Ministry from the Heart” was the theme for the 2020 Metropolis of San Francisco Clergy-Laity Assembly which was held February 24 – 25 at Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in Dunlap, CA. The Metropolis Family Wellness Ministry offered the main presentations which focused on the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and how we can take that message and apply it to our personal lives and parish ministries to “see” the needs of the people, to “go” and meet them where they are, and to “offer compassion” in practical and meaningful ways. Record attendance of nearly 190 clergy and lay delegates from all seven states in the Metropolis participated in this two-day gathering.

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His Eminence Metopolitan Gerasimos and the Very Rev. Fr. John Constantine opening the 2020 Clergy-Laity Assembly in prayer. (Photo Credit: Kostas Petrakos Photography)

The Clergy-Laity Assembly opened with a prayer service led by His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos. In his Keynote Address, Metropolitan Gerasimos noted the importance of these annual gatherings by sharing, “we experience what it is to be ‘one body’ through our common prayer, our fellowship, and our work together. In this Assembly, we realize that we need one another. Because of our commitment to unity, to acting as one body, we are able to move forward as a Metropolis.” In reflecting on his 15th anniversary as the Metropolitan of San Francisco, Metropolitan Gerasimos commented, “I received a legacy from Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory. In the true spirit of paradosis, of handing over, of tradition, I embraced the creativity, the energy, the optimism and the leadership that our Metropolis has always demonstrated. My task has been to build on that legacy in order to hand on – tradition also means what we will hand over – to future generations what we would accomplish together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos and speakers, George Cantonis, Holy Cross President (left) and George Papageorge, Director of Family Wellness (right). (Photo Credit: Kostas Petrakos Photography)

George Papageorge, MFT, and Director of the Metropolis Family Wellness Ministry, was the featured speaker who addressed the topic, “A World-View from the Heart”. In this main presentation, it was emphasized that our identity in Christ and His Church is found in living out a compassionate response to all who we encounter. His subsequent presentations and engaging breakout group discussions allowed delegates the opportunity to share how we can, as communities of faith, respond to the needs of our parishioners, and how we can ignite a Family Wellness Ministry at the parish level. Focus areas might include: Parenting Seminars, Marriage Workshops, Divorce Care, Family Dinner Challenge, Grief Support, Young Married Couples Group, Family Outreach, and Men’s Group Ministry, among others. Delegates received many valuable resources from the Metropolis Family Wellness Ministry team which they can apply to their personal lives and also use as a guide for launching a Family Wellness Ministry in their respective parishes.

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The Metropolis Family Wellness Ministry team

Other presentations to the Assembly included Dr. George Koulianos, M.D., and a member of the committee for the Archdiocese Center for Family Care. He spoke about the importance of Clergy Care and the financial support available to our clergy through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment Fund.

Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology President George Cantonis also addressed the Assembly, sharing his vision for the School, recognizing there have been challenges, but that many opportunities await this institution which is the lifeline of our Archdiocese. Metropolitan Gerasimos presented President Cantonis with a gift of $10,000 from the Metropolis to assist the school in its future endeavors.

George C. Demos skillfully presided over the business proceedings of the Assembly. Metropolis Council Vice President Fanis Economidis reported on the meeting of the Metropolis Council which immediately preceded the Assembly. He conveyed his gratitude to our parishes for exceeding our Archdiocese National Ministries Allocation goal, which also makes it possible for the Metropolis to provide both administrative and ministry staffing to offer greater support to our clergy and parishes. He also announced that the Metropolis had received a $125,000 challenge grant from the George and Judy Marcus Family Foundation for the 2019 Faith Forward campaign which was met with great enthusiasm by our faithful who contributed $185,000 bringing the Faith Forward total for 2019 to nearly $310,000, thanks to the generosity of our matching grant. The Metropolis Council meets twice per year but because of the immensity of our work, the Council will begin meeting quarterly to address ongoing matters and monitor progress for the highest level of effectiveness.

The election of eight clergy and eight lay members to the Metropolis Council was also held, with the following results: Fr. Andrew Barakos, Fr. Dean Kouldukis, Fr. Dino Pappademos, Fr. Michael Prevas, Fr. Peter Salmas, Fr. Panagiotis Sotiras, Fr. Peter Stratos, Fr. Tom Zaferes, Spiro Beckas, Honorable Connie Contes, Honorable Steven Counelis, George Demos, Vasilios Marutsos, George Psefteas, Michael Syrengelas, and Dr. Eve Tibbs, were all unanimously elected to serve a two-year term commencing in the summer of 2020 and continuing through the summer of 2022. In addition, eight appointed members will also serve on the Council: Philippos Athanasiades, John Buzas, Fanis Economidis, James Eleopoulos, Isidoros Garifalakis, George Psihogios, Jeannie Ranglas, and Paul Sogotis. Two Associate (non-voting) members were also appointed: Dio Stefanopoulos and Demosthenis Zeppos. Representing our Metropolis on the Archdiocesan Council will be: Fr. Andrew Barakos, Isidoros Garifalakis, and George Psefteas. Metropolis Treasurer Michael Syrengelas presented the 2019 Metropolis Financial Report and George Psefteas presented the 2020 Metropolis Budget, both of which were approved unanimously by the Assembly.

Following the conclusion of the Assembly, the Metropolis Clergy met for their annual Clergy Retreat which included presentations on the Clergy Initiative by Dr. George Koulianos, and Financial Planning and Management by Presvytera Maria Antokas.