Glory to Jesus Christ!
Can anyone fill us in on what is going on here??? God Bless!
Distributed by The Associated Press, October 26, 2002
[Charlotte GOA] Church Power Struggle Results in Service Cancellation
CHARLOTTE, NC, October 26, 2002 (AP) -- A power struggle at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral has caused what's believed to be the first cancellation of Sunday services in its 79-year history.
The fight pitting longtime members of one of the city's most prominent churches has grown so rancorous that police have been called twice and lawyers have been hired.
A group claiming to be the elected Parish Council recently took over the offices on East Boulevard and changed the locks on the 3,000-member church founded by Greek immigrants in 1923.
"We all grew up together in this church, almost like brothers and sisters," said Andrew Karres, a Charlotte lawyer who's attended Holy Trinity since childhood. "And now there's this fighting - I honestly think both sides are heartbroken."
The feud began in January as a disagreement over how much money Holy Trinity should pay annually to its New York-based archdiocese. The national office is part of a worldwide Eastern Orthodox Church that split with the Roman Catholic Church in 1054 and now totals almost 300 million members.
But recently, the dispute has evolved into a battle over who should control the church.
On one side is a 15-member group that calls itself the elected Parish Council. They were elected at a May parish assembly and say they represent the majority view and on Oct. 13 they took over the building and daily operations of the church.
On the other side is a rival Parish Council, whose 15 members were appointed in February by Bishop Alexios, who controls the Diocese of Atlanta, including Charlotte.
Earlier, the bishop appointed the Rev. George Daskalakis, Holy Trinity's head priest, or dean. Daskalakis describes the other parish council as improperly elected.
Daskalakis said in an Oct. 17 letter to parishioners that, because the cathedral was now "under siege," no church services or sacraments would be performed until further notice.
Hundreds of parishioners showed up at the cathedral last Sunday anyway, said Harry Stathopoulos, a Charlotte lawyer and member of the Parish Council elected in May. They lit candles, chanted the Hymn of the Holy Trinity and prayed before the icons that adorn the cathedral.
Karres, the lawyer and longtime church member, is now a member of the bishop's appointed Parish Council and the designated media spokesman for Daskalakis. He said no divine liturgy services will be held Sunday.
But Stathopoulos, speaking for the other side, said parishioners are invited to return Sunday to pray in the cathedral, then walk to the fellowship hall to view a satellite transmission of a service from Greece.
The split began after another church opened and took away some of the cathedral's members. The Parish Council asked the bishop in January to reduce what it paid the archdiocese. In February, the bishop dismissed the council and said the church was $66,000 in arrears on its dues.
At the same time, the bishop appointed a council to run the church. Unhappy with that, some church members held an election in May without the priest's cooperation, and chose their own council.
Stathopoulos said regulations that govern all Greek Orthodox parishes allow only an archbishop, not a bishop, to dismiss a council. In addition, he said, Holy Trinity was paying a lot to the archdiocese already: $161,000 in assessments between 1999 and 2001 and $20,000 more to aid Greek Orthodox colleges and Kosovo refugees.
Speaking for the bishop, Karres said the conflict began and continues because of disobedience.
"This is a hierarchical church," Karres said. "We would like (the other side) to come back into the fold. But to do that, they would have to give up the building and do whatever the bishop requires."
A good start to reaching peace, said Stathopoulos, would be for the bishop to restart the cathedral's schedule of Sunday services and sacraments such as baptisms.