2022 Parish Council
Brian Goodale – President, Maria Dostis – Vice President,
Balwant Kingra – Secretary, Dimitri Koutsopoulos – Assistant Secretary,
Alexandra Casey – Treasurer, Lucy Brady, Arji Cakouros,
Roubina Morgan, Maria Stamoulis
Brian Goodale (President) is the current President of the Parish Council at St. George. Through his wife Lucy (Laskaris) Goodale, he was introduced to the Orthodox faith, and converted and was baptized shortly thereafter. Professionally, Brian works for SUNY Empire State College as the Director of Academic Partnerships in the Office of Partnerships in the Office of the President. He has been at Empire State College since 2009. Prior to Empire State College, Brian had 15 years of higher education experience, including service at the University at Albany as the Director of Graduate Admissions for the School of Public Health, and the Assistant Director of International Graduate Admissions for the university. He started his career as an Admissions Counselor at SUNY Cobleskill. In addition, Brian has 21 years of volleyball coaching experience, including 17 years as the Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at the College of Saint Rose (NCAA Division II). Brian earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at the University at Albany, where he also earned his master’s degree. He graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, and from SUNY Cobleskill with an associate of science degree in Business Administration. He and Lucy live in Clifton Park, NY with their son Tyler.
Maria Dostis (Vice President) is the current Vice President of the Parish Council. She is a retired Professional Librarian, AV Director, Library Media Specialist, Social Studies Teacher and Grant Writer. She has lived and worked in Kentucky, Florida, New Jersey, and upstate and downstate New York. Currently Maria lives along the Mohawk River in Rexford, NY. Maria is a Greek School student, a steward of St. George, and Member of Community Care Patient and Family Advisory Council. Raised in Chicago “The Town That Billy Sunday Couldn’t Shake Down”, Maria was part of the Swedish Evangelical Community of Lake View and a participant in Bible classes, music, scouting and worked in Camp Lake, WI. She holds various degrees including: B.S. in History, Philosophy, and Geography; MA in Education from Murray State University and a member of Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority; MS in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute; and various coursework taken at Columbia University, Fordham University, Jersey City State, and SUNY. Maria was baptized at St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Melbourne, Florida, and married James Vlamis at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Theologian in Tenafly, New Jersey. Maria enjoys travelling around the world and is passionate about children of Greek descent having the opportunity to embrace the Hellenic culture and language, along with the Orthodox religion.
Balwant Maria Kingra (Secretary). My name is Balwant Maria, I graduated from St. John’s University in May of 2020 with a goal to attend Physician’s Assistant school in the next year. When I came back home, I decided to join the Parish Council to get involved in the church again. Along with joining the Parish Council, I am a part of the fundraising committee and the Young Adult group. Growing up in the church, there were a lot of activities to attend and I am interested in continuing this tradition. I am very excited to help plan events to get our community involved and bring us closer together in these unprecedented times.
Alexandra Casey (Treasurer) My name is Alexandra Casey. I have been a member of Saint George for over 30 years. I grew up in the church, attended Sunday school, participated in youth programs, danced in the Dance Troupe, and attended Greek School. Currently, I am serving on the Parish Council as a Treasurer. I have been on the council for about six years. I wear many different hats throughout the day! I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a helper, and a friend. I graduated from Russell Sage College with an MS in Childhood Literacy Education. I currently work at North Colonie Central School District as a third-grade teacher. My husband and I live in Burnt Hills, and we have one beautiful daughter, Gianna, who is 10 years old. When I am not working at school, I help my mother with the family business. Saint George is close to my heart, and I do all that I can to help. Serving for my church is an honor, and I am committed to fulfilling this mission given by Christ.
Lucy Brady. My name is Lucy Brady. I grew up in Flushing, NY and got married to my husband Scott in 1988 in St. Nicholas GOC. We moved to the Albany area in 1990 and then moved to Scotia in 1993. I have a daughter Maria who lives with her husband, James in South Carolina, a daughter Christina who lives at home and a son, Jimmy who lives in Ballston Spa. I have been working at Capital Region BOCES for the past 23 years as a School Social Worker in Special Education. Being involved in a Family Support Council for many years has given me the opportunity to advocate for people with disabilities. I have been an active member of St. George GOC for about 26 years. The Church has been an integral part of my family’s life. We have been involved in various activities offered by the Church over the years. I have been a longtime member of the Philoptochos as well as the St. George Council. I enjoy traveling, going out to eat, spending time on the beach, dancing.
Arjhiroula "Arji" Cakouros is a sound healer, musician, Reiki master and Dreamwork teacher based in Niskayuna, NY. Her personal commitment to supporting others in achieving radiant health is rooted in her ancestral Hellenic Asclepian and Pythagorean healing traditions. She has been assisting and collaborating with Sw. Laraaji NadaBrahmananda since 2008, offering Healing Sound events, concerts, and Laughter Immersion experiences in many venues worldwide. Arji served as faculty at the prestigious International Sound Healing Intensive in Colorado for the last nine years of its 25 year history, as well as on the faculty for the Sacred Sounds Institute Intensive held annually at Olympic National Park, Washington state, created by the multi-talented pioneer Sound Healer Vickie Dodd. Arji has been affiliated with the St. George parish since the early 70’s and served as its first dance troupe organizer & choreographer in the initial years of establishing its annual fall Greek festival. She and her family became active at St. Sophia’s in Albany from the early 1990’s until her return to St. George a few years ago. Arji looks very much forward to now serving this community which she so loves, as part of the parish council.
Dimitri Koutsopoulos is returning as a member to the Parish Council. He is a passionate member of the church community who has a drive for helping to engage people in cultural and religious activities. He has a background in consulting and business development and assists the council in strategizing community events. Dimitri has 7+ years’ experience in the domains of technology, marketing, compliance and project management. He joined Cloud and Things in 2018 as an initial team member to help grow the company and works directly with executive leadership to plan and drive business initiatives. He graduated from the University at Albany with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration with a dual concentration in Information Technology Management and Marketing. Dimitri is a very friendly and approachable person, please feel free to introduce yourself to him or reach out if anything is needed.
Roubina Spyros Morgan. I am a lifelong and dedicated parishioner of St. George and a parent of one son, Justin 31 and a daughter Ariana, 28. I am currently employed at Union College as a merchandise buyer and handle, the website, accounts payable and receivables for the campus store. In addition, I have 26 years experience in a medical and hospital setting mainly in Medical billing and operations. I work per diem for Sunnyview Hospital. I enjoy making changes to situations that need improvement. I love animals, the outdoors, music and art.
Maria Stamoulis. Maria works for the State Education Department (SED) as an Auditor II within the Office of Audit Services. She conducts internal audits including the annual Internal Control Certification and monitors various initiatives including the financial reviews of the SED Business Portal. Prior to SED, Maria worked as a Senior Examiner for the State Comptroller’s Office where she developed training and presented governmental accounting/financial topics including the property tax cap at local government conferences and OSC’s accounting schools. Maria has been a member of Saint George since early childhood. She attended Greek School, Sunday School, and various youth activities. Currently, Maria serves as part of the festival committee on the parish council. She previously served as secretary on the council for four years. Maria graduated from Union College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and a Master’s in Business Administration.
The Parish Council Is a Ministry
by Father James W. Kordaris
The president was preparing to exit Air Force One on an official visit. Before exiting the plane he took what seemed like a very long time checking his appearance in the mirror -- first his hair, then his tie, and then his suit. When an aid teased him about his vanity, the president replied, “When I go out that door, I'm not just a man – I am the United States of America .”
In much the same way, parish council members represent their parish and the Orthodox Christian faith. As leaders of the community, parish council members are on the front lines and are able to have a long-term positive effect on their parish. To serve on the parish council is a ministry and those who serve are called to represent Christ to all whom they meet in all aspects of life.
MISSION of the PARISH COUNCIL
The mission of the parish as defined in the Uniform Parish Regulations – and therefore the mission of the Parish Council – is “… to keep, practice and proclaim the Orthodox Christian Faith pure and undefiled.”
In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Rich Man walked by poor Lazarus every day. The Rich Man didn't hate Lazarus – he just ignored him, committing the sin of indifference. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference.
We have been blessed with great treasures of the faith and Lazarus lies at our gate. Lazarus is the visitor that walks through the doors of our church on Sunday morning. Lazarus is the non-Orthodox spouse. Lazarus is the lapsed Orthodox Christian visiting the parish after a long absence. Like the Rich Man in the parable, we often walk right by without noticing, and they eat from the crumbs that fall from our table.
If we believe that in Orthodoxy we have the fullness of the Truth, then we have the great responsibility – the Great Commission – to share it with everyone. As Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations – EIS PANTA TA EQNH .
AMBASSADORS OF FAITH
For non-Orthodox as well as for inactive Orthodox Christians, entering an Orthodox church can be a very uncomfortable, intimidating exper-ience. Research has shown that non-believers attend church at least once each year, and when they attend, they are profoundly affected by their first impressions.
It is also important to note that the percentage of Greek Orthodox Christians marrying non-Orthodox Christians is in the range of 60-70%. Some priests will tell you that it is closer to 100%. If we don't make Orthodoxy real and accessible to the non-Orthodox spouse, then eventually we will lose the couple and their children.
Often the first person our visitors see is a member of the parish council. Reaching out to those who enter our doors with a handshake, a greeting and a welcoming smile could be the most important missionary work we do. Simply put -- friendliness has eternal implications. Unless people see in us the light and the love of Christ, they will not believe.
Parishioners are often nominated as candidates for the Parish Council because of their education, business experience or legal background. The best parish council members are not necessarily those who are business-oriented, but rather, those who are Church-oriented and Christ-centered. To be a good council member, one must be active in the worship and sacramental life of the Church. The best candidates are easy to find – they are in church.
WE ARE CONCILIAR
The Priest is head of the Parish, and is charged with the guidance of the total Parish program. The parish council consists of the Priest, and the elected lay members, and is referred to as a board only when so required by local statute. In internal matters of the Church, we always use the designation of Parish Council. This is because one of the identifying traits of the Orthodox Church is that we are conciliar – decisions are made in council.
To refer to the Parish Council as “The Board” is a symptom of our inclination to apply the corporate paradigm to the operation of the Church. Although some tools used in corporate life may also be useful in the operation of the Church, the corporate paradigm falls short and reduces the local church to something less than she was meant to be
SETTING AN EXAMPLE
The duties of a parish council member ( UPR Ch 2, Article XII ) include regular attendance at divine services and participation in the sacramental life of the Church, “…thereby setting an example for the parish.” To set an example for the parish will require that we overcome the stereotype of the parish council member who is rarely seen in church. It is easy to be like Martha -- Jesus, the Son of God, came to dinner and Martha spent the entire time in the kitchen “anxious and troubled about many things.”
A COMMITMENT TO SERVE
In the Oath of Office, the parish council members affirm that they “…will fulfill faithfully and sincerely the duties and obligations required of a member of the Parish Council….” Apromise is made which rests on the shared commitment of all council members to serve the Church, which is the Body of Christ on earth. We are His hands, feet, eyes and more. To serve on the council is a ministry and a mission. We are called to use the gifts with which we have been blessed to carry out the work of the Church.
THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP
“The most basic task of the Church leader is to discern the spiritual gifts of all those under his authority, and to encourage those gifts to be used to the full for the benefit of all. Only a person who can discern the gifts of others and can humbly rejoice at the flowering of those gifts is fit to lead the Church.”
~ St. John Chrysostom ~
This information is offered to all who serve and to all who may consider serving on the Parish Council. It was developed as part of a Parish Council orientation seminar and is intended to offer a vision of the Parish Council as a ministry.
May the Lord bless you and guide your efforts in this important ministry of our Church.
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America