Greek Orthodox Stewards of America - June 15, 1999



On Saturday, June 5, 1999, the Boston Diocese Clergy-Laity Assembly took place. At the conference it was announced that one hundred twenty-five delegates had registered and were in attendance. There are 63 parishes in the Boston Diocese and each parish had the right to send up to three delegates. Some parishes did not send any delegates and many did not send a full slate. Not surprisingly, parishes that have been infiltrated by GOAL, such as St. Demetrios in Weston, the Annunciation in Woburn and Taxiarchae in Watertown, sent full slates. In addition to parish delegates, four members of the Archdiocesan Council that reside in the Boston Diocese attended as delegates.

In the front of the assembly room was a dais consisting of a table, a lectern and three chairs - one for Archbishop Spyridon, one for Metropolitan Methodios and the last for the chairman of the assembly, Demetrios Moschos. Facing the podium in the front half of the room were a number of round tables with signs on them saying "RESERVED", indicating they were for delegates. In the back half of the room were more tables with signs on them saying "OBSERVERS". There was no barrier between the front portion of the room where delegates were supposed to sit and the back portion of the room where the observers were supposed to be. As a result, people flowed freely and often chaotically between the two sections of the room, making it difficult to determine who were the delegates and who were the observers. The room was cut in half by a front to back aisle with two microphones, one in the front and one in the middle. During the meeting, only delegates were supposed to speak. Because of the chaotic physical set up for the assembly room, on at least one occasion, an "observer" went up to the microphone and spoke. Not surprisingly, the one known observer who spoke to the assembly said unkind and disrespectful words about the Archbishop.

The meeting began with a keynote address by Metropolitan Methodios. It was, to say the least, fascinating. In the address, Metropolitan Methodios took a "pot shot" at the Greek Orthodox Stewards. In pertinent part, he stated as follows:

Much has transpired recently which has threatened the unity of the Archdiocese. Reports have been solicited and submitted, proclamations made, countless newspaper articles written, letters and paid advertisements published in various publications and on the internet; clandestine meetings and forums organized. Here in New England, a self-proclaimed spokesman, previously unknown to the community, has established a new para-ecclesial group, disregarding an encyclical issued by the Archbishop and the members of the Eparchial Synod in which the position of the Church on such groups was made clear.

Attendees and many of the press presumed Metropolitan Methodios was talking about the Stewards. What is disturbing and revealing is that he singled out the Stewards, rather than GOAL, an organization which actively preaches autocephaly on the internet and within the Boston Diocese. The Greek Orthodox Stewards of America, Inc. is dedicated to defending, protecting, preserving and perpetuating the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our Archdiocese with all its energy. It does not talk of autocephaly, as GOAL has been doing. In light of these facts, one would think Metropolitan Methodios would embrace the Stewards. Instead, he makes negative remarks about them. Why?

After the Metropolitan's address, the "report" portion of the program began, which included reports on four topics:

  • Hellenic College/Holy Cross Report by President Ganas;
  • Archdiocese Financial Report by Archdiocese Director of Finance George Chelpon;
  • Internet Ministries Report by Director Theo Nicolakis; and
  • Diocesan Camp and Retreat Center Report by Spiro Bolotas and Michael Sintros.


Father Ganas, the President of Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology ("School") presented a report on the School. Father Ganas stated that Hellenic College maintained full accreditation status with the New England Association of Small Colleges and that he anticipated a similar result with the Association of Theological Schools. He reported on various exchange programs at the School and the success of the past academic year.

After the presentation, the floor was open to questions. Members of a group called the New England Association of Parish Council Members ("New England Association") got up one after another in choreographed fashion and asked prepared questions. They had met during the prior week and drafted them. The New England Association had its genesis at a GOAL sponsored meeting at the home of Dr. Nicholas Marinakis in Lynnfield, Massachusetts on December 28, 1998. There the idea for the organization was hatched. Prior to the start of the clergy-laity assembly, the organization distributed a booklet to delegates and observers dealing with the so-called "crisis". It would be interesting to know who funded the booklet. Did individual parishes? Did GOAL? It also would be interesting to know the precise nature of the relationship between the New England Association and GOAL. Are individual Association members GOAL members? Are the priests from the parishes involved in the New England Association members of GOAL? From all outward appearances, there appears to be a symbiotic relationship between the two organizations.

The questions were handled well by Fr. Ganas and Archbishop Spyridon. One questioner asked Fr. Ganas if it was true that the School recently missed a payroll and that Fr. Ganas' School credit card had been cancelled. Fr. Ganas said "no". The week before at a GOAL Open Forum, people from GOAL had told the audience that the School was in financial shambles, claiming that a payroll had been missed and the credit card cancelled. This statement obviously was untrue and was meant only to fuel the flames of division.

Another question directed toward Fr. Ganas concerned the status of the four released professors. He told the assembly that a decision on their status will be made within the next two or three weeks.

Archbishop Spyridon was asked why the four professors had been dismissed. He told the assembly that there had been a destructive division within the faculty of the School for years and the decision to relieve the professors was aimed at solving this problem.


George Chelpon, the Director of Finance for the Archdiocese made a dazzling visual report on the Archdiocese's finances. He reported that the Archdiocese has in place the best financial controls in its history, including the following:

(1) Two signatures required on every check irrespective of the amount; (2) A corporate officer (Vice-Chairman, Treasurer or Secretary) of the Archdiocese is required to sign any check of $25,000 or more; (3) Internal Audit Committee comprised of two executive committee members, with ex-officio members consisting of the Director of Finance and General Counsel; (4) Free Access of the Finance Committee and the Audit Committee to the Department of Finance and Outside Auditors, presently BDO Seidman; (5) Audit Committee selects and hires outside auditors and handles any internal irregularities; (6) Fully audited financial statements of the Archdiocese and all affiliated institutions. These financial statements have been widely distributed to the Archdiocesan Council, Clergy-Laity Congress and parishes, and published in the Orthodox Observer; (7) Department of Finance has installed and is using a new accounting software that provides monthly reporting of revenues and disbursements, including year to date results, to the Executive Committee and the Archdiocese. Monthly reports are provided within forty five (45) days; (8) The Department of Finance and General Counsel provide reports at monthly meetings of the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council; and (9) Outside Auditors are provided direct access and review of the investment accounts of the Archdiocese, which accounting firm makes all postings and account entries.

Mr. Chelpon also reported that a representative from each diocese will be put on the Audit Committee.

In addition, he reported that the estimated operating loss for the Archdiocese in 1998 was $290,000, the smallest loss in over a decade. The losses for the previous ten years were as follows:
























































1997 was the first full year of Archbishop Spyridon's administration. As can be seen from the above numbers, based on the bottom line, the Archdiocese is in the best financial condition in over a decade.

Members of the New England Association again got up one after another and asked prepared questions. The antics of the New England Association appeared to be choreographed by a Broadway director. One questioner pretended to be upset because the Archdiocese tapped into a line of credit. Anyone who knows anything about finance knows that successful businesses and other organizations often use lines of credit to meet cash flow needs. This does not mean the organization is poorly run. Many of the most successful businesses in American borrow money and use lines of credit. The questioner's point was ludicrous.

Another questioner asked why the Archdiocesan Council increased the Archdiocese's budget in February, 1999 by $1 million. The budget had been set in the summer of 1998 at the Clergy-Laity Conference. According to Mr. Chelpon, the extra money was needed to support ministries, including the Internet Ministries. This answer did not seem to satisfy the questioner who apparently believes that budgets, once set, are forever cast in stone.

Mr. Chelpon's presentation demonstrated that the Archdiocese is in the best financial shape in over a decade. This is reflected by the fact that its operating losses are the smallest in over ten years. The relative health of the Archdiocese's finances should be clear to anyone that wanted to listen. Those who said otherwise either did not understand the financial concepts discussed by Mr. Chelpon or they were speaking in bad faith.


Theo Nicolakis, the director of the Internet Ministries, gave an inspired talk on how the Archdiocese is using the internet to reach the Orthodox faithful and to provide information to them. He talked of such exciting things as audio seminars and video presentations on various topics being on the internet.


Messrs. Bobotas and Sintros made a slide presentation on the Diocesan Camp and Retreat Center. Delegates were able to see first hand what the Camp and Retreat Center looks like, the various activities afforded to campers and future plans, including construction of a year round conference center. It was reported that the mortgage on the property hopefully will be paid off in the fall.


After lunch, the ubiquitous Bill Douvris, President of the Annunciation Church in Woburn and a leader of the New England Association, got up and presented a resolution to the delegates. The resolution asked the assembly to adopt the report of the Metropolitans and "urgently request[ed] that His all Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew and the Sacred Synod around Him reconsider and take action upon the conclusions and recommendations set forth in the Metropolitans' Report."

This writer, George Rockas, a delegate from St. Vasilios in Peabody, Massachusetts, made a point of order, saying that the resolution as drafted was illegal because it was to be sent directly to the Patriarchate. Under the Uniform Parish Regulations, a diocesan clergy-laity assembly can only make recommendations to the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Conference. The chair sustained this point of order and the resolution was modified accordingly. Mr. Rockas also asked Metropolitan Methodios if he still embraced the report. Metropolitan Methodios refused to answer the question and remained silent on the podium.

The ensuing debate was emotional. Most of those who spoke in favor of the resolution not surprisingly were members of the New England Association. A number of people got up to speak against the resolution, including three courageous priests, who, if you believe it, were booed by GOAL supporters. These priests no doubt risked the wrath of Metropolitan Methodios by speaking against the resolution.

A motion was made that the vote be by secret ballot. This passed. The New England Association passed out pre-printed pieces of paper that served as ballots. Chaos then broke out. No controls were in place to assure only delegates received ballots and to assure that delegates received only one ballot. Indeed, there have been reports that individuals who spoke against the Archbishop and in favor of the resolution were handed multiple ballots. The Chair appointed Mr. Douvris and another gentleman to count the ballots. This action of appointing the presenter of the resolution to count the ballots was to say the very least highly irregular. After the vote count, the Chair announced that the resolution passed 58-51. The closeness of the count was extraordinary given the chaotic manner of the voting process, the irregularities and the enormous resources that GOAL and the New England Association directed toward the assembly. They spent thousands of dollars and thousands of man hours to squeak out a narrow victory with no organized opposition.

By George C. Rockas

[ Greek Orthodox Stewards of America
  June 15, 1999 ]