first, in its Dionysian aspects and, second, as a Greek philosophical presence in Byzantine Eastern Orthodox Christianity (just like it survived in Western Christianity). The Greek language will be used less and less beyond the second generation, and eventually Orthodox liturgy will be in English only for the Anglo-Saxon societies. Intermarriages and conversions will accelerate and the movement for pan-Orthodox unity will be pursued, preceded of course by the autocephaly movement (which already happened in most other Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions). The forces of change and transition are compelling: Eastern Orthodox Christianity cannot survive as a minority Christian religion or an appendix of the other two dominant (Protestant and Roman Catholic) branches of Christianity. Such a prospect poses an acute demographic problem, which cannot be rectified without massive conversions to Greek Orthodoxy and mass immigration from Greece and other Orthodox countries.

In my surveys both in 1990 (Kourvetaris 1997, pp. 51-70) and in the spring of 1999, my data overwhelmingly show that most Greek Americans (second and subsequent generations) and clergy support both autocephaly and pan-Orthodox unity. In tables 10.1 and 10.2, the majority of respondents (Greek Americans) perceive themselves (at least one fourth) as Eastern Orthodox or Orthodox (in the 1990 survey), but the majority in that survey support pan-Orthodox unity (see table 10.1). Overall, the majority of respondents perceived themselves as Greek Orthodox. As expected, the Greek Orthodox faith was considered "important" and/or "very important" to over 90 percent of them. Also, to the question regarding pan-Orthodox unity, the majority of respondents overwhelmingly favor such unity among all Orthodox denominations. Similarly, in my survey of Greek Orthodox priests (spring 1999), the majority of priests perceived themselves as Orthodox Americans (see table 10.2). In response to the question —Which type of identity is more likely to survive in the twenty-first century?— the majority of the priests thought that the Orthodox American identity is more likely to survive. The distribution of responses is given in table 10.2.

TABLE 10.1.

Orthodox Singles' Responses to Orthodox Identity, 1990


Orthodox identity questions




If someone asked you what your
faith is, how would you respond?




Eastern Orthodox



Greek Orthodox









How important is your Orthodox faith?

Very important






Somewhat important






Are you in favor of a pan-Orthodox unity
in North America and other parts of the world?







Don't know







TABLE 10.2.

Survival of Identity in the Twenty-first Century


Which type of identity is more likely
to survive in the twenty-first century?




Don't know



Greek ethnic identity and Orthodox American identity



Orthodox American and American Christian identity



Orthodox American identity



Orthodox identity









(N = 38)

Summary and Conclusions

In this chapter, an effort was made to delineate the multifaceted crisis in the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. First, some background information was given to place the crisis in context by looking at the two major lay organizations of OCL and G.O.A.L. that spearheaded the ouster of Spyridon and at the same time raised a number of issues beyond the replacement of the archbishop. Second, the recent crisis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the short tenure of Archbishop Spyridon were examined by using two sets of data (published reports and survey data). An effort was made to shed some light on what forces coalesced to generate such a crisis and why it developed. The crisis was placed within the broader context of the higher and lower clergy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Extensive information was used from the Internet and published reports by OCL and G.O.A.L. members. The organization of the Greek Archdiocese in the United States was presented, and the views of bishops and metropolitans, priests, OCL, G.O.A.L. leadership, and other ethnic leaders were examined about the crisis, the reasons, and the remedies offered to avert further polarization and conflict among the various constituent parts of the Greek American Orthodox communities. Third, a number of unresolved issues were discussed including the concepts of syndiakonia, conciliarity, and autocephaly; the role of the Patriarch in selecting the archbishop; and the role of the Turkish state in selecting the Patriarch and the bishops. Fourth, the future of Greek Orthodoxy in the United States in this century was briefly discussed within the broader context of the future of world Orthodoxy. Predictions as to the future of Greek ethnic and Eastern Orthodox identities were made.

In conclusion, one can say that both a crisis and a transition are under way in the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. While the crisis has temporarily subsided, there is a long-term transition from a convergent to a divergent model concerning the relationship between ethnicity and religion. In the convergent model, Hellenism and Orthodoxy converge with each other. This model reflects the experiences of the first and (to some extent) second generations of Greek Americans. In the divergent model, there is a clear separation between the two. This separation is currently unfolding as the Greek Orthodox population gradually moves beyond the second generation, into third, fourth, or even fifth generations of Greek Orthodox faithful and as the population becomes —through intermarriages and conversions— more ethnically and culturally diverse. While this long-term demographic and cultural transition is taking place, an autocephaly movement has emerged. This movement has been successful for most other Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions, and, in the near future, it will extend to the Greek Orthodox Greek-Americans as well. After autocephaly is achieved for all the United States—based Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions from the mother Church (e.g., the Ecumenical Patriarchate) or their respective national Churches (in those instances where the U.S. Eastern Orthodox Church is a branch of a national Church), it is reasonable to expect the pursuit of a pan-Orthodox American Orthodox Church. Such a development will be in accordance with the canons of the Orthodox Eastern tradition, but the new institution will present an Americanized form of Eastern Orthodoxy. This "Americanization" of the Eastern Orthodox tradition practically means that the United States—based Orthodoxy will gradually come to resemble the other two branches of Christianity, but it will retain certain Byzantine Eastern Orthodox features.

Appendix: The Organizational Structure
of the U.S. Greek Orthodox Church

In order to place the present crisis within a broader context and perspective of the contemporary U.S. Greek Orthodox Church, it is necessary to pro­vide an administrative overview of this organization. Table 10.3 gives the total composition of higher and lower clergy serving the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in the United States.

TABLE 10.3.

Number of Higher and Lower Clergy Serving in the
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese ( Yearbook 2003)

















* Due to lack of priests, a number of retired priests serve part time or full time as parish priests in the same parish they served before retirement or in another parish where a need exists.
1. Archbishops are the second highest rank after the Patriarchs. They come from the celi­bate high clergy and are elected by the Patriarch and his Holy Synod in Constantinople, Turkey.
2. One is Archbishop Iakovos, who was the primate of the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America before he retired in 1996, and the other is Archbishop Spyridon, who was forced to retire and now lives in Portugal.
3. This is a celibate group of higher clergy from whom the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Orthodox Church is elected, including archbishops and Patriarchs.
4. Bishops, like metropolitans, are celibate. Bishops and metropolitans are the two highest ranks of the Orthodox hierarchy.
5. This is also a celibate group of clergy occupying an intermediate rank position between the bishops and the priests. Members of this group are elected bishops.
6. Priests in the Orthodox Christian tradition are married before they are ordained priests. Priests are differentiated according to seniority in protopresbyters (the most senior), presbyters (senior), and economos (the junior). Out of the active clergy, thirty-one have lay professions in addition to being clergy. The priests serve close to five hundred Greek Orthodox parishes in the United States, after graduating from the Orthodox theological seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts.
7. This is an auxiliary group of priests who as a rule become priests after they serve in this capacity as assistants of the priests in the parish for some time. It is a step prior to becoming priests or some remain deacons.

Unlike many of the Orthodox Churches in Eastern Europe, the United States—based Greek Orthodox Church does not enjoy autonomy from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but it is directly under its administrative jurisdiction. Consequently, for the United States—based Greek Orthodox Church, there exist three levels in its religious hierarchy: first, the Ecumenical Patriarch; second, the Archbishop; and, third, the local bishops. In accordance with Orthodoxy's synodic system, the Patriarch is elected by a synod of bishops. The Patriarch and his synod of bishops elect the archbishop of the United States—based Church. The bishops are elected by the archbishop and his synod of bishops and approved by the Patriarch. Thus, the synodic system operates as a mechanism facilitating the administrative centralization of the Orthodox Churches under Patriarchal control. The Orthodox Christian Church has four levels of ecclesiastical/hierarchical organization: the patriarchate, the archdiocese, the diocese/metropolis, and the parish.

The U.S. Archdiocese is administered by the council of bishops or metropolitans (the synod) under the leadership of the archbishop who chairs the synod. Currently, there are five metropolitans and three bishops. Each of them serves a particular district (called a diocese). The eight corresponding districts are Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Denver (headed by metropolitans) and Atlanta, New Jersey, and Detroit (headed by bishops). In addition, there is a nine-member lay executive committee, drawn mostly from the business community. The retired high clergy (four retired bishops and one retired archbishop) are not part of the synod. The Archdiocesan Council is the advisory and consultative body to the arch­bishop. It interprets and implements the decisions of the Clergy-Laity Congress and the regulations of the archdiocese. Clergy and/or laypersons from throughout the archdiocese comprise the Archdiocesan Council. The executive committee consists of the Holy Synod of Bishops and laypersons.

At the diocese level the bishops or metropolitans preside over a number of parishes or koinotites (communities). Thus, the Diocese of Chicago is comprised of fifty-eight parishes and includes the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri (except Kansas City), several parishes in Indiana, and two monastic communities of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Harvard, Illinois. The Diocese of San Francisco consists of sixty-four parishes in the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska. The Diocese of Pittsburgh is comprised of fifty-five parishes in the states of Pennsylvania (except greater Philadelphia), West Virginia, and Ohio (except Dayton, Toledo, Middletown, Cincinnati, and Springfield). The Diocese of Boston is comprised of sixty-two parishes in the states of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as several parishes in Connecticut. The Diocese of Denver is comprised of fifty-one parishes and three chapels in the states of Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, as well as one parish each in Missouri and Louisiana. The Diocese of Atlanta is comprised of sixty-nine parishes in North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina, as well as several parishes in Louisiana and Tennessee. The Diocese of New Jersey is comprised of fifty-two parishes in the states of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, and by assignment from the Archdiocesan District the parishes in greater Philadelphia. The Diocese of Detroit consists of forty-eight parishes in the states of Michigan, Arkansas, and Kentucky, and several parishes in the states of Indiana, Ohio, New York, and Tennessee (Yearbook 2003, pp. 175-198).

While each diocese has a certain degree of autonomy in its own district, all dioceses and metropolitans are under the administrative and ecclesiasti­cal jurisdiction of the archdiocese and the patriarchate. Prior to Spyridon's election as the new archbishop, the archdiocese was known as the Archdiocese of North and South America, headed by Archbishop Iakovos. It included the entire New World (both North and South America) into a single administrative jurisdiction. In an effort to acquire more control over the Archdiocese of North and South America and in order to forestall the movement for autocephaly, Patriarch Bartholomew unilaterally and without prior warning divided the archdiocese into three separate regions, referred to as Eparchies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The thus-constructed Eparchies of Canada, South America, and the United States directly report to the Patriarch himself. In so doing, the Patriarch violated the 1977 charter, causing alarm in the OCL and G.O.A.L.

At the parish level, the priest and his parish council administer the local church and the various church organizations, as well as attend to the needs of the parish. Depending upon its numerical strength, each parish has to make a financial contribution to the diocese and archdiocese. Each priest is considered a parish employee and is paid by the parishioners. The remuneration of each parish priest varies according to the parish's financial strength and the priest's seniority and ability. The bishop or metropolitan is in charge of the appointment and replacement of the parish priests, actions subject to approval of the local parish council, who, in most cases, simply rubberstamp the bishop's choice. Power politics play an important role in choosing who will be assigned and serve in each parish. Figure 10.1 is a diagrammatic representation of the administrative structure of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in the United States.




(9)(1)COMMITTEE (9)


































and his

and his

and his

and his

and his

and his

and his

and his




























A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H indicate the various dioceses and the number of parishes in each diocese/district —a total of 459 parishes.

FIGURE 10.1.
The Organization of the Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese in the United States 2003.

Source: Yearbook of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese 2003 (designed by the author).


An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the Modern Greek Studies Association (MGSA) conference at Princeton University on 4-7 November 1999. The current version is an updated and improved version of the original analysis.
1. A number of theologians and priests in the Greek Orthodox Church saw the current crisis as "a cultural crisis of faith, a general drifting away from traditional religious and moral values in a consumerist, hedonistic, and materialistic secular society" marked by selfish individualism, family instability, substance abuse, and the like.
2. A mailed questionnaire was sent to approximately one hundred randomly selected priests from the 1998 archdiocese yearbook. Out of these questionnaires, thirty-eight were returned and eleven came back due to wrong addresses. Due to time constraints, no effort was made to follow up with the respondents. The mailed questionnaire consisted of seventeen items asking the priests about the crisis of the archdiocese, including their views about Archbishop Spyridon, the OCL, the G.O.A.L., Orthodoxy, the use of the Greek language in the Church, autocephaly, Greek and Orthodox identity, the role of the Patriarch, and Greek heritage and cul­ture in general.
3. In a joint project for Orthodox Renewal (Sfekas and Matsoukas 1993), OCL members raised the following points: (1) syndiakonia (co-ministry) (Councils 1993, 1997; Karras 1998) and synergy (consensus) in sharing in the decision-making processes in the running of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States; (2) striving toward autocephaly (self-governance) and independence from the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Constantinople; and (3) a movement toward a pan-Orthodoxy or a convergence of all Orthodox Christian jurisdictions into one Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere. Most of OCL's goals were articulated in the Project for Orthodox Renewal (1993) and published long before the election of Archbishop Spyridon.
4. G.O.A.L.'s two leading figures, Dr. Thomas Leon (a former president of the Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts) and Dr. John Collis (a neurosurgeon, a member of the Archdiocesan Council and the Leadership 100, as well as a trustee of Holy Cross) spoke out about their concerns regarding the direction the church was taking under the leadership of Archbishop Spyridon.
According to the dismissed academics, the archbishop did not want to proceed with the investigation as was recommended by the president. However, no one really knows exactly what happened, and those priest-professors who were dismissed accused Spyridon of a cover-up, according to G.O.A.L's leadership. For more legal support and information on the incident, see Councils (1997, pp. 14-16). This includes a number of letters, interviews, and documents shedding light on what happened at the Hellenic College/Theological Seminary. According to Counelis, the legal committee spent over one hundred hours of pro bono services.
6. There are other issues that are very important, but I did not discuss them here for reasons of brevity. Some of these are financial mismanagement; the problem of recruitment of new priests; interfaith marriages; abuse of authority by the hierarchy; sexual scandals in the church; and the issues of marriage of bishops, education of the priests, and the decline of membership in the church.
7. Canon law was related to the Christian theories of natural law during medieval times. Canon law was that body of law that regulated the "temporal" or earthly affairs of the Catholic Church. It was distinguished from civil law, which applied within states. Since late antiquity, bishops had performed the dual role of "spiritual lord" and "temporal lord" within their own territories or sees. In other words, they were office holders in the complementary hierarchies—one "ecclesiastical" and the other "secular." Canon law attempted to regulate these sometimes conflicting duties and loyalties. The universal authority claimed by the bishop of Rome (supremacy of the pope) as the Vicar of Christ and successor of St. Peter as head of the Christian Church posed special problems for Eastern Christianity, whose tradition goes back to Byzantium and the spiritual head —the Patriarch instead of the pope. The "investiture controversy" (1075-1122)—the conflict over the authority to appoint bishops—generated much canonical courtly opinion about the nature and limits of secular authority. It was also accepted that God had instituted two types of authority —secular and spiritual— through which the world was governed (Morrow 1998, pp. 208-9).
8. It is interesting to note that when the United States—based Russian Orthodox Church became autocephalous about twenty-five years ago, it was denounced both by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. They challenged the right of the Russian Orthodox Church to become autocephalous as the Orthodox Christian Church in America. Cooke (1999) argues that it was the Russian Orthodox Church that was first to evangelize America, going back to the eighteenth century. In Alaska and elsewhere in the United States, the Russian Orthodox Church operated its own missions and fostered the construction of liturgical languages for Native Americans.
9. The concept of diaspora (dispersion) originally referred to the Jews who were dispersed in various lands after their conquest by the Romans. It also means dispersion of seeds away from the original tree or plant. The diaspora model is more applicable to the first generation and to some extent their progenies (especially the post—World War II new Greek immigrants). For discussions of the Greek Orthodox diaspora, see Roudometof (2000). A potential exception to the overall trend is the New York—based Greek American community, where an influx of post-1965 immigrants has helped the preservation of diasporic identity (see Karpathakis and Roudometof 2002).
10. SCOBA consists of the: Albanian Orthodox Diocese, American Carpathian-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese, Antiochean Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Orthodox Church in America, Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada, Serbian Orthodox Church in the U.S. and Canada, and Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A.
11. In 1964 Prime Minister Inonu renounced the Greek-Turkish Treaty of Friendship and took action against the Greek Minority. On 11 October 1964, the Turkish newspaper Cumhurriyet reported that thirty thousand Turkish nationals of Greek descent had left Turkey permanently. In 1971 the Halki, the patriarchal semi­nary, was closed down on the island of Halki in the Sea of Marmara and was never allowed to reopen. (Halki was the Patriarchal School of Theology that trained the clergy for the Ecumenical Patriarchate between 1844 and 1971.) In 1972 the Turkish government vetoed the candidacy of Archbishop Iakovos of New York as possible successor to Patriarch Athenagoras I. In 1920 nine thousand Greeks lived on the islands of Imbros and Tenedos in the Aegean (ceded to Turkey in 1923). By 1992 only 350 Greeks (all elderly) still lived in six villages. In August 1991 the patriarchate was under siege by a group of Islamicists. In general, the Ecumenical Patriarchate that survived the Ottoman Empire faced new repression under Turkey's secular nationalists.


The Christian Activist. Greek Orthodox journal of traditional Orthodox thought and practice, published by Father Schaeffer.

Cooke, Nicholas A. 1999. "Our Autocephaly-A Layman's Viewpoint." Voithia (G.O.A.L.), 16 March, pp. 1-7. Available online.

Counelis, James Steve. 1993. "Postscript: Progress and Regression—Historical Reflections." Pp. 291-307 in Project for Orthodox Renewal: Seven Studies of Key Issues Facing Orthodox Christians in America, edited by Stephen J. Sfekas and George E. Matsoukas. Chicago, Ill.: Orthodox Christian Laity.

________. 1997. "The Holy American Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate: Two Ecclesiastical Cultures." Keynote address on the tenth anniversary of OCL, Boston, Massachusetts, 14-16 November.

Dombalis, Rev, C. N. 1998. "Turkish Government Determines Patriarch's Election." Leader (G.O.A.L.), 2(1):4.

Elliniko Vima (Greek Tribune). Greek monthly newspaper published in Chicago.

Forum, 1998. Published by Orthodox Christian Laity. 11(2):1.

Hellenic Chronicle, Issues of 14 October 1998 and 21 October 1998. Boston-based Greek American weekly newspaper, no longer published.

Kalmoukos, Theodore. 1998. Interview with Archbishop Iakovos. National Herald, Section 242, p. 1, weekend edition.

Karakostas, Theodore G. 1998."Turkish Policies Part Four: Expulsion of the Greeks from Constantinople." Voithia (G.O.A.L.). Available online.

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