St. George’s Church Tells Archdiocese: We Won’t Pay Up

If you wonder why faith in the leadership of the GOA is eroding, just read the article below. Yes, of course the parishes need to support the Archdiocese. But a $20,000 increase is a tough pill to swallow, especially when you don’t know where the money is going. The Archdiocese, particularly our Metropolitans, spend millions every year, but we don’t really know where it all goes. There are no audits, no real accounting of monies spent, and we have no idea what the payouts are for the Katinas lawsuits. Now with the Astoria scandal those payouts will probably increase. The parish in Lynn Mass. had enough. I can understand why.

Source: The National Herald | By Theodore Kalmoukos

BOSTON – The Parish Council of the 106-year-old St. George’s Church in Lynn, Massachusetts has refused to pay a $20,000 increase in its annual allocation to the Archdiocese and was warned in return that it may not be allowed to perform sacraments and could even be closed until it pays up. The increase demanded by the Archdiocese, and Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, from $68,000 to $88,000 has infuriated members of the church, many of whom are working class or lower-income families in an economically distressed city. Parish Council President John Meklis, expressing the unanimous consensus of the council and with the agreement and support of the parish priest George Tsoukalas, conveyed to Methodios that the church cannot afford the hike and will not pay more than $68,000. One member, whose extended family has been generous supporters of the church, said Methodios was told of the church’s financial plight and that many members were being hurt by the lingering recession but that they were told to find the money somewhere. “It’s extortion,” he said. The Metropolis in Boston oversees over 63 Greek Orthodox parishes churches in New England, will not give an accounting of its budget or how it spends the monies it collects from the local parishes. The priest and the parish council sent a letter to the members of the parish dated January 31, in which they explained the situation in detail and called for a special General Assembly on Feb. 17. Parishioners were told that, “Your beloved St. George Church is in a crisis situation and needs your help!” and urged them to come to the meeting to decide whether to pay.

The Parish Council explained in the letter that “The Metropolis is demanding $20,000 in past due 2010 payments and an additional $88,000 in 2011 … our failure to meet their demands to date has resulted in punitive measures that the Metropolis has taken against us, our priest and our Church. Your parish council has remained firm that our annual commitment will not exceed our budgeted $68,000.” The letter also states, “The issues are critical and the future of your Church is at stake.” They also wrote about “possible temporary closure of Church to save funds.” Tsoukalas and Meklis did not return The National Herald’s calls, but one church member close to them said that the Archdiocese has also threatened to disallow the church from holding weddings or funerals and would remove Tskoukalas and replace all the members of the Parish Council unless the church pays the annual increase and $20,000 retroactively. Church members have already been polled on what should be done but no results were available.

The National Herald learned that Methodios holds responsible Fr. Tsoukalas, who was up to know close to Methodios, who had appointed him chief judge of the so-called Spiritual Court of the Metropolis of Boston which removed the entire parish council of the Transfiguration parish in Lowell, Mass., because they refused to pay big increases to the former priest’s. salary.

Methodios sent a letter to Fr. Tsoukalas blasting him and prohibiting him from visiting other parishes to participate in vespers, services and sacraments. He has also prohibited other clergy from visiting the parish of St. George’s, the church attended by Greek America’s all-time great athlete Harry Agganis, an all-American football player at Boston University and burgeoning star with the Boston Red Sox when he died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism in 1955. The church holds an annual Agganis basketball tourney annually, which attracts teams from across the country. Agganis’ funeral was held at the church and attended by an estimated 30,000 people.

Metropolitan Methodios did not respond to a written request from TNH to comment. Since the appointment of Fr. Tsoukalas the parish was always the first to respond to collection of donations and fundraisings of the Metropolis of Boston. Fr. Tsoukalas had convinced about 15 or 20 members of the parish to contribute $1,000 annually to the Special PHOS Fund of the Metropolis of Boston, in addition to the 25% the Archdiocese returns to the Metropolis from the sum amount of the allocations of New England. On the initiative of Tsoukalas and prominent Greek-American businessman Tom Demakes, who is a trustee of Holy Cross School of Theology, an Archon of the Patriarchate and Leadership 100 member, organized fundraisings in support of the Theological School at the parish, raising $100,000 more on each occasion.

St. George’s Church in Lynn, Mass, founded in 1905, recently underwent a $1.5 million renovation but its leaders have been told they could be forced to close until they pay a $20,000 annual increase in fees to the Archdiocese.

Demakes is a strong supporter and benefactor of the Metropolis of Boston. He is also a member of St. George’s Parish Council and supported the decision not to pay the $20,000 annual increase. TNH has learned that Demakes wrote a letter to Methodios expressing his disappointment about the Archdiocese’s demands. Demakes did not respond to The National Herald’s calls.

The parish of St. George recently finished renovations to the entrance of the church, financed by a $1.5 million loan, for which it makes $11,000 monthly payments. Some three years ago the parish had announced, through The National Herald, its intent to establish a Greek American Day School. Demakes and Fr. Tsoukalas showed the building facilities to TNH but it was never put into operation. On Feb. 6, Fr. Tsoukalas, at the end of the Liturgy, spoke about the Archdiocese and the Metropolis demands for more money, which has created turmoil in the parish, and invited all to participate in the Special General Assembly. The parish had consisted of 880 families but the last two to three years has gone down to 650-680 families. On Feb. 6, only 70 to 100 congregants were present in the Liturgy. Fr. Tsoukalas served in the past as Chancellor of the Metropolis of Boston, but had a falling out with Methodios and was dismissed from the chancellery. Methodios refused to appoint him to another parish for a long time, so Fr. Tsoukalas was forced to open a Dry Cleaning business to support his family.


According to the history of the parish, St. George’s was incorporated on April 5, 1905. More than 100 years ago in Lynn, a pioneer group of Greek people established the Church for the purpose of perpetuating their religious and cultural heritage. Since then, the St. George Community has grown into one of the largest congregations, not only in the city of Lynn, but also in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. As a group, the Greek people of Lynn have contributed immensely in all aspects, to the general growth and development of the city. At the end of the last century, 10% of the city’s population was of Greek extraction.

On April 2, 1905, the Constitution of the organization was ratified and incorporation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and took the name Hellenic Association of St. George of Lynn. On Dec. 26, 1905, the membership decided to purchase a Swedish Evangelical Church building on Pleasant Street. The largest wave of emigration from Greece to America took place in the period of 1909 to 1912.

Due to the influx of Greeks into the city, the members felt the need for a larger house of worship with facilities to teach the Orthodox Faith and the Greek language to their children. The membership purchased the property of the Unitarian Church on South Common Street for the sum of $17,000. This property was situated on the same site where the present edifice stands. On May 10, 1952, ground was broken for the Community Center. This was built first, and provided a temporary space to conduct Church services while the Church itself was being built. The Community celebrated the dedication of our Center on Sunday, February 21, 1954. Bishop of Boston Ezekiel of Nanzianzos presided at the Divine Liturgy and a dinner was held which all the parishioners attended. Directly after the dedication of the Community Center, the gymnasium of the new building became our temporary house of worship and the erection of the Church was begun. The cornerstone of the Church was laid on May 3, 1954. During this building period, many of the parishioners continued to contribute generously to the Building Fund. The Church was complete by the end of 1954 and the service of Thyranixia (opening of the doors) took place on Sunday, January 30, 1955. Six months later they attended Agganis’ funeral.


  1. Nick Katich says

    “The Parish Council of the 106-year-old St. George’s Church in Lynn, Massachusetts has refused to pay a $20,000 increase in its annual allocation to the Archdiocese and was warned in return that it may not be allowed to perform sacraments and could even be closed until it pays up. “

    Wow! That is incredible. Cut people off from grace until they pay money! That reminds me of a story. This situation admittedly is the flip side of the story. But it is cut into the coin. It come from Acts, Chapter 8:

    But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

    Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

    And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”

    Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.” So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

    The principleis the same. What is the difference in trying to purchase grace as opposed to trying to sell grace? The Holy Spirit is not a commodity to be the object of barter.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Nick: none at all. Plus, I despise the word “perform.” what are they, actors in a play?

  2. Michael Bauman says

    George, what we call theater orginated in communal prayer and worship in tribal settings including the Pagan Greek dramas (barely beyond the tribal). The difference is the denigration of the act of offering on behalf of the people in which the people are ontologically involved to that of passive entertainment and manipulation of emotions. The actor or the icon.

    You tell me, are folks ontologically involved in the celebration of the sacraments or are we passive audience for whom the priest performs?

    If the latter, it is a pretty hefty ticket price.

    At least this congregation is witnessing to the truth. They will not be abandoned or left without consolation but may have to bear their Cross for awhile.

  3. This raises many issues that I, as one not raised in Orthodoxy and not bound by the ethnicity really cannot empathize with.
    In MY past, I have seen many congregations with turmoil. I have never felt compelled to stay, I just found another.
    I am told that in Orthodoxy it isn’t quite as easy. I cannot, however, understand the appearance of authoritarianism and “Lording it over” the members.

    • Nick Katich says

      Paul: GOARCH is the anacronym for the Archdiocese. Add an E and you have GOARCHE. Our English word Arch in certain contexts derives from the Greek word arche. Wiki give the follow definition for the gree word arche: Arche (ἀρχή) is a Greek word with primary senses ‘beginning’, ‘origin’ or ‘first cause’ and ‘power’, ‘sovereignty’, ‘domination’ as extended meanings.

      Need I say more?

  4. Nick Katich says

    George: I had some typos in the last post. How can we edit once we hit the post button like AOI does?

  5. I am an American adult convert to Holy Orthodoxy from a protestant denomination. I’ve got the requisite clutch of arrows sticking in my back to testify to my pioneer (first-in-the-family) conversion status. I will be Orthodox for the rest of my life. And I suppose you might have a sense of how desperately I long to see my wife and young adult children join me as members of the Church.

    Between the recent and now newly-resurgent unpleasantness in the OCA, the autocratic antics of the Antiochian Metropolitan, and watching the pot bubble ominously in my own Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, I have to admit I’m feeling a bit boxed in. No funerals, weddings or Divine Liturgy until St. George’s parishioners cough up another 20 grand immediately, and knuckle under as the Archdiocese ratchets up the future payola levels? And this without adequate disclosure as to how said funds are spent? And despite the current economic climate in the United States? Really, now?

    May God have mercy should my family members stumble across the reports of these kinds of scandals. In that case I may as well chuck the whole conversion pipedream and start praying for the possible conversion of my great-grandchildren instead.

    Americans who are drawn to Orthodox Christianity because they truly seek Jesus Christ and His divine love, forgiveness, compassion and healing usually have well-developed sniffers when it comes to rooting out arrogance, power games, and greed, ESPECIALLY when these are perpetrated by church elites. We’ve more than had it up to here with phony preachers and double-talk. And when said dicey qualities are the result of policies imposed on us by elites in a foreign country, every imaginable alarm bell, red light, police siren, warning flare and cymbal-clashing wind-up monkey goes off simultaneously.

    Dear Hierarchs: This American has a lot to learn about Orthodox Christianity, and he knows it. He is willing to respect and obey, to the extent that it is clear that his respect and obedience is warranted – and to a good stretch beyond that. He recognizes that his hierarchs and other clergy need his sincere and frequent prayer, and that they are especially prone to attack from the enemy. He is dreadfully concerned about the deteriorating situation for Christians (Orthodox and otherwise) in Turkey, Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.

    But – our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and America is ready for His Church to bear the light of His truth throughout the incredibly fertile ground of the entire Western Hemisphere. This peon in the pew begs you not to muff it at this important juncture. Humility, remember? Love – mercy – forgiveness? Order is important, but – trust me – though we Americans will offer our lives to follow Christ and His servants who genuinely inspire our love and dedication, we’ll vote with our feet – at the very least – when order is imposed on us from above by those who come across as pious hypocrites.

    Help us to be the Church by setting the admittedly difficult example of love, service, dedication, poverty, and humility. Help to inspire us to be Christ to all we meet, and to carry the good news to our fellow citizens who know absolutely nothing of Christ’s Church. Enable us to point to our hierarchs and clergy and fellow laypeople as icons of our Lord and Savior as we endeavor to bring Holy Orthodoxy to our family and neighbors. Talk to and sincerely love our priests, who do the heavy lifting in our parishes. Talk to US – the laypeople, and – yes – even to the converts. If you care sincerely about delivering this great nation to Christ through His Church, we can perhaps provide some insight into how it’s done. Or rather, how it’s NOT to be done. We’ve come a ways down that path, and continue to struggle along it, and it isn’t an easy one.

    A couple hundred million or so North and South American converts to the faith might get Ankara’s attention a good deal more effectively than kissing up to EU diplomats and to pro-abortion, secularist Greek-American members of Congress. They were all on Mubarak’s side, too, once upon a time. You’d be astonished at how quickly it could happen if the Church could simply Be . The . Church, in all that that implies.

  6. Does the term ‘Simony’ apply? Pay for sacraments indeed. And then ‘perform’.. there has always been something unduly ‘rock-starish’ about Greek bishops I’ve met. I think it’s the room service demands. Possibly.

  7. yeah nice

  8. This parish is to be commended for standing up for truth and accountability from their leaders. I am amazed that in this day and age the hierarchs still don’t get that the people have had enough of secrecy, abuses, mismanagement, and squandering of the Church’s Talents, mostly caused by vinedressers who have forsaken worn duties to their protect and defend their flocks and the Church.

    This specific observation is particularly troubling given the previous crisis in the OCA with similar issues:

    :The Archdiocese, particularly our Metropolitans, spend millions every year, but we don’t really know where it all goes. There are no audits, no real accounting of monies spent, and we have no idea what the payouts are for the Katinas lawsuits. Now with the Astoria scandal those payouts will probably increase.

    Has the Greek Orthodox hierarchy learned nothing from the errors and mistakes of the past, both in the GOA and the OCA?

  9. The church’s allocation has been the same for a number of years now – in the 86-88k range. They’ve chosen in the past to only pay 66k of their allocation, and recently the Archdiocese “forgave” the accrued difference. Only this year did they decide to stop enabling a parish that is working on a $3 million dollar renovation to wave its hand at a $20,000 difference of opinion with the Archdiocese.

    The people who showed up to the meeting were fed the “$20,000 increase,” and “assessed against the parish” line by the parish council, with no dissenting (and, in this case, truthful) voice allowed to speak. It seems like a bit of a railroading job. The folks of the meeting who voted against the increase were fed propaganda by a parish council who didn’t want to do what the vast majority of the parishes in the Greek Archdiocese do – pay a fair share to support the local, regional, national, and international ministries of the Church.

    The assessment method was voted on at the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity, by lay & clergy representatives of the parishes (the gathering is mostly lay leadership, and mostly from non-small parishes like Lynn). I suppose that doesn’t matter in this type of article, where the truth is second to the message (like calling the priest a “chief justice” of the spiritual court – there is no such position, but it makes for a more interesting bad guy).

    What is particularly galling is that the parish will in all likelihood send kids to camp, participate in basketball, draw stewardship resources from the Archdiocese, etc. – all ministries which are supported by the parish contributions. When the parishes short the Archdiocese, ministries lose funding and are scaled back; but the parish that has undertaken a $3 million renovation is the one crying that the additional $20,000 will cripple the Church’s ministries.

    There’s no “simony” involved, either; all sacraments are performed “gratis,” even if a parish asks for money to offset custodial or facilities costs (i.e. if you cannot afford it, don’t worry). The question of the Archdiocese telling the priest to cease sacraments has more to do with the parish being non-compliant than the amount of $ or nature (in this case, fiscal) of the non-compliance.

    • I should correct one thing in my post: in 2009 (according to the Metropolis website) their allocation was $78k, which may have been an after-appeal number. According to another source, their allocation has been between $81k and $88k for at least 4 years.

  10. I wanted to say.
    All the greek churches under money hungry Methodios should join and pay HALF their “allocated dues in 2011” so that they can proove to him that the church is “FROM THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE” and they should have more money to buy candles, and incence and do things for their parishes.
    The Money from the Archbishop should be returned TO the people in form of discounts and so for that groups retain as a bigger “membership”.
    I really think either Methodios made a drastic MISTAKE in saying that, or he’s fallen off his rocker or hit his head. NOBODY who is “religious in any part” is that money hungry.
    In thinking about that I been having my own business in new england for 30+ years and goto church about 20 weeks a year (alot for my schedule).
    I think Methodios has done a few stupid things and this is just one more REALLY stupid thing. Perhaps he should be pushed out and we should get some fresh blood into here. He also doesn’t even backup his priests. I remember a time years ago where he helped a rich millionaire and sided with them and left an old greek priest about to retire to the wolves (who many including myself KNEW him NOT EVEN CAPABLE to be guilty). Sad to think GREED could get that bad and Money could influence sooo much.
    This Methodios makes me ashamed to be Greek especially with his Money and GREED problems! His leadership skills are lacking in a big way and need replaced with new fresh Metropolitan.

    • vryonis says

      Funny, Giorgo ….

      I always thought the Church was “FROM JESUS CHRIST AND FOR JESUS CHRIST” and for the glory of God through the salvation of His people. According to your mentality, it’s just another club purely for human gratification.

      Anyway, all this keening and moaning is a charade. The average Greek Orthodox parishioner gives less to his church in stewardship each year than he gives to his cable TV provider. I guess he values re-runs of Law & Order more highly than the “performance” of the sacred Mysteries that bring Jesus Christ into our lives.

      Our people are not short of money; they’re just cheapskates when it comes to the Lord. We’re the second wealthiest ethnic group in the country, and near the bottom for giving to our religious institution. Stopping pointing fingers about who’s GREEDY–you got four fingers pointing right back at yourself, citizens of Lynn!!

      • Funny, vryonis…

        The only thing on this blog that is a charade is you. It’s sad that the older generation of Greeks fail to see that the youth has all the power in the church not the older generations. The Archdiocese fails to see that by angering the younger members of the church they only lose members. Remember that the younger members are well informed and read blogs and share this information with others by way of social media such as twitter and facebook. The truth is our people are short of money and this is the worst economy in over 100 years. I say to you “wake up” and see what is going on around you. I am a member of my church for over 20 years. I am a young educated Greek like yourself but unlike you do not point fingers instead I read and listen to those around me before making a judgment. The truth is this Archdiocese is greedy. Do they not drive Mercedes and own million dollar homes in Florida? Not since the likes of Bernie Madoff have I seen such corruption. You fail to see that membership over the past 5-10 years is on the decline hence the “greed” you speak of is done by raising the dues of all churches.

        Send me your address so I can send you a book on the economy. Read before you speak my fellow Greek.

  11. Unfortunately, many of you are commenting without knowing the facts. Especially those from other jurisdictions who do not know the history or the process by which parishes receive their allocation. This has been brewing in the Lynn parish for 5 years and they have been given reilief (at the expense of other parishes) to the tune of $50,000.00. Last year the metropolis said enough is enough. It is unfair for one parish to be the only one who does not fulfill it’s obligations.

    In spite of clear evidence (based upon their financials) of ability to pay, the priest and parish council refuse. The allocation system was approved by a clergy laity congress over 5 years ago and is a clear and equitable formula based upon financial information the parish provides. The Lynn parish has not attended any Clergy/Laity Congress for years either on a national level or a local level. They have ignored the opportunity to have input by refusing to send even one delegate, though they are allowed up to 4.

    This issue stopped being about money a long time ago, but rather it is about proper Church order. Not one parishioner has been denied the sacraments. The metropolis coordinates all the sacraments and arranges to have them at a neighbooring parish. Those who throw around words like “simony” are ignorant of the situation.

    The only people who don’t know where the money goes (that the archdiocese spends) are the ones who have chosen to remain ignorant. The Archdiocese financial statements and budgets are widely available on the internet and the budgets are proposed and passed every two years.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Tom, thanks for bringing up the other side of the story. Personally, the allocation system is wrong IMHO. Every parish should tithe just 10% to the diocese. It shouldn’t even go to NYC. I think this would stop a lot of the bickering.

      • Whether the system is right or wrong is up for grabs. I was one of only two or three who voted against it in Nashville in 2006 (Clergy Laity Congress). That being said, it is the system we have and it treats every parish with the same formula. Numbers in, numbers out. Then there is a open and honest appeal process if required. Parishes from one end of the country to the next with the same net expenses will be paying the same assessment. The numbers are above board and what each parish pays is published.

        The problem with revenue based allocation amount (which I think is more proper) is that it is easier to hide revenue than expenses. There was a lot of hiding going on. There is a lot less now. Though there was one parish who was paying their priest extra “off the books”.

        It is what we have. Hopefully we can one day get to a point where parishes make pledges to support the National Ministries.

        As far as Lynn goes, ther issue is even worse than it seems because one very wealth parishioner is pulling all the strings. Anyhow, I think it will be getting worse before it gets better as I understand that if they do not comply with the obligations as spelled out in the UPR within 10 days of May 6 (the date of a resolution passed by unanimous roll call vote of the Archdiocesan Council) the next step will be severe and ecclesiastical/canonical in nature taken by the Metropolitan with the unnimous support of the Synod and the AC.. Very unfortunate situation, but not exactly what others have posted here.