Re: Can the Gulf Parishes/Congregations be under one separate Diocese???
- Dear Aji
I appreciate your thoughts about the need of separate diocese for Gulf parishes, now we have a separate Bishop for the gulf region. I hope this will help strengthening of our church in the region. There is a big difference in the performance of churches in gulf and that of in the US UK region. Due to unstable employment conditions every year avarage 10- 20% of the church members are going out of the country and replaced by new comers in the Gulf region, whereas most of the US migrants becomes permanent members of the church. They can easily plan a family conference. But in the gulf region people get 30 days leave in a year and they like to be in Kerala to see their loved ones and to finish many important assignments like marriages finishing work or beginning of a home construction, instead of a family gathering of the region. I read in this forum about the UAE family conference held in Sharjah in 2009. It is very good development, it was with the country but if we need to organize such a family conference of the gulf region the travel documents and fixing a date is a barrier. I hope gradually we will be able to do so in the nearest future.
We Orthodox Christians are experts in infighting; most of the things begin from the difference between founder members and new members. I was in the Gulf region for about 10 years, what I understood is that groupism is not a big issue in the Gulf region like US UK region. For example the Parish which I pray also have groups (not in fight) but it was only at the time of annual general body meeting and election of managing committee. People do home works phone calls everything like an election, but after the election we all are one and work together for the common benefit of the parish that is why the parish is improving day by day. But in US we do have two or three Syrian Orthodox churches in a same locality, with ten or twenty families. Simply we can say it is like some political parties in Kerala slit and grow and again split. There is no meaning of a family conference or social gathering without harmony in our own church.
Cecil. K Varghese
ID # 890
- Thank you for your valued comment on the above subject Mr. Thomas. Regarding your special comment on the contribution, I would like to mention that people who are working in the Gulf are not very rich. Most of them have come here after selling their property or sell their family member's ornaments or other valuable things to get money for obtaining the visa. They are coming in the Gulf with a good hope and expecting for a good future. After their arrival here, most of them are doing different jobs for satisfying their sponsor or for their own survival. Once they become the member of a Parish, they will have to contribute for each and every requirement of the Church. If Mr. Thomas had a chance to serve the church committee in the Gulf Parish, then, I don't have to explain the way how the church committee is raising the fund either for the daily maintenance of the Church or for a special reason. They have to go to each and every member (house visit with the Priest) and insist the members to update the monthly subscription and also to donate for the special collection. In that situation, each church member will have to pay his/her share to the Parish.
Since 1994 the Gulf Parish Administration matters has been handed over to "Malankara Church Hierarchy" due to certain reasons which I do not want to disclose through this open forum. This allotment is for a short period (3 years) and some of the Bishops think that it is their right to grab the maximum amount from the Gulf Parish Members before the completion of their tenure. I am not blaming or abusing the Bishops but what I believe is that a Bishop should be like a Shepherd to look after the sheep. They should have a fatherly affection towards the Parishioners. If there is any dispute or misunderstanding between the Priest and the Parishioners he should sort out the matter in a loveable manner. They should not threaten or warn the Parishioners thinking that they have the special power like a Police Officer that he can ex-communicate the member from the Church.
What I believe and my suggestion is that, if this Gulf Churches get a permanent Bishop, and if he can be appointed directly by His Holiness, then he will have easy access to any Gulf Church at any time and if there is a problem or dispute in any of these churches then the matter can be solved very easily and also he will have a very good knowledge or idea about the living condition of the poor Parishioners in the Gulf.
Mathew Thomas Kannathumuriyil
- Thanks Mr. Mathew for sharing your views. I fully agree with you that there is difference in financial status between members in any area whether it is Gulf / India or any other place. Contribution is not on compulsion and if this is happening in your church then it is high time that you all get organized.
I had the opportunity to serve our church as committee member and as
well as in administrative level. In Kuwait we are more organized. As per general body's decision committee is not allowed to make house visit for monetary purposes, unless it is authorized by the Supreme Head His Holiness Patriarch.
Church General body, has set a minimum amount for church eligible membership. This amount also is not taken compulsory, rather members willingly pay. Any member can opt not to pay, but then he will not be permitted to attend the general body. He can attend church and take part in all activity except attending general body and being part of any administrative post. But still we encourage all to register as a
member and there is no prejudice between a member and an eligible member except that a member can not attend the General Body and a committee member. We all know that Church can not run or be maintained without the members contributing. Whoever can actively take part should take part and I do not see any flaws in the way we are functioning.
We do not have any ill treatment from any Bishops and one thing I
can assure you is that, there is no compulsory collection from any one so far. They may announce their need (if any). Whoever is willing to contribute can contribute. We all have the freedom to choose. So what is the harm in announcing?
I belive the probelms you are facing has no relation to the appointment of the bishops.
ID # 4800
- Fellow Believer,
First of all thanking Mr. Varkey, for putting forward this key issue of our Gulf parishes. As we all know material objectives and spiritual deeps cannot be placed in one basket. The only solution to this issue is "To be a Cow without the Milk" and this should acted from the layman to the Business category, by which we could save our churches from becoming Limited companies with CEO'S.
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Varkey Titus wrote:
> Dear members,
> Some times I wonder our Church heirarchy's strategies on Gulf parishes. Eventhough, on technical terms, still these parishes are directly under the spiritual administration of the Patriarch of Antioch & All the East, in effect it was implemented only upto 1993. The parish administration matters were directly handled by His Holiness until that time and the parish committees were able to voice their opinion to His Holiness, on various matters. However, since 1994, due to the request (Or pressure??) from our Malankara Church heirarchy, the administration of these Gulf parishes were given to metropolitans of Malankara Synod. Here on started the 'Step-Mother' attitude of our heirarchy to the 'Milking Cows' of Gulf.
- Dear Mr. Thomas,
Thank you for your note dated 7 June 2009. I am so sorry, I did not know that you are located in Kuwait. Kuwait is one of the richest country in the Middle East and those who are located in Kuwait has always a different view.
In reply to your last paragraph, may I produce the following information
I am totally agree with Mr. Varkey Titus's comments that
"If the Gulf Parish Administration matters are directly handled by His Holiness by appointing a permanent Bishop for the Gulf Region, then the Parish Committee will be able to voice their matters / opinion directly to His Holiness through their Bishop and he will be able to contact His Holiness whenever he require". Also he will not approach the parishioners for frequent collections on various projects.
If a Bishop is posted from Malankara for three years to the Gulf Parish, what interest he has towards the Gulf Parish / Parishioners. He will not be interested in the improvement / development of the Gulf Parish/s or the feelings of the Church members and his aim will be to collect the maximum from the Gulf Members within the short period (3 years) ie. `Milking Cows' and also the Malankara Hierarchy has a Step-Mother's attitude towards the Gulf Members.
If a new Bishop is posted to the Gulf Region for 3 years then, his interest will be to bring a Priest from his own family or his own Diocese so that this Priest will be compelled to execute orders of the Bishop. He will act according to his own way and the interest of the Bishop without thinking the feelings of the Senior Members or the majority members of the Parish who had to sacrifice a lot for the formation of the particular Gulf Church. Members of the Gulf Parish/s are from the different dioceses from India ie. Angamaly, Suvishesha Samajam, Simhasana Churches, Knanaya Arch Diocese etc. If the newly appointed Priest belonging to the Northern or Southern Area, after his arrival in the Gulf, he will play some politics and influence the Northern or Southern Area people and create a split among the Church Members and form a Group. By playing these games he will get the majority members in the Church General Body and form a Committee with his own people so that anything can be decided through the Committee as per the interest of the Bishop or the Priest. If any of the Founder / Senior Members who are not belonging to this group and if he raise or protest anything in the General Body then he will be `Hit Listed'. After that the matter will be informed to the Bishop at Malankara and he will appear like a Special Officer and give some verbal warning / warning letter or ex-communicate (Mudakku) to the victim as per the direction of the Priest. In order to avoid these issues most of the members will have to suppress their feelings and get away from these issues.
I am in the Gulf for the past 34 years and had lot of bitter experience.
I am a very Senior Member of one of the popular Church in the Gulf and was in the Church Committee for several years during the initial stage of the Church, but now-a-days I am trying to get away from the Church Committee and the General Body Meeting because I am unable to tolerate this type of politics. My opinion is if the Gulf Churches can be controlled directly by His Holiness by appointing a Bishop (NOT A MALAYALEE BISHOP) and this Bishop will administer the Gulf Church Diocese without any partiality and will not have any special
consideration to the members according to the region.
MATHEW THOMAS KANNATHUMURIYIL
ID NO. 3673
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Thomas Mathew wrote:
> Thanks Mr. Mathew for sharing your views. I fully agree with you that there is difference in financial status between members in any area whether it is Gulf / India or any other place. Contribution is not on compulsion and if this is happening in your church then it is high time that you all get organized.
- Dear Mr Mathew Thomas,
Bishops are human too and are not perfect. It is our responsibility to pray for them, so that the Lord will strengthen them and allow them to teach the truth and lead the folk effectively.
However it is wrong for us to think that Malayalee Bishops will have partiality but Non Malayalee Bishops are perfect and won't have any partiality or will not have any special consideration.
I beg to differ. I will say Syrian or Arabic Bishops suffer from the same human weakness of Malayalee Bishops. They will also have their own favorites and their own special considerations.
It is some of the human weeknesses of some of the Syrian bishops that has led to a division of the Syriac church in America, especially in California and the creation of the so called Bishop Gurgan in Europe.
Mathew G M
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Mathew Thomas Kannathumuriyil wrote:
My opinion is if the Gulf Churches can be controlled directly by His Holiness by appointing a Bishop (NOT A MALAYALEE BISHOP) and this Bishop will administer the Gulf Church Diocese without any partiality and will not have any special consideration to the members according to the region.
> MATHEW THOMAS KANNATHUMURIYIL
> ID NO. 3673
- Dear moderator
I do agree with the suggestion for a Diocese under H H patriarch and a Bishop who can communicate in Arabic, appointed by H H. Dubai church was formed with this idea and run by HH till Malankara Sinod grabed the area from the oversee of HH.
Under the malankara, we experienced that except UAE other Gulf countries have one bishop and the Managing Committee have power except the spiritual issues.
In UAE, as what described as the Milking Cow, have many Parishes(Financially sound and not) and the Bishops in charge always interferes in the administrative issues of the church, H G even went ahead with changing the constitutions with the approval from Damascus.
Who to be blamed, the poor parishioners or the coccus surrounding the Bishop or the aspirants of Higher position from HH.
Appreciated the formation of the open forum, if all can join hands and do a little for the well being of churches in Gulf , let us all raise our voice.
- Dear Mr. Mathew,
Thanks for your opinion. I understand that you are going through a very difficult time suffering from frequent collections and groupism. Even then, in my opinion, changing the bishop does not improve your situation.
How can you guarantee that proposed NOT A MALAYALEE BISHOP will not approach the parishioners for frequent collections on various
projects assigned to him ? He may also have projects, only difference is that it may be some other projects somewhere. I think the only solution is to exercise your freedom not to contribute, if you do not like to do so.
You mentioned, that Achen is making group and get things done by majority. In a society everything will not happen the way we want. Normally any church follows the GB decision. For a few, that decision may not be the way they want it, but it is the way any church functions and we need to abide by it. Here also changing the bishop or achen will not have any major impact.
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Mathew Thomas Kannathumuriyil wrote:
> Dear Mr. Thomas,
> Thank you for your note dated 7 June 2009. I am so sorry, I did not know that you are located in Kuwait. Kuwait is one of the richest country in the Middle East and those who are located in Kuwait has always a different view.
> In reply to your last paragraph, may I produce the following information
> I am totally agree with Mr. Varkey Titus's comments that