Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches Offer Common Prayer Service for the Release of Two Orthodox Hierarchs

Photos by Subdeacons Ivan Tchopko and Volodymyr Yavorskyi – April 2016

“Grant, O Lord, with the power of Your Cross release of His Holiness Abune Antonios, safety to the two kidnapped bishops, Mor Yuhanna and Mor Boulos, and protection to Your people from all danger. And as You were with Daniel in the lion’s den and with Jonah when he was swallowed by the fish, be O Lord with all Your faithful of the Middle East in this difficult time…”

With the words of this opening prayer, the hierarchs of the Assembly of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America and hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches gathered on Thursday evening – 21 April 2016 at St. Gabriel Syriac Orthodox Church in Haworth, NJ for the Prayer Service for the safe return of the two kidnapped hierarchs from Aleppo – Metropolitan Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and Archbishop Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and for all those suffering calamities in the Middle East.

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Bishop Daniel – spiritual father of the Western Eparchy and President of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, accompanied by Very Rev. Fjr. Bazyl Zawierucha – director of the Consistory Office of Ecumenical and Inter-Church Relations and two seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary – Subdeacons Ivan Tchopko and Volodymyr Yavorskyi, represented the clergy and faithful of the UOC of the USA at the Prayer Service

The distinguished speakers during the service were His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman of the Assembly of Bishops and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Eastern Armenian Church of America and Chairman of SCOOCH; His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese; and Archbishop Mor Dionysius Jean Kawak, Patriarchal Delegate of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of the Eastern U.S.A.

His Grace Bishop Daniel led the congregation of about 300 people in the readings of the New Testament, while Very Rev. Fr. Bazyl Zawirrucha participated in the prayer service by chanting the verses of the introductory Psalm 44.

This prayer service is a gesture of solidarity between the Assembly of Bishops and SCOOCH also marks the commencement of the organizations’ shared work.

Following the Prayer Service, the congregation of hierarchs, clergy, faithful of the local parish community and many visitors partook in the Lenten dinner prepared by the faithful of St. Gabriel Syriac Orthodox Church in Haworth, NJ.