On Saturday, April 30, 2022, after two years of not being able to meet in person due to the pandemic, the Metropolis of Chicago Archons held their seventh annual Metropolis of Chicago Business Retreat in person at the Saint Iakovos Retreat Center in Kansasville, Wisconsin.
Honored guests at this year’s retreat included His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago, Father Stamatios Sfikas of Annunciation Cathedral in Chicago, and two family members of Regional Commander Emeritus Harold Peponis of blessed memory, his beloved wife Faye and son Arthur.
During the meeting, Regional Commanders Gus M. Pablecas and John G. Manos recognized the recently invested Archons Dr. George Bovis, Ostiarios, and Dr. Jeremy Orhyon, Determinefs, and the Metropolis of Chicago Archons named to Archon National Committees in the past year, including National Council Member John S. Koudounis, Eftaxias; Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation Investment Committee Members Robert A. Buhler, Referendarios, John S. Koudounis, Eftaxias, and William Spell, Laosynaktis; and National Secretary Gus M. Pablecas, Ostiarios. They also remembered the Archons from our Metropolis who have recently fallen asleep in the Lord: Archons Gus A. Chafoulias, Hieromnimon; Dr. George Korkos, Aktouarios; and Anthony A. Nichols, Notarios.
Another key theme of the meeting was religious freedom, including a discussion on religious persecution throughout the world today, and the impact of the war in Ukraine.
The Archons also discussed current local and national Archon initiatives, shared thoughts and ideas on how to continue the Archons’ mission and increase Archon involvement, and reviewed upcoming local and national Archon-related events, as well as the matching grant opportunities the Metropolis of Chicago Archons established with the Renaissance Fund and the Hellenic Foundation to help further their mission at the local level. Also discussed were general ways to help the Metropolis of Chicago.
After the business meeting, the Archons formally dedicated the prosikinitario of Saint Andrew, which was installed in the Tomaras Lodge at the Saint Iakovos Retreat Center in memory of Regional Commander Emeritus Harold Peponis. His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael and Father Stamatios Sfikas presided over the dedication. Faye and Arthur Peponis were in attendance, along with the Archons and spouses.
The Retreat culminated with a lecture by Archon Aristotle Papanikolaou, who is a professor at Fordham University, the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture, and co-founding Director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham.
His presentation, titled “Russia, Religion, Ukraine,” explored the role of religion in the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. Professor Papanikolaou discussed the history of the relationship between the Russian and Ukrainian people; the emergence of the Russian Orthodox Church as a public political actor in Russia in the post-Soviet period; the recent support given by Vladimir Putin to Russia's religious history as an aspect of the Russian national identity; the use of Russian religious soft power in Russian foreign policy; and why Patriarch Kirill is supporting the war.