The Definition of the Greek Orthodox Parishioner

Dear co-workers in Christ,

Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.

According to the Uniform Parish Regulations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Article 18, Section 1-7 says, "Every person who is baptized and chrismated according to the rites of the Orthodox Church is a parishioner. The religious, moral and social duties of a parishioner are to apply the tenets of the Orthodox Faith to his/her life and to: adhere to and live according to the tenets of the Orthodox faith; faithfully attend the Divine Liturgy and other worship services; participate regularly in the holy Sacraments, respect all ecclesiastical authority and all governing bodies of the Church; be obedient in matters of the Faith, practice and ecclesiastical order; contribute towards the progress of the Church's sacred mission; and be an effective witness and example of the Orthodox Faith and Traditions to all people.

A parishioner in good standing practices all the religious and moral duties as described in this Section 1. At a minimum, a parishioner in good standing must: be eighteen years of age or over; be current in his or her stewardship and other financial obligations to the Parish, abide by all the regulations herein stated and the Parish Bylaws; and cooperate in every way towards the welfare and well being of the Parish. (Stewardship is recommended to be ten percent (10%) of one's annual income as stated in Holy Scripture to help meet the financial obligations of the Parish, the Metropolis and the Archdiocese.

Section 3: no person shall be deemed a parishioner in good standing while: not adhering to the standards outlines in Sections 1 and 2 of this Article; retaining affiliation in an Orthodox Parish which defies the jurisdiction or the ecclesiastical authority of the Archdiocese; being a member of or practicing a non-Orthodox faith or other religion; and deliberately disregarding and transgressing the moral law of the Church.

THE PARISH

"The Parish is the local Eucharistic community, in which faithful Orthodox Christians gather together to hear the Good News of the Resurrection of Christ and live the sacramental life of the Church. It is the place where God's People are spiritually nourished in order to live more fully as Christians and engage in the Mission which Christ has given us: to share the Gospel with one and all and to serve those in need. The Parish functions administratively under the leadership of the Parish Priest who is assisted by the Parish Council, with the guidance and supervision of the Metropolitan or Archbishop.

Each Parish is governed in accordance with the teachings of Holy Scripture, Holy Tradition, the Holy Canons of the Church, by the Regulations of the Archdiocese and the decisions of both the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese. The elected members of the Parish Council, together with the Parish Priest, are responsible for the welfare of the Parish to keeping it faithful to its mission. On the Parish level, the Parish Council is accountable to the General (Parish) Assembly, which consists of all faithful stewards who are able to participate in the sacramental life of the Church. Ultimately, the Priest and Parish Council are accountable to their local Hierarch (Metropolitan)."

It is perfectly clear to all, that an Orthodox Christian has specific spiritual and material responsibilities within the local parish. No Orthodox Christian can simply attend the Divine Liturgy, receive Holy Communion, have a baptism or marriage, the funeral of a relative, and contribute absolutely nothing at all, towards the welfare of the local church. No Orthodox Christian sees himself or herself as a guest and someone, who has all the benefits as an Orthodox Christian, but without any responsibilities or duties.

The above attitude is totally un-Orthodox and un-Christian and must change. 

In Christ,

+Father George