Clergy Laity Congress -Plenary Session – Budget

Mr. Michael Psaros is trying to convince the delegates that the Congress shouldn’t go over budget. (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

BOSTON, MA – The plenary session of the 44th Clergy Laity Congress on July 5 was exhaustive in discussing the budget for 2019 and 2020 and also the Clergy Pension Program.

The priests insisted that $1 million be included in the budget for the Fund, but the Archdiocese insisted on the other hand that there was no money available. The Finance Committee would have the full discretion to make cuts in other line items so that the budget would be in balance. The budget for 2019 and for 2020 is $22. 4 million.

It was stated for the first time that the Fund is $53 million underfunded. The sum of $3.3 million of that amount is owed by the parishes and a small amount by clergy. The balance of almost $50 million is due to the Archdiocese’s failure to pay its share into the Fund for many years.

Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago assumed the responsibility to raise the necessary funds for the Office of Interchristian-Interorthodox Relations.

The deliberations in many instances were intense and uncharacteristic of a Clergy Laity Congress because the anger and the pain were vividly present among the delegates.

Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta was the only hierarch who said that “we are all responsible because we voted for the budgets of the previous years and we should help this new financial group to continue put in order the finances,” but he was booed by some of the delegates, including priests. No other hierarch spoke.

Discussion took place about Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology (HCHC), whose president, Fr. Christopher Metropulos, said that “neither Hellenic College nor the School of Theology is closing.”

Ms. Ellaine Allen chairperson of the Audit Committee expert in finances of the Non Profit Organizations. (Photo by
TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

Also, a discussion took place about the possible elimination of the Orthodox Observer, but at the end there was confusion because no one seemed to know exactly on what they voted. The time had come for the personnel of the hotel to set the room for the banquet and thus the reports of the Archons, Youth, Leadership 100, and Philoptochos were read on a hurry.

The plenary started with a prayer offered by Archbishop Demetrios, followed by a report by Archdiocesan Council Treasurer Archon Michael Psaros, who interrupted his vacation in Greece to attend.

TREASURER’S REPORT

Psaros stated that “the Archdiocese is now fundamentally transformed as a result of many difficult and decisive actions. While a significant number of the actions were very impactful individually, collectively, they were transformative.

“We are pleased to report that the Archdiocese has satisfied its financial obligations, including all amounts formerly owed to St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine (“St. Nicholas”), Hellenic College Holy Cross, the Pension Plan, and to donor restricted and custodial funds that required replenishment. I would like to repeat, paid in full.

“We are very encouraged by the speed and effectiveness of the changes we implemented. Everyone knows that change is difficult for people and organizations. “Even though the Archdiocese is a canonical, hierarchical, traditional, ecclesiastical institution, it successfully managed through a period of extreme transition that would have challenged any institution.

“The principle of accountability has guided our efforts through every step in the transformation of the Archdiocese. We are committed to creating a culture where every single dollar donated by every single member of the Faithful is treated with respect and humility.

“The principle of transparency has also guided our efforts through every step in the transformation of the Archdiocese. We have provided the Faithful with complete and timely disclosure of all matters during our tenure in office. Starting in October 2017, the Archdiocese has released a constant stream of press releases that have informed the Faithful of key events happening in real time. The Archdiocese has also publicly released the Executive Summary of the 2017 Grant Thornton Operations Review, the 2018 Archdiocesan Budget, the 2016 Grant Thornton Financial Statement Audit, and the Phase I of the St. Nicholas Report to the Special Investigative Committee by PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services LLC (“PwC”). The Officers have given speeches, held talks, spoken to the media, and addressed Metropolis Clergy Laity meetings with the blessing of our beloved Metropolitans. The Orthodox Observer and the Archdiocesan web site have also provided full and timely disclosure of all substantive matters. Consistent with this practice, the Archdiocese will continue to provide full disclosure to the Faithful.”

Mr. Lazaros Kyrkos chairman of the Finance Committee shows the previous budgets. Shown is Mr. George Tsandikos vice-chairman of the Archdiocesan Council.
(Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

Psaros emphasized that “the Executive Committee, the Officers and Audit and Finance Committee Chairs of the Archdiocese are now focused on the future and only the future. While it is exceedingly disappointing that the Archdiocese experienced a recent financial crisis, this period is now behind us. It is time to turn the page and embrace the future.”

“As a result of our collective efforts as a team, and by the Grace of God, the Archdiocese has achieved financial stability. The Archdiocese has closed on and funded a bank loan, the proceeds of which refunded all of the amounts owed to St. Nicholas, Hellenic College Holy Cross, the Pension Plan, and to donor restricted and custodial funds that required replenishment. The Archdiocese’s current financial stability is validated by its ability to obtain a loan from an independent and regulated banking institution that put its capital at risk, after a thorough due diligence involving accounting and legal professionals retained by the bank.

“The Archdiocese is now operating on a balanced budget that generates funds to satisfy its financial obligations in 2018 and beyond, including the debt service associated with the new bank loan.

“The Archdiocese established and implemented internal controls, policies and procedures beginning in spring 2017 by management directive, including policies and procedures governing travel and expense accounts, general and administrative expenditures, staff cell phones, and credit card access and terms of usage. Further, new vendor management protocols and controls were implemented.”

10 Comments

  1. The operation of our Church insults the intelligence of all of us.
    Here is what is written above: “Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta was the only hierarch who said that “we are all responsible because we voted for the budgets of the previous years and we should help this new financial group to continue put in order the finances,” but he was booed by some of the delegates, including priests. No other hierarch spoke.”
    Metropolitan Alexios is perhaps the most intellectually challenged of all of our United States based hierarchs!
    Once again he wants to connect and hold the delegates who were fed misleading and fraudulent budget with the responsibility of voting on them. Those delegates had no possible way of knowing that those budgets were fiction at the time they voted. Instead this hierarch want to lay the blame on the “castrated” laity of our Church for the fabricated budgets. Why don’t we do what we always do these days….let’s blame those who have departed (i.e. Manny Demos, Michael Jaharis, of Nick Bouras all of blessed memory) or Jerry Dimitriou for all our troubles?
    Our Church is facing a crisis of credibility and Metropolitan Alexios should stand up and take responsibility for his malfeasance, not blame the innocent!

    1. Basil, relax a bit. The administrative,financial, leader and personnel management in no way resembles a church, so don’t give churches a bad name. The GOA methods seem to, more and more, resemble a culture of a continuous, criminal conspiracy, both here and abroad.

      Our collective failure to confront that culture ,and balanced budgets are just a band aid approachand not a real systemic fix, assures that 2 years from now, what happened in Boston will happen again. And there may not be a “2 years from now” because we lost 30% more worshippers after this summer.

      The disastrous results assure an escalation of the departure of the faithful. Smaller all-English speaking OCA churches seem like the next Orthodox stop, although they are far from free from the same issues. At least, we can worship in anonymity. Failing that, 50 minute Mass in local Catholic Churches probably will work.

      Alexis ,and the rest of the clueless narcissists who parade around in pajamas, will be sitting by themselves. Guaranteed.

  2. After what I have seen this past year and in Boston I have decided it is time for my family to seek a Church where our values and beliefs are reinforced. Bye bye Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. My family is now one of your statistics.

  3. it was not a discussion to cut the Observer it was a motion which carried to suspend the observer for 2 years at a savings of over 800k. Again there was a motion and it passed but the powers that be didn’t like it so they bullied they made another motion to let themselves cut the budget at their discretion So much for democracy. Plenary should not be rushed and the detail in the budget should be presented. When you ask a group to make cuts they need something to go rather than single line items with no detail. Apparently a banquet is more important than a budget.

  4. Perhaps a means to balance the budgets of the Archdioceses and the Metropolis. Would be to gather all of the jewels, gold crosses Crowns and tiaras that our bishops and metropolitans parade around and offered them for sale. I am sure that there will be a number of despots in the world that would like to go around with a crown.
    What is the use and need of these ornamental crowns? The only crown that our lord wore was one of thorns. It is sacrilegious for these “leaders” of the church to go around like king and emperors. Not even real kings go around with their crowns.
    The Catholic church figured this out centuries ago and now they just wear simple clothing and inexpensive ornaments. We should demand the same.

      1. Agree: We the the Laity, need to force this and stop this non-sense of treating the bishops and metropolitan as king and emperors. They need to be brought down to earth. They have plenty of time in heaven, once they pass this life (Unless God all mighty holds them accountable for their actions while they were on this Earth).

        Why do we have “Enthronements” for bishops and spend thousands on it. Can it be done with a simple ceremony?

  5. I remember years ago when the Archbishop visited our Parish. The communication from 79th Street was that the Archbishop’s bejeweled crown and expensive gold-trimmed vestments left in the Church were to be “guarded” 24 hours by local police during his stay while the Archbishop attended the gala. I also remember that they “requested” police escort into the state and when they left–and waited at the border until the police escort arrived. What they were afraid of (traffic in our smaller city of 75,000?) was never revealed. It all sounds funny now if it was not so true.

  6. The Greek Orthodox Church is decaying and going down. The leadership is made up of oligarch emperors with their vestments and adornments made of gold and jewels. Metropolitan Alexios had the guts to lay the blame on the laity inclusive of all, whee the blame lies among the rulers of the church who have it as a mini-thiefdom. The church will be finished soon enough as I and others along with our families are done with thieving deceitful Hierarchy. They protect child predators in there ranks. They deserve to have there establishment fail, the “church” they have usurped for their own power trips and personal gains.

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