Orthodox Christian Laity issued a call for broad community support and involvement in Orthodox Unity efforts which will formally begin when all Orthodox Bishops in North America meet after Pentecost in May, 2010.
The independent lay movement announced its action plan on October 31 at the end of its 22nd Annual Meeting held at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
“It appears that for the first time in the history of the Orthodox Church in America, we have a process which can lead to unity, a hope which OCL has kept alive these past two decades,” stated Bill Souvall, the group’s newly-elected president. He was referring specifically to the Episcopal meeting of all Orthodox bishops which will consider preparations and plans for bringing about Orthodox unity in America.
“We stand ready to assist our bishops in any appropriate way as they prepare for this meeting and urge all concerned clergy and laity to begin their own discussions and dialogue on the important issues which this historic gathering will discuss,” Mr. Souvall continued.
He indicated that OCL will launch a 2010 meeting countdown initiative as a means of building interest and discussion among Orthodox in America as the May meeting approaches. “This effort is consistent with OCL’s long-standing campaign for Orthodox unity in America and its commitment to involve all clergy, laity and bishops in that endeavor,” Mr. Souvall added.
To further the unity effort, OCL plans to hold regional and local meetings to discuss how unity might come about and the affect it might have on local communities. Mr. Souvall emphasized the necessity of engaging in a unity dialogue to ensure that accurate information is circulated and misunderstanding avoided.
“We chose to meet at the Antiochian Village to mark the 15th Anniversary of the Ligonier Unity Declaration, but little did we know that the Orthodox Church universal would join in that anniversary by announcing last October in Istanbul and this past June in Chambesy, Switzerland, her commitment to unity in America,” Mr. Souvall declared.
“Truly, the Holy Spirit has been working this past fifteen years. Now it is our task to make sure that our journey to unity includes the whole Church.”