Archbishop Demetrios former of America was honored during the 2019 Clergy-Laity Assembly of the Metropolis of Pittsburgh, that was held from September 26 to 28. The Metropolis honored his Eminence in gratitude for over two decades of service as the spiritual leader of the Archdiocese of America, and recalling fondly his fifty-five year connection to our District-turned-Diocese, now Metropolis. The celebratory dinner was held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, host parish for this year’s Assembly.
The evening featured Greek dance performances, a reflection on the Archbishop’s ministry from emcee Archon Dr. Nicholas Loutsion, a stirring video tribute prepared by Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, and testimonials from the Clergy, Philoptochos, Archons, youth, and the host community. With each presentation, a gift was offered in the Archbishop’s honor to either the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Shrine at the World Trade Center or the Christos and Georgia Trakatellis Fellowship.
Words of gratitude were then offered by Bishop Neofitos of Nyeri and Mt. Kenya, and a personal tribute to the Archbishop was given by Metropolitan Savas. The event was capped by a heartfelt response and reflection on the night and on the ministry by the guest of honor.
Friday afternoon featured three important break-out sessions regarding the health of the Metropolis ministries and their connection to the communities.
Maria Stamoolis, Director of Greek Education, discussed the challenges that parish Greek Schools face, along with the resources and programs offered by, or facilitated through, the Metropolis Department, especially the “Rebooting Greek Language” program facilitated by the Niarchos Foundation and Simon Fraser University, and the Greek Language Festival, taking place November 2 in Rocky River.
Sundy Gulu, Co-Chair of the Religious Education committee, discussed the feedback from the recent survey of parishes regarding their educational programs, and what needs could be addressed by the Metropolis committee (and the Archdiocesan Department).
Fr. George Callos, Chancellor, led a session seeking feedback on the ongoing work of the Stewardship, Outreach, and Evangelism committee, and what resources would be most helpful for the parishes to continue their ministry work.
A major element of this Assembly’s theme was the health and vitality of the parishes. Knowing that the evaluation of each community’s condition depends heavily on unique factors for that parish, the Assembly sought to provide general resources easily applicable to varying parish communities.
Our featured presenter on the topic was Joe Kormos, who travels on behalf of the OCA Diocese of the Midwest to parishes to evaluate their condition and help them develop long-term strategies for health. The measurement for vitality is a program centered on the Gospel and the principles for community health given in scripture and the tradition of the Church: centrality of Christ and His Gospel, vibrant worship, shared leadership, open communication, authenticity n the community’s life, Christian formation, active service, and evangelization.
The Parish Health Inventory utilized for this purpose focuses not on high conceptual language, but instead on helpful, descriptive statements of what our parishes could and should look like, along with practical criteria for implementation.
At the conclusion of the Assembly, the Plenary Session adopted a series of five resolutions reflecting the values and priorities of the Assembly and its members.
The first resolution was one of thanks to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Former of America, for “his twenty year ministry to the Archdiocese of America in uniting, teaching, ministering, loving and guiding the flock in the United States towards an ever deeper commitment to our faith in Christ.”
The second resolution was one of welcome to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, praying that “the Great Hierarch, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, will grant our new hierarch the wisdom, understanding, patience and inexhaustible source of energy to be able to fulfill the awesome mission of service laid upon his worthy shoulders by the Ecumenical Throne, as always guided by the Holy Spirit.”
The third resolution was one of support for the 2020 Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress in Cleveland, expressing on behalf of the delegates “its support and pledge to assist in any way possible so that the spirit of the Congress theme “And the greatest of these is love” can be manifest among us from now in both word and deed.” The fourth resolution was one of thanks to the host committee for the 2019 Metropolis Assembly.
The final resolution commended His Eminence and the Metropolis Philoptochos and their respective Benevolence Fund and Social Services Fund—along with all who donate to each fund—for their generosity in supporting those in need, praying that “their efforts continue to be blessed and magnified by our most generous Benefactor, our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, the true model and source of Philanthropy.”
The ladies of the Philoptochos Society of the Metropolis who also had their annual Assembly, adopted the following disbursements and projects.
$20,000.00 to underwrite the National Philoptochos AGAPE Breakfast of the 2020 Convention.
$ 2,785.00 for Metropolis of Pittsburgh Good Samaritan Fund
$ 3,200.00 for the Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery
$10,000.00 for Metropolis Youth Earmarked as:
$ 5,000.00 Youth Ministries
$ 5,000.00 Camp Ministries
$2,000.00 for each of the 6 seminary students from the Metropolis of Pittsburgh attending Holy Cross School of Theology.
The plenary session elected the following 8 laypersons to be Metropolis Council members for the 2020-2022 term (listed in alphabetical order ):
Archon Harry Athanasiou, Archon Nicholas Chakos, Mary Doreza, Archon Dr. Nicholas Loutsion, Archon Steve Poulos, Harry Ruska, Archon Steve Sellas, Archon Philip Yamalis.
The following two laypersons were elected as representatives to the Archdiocesan Council for the same term: Archon Michael Kusturiss, Jr., and Archon Peter Clyde PapadakosAccording to the procedures adopted by the 2012 Spring Metropolis Assembly, this year’s Assembly delegated the election of 8 clergy members of the Metropolis Council, and 1 clergy member of the Archdiocesan Council, to the Metropolis Clergy Syndesmos for election at their Spring 2020 meeting.