Fr. Mark Arey: Update on the Episcopal Assembly [AUDIO]

Fr. Mark Arey

Fr. Mark Arey

Fr. Mark Arey, Director of the Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the Secretary to the Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in North and South America, reports on the progress of the Episcopal Assembly in this interview given recently. Listening to Fr. Mark it is clear there is not much new to report but that is due to the fact that the EA committees are being formed and most of the future work will be done on the committee level.

Listen here:

Committee listed below (HT: Byzantine, TX):

(Episcopal Assembly) – The Terms of Reference for each of the Assembly’s thirteen committees are now posted on the website. These documents outline the specific goals of each committee, and the means to achieve those goals; they are meant to be a guiding document for the committee members. Listed along with them are the committee descriptions, committee membership, and its recommended consultants.

In addition, there are a number of other items soon to be posted to the website. These include the addresses of the Chairman and two Vice-Chairmen, delivered at the Assembly of Bishops meeting this past May. Father Josiah Trenham has begun interviewing the bishops of the Assembly, to ask for their reflections on its work and the future of the Church in North America; as these audio interviews become available, they too will be posted on the website. Also, the website will soon provide a sample of the new Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches, a pivotal and pioneering work edited by Mr. Alexei Krindatch. Both Father Josiah and Mr. Krindatch are members of the Secretariat of the Assembly.

A gallery of photos from the recent meeting in May has been created and is currently available. In addition to this, the Directory of Bishops is in the process of being made into a photo directory. When finished, each listing will be accompanied by a photo of the individual hierarch.

Below is information pertaining to the committees of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. Click on the title of any for more information.

Committee for Canonical Affairs

The Committee for Canonical Affairs will be responsible i) for creating and maintaining the registries mentioned in the Message of the Assembly of Bishops, namely: a) the registry of canonical bishops; b) the registry of canonical clergy and their status; and c) the registry of all canonical communities in the United States; ii) for recommending to the Assembly any additions or deletions from these registries; iii) for determining the canonical status of local communities that have no reference to any of the autocephalous churches and addressing issues pertaining to these bodies; and iv) for considering any canonical questions submitted to it by the other committees.

Committee for Canonical Regional Planning

The Committee for Canonical Regional Planning will formulate a proposal for a plan to organize all the Orthodox faithful of every jurisdiction in the Region on a canonical basis, in accordance with the Rules of Operation, Article 5.e of the 4th Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference in Chambésy. This plan is intended for presentation to the forthcoming Great and Holy Synod as per the Decision Article 1.b of the 4th Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference.

Committee for Church and Society

The Committee for Church and Society will develop a process to determine both the propriety and the priority of advocacy by the Assembly of issues concerning Church, government and society that are relevant to the lives of the faithful in the Region (e.g., same-sex marriage, abortion, war, etc.).

Committee for Clergy Affairs

The Committee for Clergy Affairs will compile, study and compare information from each jurisdiction concerning i) respective procedures governing petitions for ordination; ii) requirements and recognized impediments for ordination; iii) processes whereby clergy are assigned and transferred; iv) policies for clergy stipends and benefits; as well as v) retirement and pension programs.

Committee for Ecumenical Relations

The Committee for Ecumenical Relations will coordinate and supervise Orthodox participation in ecumenical and inter-faith dialogues and organizations, with particular reference to the existing Bi-Lateral Theological Consultations (Orthodox-Catholic and Orthodox-Lutheran) and Joint Commissions (i.e., of Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bishops & of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches).

Committee for Financial Affairs

The Committee for Financial Affairs is i) to determine the means whereby the Assembly of Bishops and its activities will be financed; ii) to oversee fundraising and development; iii) to create a budget for the Assembly; and iv) to catalogue and compare the financial practices of the various jurisdiction, agencies, and organizations attached to the Assembly.

Committee for Legal Affairs

The Committee for Legal Affairs is to i) determine and resolve all legal issues related to the Assembly; ii) determine any legal issues related to the activity of the agencies of which the Assembly has oversight, and address those issues; iii) formulate a common approach to the legal issues facing all the jurisdictions; iv) study and develop Best Practices related to specific circumstances; and v) resolve any questions addressed to them by the other committees.

Committee for Liturgy

The Committee for Liturgy is expected i) to catalogue and compare various translations, rubrics, Typika, and liturgical books; and ii) to develop and suggest a common translation of basic liturgical texts (e.g. the Symbol of Faith, the Our Father, etc.).

Committee for Military Chaplaincy

The Committee for Military Chaplaincy is responsible i) for endorsing Orthodox chaplains for work with the Armed Services; and ii) for working towards a single, unified process of endorsement for military chaplains of all jurisdictions. To this end, it will determine the means by which it may assume SCOBA’s Endorsing Agency status vis-à-vis the Department of Defense.

Committee for Monastic Communities

The Committee for Monastic Communities is tasked with archiving and cataloging, as well studying and comparing the different monastic constitutions in use within the various jurisdictions and monastic communities in the Region.

Committee for Pastoral Practice

The Committee for Pastoral Practice is responsible for i) identifying the differences and inconsistencies among the various jurisdictions in their exercise of sacramental and pastoral praxis (e.g., marriage and divorce, reception of converts, etc.); and ii) for establishing a protocol to address these inconsistencies and propose models for resolution consistent with canonical practice.

Committee for Theological Education

The Committee for Theological Education is charged with i) identifying and cataloging all institutions and programs for theological learning found in the various jurisdictions in the Region; ii) cataloging the curricula in use in these institutions and programs; iii) identifying any existing programs for Orthodox theology offered by institutions of higher education; and iv) identifying special ministerial jurisdictional programs.

Committee for Youth

The Committee for Youth is charged with i) identifying and cataloging all jurisdictional youth programs (camps, age specific groups, etc.); ii) identifying and cataloging all joint youth programs (e.g. OCF); and iii) developing models for coordinating youth-oriented activities and programs that both minimize duplication and maximize the participation of young people in the life of the Church.


  1. Many logical, reasonable questions are waiting for answers:

    1. Why did it take one year for any action?
    2. What are the specific goals and timelines to achieve benchmarks and goal success for each committee?
    3. Which committee will disclose complete details of all clergy scandals, and specifically how does the Assembly and heirarchy arrive at justice for the accused?
    4. Which committee will fully disclose all financial records and accounting procedures to date? Is there a “finance” committee?
    5. Who has oversight jurisdiction over all committees?
    6. How has funding changed (to date) of all former SCOBA organizations, since SCOBA was dissolved?
    7. What are the new funding mechanisms for all organizations?
    8. What new orgainizations are being proposed?
    9. Which, if any, organizations will be dissolved or merged into other organizations?
    10. Where do we go to find the operating budget of the Assembly, and all its dependencies, and all its organizations?

    Many many more simple questions remain, but this is a good start.
    Thank you for any help.

  2. Dean Calvert :

    Fr. Mark may be the only one in the country who doesn’t realize this process is D-E-A-D.

    Someone turn the lights out as the last person leaves, will ya?

    He makes comments about “the difference between this meeting and the first…”

    The difference is….no one any longer cares. There was no coverage; even this article attracts only yawns.

    The similarity between this Assembly and the governance of the EU is stunning. Both inept organizations, built on a foundation of sand. Both in the hands of second rate bureaucratic flunkies and functionaries who exaggerate their importance; Both doomed to failure.

    I’m also very interested to see the “facts” regarding the comment that this process is working in conjunction with other assemblies throughout the world. Really? With the exception of the British EA, it would appear that very little progress is being made anywhere.

    Personally, I’m think this whole process was cooked up in Phanar to re-establish presumed relevance, and in light of emerging Muscovite hegemony in the Orthodox world.

    Meanwhile, Rome burns.

    Such a shame, and such a waste.

    Best Regards

    PS With regard to “Old World patriarchates”…the term is absolutely accurate, along with everything it implies – parochialism, self interest, lack of charity etc. I’d also suggest that we begin to distinguish between the “live” Old World patriarchates and the “dead” ones. Other than that, we “bloggers” will have to learn to live with Fr. Mark’s disappointment and disapproval.

Care to Comment?