On Sunday, Aug. 25, members of the embattled Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake met behind closed doors to discuss their current financial situation.
City Weekly wrote last week about some of the complex, controversial issues currently facing the church, including an escalating scandal about how two local priests had administered the church's benevolent fund.
Those issues, however, were off-topic for the Aug. 25 meeting, since general assembly rules do not permit discussion of issues relating to the performances of the local clergy.
The meeting, at Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Holladay, according to a recap sent out by pro-clergy group Protect Our Clergy, stated that the Parish Council explained to attendees that the parish was in dire financial straits. While it had had a $400,000 surplus in 2000, "we are now out of money."
According to Protect Our Clergy, speakers at the meeting claimed that such perilous financial conditions were typical of that time of year, "just before the [Greek] Festival greatly restores our financial resources by funding over 25 percent, or $350,000 of our budget."
Protect Our Clergy noted that both members of the Parish Council and "many in attendance" wrote checks and donated cash totaling several thousand dollars or more. In a separate communication from Protect Our Clergy to parishioners, it noted that "close to $11,000 was raised at the assembly, some from required stewardship payments at the door, but the bulk from spontaneous giving during the meeting."
After three hours of presentations and debate, the motion to "reinstate full clergy salaries with back pay and request reassignment of one priest as soon as possible" scraped through on a vote of 220 to 215, suggesting that the deep chasm in the community, as far its future direction is concerned, continues.One commentator on the Take Our Church Back website, which has been critical of the Denver-based Metropolitan Isaiah, who oversees the Greater Salt Lake Greek Orthodox Church, highlighted some of the lingering issues that the vote failed to resolve. "Along with the esteemed Parish Council, our priests restored with handsome salaries to backpay [for having been on strike] should also be seeking to mend fences and assist in this effort. This should be part of their duty in return for their handsome salaries that may never be reduced," in stark contrast to those of their flock.