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LIGONIER: TEN YEARS LATER

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  • emrys@globe.net.nz
    Published by Orthodox Christian Laity, January 22, 2005 LIGONIER: TEN YEARS LATER by Dr. Valerie A. Karras I just noticed a couple of days ago that my
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2005
      Published by Orthodox Christian Laity, January 22, 2005

      LIGONIER: TEN YEARS LATER

      by Dr. Valerie A. Karras


      I just noticed a couple of days ago that my talk has been advertised
      as being on "The Nature of the Church." I had actually communicated
      with Archbishop Nathaniel about doing something more specific to
      Ligonier. (So, I hope that those of you who were dying to hear
      something vague and insubstantial on the nature of the Church won't
      be disappointed.) Given that we are celebrating the tenth
      anniversary of the SCOBA conference in Ligonier, I thought it might
      be interesting to reflect on progress and impediments to Orthodox
      unity since 1994, and particularly to place Ligonier within the
      broader historical context of attempts at Orthodox unity in North
      America.

      Personally, when I look at what has happened over the past ten years,
      I find myself filled with both hope and frustration. Since the
      Orthodox Church in this country is a patchwork of jurisdictions,
      movement toward unity has been neither consistent nor collective.
      What we have seen in addition to collective action by SCOBA and other
      bodies are the individual movements of each jurisdiction, and even
      these have not always been wholly consistent within a given
      jurisdiction. These fitful starts, stops, and even reverses have
      been motivated not only by the commitment and vision - or lack
      thereof - of the bishops, clergy, and laity of an individual
      jurisdiction, but also by the vision, confidence, and/or fears of the
      bishops of that jurisdiction's mother church, and even by the
      worldwide Orthodox Church. In other words, Orthodox unity in North
      America is inextricably linked to the relationships between mother
      and daughter churches among the various jurisdictions. These
      relationships reflect not only certain historical realities but also
      the commitment - or, again, the lack thereof - of the mother churches
      to Orthodox unity in North America.

      Before discussing the past ten years, however, I believe it is
      important to place the aftermath of Ligonier in the broader
      historical perspective of Orthodoxy in North America and particularly
      movements toward Orthodox unity. As most of you know, the first
      Orthodox Church to establish a true local church here, with a normal
      diocesan structure, was the Church of Russia, whose monks had begun
      evangelizing the native Alaskans in the eighteenth century. The sale
      of Alaska to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century suddenly
      moved part of the Church of Russia to the United States in terms of
      its political identity. The Russian Orthodox Church here, which
      eventually became known as the "Metropolia," relocated its
      administrative center twice, moving from Alaska first to set up its
      diocese in San Francisco and then, as it expanded across the
      continent, later moving to New York. As other non-Russian Orthodox
      immigrant groups began establishing themselves and forming parishes
      in this country, some retained loose affiliations with the churches
      of their motherland, but most recognized the legitimacy of the
      Russian Orthodox Archdiocese as the one Orthodox Church in this
      country, and so came under its jurisdiction. Thus it is that the
      first Arab-American Orthodox saint, St. Raphael (Hawaweeny), was a
      bishop of the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese here in the U.S.

      So, it is ironic to realize that Orthodoxy, splintered in such an
      uncanonical manner today, actually established itself in North
      America in a canonical manner as a single jurisdiction. The
      uncanonical establishment of multiple, ethnically-based jurisdictions
      began only after the Bolshevik Revolution, when the mother Church of
      Russia came under extreme persecution and was forced to abandon its
      daughter church here to her own devices. Notwithstanding this
      capitulation to the political exigencies of the rise of Bolshevism in
      Russia and the rise of nationalism in Europe after World War I, most
      Orthodox hierarchs recognized the uncanonical nature of the
      situation, especially as time passed and successive generations of
      Orthodox born and raised here no longer considered themselves to be a
      diaspora, although they usually retained strong ethnic identities.

      Some bishops from the 1920's on were keenly aware that we were
      becoming an American Orthodox Church and so urged the use of English
      in catechetical instruction and liturgy, such as Bishop Joachim
      (Alexopoulos) of the Greek Archdiocese and Metropolitan Anthony
      (Bashir) of the Antiochian Archdiocese. John Erickson, dean of St.
      Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, in his excellent textbook,
      Orthodox Christians in America, noted that the far-sighted Bishop
      Aftimios Ofiesh in 1927 railed against the ethnic jurisdictional
      divisions which were impeding Orthodox development in this country.
      Bishop Aftimios decried the multiplication of ethnic jurisdictions in
      that decade and argued that "[t]he true ideal of one Orthodox
      Catholic Church in America for the growing thousands of Americans
      born and reared in Orthodoxy was lost in the over-zealous patriotic
      desire of the immigrant generation to parallel in America the
      national resurrections taking place in Europe."[1] Unfortunately,
      Bishop Aftimios was well ahead of his time, and his attempt to create
      an American Orthodox Catholic Church was a short-lived failure.

      However, his vision had not died. Orthodox remained uncomfortably
      aware of the uncanonical nature of their divided ecclesiastical
      structure in North America. Another attempt at some type of Orthodox
      unity was the Federated Orthodox Greek Catholic Primary Jurisdictions
      established in 1943 by Archbishop Athenagoras of the Greek
      Archdiocese and Metropolitan Anthony Bashir. Yet, despite its much
      more modest aim of simply coordinating Orthodox activity, this too
      was short-lived. Nevertheless, while both of these attempts were
      ultimately unsuccessful, the underlying desire for unity propelling
      them persisted.

      In 1960, this quest for unity manifested itself again, and this time
      it would not simply die on the vine. Archbishop Iakovos (Coucouzes),
      as the new head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, organized a
      conference of Orthodox bishops from various jurisdictions to discuss
      coordinated activity. This new creation, the Standing Conference of
      Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), established joint
      commissions for such areas as ecumenism, religious education (OCEC),
      military chaplaincies, scouting, and, in more recent decades, for
      college campus fellowships (OCF) and international charitable work
      (IOCC).

      SCOBA also strove in its early years to initiate a process of
      Orthodox unification in North America, what a 1965 report of its Ad
      Hoc Commission on Unity titled "unity by degrees".[2] Because SCOBA
      recognized that "it would be absolutely impossible to simply 'jump'
      into that ideal future" of "one Orthodox Church unified in its
      canonical structure",[3] it proposed transforming itself first into a
      provisional Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, allowing
      each jurisdiction to continue to administer its own internal affairs,
      but coordinating at the synod level such activities as the ordination
      of bishops, religious education programs, and global inter-Orthodox
      relations.[4] This provisional synod was to provide an intermediate
      step toward attaining full Orthodox unity.

      Unfortunately, these plans were vetoed by most of the mother
      churches, who were having problems among themselves in determining
      the agenda of a proposed Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox
      Church (in fact, in their still ongoing preparatory discussions they
      have now removed the situation of the Orthodox churches in North
      America from the agenda entirely). As John Erickson discusses,[5]
      their solution to these inter-Orthodox tensions was to concentrate on
      "safe" topics. The uncanonical situation of the multiple Orthodox
      jurisdictions in North America was not safe, particularly since it
      included another uncanonical situation nested within the larger one,
      namely, the frosty and almost non-existent relationship between the
      Metropolia and the Patriarchate of Moscow, which had existed since
      the Bolshevik Revolution.

      This situation was resolved when discussions between the two, begun
      in 1968, resulted in a reconciliation and, in 1970, in Moscow's
      granting autocephaly to the Metropolia. The Metropolia was renamed
      the Orthodox Church in America and began yet another effort at
      Orthodox unity as the Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese and the Bulgarian
      Orthodox Diocese joined it, although these created mini-schisms as
      well, as some parishes remained under their mother churches; the
      Romanian episcopate, under Bishop Valerian, had already joined the
      Metropolia in 1960. As I discussed with OCL in a previous address
      here in Chicago several years ago, Orthodoxy's history includes three
      different modes of granting autocephaly: 1) the decision of an
      ecumenical council, 2) a decree of the emperor, and 3) an act of the
      mother church. Therefore, the purported ecclesiological rationale
      for the refusal of many Orthodox churches (mainly the Greek-speaking
      ones) to recognize formally the OCA's autocephaly - namely, their
      argument that autocephaly can only be granted by a pan-Orthodox
      council - is on shaky grounds given the historical record, and most
      especially since the Patriarchate of Constantinople itself granted
      autocephaly to the Czech Church just a few years ago. While most
      agree that there was probably some Soviet pressure on the
      Patriarchate of Moscow to cut the American Church loose, the
      Patriarchate of Moscow engaged in full, sometimes difficult
      discussions with the representatives of the Metropolia before
      agreeing to autocephaly; furthermore, it has not attempted to revoke
      that autocephaly since the fall of communism a decade ago.

      Autonomy and autocephaly, in fact, may be the most pragmatic
      intermediate step toward Orthodox unity in this country. The greater
      the daughter churches' independence from their mother churches, the
      more freedom they have to act in concert with other Orthodox churches
      toward creating a unified Orthodox jurisdiction in this country.
      Several jurisdictions in this country either were established as
      autonomous churches or have developed into autonomous churches. The
      Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese enjoys the same high level of autonomy
      as other dioceses in Romania itself. For example, two years ago the
      Romanian Archdiocese elected a new archbishop through a nominating
      and election process here, with the Romanian patriarchal synod in
      Bucharest simply ratifying the election. This is the normal
      procedure for autonomous churches (Finland is another example),
      although theoretically the mother church could choose the presiding
      hierarch of the autonomous church on her own. We will see a similar
      process with the newly-autonomous Antiochian Archdiocese, which was
      formally granted its autonomy just days ago.

      Unfortunately, at the same time that most Orthodox jurisdictions in
      North America have moved to autonomy and autocephaly, some churches
      have been moving away from self-governance, most notably the Serbian
      and Greek Archdioceses. In both cases, the autonomy which they
      formerly enjoyed has been taken by them, in the early 1930's for the
      Greeks and a couple of decades ago for the Serbians. The Serbian
      Archdiocese essentially had its autonomy revoked by its patriarchal
      synod some 25 years ago in a set of actions which broke up the
      Archdiocese and created a schism that still has not been healed,
      despite a Supreme Court ruling in the matter (the court ruling has
      problems of its own, which I will briefly discuss below).[6]

      The Greek Archdiocese was established as an autonomous church in
      1922, then had its autonomy revoked and diocesan structure abolished
      in 1931 by the fraudulent backdating of documents (as Paul Manolis
      has shown in his multi-volume set of Archdiocesan archival
      documents). It moved back toward a more traditionally diocesan,
      though not formally autonomous, structure in 1977. As Andrew Walsh
      described it, "Under Iakovos, who served as archbishop from 1959 to
      1996, the American archdiocese had enjoyed substantial, if informal,
      autonomy."[7] In the late 1980's and early 1990's, a committee began
      working with the Ecumenical Patriarchate on a revised charter which
      was informally called the "autonomy charter".

      Unfortunately, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, elected and
      installed in 1991, has consistently shown an antipathy to autonomy
      for the GOA through a multitude of actions, most notably the breakup
      of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the rejection of the work of the
      joint charter committee, and, of course, his condemnation of the
      Ligonier conference. "Bartholomew . had been caught off-guard and
      responded by pressuring the sitting Greek Orthodox archbishop in the
      Americas, Iakovos Coucouzes, into retirement [in 1996]." The
      patriarchate replaced Turkish-born but long-time American resident
      Archbishop Iakovos, who had striven for three decades for greater
      autonomy and Orthodox unity in America, "with an American-born
      hierarch [who had not lived in the United States since his teens],
      Spyridon George, a man with a clear record of loyalty to
      Constantinople and a mandate to reestablish obedience to the
      patriarchate."[8] (This just goes to show that one should not assume
      a hierarch's priorities and vision based on the heaviness of his
      accent.) Archbishop Spyridon aroused considerable animosity both
      within and outside the GOA by his attempts to dismantle and reshape
      both the Archdiocese and SCOBA (he attempted, for example, to wrest
      control of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center from SCOBA back to
      the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, which under Archbishop Iakovos had
      given it over to SCOBA in the first place). In fact, he became so
      unpopular because of his extreme actions with respect to Holy Cross
      seminary, St. Basil's Academy, and the Mission Center that an
      Archdiocesan-wide movement developed to unseat him. In 1999, the
      Patriarchate of Constantinople replaced Spyridon with Demetrios
      Trakatellis, a much beloved Greek hierarch and former professor at
      Holy Cross.

      Unfortunately, Archbishop Demetrios, despite strong personal
      reservations about the actions of the Patriarchate, has been
      unwilling to voice public opposition to anything Bartholomew has
      done, from as trivial a matter as revoking an invitation to
      Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens to serve as grand marshal to the
      Greek Independence Day parade in New York, to as weighty a matter as
      the illegitimately-imposed revised charter for the Archdiocese. The
      philosophy of "divide and conquer" evident in the patriarch's
      opposition to Ligonier and his earlier breakup of the GOA into four
      archdioceses and metropolitanates, is continued in this new charter,
      not by the elevation of diocesan bishops to metropolitan status, but
      rather by the ecclesiastical structure implied in the order of
      commemoration, whereby the diocesan metropolitans now commemorate the
      Patriarch directly as opposed to commemorating the head of their
      eparchial synod, Archbishop Demetrios. This uncanonical order of
      commemoration weakens the traditional Orthodox synodal structure, and
      is evident in the de facto workings of the synod.

      With respect to the legal challenge mounted by OCL to the imposition
      of this revised GOA charter, I would like to raise an issue which is
      of importance to Orthodoxy at large in the United States, and which I
      believe should lead the other Orthodox jurisdictions to file amicus
      briefs, if that is appropriate in this type of legal action. This is
      one of the issues opposed by Evan Chriss himself in his Affidavit and
      Memorandum of Law, namely, the court's assumption that the Orthodox
      Church's being "hierarchical" is to be interpreted in an essentially
      Roman Catholic sense, i.e., the highest authority (interpreted as the
      Patriarchate of Constantinople) in the church has the final say in
      all matters. The American court system's recognition of only two
      ecclesiological models - hierarchical and congregational - is a
      natural result of the predominant models in Western Christianity.
      However, the Orthodox model, while hierarchical, is far more complex
      in its understanding of the relationships among laity, clergy,
      hierarchs, and the state. Unfortunately, that complexity does not
      lend itself readily to concrete American legal structures.

      The problem is intensified because, historically, the balance to
      episcopal authority in the Orthodox Church on the lay level has
      normally been exercised by the state, whether that was the emperor or
      tsar in earlier times, or the Ottoman sultan, or the modern Greek and
      Russian states. This creates a peculiar paradox in the United States
      because of its constitutional separation of church and state: the
      state will not and cannot exercise the role historically it has
      played to prevent the episcopacy from wielding power unchecked and
      thus has effectively removed the traditional balance of authority
      which has existed in Orthodoxy.

      Even worse, by imposing a Western hierarchical model on the Orthodox
      Church, i.e., by making the mother church legally exempt from abiding
      by its own contractual obligations (e.g., charters with daughter
      churches), the American court system is leaving the daughter Orthodox
      churches in the U.S. with no legal protection from their respective
      mother churches. We are subject to the whims of our mother churches
      because of certain jurists whose convoluted understanding of the free
      exercise of religion has led them to the remarkable opinion that
      American daughter churches have no legal right to enforce contracts
      entered into with their mother churches.

      Those American Orthodox bishops who currently look favorably upon the
      American courts' imposition of a simplistic hierarchical model on
      Orthodox church matters should think twice. Except for the OCA, this
      model means that every jurisdiction in this country is subject to
      whatever changes desired by their mother churches, even if they have
      autonomy. That autonomy could be revoked and the American courts
      would uphold it (in fact, they did just that in the Serbian case).
      Every Orthodox jurisdiction in this country would do well to consider
      not how the legal hierarchical model enforces unfettered episcopal
      authority, but rather how that unfettered episcopal authority, at it
      highest level, has the potential to be used against the Orthodox
      churches in the U.S.

      Moving back to the question of autonomy and Orthodox unity in North
      America, I do not believe that it is coincidental that the Serbian
      and Greek Archdioceses, the two which have moved backward in terms of
      autonomy and openness to Orthodox unity, share two traits in common:
      they are the most explicitly ethnic of the jurisdictions, and they
      both have mother churches which either are or were politically
      oppressed when they made decisions breaking up their daughter
      churches and exercising more direct control. In other words, in a
      reverse from the situation which obtained with respect to the Moscow
      patriarchate and the Metropolia, political pressure or,
      alternatively, fear emanating from a siege mentality, have led these
      mother churches to attempt to control more directly their daughter
      churches.

      Of course, these attempts to tighten control and authority are doomed
      to failure, in both practical and theoretical terms. As a practical
      matter, the mother churches exhibit woeful ignorance in their
      understanding of the realities of Orthodox church life in American
      society. They ignore the consequences of both ethnic and religious
      inter-marriage as well as the challenges posed by a confessionally
      pluralistic society which creates a religious marketplace. Instead,
      such mother churches operate under a false notion of diaspora and,
      insofar as they do recognize the ever-diminishing ethnic and
      mother-church identity of their faithful in North America, they
      naively believe that it can be remedied through language instruction,
      dance and youth groups, and greater control by the mother church over
      ecclesiastical affairs here.

      Of course, most attempts to exercise greater control, because they
      are based in a false understanding of the realities of the church
      here, are unsuccessful and simply create animosity toward the mother
      church and strengthen the American faithful's resolve to become
      self-governing. Moreover, from a historical perspective, these
      attempts to govern from abroad are doomed to failure because no
      mother church has managed to maintain strong control over a
      geographically distant daughter church for very long. Finally,
      impeding the establishment of a self-governing local or regional
      church is theologically and ecclesiologically untenable. It cuts
      against the grain of Orthodox practice and replaces traditional
      Orthodox ecclesiology with a series of mini-Catholic models (or not
      so "mini" in the case of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who has meddled in
      the affairs of the Church of Russia in Estonia, Ukraine, and even its
      relations with the Vatican).

      So, where have we come since Ligonier? Not nearly as far as most of
      us had hoped. Perhaps our American bishops have become too American.
      Rather than - as bishops in Greece would certainly have done -
      standing up to the Ecumenical Patriarch and other mother church
      hierarchs opposed to Ligonier, the American Orthodox bishops caved in
      to opposition from abroad and essentially retreated. Nevertheless, I
      believe that the autonomy granted by the Patriarchate of Antioch to
      the Antiochian Archdiocese bodes well for the future. Specifically,
      I optimistically foresee the OCA and Antiochian Archdiocese uniting
      to form the nucleus of a truly pan-ethnic autocephalous Orthodox
      Church in America, although it is unclear to me whether the
      autonomous Romanian Archdiocese and other smaller Orthodox
      jurisdictions will join them. The Serbian and Greek Archdioceses,
      however, will remain outside this unity as a result of ethnic
      insularity and opposition to unity from their mother churches (I
      believe that ethnic insularity plays a greater role in the Serbian
      Archdiocese, while maternal ecclesiastical opposition plays the
      greater role in the GOA). Unless and until conditions change in
      these two mother churches, I believe their two daughter churches will
      remain stagnant and insular, although maintaining cooperative ties
      with other Orthodox. However, I also believe that their numbers are
      likely to diminish over time, as less ethnic future generations "vote
      with their feet" and leave these archdioceses either for a united
      American Orthodox Church or, tragically, for non-Orthodox churches.

      Paradoxically, I observe that at the same time that we are striving
      for unity across jurisdictions, we are becoming more internally
      divided within jurisdictions and even within parishes. I foresee
      this deepening rift creating a reorganization and reshaping of
      Orthodox jurisdictional lines in the future along the lines of two
      competing philosophies: on the one hand, the main American Orthodox
      church, with a dynamic and acculturating approach to Orthodox
      tradition and history; on the other hand, a smaller, perhaps
      uncanonical body, with a more static and sectarian approach to
      tradition and history, i.e., a traditionalist Orthodox church.

      In reality, most people - and even churches - combine aspects of both
      these approaches, often in an unconscious and inconsistent manner.
      To give one example, traditionalists often insist that clergy should
      wear cassocks, not a clerical collar, and keep their beards and hair
      uncut because that is Orthodox tradition, as they believe. However,
      the historical evidence, both literary and artistic, is that clergy
      for many centuries had short hair and close-cropped beards and that
      monks - in the East as well as the West - retained their monastic
      tonsure (the shaving of the upper part of the head which always makes
      medieval monks look bald). As for clerical attire, as late as the
      18th or 19th century, drawings in the Benaki Museum in Athens depict
      a village priest dressed in typical village attire, not in
      specifically clerical garb. In actual fact, the anteri (cassock) was
      monastic dress and only later came to be adopted by secular clergy;
      the exoraso (the robe with wide, flowing sleeves) and kalamafki
      (pillbox hat) which virtually all bishops and many priests wear comes
      from the judicial robes worn in the Ottoman Empire: during the
      Ottoman period, Orthodox clergy became judges and the ecclesiastical
      courts served as civil and criminal courts for intra-Orthodox
      disputes.

      Traditionalists are not the only ones guilty of an uninformed or
      hypocritical application of their model. Sometimes even those who in
      general follow the dynamic approach to tradition occasionally visit
      the traditionalist side, often with equally uninformed results. (I
      am applying here a "pox on both your houses" approach.) For example,
      I was dismayed to read the statement just issued by the Holy Synod of
      the OCA, from their meeting at St. Tikhon's ten days ago. They were
      responding to a controversy, emanating largely from traditionalists,
      about the participation of girls in altar service. The synod,
      seeking to maintain "the integrity of the Church and its traditions .
      reaffirms the ancient practice of the Orthodox Church that only males
      are to be admitted to service within the holy altar." This
      affirmation is, quite simply, factually false, and I am extremely
      distressed that, in the 21st century, a synod of Orthodox bishops
      theologically trained in the United States would make what most of
      them must have known to be an untruthful claim and then use it to
      buttress the exclusion of young women from a particular area of
      church service.

      Granted, I know a bit more about this particular area than even most
      bishops. It has been one of my major areas of research for well over
      a decade now, and I am in fact completing revisions to a book on the
      liturgical participation of women in the Byzantine Church.
      Nevertheless, modern Orthodox research on the ordained female
      diaconate in the Eastern Church began with Evangelos Theodorou's
      publication of his doctoral work on this topic in 1954 and 1955.
      Subsequent research over the past five decades, including my own, has
      proved conclusively that women were ordained at the altar and
      received the Eucharist from the bishop at the altar in the Byzantine
      Church. They were considered full deacons, although their diaconal
      functions did not include public liturgical service. However, these
      functional limitations were consistent with the cultural distinctions
      at that time between public and privates roles which men and women in
      general followed; they were not the result of canonical restrictions.
      There are no canons, for example, excluding female deacons from doing
      petitions during the liturgy. St. Nektarios, who ordained several
      nuns as deaconesses at the women's monastery he founded on the island
      of Aegina, ordained them in large part precisely so they could do
      petitions and therefore allow the nuns to enjoy fuller services (what
      is called the Liturgy of the Hours) when there was no priest.

      The modern liturgical service of women is further evidenced in most
      Orthodox countries, where nuns serve as acolytes in their
      monasteries. Even in parish and cathedral settings, the bishops of
      the OCA, above all others, should be aware that non-monastic,
      non-ordained women help vest the clergy in the altar area of the
      large cathedrals in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and no one blinks an
      eye. As for boys and young men serving as robed acolytes, that is
      not even a traditional Orthodox practice to begin with (we have
      adopted it in this country from Roman Catholic practice), so there is
      no historical foundation to exclude girls and women from that role.
      I cannot stress strongly enough how damaging this synodal statement
      is going to be to the spiritual and liturgical well-being of women
      and girls throughout the Orthodox Church. Orthodox lack of unity and
      ethnic insularity are not the only factors leading to the continuing
      exodus of cradle Orthodox from the Church. Faulty theological
      arguments and practices which exclude fully half of our faithful from
      broader liturgical participation play an important - and too often
      overlooked - role as well.

      In conclusion, the above examples help to highlight the challenges
      facing us as we strive to bring to reality the vision of Ligonier,
      not only for Orthodox unity, but also for Orthodox mission and
      evangelism. Our churches are hampered in their quest for unity by
      threatened mother churches, by concerns over power and prominence
      among some of our hierarchs, and by lethargy and inertia on the part
      of our laity. Our churches are hampered in their witness to Christ
      and His Church by a devotion to ethnicity over Orthodoxy, on the one
      hand, and by a traditionalist and sectarian mentality, on the other
      hand. Yet, we have a canonical obligation to pursue Orthodox unity,
      and a dominical obligation - from the Lord himself - to mission and
      evangelism. Nor can these obligations be divorced from each other:
      an essential problem with our limited Orthodox witness in North
      America is our lack of unity and the all-too-apparent reasons for
      that lack. The two statements from Ligonier, on Orthodox unity and
      on mission and evangelism, are more than simply desiderata. They are
      a moral as well as ecclesiological mandate to the Orthodox in North
      America, and to fail to take them seriously is, I believe,
      essentially to sin. Let us, therefore, fulfill Christ's charge to us
      in Matthew: to help build His Church, against which "the gates of
      hell shall not prevail" (Matt. 16:18), by "teach[ing] all nations,
      baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
      Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19).

      Dr. Valerie A. Karras, Scholar, Teacher, Theologian, has addressed
      OCL meeting in the past. Her insights and research on Orthodoxy in
      America are well respected by many faithful Orthodox Christians of
      all jurisdictions. The members of OCL are always challenged by her
      thoughtful essays and comments. OCL is committed to encouraging lay
      theologians to meet and encourages them to speak out on the issues
      facing Orthodox Christianity in a pluralistic society. Dr. Karras
      presented her thoughts on where Orthodoxy is 10 years after Ligonier
      at the 17th Annual Meeting of Orthodox Christian Laity which took
      place in Oak Brook, Illinois on October 30, 2004. We look forward to
      reading her book, "Women in the Byzantine Liturgy," published by
      Oxford University Press. She is also a member of the editorial board
      of the St. Nina Quarterly, P.O. Box 397252, Cambridge, MA - web page
      http://www-Ins.mit.edu-teva/St.Nina.html.




      [1] John H. Erickson, Orthodox Christians in America, Religion in
      American Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 100.

      [2] Ibid., p. 117.

      [3] Ibid.

      [4] Ibid., p. 114.

      [5] Ibid., p. 115.

      [6] ________ v. Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese, _______________

      [7] Andrew Walsh, "The Patriarch's Visit: Pouring Oil on Troubled
      Waters," Religion in the News 1:1 (Summer 1998)

      [8] Ibid.





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