Have you ever wondered what Archons do and how you get to be one? We sat down with the Metropolis of Chicago’s Archon Regional Commanders to get the answers to these questions and more.
It seems that the Archons are much more visible as of late. In the Metropolis of Chicago, we’re seeing events organized by the Archons, and increased awareness of their involvement at the forefront of many important issues. Perhaps you’ve wondered, as we have, what is an Archon, how you get to be one, and what does an Archon do? We’ll explore these questions and more, with the Metropolis of Chicago’s Archon Regional Commanders, John G. Manos, Archon Eutaxias (Invested May 2013); and Gus M. Pablecas, Archon Ostiarios (Invested October 2006).
Back in 1966, 30 outstanding laymen were selected and conferred due to their love, loyalty, and support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and their contributions to its advancement and welfare. On the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 10, 1966, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, on behalf of His All Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras (both of blessed memory), formally organized The Order of St. Andrew of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. They were bestowed Offikion or Offices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The offikia come from some of the most prestigious offices of the ancient world– ancient Greek city-states — which were transformed in the 4th century when the Roman Empire embraced the Christian Faith. The officeholders became important leaders of the Christian community, and their offices assumed responsibilities such as the service and promotion of the Faith in the Empire.
What is an archon?
The website further explains that an Archon is a person who is honored by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for outstanding service to the Church. This person is a well-known, distinguished, and well-respected leader of the Orthodox Christian community. Archons are essentially defenders of the Faith.
How do you get to be an Archon?
Being an Archon is the highest honor that may be bestowed upon a layperson. He’s a person that not only has demonstrated himself as a leader in the community, but also is of solid Christian character, and devoted to our Faith. This person has demonstrated a greater than average commitment of stewardship — time, talent, and treasure — to the Church. He is an advocate for human rights, and is willing to stand up when these rights are violated. He is someone who will protect the welfare of the church.
How many Archons are there?
There are about 1300 Archons worldwide, of which approximately 700 are in the US — roughly 10% of those are part of the Metropolis of Chicago.
What do Archons do?
Gus and John indicated that an Archon’s main responsibility is to defend and promote the “Holy and Great Mother Church.”
“Many are unaware of the issues facing the Patriarchate, and as Archons, we are working diligently to protect our religious freedom.”
They explained that there are five main issues facing the Patriarchate that threaten “our very existence as Orthodox Christians”. Here’s a simplified list:
- Government (Turkey) interference in the Patriarchal elections;
- Non-recognition of “Ecumenical” status;
- No legal identity;
- Closing of the Halki seminary and inability to train new clergy;
- Confiscation of property
“The Archons are very active in pursuing the protection of our religious freedom and have been able to assist in obtaining favorable court decisions in the European Court of Human Rights, and have helped to obtain 43 State resolutions in support of our Orthodox cause.”
How many Archons can a parish have?
Since Archons are selected based on merit, and not by parish, there is no limit. Typically, each year two new Archons are invested from our Metropolis.
About Regional Commanders
Gus and John were appointed as Regional Commanders in January 2015. In this capacity, they are charged with promoting, observing, and carrying out the purposes, objectives and principles of the Order of St. Andrew.
“We coordinate the role of local Archons, based on the advisement of the National Council.”
It may seem as though the Chicago Metropolis Archons are more visible as of late.
“That’s because we need to get the word out to our faithful about the religious freedom issues facing our Patriarchate and that our Orthodox Christianity is under attack.
What can be more important to our Orthodox Faith then our right to practice and retain our religious freedom? Our very existence, as we know it, our Orthodox Faith, is at stake here and it is surprising as we travel throughout our parishes in our Metropolis, that so many of the faithful are unaware of the issues facing our Patriarchate. As local Archons, we now need to expand our reach and get the message out — that we will not rest until we’re allowed to have complete religious freedom which will ensure and protect our Orthodox Faith forever. There is strength in numbers and the more we can inform, the stronger our results. The Archons are very active in New York, working daily for our Mother Church. The Archons in the Metropolis of Chicago are part of that effort, offering printed material, symposia at local parishes, news articles, special events, etc. There’s much work to be done.”
Several events have been held recently, including an Archon retreat at the St. Iakovos Retreat Center in Kansasville, WI; an Archon “meet and greet” and symposia held at St. Nectarios Church in Palatine, IL and The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Demetrios in Elmhurst, IL. More symposia are being organized throughout the Metropolis, to help create awareness of these issues, and get others involved.
“We’re looking forward to meeting all of our fellow Christians. It is amazing how many excellent and sincere questions are asked by the faithful at our symposia. They want to know the facts, and they want to help.”
There will be a national Archon meeting at the upcoming Clergy Laity Conference, July 3-8 in Nashville, TN. The Archons will also gather for the annual National Archon Gala this October in New York, where they will bestow the annual Athenagoras Human Rights Award. Last year’s recipient was Vice President Joe Biden.
How you can help
As Orthodox Christians, we should all be aware of the issues we face as a Church, and as a people. Not only should we be aware, but we should all be diligent in educating others about our Faith and its importance. We should all be advocates of religious freedom. Speak to the Archons in your parish about how you, too, can help preserve our freedoms as Orthodox Christians.
For more information about the Archons of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, visit www.archons.org.
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