Orthodox Christian Laity – November – December 2016
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For 30 years, OCL has been promoting unity, transparency, accountability and lay involvement in Church life at all levels to make these priorities a reality in the administrative life of the Church. OCL completed its Annual Meeting in Cottonwood, Utah on November 19, 2016, and began thinking about itsplans for next year’s meeting. The board members came away with a renewed and intensified commitment to keeping the hierarchy, clergy and laity informed about the progress that the Assembly of Bishops is making to develop a canonical blueprint for administrative unity. For 7 years, the Assembly has been working to complete this task. Many Church members know that the fragmentation caused by 14 parallel jurisdictions working in parallel ways is unacceptable, counterproductive, and a waste of the time, talent and resources of the clergy and laity. That is why the 14 autocephalous Church hierarchs, including the four Patriarchs of the original Pentarchy, have directed the Assembly to develop a canonical plan for unity. The Holy and Great Council which met in Crete in June 2016, set the example that much can be accomplished when bishops continue to meet in harmony under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and in a conciliar manner. OCL is committed to do whatever it can to assist the Assembly of Bishops to fulfill its responsibilities to develop a canonical blueprint for unity. OCL is willing and able to help the Assembly develop the will, leadership and negotiation skills needed to complete the process so that unity can be achieved. We will keep you informed through our web site (www.ocl.org). OCL will attempt to work with the geographic areas – pockets of unity – that the Assembly of Bishops has agreed upon in Texas and other areas. Metropolitan Nicolae of the Romanian Metropolis in the Americas, based in Chicago, and others including Metropolitan Isaiah, are developing the structure and pilot parishes for unity. Information at this point is incomplete.
OCL is also committed to helping the 14 Patriarchs, including autocephalous Archbishops in the traditional Orthodox Lands, better understand that a unified Pan-Orthodox Christian Church in the USA is a value added to their positions in the world. We need to understand their point of view if they see this as lessening their position in the world. Unity here is in their self-interest, because it reinforces their work in the world. Unity here means increased growth in ecclesial and pastoral life and increased influence at the geo-political level. This is a win/ win situation for Orthodoxy worldwide . This would be a 21st Century landmark legacy for Orthodoxy in the USA and globally.
In addition to these tasks, the OCL Board of Directors elected George Karcazes as president. The board acknowledged the stewardship of outgoing president George Pontikes and his efforts to develop: grassroots / local parish unity advocates; a long-range plan for an Autocephalous Unified Church in the USA, which drew amazing and far-reaching commentary by board members; a renewed board structure and membership. The results of his efforts include Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver joining the OCL advisory board. Dr. Helen Theodoropoulos and Dr. Achilles Adamantiades also have agreed to serve. We are grateful to God for the service of these outstanding Orthodox Christians.
Following the meeting, the board attended vespers at St Anna’s Greek Orthodox Church, Cottonwood, Utah. Metropolitan Isaiah, assisted by Father Anthony Savas, conducted the vesper in this dynamic, upbeat parish community. Following the vesper, a Lenten supper was served by the Women’s Ministry of the Parish Community. Dr. Helen Theodoropoulos presented her very personal comments on the scriptural theme: “TO EACH IS GIVEN THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SPIRIT FOR THE COMMON GOOD (1 Cor. 12:7). On Saturday morning, Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou also talked in a very personal way about the insights sand experiences she had as one of four women participants in the Holy and Great Council held in Crete, June, 2016. These excellent, informative and insightful presentations will be posted on the OCL website as soon as the final edits are completed.
OCL’s 30th Anniversary Program will be in Chicago on October 26-28, 2017. St Mary Romanian Orthodox Church on Central Avenue will be our host community. Mark your calendar! Plan to celebrate with us.
George Matsoukas, Executive Director