The Orthodox Church - November 1997

Ecumenical Patriarch meets with US hierarchs

Fr. Gregory Havrilak

Historic gathering of Patriarch Bartholomew with US hierarchs.

NEW YORK CITY — No one knew what to expect on Friday, October 24, 1997 as His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I entered Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral here for a meeting with US Orthodox hierarchs as a prelude to a pan-Orthodox Vesper Service.

As Patriarch Bartholomew entered the cathedral, he was greeted by 28 canonical hierarchs who directly or through their primates belong to the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas [SCOBA]. The Patriarch paused with his brother bishops for an official photograph marking the first time in the history of American Orthodoxy that so many bishops had gathered for discussions with the Ecumenical Patriarch. Seated immediately around the Patriarch were Metropolitans of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

His Eminence, Archbishop Spyridon, followed by Metropolitans, Archbishops and Bishops who serve as heads of the various canonical dioceses in America and who are members of SCOBA. Only bishops from the canonical dioceses remained in the cathedral for the meeting of hierarchs with the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Patriarch Bartholomew began the dialogue by discussing the meeting of hierarchs in Ligonier, PA in 1994 and the Patriarchate's reaction to that conference. His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese o f North America, SCOBA Vice Chairman, informed the Patriarch that Archbishop Spyridon had been elected by acclamation of the hierarchs as chairman of SCOBA. Patriarch Bartholomew confirmed the decision.

At the conclusion of the meeting a news conference was called at which Archbishop Spyridon, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius [OCA], Metropolitan Philip, and His Grace, Bishop Nicholas [Carpatho-Russian Diocese] represented the bishops and announced that Archbishop Spyridon had been elected by the bishops as SCOBA's new chairman and that Patriarch Bartholomew had confirmed the decision.

The hierarchs agreed to utilize the established offices of SCOBA to promote greater cooperation among jurisdictions in America and to avoid duplication of efforts. It was further agreed by the bishops that the existing SCOBA organizations, such as International Orthodox Christian Charities and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, would be given greater impetus to continue their work for the benefit of all Orthodox here and abroad. The hierarchs further resolved to continue joint efforts through SCOBA for the time being in the hope that common goals and projects involving all jurisdictions would serve to bring people and their Churches together.

Participating in the unprecedented gathering were, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitans Joachim of Chalcedon, Panteleimon of Tyroloi, and Iakovos of Laodiceia; from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Archbishop Spyridon; Metropolitan Silas of Saranta Eklession [retired]; Bishops Maximos of Pittsburgh, Isaiah of Denver, Iakovos of Chicago, Alexios of Troas, and Philotheos of Meloa [retired]. Besides Metropolitan Theodosius of Washington and All America and Canada, hierarchs attending from the Orthodox Church in America included Archbishops Kyrill of Pittsburgh, Peter of New York, Dmitri of Dallas, and Herman of Philadelphia; Bishops Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, Job of Chicago, Tikhon of San Francisco, Seraphim of Ottawa, Innocent of Anchorage, Basil [retired], and Mark of Bethesda. Also participating at the invitation of Metropolitan Theodosius were Bishop Paul of Zaraisk, Administrator of Moscow Patriarchal parishes, and Bishop Seraphim of Sendai, Japan [retired]. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America was represented by Metropolitan Constantine, Archbishop Antony, Bishop Vsevelod and Bishop Jeremiah of South America, while the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese was represented by Bishop Nicholas of Amissos. Protopresbyter Ilia Katre, Vicar General, represented the Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese. Metropolitan Philip and Bishop Antoun attended from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. The Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada was represented by Archbishop Victorin, while Metropolitan Joseph attended from the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church.

[ The Orthodox Church - November 1997 - p. 1 and 6 ]