A new important national initiative creating an Endowment with the sole purpose of funding the National Ministries and Institutions of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and thus advancing Orthodoxy and Hellenism, was launched on November 19.
“Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy & Hellenism,” incorporated in New York on October 31, 2003, was organized by nine founding members, with a five-year program and initial first-phase goal of raising $100 million. The initial founders include George D. Behrakis of Lowell, Massachusetts, Nicholas J. Bouras of Summit, New Jersey, George Coumantaros of New York, Michael Jaharis of New York, Peter T. Kikis of New York, James H. Moshovitis of Washington, D.C., John G. Pappajohn of Des Moines, Iowa, John A. Payiavlas of Warren, Ohio and Alex G. Spanos of Stockton, California.
Mr. Spanos, a renowned Greek American businessman and philanthropist from Stockton, California, pledged $10 million at the meeting, expressing his excitement at “everything we are doing today” and his confidence that the initial goal of raising $100 million discussed at the meeting will certainly be surpassed. With the pledges of the other eight founders, an amount in excess of $20 million has been committed already to the new endowment.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, spoke to the group who initiated the Faith Endowment, about the “outstanding quality, dynamism and promising future” of the Greek Orthodox Church in America–“a Church,” he said, “which is the carrier of the immense treasures of Orthodoxy and Hellenism, continuing a long tradition in which the dedication of benefactors played a decisive role.”
His Eminence characterized the formation of the Faith Endowment as “a call and a mission, not a simple campaign, or fund raising effort, but a response to God.” He referred to the Founders as “Champions of Faith,” who have moved dynamically at a critical juncture in the history of Orthodoxy and Hellenism in America and in the world. He praised them as generous supporters of Orthodoxy and Hellenism over many years, and as decisive factors in the new endowment, but he emphasized the urgent need to enlarge the circle of donors by utilizing the full potential of the Greek-American Community with particular attention to the younger generation, inviting its members to fully participate in the Church and their Hellenic heritage.
Mr. Michael Jaharis, who was instrumental in the initiative of the new undertaking, spoke about the tremendous and vital significance of the National Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America for the future of Orthodoxy and Hellenism in this country. “These ministries,” he said, “have been mostly supported and maintained by the ‘Total Commitment’ of the Communities, which must steadily increase because of the dramatically growing needs for Orthodox evangelization. A decisive assistance to the Ministries of the Church has also been provided by the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund. However, the exponentially increasing needs of an expanding and dynamic Church and the necessity of maintaining and enhancing its ministries, as well as continuing to support innovative programs that promote the faith and heritage, required and inspired the founding of the new Faith Endowment.”
Mr. Spanos pointed out that several capable Greek Americans are not participating in the work of the Church and the Community and that there is a need to approach them and involve them in the Faith Endowment initiative. He pledged his efforts to that effect. Mr. George Coumantaros urged that the new endowment be expansive in its giving, emphasizing philanthropic programs, constantly renewing itself with new donations.
The first phase of the Faith Endowment will be characterized by discreet efforts amongst the founders of this new initiative with the ultimate goal to invite the broader community to partake with its full potential in this important endeavor, thus evolving it into a truly national endowment for the Church, an endowment worthy of the history and the divine mission of this Church in America.