EDITOR’S NOTE (Nick Stamatakis): You can watch the video below with AB Elpidophoros’ remarks at the Leadership 100 Conference regarding the New Charter before you read the excellent analysis by Jackie Morfesis. I have to say it’s hard to count how misguided the Archbishop is in addressing such a serious issue. Here are a few points:
- First, he threw out (last summer in the C-L conference) the survey results that proved for all to see the OVERWHELMING demand from the faithful for an INDEPENDENT Orthodox Church of America. He stood at the podium the true Phanariot than he is, as I was watching in disbelief, and discredited the whole survey as “divisive”… Just because the results did not fit his “tale”…
- What is this tale? The tale is that our Church in America needs the Patriarchate and the Patriarchate needs us… Only the second part of this equation is true: The Patriarchate needs to milk us because it consists of a bunch of useless, faithless, degenerate Metropolitans… It is not me who has suddenly come to “judge” them… It was the Foreign Minister of Greece, Theodoros Pangalos, who caught a group of them enjoying a lavish vacation in the most expensive Hotel in Paris – and as a result, he suspended the $10 million annually of assistance of Greece to the Patriarchate. But of course, we have other evidence: We have a Patriarch who, instead of living a monastic life in humility, bought a multi-million dollar mansion (with money from Greek-American donations!!) in the best neighborhood of Istanbul!!
- We do not need the Patriarchate – we need Christ and Faith!! This is why hundreds and thousands of faithful flock regularly to the monasteries – and any other church they can find. They are thirsty for the Word of Christ and cannot find it in GOARCH!!
- We had enough of the politicization of our Faith by Bartholomew and Elpidophoros!! We do not need you to be agents of the State Department!! We need you to be Apostles of Christ – but you can’t!!
- Finally and above all, we do not follow our children – we guide our children to faith and morality. Our children are being abducted by the disgusting “woke” ideology that pushes degenerate examples of homosexuality in the school system. Our role is to guide them back to our faith…
For the rest of this issue, please read Jackie Morfesis’ essay…
No Archbishop Elpidophoros, Our Faith is Christ – Not Culture
By Jackie Morfesis
Once more with hope against hope, with an open heart, I listened to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros’ address at the Leadership 100 Conference which took place February 2 – February 5, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona. And once again, my heart sank because his presentation: “Vision for a New GOA Charter” did not speak words of power and life, but words seeped and mired in secularist and woke ideology.
It didn’t take long for him to say the word “privileged.” I was waiting for it, and it came within the first few minutes. He admits his “privilege” in his opening statement. Had this been a game show – a rubber bird would have come down from the ceiling or the magic word would have brought a monetary reward or a new appliance.
He spoke at length about the Archdiocese being one together – with the Patriarchate. He mentioned various leaders, and the notion of leadership, but not once, not once did he mention our true leader, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Though he did demand that his name and Patriarch Bartholomew’s name be commemorated at every liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church.
He spoke of generations within the church. Grandparents, parents, and children. But in doing so, he negated and dishonored the ground on which our ancestors stood and laid the foundation of his thesis in these following words:
“Look at your children. They are beyond. They are where I want our Archdiocese to be in the next 100 years. We are not there where our children are and then we wonder why they are not with us, why they are not attending the churches, why they are not attending the projects, because if we don’t follow their steps and reach out to where they are, then we are staying behind. We think we are successful, but we are losing the momentum and we are losing the present and the future.”
Let us begin to unpack this with God’s Word: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Archbishop Elpidophoros said that we have to “follow their steps.” Really? This is our faith? Following the steps of the youth? Because in his words, they are “beyond?” No sir, we follow no one’s steps but our Lord and Savior. It is His steps we are to follow as Orthodox Christians. We do not have to be “woke”, we are “awake” in Christ. How can the spiritual leader of North and South America of the G.O.A. not mention my Lord once in his address?
It’s possible because the foundation of his address was not resting on God’s Word, but on man’s. Not on God’s Law, but on man’s. Our faith is Christ not culture. Must we say it again? Our faith is Christ not culture.
We do not win hearts nor souls by pandering to the changing times, the shifting culture, new political ideologies and narratives. Nor with “newspeak.” We reach souls the way they have been reached for thousands of years and will be reached till we with God’s grace take our place with Him in eternity, through the good news and message of salvation that is Jesus Christ, our Lord. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Do you want to see our youth engaged? Do you want to see our youth coming to church and participating in programs? Then do something that sets their souls on fire for God and for others. Show them the true freedom that is Christ Jesus. Freedom from bondage. Freedom from sin. Give our youth the tools they need in today’s world as a Christian instead of trying to make them a person ruled by the world.
Show our youth that the faith walk is more than learning Greek folk dances. The faith walk is more than volunteering at our annual Greek festivals and serving gyro sandwiches. The faith walk is becoming the person God intends us to be and to know that He has a plan and purpose for each of us as told to us in Jeremiah 29:11.
Start instilling the fire in our youth by giving them real power and purpose in God’s kingdom. Teach them God’s Holy Word. Tell them their true identity in Jesus: His child, ambassador in the Kingdom, and disciple. The archbishop wants to outreach to the “African American and Spanish communities”. Start outreaching to your own communities! Stop speaking continued sinfulness over God’s children – when Christ went to Calvary to save us from sin. We are saved – God is waiting for us to have bold faith not be shamed into silence. We cannot even converse about God because we don’t even know His Word or that we are in a personal relationship with Him.
Do you have any idea what the “youth” are doing in other churches? They do hands on outreach, not just collecting cans of food for G.O.Y.A. They serve their communities. They are utilizing their talents for the kingdom. They know how to pray for others, they are spiritual warriors – even adults in the Orthodox Church do not even know they are spiritual warriors, nor how to armor up, much less our youth. They know how to trust God, how to navigate the murky waters of life, not jumping on every boat that passes by, but by steadying their lives with the anchor that is unmovable. I have heard that Orthodox priests are “front-liners.” Guess what? We are all front-liners for Christ. We serve God by following God. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
Unlike the sheep that follow the Lord – hundreds of sheep clapped on cue – for Archbishop Elpidophoros when he said we “must follow in the footsteps of the youth.” Not one person in attendance at the Leadership 100 conference stood to contest or rebuke these words of Archbishop Elpidophoros. Why? Where was their courage? Do they not even know who they follow as a Christian? Were they impressed and even shamed because the archbishop said the youth are “beyond?” Beyond what? Beyond the faith? Beyond the Word of God? We must meld, conform, and rework Orthodoxy to “fit” today’s ever-changing narrative? No sir. God does not change – we are changed by knowing God. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
No Archbishop Elpidophoros, I do not follow the youth. I do not follow any leader. I do not follow anyone but my God. Your address was given without one word and praise to my God – without resting on God’s Word, without making a passionate and emphatic call to uplift, inspire, and move the faithful to deeper intimacy with the Lord. This is not only telling, it is tragically just one more step in the wrong direction by both Archbishop Elpidophoros and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. God have mercy.