New Hope Offered By the Orthodox Christian Laity
New Hope Offered By the Orthodox Christian Laity
Orthodox Christian Laity, the US Orthodox Renewal
Group, continues to be a faithful gift to the
Church. Now, some 20 years after its birth in
Chicago, it grows gracefully, increasingly
touching the spirits of Orthodox in trying times.
The good news is that the Orthodox renewal movement is alive across the land.
Witness the resolution on Orthodox Christian
Unity passed by the General Assembly of the 48th
Archdiocesan Convention at Montreal, Canada,
which calls upon all canonical Orthodox
jurisdictions to meet and take practical,
concrete, ecclesial steps to achieve
administrative unity. Such a meeting may be
called within the next six months. This is indeed positive news.
Need a lift? I recommend every Orthodox join the
ranks of Orthodox Christian Laity and attend its
annual meeting in Chicago, November 3-4, 2007. If
you haven?t had the experience on an OCL annual
meeting, you are short changing yourself. Like a
pilgrim traveling to the Holy Land, every adult
Orthodox should at least be enriched by the
intellectual, emotional and spiritual lift that
comes from fellowship with other hope-filled, renewal-minded Orthodox.
By coming together, we are reminded that we are
not alone. Nor are we delusional for staying in
the ranks to advocate reform. We certainly
acknowledge that the church has a long way to go,
but we have learned that we are the Church and there is nowhere else to go.
One cannot hear speakers like Father Peter
Gillquist on crucial steps to Orthodox Unity
without feeling spiritually inspired. Or
Professor Terry Mattingly, who stirs one?s soul,
with his lively expression of the Orthodox faith.
Other renown speakers through the years have
included Archbishop Lazar, Metropolitan
Christopher of Midwestern America, Serbian
Orthodox Church, Archbishop Nathanial, Primate of
the Romanian Episcopate of America, Father
Alexander Abramov of the Moscow Patriarchate in
the USA, John Erickson and Vigen Guroian. We also
are privileged to hear prominent layman and women
like Professor Elizabeth Prodromou, Peter Muruda,
sub deacon Robert Miclean and US diplomat Andrew
Natsios to name a few, whose presentations remain
in the minds and hearts of the faithful.
At an OCL meeting, one encounters hard
assessments on accountability, church
administration, lack of transparent transactions,
efforts to unite the various Orthodox
jurisdictions and the welfare of our dedicated
clergy. The organization has long sown the seeds
for renewal efforts. The question which causes
deep concerns and anguish is how distinguished
and successful men and women of the Archdiocesan
Council, the leading governing body of our
church, who are giants in business, industry,
science and the arts, who out of fear,
embarrassment or shame do not channel their rich
talents in the proper management and
administration of the business affair of the
Archdiocese. Yet, in the conduct of their own
business affairs would not under any
circumstances condone such practices. The answer
is probably that these wonderful, successful and
charitable men and women have been seduced by
awards, dinners and appointments to a stage of
spiritual paralysis and fearful incapacity.
Recently you may have received a request for the
Campaign for Children, which included the
statement that your support was sought for the
very future of Greek American children (which) was at stake.
Here it is some four to five generations since
our Greek ethnicity has had a presence in the US
and still our venerable GOA has no deference to
Romanian, Russian, Serbian, etc. descent
children. Please explain how Orthodoxy can
continue to claim to be a universal church when
the Greek jurisdiction?s only message and concern
is for Greek American children. Do not
non-Greek converts, children from other Orthodox
jurisdictions count, or measure up?
Metropolitan Philip recently in his address to
the Antiochian Archdiocese Convention in
Montreal, Canada stated, How can we not condemn
phyletism in the 21st century here in North
America it is wrong to call the Church Russian,
or Greek, or Syrian, or Armenian because
the Church in essence transcends nationalism,
race or culture. Here in North America we have
been hampered and obstructed by a distorted
Orthodox ecclesiology because of our ethnic jurisdictions.
Reviewing the actions of our Orthodox hierarchy
and the way it remains frozen in patterns of
Byzantine governance, are many educated and
spiritually aware laity, including members of the
Orthodox Christian Laity. The faithful at large
tend to look on recent developments in the church
with sadness, despair, hurt and mercy and wonder
when will hierarchy, clergy and laity hold hands
to fulfill the Apostalic mission entrusted to our
Church by Christ. Where is the leadership? Our
earthly mission can only be accomplished with the
spirit of co-ministry. The difference between
Orthodox Christian Laity and many other Orthodox
is that the OCL Orthodox have not turned to
dismissive ridicule. Is it time our Orthodox
bishops and Metropolitans finally learn something
about the Orthodox rank and file faithful?
Orthodox, like those who gather under the
Orthodox Christian Laity umbrella, always seem
willing to take on new tasks in an effort to
break through the debilitating climate of fear
and inaction that grips the church.
Movement has already started in the Catholic
Church, and deny if you will, the era of Orthodox
Greek Church domination in the US is slowly
disintegrating. What we are watching is a
gradually decaying and grieving process. But with
death comes new life. A committed Orthodox laity,
including members of the Orthodox Christian Laity
and others who seek unity and are working to
restore church credibility, transparency and
rebuild the Orthodox substance and image.
Resisting these initiatives only delays the
resurrection process. This movement, easily
denied, is painfully difficult for some hierarchy
to accept. Many won?t yield, perhaps for years, if ever.
After 20 years, it appears to be nearing dawn as
the OCL has faithfully kept the night watch and deserves much gratitude.
As for our US clergy and religious of all
Orthodox jurisdictions, they should stand proud.
They have helped to strengthen and develop
thousands of lay and clergy Orthodox leaders, who
would not be in the faith, were it not for the
spiritual education and moral formation they provided.
Stepping back some, we are witnessing the
beginning of an era of a slowly emerging new
model of a healthy and far more inclusive and
vocal unified Orthodoxy; one where the lines of
ethnic division are gradually giving way to an
accommodation, love and respect of all our
jurisdictional Orthodox brothers and sisters.
The sooner this process is nurtured and
encouraged within all the Orthodox jurisdictions,
the faster our bishops and hierarchy will
acknowledge that our faith is built on
sindiakonea- laity, clergy and hierarchy- and as
true collaborators, our church will be morally
healthier and spiritually nourished.
The Orthodox Christian Laity is an organization
of parish based Orthodox, across all
jurisdictions, looking to the future and
deserving of your prayers and support. For more
information, please email ocldm@...