■ By George Matsoukas | Executive Director Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL)
Front Row Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit, Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and West, Helen Theodoropoulos, George Pontikes, President, George Matsoukas Ex Dir. Back Row Peter Petkas, Andrew Kartalis, Elizabeth Prodromou, Peter Zarras, George Karcazes, William Souvall, Roy Snyder, Michael Pecurar.
Orthodox Christian Laity Completes 29th Annual Meeting- Prepares to Celebrate 30 years of service to the Orthodox Christian Church 2017. OCL welcomes Metropolitan Isaiah on its Advisory Board.
For 30 years OCL has been promoting unity; transparency; accountability and laity 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 and began thinking about its plans for next years. The board members came away with a renewed and intensified commitment to keeping the hierarchy, clergy and laity informed about the progress of the Assembly of Bishops is making to developing a canonical blue print 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, 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 June, 2016 set the example that much can be accomplished when bishops continue to meet in harmony with the Hoy 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 the 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 have agreed upon to develop in Texas and other areas. Metropolitan Nicholai, Romanian Archdiocese in Americas, Chicago and others including Metropolitan Isaiah are developing the unity pilot. 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 increase 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 understandings the OCL Board of Directors elected George Karcazes as president. The board acknowledged the stewardship of outgoing 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: and his efforts to renew 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 Adamantoids 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 and 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 (! 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 Great and Holy Council held in Crete, Une, 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 October 26-28, 2017. Romanian Orthodox Church of St Mary Central Avenue will be our host community. Mark your calendar! Plan to celebrate with us.