The undersigned Greek Orthodox Americans hereby declare an unwavering and unconditional commitment to our faith and to its self-governing independence in our beloved American homeland.
We declare our right to self-governance to be one and same with all other self-governing Orthodox churches worldwide, including Greece and Cyprus, who themselves are self-governing and canonical. We will remain apostolic and canonical, but within the framework of self-governance. We will not surrender governing independence, which is rightfully ours as a nation, even according to Church tradition.
Further, we pledge our commitment, our time, resources, and reputations to achieve unconditional self-governance and self-determination, free of secular and foreign interference and free of the foreign church corruption which has prevailed for decades. We will not yield to fraud, waste, abuse, corrupt leadership, and above all, the sinfulness of those who have plundered the Church for personal and political gain, including foreign policy intrigue.
- The Church in America was established as an immigrant church to serve immigrants a century ago. It is now an American church comprised of second, third, and fourth-generation assimilated immigrants and increasingly, over the last 50 years, converts of no other ethnicity than American. As time and circumstances change, so too must Church governance. We must be more and greater than a diminishing church of immigrants.
- The Greek Orthodox Church of America, if it is to be One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, must open its doors. Not everyone who is Roman Catholic comes from Italy. So too, those who are Greek Orthodox worldwide must identify with the religious tradition, not the geography. Cultural ties to the old country remain, but not as a matter of Faith. The mission of the Church, as it has been since Pentecost, is to evangelize the Gospel and grow the Church in the lands where the faithful exist.
- But before we open our Church’s doors to everyone, we, Americans of Greek descend, are ironically faced, two hundred years after the Greek Revolution of 1821, with a daunting task: To repel the financial exploitation and administrative oppression imposed on us by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Patriarchate is a legal entity in Turkey, a “Turkish Religious Institution”: as such, it was agreed about 30 years ago – upon the election of Pat. Bartholomew – that it would promote Turkish interests globally. After AB Elpidophoros’ enthronement, this initial agreement was expanded, aiming at the political “neutering” of the powerful Greek communities in the English-speaking world.
- The Patriarchate is not at all interested in guiding this Church spiritually; Most of its hierarchs live in luxury, advancing their own personal interests and wealth (although they are supposed to be “monks”), playing geopolitical games, and “kissing the hands” of their Turkish overlords. When they decide to deal with “ministry” they rarely talk about Christ’s message but promote political ideology. This is not a “Christ-centered Church”. When serving in America, the Patriarchate’s hierarchy and priests are a “foreign body”: they have minimal understanding and connection with the community they are supposed to serve. In the last three years, this problem has intensified.
- According to the most recent data, our church participation is declining sharply – over 20% between 2010-2020 and that was pre-pandemic! Today, the actual number of active participants is below 85,000… Our children and grandchildren, who are as successful educationally and financially as any other social group in America, have left the Church in droves! What might be the reasons? Overly materialistic approach and lack of spirituality? Wasteful, fraudulent, abusive policies? Lack of meaningful parish life? At some point, the “souvlaki stand mentality” aimed singularly at fundraising will have to subside in favor of evangelism and care for the suffering humans next to us.
- Failed GOA leadership, thanks to Fr. Karloutsos, has turned our Church into a country club for the very wealthy, who are being milked for funding mostly the Patriarchate, at the same time as they benefit themselves from the tax advantages. The majority of priests and hierarchs celebrate the wealthy in the altar of materialism they actually believe in. In the process, GOA imposes heavy “taxation” on the diminishing resources of the parishes, offering absolutely nothing in return. This materialist, self-serving, orientation of the leadership eventually produced huge financial scandals centered around the rebuilding of Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero: GOA is for the past 4 years under federal investigation!
- Neither the Patriarchate nor the GOA pays any attention to the decades-old demand for the establishment of rules of transparency and accountability. Thousands of Greek Americans spent limitless time and money (under well-intentioned organizations as GOAL and OCL) towards the establishment of such rules, to no avail. The GOA failed leadership, guided by Phanar, completely ignored the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents who notoriously sold their wedding rings to “burn their Church’s mortgage notes”.
- The whole organization of the Church is authoritarian and does not even pretend to follow democratic rules as set by the state laws regulating non-profit organizations in America. The “Sultans” of East 79th Street impose or fire parish council members at will.
Our Greek-American community is more mature than any other “autocephalous” church, certainly more mature than Ukraine. We demand independence and self-governance now. In fact, we will NOT accept any duplicitous Phanariot plan for a fallacious, fake “autocephaly like Ukraine’s”.
Once this goal is achieved, we, Americans of Greek descent, true to our ancestors’ original cosmopolitanism that gave birth to Christianity, we will open our hearts and our Churches to all Orthodox of America, in fact to all Americans, to share our faith, to finally fulfill Saint Paul’s teachings and achieve Panorthodox unity in this wonderful country of ours.
The choice we have to make is simple: Stay under a Patriarchate subjected to tyrannical Turkish rule or demand a self-governing Independent Church in America NOW!!
STEERING COMMITTEE FOR INDEPENDENCE OF GOA
Helleniscope calls on each and every one of you, clergy and laity, to follow this link to change.org and sign this declaration
Will forward to other Orthodox ppl.
I wholeheartedly support independence for the GOA. The American flag stands for freedom from tyranny. A foreign state should not have any authority over churches on American soil. It’s ridiculous.
I agree with all points in the petition except there is no need to form a non profit church. American churches were always tax exempt.
…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Cor. 3:17
I am 1000% on board with this idea. Let’s make it a reality! More power in numbers! Let this article/idea go viral and get started before we live to regret it.. things are worse then they seem. We need to educate people sooner then later.
Your brothers and sisters in the OCA wish you Godspeed!
and how pre tell, are you going to get all of the other Orthodox jurisdictions on board with this…….there already is an Orthodox Church In America that meets all your needs. Rather than cahnge the Apostolic nature of our our Greek Orthodox Church here in America why dont you just pick up your toys and join the OCA which already meets all your needs…….and while you are at it , you may wnat to do some research at to the history of the OCA and the Greek Orthodox Church you may find an answer in why the GOA has not “officially” recognized the OCA here in America while it “unofficially” does so by utilizing its priests as substitutes …
Helleniscope in a previous post has referred our Greek-American faithful to OCA, ROCOR, Antiochean and other churches. If GOA stays in this reprehensible status every individual has choices – including establishing a new Church. For now, independence is the first option.
The GOA will be dead in 10-15 if the above numbers are correct. Between people dying off, atrophy due to lack of spirituality or GOA members leaving for other jurisdictions, why even bother with trying to save it.
How many petitions have been done, how many times have we complained about our money being stolen, our hierarchs being bought and paid for thugs, the spiritual death of the Patriarchate…yet what happens? Nothing, zilch, nada.
How exactly do you plan to change anything?
Leave the GOA for somewhere more spiritually healthy and just let the GOA die already, it’s well on it’s way to doing so. Hopefully the Ephraim monasteries do the right thing and find shelter in a jurisdiction that is actually Orthodox, because it sure isn’t GOARCH.
Is financial corruption iok by hierarchy in Orthodox churches in America controlled by nation states outside of America ? Your thoughts are appreciated. Is financial church crime okay? Anywhere?
Another thing that’s been in my mind: why did the GOA take Covid money from the USA? Did Turkey also give the GOA Covid money? Please, someone-anyone – provide accounting for the money the GOA took from the USA as a Covid loan.