Before his ordination as Greek Orthodox Priest, he was Gregory M. Lemelson -- financial entrepreneur, technological innovator, and business developer. Now as Reverend Fr. Emmanuel Lemelson, he navigates the worlds of traditional faith and an informational industrial age.
Fr. Lemelson's contributions to the Church and the corporate world cover an intricate path of intersecting milestones: theologian, author, founder of for-profit and non-profit organizations, investment expert, scholar, economic and legal analyst, authority on property law, and author of patents for early e-commerce and online social media.
As both ordained priest and former CEO of business ventures he founded, Fr. Lemelson sees common ground between religious commitment and commercial ventures noting, "It's hard to imagine professional ability as a drawback to the priesthood. A good example of priests who have professional acumen are the Jesuits, also known as the Society of Jesus. The idea that a priest is a dependent of the community and retreats from the secular is a concept that developed after seismic changes within the Church."
An investment professional, Fr. Lemelson is portfolio manager for private investment company Lemelson Capital Management and founder and director of The Lantern Foundation, a non-profit foundation that provides financial support to religious and community service organizations. He is the original founder of Floga Holdings, an intellectual property holding company, and commercial real estate investment company Makarios Holdings.
Amvona, Fr. Lemelson's blog-site and also the name of the hedge fund managed under Lemelson Capital Management, is the Greek translation for "pulpit." Fluent in Greek, English and German, Fr. Lemelson had an early interest in the Greek language. "The word 'amvona' came to me from a book title," he said. "Although it had a beautiful sound, there was little conscious connection to the purpose it would serve. Later, when I felt inspired to write, the idea was to speak or preach to a larger audience. 'Amvona' then became a fitting term for anything inspirational."
After publishing "the first equity investment idea" in 2010 and an article in 2011 titled, "How We Lost Investor's Money on Cisco," Fr. Lemelson launched the Amvona Fund, L.P. in Southborough, MA. "The Amvona Fund L.P. was launched at the urging of investors," Fr. Lemelson wrote on his blog-site. Registered as a pooled income fund under Form D of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the fund's filing date is September 11, 2012. The fund's stated investment objective is protection of principle with concentration on value investing, giving preference to "easy to understand, stable businesses with healthy operating margins." The portfolio consists of long positions, primarily in US equities, across all market and capitalization sectors.
"All disciplines are but a hand maiden to theology," Fr. Lemelson added. "The priesthood is a calling...for some an overwhelmingly strong calling. It is part of God's design. One does not simply choose accountant, biologist or priest...it is not merely a 'vocation' amongst 'other' possibilities."
Fr. Lemelson's financial articles frequently appear as "editors' picks" on leading financial sites such as Zero Hedge, The Daily Bail, SeekingAlpha and GuruFocus. In addition Fr. Lemelson discusses theology, security analysis, economics and property law on his blog-site Amvona.com. He is the author of over 60 critical essays on these topics.
Considering his achievements in industry, Fr. Lemelson could have easily earned degrees in finance and engineering. Instead, he chose the priesthood, graduating with degrees in theology and divinity from Seattle University and the Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
Fr. Lemelson's decision to enter the priesthood began when he was a 17-year old undergraduate at Seattle University. There, he met Fr. Robert Spitzer, a Jesuit priest who became his mentor. Meeting Fr. Spitzer was a life-changing experience. "He was a spiritual and intellectual giant – a priest unlike any other," Fr. Lemelson recalls. "That moment was a collision of secular ambitions and conquests with God's will – to a full-blooded young man, at once terrible and beautiful."
Born Gregory M. Lemelson, Fr. Lemelson was ordained in 2011 into the Greek Orthodox Church, taking the name Emmanuel. He served in the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America and is currently assigned to the Holy Metropolis of Switzerland. Both the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America and the Holy Metropolis of Switzerland are under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
On Amvona.com, Fr. Lemelson has published articles vehemently condemning financial abuses that, not so long ago, caused the collapse of the real estate and financial markets and triggered a deep global recession. One article that has drawn a large readership is "Houston, we've got a problem – Bevilacqua." The article discusses the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling (October 18, 2011) that voided foreclosure sales in the Commonwealth over the last five years.
"Given recent history (or history in general)," Fr. Lemelson said, "it seems that the area of high finance is in great need of a voice from within the Church – but a voice that speaks that language."
This is the connection Fr. Lemelson sees between his role in the Church and the world of corporate finance.