Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The National Herald

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Archdiocese Budget Will Pass $23 Million

Theodore Kalmoukos
BOSTON - When the Parish Council and members of St. George’s Church in Lynn, Mass. refused to pay a $20,000 increase in their assessment to the Metropolis of Boston, they also asked where their money goes and demanded an accounting. None has come from Metropolitan Methodios, who ordered them to pay the increase and has been embroiled in a bitter battle with them for months. The budget for the Archdiocese, based in New York, set and approved by the Clergy Laity Congress in Atlanta in July of 2010 for $22,091,653 will rise to $23,107,519 for next year, a 121% increase since a decade ago when Archbishop Demetrios assumed the Archbishopric See of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. This does not include huge grants given by Leadership 100 members of many of the Greek American Community’s most affluent members and the Faith Endowment supporting the programs and the ministries of the Archdiocese. The National Herald has learned that the finances of the Archdiocese have not been audited since 2007. Messages to Jerry Dimitriou, Executive Director of Administration and also Director of Finance of the Archdiocese went unanswered. The Archdiocese, since the year 2000, has also paid out more than $18 million dollars in settlements with victims of pedophile and homosexual priests.
Critics of the Church have challenged what they said is a traditional “Pray, Pay and Obey” mantra expected of members and have begun to ask difficult questions about how much money is raised and where it goes, but there are a few specifics of numbers in the budgets of the Archdiocese which consisted of line item budget numbers and no further breakdown of spending. In 2009, the Archdiocese’s budget was $20,792,871 and rose to $21,737,385 in 2010. Back in 2009, the budget was exceeded by $4,487,133, bringing the actual cost of Archdiocesan operations to $25,180,004. In 2007, it was $18,263,500, while in 2008 it was $19,533,500. In 2005 it was $16,179,000 and in 2006 it came in at $16,378,000. The Archdiocese does not contribute for the operation of the St. Basil’s Academy, neither for the St. Michael Home for the Aged. Five years ago, in July 2006, the Clergy-Laity Congress in Nashville, Tenn. changed the method of stewardship calculation for parish communities to the Archdiocese. Prior to 2006, the parishes were contributing 15% of their annual income to the Archdiocese. From 2006 on, the stewardship dues began to be calculated at 15% of a parish’s expenses, while parishes were required to submit to the Archdiocese a financial report prepared by a Certified Public Accountant. The new method provides that the parishes send to the Archdiocese the 15% amount based on their expenses instead of their income, vastly increasing the sums given the Archdiocese. According to Archdiocesan officials and members of the Finance Committee, this method provides for a more accurate review of parish communities’ finances, while enabling it to better calculate corresponding stewardship dues. This system was first implemented by the Metropolis of Atlanta. It should also be noted that stewardship monies are calculated based solely on the expenses of the parish, and not Day schools as well, in the event that a parish community operates a Day school. Twenty-five percent of the stewardship monies collected by each Metropolis from its parish communities are subsequently returned by the Archdiocese to the Metropolis to cover operational costs.
In 2007, the Archdiocese had a surplus of $4,370,607 before paying out legal fees and settlements for lawsuits dealing with allegations of sexual molestation against children by priests. Following fees and settlements, the Archdiocese was left with a surplus of $2,370,782. Meanwhile, the figure for debts and expenses totaling $7,891,011 at the end of 2006 was reduced by $5,144,011 in 2007 and reached $2,747,000. In 2007, the Archdiocese gave $900,000 to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. On Dec. 31, 2007 the Archdiocese’s annual expenses reached $19,844,342 before legal fees and the payment of legal settlements. In 2007, the Archdiocese paid out the amount of $1,455,823 in legal costs and settlements, which was $705,823 more than the expenses foreseen in the budget.
Analytically the monies for the years 2011 and 2012 respectively are spent as follows:
• Office of the Archbishop $822,120 for the year 2011 and $855,005 for the year 2012
• Office of the Secretariat $243,984 and $253,743 Department of Correspondence $209,722 and $218,111
• Office of Administration $424,320 and $441,293
• Office of the Chancellor 360,672 and $375,099
• Department of Finance $350,064 and $364,067
• Legal Fees& Settlements $1,000,000 and $1,000,000
• Information Technology $795,600 and $827,424
• Office of Internal Assessment and Evaluation $102,000 and $102,000
• Stewardship Ministry $318,240 and $330,970
• Department of Philanthropy $207,631 and $215,936
• Development Office $291,720 and $303,389
• Outreach & Evangelism $185,640 and $193,066
• Registry $119,660 and $124,447
• Archive Center $138,227 and $143,756
• Clergy Assistance & Benevolence $132,600 and $137,904
• Family Care Ministries $79,560 and $82,742
• E Commerce-Online Book Store $79,560 and $82,742
• Church and Society $170,000 and $175,100
• General Administrative Services $848,640 and $882,586
• Liability Insurance and Expenses $850,000 and $875,500
• Synod of Bishops Meeting Expense $31,824 and $33,097
• Archdiocesan Conferences $74,256 and $77,226
• Interest Expense $110,000 and $100,000
• Debt Reduction – Principle $500,000 and $515,000
• Ecumenical Patriarchate $1,000,000 and $1,000,000
• Orthodox Missions Center $60,000 and $60,000
• Support to Religious Affiliates $21,860 and $22,734
• Ecumenical Office $314,939 and $327,537
• Public Affairs & Relations $166,616 and $173,281
• Communications $424,320 and $441,293
• Internet Ministries $318,240 and $330,970
• Greek Orthodox Telecommunications $212,160 and $220,646
• Orthodox Observer (eight issues per year) $875,160 and $910,166
• Holy Cross Theological School $1,350,000 for 2011 and $1,500,00 for 2012
• Greek Education and Culture $467,282 and $485,974
• Marriage and Family $185,000 and $193,066
• Religious Education $774,384 and $805,359
• Youth Ministry $594,048 and $617,810
• Ionian Village $1,071,408 and $1,114,264
• Ionian Village-Improvements $600,000 and $750,000
The following amounts are given back to the Metropolises:
• Archdiocesan District $627,708 and $652,816
• Metropolis of New Jersey $550,657 and $572,683
• Metropolis of Chicago $683,354 and $710,688
• Metropolis of Boston $442,961 and $460,679
• Metropolis of San Francisco $471,750 and $490,620
• Metropolis of Atlanta $573,842 and $596,795
• Metropolis of Pittsburgh $425,000 and $440,000
• Metropolis of Detroit $425,000 and $440,000
• Metropolis of Denver $425,000 and $440,000
• Retired Bishops $242,076 and $251,750

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

See what your Parish Allocation is… Have you ever seen this?

“Your money perish with you..”

Acts, Chapter 8:
But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.” So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This blog has been sent in from " Orthodox Observer"

In this day and age we are living in a civilized era, where our Greek Orthodox leaders, and fellow parishioners have doctoral degrees with PhD's, Master's and Bachelor's Degrees from various prestigious universities and colleges. We are also blessed to be in the presence of some very intelligent men and women who perhaps do not hold degrees but can teach us a thing or two about life in general. We live in a democratic country where we have the right to voice our opinion and make our own choices. Being threatened with propaganda letters that are read in other communities not only belittles the St. George parish, but it also belittles our religious leaders. The do-or-die/my-way-or-else approach that was taken by His Eminence is not an enlightened path to resolving controversies and disagreements in the Greek Orthodox family. This should be a time of compromise, good faith and civil dialogue. It was not the parish of St. George who made the patter public and took it to the media--it was the Metropolis. During this time of turmoil, we are punished with sanctions; we are not allowed to conduct sacrament at our church. Some of our spiritual leaders do not have a clear picture of the daily struggles of the modern Greek-American family and the economic hardships that families are facing during these difficult times. We are in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Some of our elderly parishioners were raised during this era, and our Church survived during that era. Like the rest of the country, people in our community are in personal financial crisis - losing their homes, their jobs. Our elderly are living on a fixed income of $800.00 a month. During these challenging times for our nation and our community, people to their faith. We need the love and support of our church more than ever. Ironically, the parish of St. George, our priest, and parish council and members, used to receive heaps praise from various members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy for their dedication, service and financial support in the past. When we were generously supporting the causes of the Metropolitan, we were in his good graces. Now, when the church finds itself in a difficult financial situation--not due to mismanagement, but simply due to the realities of the downturn in the economy and resulting downturn in donations--our parish leaders and our priest are publicly denounced and threatened with excommunication The parish asked for a temporary (not a permanent) stabilization of our annual allocation at $68,000, for a couple of years (to which His Eminence and the Metropolis agreed at one point), until the economy and our stewardship donations bounced back. Does the fact that the Parish Council members are good Christians and tireless volunteers who have given of their time and talents not only for St. George but also for the Metropolis and for the Archdiocese for all these years count for nothing now, over $20,000? We are not anarchists, we did not set out to cause a controversy with the Metropolitan. We do not wish ill upon His Eminence and we respect his position as Metropolitan. We continue to look for his guidance. We simply do not agree with his actions and the manner in which he proceeded to address this impasse. There is much misinformation out there regarding what the parish allegedly did or did not do. The truth is, we have attempted to reach a respectful and amicable compromise, to resolve this matter, but to no avail. Instead of focusing on the issues that divide is, let's focus on the many issues that unite us. We love God. We love St. George Greek Orthodox Church. We love our Greek culture and heritage. We are also blessed to have a great deal of people who not only care about St. George, they are able to physically get involved in a real way and volunteer their time and energy for the betterment of the church and the community at large. We want to continue to worship and practice our religious beliefs within our congregation, within our families and within our daily life. And, we want our Spiritual Leaders to guide us (not threaten us, or discard us when we're facing financial difficulties) in order to be better people individually and as a community at large. The St. George parish is a community of religious people, of Greek Orthodox faithful that wish to remain united and to practice our religion, including all sacraments, in our church with our priest and our Parish Council. We may not all want to be involved in the daily politics of the church. And we may not all be aware of the financial constraints faced by the church. I am not involved in the parish council. I am a simply a faithful parishioner of St. George who wishes to remain anonymous. My entire family has supported the church for many, many years both financially and in terms of volunteering our time. However, I personally do not want people worrying about whether or not their beloved church will be shut down in the midst of such political chaos. I want the elderly people to be able to have peace, stability and faith that our current and future church leaders will be able to sit down in an educated, and Christian fashion and work these issues out. And I want my children--who are baptized at St. George--to be able to attend a church where there is peace and focus is on our faith, not on money. There should be a clear difference between Religion and the Business side of the church. Declaration of a schism is an extremely serious punitive measure that usually is a result of a serious transgression from the Christian DOGMA. A schism declared over a financial disagreement over annual dues of a parish is UNJUST. It is extremely unfortunate that these line of Business and Religion have been crossed. Let's separate the business side and get a Professional Mediator or a third party Business Executive involved and help hash out our Business differences. And, let the Religious leaders focus on more important topics - our future = our children. I hope and pray that egos can be put aside aside and we can be guided by Christ's teachings and use our Powerful Greek Intellect and work this out. It's OK to have a differing opinions. But, it's also very important to RESPECT each other's opinion. Try to educate one another, understand one another, not cast stones. We look to our Spiritual Leaders to set a good example for our children and I pray for for the future of St. George and the entire Greek American Orthodox Community at large.