Over 150 clergy and lay leaders from throughout the Metropolis of San Francisco gathered at Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in Squaw Valley, California from January 29 – 30 for the 2018 Metropolis Clergy-Laity Assembly. This annual event is always filled with opportunities for spiritual development, important dialogue and the sharing of resources.
In his keynote address highlighting the Assembly theme of “Peace”, His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos commented, “When I reflect on the work of you, the people of our Metropolis, I can honestly say that our Metropolis is doing well. There is always more that can be done or done better, and that’s why we gather here for this Assembly – to discuss where we have been, where we are today, and to set our course for the future. Together, we can think creatively about the life of this Metropolis and take the steps so that each of us can dedicate our talents and energy to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and the peace that He offers the world.” The theme of the Assembly was further demonstrated in his remarks by stating, “The Lord gives us peace, not the peace of the world, but His peace, ‘the peace from above’, as we say in the Divine Liturgy. We pray for peace many times in the Liturgy; every action of the Liturgy begins with a blessing for peace, from the opening petition, to our departure from the Liturgy itself. Why do we do this? Because ours is a God of peace. In our theological tradition, we look to God, the Holy Trinity as our model of peace.”
Rev. Dr. Stavros Kofinas, Coordinator of the Network of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Pastoral Health Care, was the featured guest speaker at the Assembly who gave an inspiring presentation on “Leading the Church in a Chaotic World”. During his message he remarked that “Chaos in our post-modern world, which has lost its sense of hope and optimism, is more evident than ever before. We have lost a sense of direction and belonging, and it appears that we have surrendered ourselves to an unknown fate, as if we have been taken up in a whirlwind of unpredictable change.” In continuing his presentation, he later shared that, “. . . in order for us to grow, it is necessary to continually evaluate our leadership from the standpoint of our Churches’ apostolic tradition. Orthodoxy has always stressed the importance of tradition and the need to maintain it as an expression of Truth.”
Through the use of Zoom teleconferencing, Archdiocese Treasurer Michael Psaros spoke to the Assembly about the financial situation at the Archdiocese. He conveyed that difficult decisions had to be made which included the formation of a new leadership team and organizational infrastructure, policies to monitor expenditures, and the reduction of general administrative expenses. An announcement issued just a few days prior to the convening of the Assembly indicated that financial stability has been achieved at the Archdiocese and that the leadership team will continue to work with auditors and respond accordingly to their recommendations for the betterment of our Archdiocese.
Archon Theofanis Economidis, Vice-President of the Metropolis Council, presided over the two days of meetings, and shared the ongoing commitment of the Metropolis to support the growth and development of our ministries. This includes a provision in the Metropolis budget for dedicated ministry staff and funding for the good works of these ministries. Detailed financial reports were presented to the Assembly by Treasurer Michael Syrengelas where he shared that the finances of the Metropolis are in good condition, and are reviewed on a monthly basis by the Finance Committee. The 2018 Metropolis budget totaling $1.8 million was presented and unanimously approved.
Elections for the Metropolis and Archdiocesan Council members were held with the following results: Elected Clergy – Fr. Andrew Barakos (Assumption, Scottsdale, AZ); V. Rev. John Constantine (St. George, Downey, CA), Fr. Dean Kouldukis (Assumption, Seattle, WA), Fr. Constantine Pappademos (St. Katherine, Elk Grove, CA), Fr. Peter Salmas (Holy Cross, Belmont, CA), Fr. Andrew Scordalakis (St. Spyridon, San Diego, CA), Fr. Peter Stratos (St. Anthony, Pasadena, CA), and Fr. Tom Zaferes (Ascension Cathedral, Oakland, CA). Elected Lay Members – Spiro Beckas, John Buzas, Honorable Steven Counelis, George Demos, Vasilis Marutsos, George Psefteas, Michael Syrengelas, and Dr. Eve Tibbs. The appointments of eight additional members as provided in the Uniform Metropolis Regulations will be confirmed by His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos prior to the commencement of the new Council in July 2018. The Assembly also elected the following to represent the Metropolis of San Francisco on the Archdiocesan Council: Fr. Aris Metrakos (Holy Trinity, San Francisco, CA), Isidoros Garifalakis, and Rocky Sisson.
Fr. Timothy Pavlatos, Director of the Metropolis Family Wellness Ministry shared information on the resources offered in the areas of parenting, marriage enrichment, addition, and building Christ-centered relationships within the family. He and the Family Wellness team have also visited the various regions in the Metropolis to help parishes establish Family Wellness programs in their own communities. Thomaida Hudanish, Director of the Metropolis Missions and Evangelism ministry is working with parishes on creating and cultivating outreach programs focused on Growing Orthodoxy in America, as well as promoting the Missions Possible Campaign to support the overall work of this ministry and our small but thriving mission parishes.
An in-depth video from Steven Christoforou, Archdiocese Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, provided an important overview of the Policies for the Protection of Youth and Children. This was expanded during the presentation of Metropolis Youth Director Johanna Duterte who emphasized that the full implementation of this plan will include anyone who interacts with you at the parish level – Sunday School teachers, sports coaches, Greek dance directors, youth advisors, youth choir directors, altar boy advisors, parent chaperones and more.
Metropolis Philoptochos President Jeannie Ranglas reported on the work of this exceptional ministry which has 58 chapters and over 4,000 members in the seven-state Metropolis. Signature programs include the Bishop Anthony Philoptochos Student Aid Endowment Fund which has been supporting seminarians and students from the Metropolis of San Francisco for over 25 years. At the end of the 2017 academic year, over $170,000 in financial assistance was given to the 22 students from the Metropolis.
The Assembly also included several opportunities for worship at the adjacent Monastery of the Theotokos the Life-Giving Spring. Following the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs, a 14-year Memorial Service was prayed for the repose of His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony, of blessed memory. At the conclusion of the Clergy-Laity Assembly, the Metropolis Clergy participated in a retreat led by Rev. Dr. Stavros Kofinas focusing on the Complexities of Pastoral Care in Life Situations and the Sacrament of Confession.
By Kristen Bruskas
PHOTOS BY KRISTEN BRUSKAS
Email the author: The Hellenic Journal