BOSTON – (GreekNewsOnline)
Photos: Dimitrios Panagos
The 44th Biennial Clergy Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America concluded last night, July 5, 2018 with a Grand Banquet at the Boston Marriott Copley Place Hotel and attended by more than 1,200 people. The festive banquet followed a full day of deliberations in the setting of the Plenary Session of the Congress.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America offered the invocation and the National Anthems were sung by mezzo-soprano Collen Palmer. Co-Chairs of the Congress Michael Sophocles and Peter Bassett made the presentations and offered greetings. Greek American journalist and former News Anchor Mike Nikitas, served as the Master of Ceremonies. Greetings were offered by the Chairman of Leadership 100 Argyris Vassiliou, Congress Honorary Chairman Arthur Anton, National Philoptochos President Maria Logus and Consul General of Greece in Boston Stratos Efthymiou.
Thoughtful remarks were offered by the patriarchal representatives, His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Apostolos of Derkoi and His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Selyvria.
Metropolitan Apostolos admonished the attendees about the dangers of evil, lies and scandals and said: “The enemy of truth and our salvation works deviously day and night. We ought to oppose his machinations with unshakeable Faith to the Omnipotent Holy Triune God of Truth.
Faith working through love per Apostle Paul (Gal. 5:6); and not only through love but also through patience and discernment and humility but mostly God-loving unity.”
“These voices come from people suffering from inferiority complex”, Metropolitan Maximos said, referring to the School of Theology graduation ceremony incident.
He concluded by asking the members of the Archdiocese to feel proud for being the children of the Mother Church of Constantinople”
The host hierarch His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios offered inspiring remarks and expressed his gratitude personally to all the members of the host committee and the volunteers. He also has spoken about the deliberations at the Clergy Laity by sending a clear message of respect each other’s views even if we don’t agree with them, replying at the same time to the inflated issue over the Valiotis’ comments at the graduation of the Hellenic College.
“I want to the thank you for the dignity with which you exercised your responsibilities this week. There are times that we do not agree with one another but we respect one another. We believe in freedom of speech”.
Referring to the celebration of 4th of July a day earlier and the thousands that have died in defending the freedoms we as Americans enjoy, with the freedom of speech being the paramount of all.
“While we categorically disagree with opinions and we are offended by slanderous remarks expressed by certain individuals, we nevertheless recognize their right to express their opinions. That what America is,” Methodios said under the heavy applause of the audience.
Archbishop Demetrios also touched upon the issue, by offering an anecdote of the Panorthodox meeting in Crete, when the Ecumenical Patriarch was listening patiently for six days without interrupting anyone. Only the last day he told one Bishop who had already intervened 3 times and asked for one more intervention to allow the others to speak as well.
Archbishop Demetrios of America in his remarks recognized and praised the hard work of the host committee, the volunteers and their spiritual leader Metropolitan Methodios. The Archbishop expressed gratitude to the His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his demonstrated leadership, love and care. He also said that the Church is universal and diachronic and the Clergy Laity Congress was not only an opportunity to connect amongst ourselves and discuss issues of concern but hopefully and most importantly an opportunity to connect with God. His Eminence returned to the theme of the Clergy Laity and recounted the story of the father who was pleading to Christ for the healing of his son (Mark 9:23) and the response of the Lord: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Archbishop Demetrios concluded his closing remarks offering as admonishment and spiritual guidance the reading of a passage from St Paul’s letter to the Romans (35, 38-39): “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”