Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette covers day one with “Orthodox Christians in U.S. face obstacles before unifying.”
Sister Sara Elisabet Oftedal, co-founder of Martha and Mary House in Escondido, Calif., a small home for women who choose adoption over abortion, said her board has members from the Serbian, Antiochian, and Greek jurisdictions and is incorporated in the Orthodox Church in America.
“As a convert, I’m blind to the differences. But I do think it would be wonderful if we were all together because it would be a much more powerful witness,” she said.
The Rev. Justin Mathews, director of FOCUS North America, a pan-Orthodox ministry to aid poor Americans with food, shelter and employment, said global Orthodoxy has a long tradition of social service, but it has been neglected in America.
Ministry to the poor “is the responsibility of our church and perhaps the beginning of the tangible fabric of unity,” he said. Paying homage to food festivals, he said Orthodox churches in America are ideally suited for soup kitchens because “our churches are full of these commercial kitchens that are used primarily to serve ourselves.”
Achieving administrative unity would benefit social service ministries because they wouldn’t have to approach a half-dozen ethnic bishops for permission each time they wanted to start a project in a given city, he said.