The foundation of governance in the Greek Orthodox Church is conciliarity in Christ. Inasmuch as the Church is a life of communion, or common existence, governance is shared and focused in the ideal of the “one and the many.” The “one”—the head—does not act without the “many,” and the “many” do not act without the “one.” The Metropolis of Chicago is itself a “local Church” headed by a hierarch—the Metropolitan. The Metropolitan is joined by the clergy (including presbyters or “elders,” commonly called “priests” as well as deacons or “ministers”) and the laity. In cooperation with the clergy and laity, the Metropolitan exercises the governance of the Metropolis. However, the Metropolis does not operate in a vacuum. The life of the Metropolis is in communion with Christ as also manifest in other local churches. Therefore, governance is not only concerned with affairs that are internal to the Metropolis of Chicago, but also with affairs that are shared with other local churches (i.e., the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, as well as other Orthodox jurisdictions).
Local parishes are governed by the Metropolitan through the parish priest along with the Parish Council and Parish General Assembly. The governing structures of a parish are established by the Uniform Parish Regulations of the Archdiocese. Duly elected members of the Parish Council meet at least on a monthly basis, overseeing the daily administration of the parish and making decisions in accordance with the parish by-laws and decisions of the Parish General Assembly. The Parish General Assembly meets at least twice each year and as needed, being chaired by a lay parishioner elected for that purpose at each meeting. Additionally, the Parish Council elects members of a board of auditors to oversee the financial reports from the Parish Council, as well as a board of electors to oversee the elections of the Parish Council. The Parish Council may propose changes to the Archdiocesan Regulations, submitting these to the Metropolis Council. Finally, it elects two lay delegates to the Metropolis Clergy-Laity Assembly.
Metropolis of Chicago
The Metropolis of Chicago is one of nine regions of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The Metropolis is governed directly by the Metropolitan, but also in consultation and cooperation with the clergy and laity through the following Metropolis bodies and institutions:
- Metropolis Clergy-Laity Assembly. The Metropolis Clergy-Laity Assembly is a meeting that occurs once every two years and focuses on matters of common concern to all the faithful, including the uniform governance of parishes, educational programs, financial programs, philanthropic concerns, as well as the life and growth of parishes. In addition to approving an operating budget and voting on motions, the Clergy-Laity Assembly elects individuals to the Metropolis Council and the Archdiocesan Council.
- Metropolis Council. As the advisory and consultative body to the Metropolitan, the Metropolis Council is concerned with the life and growth of the Metropolis, its ministries, institutions, and financial state. It consists of the Metropolitan (as President), the Chancellor, eight clergy, and eight laypersons elected by the Metropolis Clergy-Laity Assembly, as well as up to eight persons (clergy or laity) directly appointed by the Metropolitan. The Council serves for a two-year term following each Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress (see below). From among the members, a Vice President (a layperson), a Treasurer, and a Secretary are nominated by the Metropolitan and elected for each term. There may be additional officers as needed, while the Council may form any committees required to meet their needs in addition to a regular standing Executive Committee and Audit Committee.
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
The Metropolitan of Chicago is a standing member of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese, which is chaired by the Archbishop. The Eparchial Synod is the highest ecclesiastical authority of the Archdiocese and oversees the governance of the Archdiocese in all aspects of its life. The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople elects all the Hierarchs of the Eparchial Synod. The Archdiocese has two primary consultative bodies:
- Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress. Meeting at least once every two years, the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress is the highest legislative authority of the Archdiocese for all matters apart from dogmatic or canonical concerns (which are strictly overseen by the Eparchial Synod or the Ecumenical Patriarchate), including the life, mission, growth, and unity of the Archdiocese, the Metropolises and parishes. The Congress is also concerned with the educational programs, financial programs, and philanthropic concerns of the Archdiocese as well as with the participation and role of the Archdiocese in the life of America.
- Archdiocesan Council. Meeting at least twice a year, the Archdiocesan Council is responsible for overseeing the administration of the entire Archdiocese while implementing the decisions of the Clergy-Laity Congress. The Archdiocesan Council consists of the Archbishop (as President) and the Hierarchs of the Eparchial Synod, all Auxiliary Bishops, the Chancellors of each Metropolis, the Vice Presidents of the Local (Metropolis) Councils, fifty-one (51) persons appointed by the Archbishop, as well as one clergyman and two laypersons elected by each Metropolis Assembly. The Council also has an advisory and consultative role in the election of hierarchs of the Archdiocese, submitting its opinion to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate
The Metropolitan of Chicago, along with all other Metropolitans of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, also serves as a member of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is comprised of twelve Metropolitans, each serving a one-year term. Each Metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is typically requested to serve as a member of the Holy and Sacred Synod once every five years. Among its many responsibilities, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate serves as the highest Ecclesial Court of Appeal for all Hierarchs; it elects Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; and decides on important canonical and ecclesiological matters affecting the Orthodox Church.