One year has passed since the enthronement of Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa (Prousa), Abbot of the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of the Holy Trinity on the island of Chalki, as Archbishop of America, after his unanimous election by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
He recently described the experiences of this year as a “tornado,” and emphasized that from the first moment he showed great zeal to respond to the multiple issues he had to face along with his associates.
Many things happened in the Archdiocese during the year. There were internal changes in the administration of the Archdiocese, which raised the levels of competence and trust.
The Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology was saved last year from the certain imminent loss of the certification of its degrees. The Church of Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero was saved from the brink of disaster thanks to the exceptional generosity of the faithful. The finances of the Archdiocese have been restored.
He took initiatives and vehemently defended and promoted the interests of the Greek Orthodox community in America and everywhere.
He supported the Mother Church of Constantinople and the Ecumenical Patriarch in all the major issues that the Orthodox Church had to deal with last year.
In the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, which still affects the planet, he safeguarded the safety of the faithful, always stayed by their side by using all technological means available, effectively helped those in need by establishing COVID-19 Relief Fund and eagerly pioneered to keep the faithful receiving the Holy Communion.
He publicly takes a stand on major social problems in the USA, and he has demonstrated this by taking part in the march against racism in Brooklyn, and issuing a statement on the assassination of George Floyd.
Finally, he always shows his love and support for the Ecumenical Patriarch, for whom he recently stated that “he has given his every breath to the worldwide Orthodox Church for nearly three decades.”
“I will always consider the Ecumenical Patriarch my guide and mentor in my life”
In an interview with “To Vima tis Kyriakis” newspaper, the Archbishop of America pointed out – regarding his participation in the anti-racism march in Brooklyn – that his choice was “my duty as a Christian and Greek.” All those who participated with me in that march appealed for something that was much greater than all of us: for the end of racism in America, and for equity and equality.”
He admitted that his participation was a risk, and said he decided at the last minute, after wondering “what would the Patriarch do?” As he explained, “I learnt many things next to him, and I will always consider him my guide, mentor and role model. And I was sure he would do the same.”
Moreover, regarding the operation of the church during the COVID-19 pandemic, he clarified that the Archdiocese of America, with its Holy Eparchial Synod, made its decisions each time after having consulted the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Concerning the operation of the parishes and the way of the faithful’s participation, we followed the instructions by the Phanar.”
Finally, when asked about the issue of the Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and whether the Russian Orthodox Church would change its attitude towards Ukraine, the Archbishop of America said: “I firmly believe in the prophetic ministry of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the decision of the Holy Synod to grant autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine and to bring millions of faithful back to the Church. However, as with all prophecies, there is a time lag between prediction and fulfillment. Again, this ‘bow of History‘ will lean towards the law and unity of the Orthodox Church. The Patriarchate of Moscow was initially expected to react based on emotion rather than logic. But the course of history is relentless. There was once a historic need; the Ukrainian people wanted to free themselves from Russia’s heavy ‘protection‘ and to follow their own path, as any people deserves. I am sure that time will also help the Russian Orthodox Church to accept this situation with realism, composure and Christian spirit.”