hellenic times - March 5, 1999
New Movement Supporting Church
By Achilles Demetriou
Lynnfield, MASS. - A new movement is afoot within the Church, the Greek Orthodox Stewards of America, and its members profess that they are tired of the rhetoric against His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.
The Stewards are interested in setting the record straight by countermanding the bad publicity generated by the organization known as GOAL (the self-appointed Greek Orthodox American Leaders, a group without canonical status which is pushing for autocephaly), said George Rockas, president and founder of the new group.
Mr. Rockas, an attorney by profession, is a member of the parish council of Saint Basil's Church in Peabody, Massachusetts. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology's board of trustees.
"People have been subjected to GOAL's propaganda for too long, and no one has been telling the real story. It's time for the truth to come out. People have been coming up to me and they've been wanting to know why the other side is saying so many negative things about our Archbishop," Mr. Rockas said.
Most of the faithful know that GOAL's rhetoric is untrue, but because GOAL promotes its campaign to topple His Eminence so vigorously, the paraecclesial movement's constant repetition can make people question the truth, "especially when no one takes the time to refute their false allegations," he added.
HORROR AND DISGUST
The new movement states the following on its website, www.gostewards.org:
"We are active members of the Greek Orthodox Church in America ... Like many of you, we have sat quietly for two years and witnessed with horror and disgust the frenzied efforts to remove our leader and divide our church."
As often as the faithful are inundated with the misinformation produced by GOAL, Mr. Rockas said, they need to be reminded that the paraecclesial movement's accounts of the Archbishop do no reflect the reality of the Archbishop.
"My parish has 1,600 families. When His Eminence paid us a visit this past December, he was greeted warmly and affectionately. Our community loves him.
The Governor of Massachusetts (Paul Celluici) officially proclaimed December 20, 1998 as Archbishop Spyridon Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And the Massachusetts House of Representatives issued an official resolution honoring his visit to Saint Basil's that day. These are the kinds of things our people need to know. Not everyone in the Diocese of Boston is against the Archbishop," he said
One of the reasons GOAL has managed to make any impact at all, Mr. Rockas explained, is because the group is fanatical in its approach to Church affairs.
"They think they're the vanguard of some huge movement, but all they do is talk to themselves and push their views on everybody else, telling people that everybody feels the way they do. That's how extremists operate," he said.
"We're not extremists. They have people sitting around all day with nothing else to do and occupy themselves with this nonsense. I could do this full-time, but I have a full-time job," Mr. Rockas added.
Why do they call themselves stewards?
"We believe that the word, steward expresses the proper attitude of Greek Orthodox Christians toward the administration of the church. The Greek word for steward is oikonomos. The steward was the servant responsible for maintaining the household. He held an important position of trust and responsibility... A faithful steward would never destroy the house under the pretext of saving it," they state on their website.
"We want to debunk falsehoods promoted by special interests," Mr. Rockas said.
The Greek Orthodox Stewards of America can be reached at P. O. Box #462/Lynnfield, MA 01940 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[ hellenic times - March 5, 1999 - p. 2 ]