The following is a comment on our website…
“Let’s Fix it: the Inherited Legacy of the Church” by Ari Stone is a very interesting article and brings up several issues pertinent to the state of the Greek Orthodox Church of America (GOA) today.
Mr. Stone is quite correct to use the franchise model when referring to the Archdiocese, because that is what the parishes have become: franchises.
What would happen to a parish if one year it couldn’t have its annual festival? Where would the annual “franchise fee” that each parish must send to the Archdiocese each year, come from? And why is there even such a bloated structure as the Archdiocese in place? Its budget has grown by $1 million per year for the last 20 years. Most of its departments could cease to exist and be recreated in the metropolises. The Office of the Archbishop would have a staff, and perhaps Internet ministries might be valuable on a national level, but not much more.
That brings us to the most important element: the Archdiocese’s spiritual state, beginning at the parish level. Many parishes are run as businesses, not particularly because the clergy want that, but because the laity does. People complain about the clergy, but they are overworked with matters that weigh heavily on them, matters that others never have to encounter, especially on a daily basis. Any community with 300 families should have two priests and parishes of 600 or more should probably have three.
Supporting all those clergy and their families costs a lot. But parishes can’t afford that.
The parish priest’s workload is what impacts most heavily on a parish’s spiritual state.
Parishes can’t afford extra clergy because of the annual “franchise fees” the Archdiocese demands.
Metropolitans’ lifestyles is a whole other issue altogether. As is recruiting clergy.
It is time to look at the spiritual issues that exist in the parishes, metropolises, and the Archdiocese. If the laity doesn’t see that spirituality is the basis for the existence of the parish, all the money in the world won’t help.
It is time that parishes cease to be Greek-American social clubs. Most marriages are “mixed” and the children and grandchildren need a spiritual reason to go to church. And, of course, there is the message of Orthodoxy, not ethnic heritage, which will bring converts to the faith.
Ignore those issues and parishes will soon die out.