Letter to Parishioners, Nov. 15, 2011 - Metropolitan Isaiah


The Reverend Clergy

The Esteemed Parish Council
The Faithful Members
The Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake
5335 South Highland Drive
Holladay,Utah 84117

November 15, 2011

Beloved in the Lord,

I address this pastoral letter to every faithful Greek Orthodox Christian in Salt Lake City and Holladay who identifies with the historic Holy Trinity Cathedral and with the Prophet Elias Church.

Reflecting back to 1962 when I received my first assignment in the holy priesthood as the assistant priest to Father Steven Katsaris, I considered myself truly blessed. Thirty years later I was assigned as your bishop by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1992. I have had the blessing of being your hierarch these past nineteen years, and it was always a joy for me to make pastoral visits to the Cathedral, as well as to the Prophet Elias parish during this time period.

Unfortunately, problems began to appear in 2008 regarding the proper administration of the parish. The beginnings of these problems were actually in existence even from 1962 and forced Father Katsaris to leave the parish in July of that year. The long term question which has plagued Salt Lake has been, "Is the community of Salt Lake City in harmony with the Metropolis, the Archdiocese and the Patriarchate, or is it only under the State of Utah as an independent association with no higher ecclesiastical authority over it?" In other words, is the Greek Orthodox Church in Salt Lake in direct continuity with the Church which our Lord Jesus Christ established on the day of Pentecost almost two thousand years ago, or is it to continue to be under the absolute control of a small handful of people, as it has for the past five decades? The fact that over two million dollars missing from the legal responsibility of the parish council, and in control of a few individuals with no official parish positions these past several years, attests to the reality that the existing corporation documents from 1974 contribute to the consistent disruption affecting your community.

Strong evidence of this uncanonical reality is that no less than seven dedicated priests of the community these past forty-seven years were forced to leave the community. For your historic community to have this many proistamenoi remaining on an average of not more than six years raises many questions. Were those priests who were forced to leave the cause of your unending administrative problems, or is it the fact that these same few individuals who have had fiscal control of the assets of the community for the past five decades bear much of the responsibility for your chronic problems?

I thank our loving God for all of you who see yourselves as the faithful inheritors of our holy, Apostolic faith which was brought to our nation by our beloved immigrant progenitors. You know the Church was established on the foundation of the holy Apostles with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. You are aware that we have Apostolic succession indicating the divine nature of the Church. You know that the Church is in the world, but She is not of the world.

You also know the fact that the Church of our Lord is represented by every canonical bishop and can never be subjugated to any civil authority. I pray that this correct interpretation of the Church will come upon all who believe themselves to be faithful Greek Orthodox Christians.

It is a sad testimony that some who call themselves Orthodox Christians do not hesitate to sue the Church and her canonical representatives. They express no embarrassment attacking the very Body of Christ. Because of this, I want to believe that such people, who see nothing wrong in takingtheir Church to civil court have no understanding of the true nature of the Ecclesia, but see the Church as something far less. Consequently, since they have separated themselves from the other parishioners, the six individuals who were involved with the law suit are not in good standing at this time and may not attend the special general assembly.

If you wish to have this matter resolved once and for all, you will want to attend the special general assembly on Sunday, November 20, 2011 and put a stop to this situation. Now is the time for you to affirm that you are one of the over five hundred parishes of our holy Archdiocese under our Ecumenical Patriarchate, rather than an independent secular association as the corporation papers of 1974 state.

According to the letter I received from His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Parish Council elections in your community can only take place after the affirmative outcome of the upcoming special assembly.

If you love the Church, if you love your community, as I believe you do, you will step forward with faith at the special general assembly and declare that your community is under our Ecumenical Patriarchate and our holy Archdiocese. Moreover, you will declare that your community will no longer be a secular "association" controlled by a select few temporal humans, but rather by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has promised that His Church will continue to be in the world, even to the great day of His Second Coming.

With paternal blessings


+Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver

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