NEW YORK – More than 50 hierarchs will take part in the first Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in North and Central America, to be convened by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America in New York City, May 26-28.
This Assembly is the result of the decision of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference, which met in Chambésy Switzerland in June of 2009, after the extraordinary Synaxis of all the Heads of the Autocephalous Churches convened by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. This Assembly, one of twelve that will be convened around the world in regions where there is no single Orthodox presence, will consist of the active canonical bishops who reside in the region designated as North and Central America. In every Assembly, the chairman will be the senior bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Assembly will convene at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel, where accommodations and arrangements have been coordinated by the staff of the Archbishop. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, through the Leadership 100 grant to the Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, is underwriting much of the expense, with other funds coming from a variety of Pan-Orthodox sources.
In discussing the Assembly at the May 7 meeting of the Archdiocesan Council in Atlanta, Archbishop Demetrios explained that the nature of the assembly is as “a temporary, not a permanent institution. It is simply preparatory to facilitate the process of an ecumenical council (in the future) that will decide the final form of the existence of the Church in a particular country.” His Eminence further explained that the assembly is to meet annually and is not a continuation of SCOBA. Rather, it works to “prepare a plan for dealing with anomalies, such as more than one bishop in a given locale and other things that interfere with the life of the Church.” It is also designed “to project a unified witness of the faith.” As such, the Archbishop called the work of the Assembly “tremendously important. The function and outcome of this first meeting will determine how it continues in the future.”
The Archbishop also said the following: “The leadership of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in convening the Heads of world Orthodoxy is truly visionary. This vision of the unity of the Church has been confirmed from ages past, and with the Ecumenical Patriarchate leading the way, we will aspire to manifesting our unity in Christ based on the greatest commandment of all; to love one another.”
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