Source: Orthodox Christian Laity
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:16-17,
The tone of the meeting was polite. The meeting had the feeling of a classroom. The Professor directed the class, and the students sat quietly and listened. The meeting was organized and tightly controlled. Formal addresses were presented by Archbishop Demetrios (GOA), Metropolitan Philip (AOCA) and Archbishop Justinian (MP). To his credit, Archbishop Demetrios suggested that lay involvement in committees is essential and should be increased. The committees need to make use of the talents of the laity. Metropolitan Philip lamented that we are still disunited. Orthodoxy in North America cannot live with this disunity. He lamented the continued loss of youth.
The students/Bishops did not receive written committee reports in advance. Thirteen Committees needed to provide reports. Some of the committee chairpersons had written prepared remarks, but they were not distributed. Some presented oral reports when their turn came. Some provided no reports or partial reports.
The Assembly reviewed the status of the seven Agencies – former SCOBA Agencies. The goal is to incorporate them into the Assembly of Bishops. How will they fit into the work of the Bishops? How will the Bishops provide Episcopal oversight? Will these agencies give up their non-profit status to be incorporated by the Assembly of Bishops? Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico wants the Endorsed Organization, “Project Mexico,” to become an Agency of the Assembly of Bishops. Does he also want Episcopal oversight of Project Mexico?
A very brief report was presented by the Planning for the Future Structure of the Church Committee headed by Archbishop Nicolae of the Patriarchate of Romania. His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah is also on this committee. The committee has hired Alexei D. Krindatch to assist it in gathering data. Mr. Krindatch has just completed The Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches published by Holy Cross Press. Those interested in the issues of unity should purchase this volume.
What was accomplished? The Bishops of the United States met. Canadian Bishops did not attend. They want an Assembly of Bishops of Canada. The Serbian Bishops were not present, because they were called to meet with the Synod in Serbia for important business. The Bishops heard committee reports. The meeting was passive. There was no discussion or recognition that the Church in the USA is a local Church and these are local bishops serving a local Church. The Bishops did not indicate that they understand that the churches outside the Roman Empire are not state-sponsored and supported churches. There was no guided discussion and interaction by the Bishops on the crucial question of what should the Church in the USA look like. Becoming a church community is not the same as becoming and autocephalous Church. Does the meeting of the four ancient Patriarchs without the rest of the Old World Patriarchs take us back to the issue of recognizing the autocephaly of Moscow and the other Patriarchs, as the Patriarch of Alexandria long ago stated? Has the fast track to a Council of all Bishops been slowed down, because there is an impasse among the Old World Patriarchs on how to grant autocephaly and an impasse on the Diptychs?
There were few tangible results from this meeting that kept our bishops in a straightjacket. Where is the leadership? Where is the renewal of Orthodoxy in the United States? There is no passion for the Church in this geographical area called America on the part of the servant Bishops. How can this be, in the Season of Pentecost?
George Matsoukas, Editor