Chicago, Il – The new Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America held the first meeting of its 2008-2010 term Nov. 6-7 in Chicago with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America presiding. The members of the new Council serve for a two-year term expiring at the next Clergy-Laity Congress in 2010. The Council consists of 128 members of elected and appointed clergy and laity from across the United States.
The work of the full Archdiocesan Council began in the morning of Nov. 7. As customary, the opening session convened jointly with the members of the newly appointed National Philoptochos Board. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios offered a prayer service and he then proceeded with his introductory address to this joint body.
In his address, Archbishop Demetrios acknowledged the unique and special conditions in the country and the world, conditions of war and conflict, strain and anguish created by the world-wide financial crisis and the many ways they affect the faithful and our Church. The Archbishop also acknowledged the historic election of the new president, only days before, and the fact that the Archdiocesan Council was coincidentally convening in Chicago in the same hotel the new president-elect was holding his first press conference and meetings across the hall.
Archbishop Demetrios apprised the body of the recent very important meeting in Constantinople, the Synaxis of the Primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, which was convened last month by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. He noted in particular “the clear leadership offered by His All Holiness …and the respect and recognition afforded to the Patriarch by all the other Primates.” His Eminence further talked about the various dialogues between the Orthodox and people of other faiths as a means to gain perspective and understanding of where we stand in the world.
Archbishop Demetrios stated that it was of vital importance to deal seriously and act on the theme of the last Clergy-Laity Congress “Gather My People to My Home” and intensify efforts to minister to the un-churched and the youth. His Eminence acknowledged there are some things blocking these efforts related to financial set-backs and pressures but insisted they should not hinder the work of the Gospel. He added that in recent days the word “power” dominates the political and financial realms and seems to be defining the lives of people, but we as Orthodox Christians have Godʼs power to turn to and he urged all to “use this high voltage power properly.”
The affirmation of office for the members of the Archdiocesan Council followed with the nominations and election of the executive board and officers of the Council. The elected members and officers are: Michael Jaharis, vice-chairman; Nicholas Bouras, treasurer; Catherine Bouffides-Walsh, secretary; and as members George Behrakis, Peter Kikis, Anthony Stefanis, Elenie Huszagh, George Matthews and George Vourvoulias.
The work of the Council continued with the presentation and discussion of issues concerning the life and the ministry of the Church as presented by the various Archdiocesan Council committees, which had met on Thursday, Nov. 6. These committees were Administration, Communications, Greek Education, Finance and Stewardship, Religious Education and Hellenic College, Marriage and Family, Outreach and Evangelism, Youth, Philanthropy and Technology.
Convening simultaneously with the Archdiocesan Council was the National Philoptochos Board. At the beginning of the National Philoptochos Board meeting, Archbishop Demetrios announced the appointment of Mrs. Aphrodite Skeadas from Greenwich, Conn., as the new National Philoptochos President for the two-year term 2008-2010. Mrs. Skeadas accepted the appointment and the charge of the Archbishop and set as her primary goals a membership increase and an active embrace of the younger generation. Archbishop Demetrios also appointed the following women as Executive Board members, Arlene Siavelis (1st Vice President), Maria Stavropoulos (2nd Vice President), Kathy Gabriel (3rd Vice President), Elaine Cladis (Secretary), Joanne Kakoyiannis (Treasurer), and Martha Stefanidakis (Assistant Treasurer).