2BHNlYwNkbXNnBHNsawN2bXNnBHN0aW1lAzEyODg5NjQwMDE-> Minutes of the Fall 2010
Meeting - Standing Conference of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in America
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Thu Nov 4, 2010 12:40 pm (PDT)
Standing Conference of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in America
Minutes of the Fall 2010 Meeting
The Autumn 2010 meeting of the Standing Conference of the Oriental Orthodox
Churches in America was held at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New
Rochelle, New York on Thursday, October 7, 2010. Archbishop Yeghishé
Gizirian opened the meeting with a prayer. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian
greeted all present. Fr. Jacob had originally invited us to his parish for
this meeting, but he had to travel to Egypt and expresses his regrets at not
being able to attend.
Present were: Present: Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, Archbishop Abune
Zekarias, Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian, Archbishop Mor Titus Yeldho,
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Fr. John Meno, Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Fr. Anthony
DeLuca, Fr. Kess Mahitama Selassie, Fr. Tateos Abdalian, Fr. Ambe Tsion, Fr.
David Bebawy, Fr. John Rizkalla, Fr. Joseph Chamoun.
Oriental Orthodox Autumn 2010
It was requested that we add to the agenda: (1) Situation of the Coptic
Orthodox Church in Egypt; (2) U.N. Convention on Terrorism.
The Minutes of March 10, 2010 meeting were reviewed. The minutes were
a. Oriental Orthodox Youth
Abp. Khajag reported that an invitation was sent to all sister churches to
attend the annual Armenian youth general assembly last May. Two Syrian
Orthodox young people attended. There was discussion about how to expand
this effort. Fr. John Rizkalla announced that the Coptic Orthodox Church is
organizing a regional gathering at the beginning of November. Fr. Ambe said
that his church also has a youth fellowship that is growing. He will invite
the Armenian and Syrian Orthodox youth from the area to attend. Fr. John
will do the same.
Sayidna Cyril spoke about the general decline in young people's commitment
to spiritual/faith activities. He suggested hosting a forum to discuss how
we can address this challenge: youth participation in the life of the
Oriental Orthodox Churches today. The forum could be sponsored by SCOOCH.
One full day consisting of two sessions: learning from people involved in
youth ministry, some from outside our tradition (Catholic, Protestant,
Eastern Orthodox); and learning from the youth. What are they thinking? The
forum will relate to the mission of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the
New World. Fr. John Rizkalla, Fr. Daniel and Fr. Kess will work with Sayidna
Cyril to organize this event.
b. Oriental Orthodox Website
Fr. Daniel introduced the new Standing Conference Website: www.scooch.org,
which is now up and running. He is being assisted by Jeremy Gayed, a Coptic
Orthodox young man who has his own web design business, and was recommended
by Fr. Jacob Ghaly.
c. Joint Commission of the Eastern/Oriental Orthodox Churches
Abp. Vicken announced that SCOBA no longer exists. It has been replaced by
the Assembly of Eastern Orthodox Churches. The OCA is not a part of this
body. The two chairmen are Metropolitan Philip and the new Russian Orthodox
Archbishop. Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Orthodox Church is the secretary
and Bishop Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the treasurer. The
synod is still in the formative stages.
Officially, nothing has changed with regard to our Oriental Orthodox /
Eastern Orthodox activities. As their situation becomes clearer, we will
have a better understanding of their relationship with us.
Abp. Zekarias emphasized that the relationship between the Oriental Orthodox
and the Eastern Orthodox must be clarified.
d. Eastern Orthodox / Oriental Orthodox Prayer Service for U.N.
Fr. Meno reported. It was not possible for the Ethiopian Orthodox to host
the U.N. Service this year, as we had hoped. Neither was the Malankara
Archdiocese able to host it on late notice. The recent restructuring of the
Eastern Orthodox Churches in the United States further complicated the
It was decided to cancel this year's service given the late date. We will
host the event next October. Abp. Khajag will write a letter to Abp.
Demetrius informing him of this decision.
It was suggested that instead of having one of our OO churches host the
event from year to year, we organize it together, using an original service
that would comprise portions of each of our traditions, and could be reused
year after year. One of our hierarchs could still host the event.
Fr. Daniel spoke against composing a single common service, which
artificially brings together elements from very different traditions and in
the end does not represent any one of them.
It was further suggested that a standing committee be created to oversee
this project every year. This committee would take care of all of the
logistics: invitations, reception, public relations, et al.
It was decided to appoint a joint organizing committee, but not to compose a
"common" service. Abp. Vicken nominated Fr. Tateos and Fr. Jacob to lead the
committee. Fr. Meno will represent the Syrian Orthodox Church.
e. Christian Churches Together
Neither Abp. Vicken nor Sayidna Cyril was present at the last meeting. The
annual meeting will take place January 11-14, 2011 in Alabama. The Armenian,
Coptic and Syrian Orthodox Churches are members. Sayidna said that it is
important for us to be members.
g. Oriental Orthodox Church Schools
Fr. Meno reported that the Armenian, Coptic and Syrian Orthodox Church
Schools have a good relationship although only the Syrian Orthodox were
present at a recent meeting. Fr. Kess noted that Deacon Petrus, who was
appointed to represent the Ethiopian Orthodox, has relocated. Abp. Zekarias
intends to appoint a replacement soon.
f. Roman Catholic / Oriental Orthodox Dialogue U.S.
Fr. Meno reported. The last meeting took place on September 20-21 at the
Passionist Retreat Center in the Bronx. There were two topics of discussion:
(1) Proselytism by Evangelical Christians in our home countries. Fr. Daniel
and Fr. Jacob spoke concerning the situation in Armenia and Egypt,
respectively. (2) The position of the Holy See on the status of Jerusalem.
Fr. Anthony added that the Catholics spoke about the new "Ordinariates" that
are being created within the Roman Catholic Church for former Episcopalians.
Unfortunately none of our hierarchs were able to be present. It has been
proposed that the next meeting take place on October 6-7, 2011. All of the
bishops agreed that this was a good date. Fr. Meno will notify Fr. Ron
With the imminent closure of the Passionist Retreat House in the Bronx, the
next meeting will take place at the Bishop Malloy Retreat House in Queens,
The topic of next year's meeting will be an evaluation of the achievements
of the consultation with discussion of what direction our work should take
in the future. Fr. Aelred Cody's article on the history of the Consultation
will be presented and reviewed. Representatives from each of the churches
will present their assessments.
Abp. Khajag suggested that we focus on pastoral issues and leave more
strictly doctrinal matters to the international consultation. This needs to
be clarified. Abp. Vicken suggested we speak about Oriental Orthodox using
Catholic Church sanctuaries when necessary to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.
In what ways can we cooperate on a pastoral level? Fr. Meno will send an
email to the hierarchs soliciting their suggestions for future topics of
consultation. He will compile these topics for us to discuss at our next
g. Official Roman Catholic / Oriental Orthodox Dialogue International
The next meeting will be in Rome at the end of January. There is nothing new
to report at this time. There is a new President of the Council for
Christian Unity: Abp. Kurt from Basel, Switzerland.
h. Next Concelebrated Divine Liturgy
Fr. Meno warmly congratulated our Ethiopian brothers for the spectacular
concelebrated liturgy that they hosted this summer. Until now people are
talking about this event.
It was suggested that the Coptic Orthodox Church host the concelebrated
Liturgy next year. Fr. David will speak with Bishop David and get back to
1. U.N. Commission on Terrorism
Fr. Anthony spoke about the consultations ongoing at the U.N. concerning
elimination of international terrorism. He asked to what extent the Oriental
Orthodox Churches could be involved in "second-level diplomacy."
2. Situation of Coptic Orthodox in Egypt
Fr. David spoke about recent tensions and mass rallies in Egypt directed
against the Copts of Egypt and especially against His Holiness Pope
Shenouda. No such thing has ever happened before, he said. In recent days
the situation has settled somewhat.
During and after lunch participants shared news from the sister churches.
Sayidna announced that Fr. John Meno will be retiring from his pastorate and
duties at St. Mark's Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Teaneck, NJ and relocating
to North Carolina. Sayidna has asked him to continue his ecumenical duties
for the Archdiocese. Khajag Srpazan expressed love and gratitude on behalf
of this Conference for Fr. Meno's many accomplishments and most of all for
his loving dedication to our work and to the ministry of the Gospel among
our churches. He is the senior member of this Conference. Fr. Meno expressed
gratitude for these words and asked for the prayers of all of the members.
He also commended Fr. Joseph Chamoun, who will assume pastoral duties at St.
Several people shared reminiscences of Fr. John and offered good wishes.
There was an extended discussion about the need for Seminary education among
the Oriental Orthodox Churches in North America, even the concept of a
common Seminary where we could live and study together, while maintaining
our distinct traditions. Dr. Terian suggested that each church should seek
to endow a chair at St. Nersess specializing in an aspect of their own
The next meeting will take place on Thursday, March 10, 2011. It was
suggested that we meet at the Coptic Center in Cedar Grove, NJ. Fr. David
Bebawy will consult with Bishop David and give word to Fr. Daniel. If Cedar
Grove is not possible, then Sayidna invited us to St. Mark's in Teaneck.
The meeting ended at 2:45PM with a prayer offered by Sayidna Mor Cyril.
Fr. Daniel Findikyan
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