It’s remarkable what difference a person can make in a short period of time:
In the last few years the decline of the Archdiocese had accelerated dangerously. It was a long time in the coming. It had started with Archbishop Spyridon, stabilized at the beginning of Archbishop Demetrios’ tenure – and then nose-dived.
It was inevitable that Demetrios would have to resign after the news broke of the disastrous state of the finances of the Archdiocese.
However, that was clear to all but him. He was hoping against hope that the money would be found to at least finish the Saint Nicholas Church at Ground Zero.
In the meantime, things were getting worse.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had shown remarkable patience despite the calls for the removal of Demetrios.
Bartholomew approached Demetrios about submitting his resignation at least one time. He refused.
In the end, Bartholomew had no choice but to force his resignation.
The news of Elpidophoros’ election was greeted with relief. When Elpidophoros arrived in New York, our Archdiocese was in a free fall.
The financial issue was just one part of the problem, albeit a big one.
The church structure was disintegrating. The morale was low.
Time was of the essence for the survival of the Archdiocese.
The smiling face of Elpidophoros walking down the aisle to be enthroned in the Cathedral in New York a year ago was like a breath of fresh air.
Those old enough to remember were reminded of a young Iakovos.
The Archdiocese had a leader, again.
And that was what was missing. Someone to be in charge.
I am not saying that disrespectfully of Demetrios. He has other great qualities and talents. He is a very learned man.
However, he just was not a leader. And the Church, as an organization, needs a leader.
This is the change that made all the difference in the world in the year that passed.
That someone is now in charge. A leader who methodically and carefully makes decisions and solves problems that have been dormant for years.
Someone who restored trust in the Archdiocese.
Someone who as a leader made the decision to demonstrate against racism, knowing that some people would not be happy about it.
Coronavirus has added substantially to the problems being faced by the Church.
Attendance was all but forbidden by the governors of the states.
Festivals have been cancelled this summer.
Yet, Elpidophoros continues to solve problems. And he is introducing the Archdiocese to the technological marvels of our time to bring the Church closer to the youth, as he had promised in his enthronement speech.
For all these reasons we mark the first year since the enthronement of Elpidophoros with ελπίδα, for the future of our church in America – as his name indicates.