THE TIME FOR ORTHODOX UNITY IS NOW!

Musings of the Executive Director: Orthodox Christian Laity Celebrates 30 Years

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George Matsoukas, Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Laity

Source: Orthodox Christian Laity

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8)

Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) was organized 30 years ago in the Northbrook, Illinois home of Jim and Mary Koulogeorge.  Orthodox Christians from different parts of the USA gathered, because they had concerns about accountability and oversight in matters of Church governance based on events occurring in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese during the 1980’s.   Together, they established an independent, educational ministry, dedicated to promoting renewal in the Orthodox Christian Church.   By 1993, the blueprint for such a renewal was published in book form as Project for Orthodox Renewal, which is still relevant today. Supporters of OCL remain more concerned today about accountability and responsible oversight in matters of church governance.   Many of the Archdioceses of the 14 parallel jurisdictions are in disarray.  The duplication of most aspects of Church administration continues to dilute the stewardship contributions of the faithful.  The fragmentation of Church governance continues to be counterproductive.

On October 10, 1998, OCL adopted a resolution at its 11th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, California, calling on the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), “to reconvene the Ligonier conference of American hierarchs to once again proclaim that the American Church is no longer a “Diaspora,” and to pursue the necessary steps with the Mother Churches in declaring that the “fullness of time” for the unification and autocephaly of the American Church has arrived.”

Considering the dysfunctionality of the Assembly of Bishops, set up eight years ago, to replace SCOBA, this resolution is even more relevant today.  The Assembly of Bishops must move ahead and declare itself a synod and then deal with all the administrative matters relevant to the American Orthodox Church.  They need to overcome their colonial and racist attitudes and be guided by the norms of this country in matters of governance, and move ahead for the sake of today and tomorrow by relying on the grace of the Holy Spirit.

In its 30-year history, OCL has not deviated from its original mission and goals: (1) Advocating for the union of the overlapping, un-canonical Orthodox “jurisdictions” in America, under a single Synod of Canonical Bishops which, with input from the clergy and laity, will elect its own head (i.e., an Autocephalous, canonical, local Orthodox Church; a sister Church of all the other Autocephalous Orthodox Churches in the world). (2) Advocating for the transparency and accountability in Church Governance with meaningful, full participation of the laity in relevant administrative functions of the Church.

OCL has presented these truths to the hierarchy, clergy and laity at home and abroad in these past 30 years.  We have spoken with a clear, independent, unambiguous, sincere and dedicated voice.  OCL has learned to “not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).  We continue to work, and ask you to join us, to build up the body of Christ, because HE remains the same yesterday and today and forever.  Together we will build up His Church to be the mission Church in America.

George Matsoukas

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