October 31, 2014

Secretariat of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops Convenes First Meeting

We Orthodox, given our penchant for talking, might take heart at this statement in the report below: “The question of communications was also discussed. Those present acknowledged the fact that the Orthodox faith is not well-known to the media and public, and that heretofore has been largely unable to speak with a unified voice. It was asked, if Orthodox Christians neglect to address important issues in society, how can they be upset when their political leaders do the same.”

On the other hand, here is another opportunity squandered. The March for Life is in a few days, and the Episcopal Assembly could have (and should have) released a statement affirming the sanctity of human life.

Gaining recognition isn’t all that difficult. Just do your job. It’s that simple.

Source: Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops | HT: Byzantine TX

On Jan 12-13, 2011, the members of the Secretariat of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America met in Alhambra, CA at St. Steven’s Cathedral, hosted by His Grace Bishop Maxim. The meetings were led by His Grace Bishop Basil, and included bishops, priests, deacons, monastics, and laity. In addition to Bishop Basil, the others in attendance were: Bishop Andonios, Bishop Maxim, Fr. Mark Arey, Fr. Nicholas Ceko, Fr. Josiah Trenham, Protodeacon Peter Danilchick, Mr. Eric Namee, and Fr. Benedict Armitage. Mr. Alex Machaskee was able to participate by phone in part of the meeting.

The Secretariat recommended to the Chairman, Archbishop Demetrios, some changes in the appointments for the committee members and chairs, which will eliminate the duplication of responsibilities and foster better efficiency.

Bishop Andonios, as the Secretariat’s Coordinator for Agencies and Endorsed-Organizations, was charged with creating standards for endorsement by the Assembly, reviewing the current endorsements, and developing a process for deciding on new applicants. Mr. Constantin Ursache, who works closely with Bp. Andonios and Fr. Mark Arey, was appointed a consultant to the Secretariat.

Bishop Maxim, as Coordinator for Committees, intends to contact the chairmen of the thirteen committees (refer to Committees tab) soon, to help them begin in earnest their work on behalf of the Assembly. Protodeacon Peter Danilchick, who developed a protocol to help the committees, was appointed consultant to Bishop Maxim.

The question of communications was also discussed. Those present acknowledged the fact that the Orthodox faith is not well-known to the media and public, and that heretofore has been largely unable to speak with a unified voice. It was asked, if Orthodox Christians neglect to address important issues in society, how can they be upset when their political leaders do the same?

As a result, the Secretariat has proposed, for the Chairman’s consideration, the creation of an Office of Communications. It will be empowered to speak on behalf of the Assembly, especially at times of crisis, when quick action is required. It is imperative that any message issued by the Assembly represent the views of all the member bishops; thus, the bishops themselves must determine at their next meeting in May how this process should work. Mr. Alex Machaskee agreed to act as a consultant to the Secretariat for communications.

Also discussed was the question of fundraising and the means of funding the activity of the Assembly, its Secretariat, and the thirteen committees. It was unanimously agreed that financial transparency and accountability was of the utmost importance.

Various other items of business were also discussed. The meeting was a very successful one, for which we thank God. This success was the result of the expertise, good will and dedication of all those present, and was also due in no small part to the warm hospitality shown by Bishop Maxim, Fr. Nicholas Ceko, the Hieromonk Jovan and the Cathedral’s Circle of Serbian Sisters – to whom many thanks are due.

Comments

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    Andrew says:

    I would ask readers to consider the following quote:

    As a result, the Secretariat has proposed, for the Chairman’s consideration, the creation of an Office of Communications. It will be empowered to speak on behalf of the Assembly, especially at times of crisis, when quick action is required. It is imperative that any message issued by the Assembly represent the views of all the member bishops; thus, the bishops themselves must determine at their next meeting in May how this process should work. Mr. Alex Machaskee agreed to act as a consultant to the Secretariat for communications.

    Question #1:. . . for the Chairman’s consideration? How about the consideration of the entire assembly? Does the Chairman of the EA get to decide such issues of importance on his own or does the EA make decisions together in a conciliar fashion? Really how does this work?

    Question #2 ” It is imperative that any message issued by the Assembly represent the views of all the member bishops” So does this mean that one bishop with crazy views can derail the entire process of communicating the faith?

    There is no way Fr. Mark Arey is going to let anything the EA contradict the prevailing politics of 79th Street or the interests of the omogenia (race). This means a neutered episcopal assembly that lacks transparency and moral clarity. Do you really think all the members of the EA would sign a letter affirming pro-life principles? I have my doubts as there are many Orthodox leaders who make following the news cycle more of a priority than explaining the unpopular and living truths of the Orthodox Faith.

  2. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Andrew says:

    Question #2 follow-up: “” It is imperative that any message issued by the Assembly represent the views of all the member bishops” How about we revise this quote to any message of the Assembly must represent the fullness of the Orthodox Faith. The views of an individual bishop really do not matter. What matters is that the EA communicate the faith.

    I get a bad feeling about some of this……

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Andrew, barring any change in the moral outlook of Constantinople, there is no reason to believe that the Episcopal Assembly will say anything that contradicts an increasingly outspoken (and sometimes defiant) Progressive ideology. They will equivocate on abortion, elevate global warming and other apocalyptic causes du jour as matters of grave Orthodox concern, and so forth. The Episcopal Assembly will most likely become another exercise in Orthodox acquiescence to the dominant culture.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    The only thing that should be on the agenda is how to dismantle the over-lordship of the Patriarchates and work together toward a North American Synod or U. S. Synod to which all Orthodox bishops are accountable. A synod that would have a rotating chairmanship initiially. Anything other than that is nonsense. Somehow I doubt that was on the agenda at all.

    The Byzantine games have got to stop.

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      Nick Katich says:

      I think I’ll write to Pelosi to introduce a bill that no one by Federal law can be an Orthodox bishop of an American Church if that person is a Turkish citizen. Heck, she would probably think it was constitutional!

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        PO'F says:

        Finger-shaking? Moralizing? Actually I’d entrust my freedom of religion, and the non-establishment of religion, to Speaker Pelosi before I would to her opposite number. Reciting the Constitution on the floor for Fox News cameras is one thing; obeying it quite another, as we have seen alot from the party of her opposite number in the last 30 years. More to the point, I entrust the freedom of Holy o/Orthodoxy in this land more to her party than to the one that all but establishes militant Fundamentalist Protestantism nationwide.

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          Nick Katich says:

          “[M]ilitant Fundamentalist Protestantism nationwide” is a reaction to the “Militant Fundamentalist Secularism-Statism” worldwide that is the ethos of the Pelosi-minded party. Be careful what you wish for. By the way, PO’F, what is your little “o” big “O” dichotomy?

  5. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    This is a personal aside: I grew up in Alhambra less than 2 miles from the cathedral. It’s a pretty big church on Garvey Ave, a generally residential area, and so it dominates the skyline. I remember the two domes and wondering as a kid why it looked so different from other churches. Never went there. My patron is St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. I have seen a photo of him taken at St. Steven’s in 1964. I was in high school at the time. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have moved heaven and earth to meet him!

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    Scott Pennington says:

    In the immortal words of The Who, ” . . . people walking sideways, pretending that they’re leading . . .”

  7. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Geo Michalopulos says:

    I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised (and not a little chagrined) when I first started reading this article. It seemed that here was some genuine movement to some kind of Orthodox coalition. But then I started reading the story and to be honest, I’m not sure what was accomplished. The language was turgid and quite unreadable. I still can’t give a 2 sentence distillation of what happened and what was decided. I fear more of the same.

    Here’s the cartoon, by the way:

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      Nick Katich says:

      Newspeak, George. The EA decides but the Chairman (General Secretary? to use a Soviet term) decides what they will be permitted to decide. It’s quite clear = Turkish (Greek? Serbian?) coffee is now to become a filtered coffee. EP to us: “You wanna be American Church? Then you drink American filtered coffee. I am the filter. It’s all about ME!”

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      Scott Pennington says:

      George,

      I used to be an Episcopalian. In that church, we called it Episcobabble. Very polite, very procedural, very little accomplished on the ground.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    First of all, Michael, you have my proxy..particularly when it comes to ” “The Byzantine games have got to stop”.

    Secondly – does it strike anyone else as just a wee bit ridiculous that it took the EA 7 months to establish a website (we had a Facebook one up same day as the Assembly), and almost 8 months for the first meeting of the secretariat?

    Meanwhile, the British EA has committees up and operating, has completed their second meeting, and appear to be forging ahead with a third.

    Could the difference be “enlightened leadership” or lack thereof?

    Best Regards,
    dean

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      Nick Katich says:

      Dean:

      It is not “enlightened leadership”. Nor is it a “lack thereof”. This is truly Byzantine. Does anyone seriously think the timing of the release of the study (and I am not questioning the study, only the timing) done by Alexei about the numbers was an accident? When I saw it, I was not surprised. When I thought about the timing, I thought “You are not ready, my chidren”. The Athenegoras Institute is under the direct control of the EP. Why was a study of other countries not commissioned? Forgive my cynicism but there are a lot of skeletons in the Phanarian closet.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    The only thing that gives me any hope about it is two of the folks in the picture that have a say so: Bishop Basil and Eric Namee. I know them both pretty well. They both want a functioning local synod, neither are pushovers (Eric is a tax lawyer who loves disembowling the IRS) and both know how to get things done in a Byzantine environment. I always thought it was a big mistake to name +Basil as the Secretary if the rest of them didn’t want to get anything done. Eric is the head of the board of the Farrah Foundation (think $$$) as well.

    It won’t be pretty, it won’t be as quick as I’d like to see, but just maybe by prayers, pressure and presistence, something good will come of it.

    Just a sample of +Basil’s work load: Oversees (actually oversees) a diocese (in his hands it is an actual diocese) of 50+ parishes that covers a geographic area larger than the Louisana Purchase (2 to 3 Englands?) and is the Vicar of the Western Rite as well. In my home parish he is working with us to establish an Orthodox Classical School and many other plans in the fledgling stages. He invites and supports lay involvement in everything without ceeding control to the $$ alone. Could not be a better man as the Secretary. He is off on his first round of parish visits for 2011 starting today. He has little assistance but approaches everything with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving. In the meantime he has time to pray for his people (and his people’s people) and not just in a prefunctory way.

    But maybe you all know those things about him. If the EA does not progress, it won’t be because of him. He needs our prayers, our input and our friendship.

  10. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Dean Calvert says:

    Hi Nick,

    Re: there are a lot of skeletons in the Phanarian closet

    Yes, there certainly are…but the way to defeat all of this nonsense is to rise above it, and show that the “Church of the First 15 centuries” still works.

    This was the real tragedy of the OCA, not the money. They (the OCA) blew the opportunity to demonstrate that an autocephalous church, operating NOT under the millet system of the Phanariots, but rather under the rules of the “Church of the First 15 Centuries” could work…run circles around the Turkish inspired nonsense. And when they failed, it gave the churches of the Old World (and their New World apologists) the opportunity to say, “this is an improvement?” and “show me the difference.”

    The way to defeat all of this nonsense, in my opinion, is to ignore it and do the right things…right here in America. Act as if the EA does not even exist…put together the necessary coalitions, a coalition of the willing, and begin to ACT like THE Church in America. Don’t ask permission, don’t argue with them, don’t act like lapdogs, don’t even take their phone calls…just go and DO…and prove that “Locally elected bishops, sitting in synod” means a vastly different and improved version of Orthodoxy…that it works just as the Church Fathers knew it would. A combination of traditional Orthodox ecclesiology and the time honored American management system of “ask for forgiveness, not permission.”

    At the end of the day, they, all of these Old World patriarchates, are irrelevant. Their offspring in America will be extinct as the dinosaurs long before they stop arguing about “proteia”. After all, that’s really what the Krindatch study pointed to…obfuscating as they tried to making it.

    And as far as “enlightened leadership”..I still say it makes all the difference. Look at the situation: we have a young, humble, spiritual (albeit inexperienced) metropolitan, whose greatest fault may be that he works like the Energizer bunny trying to resuscitate his jurisdiction, and thinks out loud a little too often for some.

    On the other hand, they have…hmmm…..fill in the blanks with your own adjectives….

    It’s just like a business…build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. In our case, the “better mousetrap” was developed for us 1800 years ago, we are just reclaiming the practices.

    What could be easier?

    Best Regards,
    Dean

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