His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America presents the newly ordained Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos to the congregation. (Photo provided by Bishop Athenagoras)
BOSTON – The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is conducting a limited survey through a questionnaire regarding the drafting of its new charter. The questionnaire was sent, only in English, to The Charter Advisory Committee which is comprised of 80 people out of which 40 are appointed by Archbishop Elpidophoros and the other forty appointments come from the Metropolises.
The Archdiocese has engaged an outside research company, Barna Group, to undertake this survey. The findings will be given to the Advisory Committee headed by Michael Psaros, a renowned businessman and noted philanthropist and vice-president of The Friends of St. Nicholas, the organizations which has undertaken the responsibility of finishing the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in Manhattan.
Also, the findings will be submitted to a small joint Committee appointed by the Archdiocese and the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the drafting of the final version of the new charter.
It is reminded here that the charter was revoked by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Synod in Constantinople upon the request of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America more than one-and-one-half year ago. Specifically, the charter was revoked on Thursday, October 8, 2020 without any consultation or even notification of the Eparchial Synod or the Archdiocesan Council.
It was at the same Synodic meeting that Elpidophoros had recommended or demanded – according to sources familiar with the issue – the dethronement of Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey and the imposition of the penance of a three-month liturgical suspension on Metropolitan Methodios of Boston.
It is emphasized here that despite the revocation (annulment) of the charter Archbishop Elpidophoros continues to convene meetings of the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese, which makes many hierarchs at the Ecumenical Patriarchate wonder what is really going on in America.
The questionnaire follows:
Should the organization of the Archdiocese…?
Be more centralized – with more authority and accountability to the Archdiocese as one indivisible entity in its entirety
Be more distributed – with more autonomy to the Metropolises
Do you believe the Church in America should return to a structure comprised of individual dioceses, shepherded by auxiliary bishops, all under the leadership of the Archbishop of America?
Who should have authority over the governance of the Archdiocese?
RANK the following from ‘1’ (most authority) to ‘4’ (less authority).
1 (most) 2 3 4 (less)
The Eparchial Synod
The Archdiocesan Council
The Clergy-Laity Congress
Should the responsibilities and rights of the Archbishop under the charter be:
Left the same
Should the responsibilities and rights of the Metropolitans under the charter be:
Left the same
Should the current structure of Metropolises remain the same or change?
Stay the same
Reorganize to better match geographic areas
Condense into fewer Metropolises
Expand into more Metropolises
The governance of the Archdiocese rests with the Holy Eparchial Synod that is responsible for ecclesiastical and canonical matters and the Archdiocesan Council that is concerned with the life, growth and unity of the Archdiocese and is consultative to the Archbishop and the Eparchial Synod. Should the role of the Archdiocesan Council vis-à-vis the Archbishop and the Eparchial Synod change?
What functions should be carried out by the Archdiocese?
National communications to leaders (clergy and laity)
National communications to laity
Provision of technology and tools to enable ministry
Provision of media and communications channels and tools
Provision of training or instruction for leaders
Distribution and instruction on best practices for ministries
Ministry resources, curriculum, and tools
None of these
What would be the key benefits you would desire from a more centralized organization?
Better ability to implement and monitor compliance with governance policies and decisions
More consistency of communication
More consistency in implementing ministries, programs, standards
Reduced cost and increased efficiency
Other (please specify)
N/A, I do not anticipate benefits of a more centralized organization
What would be the key benefits you would desire from a more distributed approach?
More flexibility to make decisions / take actions that reflect the local region or community
Able to use funds more as needed in the areas from which they come
Preventing overreach of power
Other (please specify)
N/A, I do not anticipate benefits of a more distributed approach
Should the Archdiocese be responsible for oversight of… ?
Governance (ability to appoint or approve Boards)
Financial operations and decisions
HCHC (schools and seminaries)
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine
Other affiliated institutions
None of these
When a decision is made by the Eparchial Synod, should there be a mechanism to ensure that the Metropolises consistently implement the decisions to avoid inconsistency and lack of a unified response?
Would you agree or disagree? Hierarchs and priests should be required to complete ongoing professional development through seminars or courses on leadership, administration or financial management, etc.
Should there be any age (mandatory retirement age) or term restrictions for hierarchs?
Mandatory retirement age
Maximum term length (years)
Should the qualifications to be elected Archbishop be changed?
Should the qualifications to be elected Metropolitan or Auxiliary Bishop be changed?
Should the frequency of the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress change?
Yes, less frequent meetings
Yes, more frequent meetings
No, it should be maintained at every 2 years
Should the Clergy-Laity Congress establish a 2-year budget?
Yes, a 2-year budget
The Congress should set an annual budget
No, it’s unrealistic or has not worked in the past
Should the responsibilities and authority of the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress change?
Yes, it should be expanded
Yes, it should be reduced
No, it should remain as described in the current charter
Should the responsibilities and authority of the Local Clergy-Laity Assemblies change?
Yes, they should be expanded
Yes, they should be reduced
No, they should remain as described in the current charter
What sorts of checks and balances should exist between the Eparchial Synod and the Clergy Laity Congress (and Executive Committee in intervening periods) in the new Charter? Select all that apply.
The Clergy Laity Congress should have the authority to veto all non-ecclesiastical Eparchial Synod decisions if they feel it necessary
The Eparchial Synod should have the authority to veto only budgetary and financial decisions of the Clergy Laity Congress
The Eparchial Synod should have the authority to veto all Clergy Laity Congress decisions if they feel it necessary
The Clergy Laity Congress should have the authority to veto any budgetary and financial decisions of the Eparchial Synod
Both bodies should agree on all non-ecclesiastical decisions
I don’t believe explicit checks and balances are necessary
Should the current procedures for Spiritual Courts change or remain the same?
Remain the same
The former Charter stated that the Archbishop of America is the highest Ecclesiastical authority in America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch.
Should the name of the Archbishop be commemorated in each Divine Liturgy in America?
Not sure / undecided
The Holy Archdiocese of America is an Eparchy of the Mother Church of Constantinople. Should the name of the Ecumenical Patriarch be commemorated in each Divine Liturgy in America?
Not sure / undecided
Would you agree or disagree? There should be greater emphasis on the use of English in the Church, both officially and liturgically.
What ideas would you suggest for the Church in America to better engage youth?
What can contribute to the vibrancy and growth of the Greek Orthodox Church in America? What are your ideas, whether related to the Charter or general ideas?
Which provisions from the 2003 Charter should be removed or revised in the new Charter?
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