ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN LAITY
November 3, 2009
For more information contact: George Matsoukas 877-585-0245
Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) described Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s remarks to the recently-held SCOBA (Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas) meeting held in New York City on October 27, 2009 “as another important step on the road to Orthodox Unity in the United States.”
“By reaffirming his support for the unity process which commenced a year ago in Istanbul and subsequently refined this past June in Chambesy, Switzerland, His All Holiness delivered a clear message to America’s Orthodox leadership that he backs the unity effort,” said Bill Souvall, newly-elected President of OCL.
Mr. Souvall added that the Patriarch “demonstrated an acute understanding of our situation in the United States,” citing excerpts from his remarks which referred to the evolving status quo of the Church in America. “Patriarch Bartholomew’s recognition of the changing reality of Orthodoxy in America is most encouraging to those in OCL and others who support church unity,” Mr. Souvall continued.
George Matsoukas, OCL Executive Director, said: “What was especially notable about the Patriarch’s remarks was his openness to new ideas; and I quote him: ‘We welcome positive suggestions and, as is said in our modern world, “thinking outside the box,” so that we may construct models of ecclesiastical polity and governance sunk deep in the venerable tradition of our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and at the same time are relevant to the spiritual needs and societal conventions of the world within which our faithful live’.”
Mr. Souvall and Mr. Matsoukas agreed that the Patriarch’s remarks provide clear direction for the Orthodox prelates as they prepare for their first-ever Episcopal Assembly of all Bishops in North America which will take up unity issues scheduled for after Pentecost in May 2010.
OCL, an independent movement established in 1987, has been a leading and consistent advocate for Orthodox unity in North America and for the laity’s full participation in Church life; and in that spirit, anticipates that all members of the Church will fully engage in the process leading to a unified North American Church.