Thursday, December 9, 2010

RE: The Rebuilding of St. Nicholas

Late last month, I got this notice about the attempts being made to rebuild St. Nicholas Orthodox Church at Ground Zero:

On Sunday, December 5th, at 2:00 PM, on the eve of the Feast Day of St. Nicholas, Archbishop Demetrios will lead a special prayer service at Ground Zero (Liberty and Greenwich Streets). On this solemn day, we will join the parishioners of St. Nicholas, not simply in observing the Feast Day of the Wonderworking Saint and the Name Day of the church, but we will intensify our prayers and supplications that the church dedicated to him, the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11, be re-built at Ground Zero, and soon!

I didn't think much of it, except perhaps that I might have liked to be able to attend the prayer service had it not been in the open air of Manhattan in December. Certainly rebuilding the Orthodox Church destroyed on 9/11 is a better cause than constructing a Muslim community center near Ground Zero, and I believe in the power of prayer to enable and invigorate God's work.

More recently, however, I read a news article that suggests that the good people of St. Nicholas are turning to methods a little more down-to-earth than prayer:

A Greek Orthodox church in New York City that was destroyed on Sept. 11 is taking legal action against the agency that owns ground zero, saying it has reneged on a promise to rebuild the church.

The Wall Street Journal reports that St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church filed a notice of claim against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Monday. The papers seeks to compel the agency to live up to what it says is a "binding preliminary agreement" from 2008.

I realize that I will probably be in a minority on this, but it seems strangely inappropriate to have one hand lifted in prayer and the other at the throat of the New York Port Authority. In the end, it turns out that the Orthodox don't need my prayers so much as my contribution to their legal fund.


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