Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Greek Metropolis of Boston launches revitalization effort

(GOA-BOSTON) - On the evening of Tuesday, February 16th, over 200 participants comprised of clergy, parish council members, and ministry leaders from the 62 parishes of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston met for the first meeting of an introductory series for the Metropolis of Boston’s new Thriving Congregations Initiative. Over the course of the evening, members of the Thriving Congregations Parish Teams met to discuss this five year initiative to revitalize parish life and embrace the call to, “go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:18) Participants who enthusiastically responded to the opportunity to strengthen the spiritual fabric of New England will gather over the next two months to learn more about this project and about what it means to be a thriving congregation. For more information about the Thriving Congregations   Initiative, see below.

In order to assist 62 Greek Orthodox New England parishes with the knowledge necessary to thrive in a rapidly-changing society, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston submitted a proposal requesting grant funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The Indianapolis-based foundation has made grants available to organizations seeking to revitalize parishes and other congregations through its Thriving Congregations Initiative. The Metropolis of Boston focused its proposal on establishing an educational program to reconstruct the framework of outreach from Greek Orthodox parishes in New England.

In its Thriving Congregations Initiative document, Lilly Endowment announced that charitable organizations may submit proposals for grants to be used for up to “a five-year period to design and implement programs that support Christian congregations and help them develop and strengthen the community” by working with the congregations directly. The following five-year program plan is open to all parishes in the Metropolis and will be carried out as follows:

The project's four phases:

  • Understanding social and cultural context.
  • Crafting mission and vision.
  • Cultivating Orthodox Christian practices.
  • Sustaining ministry.

Throughout the duration of the program:

  • Parish leadership and clergy will receive extensive leadership training necessary to ensure the success.
  • The youth and young adult community will be engaged to provide insight into the changing cultural and social contexts of parishes and their neighboring communities.
  • District seminars will be hosted twice yearly in each of the nine districts of the metropolis or the purposes of:
    • Conveying knowledge of each of the program’s aforementioned four ‘phases.
    • Equipping parishes with the tools necessary to research parish
    • Providing a framework for understanding research findings and creating a path
    • Parish teams and the metropolis-level program will be Key insights and parish efforts will be documented, memorialized and distributed to all parishes.
    • Starting in September of 2021, the parishes will be introduced to the first of the four program phases, each running from September to August.
    • Toward the end of the program, all parish efforts and findings will be documented and distributed.

Seminarians and students from Hellenic College Holy Cross will be heavily involved in supporting this program. Extensive training will be developed for and offered to them, thus developing the future lay and ordained ministry leaders of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Expected result:

  • Growth in membership and stewardship.
  • Rise in number of parishioners engaged in ministries in all age groups, especially young adults.
  • Realization of strong leadership driven by clergy and parish council members.
  • New and existing ministries that invite those outside the current community are created/strengthened.
Parishioners interested in assisting on the parish level can contact their parish priest. Individual inquiries may be directed to the Metropolis directly.


  1. Beware of Greeks bearing ‘social & cultural context" as a horse to Troy.

  2. May our good Lord bless this event to extinction.

  3. Why the curse Michael (and Bozo2U)?

    1. Because I have not yet learned to forgive the harm the GOA has done to people I know and love. Perhaps I should use the Rabbi's blessing for the Czar in Fiddler on the Roof: God, bless and keep the Greeks--far away from me.

      If they would stand up to Bartholomew and the Epi-pen...that I would like. Silence means consent.

  4. There are many clergy and laity "under the EP" that don't spend every day worrying about what the Ecumenical Patriarch or Archbishop Elpidophoros is doing. They are busy seeking the salvation of their souls and their communities.

    His Eminence Methodios is one of the "good bishops," if the anti-EP press is to be believed. Why the vitriol? This looks like a fairly standard evangelization/renewal plan.

    Is wishing ill on the people of the Greek Metropolis of Boston justified by antipathy towards the EP (be it Ukraine or perceived "modernism?") Because that is who would be hurt by the failure of this initiative. Communities that have been around for generations and were there long before HAH Bartholomew and the current Archbishop. The anti-EP partisans are quick to say to the EP laity they throw under the bus---"It's not against you, but your Patriarch. Why are you staying? You should join ROCOR!"

    Nothing personal, right?

    To quote Captain America: "Feels pretty personal to me."

  5. Actually, David, the comment you rail at included no hint of what you try to infer. So you just told Mr. Bozo what he’s thinking. I don’t like it when my wife does this to me; I suppose the trespass is less poignant when it’s not personal.
    In any case, Bozo’s snide comment might be more aptly interpreted as cynicism at GOA emphasis on ‘parish ministries and programs’ which anyone with a critical eye can see in virtually every Greek Orthodox parish in North America. I hope this initiative results in something more meaningful than youth retreats and ethnic dance clubs. If the Greek Archdiocese doesn’t engage the roots of Christian faith (instead of its Hellenic foliage) there will be a dimming future for their efforts at keeping their faith alive. Which lament is heard far and near among GOA clergy because they themselves cannot transmit the experience of living faith, focused as they are on downstream issues like basketball league participation and golf tournament fundraisers.

    1. "...the comment you rail at included no hint of what you try to infer...."

      Please Lance, yes it did, yes it did. In addition Michael's curse was as explicit as you can get.

      "...Bozo’s snide comment might be more aptly interpreted..."

      Now who is doing the inferring here? I agree with you that the GOA has focused on the external foliage of Hellenic culture, and even beyond this an all too easy/compromised "synthesis" cultural synthesis between an American lifestyle and orthodox/traditional Christianity (similar to the American Roman Catholic project of the last 100 years). Indeed, this effort will no doubt contain much of the same - but are your certain that is all it will be?

      If cynicism and curses is all you, Michael, and Bozo have then I would look towards yourselves a bit more...

    2. Lance H,

      It was a nasty comment (Michael's even more so). If this was just another Ukraine thread (or Church politics in general), I wouldn't have replied at all, as such comments have become par for the course (Ukraine is a topic I refuse to argue about anymore).

      But this----this is about an Orthodox community trying to turn a page and do something good. I think it is particularly laudable in Boston's case, as Metropolitan Methodios is still trying to do good for his flock, despite being at odds with the Patriarch AND the Archbishop.

      Eyerolling and snickering because it is the GOA (and cursing the effort) is not ok. I think too many people have allowed their political positions to harden their hearts, and they forget the many real people who are hurt as a consequence of these "positions" in action. (I include myself in that, as I was rather bitter towards those who left us over the Ukraine issue----it is only recently that I have begun to try and understand them. That has helped immensely. Now I am just sad about the whole thing, but that is a digression).

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. David, yes I was nasty. Another sin on my soul but the malfeasance of Elpidiphorous he and Bart show plus the either ignorant or callous disregard for the rest of the Orthodox in this country is appalling. It needs far more than a "standard" conference which if so is just moving the furniture around without leading anyone to repentance.

    5. Michael Bauman,

      This is the Metropolis of Boston's initiative. HE Methodios is their bishop.

      You can go on about the EP and Archbishop Elpidophoros all you like---it doesn't justify invoking the Lord to do an ugly thing.

      It is sad, because you have written edifying things.

      You had a bad experience with the Greek Church. But what you have done is weaponized that pain and whether or not you intend it, innocent EP laity and clerics are maligned.

      I don't buy or accept the word parsing and hand wringing that MP partisans or anti-EP folks attempt to make when they say horrible things about our communities and then when confronted, try to say "oh we're not talking about you, but HAH Bartholomew, etc etc..."

      And then to add insult to injury, they try to sow more division and schism in our communities---"You should join ROCOR! The Constantinople Patriarch is a heretic...." The implication being that we are too if we stay. Silence is consent, right?

      The laity and parishes of the Metropolis of Boston did nothing to you, Mr.Bauman.

    6. David, you are right. Thank you and pray for me.

    7. I humbly ask your prayers as well. The well has been poisoned enough, and I think us working together to scale it back will help a great deal, God willing.

  6. "If the Greek Archdiocese doesn’t engage the roots of Christian faith (instead of its Hellenic foliage) there will be a dimming future for their efforts at keeping their faith alive."

    This is Mission Impossible.

  7. Jake, my nastyness aside, you are clueless to the depth of the problem that I seen here in little ol' Wichita.

  8. I share Michael's cynicism. If the Greek Archdiocese wants to announce that going forward it is an American missionary Church and not a diaspora Church, that the practice of handing out ethnic vicariates so Greeks don't have to get to know their neighbors or consecrate non-Greeks will cease, and that nobody has to learn Attic Greek in order to worship, then I can see this getting somewhere.

    Obviously, this is a problem shared by all jurisdictions except the OCA.

    1. Anti-Gnostic,

      Mileage varies greatly on that point. The GOA has many more converts now than in the past, and you are seeing more and more "non-Greeks" in leadership and in prominent roles. Bishops are the exception, of course, but where would they come from besides Greece or Asia Minor? Elder Ephraim's Monasteries? There too, they are either Greeks, Philhellenes, or those who are formed in the "Greek Tradition." I don't care what ethnicity a Bishop is, as long as they take their role seriously (To be a Bishop is the most awesome responsibility before God---I certainly wouldn't want to be one).

      I don't think a Church has to jettison its Old World characteristics to be a Missionary Church (The Antiochians proved this). There are very Mission minded GOA parishes and Bishops, just as there are parochial and insular ROCOR/MP ones. There are heavily Arab Antiochian parishes, and the OCA's Alaska Diocese is unique in comparison to its lower 48 brothers and sisters.

      This is why a one size fits all approach (or the rhetorical broad brush) fails to do justice to the truly unique and challenging landscape of American Orthodoxy. I fully reject the "Speak American!" attitude that seems to animate the crankier parts of the American Orthodox internet (Hardcore OCA partisans are a particular subset).

      I would argue that those "Old World" ties are good thing, within limits, and serve as a check on some of the more debased aspects of American culture. Even the OCA remains connected to its Russian roots in varying degrees, and I see that as nothing but a good thing.

    2. I don't care what ethnicity a Bishop is, as long as they take their role seriously

      Suggest the idea of a non-Greek bishop to your bishop, and watch him recoil in ethno-narcissistic horror.

      I fully reject the "Speak American!" attitude that seems to animate the crankier parts of the American Orthodox internet (Hardcore OCA partisans are a particular subset).

      The Orthodox Church has always adopted the local vernacular until it got to the US, where time apparently decided to stand still for certain ethnic groups. Beyond a few idiosyncratic converts, Americans are not going to learn Attic Greek, Church Slavonic or formal Arabic to engage in Christian worship. English is the language of the American State. There are plenty of parishes back in the old country where you can worship in your ancestral tongue. Your children and grandchildren are inevitably going to out-marry. Their spouses and children are not going to attend a church where they cannot understand the language. There are deep, neurological reasons for this but now we're getting into areas which frighten Christians who imagine themselves beings of pure light and theology.

    3. Anti-Gnostic,

      Where would that non-Greek Bishop come from? Which Monastery? The EP has ordained non-Greeks as Bishops before. The blog article about the new Bishop of Mexico is such an example (complete with the snarky anti-EP slaps).

      There is nothing wrong with maintaining a healthy connection to the "Old Country." You would be surprised at what Americans are "willing to learn" to be spiritually nourished. Much of the big growth in Catholicism these days is in the Latin Mass communities. Not bad for a dead language, eh? That isn't to say we should go all in on Ecclesial Greek or Slavonic, but to say that we are losing people because of not enough English is a gross oversimplification, to put it mildly (not to mention, inaccurate).

      Christianity is "losing people" all across the board. Asceticism is a hard sell in a culture that values comfort and ease as markers of "the good life." There are many reasons Orthodoxy struggles in America. "Americanization" didn't save the Catholics (they dispensed with their "dead language" and "ethnic ghettos"), and it won't save us.