September 21, 2023

Homilies on the Commonwealth of the Church - The Parish Council (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 The Commonwealth of the Church

The Parish Council

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The commonwealth of the Church, as I have repeatedly emphasized in these sermons, is synodical and hierarchical. This means that the Church at all its levels is governed by a synod and its members are in a hierarchy among themselves.

We see this in the Metropolitans, who meet to resolve various issues that arise in the Church, sometimes this is done in the Hierarchy of the Church, where all active Metropolitans participate, and sometimes in the Permanent Holy Synod, which consists of twelve members and rotates according to the seniority of the High Priesthood. Both of these synodal bodies are presided over by the respective Archbishop of Athens and All Greece.

We see this synodical and hierarchical government of the Church in the Metropolises, which function with the cooperation of many, some work in the Offices of the Metropolis, others have the work of the preaching ministry and others exercise liturgical and pastoral work in the Parishes and Monasteries.

The Metropolitan of each Sacred Metropolis is responsible for all that he presides over and coordinates.

Also, this synodical and hierarchical structure of ecclesiastical life is found in Parishes and Sacred Monasteries. Regarding the Sacred Monasteries I mentioned the necessary things in another sermon, but in today's sermon I will refer to the synodal and hierarchical way of functioning of the Parishes.

Each Sacred Metropolis, in order to be well managed and, above all, to be properly shepherded, has been divided into separate Parishes, so the Parish is the smallest cell of ecclesiastical life. Christians understand the ecclesiastical life in their Parish, in which they were born, grew up or in any case live. There they encounter God their Father, the Panagia their Mother, the Saints, their spiritual fathers, their brethren in Christ who are the members of the Church, there they will attend church. Thus, they understand that the Church is a spiritual family, a brotherhood in Christ, a meeting of people who gather to express their love for God and their brethren. At the same time, the Parish is also a spiritual hospital that cures people's spiritual diseases.

The Parish must be governed and express the synodical and hierarchical state of ecclesiastical life. Thus, the Metropolitan places a Priest in the Parish, who submits to the Metropolis a list of the members of the Parish to form the Parish Council, and from this list the members of the Parish Council are appointed by the Metropolitan Council.

Thus, the Parish is governed by the Parish Council, whose President is the Parish Priest, and the members of the Parish Council are also known as Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

The word "commissioner" denotes someone who has been assigned a certain task, who has the authority to manage the property of the Parish, to ensure the proper functioning of the specific Parish. There are, of course, laws and regulations that refer to the manner of their appointment and the duties they must perform.

All matters concerning the Sacred Temple are discussed by the Parish Council, which consists of five members, and which is presided over by the Vicar of this Parish, and some of the members oversee the vice presidency and the treasury of the Sacred Temple.

The Parish is the smallest ecclesiastical unit, which must regulate the issues that arise, but at the same time it has been characterized by the State as a Legal Entity under Public Law, because it manages the sums of money deposited by Christians either in the form of the offering for the burning of the candle or in the form of a donation for the various needs of the Sacred Temples and Chapels.

The operation of the Sacred Temples has many expenses and various amounts are spent, either for the purchase of the various ecclesiastical objects, or for the expenditure of various works that are necessary to be done for the operation of the Sacred Temples. It follows that all this must be done legally and transparently and with much care and fear of God. For this reason, the Parish Councils draw up the budget and the report every year, which are approved by the Metropolitan Council, which is also presided over by the Metropolitan and whose members are those provided for by the Laws and ecclesiastical regulations, as they are also approved and all other expenses incurred by the Sacred Temples.

Furthermore, the Parish Council of each Sacred Temple decides on all matters concerning the administration of the Sacred Temple, such as the construction of Sacred Temples and Chapels, for the repair, renovation, decoration and maintenance of existing Sacred Temples or Chapels, for the purchase, sale and lease of any real estate, for the aids that may have to be offered to people in need, and in general they take care of the good management of the sums of money deposited by Christians.

Of course, the Parish Council does not have competence in matters of worship and pastoral care, for which the Vicar of the Sacred Church is responsible, who informs the Metropolitan, from whom he receives orders and blessings.

The Parish Council works harmoniously with other Committees that possibly operate in the Sacred Church and with its own decisions, such as the Committee for the construction of the Sacred Church or Chapels, and especially the Philoptochos Funds and the Associations of Love by the women of the Parish.

In our Sacred Metropolis, since the beginning of my episcopal ministry, Love Associations have been operating in those Churches where there is the possibility and interest, which are made up of women of the Parish and perform an admirable work. While the Parish Council is responsible for the administration of the Parishes, the Association of Love are interested in the charitable and social work within the Parish. With the Priest as President, he monitors the emerging financial problems of the Christians in the Parish and intervenes in various ways, sometimes with individual work, sometimes with financial support. In this way, an important project is carried out in the Parish.

The members of the Parish Council and the members of the Association of Love, who must cooperate harmoniously with each other, perform an important work in the Parish, and in this way it is proved that the Church is "both a name for a gathering and a synod", as Saint John Chrysostom says.

Furthermore, the members of the Parish Council and the Association of Love carry out their work on a voluntary basis, with love for the Church, with respect for the Metropolitan and the Synodical and Ecclesiastical institutions, with love for Christians. Their offering is essential, it is great and I thank them warmly. I pray to God to give them health and spiritual strength for His glory and the praise of the Church.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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