Greek pop singer Despina Vandi performed at the Clergy-Laity Congress Grand Banquet on July 7. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
NEW YORK – The 46th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America concluded July 7 after a packed final Plenary Session during which various institutional organizations shared their progress and their vision for the next 100 years. Presenters included Hellenic College Holy Cross President George Cantonis, Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society National President Arlene Siavelis Kehl, Archon National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis on behalf of the Order of St. Andrew and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation, and Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Foundation Chairman Demetrios G. Logothetis. Archdiocesan Departments, like those of Inter-Orthodox, Interfaith, and Ecumenical Relations; Benefits Office; Youth and Young Adult Ministries; Camping Ministries; Ionian Village; the Young Adult League (YAL); Religious Education; and Greek Education, among others, also made presentations.
In his remarks, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America said: “Some might say that the labor of this Centennial Clergy-Laity Congress has concluded. But I say to you that the endeavor has only just begun. We assembled in this Congress in a work of exploration: reflecting on the legacy of our past, engaging in renewal in our current moment, and forging even stronger bonds of unity for our future. As a community, we are as diverse as any other in the United States. We need to own this, and not allow it to own us.”
The Finance Committee also announced that the Archdiocese had achieved financial stability with revenues exceeding expenses from 2018 to 2021 and budgetary controls in place and operating. Cost controls and CARES Act funding— an anticipated $6 million of which shared with Metropolises and parishes— allowed the Archdiocese to manage the pandemic while delivering on its priorities. Moreover, in response to the pandemic, $2.4 million in PPP funds was shared with parishes in 2020, while $2 million was shared with Metropolises in 2021. The Archdiocese COVID-19 Relief Fund provided over $600,000 in financial assistance to 350 individuals and families, and $450,000 in parish relief was provided based on Metropolis assessment of need.
The Committee also reported a total of $1.1 million dollars raised by the Archdiocese as part of its 2021 Greek Fires Response, which, in collaboration with the IOCC, supports the immediate and long-term needs of those affected by the fires. The GOARCH Ukraine Relief Fund, also launched by Archbishop Elpidophoros in March 2022 in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has raised $925,000 to date.
The Grand Banquet concluded the CLC on July 7, with over 1200 delegates and guests in attendance to celebrate a fruitful Centennial Congress, which saw the long-awaited Consecration of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, concurrent and historic national conventions for the Ladies Philoptochos Society and YAL, and a Special Plenary on the Charter of the Archdiocese.
Patriarchal Representatives, Their Eminences Elder-Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and Metropolitan Prodromos of Rethymnon and Avlopotamos, Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandra Papadopoulou, Vice-Chair of the Archdiocesan Council John Catsimatidis, National Philoptochos President Arlene Siavelis Kehl, and Congress Co-Chairs Chrysanthy Demos and Nicholas Karacostas offered remarks. Also among the speakers was former Governor of New York George Pataki, who was honored by Archbishop Elpidophoros for his support in the rebuilding of the St. Nicholas Shrine.
In his Keynote Address, the Archbishop also recognized as Centennial Honorees the Vice-Chairs of the Archdiocesan Council, John Catsimatidis, George Tsandikos, Demetrios Moschos, and the late Michael Jaharis, the longtime General Counsel of the Archdiocese, the late Emanuel Demos, the Centennial Congress Co-Chairs and their spouses, Chrysanthy and George Demos and Nicholas and Anna Karacostas, and four “intrepid workers” of the Archdiocese, Marissa Costidis, Maria Andriotis, Jamil Samara, and Theo Nickolakis.
A Centennial honoree is a person who has contributed significantly to the life of the Archdiocese; who has served with distinction and on the front lines; who has given true stewardship of time, talent and treasure to Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; and who is the true Icon of a faithful member of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
The Banquet also included videos highlighting the Archbishop and the CLC, as well as the presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Protopresbyter Fr. Alexander Karloutsos by President Joe Biden which took place earlier on July 7.
Following the dinner and speeches, the Banquet concluded with music and dancing along to a performance by Greek pop singer Despina Vandi who noted how honored she was to perform at the event.
Another highlight of the CLC, the Centennial Reception, titled From Byzantium to America, was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on July 6 and featured the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir under the direction of Archon Georgios Theodoridis and the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians under the direction of maestro Costas Tsourakis with accompaniment by Dawn Helene on the organ. The event was hosted by Chrysanthy and George Demos and Sofia and Angelo K. Tsakopoulos. The impressive voices of the singers highlighted the traditional power and beauty of Byzantine chant and the newer musical tradition of four-part harmony, especially in the finale with the combined choirs performing the Great Doxology by Manuel Protopsaltis with the arrangement by Dawn Helene and Georgios Theodoridis.
Following the concert, His Eminence thanked all those who organized the event and supported it and then presented icons to Archon Stephen Cherpelis, Georgios Theodoridis, and Costas Tsourakis.
NEW YORK – Within the framework of the promotion of monasticism — which has blossomed over the past decades in the United States — His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America announced the convening of the 2nd Monastic Synaxis, October 12-14, at the Holy Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring in Dunlap, CA, which will have as its general theme: “The Spiritual Inheritance of St.
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