Source: Orthodox Christian Laity
The Assembly of Bishops will meet during the first week of October in Detroit. How will this meeting be different from all other such meetings? Where is the leadership?
The work of the Holy and Great Council has been completed, and little action was taken to address the uncanonical situation of the parallel jurisdictions that make up the Orthodox Christian Church in the USA. This situation is unacceptable, because it keeps our message, outreach and mission fragmented and wastes the resources of the lay stewards of the Church. This fragmentation continues to cause a decline in Church membership. Our census figures show that our children and grandchildren are less frequently participating in the sacraments of marriage and the baptism of their children. Our children grow in Christ and reach out to each other in Pan-Orthodox relationships at our universities and do not return to the ethnic fold. They walk away from the Church. The fact that there does not exist a synergy of clergy and laity working together and that our church has become hierarchical and clerical causes older stewards to become passive participants in governance and in the liturgical life of the Church. Where are we headed?
The inability of the Holy Council to address the issues related to Churches outside of traditional Orthodox lands makes the work of the Assembly of Bishops more meaningful. So far in eight years, some issues have been addressed in committee work, but the Assembly has not developed a blueprint for establishing as self-governing Church in the USA. What does it take to get them to create this blueprint? Why are the bishops afraid to move ahead to meet the needs of their flock and correct the uncanonical situation that exists here in the USA which hampers our mission? They were called to be servants and to fulfill their vocations. This means that they need to have a long-range vision. What causes them to lose their convictions and makes them continue to do the same old things over and over again. What are they afraid of? With Christ, all things are possible.
Where is the agenda for this October meeting? Why have all the documents of the eight years of meetings not been made public to the stewards of the Church? Why do the Bishops meet almost in secret and use the cosmetics of democracy, a press release here and there, create a web site that is more form than substance? When will they embrace the reality that they need to be accountable to each other and their flock? When will their work become transparent? Embracing these values will help them face issues in new ways and not the same old ways.
What do we know about how their meetings are conducted? They do not have a clear picture of how to reach decisions. Their rules of procedure are not clear. Can one or two bishops thwart the will of the many? How is the minority decision brought forth? If some bishops want to continue to play the role of spoilers, let them not participate and the majority must move on.
Will the Executive Committee bring in experts in conflict resolution and professionals who know how to work with groups to help them understand negotiating skills? When will they embrace the skill sets of the flock to assist them in their work? How can they create a blueprint without the input of the inclusive participation of the clergy and laity? When will they invite us to participate in synergy with each other? Creating the blueprint is a top down and bottom up proposition guided by the Holy Spirit.
The laity have the responsibility to continue to pray for our bishops and to stop enabling them to continue to work in isolation and without our genuine participation and involvement. The laity must give them the courage to declare themselves the Synod of the Orthodox Church of America and help them to elect their own head, so that we can be a Church in good order in the United States.