The 44th Clergy Laity Congress in Boston

From the Clergy Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in Philadelphia in 2014. Shown are Auxiliary Bishops Andonios of Fasiane, Demetrios of Mokissos and Sebastian of Zela. TNHArchive

BOSTON, MA – The 44th Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America will take place July 1 to 5 at the Copley Marriott Hotel in Boston. Concurrently, the National Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society will hold its biennial convention.

The theme of the Congress is “All Things Are Possible to the One Who Believes in Christ (Mark 9:23).”

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, has stated that “this theme and our understanding of its implications are critical to the work of our Parishes, our Metropolises and our Holy Archdiocese.  From the truth of the Gospel and the words of our Lord who said, all things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23), we affirm that our faith in Christ makes the impossible possible, the unreachable reachable, and the unachievable achievable. Our belief in Him defeats the power of sin and death, transforms our lives, and leads us to salvation. We know that our unwavering faith in Christ will help us overcome any challenges, will extend our witness in new and dynamic ways, and will lead others to Christ and the blessed life in Him.”

The Congress will begin with the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy on July 1 at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Boston. The official opening of the Congress will take place the next morning, Monday July 2, with the Keynote Address by Archbishop Demetrios.

The registration prices follow:

Priest/Parish Delegate$625.00 | After June 1st $700.00. Presbyteres $500.00

Archdiocesan Council $625.00 | After June 1st $700.00. Retired Clergy/Presbyteres (Not Serving a Parish) $125.00

Non-Delegates $675.00 |

Non-Delegate Priest. (2nd Priest in Community if attending) $650.00

Metropolitans Apostolos Geron of Derkon and Maximos of Sylibria will represent His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch at the Congress.

Arthur C. Anton Sr., philanthropist and founding member of the Leadership 100 is the honorary chairman of Congress. Anton sent a letter to his friends in Leadership 100, the Order of Archons of St. Andrew, the Archdiocesan Council and others in the Boston area and across the country, asking for money.

The Host Committee is comprised of co-chairs Peter J. Bassett and Michael S. Sophocles and members Claire Foustoukos, Tom Gatzunis, Dimitri Georgakopoulos, Athena Kalyvas, Chris Pappas, Costa Sideridis, Arthur Stameris and Fotene Zimmerman.

Among the seminars will be the following:

Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Interfaith Relations

Department of Internet Ministries

Department of Religious Education

Department of Communications

Center for Family Care / Department of Marriage and Family

Orthodox Software Initiative

Department of Stewardship, Outreach & Evangelism

Department of Youth & Young Adult Ministries (Y2AM)

Panel Discussion: “Are We Doing Ministry Correctly: Reflections on the Direction of Our Work”

Honest conversation opens the door to improvement. The panelists will reflect on the direction of their work so that we may begin a conversation about what’s being done at the Archdiocese, Metropolis, and Parish levels. This forum is an opportunity for clergy and parishioners to share their stories of hope and struggle as they strive to minister effectively to our people . The panelists have each prepared a brief article (links below) as background to the conversation. Panel members: Dr. Ann Bezzerides, Mr. Steven Christoforou, Rev. Dr. Alexander Goussetis, Dr. Aristotle Papanikolaou, and Rev. Dr. Anton Vrame

The Secret to Effective Church Programs by Dr. Ann Bezzerides

The Christian Home by Rev. Dr. Alexander Goussetis

Are We Doing Ministry Correctly? by the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries

Making Christians Today by Rev. Dr. Anton Vrame

Leadership 100 will pay $200,000 to cover the expense of the banquet for the 44th Clergy-Laity Congress, which will be convened from July 1 to 5 at the Copley Marriot Hotel in Boston, where the same event was held in 1988 under Archbishop Iakovos. Leadership 100 has in its coffers about $100 million and gives annually approximately $2 to $2.5 million for the ministries of the Archdiocese.

The 44th Clergy Laity Congress will have the same format as the previous years, except for one essential change in the program: On July 2, after Archbishop Demetrios’ keynote address, the theme being “All Things Are Possible to the One Who Believes in Christ” (Mark 9:23), the delegates will not form the usual small groups to discuss and analyze the archbishop’s speech, as is usually the case.

Instead, there will be a three-hour open forum (2-5PM) to discuss the Archdiocese’s dire financial situation. As The National Herald revealed almost a year ago, the Archdiocese is virtually bankrupt. Among other things, it is forced to mortgage its Manhattan office building in order to obtain a $7 million loan just to pay its debts, and lack of funds have halted construction of the St. Nicholas National Shrine. These issues have caused embarrassment and ridicule to the Archdiocese, the Greek-American community, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of which the Archdiocese is an Ecclesiastical Eparchy.

Audits by accounting firms continue, as do cost-cutting measures.

Meanwhile, the New York State Attorney General has expressed interest in investigating the finances of the Archdiocese and the funds for the Shrine.

The main points of the rest of the schedule has as follows:

June 30: Congress and Philoptochos registrations; National Forum of Church Musicians meeting.

July 1: Orthros and Divine Liturgy at Annunciation Cathedral; Opening at Exhibit Hall and Ribbon Cutting.

July 2: 9:30AM-12Noon, official Congress opening and Archbishop Demetrios’ keynote address; 2-5PM open forum: “Presentation and Discussion Concerning the Financial Status of the GOA”; 8-10PM, Administration Committee and Finance Committee meetings, CLC Ministry workshops and committee meetings, stewardship, outreach and evangelism, youth and young adult ministries, marriage and family, Center for Family Care, Internet ministries, Orthodox parish software, inter-Orthodox, ecumenical, and interfaith relations.

July 3: 9:30-11:30AM: Special recognition of retired clergy; Administration Committee and Finance Committee meetings; 11:30AM-1:30PM, lunch at Hellenic-College Holy Cross; 5:30PM, Philoptochos General Assembly.

July 4: 8-10AM, Administration Committee meeting, 10AM-12Noon, Finance Committee meeting’ 12Noon-1PM: Doxology prayer service, Fourth of July, entire attendees; 2:30-6PM, plenary session.

July 5: 10AM-4PM: Plenary session; Presentation for Adoption of GOA 2019-20 budget; discussion on proposed GOA regulation amendments; 12-3PM and 7-10PM, all other committee reports and CLC business; 10:30-11:30PM, Grand Banquet.