New York.- (GreekNewsOnline)
The Clergy-Laity Congress is the highest legislative body of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. It is convened biennially with the participation of over 1,000 representatives of over 400 parishes across the United States. It is presided over by the Archbishop and it is concerned with matters, other than doctrinal or canonical, affecting the life, growth, and unity of the Church, the institutions, finances, and administration, educational and philanthropic concerns.
This is going to be the first Clergy Laity Congress of Archbishop Elpidophoiros, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be held virtually in order to ensure the safety of all clergy and lay delegates and observers, on Wednesday, September 9 & Thursday, September 10, 2020.
The pension plan (Archdiocesan Benefits Plan) that is underfunded by over 60 million dollars is going to be one of the toughest issues. In spite of the expectations, as it was proven at the Boston 44th Clergy Laity Congress, the Clergy is not going to back down easily and has the votes to derail the Congress, as was the case in 2018. It is not clear if the discussion will take place at the administrative committee level, or in the plenary session.
Archbishop Elpidophoros returned from the Fanar on Saturday, having pent 20 days at the Ecumenical Patriarchate. While in Constantinople, Archbishop Elpidophoros participated in a teleconference call regarding the Pension Plan with the Archdiocesan Benefits Committee (ABC), as well as several Senior Clergy to discuss the ABC’s recommendations. This call was a follow-up to his nationwide virtual meeting with hundreds of clergy on August 11th, which brought together the Clergy Brotherhood from across the Archdiocese to give voice to their concerns. In addition to meeting with the ABC and representatives of the Archdiocese Presbyters Committee (APC), the Archbishop has coordinated the Eparchial Synod and the Archdiocese Council’s Finance Committee to come together in a unified approach to addressing the neglect of the Plan, which spans the past two decades. His Eminence welcomed the urgent commitment and constructive proposals of the ABC.
Speaking at the Phanar, the Archbishop stated:
“There can absolutely no question that any Plan going forward should meet the goals and expectations of the Clergy and Lay workers whose hopes were placed in the Pension Plan. The Eparchial Synod, the ABC and the APC, the Archdiocese Finance Committee, and the Laity of the Church are coming together to restore the viability, and indeed the dignity, of the Pension Plan. Let no one doubt the resolve of the Archdiocese to correct the mistakes of the past and honor the commitment made to our Clergy, both those who have served multiple generations and those ordained only yesterday. We will review the Plan together, set a course of action together, fundraise together, and together achieve the much-needed restoration of the Plan, based upon the ABC’s recommendation.”
Since his election on May 11, 2019, Archbishop Elpidophoros has taken unprecedented steps to find a solution to this twenty-year developing problem. Working side by side with the Archdiocesan Benefits Committee throughout the process, His Eminence’s goals have been and remain consistent: that any plan moving forward should be viable and fundable.
The 45th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress Agenda, is as following:
Part I – September 9
Beginning at 12:00 p.m.
All listed times are Eastern Time.
Will include the Keynote Address of Archbishop Elpidophoros as well as greetings of the Ecumenical Patriarch and other dignitaries.
Scheduled 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Including approval of Budget to be presented to the plenary session
Scheduled 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Scheduled 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Center for Family Care
Scheduled 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Youth and Young Adult Ministries
Stewardship, Outreach and Evangelism
Scheduled 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
PENSION INFORMATIONAL SESSION
Scheduled 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Part II – September 10
Beginning at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Will include the Plenary Address of Archbishop Elpidophoros.
Administration Committee Presentation
Finance Committee Presentation
New and Old Business
Plenary Session Closing Comments