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Author Topic: A United American Orthodoxy: Practical Considerations  (Read 10730 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 01, 2007, 06:02:05 PM »

It’s my assumption and hope that at some point we will arrive at a time where the majority of Orthodox jurisdictions represented in the United States will find a way to unite in to one church body, while still maintaining the diversity of traditions that exist today.  I’m thinking along the lines that the most likely scenario is the jurisdictions involved would be the bodies that participate in SCOBA.

My question is from a structural standpoint, how do you think this would happen, and what would such a new organization look like?
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2007, 08:07:15 PM »

Ooh, this should be a fun mental exercise.  Here goes my brilliant plan. Tongue

Step One:  Sit down with a map of the U.S. and carve it up into a number of mission areas, which will then be assigned to current bishops as solely their responsibility, regardless of jurisdiction.  All new missions, parishes, and monasteries founded in that mission area, regardless of ethnic or jurisdictional background, will fall under the omophor of that hierarch.  For example, if Texas were assigned to Archbishop DMITRI and a new Arabic-speaking parish was founded, it would be under his care.  Similarly, if a GOA parish split in order to found a new mission, the mother parish would remain GOA (for the time being) while the new mission would be under Archbishop DMITRI.  This starts getting bishops used to a wide variety of jurisdictional backgrounds in the same diocese without immediately carving up the old ones.  It also gets parishes used to having multiple backgrounds in the same area while under the same bishop.  Finally, it starts the process of consolidating administration along geographic lines.

Step Two:  Begin a master plan of the boundaries of the diocese of the united jurisdiction, along with tentative plans for who the bishops will be.  To the extent possible, keep both very close to the mission areas set forth above.

Step Three:  Consolidate the various jurisdictional departments under SCOBA.  For example, shift from individual evangelism departments in the jurisdictions to a single one operating under SCOBA.  Discontinue the old ones so that there's not a parallel SCOBA/jurisdictional structure going on.  Do this with every department possible.

Step Four:  Begin the legal work to establish the American Orthodox Church (or the Church of America, or whatever it gets called) as the legal successor to all the prior jurisdictions (sort of like a corporate merger).

Step Five:  Finally, do the actual final consolidation, including the dissolution of the prior jurisdictions, assignment of bishops to new, smaller, more numerous dioceses, etc.  Cap it off with a week-long media blitz covering the massive celebrations in the new dioceses over the formation of the (administratively) united Church in America.  Conclude with the first meeting of the Synod of America.

Granted, that wouldn't be an overnight process, but it should be a planned out and deliberate one.  American Orthodoxy won't look WASPish (at least not across the board) or like any other single background; instead, each diocese and the American Church as a whole will look like a mosaic at first.  Over time, movement between parishes, etc., will create some "bleed" where Serbian customs seep into Greek parishes and Lebanese practices influence convert missions and so forth.  You'll be able to see, in every single diocese, our Orthodox heritage from elsewhere blended togther in a unique American local church.
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2007, 10:55:12 PM »

If we were to start this now, I think the best path would be for jurisdictions to have there diocese lines run as close to one another as possible.  Then, as bishops died, you wouldn't replace them except with the oversight of another bishop(s) that already had parishes in that geographical location.

That said, I've been thinking that because America is so young as a nation, and we are such a mixture of cultures (less so than Canada, but still), maybe our mixture of jurisdictions is a reflection of our culture, that is basically a mixture of other cultures.
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2007, 12:21:47 PM »

So do you guys think the ethnic diocese model of the OCA has to go?
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2007, 02:00:35 PM »

Andrew,

I do not have a grand plan of how unity should happen but it could be begin by having all of our bishops meet regularly like they did in Chicago this past October. That particular meeting was too short and it didn't allow enough discussion time after various priests presented their topics to the hierarchs. Right now they only meet every three years. They should be meeting at least once a year. The conference should be a week long so the bishops have time to get to know one another and so they have time to discuss the pressing needs of the Orthodox faithful in America.

Archbishop NATHANIEL had this to say about the last meeting:

CHICAGO: THE WINDY CITY & SCOBA

October 3-6, 2006, the Great City of Chicago, convention site of many a mighty corporation, was the site of another historical event, an event, however, that for the most part went un-noticed by its officials and citizens. The event? It was the three/four day “2006 Canonical Orthodox Bishops Conference.” The nine-member Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) organization had invited their un-member brother hierarchs to an “opportunity to learn about the Agencies, Commissions and Endorsed groups functioning under the SCOBA umbrella, as well as an opportunity to discuss issues critical to the life of Orthodoxy in North America.” Please remember that SCOBA members are only a select group of nine hierarchs representing anywhere from a multiple of dioceses to a few parishes.
It is unthinkable to weigh the benefits of this Chicago, third SCOBA, conference without recalling the first SCOBA-sponsored conference in 1994, held at Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Two major documents were born from that assembly of hierarchs, two documents which are a “road plan” for the Church of yesteryear, today and tomorrow. Although not a small number of hierarchs later chose to erase their signatures from the very documents which they had collaborated in formulating and did sign, the contents of the documents are as valid today as when those hierarchs first put their own “John Hancock” on them.

The existence, the results, the importance of the first SCOBA conference, “Ligonier I”, cannot be eradicated from the pages of history of SCOBA nor of that of the Church in America, nor should it continue to be ignored. Ligonier is the “touch-stone” conference for subsequent convocations. What was evident at that meeting was a nascent form of Episcopal collegiality under the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Metropolitan Philip for your hospitality!

The second SCOBA conference, held in the nation’s capital, was not fruitful. It did not produce any document and fraternalizing was difficult because of the arrangements of accommodations. Without being flippant, this conference can be placed in the category of “been there, done that.”

The “Windy City” conference, the third of them, as had been stated, did provide the opportunity to hear reports. There were Workshops: “Guidelines for coordination in establishing New and Mission Parishes,” “Discussion on Sexual Misconduct in the Church,” “How do we address the exodus of youth from the Church,” and on “The Diaconate.”

There were the SCOBA Commissions’ presentations: Ecumenical, Social and Moral Issues, Research, Information, Technologies, Study and Planning and also the SCOBA- endorsed Groups: Orthodox Peace Fellowship, Zoe for Life, Fellowship of the Transfiguration, Project Mexico, OCAMPR, and OTSA.

It was moving to note the respectful attitude of all the clergy and lay speakers and to witness the joy in their faces and voices as they stood before the assembled hierarchs, speaking, presenting, offering as it were, the fruits of the labors of their represented organizations to the archpastors of the Church, demonstrating that the Church, the Body of Christ, has multiple members inspired by the Holy Spirit employing their multiple gifts for the up-building of the Church in The United States.

No hierarch present could doubt that a broad base of activities already exists across The United States (SCOBA is a U.S. organization) in which clergy and faithful participate in the name of “Orthodoxy.” The reports given were, for the most part, from laity and clergy and these were their reports, on their activity for their Church, THE Church. This was a limited representation, though, just the tip of the real iceberg of collaboration and communion in Christ which is binding the “jurisdictions” into some semblance of an administratively-unified Church in The United States.

What was noticeable in the reports was the emphasis on the parish structure as the unique norm for Church order rather than on the diocese as the basic unit, the faithful around their hierarch, the local Church. This misconception continues, reshaping Orthodox ecclesiology into a form of “orthodox congregationalism.” This aberration has manifested itself for decades. There are various reasons and factors for this and the fact of administrative disunity shores it up. The greater blame must be put on the clergy, hierarchs and patriarchs who sustain this anomaly.

There was polite dialogue between some of the hierarchs and the speakers in the form of questions and answers, clarification of minutiae, paternal approbation, recognition for their efforts. Among the hierarchs, there was no discussion about “serious matters”, even if this “opportunity” was provided. Those “issues critical to the life of Orthodoxy in North America” were not brought up. A list of 11 semi-liturgical, administrative differences were read aloud by two of the hierarchs (“Been there, done that!”); and, one of the two mentioned that an important issue must surely be to consider, at some time, what is the “proper canonical” order among the proper hierarchs so that proper liturgical order can be established properly. A “thin veil,” indeed!

A serious question brought up by a retired hierarch was how could a SCOBA Commission speak in the name of Orthodoxy in America? This was in reference to the Statement: “The Filioque: A Church Dividing Issue?” How can a SCOBA Commission issue documents which the entire episcopacy has not seen nor endorsed?! Even if the nine members had seen such a statement, its propagation cannot be made in the name of the entire episcopacy!

There was a disclaimer that this statement was “forwarded to the mother churches of the SCOBA jurisdictions.” Oh yes, four of the nine members are under the omophorion of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Referring to foreign churches for decisions? One of the nine represents Ukrainian faithful. To which “Ukrainian Mother Church” was it sent? What nonsense! A multiplicity of “jurisdictions” existing on one national territory? Would the Church of Greece accept this? Would the Church of Romania? Would any other local Church? Why then in The United States?! Why aren’t the Canons respected?

Ah, yes! Which canons and according to whose interpretation?

A major defect of this “SCOBA” is that it is not collegial. SCOBA’s nine members make decisions, issue statements and act as a pseudo-synod without the entire hierarchy participating. How can “SCOBA” endorsements bind the entire episcopacy? How can SCOBA issue “encyclicals” to all the clergy and faithful?

SCOBA has no canonical authority, and even if one would like to acknowledge a “benefit” of the hierarchs meeting one another through this organization, (as some are quick to point out from past pan-Orthodox “meetings” at WCC and NCC convocations), the reality of the total lack of collegiality is foreign to Orthodoxy. One cringes to read
that something “falls under the jurisdiction of SCOBA” as is stated on some websites and forms of communication.

How many fathers of the Church were present? About 30 attended. Metropolitan Philip, we missed you! His fellow hierarchs spoke out and were visible. His Beatitude, Herman, was present as were hierarchs, some hierarchs, of the Orthodox Church in America, but they were conspicuously “quiet.” Metropolitan Christopher was the lone Serbian hierarch present - the others were attending a meeting called by the Mother Church in Serbia.

Thankfully, the event did go un-noticed by the city authorities and citizens. There was no new nor revitalized “Ligonier road plan,” no documents of value, just some last-minute thought-up, “relevant” statements issued to show that Orthodoxy, too “is with it.” There was no collegiality, no expression of “one mind and one heart.” Of course, we remember that only the nine have the “right” to vote and issue documentation in the name of Orthodoxy in The United States. Yes, like Washington I, we’ve “Been there, done that!” and, “Thank God that this one is over without any rocking of the boat, or rather the Ark of Salvation!”

It had seemed to many of us at Ligonier that it was as though we were at Jerusalem: a place of peace and fraternity; and, that a mighty sound like a rushing wind descended and the power of the Holy Spirit gifting the apostles to go out in service to God, had blown across the lonely Pennsylvania countryside, refreshing the workers in the vineyard!

There was no rushing wind in the Windy City, except that which blew over Lake Michigan, raising a froth on the acme of the waves. SCOBA III was, if anything, a stifled sigh of silence. The “issue critical to the life of Orthodoxy in North America” - administrative unity was, as promised, not on the agenda. The only sound heard was the sigh of relief from those who had formulated and called this fraternal “Been there, done that.”

+NATHANIEL, Archbishop of Detroit and Participant at Three SCOBA Conferences

Originally published in Solia - The Herald, November/December 2006
http://members5.boardhost.com/STANDREWHOUSE/msg/1168299954.html




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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2007, 02:15:54 PM »

Ooh, this should be a fun mental exercise.  Here goes my brilliant plan. Tongue

Step One:  Sit down with a map of the U.S. and carve it up into a number of mission areas, which will then be assigned to current bishops as solely their responsibility, regardless of jurisdiction.  All new missions, parishes, and monasteries founded in that mission area, regardless of ethnic or jurisdictional background, will fall under the omophor of that hierarch.  For example, if Texas were assigned to Archbishop DMITRI and a new Arabic-speaking parish was founded, it would be under his care.  Similarly, if a GOA parish split in order to found a new mission, the mother parish would remain GOA (for the time being) while the new mission would be under Archbishop DMITRI.  This starts getting bishops used to a wide variety of jurisdictional backgrounds in the same diocese without immediately carving up the old ones.  It also gets parishes used to having multiple backgrounds in the same area while under the same bishop.  Finally, it starts the process of consolidating administration along geographic lines.

But what happens when you have a region like Chicago with ?? different Bishops?  How do you select WHO would be the Bishop for that area and what would you do with the others?
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2007, 02:59:36 PM »

But what happens when you have a region like Chicago with ?? different Bishops?  How do you select WHO would be the Bishop for that area and what would you do with the others?

Is there any area that doesn't have multiple bishops as things stand now?  Unless we plan on seriously gerrymandering future dioceses, everywhere imaginable is under the jurisdiction of multiple bishops.  We're going to have to deal with that problem, no matter what the scenario. 
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2007, 03:25:28 PM »

Quote
Sit down with a map of the U.S. and carve it up into a number of mission areas, which will then be assigned to current bishops as solely their responsibility, regardless of jurisdiction.  All new missions, parishes, and monasteries founded in that mission area, regardless of ethnic or jurisdictional background, will fall under the omophor of that hierarch.

I think this would be extremely difficult to implement.  One dificulty I think could be the problem of having churches of extremely different backgrounds falling under bishops who are of a very different liturgical or linguistic tradition.  What if a Western Rite mission could open, but the territory was under a bishop hostile to the Western Rite?  I’m sure you could think of all kinds of scenarios that could be problematic.

Ultimately I don’t know if the rate of missions that are opening would have a real impact on changing the way the church is structured.  I think you have to do with what’s there now.

In my opinion the two churches with the most similarities should align themselves with each other now and structurally unite.  That would be the Antiochians and the OCA.  I think they have three real options.  The AOA dissolves and becomes part of the OCA, the OCA dissolves and becomes part of the AOA, or they both dissolve their current structures and make something new.  I think one thing that would have to happen is for both Metropolitans to step aside and a combined synod would have to elect a new one.  Then the combined church would have to reorganize the existing dioceses.  I would assume a consolidation of properties would also take place.  Why not sell off Syosset for instance?  Why not combine the existing seminaries in to one?

Tamara, I read Archbishop Nathaniel’s speech you posted.  I have to say in it I find little of actual substance, but it seems like that is usually what I see elsewhere.  I think if people want jurisdictional unity they better be ready to make some major sacrifices in order to get it.  I just don’t hear people talking about that.  Archbishop Nathaniel’s speech is actually rather depressing to be honest.
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2007, 04:08:14 PM »


Tamara, I read Archbishop Nathaniel’s speech you posted.  I have to say in it I find little of actual substance, but it seems like that is usually what I see elsewhere.  I think if people want jurisdictional unity they better be ready to make some major sacrifices in order to get it.  I just don’t hear people talking about that.  Archbishop Nathaniel’s speech is actually rather depressing to be honest.


I agree...his speech is depressing but he brings up two very good points. Point number one:SCOBA is ineffectual as pseudo synod due to the fact it has no canonical authority and only nine hierarchs are members. A real synod would include all the bishops of each jurisdiction. If we want SCOBA to be the future synod of America then it needs to be given canonical authority and all bishops should be members.

Point number two: He mentions that most jurisdictions are organized around the  parish instead of the diocese. This structure tends to lead to  congregationalism and the problems that ensue from that form of governance. Having smaller, more numerous dioceses would change the congregationalist  mind-set and encourage the true form of Orthodox governance (synergy between the bishops the clergy and laity.)

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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2007, 04:41:00 PM »

RE: The Western-Rite Orthodox Vicariate.  I think if it is God's will for the WR to exist in the Orthodox Church, it will survive the reorganization of the Orthodox jurisdictions, even if only by a single parish.  Also, we don't know that the OCA wouldn't accept them; I don't think they've ever been asked to.  To tell one of these parishes they would have to change their rite would be awkward, I think, because they are already in communion with them.

I think if one jurisdiction is picked to be one that all the others assimilate to, it would be the OCA or Antioch.  The OCA is already independent and I think it could absorb the rest of the jurisdictions.  The Antiochians aren't far from being independent themselves.  The GOA has such strong ties to the old country, I think they'd be the last to come into a united North American jurisdiction.
I also don't think there should be pressure from bishops for local parishes to drop their ethnic practices, but it might be a great help for them to start droping from their names ethnic identities- "Greek" "Russian" "Serbian".  To let people know they are canonical, they could just put in smaller print, "A member of SCOBA."
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2007, 04:55:58 PM »

I agree...his speech is depressing but he brings up two very good points. Point number one:SCOBA is ineffectual as pseudo synod due to the fact it has no canonical authority and only nine hierarchs are members. A real synod would include all the bishops of each jurisdiction. If we want SCOBA to be the future synod of America then it needs to be given canonical authority and all bishops should be members.

Point number two: He mentions that most jurisdictions are organized around the  parish instead of the diocese. This structure tends to lead to  congregationalism and the problems that ensue from that form of governance. Having smaller, more numerous dioceses would change the congregationalist  mind-set and encourage the true form of Orthodox governance (synergy between the bishops the clergy and laity.) 

If I recall correctly +NATHANIEL didn't go to the SCOBA meeting in Chicago, although he was invited.  And I know that, according to some who know him well, he's not always in the mood to participate when he's gonna be "down" on the "pecking order" - i.e. when he's not the center of attention (the same has been said of +PHILIP).

Second - if we had one jurisdiction in this country, not every bishop would be on the Synod. In places and cases where you have 30 or so bishops, you would probably have two or three Regional Synods (like East and West, or NE, SE, and W), and from each of the Synods a certain number of bishops would be on the major synod.  Only in special cases, or on set intervals like once or twice a year, would the entire hierarchy of the church meet.  Saying that SCOBA has no power because all the bishops aren't present isn't really accurate - if the President of the Synod makes a statement on behalf of the Synod, and the Synod doesn't repeal the statement, then it should be binding on the Synod (see the Father's opinions on the relationship within the synod between the Metropolitan and the other bishops).

Third - I agree with the second point you brought up.
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2007, 04:59:12 PM »

RE: The Western-Rite Orthodox Vicariate.  I think if it is God's will for the WR to exist in the Orthodox Church, it will survive the reorganization of the Orthodox jurisdictions, even if only by a single parish.  Also, we don't know that the OCA wouldn't accept them; I don't think they've ever been asked to.  To tell one of these parishes they would have to change their rite would be awkward, I think, because they are already in communion with them.

I think if one jurisdiction is picked to be one that all the others assimilate to, it would be the OCA or Antioch.  The OCA is already independent and I think it could absorb the rest of the jurisdictions.  The Antiochians aren't far from being independent themselves.  The GOA has such strong ties to the old country, I think they'd be the last to come into a united North American jurisdiction.
I also don't think there should be pressure from bishops for local parishes to drop their ethnic practices, but it might be a great help for them to start droping from their names ethnic identities- "Greek" "Russian" "Serbian".  To let people know they are canonical, they could just put in smaller print, "A member of SCOBA."

Your first paragraph I agree with - even though I'm not a fan of the WR, and have some problems with how it came back into the church (not that it came back, but how), if it survives the reorganization then it must be God's will.

I had to laugh at the second paragraph, though.  Since this isn't a debate forum, I won't get into it, but I would have to disagree with much of what you wrote.
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2007, 05:17:27 PM »

I had to laugh at the second paragraph, though.  Since this isn't a debate forum, I won't get into it, but I would have to disagree with much of what you wrote.

I was actually going to mention something about that as well.  This isn't a debate forum though?  Could we move the thread then somewhere else?  I just started it here because I didn't know where it fit.
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2007, 05:31:56 PM »

<To let people know they are canonical, they could just put in smaller print, "A member of SCOBA."..  >   It would be great if SCOBA included those guys on the Patristic Calendar.   I guess that 'canonical' here means canonical and not just official.  And a united church would need a pope to keep things in order - i wonder who that would be? Roll Eyes
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2007, 05:33:40 PM »

I was actually going to mention something about that as well.  This isn't a debate forum though?  Could we move the thread then somewhere else?  I just started it here because I didn't know where it fit.

I would have probably started it in FFA... I can move it there so the debate can continue (especially since this topic can at times become polemical).
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2007, 05:51:56 PM »

If I recall correctly +NATHANIEL didn't go to the SCOBA meeting in Chicago, although he was invited.  And I know that, according to some who know him well, he's not always in the mood to participate when he's gonna be "down" on the "pecking order" - i.e. when he's not the center of attention (the same has been said of +PHILIP).

Second - if we had one jurisdiction in this country, not every bishop would be on the Synod. In places and cases where you have 30 or so bishops, you would probably have two or three Regional Synods (like East and West, or NE, SE, and W), and from each of the Synods a certain number of bishops would be on the major synod.  Only in special cases, or on set intervals like once or twice a year, would the entire hierarchy of the church meet.  Saying that SCOBA has no power because all the bishops aren't present isn't really accurate - if the President of the Synod makes a statement on behalf of the Synod, and the Synod doesn't repeal the statement, then it should be binding on the Synod (see the Father's opinions on the relationship within the synod between the Metropolitan and the other bishops).

Third - I agree with the second point you brought up.

Actually Archbishop Nathaniel was in attendance at the Chicago meeting. According to a layman friend of mine who was in Chicago that week, the Archbishop  and Bishop Mark (AOCA) would get to together after the offical meetings to talk about each day's events.

SCOBA has no canonical status other than being a consultative and fraternal organization designed to promote cooperation among the  canonical jurisdictions. This means each jurisdiction derives its canonical authority from the mother churches. SCOBA cannot interfere with that authority through any decisions they may make as a consultative group. In other words, they are not a true synod.
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2007, 05:58:07 PM »

Quote
I think if one jurisdiction is picked to be one that all the others assimilate to, it would be the OCA or Antioch.  The OCA is already independent and I think it could absorb the rest of the jurisdictions.  The Antiochians aren't far from being independent themselves.

My interest is the practical though, not the theoretical.  Do you think given the OCA's past issues with other churches in this country and its present state that it presents a viable model that other churches would rally around?  Do you think other people would accept the leadership of Metropolitan Herman?  Same for the AOA, do you think they provide a model or have leadership others would accept?
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2007, 06:28:27 PM »

But what happens when you have a region like Chicago with ?? different Bishops?  How do you select WHO would be the Bishop for that area and what would you do with the others?
We look to the canons as a guide. When schism came to a heal there were often times more then one bishop in the city. Often times the canons that are quoted about one bishop one city come from these canons, these canons make it clear that there is only one ruling hierarch for the city but it leaves it gray for bishops in residence in the city. The case we are facing is different in that we are not merging out of heresy but rather doing so not to fall in heresy.

You use Chicago in your question so I will use it as an example. There are currently 5 bishops in residence in Chicago and at least another 4 additional bishops (if not more) who have authority over churches in the area.

The simplest way to fix the problem is the senior bishop is made the ruling bishop and the other 4 bishops are put up for election of vacant sees. All bishops who claims authority over parishes in the area release them to the senior hierarch. Of course the simplest is often not the best and also not the most realistic.

When unity comes there will be a number of bishops who would ask for retirement to assist in the unity process. So the number of bishops in Chicago may be down to 2 or 3 then. Realistically there will need to be different ethnic bishops who will need to become auxiliaries to the Archbishop of America in order to be at the disposal of every diocese so that the faithful can be served in the best way. This could take away another bishop or 2 from Chicago and the next thing you know there is only 1. The Bishop of Chicago would most likely also be the head of an Archdiocese and therefore may need an auxiliary to assits him.

It really doesn't matter what we say on these forums about how unity will work because unity will not come from but rather from the Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2007, 06:58:42 PM »

My interest is the practical though, not the theoretical.  Do you think given the OCA's past issues with other churches in this country and its present state that it presents a viable model that other churches would rally around?  Do you think other people would accept the leadership of Metropolitan Herman?  Same for the AOA, do you think they provide a model or have leadership others would accept?
"Assimilate" was the wrong word, I just mean that they reorganize into one church.  What is it that makes you guys laugh about the second paragraph I wrote?  (It's unlikely that it is going to make me upset, and I don't normally debate on forums; I lose interest too quickly I guess.)

If we can't join our jurisdictions into a single North American Orthodox Church, then I'd think we're hypocrites for saying that we are all a part of the same church.
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2007, 12:44:08 PM »

"Assimilate" was the wrong word, I just mean that they reorganize into one church.  What is it that makes you guys laugh about the second paragraph I wrote?  (It's unlikely that it is going to make me upset, and I don't normally debate on forums; I lose interest too quickly I guess.)

If we can't join our jurisdictions into a single North American Orthodox Church, then I'd think we're hypocrites for saying that we are all a part of the same church.

I'm not saying that it's possible - but to think that the OCA is the best choice because they're independent doesn't seem to be in line with the purpose of the thread - practical suggestions and whatnot.  The OCA is barely able to handle its own flock administratively, and the shock of adding the Antiochians and the Greeks and the others would be too much.  Meanwhile, the Greeks, whom you have dismissed as having too many old-world ties, are the largest and most well-developed administratively, so they would be better equipped to handle the integration of the OCA and AOA. 
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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2007, 02:32:11 PM »

It’s my assumption and hope that at some point we will arrive at a time where the majority of Orthodox jurisdictions represented in the United States will find a way to unite in to one church body, while still maintaining the diversity of traditions that exist today.  I’m thinking along the lines that the most likely scenario is the jurisdictions involved would be the bodies that participate in SCOBA.

My question is from a structural standpoint, how do you think this would happen, and what would such a new organization look like?

Like the old Russian dioceses/OCA now and before 1917. One territorial bishop for all but ethnic parishes. And ethnic assistant bishops for immigrant parishes that really need them due to a language/cultural barrier. You could have Julian-calendar Russian parishes under a Russian-vicariate vladyka in practice for example. Not perfect but workable.
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« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2007, 01:48:43 AM »

In my opinion the two churches with the most similarities should align themselves with each other now and structurally unite.  That would be the Antiochians and the OCA.  I think they have three real options.  The AOA dissolves and becomes part of the OCA, the OCA dissolves and becomes part of the AOA, or they both dissolve their current structures and make something new.  I think one thing that would have to happen is for both Metropolitans to step aside and a combined synod would have to elect a new one.  Then the combined church would have to reorganize the existing dioceses.  I would assume a consolidation of properties would also take place.  Why not sell off Syosset for instance?  Why not combine the existing seminaries in to one?



Andrew, If you go to the St. Andrew's site...you will see a plan for consolidating the OCA and AOCA written by Deacon John  Zarras. Its a thesis but it may offer some interesting ideas from a practical stand point.
click here: http://www.orthodoxdetroit.com/ZarrasThesis.pdf
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« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2007, 02:07:22 AM »

Quote
"
If we can't join our jurisdictions into a single North American Orthodox Church, then I'd think we're hypocrites for saying that we are all a part of the same church.

Of course we wouldn't.  We would not be any less hypocritical than a man from Moscow and a man from Athens being hypocritical to say they're part of the same Church.

And, I may hold the minority opinion here, but I do not think we are ready to consolidate.  The Church is too young in America, there are many things to work out (like the calendar), and there are ethnic ties.  Now, I am not saying this situation is ideal by any means.  However, if you give it a generation or two, you'll find the people grow closer, particularly once the immigrants Americanize.  It took over 100 years for the Catholics.  I'd say we're right on schedule ourselves.  Instead of pushing it, I think if you give people time to adjust they'll embrace it.  Nothing I see though, indicates that time is now.  It should be down eventually, but with much prudence, patience, and consideration.  That's Orthodoxy after all.
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« Reply #23 on: February 05, 2007, 08:08:47 AM »

Nothing I see though, indicates that time is now.  It should be down eventually, but with much prudence, patience, and consideration.  That's Orthodoxy after all.

I think you are right. We had a major sea-change in the development of Orthodoxy in the America over the past few decades with the large numbers of continuing immigration from Eastern Europe and the Middle East.  At this point it seems wiser to develop Orthodoxy amongst our members first, and let God sort out the administration (after all, some things happen after all that no one would expect - the Antiochians reunited, now the Russian Church is reunited, etc.) We also don't know what could happen over the next few decades. If we want unity, then we need to make ourselves worthy of it.
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« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2007, 11:57:10 AM »

Andrew, If you go to the St. Andrew's site...you will see a plan for consolidating the OCA and AOCA written by Deacon John  Zarras. Its a thesis but it may offer some interesting ideas from a practical stand point.
click here: http://www.orthodoxdetroit.com/ZarrasThesis.pdf

Well, lo and behold, he says the first step is for the AOA and OCA to merge.  I wonder when that is going to happen, or what these jurisdictions are waiting for.  Interestingly, he seems to favor the option that both essentially dissolve and create a new church.  That seems most practical to me if you think that tack makes the most sense.

It also seems strange to me that he doesn't consider the scenario cleveland mentions.
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« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2007, 01:49:22 PM »


It also seems strange to me that he doesn't consider the scenario cleveland mentions.


Well, from my impression of the "faithful" in the various jurisdictions, those in the OCA and AOC are mostly on the same page while many in the GOA are off in left field somewhere.
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« Reply #26 on: February 05, 2007, 01:54:03 PM »

Well, from my impression of the "faithful" in the various jurisdictions, those in the OCA and AOC are mostly on the same page while many in the GOA are off in left field somewhere.

My impression is simply that the radical convert wing of the AOA has created the impression that they are more influential than they truly are, the well-to-do Arab families are still the power behind the throne, if you will. It is the convert wing of the AOA and the Metropolia who, though they believe themselves to be the norm, are way out in left field.
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« Reply #27 on: February 05, 2007, 02:06:34 PM »

Thank You GreekChristian for bringing us back to reality. I use to get Word magazine and it was evident in the articles about giving and receiving of accolades who the real power brokers were in the AOC. Practically speaking each jurisdiction represents a power base that is backed with both money and influence. No matter how much unity is discussed it ain't happenin' unless those at the power base agree to it and that ain't happenin' anytime soon. Now with that said, I am not against unity, but if you look at it from the "power base" standpoint it looks unlikely. Also, the unity question is raised, I believe, more by converts than cradles. I think that most cradle Orthodox do not give unity much thought. Furthermore, I do not think that our problems with unity are all that horrendous. Look at the Protestant (especially evangelical) jurisdictions that many converts hail from. Possibly, this is a reaction or desire of theirs given all the disunity they experienced prior to becoming Orthodox. 

To sum up.

Unity -  I am for it 100%
Practically Speaking - I do not see it occurring in my life time
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« Reply #28 on: February 05, 2007, 02:33:21 PM »

To sum up.

Unity -  I am for it 100%

As long as it doesn't involve those evil, disgusting converts, you mean.
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« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2007, 02:56:42 PM »

As long as it doesn't involve those evil, disgusting converts, you mean.

Hear, Hear! Grin
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« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2007, 03:12:48 PM »

Well, lo and behold, he says the first step is for the AOA and OCA to merge.  I wonder when that is going to happen, or what these jurisdictions are waiting for.  Interestingly, he seems to favor the option that both essentially dissolve and create a new church.  That seems most practical to me if you think that tack makes the most sense.

It also seems strange to me that he doesn't consider the scenario cleveland mentions.


Just for some background on the author, Deacon John Zarras is a former member of the Greek Archdiocese. He now is a member of the OCA and he is on the board of directors of St. Vladimirs.
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« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2007, 03:19:06 PM »

As long as it doesn't involve those evil, disgusting converts, you mean.

Correct, they have convert cooties.


Just for some background on the author, Deacon John Zarras is a former member of the Greek Archdiocese. He now is a member of the OCA and he is on the board of directors of St. Vladimirs.

I'll try to read it more in depth, but overall it seemed seem bad to me at first glance.  He came up with some of the stuff that I figured would have to happen.  The parallels with the Lutherans to me is not a good thing, though that's not really the fault of the author.
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« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2007, 03:23:59 PM »

You all do understand that if the Antiochian Archdiocese were to disolve and join with the Metropolia that they would be excommunicated by Antioch, and that Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem would soon follow? And with the reunion between ROCOR and Moscow, Moscow is now a wild card in this whole affair, they may judge that they can reassert their influence in the America through, or at least in cooperation with, ROCROR. Of course, several other Churches from Cyprus to Serbia to Greece would then follow the lead of the Ancient Patriarchates. And after all that, they still would only be the second largest Jurisdiction in North America, though they would enjoy the distinction of the largest non-canonical jurisdiction.

I thought this thread was about 'practical considerations.'
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« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2007, 03:44:54 PM »

Antioch can excommunicate the dissolved Antiochian diocese all they want. If the diocese has dissolved, theres nothing to excommunicate. As far as excommunicating the new diocese, they can try but if there is an American Patriarch, the excommunication means nothing.

As far as constantinople, they don't recognize autocephalacy of AOA or OCA, so why would they care what happens? Again, the American Patriarch negates the problem of being excommunicated.

Frankly, I am insulted that the Greek church should even be considered to be a starting point to unity. Unless of course we all should come to church for communion and leave right after receiving. Or maybe for Resurrection Matins, we should stay until the priest says, "Christos Anesthi!" (forgive my poor greek spelling) and then go out and celebrate instead of sticking around for the entire service. And we should definately serve the liturgy in Greek so that the "Traditional Language" of the church is used eventhough no one understands it.

So for all these reasons, I whole heartedly agree with GiC as usual.

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« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2007, 04:15:42 PM »

GiC again thank you for a reality check

Vanamin - Some of my best friends are converts  Shocked
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« Reply #35 on: February 05, 2007, 04:57:13 PM »

You all do understand that if the Antiochian Archdiocese were to disolve and join with the Metropolia that they would be excommunicated by Antioch, and that Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem would soon follow? And with the reunion between ROCOR and Moscow, Moscow is now a wild card in this whole affair, they may judge that they can reassert their influence in the America through, or at least in cooperation with, ROCROR. Of course, several other Churches from Cyprus to Serbia to Greece would then follow the lead of the Ancient Patriarchates. And after all that, they still would only be the second largest Jurisdiction in North America, though they would enjoy the distinction of the largest non-canonical jurisdiction.

I thought this thread was about 'practical considerations.'

I think it is highly unlikely Antioch would excommunicate its greatest source of income and political support especially in these insecure times for the government of Syria. How do you think the Antiochian patriarchate has survived through the centuries of hostile occupation? They have learned to adapt and change with each century. Do you realize of the three patriarchates, Constantinople, Jerusalem and Antioch, that Antioch has the largest Orthodox population? I think the last figure I read listed the Orthodox population in Syria at approx. 1,000,000. Part of the reason they still have a significant population is due to money coming from America to build Balamand seminary which has provided them clergyman to take care of the pastoral needs of the people. And unlike other patriarchs, the last few patriarchs of Antioch have publically acknowledged that the Antiochian Archdiocese in America will eventually be a part of  a unified Orthodox Church in America. Why would they turn their back on potential powerhouse of church? As someone who has Arab blood running through her veins I think I understand how they would not pass up this opportunity...they are smart enough to see the benefits of having good relations with a united Orthodox church.
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« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2007, 05:20:15 PM »

Antioch can excommunicate the dissolved Antiochian diocese all they want. If the diocese has dissolved, theres nothing to excommunicate. As far as excommunicating the new diocese, they can try but if there is an American Patriarch, the excommunication means nothing.

Well, in actuality you excommunicate people, not dioceses. So if the Bishops of the AOA formed their own new Church, those bishops and those who follow them would be excommunicated. Regardless of what corporate entity they are a part of.

Quote
As far as constantinople, they don't recognize autocephalacy of AOA or OCA, so why would they care what happens? Again, the American Patriarch negates the problem of being excommunicated.

Well, heck, they could all go join the Lutheran Church as well, yeah they'd be excommunicated but 'it wouldn't mean anything' since they can still do what the want, right? Oh, and I dont know how much canon law you've read, but declaring a schismatic patriarch hardly protects you from excommunication, rather it subjects you to the sentence of anathema.

Quote
Frankly, I am insulted that the Greek church should even be considered to be a starting point to unity. Unless of course we all should come to church for communion and leave right after receiving. Or maybe for Resurrection Matins, we should stay until the priest says, "Christos Anesthi!" (forgive my poor greek spelling) and then go out and celebrate instead of sticking around for the entire service. And we should definately serve the liturgy in Greek so that the "Traditional Language" of the church is used eventhough no one understands it.

And I am insulted that unity would even be considered independent of the Oecumenical Patriarch...so I guess we're just stuck there being mutually inuslted. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2007, 05:28:56 PM »

Frankly, I am insulted that the Greek church should even be considered to be a starting point to unity. Unless of course we all should come to church for communion and leave right after receiving. Or maybe for Resurrection Matins, we should stay until the priest says, "Christos Anesthi!" (forgive my poor greek spelling) and then go out and celebrate instead of sticking around for the entire service. And we should definately serve the liturgy in Greek so that the "Traditional Language" of the church is used eventhough no one understands it.

Oh, yeah, those big bad Greeks who aren't progressive, have no soul, etc. (if I've heard it once I've heard it a thousand times) - We're the ones with the most extensive set of web resources, most of our Churches use English as the primary Liturgical language, have fully developed YOuth and YOung Adult Ministries, were the major backers in the foundation of OCMC and IOCC (thank you +IAKOVOS), etc.  Oh yeah, and we still manage to attract converts to our churches, good relationships in some tough neighborhoods, etc. *sigh*

But I'm glad you're insulted that we would even be considered a viable starting place for unity.
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« Reply #38 on: February 05, 2007, 05:37:28 PM »

I think it is highly unlikely Antioch would excommunicate its greatest source of income and political support especially in these insecure times for the government of Syria. How do you think the Antiochian patriarchate has survived through the centuries of hostile occupation? They have learned to adapt and change with each century. Do you realize of the three patriarchates, Constantinople, Jerusalem and Antioch, that Antioch has the largest Orthodox population? I think the last figure I read listed the Orthodox population in Syria at approx. 1,000,000. Part of the reason they still have a significant population is due to money coming from America to build Balamand seminary which has provided them clergyman to take care of the pastoral needs of the people.

Ah yes, Antioch has survived 1000 years of moslem occupation because of aid from the United States Roll Eyes

Quote
And unlike other patriarchs, the last few patriarchs of Antioch have publically acknowledged that the Antiochian Archdiocese in America will eventually be a part of  a unified Orthodox Church in America. Why would they turn their back on potential powerhouse of church?

Because it would greatly decrease their influence in the united states, as the independence of the Metropolia did to Moscow. Furthermore, it will decrease the monetary benifit they recieve as the new American church will begin to take a greater and greater amount of the charity. Basically, within a few decades Antioch would loose all influence in and money from the United States if they let such a schism go unopposed. If, however, it was opposed, the bishops attempting schism deposed, and new loyal bishops installed, they would maintain the majority of the wealth arab families, which is the base of their influence and wealth, though they may loose a few convert types who do very little to advance the well being of the Patriarchate of Antioch.

Furthermore, there would be substantial political pressure from Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem for Antioch to take action and if Antioch were to give her blessing to such a stunt by the Americans, she would severly damage her relations with her sister churches.

And one last dynamic many here have failed to take into account, even if Antioch does give her blessing, Jerusalem has been wanting to get invovled in the American scene for quite sometime. Yet, at the request of Constantinople she has been restraining herself to a substantial degree. If this schism stunt were pulled, all restrictions would be off, many of the largest and wealthest parishes in the AOA would very likely go under Jerusalem, with Jerusalem essentially establishing a Jurisdiction for ethnic Arabs in the United States, further weakening this potential new church you wish to create.
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« Reply #39 on: February 05, 2007, 07:00:09 PM »

Vanamin - Some of my best friends are converts  Shocked

They must not see the stuff you have to say about converts here, then.  Just look at the thread where you recently accused converts of buying their way into the church.  The contempt for converts that seems apparent in so many of your posts is a slap in the face to those of us who came to Orthodoxy in search of truth.

You could have also at least had enough respect for this convert to spell my name correctly. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #40 on: February 05, 2007, 07:01:27 PM »

They must not see the stuff you have to say about converts here, then.  Just look at the thread where you recently accused converts of buying their way into the church.  The contempt for converts that seems apparent in so many of your posts is a slap in the face to those of us who came to Orthodoxy in search of truth.

You could have also at least had enough respect for this convert to spell my name correctly. Roll Eyes

And I've had people tell me the same thing on here. Grin
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« Reply #41 on: February 05, 2007, 07:07:34 PM »

Antioch can excommunicate the dissolved Antiochian diocese all they want. If the diocese has dissolved, theres nothing to excommunicate. As far as excommunicating the new diocese, they can try but if there is an American Patriarch, the excommunication means nothing.

As far as constantinople, they don't recognize autocephalacy of AOA or OCA, so why would they care what happens? Again, the American Patriarch negates the problem of being excommunicated.

As I've pointed out elsewhere in the past, American unity, American autocephaly, and an American patriarchate are three separate things.  The accomplishment of unity does not necessarily require autocephaly and it certainly doesn't require a patriarchate.  There may be good and serious arguments in favor of all three of those, but advocating one doesn't translate into advocating the others.  Conflating the cases for a patriarchate and unity damages the case for unity.  Let's not put the cart before the horse.

Quote
Frankly, I am insulted that the Greek church should even be considered to be a starting point to unity. Unless of course we all should come to church for communion and leave right after receiving. Or maybe for Resurrection Matins, we should stay until the priest says, "Christos Anesthi!" (forgive my poor greek spelling) and then go out and celebrate instead of sticking around for the entire service. And we should definately serve the liturgy in Greek so that the "Traditional Language" of the church is used eventhough no one understands it.

And in my OCA parish, we could talk about Russians and Ukrainians (and American mutt converts Wink) who show up for communion and leave immediately thereafter.  Or leave after the first "Christos Voskrese!" at Pascha.  Or...  Well, you get the idea.  The problems you described aren't a uniquely Greek thing; they happen across the board.
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« Reply #42 on: February 05, 2007, 07:09:23 PM »

And I've had people tell me the same thing on here. Grin

Yeah, but we take you with a bucket of salt regardless.  Being a convert yourself IIRC, you would do it for the sole (or at least primary) purpose of outraging people. Tongue
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« Reply #43 on: February 05, 2007, 08:14:11 PM »

GIC,

I said that the  church of Antioch has survived because it has been able to adapt. But the money they have received over the last 50 or so years from America has allowed them to spiritual prosper and maintain the highest Eastern Orthodox population in the middle east. My father confessor is a native of Damascus and when he went for a visit five years ago he told me that churches were flourishing, monasteries were filling and youth groups were very active.

You probably do not know this but a few years ago at our  Antiochian conventions 99% of the delegates voted in favor of the self-rule status. They know self-rule is a step on the way to becoming a united Orthodox church. Many of the wealthy Arab-Americans are right with Met. Philip. No one is ready to leave a very well-run archdiocese and leave beautiful church properties behind to join a very weak and disorganized Jerusalem Patriarchal church. The Jerusalem Patriachate itself is poorly run. It's church here doesn't have a chance to succeed in America.



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« Reply #44 on: February 05, 2007, 08:30:28 PM »

Gic, are you sure you aren't a present day pharisee? Your seemingly endless stickling for legal interpretations sounds sadly all too familiar.



Cleveland,

Yes, the Greeks do alot of good things, but they also aren't very welcoming to outsiders. Its hard to start unity in the Greek Church when If you're not Greek you're not welcome is the norm. And as far as being entirely derogatory to the Greeks, I guess the "minority" of Greeks showing a poor example has tainted my overall vision.

On a general note, I apologize if I have offended any members of the Greek Church. I'll just shut up and let GiC run the thread


-Nick
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