[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] Moving Forward: George Karcazes’ Challenge - Orthodox Christian Laity

Moving Forward: George Karcazes’ Challenge


George Matsoukas, OCL Executive Director Emeritus, makes a presentation about Orthodox Christian Laity

Christ is risen! I just saw all these emails!  Roula and I appreciate all of your prayers and good wishes. We love all of you.  OCL’s mission is inevitable. It is what God wants. A single Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. It is up to us to make it happen.  Do not give up!  — Love, George (May 31, 2024) 

This is the message that George Karcazes sent from his hospital room a few days before he fell asleep in the Lord on June 6, 2024.   For the last 37 years, he devoted himself to the mission of Orthodox Christian Laity as a founding member, president, secretary-treasurer, intellectual and spiritual guide, major donor, and leading advocate and teacher. His most significant contribution was the time and talent he devoted to this organization and its ability to disseminate its message.   All along the way, he was assisted by the organizational skills, insights and energy of his wife of 54 years, Roula.

George was a clear thinker, and his intellectual skills, which were applied to the mission of OCL, were his greatest gift. Some of his mentors, who helped establish the mission of OCL, included Dr. Andrew Kopan, Dr. Eva Topping, Minerva Stelianopolos, Kay Vallone, Charles Moskos, and Leon Marinakos.  But it was George who synthesized their ideas and the ideas of others and, with his clear thinking, articulated the mission and remained steadfast to its purpose for 36 years.

Time and again, board members wanted to change the emphasis of OCL’s mission. Some thought the organization should stress the ordination of married clergy to the priesthood, develop and implement a lifelong learning program on the faith for laypersons, be advocates for those sexually abused by the clergy, etc., etc. etc. But with his guidance, we remained focused on advocating for a unified, self-governing autocephalous church.

The high points on this journey of advocating for a unified, self-governing church were how the hierarchical leadership reacted to our message. It was of interest to OCL to watch the calling for and then retraction of the SCOBA meeting of the 28 bishops at Ligonier, PA, in 1994, six years after the establishment of OCL.   A high point for OCL was the Resolution on Unity calling for a self-governing church passed by the board at its 11th Annual meeting in Los Angeles at the Jonathan Club on October 10, 1998. Eventually, a Synaxis of Bishops was convened in Istanbul in 2009, including all the heads of the autocephalous churches in Europe who sent bishops here. They agreed that the Church in America needed to be reorganized to reflect the good order of church governance, where one bishop resides in one city, and the bishops in a geographic area shepherd their own area. To move in this direction, they established the Assembly of Bishops, which first met in 2010 in New York City to set up procedures and processes to end the fragmentation of Orthodoxy in the United States based on ethnicity.   The OCL board was delighted with this effort and donated $20,000 to assist with convening this first meeting. OCL suggested developing such an assembly in its publication, “Project for Orthodox Renewal,” published in 1993.

It should be noted that the Assembly has been meeting for 14 years and is at an impasse. The disarray in old-world Orthodox Christianity continues to inhibit the development of a unified Orthodox Christian Church in the United States. This reality makes George’s last words, “do not give up on the mission of OCL,” urgent. Indeed, it is God’s will for us to finally agree on a unified administrative structure with input from the laity. Why? Our unified voice will enable us to more clearly teach the message of Orthodox Christianity with the hope of retaining our children, grandchildren, seekers, the unchurched, cradle, and convert faithful. This is God’s will, given to us to carry forth, as the Great Commission, at the feast of Pentecost, celebrated this year on June 24, 2024. This is our challenge, duty, and God’s will for his Church to prevail. So, OCL will continue to work with others to make unity a reality! Please join this movement by learning what unity means and help the bishops understand that they need to move ahead.

George Matsoukas, Executive Director Emeritus



  1. William Caras on

    This is the WHY of the Orthodox Christian Laity mission as explained in Simon Sinek’s book – Start With Why!

  2. Markos Daskaoras on

    If they remove Elps, we will get another Spyridon. I don’t think we want Mitsotakis removing our archbishop. I would think the first objective is to object to ANY foreign power having ANY voice in our churches. Kyro and Elps are equally woke, the same age, know how to navigate the modern world. The Greek Foreign Ministry sees the GOA as its own captive lobbying organization and wants to improve our Greek speaking. They want us to only speak Greek in churches. Kyro’s only concern is our Greekness, not our Orthodoxy.

  3. Louis eliaras on

    We have leverage. We need to disparage Greek food and wine imports and even diners so that they learn we are not going to put up with their interference again.

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