Election of Metropolitan of Chicago Canceled

His Grace Bishop Sebastianos o Zela, Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

NEW YORK – The election of Bishop Sevastianos of Zela as the new Metropolitan of Chicago was canceled by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The election was scheduled to take place on Thursday, July 13 at the Phanar.

The National Herald has learned that the unexpected turn of events is due to the List of Candidates which was considered problematic and incomplete.

The List, however, had been approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate last March. Bishop Sevastianos of Zela had gathered 7 votes out of 8 who voted for the triprosopon during the selection on July 6 by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate has the right and privilege to cancel the selection of the three person ballot that is instituted by the Holy Eparchial Synod of America. The practice thus far was that the Synod of the Patriarchate presided by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was to elect the candidates who receives the majority of the votes during the selection process of the triprosopon (three person ballot).

This development may create a crisis between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Archbishop Demetrios of America because this is a direct rejection of such an important recommendation of the Church of America expressed by its Holy Eparchial Synod.

TNH was unable to contact His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios at press time despite multiple calls to the Archdiocese.

TNH has learned that Bishop Sevastianos is in Cyprus visiting family members.

His Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zela came first during the process of the selection of the three person ballot (trirprosopon) on July 6 by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, presided by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios.

The triprosopon was composed of Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, who received votes from  seven of the Synod hierarchs (voters); Archimandrite George Nikas presiding priest at the Holy Trinity parish of Salt Lake City, UT, who received three votes; and Archimandrite Gerasimos Makris presiding priest of the Holy Cross parish in Brooklyn, who also received three votes.

The Synod was comprised of Archbishop Demetrios of America, presiding, and Metropolitans Methodios of Boston, Isaiah of Denver, Alexios of Atlanta, Nicholas of Detroit, Savas of Pittsburgh, Gerasimos of San Francisco, and Evangelos of New Jersey.

All voted for Sevastianos except for Gerasimos, who made clear to Demetrios and the other Synod members his preference for a candidacy of Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardaneles.

Sevastianos is the Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod and the Spiritual Advisor to the National Philoptochos Society. He was ordained a bishop and given the honorary title of the city of Zela on December 17, 2011.

The result of the selection process was sent to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the official election by its Holy Synod,

Sevastianos was Demetrios’ choice. Metropolitan Nicholas will preside in the interim until a new metropolitan of Chicago is officially elected.

The Synod decided that the List of Candidates was incomplete because not all the names of those eligible for election were included. The Patriarchate is going to ask from Archbishop Demetrios to add to the List all those eligible candidates including those hierarchs who have served at the Archdiocese of America and now serving in Metropolises abroad such as Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico, Cleopas of Sweden, Tarasios of Buenos Aires, Nikitas of Dardanelles. Also, the current Metropolitans of the Archdiocese could be place on the List if they desire to be transferred to the Metropolis of Chicago.

ABOUT BISHOP SEVASTIANOS

Bishop Sevastianos was born in Ano-Zodia, Cyprus, he is the first of three children born to Panayiota and Frixos Skordallos. He is a graduate of the Theological School of the University of Athens, Greece (1978). He received a scholarship through the World Council of Churches to study in the United States at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur Georgia (1982) where he received a ThM in Pastoral Psychology. He has worked and received advanced certification in Clinical Pastoral Education at Caraway Methodist Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama (1980-1982), and furthered his studies in Pastoral Psychology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville Tennessee and Middle Tennessee State University (1982-1984).

He was ordained Deacon on January 17, 1974, by the late Metropolitan of Morphou Chrysanthos and Priest on March 4, 1978 in England by the Bishop of Tropaiou Gregorios who is currently the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain. He received the offikion of Archimandrite by the late Archbishop of Thyateira Athenagoras. He has served several parishes both as a deacon and a priest in Cyprus, Greece and the United States.

As a Deacon, he served the late Metropolitan Chyrsanthos of Morphou (1974), St. George Church, in Akadimia Platonos, in Athens (1975), St. Nicholas Church in Kato Patisia, Athens (1976-78), and as a priest in Nottingham England (1978-79), Holy Trinity-Holy Cross in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. (1980-82), Sts. Constantine and Helen – Holy Cross, Huntsville, Alabama (1982-84, 1989-93), the Cathedral of Panayia Catholike, Limassol Cyprus (1984-88), Holy Transfiguration, Marietta, Georgia (1993-2004), and St. Nicholas Cathedral, Tarpon Springs, Florida (2004-06). He was appointed Chief Secretary of the Synod by Archbishop Demetrios of America on June 1, 2006.

Bishop Sevastianos has been actively involved in the Administration Committees of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America serving as a Council member on the Metropolis and Archdiocesan levels; in the Administration Committee of the Archdiocesan Council where he assisted in developing resources for the training of Parish Councils and in the Legal Committee of the Archdiocese. He has served as President of the Clergy Syndesmos of the Metropolis of Atlanta for several years and the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council.

29 Comments

  1. I am sickened to read that the Patriarchate approved the list in March, but now decided to say the list is incomplete. What a sad day for the Greek Orthodox Church.

    1. Actually, I agree. If they wanted the list to include those names, the Patriarchate should have added them before they approved the list and sent it back.
      Although I may have differing opinions as to who would be most qualified, I believe they are interfering in the local synod’s canonical process which they approved in our Charter.

      Of course, our entire system of “metropolitans” is questionable. They comprise the Eparchy Synod of the Archdiocese of America, but they are hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, not the Archdiocese.

      I think it’s time to give serious thought to the issue of autonomy for the Greek Archdioce Archdiocese of America.

      1. Most of the members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America have no conception of what Church they belong to . We are NO longer members of ” The Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America .” In the past our Bishops answered to His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos . Now our Bishops have been elevated to ” Metropolitans ” and answer to the Ecumenical Patriarch directly. Patriarch Bart is in control of the destiny of the American Archdiocese. It IS time for the Church in America to gain its freedom from the of New Rome .

      2. The Archbishop and the titular metropolitans of America must learn obedience and to respect, appreciate and honor the church of Constantinople which is the head of the American Greek church.
        Writing and talking about autonomy is out of the question. There is only one thing to do in our relationship to the patriarchate and that is to be obedient, to respect, to honor and to leave the Holy Spirit do its work in maintaining order and in selecting the right people for the right work and arch-ministry.

  2. These are the corrupt games the Greek Orthodox hierarchs play, with the EP being the “First Among Equals” in corruption. It’s no wonder other Orthodox churches pulled out of the Holy and Great Council. Black Bart has lost the respect of so many in the Orthodox world and continues to betray the trust of those under his authority. It’s time for Orthodox in America to unite and come out from under foreign corrupt leaders who just care about manipulating us for money.

  3. We are watching the death of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (“GOA”). Is anyone really surprised by any of this? We have seen inept leadership in our beloved, yet slowly dying Church before. Let’s look at some of the events of the last 20 years. The removal of Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory was the start. That was followed by the appointment of Archbishop Spyridon, another catastrophe. He in turn decided to fire Professors at the Holy Cross Seminary which was the absolute wrong thing to do. Archbishop Spyridon on surround himself with sycophants and enablers. Principle among them was former priest George Passias. He recently brought us sex tapes seen worldwide and the alleged conception of a child with a married woman whom he baptized into our Faith. Archbishop Spyridon appointed former Father George Passias as his Chancellor. Granted, the events that led to his removal as a priest happened many years after his appointment as Chancellor. But, there were signs of danger everywhere. Signs of issues that any individual who care enough to look would have seen and never have appointed him to that key position.

    Image an institution, like the GOA, appointing the leading proponent of a cult theology i.e. the Ephraimites, as its Chancellor. Is anyone really shocked by any of this? When you have the Ephraimites in the GOA slandering the candidate picked by the Synod of America what should we expect. Bishop Sevastianos of Zela never had a chance. The followers of Ephraimite theology that have infiltrated our Church have a game plan and mission. If people of questionable character are in positions of authority we don’t have a chance of survival in our current form. In one generation, we will be half the size we are now. We will then be lead by followers of Ephraimite based theology. Stay tuned, because this entire episode will illustrate to the naysayers how much power is weld by those who worship Ephraim in North America. If Metropolitan Nikitas becomes the Metropolitan of Chicago, it will have a devastating impact upon the future of that Metropolis. If I were a betting man that seems like a safe bet!

    1. Nikitas is qualified and highly respected as a theologian and as an administrator. But more importantly, the faithful love and respect him. If there is truly be a Church that serves the people, his selection would further that result.

      1. I disagree with you. I understand and have seen every worshiper of the cult of Ephraim support him in my Metropolis. It worries me that 100% of my contacts with this group are with those people that are aggressively trying to place him in this position of authority. Nothing will change in this struggling Metropolis if the next Metropolitan is controlled by the Ephraimites. Yet, I understand there are those who are not affiliated or connected with a cult who support him.

    2. I agree with Basil. The GOA has been dying for very long time. we need to change, but to what, I personally don’t have a clue, but then neither do the hierarchs.

      1. “The GOA has been dying for very long time. we need to change, but to what”
        The simple answer is, we need to revert back to being a church again. That means creating ministries and building strong communities. That involves hard work and breaking a sweat. Something very foreign to our priests and bishops.
        In all the years I have been attending the Greek Orthodox Church, I have never seen a visiting bishop serve the tables at a luncheon after the divine liturgy. Serving the tables is at the very heart of our faith. It goes all the way back to Christ himself (Matthew 20:28).
        The parish I have been attending for the last fifteen years actually serves lunch to the bishop and his entourage on wedge-wood china while the rest of eat on paper plates. And we wonder why our bishops and clergy are so detached from reality.

  4. What is the concern with His Eminence Nikitas? He seems well liked by many and has done much good for our Church.

  5. The Archdiocese and the Metropolises are not autocephalous. We need to remember the Holy Synod has met this week. Therefore the objection/cancellation is not solely with one man. I do not disagree with those who have stated that the list of names should have been fully completed. I am neither for or against the decision. However, I am shocked and amazed at it, and wonder what it means for the future.

    With that said…. These are the things for our hierarchy to determine and to sort. If it is the things of politics. Then it is for the BISHOPS to sort out, and not the things of of laity wrapped up in. Besides, we were not at the synodal conferance at the Fanar, and do not know what was said.

    Patience and calm are needed for all thing will be sorted into their rightful places.

  6. Could it be that the Turkish government objected to Greek Cypriot hierarch? If that is the case and it could be proven, Constantinople will be history.

    This is just a thought.

    1. It is very good thought, it is the only logical reason for this embarrassing U-turn.

  7. Today’s Greek Orthodox Church of America is missing the fellowship and spiritual edification that is needed to bring healing and the wholesomeness of a healthy Orthodox community. Obstruction in the form of corruption, mean-spiritedness, and ineptness has derailed our faith from the true path God has prepared for us.
    If we are not in proper alignment with God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ and His Gospel, we can never be in proper alignment with others human beings and nature.

    1. Yes, I completely agree with you Michael A.. You are a very smart young man who notices these things regarding our church! I am so upset by the clergy and the others in charge who are missing what loving Christ is all about. The love of money has become the main concern of those in charge and I am sick of them. They travel around in either expensive cars or limos and have ego larger than the churches they lead and I will never ever respect that kind of disgusting behavior. Look at the high priests back in the day that crucified Jesus. These clergy now are the same arrogant souls and will answer to our Lord whom they supposedly serve. Our Jesus cared for the poor and the hungry and wore simple clothing. These clergy today don’t get outside and walk to help anyone!! All they want are larger salaries each year and I am disgusted with all of it. They cater to the rich for their money and their status in our communities. Shame on them! That is all I have to say! Jesus would have never acted this way for HE is truly holy!!!!

      1. I agree Claire. Orthodoxy is faithfulness to Christ, not love for material possessions or personal success. Orthodoxy is being thoughtful and loving, caring and welcoming. Orthodoxy is sharing in the suffering of others and providing care for those that are less fortunate. Orthodoxy is about ministry. Orthodoxy is “not” bilking the faithful to pay for the great comfort and extravagant living that is afforded some of clergy and bishops.

  8. They have made a grave mistake! Bishop Sebastianos would have been a blessing to Chicago. He is a dedicated , loving soul who brings many new families to Orthodoxy and keeps the cradle Orthodox involved, especially the youth.

  9. It is circus antics like these that make the marginally religious young Greek-American say: “and so, WHY exactly do you want me to go to church?”

    1. “and so, WHY exactly do you want me to go to church?” is exactly what I hear from my own kids and It is very disheartening. And I understand completely because over the last last five years, a lot of negative things have happened in our parish.
      We must make every effort to preserve our faith so that our children, hopefully their children, can share this same passion and love.
      On the flip side, it is very encouraging to see so many people exercising their first amendment rights and caring about the future of our church.

      1. Well said, Michael. I have always equated a church experience with the individual(s) involved. Of course, I can pray to God on my own and He hears me, and I can read anything I want to read about theology. My reasons for enriching my religious and spiritual experience with church are positive ones. To the extent that they were negative ones, I’d find a different church.

  10. Forget about autonomy and modifications to the governance in the archdiocese of America or to the selection of our local hierarchy.
    The Greek Church of America is operated as an agent and extension of the ecumenical patriarchate and therefore is considered unqualified to make independent decisions even in the selection or election of hierarchs.
    If the patriarch wants to omit his local titular metropolitans from decision-making regarding American thrones he has every right to do so.
    An objective study of the evolving founding and history of the Greek church in America witnesses the rivalry originally between the autonomous Church of Greece and the patriarchate from its establishment and control.
    While many Greeks and their American born offspring of many generations consider the Greek Church in America as a church in captivity, the facts and truth are that we are a church fully under the omophoron of the ecumenical patriarchate, Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy and sacred synod of Constantinople.
    So, get comfortable knowing that the patriarchate will ultimately do what is needed to secure the on-going and orderly ministry of the Greek archdiocese in America.
    While most if not all knowledgeable Orthodox believe that the-existing archdiocese status will not be modified due to collusion between the Hellenic Republic and the patriarchate for maintaining the “status quo” and “business as usual” the future always remains “unkown” and “undefinable”.
    Besides these realities and facts, it should be noted that there are to revolutionary laymen, no hierarchs, no clergy and no organized structure to modify the existing status of the Greek Church in America.

    1. Fr Steven,

      We must show blind obedience to flawed men? I mean no disrespect, but the Patriarch did nothing when the Metropolitan and Bishop here in Chicago tried numerous attempts to cover up a crime including denial, bullying and intimidating witnesses. And let’s not forget the letter they submitted to the court stating false things about church governance to get the priest off the hook. That letter is under seal, and Archdiocese lawyers negated its claims when questioned by the prosecutor. The Patriarch is fully aware of all this but we should just accept his decision to allow immoral leadership to continue hurting parishes and people? God gave us free will to decide for ourselves to do “right” according to His commandments, not for us to submit blind obedience to a church leader who clearly isn’t doing what is “right” according to the commandments. If the Patriarch pressures me to cover up a crime, am I to show him obedience and submit to his authority or should I be more concerned with what God deems moral?

      1. Stacy you are 100% correct in your perspective concerning the current status of our Church. You correctly bring up the point of the letter submitted to the criminal court by the hierarchy of the Metropolis of Chicago in the Dokos case. This letter was submitted to exonerate, someone who has now admitted to committing a felony. In any other institution the actions of the hierarchs of Chicago would’ve had either man defrocked and remove from a position of authority over the laity. But we are in now subject to an environment of institutional malaise at best, if you give it an innocent interpretation.
        But I don’t believe that’s true. I don’t believe there’s an innocent interpretation for what’s occurring. I truly believe there is corruption within the Church. Honestly, I don’t think any of the hierarchs worldwide, let alone in North America care about us anymore. But what’s also killing us as a Church are the enablers that surround the hierarchy. In the Metropolis of Chicago you have seen an almost a 100% turn around by the sycophants . Very few of Bishop Dimitri’s “insiders” now support him. Universally, they are now turning on him. They now acknowledge his shortcomings. But think about all the people, such as yourself they have been attacking in the process of defending him. Literally, you would have to have your head examined to work on behalf of this Church. So many good people have left it’s mindnumbing to think about the damage that is been done by the inept leadership that we have been subject to. We, as an institution and a Church are marching, or rather running to extinction. We find ourselves here not because of the people that go to Church every Sunday, but because of both the hierarchy and the enablers that’s around them. It is time for someone to step forward and acknowledge what is broken.
        Have you noticed that they never publish the stewardship numbers? Have you ever asked yourself why? All of it is top secret because if they did then the masses would know how bad things are.

  11. It is a sad day of affairs for our Church in the USA! How in the world can a church functions with directives from overseas, especiaslly from a country where there is no freedom, where our hierarchy are citicens of a dictatorship. I cannot believe that a man like the patriarch knows better our situation than the bishops in this country.
    It seems to me that the pastriarch is a megalomaniac, trying to restore the Byazantine system of governing a slave church! Lord have mercy on us!

  12. I adore both of the bishops. Let’s pray that we see God’s will and not the noise of men

  13. It’s very sad, the GOA is floundering. They need to stop the Ephramaites and his monasteries! Nothing but heretical teachings and abuse. This is appalling!

  14. METROPOLITAN IAKOVOS OF CHICAGO IN HIS WILL ASKED TO BE BURIED AT THE HOLY MONASTERY OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOMOS MONASTERY IN KENOSHA, WISCONSIN.

    WHAT A GREAT BLESSING. TO BE BE BURIED AT A HOLY MONASTERY, ON HOLY GROUND. HIS NAME WILL BE COMMEMORATED EVERYDAY AT THE HOLY MONASTERY, TILL THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST, AMEN.

    MAY BISHOP IAKOVOS HAVE A BLESSED PARADISE, AMEN

    KALO PARATHESO.

    1. Maria,

      Have you seen the Will? The will along with two codicils are on file in the Office of the Probate Court of Cook County. There is no mention of the Monastery or his wishes in these publicly available documents. Perhaps he expressed his wishes privately to his Executor or family members, but those who have not seen the Will should not make statements that are demonstrably untrue.

      Burial in a “Holy Monastery” carries with it no more of a “blessing” than burial in one of the cemeteries in the Chicago area where our parents and brothers and sisters have been buried.. or those in the many cemeteries in Villages in Greece where our grandparents and those who went before them have been buried. My father, mother, brother and Yiayia are buried at the Saints Constantine and Helen section of the Evergreen Park cemetery. That ground is certainly as “Holy” as the ground in Wisconsin that you seem to attach so much reverence to. The ground at Elmwood and in the village of Rizes, where my other grandparents are buried is also as “Holy” as any other.

      There is a place for “healthy monasticism” in Orthodoxy. Serious questions have been articulated about the “Ephramite Fundamentalism” phenomenon that has arisen in the US over the past few decades. Those questions will not be answered on this or any other website, but the Theologians and the Hierarchs and Clergy in America need to address this issue openly and honestly. They need to stop pretending to be agnostic about the matter.

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