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Author Topic: A United American Orthodoxy: Practical Considerations  (Read 10018 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


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« Reply #45 on: February 05, 2007, 09:05:11 PM »

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.

Of course, if they leave the Patriarchate of Antioch, Antioch will still have rights to the property...if the Archdioceses schisms to join the Metropolia, they leave their property behind. As far as the efficiency of the Jerusalem Patriarchate; Jerusalem's activity have been curtailed by Constantinople, a luxury the Antiochians will not enjoy should they chose to schism.
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« Reply #46 on: February 05, 2007, 09:06:56 PM »

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

The canons against schism have well established purposes...Americans won't will not have been the first to try this schism thing.
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« Reply #47 on: February 05, 2007, 09:18:48 PM »

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.
I have to disagree with the above statement.  I have never felt unwelcome in any Greek parish I have been to.  (At least no more unwelcome then in any other Orthodox churches.)  Just for the record, if you saw me, there would be no doubt that my ethnic origin is northern Slavic.  I stand out like a sore thumb in a Greek church!  It probably helps that I say "Kali Mera!" to the Yia Yias (why not, it is a Greek parish and it's not going to kill me to try to fit in!), light a few candles, and put money in the collection plate.  I've never not been invited to coffee hour afterwards!
On the other hand, I have seen visitors to my parish who come in, make big pretentious signs of the cross, bow and scrape all over the place, and kiss every icon they see.  Even I'm a little leery approaching them after liturgy.   Undecided
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« Reply #48 on: February 05, 2007, 09:26:46 PM »

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.
Veniamin,
Not to defend Aserb (although I didn't think his post was derogatory towards converts), Truth comes with a price.  As we sing in the Tropar to St John the Baptist, "having endured great suffering for the truth..."
And we all know how the story ends, truth cost him his head.  Thank God we Orthodox found it - three times! Cheesy
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« Reply #49 on: February 05, 2007, 09:26:47 PM »

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.

I had a really productive discussion the other day in my Parish Ministry class about "Greek" parishes, and we basically agreed (or they basically agreed with my point) that the crux of the issue is charity unrelated to language or culture.  There are Greek parishes that are very friendly and inviting (what I would call True Greeks) and there are Greek parishes that are not (total fakers).  Unfortunately, because it seems like there are more inhospitable than hospitable it seems like the latter wins out over the former.  This is unfortunate, considering the historical emphasis of the Greek people on hospitality (maybe it's why we're so good at restaurants).  Now, maybe the idea of preserving ethnic identity in this country helps to make groups less hospitable than normal - yet, if this is true then it is most certainly not a Greek problem per se, but instead should also be present to some degree with Ukranians, Russians, Arabs/Palestinians, Copts, etc. (Which it seems to be).

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

Don't do that!  He may be right on the finer points of canon law, but you just can't let him win the war without a fight!!!!!!!
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« Reply #50 on: February 05, 2007, 09:28:57 PM »

Of course, if they leave the Patriarchate of Antioch, Antioch will still have rights to the property...if the Archdioceses schisms to join the Metropolia, they leave their property behind.

Not necessarily.  That one basically boils down to whomever has their name on the deed gets it.  If the corporate entity that owns the property leaves, the courts will refuse to entertain disputes regarding who is the "legitimate" St. So-and-So Church (or diocese, or whatever) that occupies it.  You might be able to pull that one elsewhere, but American courts refuse to deal with questions of ecclesiastical hierarchy and such.  

For an example, look at the property battles going on in the Episcopal Church.  The parishes that leave and owned the property in their own name keep it, while those that leave, but had property owned by the diocese (or held in trust for the diocese) lose it.  The courts don't care about schism and heresy and such, they're just going to look at who has the title.
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« Reply #51 on: February 05, 2007, 09:35:21 PM »

Not necessarily.  That one basically boils down to whomever has their name on the deed gets it.  If the corporate entity that owns the property leaves, the courts will refuse to entertain disputes regarding who is the "legitimate" St. So-and-So Church (or diocese, or whatever) that occupies it.  You might be able to pull that one elsewhere, but American courts refuse to deal with questions of ecclesiastical hierarchy and such.  

I keep hearing this argument time and time again, by various groups, yet every time they go to court the court rules based on first amendment issues and these groups tend to loose. Repeatedly in the case of the catholic and orthodox churches the courts have refused to give local churches legal ownership of property in event of a dispute with their superiors, regardless of who holds the deed. Ultimately corporate law is rarely applied in these cases and they are decided on first amendment grounds. The antiochians are free to try their schism, but I personally like the Church's odds.
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« Reply #52 on: February 05, 2007, 10:13:32 PM »

GIC,

We do not have a charter like the GOA that states all property of the Antiochian Archdiocese belongs to the Patriarchate.
The Archdiocese owns all the properties not the patriarchate. I think the Greek Archdiocese charter is set-up differently.

The Jerusalem Patriarchate does not have good leadership here or abroad. Without good leadership a new Archdiocese cannot be established. I have seen first hand how the patriarchate works....their parishes here will never make it. Most of the missions started here have never gotten off the ground because the people are poorly catechized due to the ineptitude of the leadership in Jerusalem. Their people do not understand that a church must be financially supported. Most of the missions were never able to buy land because the people are not willing to give money to purchase property. They will never be a threat even if the EP gives them the green light.
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« Reply #53 on: February 05, 2007, 10:24:09 PM »

GIC,

We do not have a charter like the GOA that states all property of the Antiochian Archdiocese belongs to the Patriarchate.
The Archdiocese owns all the properties not the patriarchate. I think the Greek Archdiocese charter is set-up differently.

Doesn't matter, the leadership of the Archdiocese is subject to the authority of the Synod of Antioch. The legitimate Bishops of the Antiochian Archdioceses Church are those who are deemed legitimate by Antioch. So if Anitoch excommunicates schismatic bishops and installs new Bishops, it's those new Bishops who are the proper authorities in the Archdioceses and they have control over the property. Regardless of the 'charter' the bottom line is that the Church is hierarchical in nature, and our courts will not interfere in the hierarchical operations of the Church, that is to say our courts will not undermine the ecclesiastical authority of the Synod of Antioch. You all can give it a try, but the history of court rulings involving hierarchical churches suggest that the Church, not the schismatics, will win.

Quote
The Jerusalem Patriarchate does not have good leadership here or abroad. Without good leadership a new Archdiocese cannot be established. I have seen first hand how the patriarchate works....their parishes here will never make it. Most of the missions started here have never gotten off the ground because the people are poorly catechized due to the ineptitude of the leadership in Jerusalem. Their people do not understand that a church must be financially supported. Most of the missions were never able to buy land because the people are not willing to give money to purchase property. They will never be a threat even if the EP gives them the green light.

If people's only choices were between the Jerusalem Patriarchate and some non-canonical american church, I am sure that a significant number of parishes will join with either Jerusalem or Constantinople. Jerusalem would gain these parishes for political reasons, not for reasons of leadership.
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« Reply #54 on: February 05, 2007, 10:27:55 PM »

Cleveland,

I have Greeks in my family so I am a little biased and I have always had Greek friends. But then again, Arabs share alot in common with Greeks so maybe it was easier for me to fit in with them culturally. I have actually found Russians to be a little stand-offish but I chalk that up to cultural differences in behavior.

I also have to admit that Greek priests usually run the best Bible studies I have ever attended. I am praying for unity with the Greeks because their many qualities as a people and as a church will be indispensible. I think each ethnic church has something to offer to bring about the fullness we will need as a  United Orthodox church.
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« Reply #55 on: February 05, 2007, 10:45:58 PM »

GIC,

Let me be more blunt. If they declared the bishops schismatics and installed their own puppets they would destroy the Archdiocese because the people would leave and then Antioch would have no future. Believe me when I say the Arab hierarchy in Syria are not fools. They have helped to nurture our archdiocese and they have a real love for the American people. They are excited by the conversions of Americans to Orthodoxy (info from my father confessor who had lunch with the patriarch). It is a completely different mind-set than what you are used to dealing with the Greek hierarchy abroad. Patriarch IGNATIUS is a very simple and loving man who has stated he knows the archdiocese will eventually become a part of a unified church. A unified Orthodox church would continue to support Antioch because of the love and unity we share with them. The only thing that would stop us from helping them would be if the Syrian government was toppled. Then we would open our hearts to our brothers and sisters in Syria and welcome them into our parishes.

I very much doubt many would join a backward Jerusalem Patriarchal church. Most Syrian and Lebanese Americans joined their brothers, the Palestinian Americans in an effort called the Jerusalem Task Force to help the suffering Palestinians who were losing their church properties to the Jews because of the incompetant and greedy Jerusalem synod. The Antiochians were the ones that started the task force. No, Arabs of every stripe and those who are not Arabs would see the future belongs to a strong Church made up of OCA and AOCA parishes.
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« Reply #56 on: February 05, 2007, 11:02:58 PM »

I very much doubt many would join a backward Jerusalem Patriarchal church. Most Syrian and Lebanese Americans joined their brothers, the Palestinian Americans in an effort called the Jerusalem Task Force to help the suffering Palestinians who were losing their church properties to the Jews because of the incompetant and greedy Jerusalem synod. The Antiochians were the ones that started the task force. No, Arabs of every stripe and those who are not Arabs would see the future belongs to a strong Church made up of OCA and AOCA parishes.

Oh I am more than aware of the political manoeuvring by certain arab factions that forced the unjust deposition of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who had violated no canon in his dealings. I would hardly be proud of associations with such low and unethical people.

Of course, a few malcontent arabs of dubious morals and ethics meddling in the politics of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is one thing, expecting the Synod of Antioch to stand in direct defiance to the Oecumenical Throne is entirely another. I see the chances of Antioch supporting such a schism to be slim to nil. Furthermore, you speak of Syrian/Lebanese/Palestinian brotherhood, yet by your actions you seek to undermine any connections to the old world, I doubt your efforts will be as well received as you seem to believe they will people will break off from you if you schism.

Finally, I think you underestimate greed, as soon as Antioch and their new legitimate bishops gained rights to the property, the faithful would return in droves...very few are willing to abandon their parish properties for some idealistic dream.
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« Reply #57 on: February 05, 2007, 11:31:10 PM »

GIC,

You and I perceive things from very different views. The majority of the Palestinians who have come to America are in the Antiochian Archdiocese for very good reason. They do not speak with love or affection for the hierarchs they left behind. Oh the personal stories I have heard directly from the Palestinian immigrants but they are too sickening to enumerate here.
The level of corruption that existed in Jerusalem is well-known through out the Orthodox world. Thank God the Antiochians were able to shake off the Greek hierarchy in the late nineteeth century otherwise Antioch would be dying right now too. But like I said before the numbers tell the story. Almost 1,000,000 Antiochians versus a dying patriarchate of Jerusalem.

I disagree with you about the greed in Antioch but then I have met many who are from that part of the world including hierarchs. There has never been a hint of corruption or greed coming from that see. Bishop JOSEPH came from that synod
and he is an example of the Antiochian spirit that I pray will continue to live on.
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« Reply #58 on: February 06, 2007, 02:53:55 AM »

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.

No one was talking about Antioch doing this without the approval of the mothership before you asserted that this is how it would work.  Your imperious attitude and your deliberate attempts to sew the seeds of dissension are tiresome.  It's very rude of you to constantly refer to the OCA as "the Metropolia."  We all know that you don't recognize the autocephaly of the OCA.  This is well and good, you're not the only one to think this way around here.  However, if your Imperial Majesty would see fit to allow us poor Slavic and Arabic-speaking barbarians, along with East Romans, the chance to try to conceive of a possible model for Church unity in the Americas, we would be forever and grovelingly grateful.  Kiss 
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« Reply #59 on: February 06, 2007, 03:11:42 AM »

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.

Tragic, if true.

Quote
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. 

Sorry, not to be rude, but in this you are very much mistaken.  People want unity because they know that having more than one bishop with jurisdicition over one area is - and there is no other word for it - an abomination in the face of the Orthodox understanding of the nature of the Church. 
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« Reply #60 on: February 06, 2007, 08:33:56 AM »

Pravosalvbob:

Thank you for your insight.

Ven or whatever your name is. I am not anti-convert. I am very pro convert and am for cathechizing converts properly and not seeking them out for their cash but for their heart. I ma the first to greet new faces in my church and welcome them.  SO back off Jackson.
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« Reply #61 on: February 06, 2007, 08:52:03 AM »

Ven or whatever your name is. I am not anti-convert. I am very pro convert and am for cathechizing converts properly and not seeking them out for their cash but for their heart. I ma the first to greet new faces in my church and welcome them.  SO back off Jackson.

So you put a nice face on and then rush here to bash converts.  How charming.  If you're going to be anti-convert, fine, that's your choice, but at least try to pull a GiC and be man enough to admit it.
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« Reply #62 on: February 06, 2007, 09:43:45 AM »

So you put a nice face on and then rush here to bash converts.  How charming.  If you're going to be anti-convert, fine, that's your choice, but at least try to pull a GiC and be man enough to admit it.

Veniamin,
I can't find anything which aserb has said on this thread which could possibly have warranted or precipitated such an uncharitable accusation.
Frankly, I'm surprised, because I know that you're normally a very fair guy.
I'm gonna put this one down to the Purple Demons since they were released when we opened the Triodion last Sunday.
I hope you choose to fix this by Forgiveness Sunday.
In the meantime, could we avoid ad hominems?
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« Reply #63 on: February 06, 2007, 09:55:22 AM »

However, if your Imperial Majesty would see fit to allow us poor Slavic and Arabic-speaking barbarians, along with East Romans, the chance to try to conceive of a possible model for Church unity in the Americas, we would be forever and grovelingly grateful.  Kiss 

The problem is the OCA conceived of a model of unity and it failed (nobody held them back btw, far from it), and by pushing that model they’ve actually damaged the prospects of unity.  That is the situation as it stands now.

Quote
People want unity because they know that having more than one bishop with jurisdicition over one area is - and there is no other word for it - an abomination in the face of the Orthodox understanding of the church

Is having overlapping bishops in the OCA for the ethnic dioceses an “abomination”, or is that okay?  Because in truth, there’s not much difference.
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« Reply #64 on: February 06, 2007, 11:06:32 AM »

The truth is that models of episcopal oversight have changed over time - once upon a time we had bishops who were assisted by chorepiscopus - the bishop was in the nearest city, the chorepiscopus would serve the rural areas (in fact, a model that America would be a perfect environment for - of course, the East Romans didn't need the office anymore, the West Romans replaced them with mere Archdeacons when they didn't need them anymore, the Syriacs still have them...) There also is the precedent of bishops who were not in a city, but over ethnic groups - the Patriarch of Jerusalem's Bishop of the Camps (to the ethnic Arab Bedouins) is an example.

We also have a precedent, though short-lived, for a native American episcopate. The Metropolia once had a Western rite Bishop of Washington D.C. - the same is now the Antiochian's Western Rite Vicariate. I, for one, don't find OCA's vision of American Orthodoxy convincingly American - they lost their vision on that issue some 75 years ago, and need regain it before they can truly claim to be the Orthodox Church for America. (Noting, their inclusivity is based upon whether one accepts the reforms of their jurisdictional theologians upon Orthodox liturgy and praxis, and that though the vernacular is allowed, all who join must conform to the church culture inherited from the Russian/Ukrainian Greek Catholics or be placed in an ethnic diocese - the latter having no long term future.) The point being, not OCA bashing (it isn't) but realistic assessment showing that we don't have the leadership in America yet that could or would hold everyone together *in charity*.

As for the Antiochians, I agree with Tamara. One thing I noticed during the time leading up to Self-Rule is that the laity (especially the Middle Eastern laity) where very suspicious of anything that might separate them from Antioch. Self-Rule was accepted by the laity because after multiple explanations, it was seen as not being schismatic - any method that would include schism from Antioch, it won't sell.

Myself - I have no interest in being absorbed into the GOA or OCA. Either option might as well 'pack up shop' - it isn't going to 'Make America Orthodox' or gain the acceptance of the Orthodox patriarchates. It will just lead to a final showdown between Moscow and Constantinople - which really does not need to happen. The answer is another way - one that isn't really being suggested, but it will take God to accomplish it.
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« Reply #65 on: February 06, 2007, 11:32:47 AM »

People want unity because they know that having more than one bishop with jurisdicition over one area is - and there is no other word for it - an abomination in the face of the Orthodox understanding of the nature of the Church. 

So, jurisdiction is so central to the nature of the Church that some alleged infraction of the proper jurisdictional model (which has changed many times in the history of the Church) is not only ill-advised, but an actual abomination?!?

(I hope I don't need to answer that question!)

I think Fr. John Behr addressed the fallacy -- both historical, theological and spiritual -- of this strange line of thinking in his excellent article in Again magazine (Summer 2006, Vol. 28, No. 2).

Quote
In light of this, it is worth asking whether the canonical principles articulated so clearly during the twentieth century (especially the identity of a local church as the whole given geographical area gathered around a single bishop) are in fact eternal principles always expressive of the being of the Church. Could they rather be reflective of the being of the Church as she existed in a country that identified itself as Orthodox? Or is there perhaps even a way of envisioning Orthodox Church life based on other models altogether?

It is striking, for instance, that Byzantine cities were not divided up into territorial parishes, each with its own church to which all were expected to go (as they were, for example, in England). It is estimated that up to half the churches in Constantinople were private churches, on private estates, monasteries, and so on.

Nevertheless, it might be pointed out, there was only one bishop of Constantinople. However, even this idea of “one city—one bishop” is not the only way the Church has existed over the centuries. Despite the rosy and romantic picture given by early Christian historians such as Eusebius, of the apostles appointing single bishops in each geographical area (thereby enshrining a vision of Church
history articulated in terms of the succession of bishops), historical reality is more complicated.

Already the Apostle Paul, writing to the Roman Christians, indicates the existence of over half-a-dozen different Christian groups or house-churches, each with its own leader (see Romans 16), and this before any apostle had visited Rome. Several decades later, St. Ignatius of Antioch also knew of no single “bishop” of Rome, although he was the earliest and most forceful advocate of monoepiscopacy (the claim that the Christian community in each place must gather around a single bishop). Likewise St. Justin in the mid-second century. And when St. Irenaeus described the succession of the presbyters or bishops (he uses the term interchangeably) of the Christian community in Rome, it was the succession of but one of the communities, albeit the one that gradually assumed leadership over the others.

All this is to say, there was no single bishop of Rome until the end of the second century, or perhaps even as late as the third decade of the third century. Instead, there were a number of churches, each led by its own bishop/ presbyter. Some of these churches seem to have gathered along ethnic lines (especially the Christians from Asia Minor who resided in Rome), others along perceived intellectual or spiritual affinity. In other words, it looked a lot like the way New York, or any other large metropolitan area, looks today!

Of course, Fr. John put the case mildly (based, it seems, on Peter Lampe's extensive analysis of early Roman Christianity). Regardless, the point is that the administration of the Church is a disciplinary matter, not a dogmatic one, and the exact form of the Church's governance has changed many times -- always as a reflection of the reality in which the Church found herself. When there were small, fractionated communities, there were small, "overlapping jurisdictions." When there was an Empire, there was an Imperial Church. When there were a bunch of nationalists doing the Nation State thing, there were national Churches. (Just to name a few.)

In North America, we currently have small, more-or-less ethnic communities that are only beginning to work together in substantial ways (especially in Canada, New York and New England). Administrative structures simply reflect pastoral realities. If we put more effort into actualizing the unity we already have, unified governance will follow naturally.
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« Reply #66 on: February 06, 2007, 12:14:50 PM »

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Myself - I have no interest in being absorbed into the GOA or OCA. Either option might as well 'pack up shop' - it isn't going to 'Make America Orthodox' or gain the acceptance of the Orthodox patriarchates. It will just lead to a final showdown between Moscow and Constantinople - which really does not need to happen.

It doesn’t, but may anyway.  Your point does bring up what I think is the other, and probably equally important issue here and that is that all of this is part of wider range of issues.  Churches under the Omophorion or tied closely to the MP, are going to have a lot of problems merging with those under the EP.  Metropolitan Herman for instance recently came out on the Sourozh issue, which both highlights the difficulty in America and the wider context of the issue.  Another example is the Ukrainians look at the OCA as a “Russian” church, and are looking to the EP for help in Ukraine (which I think is actually a much more pressing issue than North America).

What’s also important to keep in mind, which I think your post brings up, is that we are only talking about consolidation.  The MP and ROCOR, who do not participate in SCOBA, I can say with a very high level of certainty would not join a consolidated American Orthodox Church for a number of reasons.

Quote
The answer is another way - one that isn't really being suggested, but it will take God to accomplish

What is the other way of which you speak?

One more thought, I did mention that I do think the one kickstart the consolidation process could get is though the merging of the AOA and OCA.  To me it’s logical, yet it still hasn’t happened after all this time.  I will say, and maybe this would lead me to pull it out of the practical possibility realm, is what I have heard before is not encouraging.  In the one Antiochian parish I was around, the people were very dismissive of the OCA.  I got the feeling they weren’t the only ones.
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« Reply #67 on: February 06, 2007, 12:27:48 PM »

After reading all the post I think I should say a few things.

1. Unity in America will not happen until the GOA, OCA and AOCA are all on board. There are those in the OCA who think that the OCA can merge with just the AOCA but I can tell you that the AOCA will not enter into a merger without the GOA.

2. The reason we do not have unity today is because we are not ready for it. Will we be ready for it next year or 10 years or 100 years? Only God knows this but in the meantime we can pray for it. We can also work to get to know our brother so that we can be of one mind. This thread is a perfect example of we don't have unity, it is because we are not united in mind or ethos. We do have unity in the chalice and that is of course the strongest unity and we can only have administrative unity if we don't loose the unity of the chalice.

3. Our Mother Churches treat us like children because we act like children. We are good little children who always do what our parents ask us and we do so out of love for them. Out of love parents need to let their children grow up and we need to sit down and talk with them on an adult level. If a group of respected priest and hierarchs were to travel from the USA and visit Constantinople, Moscow and Damascus and speak about the real issues at hand this would be a great step forward.

4. We need to cultivate our friendships with the Churches of Alexandria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Greece. Each of these churches has lessons that we can learn and in the end we will need to help to bring about unity here in America.
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« Reply #68 on: February 06, 2007, 12:47:26 PM »

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Churches under the Omophorion or tied closely to the MP, are going to have a lot of problems merging with those under the EP.  

I'd have to agree - the closest thing to a 'welcoming' mission we have in our region is Ukrainian. The issues in their country I think are far more of a scandal than jurisdictional disunity in the West. I agree with the Ukrainians though - despite their claims, I can but see OCA as a 'Russian church'. The claims to being American I just can't buy - they have Slavic customs, Slavic liturgy, a Slavic calendar, etc. English use or accepting converts - no dice, *everyone* does that (and, there are parts of the OCA that don't.) I hadn't heard that Met. Herman had issued anything on the Sourozh affair - anyone have a link?  

Quote
 The MP and ROCOR, who do not participate in SCOBA, I can say with a very high level of certainty would not join a consolidated American Orthodox Church for a number of reasons.

Yes. The same goes for the Jerusalem exarchate.

Quote
What is the other way of which you speak?

The way of charity. The implementation of which has not been given to me - but it is obvious that the reason the problem exists is because of total lack of charity. All attempts thus far towards a unified American Church have either with blustery pride ie "We are the only church, join us or die!" or the wolfish "Come here... so I can eat you!" Any option is not an option that does not both protect the interests of the ethnically Eastern (preservation of their customs which are tied to their faith locally, outreach to new immigrants, recognition of local minority ethnic areas in America), nor those of the majority culture (use of English or other vernaculars, separating assimilation to American culture from also leaving Orthodoxy, not opposing missionary outreach by the Western rite which includes, not accepting a model of 'Americanism' which is hostile to Western civilizaion, married to a particular political sect, or regional in nature.)

Quote
  In the one Antiochian parish I was around, the people were very dismissive of the OCA.  I got the feeling they weren’t the only ones.

Which is my point about charity - the way of charity accommodates the weak rather than abuses or excludes them. The only issue for unity for us Orthodox *should* be dogmatic theology and moral praxis - ie, Orthodoxy. There is no leadership because leadership does not seek to be the head. Instead, we have mere seeking for gain - desire to have everyone else under their own jurisdictional structure, doing liturgy 'just our way', accepting only this local version of theologumena, their ethnicity on top, and closing off the future for everyone else.

So, again - Charity above all else. And that's what I pray for, that God raise up bishops who preside in charity that by the Holy Spirit can work it out without needlessly harming souls.
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« Reply #69 on: February 06, 2007, 12:48:36 PM »

aserb: George is right, that was waaaay out of line and uncalled for.  I let my temper get the better of me.  I apologize for my comments and hope you'll forgive me.  Being a convert myself, I tend to be really sensitive about that topic, even when there's no reason to be.  I'll try to not let myself type faster than I can think in the future.
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« Reply #70 on: February 06, 2007, 01:10:25 PM »

Arimathea wrote:
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1. Unity in America will not happen until the GOA, OCA and AOCA are all on board.

It will take more than that - unity in America will not happen until the JP, MP, ROCA, SOC, UOCUSA, BOC,
ROAAC, and *everyone* is onboard. I don't think an OCA/AOCA merger will happen either - the OCA still makes missions from those who have left the AOCA out of spite (the last two missions in Oklahoma), and their offer to AOCA is an 'ethnic Arab diocese' with no guarantees of a future for the AWRV or the DME parishes/missions. It has to be everyone included, or it isn't unity. (Which shows how much the AOCA is misunderstood - it is less of an ethnic jurisdiction than the OCA.)

I don't think the united ethos matters either - charity could include various 'ethos' (Antiochian or Alexandrian, Slavic or Greek, Western or Eastern etc.) The reason we aren't united is because we don't have charity. The one mind, that is for sure - we lack the one mind because most everyone seems to have in his own mind what he wills for the others. As long as the mind has the desire to rule or suppress the other, we'll have a disunity of mind.
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« Reply #71 on: February 06, 2007, 01:40:31 PM »

It will take more than that - unity in America will not happen until the JP, MP, ROCA, SOC, UOCUSA, BOC,
ROAAC, and *everyone* is onboard. 
I agree with this fully but to be honest I am not sure if some of the groups you mentioned will ever want to be united with an Orthodox Church of North America. Ultimately if you see a unification of the big 3 (GOA, AOCA and OCA) you will see the other members of SCOBA join the party.

Those who are not in SCOBA are another story and there is much flux and we don't have a clear picture of what that is going to look like yet with the merger between ROCOR and MP. Whatever happens unity will not happen overnight, it will take time and there will need to some small steps alongside the giant leaps. Some of these groups will come into the fold and some will not but time will heal.
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« Reply #72 on: February 06, 2007, 01:51:14 PM »

Our Mother Churches treat us like children because we act like children.

Unfortunately our mother churches have not been models of good behavior, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I hadn't heard that Met. Herman had issued anything on the Sourozh affair - anyone have a link?

http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=2441

Quote
Any option is not an option that does not both protect the interests of the ethnically Eastern (preservation of their customs which are tied to their faith locally, outreach to new immigrants, recognition of local minority ethnic areas in America), nor those of the majority culture (use of English or other vernaculars, separating assimilation to American culture from also leaving Orthodoxy, not opposing missionary outreach by the Western rite which includes, not accepting a model of 'Americanism' which is hostile to Western civilizaion, married to a particular political sect, or regional in nature.)

I agree with that.

Quote
Which is my point about charity - the way of charity accommodates the weak rather than abuses or excludes them.

This was before the financial stuff came out though, back when Bishop Nikolai was saying unity would happen by joining the OCA.


Quote
I don't think an OCA/AOCA merger will happen either - the OCA still makes missions from those who have left the AOCA out of spite

It’s a two way street.  The AOA mission nearest me started 10 miles from one OCA parish and 15 from another.  They also pulled in a number of people directly from one of the parishes.
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« Reply #73 on: February 06, 2007, 02:36:18 PM »

Arimathea wrote:
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Ultimately if you see a unification of the big 3 (GOA, AOCA and OCA) you will see the other members of SCOBA join the party.

Since the question was about the practical - I don't think a big three merger is practical. It would likely produce some parishes, clergy and laity leaving the big three. I don't think it follows that other members of SCOBA would join either - it would likely mean an end to SCOBA. It would likely also be the 'straw that broke the camels back' with the Moscow-Constantinople standoff. The point being, even if such a merger occurred, it would just be the same old story with one jurisdiction claiming to be the only canonical Church for America while sharing the same space with other canonical jurisdictions including some having remaining canonical claims to the territory of the Americas. Until all parties are ready, then we can't call a merger of any jurisdictions 'Orthodox Unity in America' - anymore than we can call the OCA Autocephaly, reunion of MP-ROCOR, the UOCA-UOCUSA or the two Antiochian jurisdictions.

 (I say that being aware that the Americas were first under the jurisdiction, pre-schism, of the Latin rite Archbishop St. Libentius I (Liawizo/Libizo) O.S.B. of Hamburg-Bremen +1013, January 4 and the crown of Olaf Tryggvason of Norway +1000, Sep 9, the Patriarch of Rome being Pope Sylvester II, +1003, May 12. Leif Ericcson's mission west to found the first Western settlements being undertaken with the express disire of King Olaf to expand the Church into the West lands amongst the Skraelings. The first recorded to find America according to the records being the Hebridean Christian Bjarni Herjulfson. I think there is just as much a valid claim there for the Americas not being 'virgin territory' for either Russian or Greek claims and so the same sensitivity as towards Western Christians in Europe need apply - ie, the Americas are 'Latin' territory as the pre-Russian mission Papal decrees for Spain and Portugal illustrate.)

Welkodox wrote:
Quote
This was before the financial stuff came out though, back when Bishop Nikolai was saying unity would happen by joining the OCA

Has this particular scandal changed the opinions of hierarchs, clergy and laity? I had not noticed locally. If so, then glory to God - even in sorrow some good may come.

Quote
It’s a two way street.  The AOA mission nearest me started 10 miles from one OCA parish and 15 from another.  They also pulled in a number of people directly from one of the parishes.

I agree - though I don't know if the situation you describe is like that which I experienced (which I note, was quite public - accusations being made against the existing GOA, AOA, and ROCA parishes to the media.)  None of the existing parishes begrudged them wanting to have OCA missions, just how it was portrayed to the media and us still in the existing parishes that the rest of us were so 'liberal', 'unwelcoming', 'not for Russians', 'not convert', 'schismatic', 'not for Americans', etc. However, that comes back to charity - I can't understand why some can throw such a fit about a new mission for folk that aren't under their jurisdiction to begin with. Yet, we have members who will throw fits about a new mission for converts, or of a different ethnicity, or Western rite - even in cities with hundreds of thousands, even millions of citizens. The assumption seems to be that all their folk are going to 'switch ethnicities or rites'. There also seems to be a lack of understanding that a city with a huge population cannot be served by a mere handful of parishes - and there are some folk (the weak again) who are less likely to come if they don't have a parish that includes them (ie, Russian, Serbian, Romanian, Greek, American, Ukrainian, Hispanic, etc.). Unless there is only 120 folk in town, and all of them of the same language and culture, then having only one parish makes no sense. Part of that charity thing I brought up includes the pastoral love to serve the weak rather than kill or drive them off.
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« Reply #74 on: February 06, 2007, 05:25:43 PM »

Veniamin:

No sweat - forgiven - we all get testy now and then and maybe I do need to lighten up a bit on converts.

Welkodox:

Check that mileage chart brother. An AOC mission near me is about 5 miles from both an established GOC and ACROD churches and 15 from an OCA church. P.S. the mission is also populated with former disgruntled OCA members. We're talkin' jurisdictional unity here when we cannot even maintain unity within a parish.

 Undecided
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« Reply #75 on: February 06, 2007, 06:11:58 PM »

Quote
Check that mileage chart brother. An AOC mission near me is about 5 miles from both an established GOC and ACROD churches and 15 from an OCA church. P.S. the mission is also populated with former disgruntled OCA members. We're talkin' jurisdictional unity here when we cannot

You’re correct.  I left out the parishes that are closer given that in the context of this conversation it is highly unlikely the AOA would consolidate with those jurisdictions.  Certainly the proximity here is an issue in my opinion if unity is a question, because people may not think you’re actually interested in unity if you plop a mission down within short driving distance of other parishes.

One OCA church is approximately 15 miles and the other is probably 10 to 12 in this specific instance, and it is interesting to me in light of Aristibule’s comments that the two sides (the AOA and OCA) are in places cherry picking each other’s members.  It kind of makes you wonder what else is going on between the two, though it certainly doesn’t make one wonder why they haven’t merged yet.

Regarding converts, I actually know aserb in person, and I can say he has actually improved.  He no longer refers to converts as “pseudo-Orthodox swine” and now says they can even be welcomed to the church provided that in his words they “bring large sacks of money with them”.  So he’s not so bad (and I am of course kidding...).
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« Reply #76 on: February 06, 2007, 08:50:33 PM »

The problem here is that everyone is viewing the issue of Orthodox unity in America as an issue to be decided between Americans. That's simply not the case, the agreement has to be between Constantinople, Antioch, Russia, and Serbia...as a bare minimum. Ultimately, it is a decision for the mother Churches, not for Americans. Any attempt at unity independent of the mother Churches cannot lead to unity and can only lead to Schism.
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« Reply #77 on: February 06, 2007, 09:16:04 PM »

the agreement has to be between Constantinople, Antioch, Russia, and Serbia...as a bare minimum.
Unfortunately for you guys, this has to include Jerusalem as well, since she has parishes in the US. Jerusalem tried to start parishes here in Australia and was quickly stopped thanks to the intervention of Constantinople. Two OCA parishes were started here 7 years ago (yes, "Orthodox Church in America in Australia"...go figure), and Constantinople had to intervene again. One is now under Antioch, and the other under ROCOR.
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« Reply #78 on: February 06, 2007, 09:20:43 PM »

Unfortunately for you guys, this has to include Jerusalem as well, since she has parishes in the US. Jerusalem tried to start parishes here in Australia and was quickly stopped thanks to the intervention of Constantinople. Two OCA parishes were started here 7 years ago (yes, "Orthodox Church in America in Australia"...go figure), and Constantinople had to intervene again. One is now under Antioch, and the other under ROCOR.

Similar thing hapened in here, Constantinople limited Jerusalem's expansion. I cite these above as a bare minimum, though there are other Churches who have interests, because if these Churches agree the pressure would be there for the remainder to fall into line. The agreement of these four is a political necessity, though to finalize the deal, whatever it may be, would required virutally unanimous support.
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« Reply #79 on: February 06, 2007, 09:37:56 PM »

Two OCA parishes were started here 7 years ago (yes, "Orthodox Church in America in Australia"...go figure)

You are the 51st state.  Wink
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« Reply #80 on: February 06, 2007, 10:12:17 PM »

You are the 51st state.  Wink
Actually, that would be the 52nd state.  The 51 is Canuckistan, which is also in the OCA.   Wink 
Sorry SouthSerb.
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« Reply #81 on: February 06, 2007, 10:19:11 PM »

Oh yeah, how could I forget the Great White North and Archbishop Bizarre.
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« Reply #82 on: February 07, 2007, 11:42:59 AM »

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The problem here is that everyone is viewing the issue of Orthodox unity in America as an issue to be decided between Americans.

Speak for yourself - I stated the same. It has to be a unity agreed to by all the Patriarchates who have vested interest - including Jerusalem, Romania, Constantinople, Antioch, Moscow, Bulgaria, Serbia, ROCA. I made no suggestion as to it being 'seized' a la the OCA or OCL model.
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« Reply #83 on: February 07, 2007, 12:50:55 PM »

Actually, that would be the 52nd state.  The 51 is Canuckistan, which is also in the OCA.   Wink 
Sorry SouthSerb.

Excuse me.  It is SOVIET CANUCKISTAN!   Get it right!  Grin
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« Reply #84 on: February 07, 2007, 01:08:57 PM »

I made no suggestion as to it being 'seized' a la the OCA or OCL model.

This is another point worth mentioning.  Involvement with groups like the OCL is extremely damaging to the prospects of unity, and I really wish the AOA would stop and consider what they're doing and how it looks.  The worrying sign is that it appears the OCL is exploiting the current situation in the OCA to get their hooks in them.
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« Reply #85 on: February 07, 2007, 01:20:30 PM »

You know...unity may happen on a region by region basis even if it is not an offical administrative unity. This gradual form of unity will then lead to full administrative unity when everyone sees the benefits of cooperating together. It also is a much easier way of unifying versus uniting the whole country all at once. IF we look at one of the most successful regions where the bishops tend to get along with one another and cooperate together we will see the beginnings of Orthodox unity. Met. ISAIAH (GOA), Bishop BASIL (AOCA), Bishop DIMITRI (OCA) in the Prarie lands all get along and encourage their clergy and laity to work together. They may also have more Americanized parishes (less immigrants) and there may be a sense of community living in that region that encourages cooperation too. Here is an example of the fruit of this cooperation http://www.orthodoxhouston.org/  (and if you check out this page of their website: http://www.orthodoxhouston.org/parishesbyjurisdiction.php  note that all the jurisdictions are on board). This shows that when the big three (GOA, AOCA, and OCA) work together all the others will join in. Why would they want to be left out?

On the west coast, with the election of Bishop BENJAMIN (OCA) we may start to see the same type of cooperation between the jurisdictions. We do have a higher immigrant population on the west coast but we will see. Bishop Joseph just invited the Serbian bishop to his home. Earlier in the month he invited the Greek bishop for lunch and he invited the Greek bishop to concelebrate with him at the cathedral in LA. This service will be historical because the AOCA and GOA hierarchs have never concelebrated on the west coast. The two hierarchs also agreed to have meeting with the Serbian bishop and the new OCA bishop once the OCA bishop is enthroned.


So I do not necessarily agree we need get every jurisdiction on board to have unity. If the largest jurisdictions were to unite there would be alot of pressure on the smaller ones to join.
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« Reply #86 on: February 07, 2007, 02:53:42 PM »

Arimathea wrote:
It will take more than that - unity in America will not happen until the JP, MP, ROCA, SOC, UOCUSA, BOC,
ROAAC, and *everyone* is onboard. I don't think an OCA/AOCA merger will happen either - the OCA still makes missions from those who have left the AOCA out of spite (the last two missions in Oklahoma), and their offer to AOCA is an 'ethnic Arab diocese' with no guarantees of a future for the AWRV or the DME parishes/missions. It has to be everyone included, or it isn't unity. (Which shows how much the AOCA is misunderstood - it is less of an ethnic jurisdiction than the OCA.)

I don't think the united ethos matters either - charity could include various 'ethos' (Antiochian or Alexandrian, Slavic or Greek, Western or Eastern etc.) The reason we aren't united is because we don't have charity. The one mind, that is for sure - we lack the one mind because most everyone seems to have in his own mind what he wills for the others. As long as the mind has the desire to rule or suppress the other, we'll have a disunity of mind.

Not to hijack the thread, but you certainly win the award for most Acronyms used in a post.

-Nick
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« Reply #87 on: February 07, 2007, 02:57:54 PM »

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

AAaaaand HOoooow!

Seriously though, the more I think upon it the more this "cradle vs. convert" business drives me up the wall.  Perhaps other distinctions are in order, hmm?  Like "zealous vs. lukewarm" or "native vs. foreign" or "idealist vs. pragmatist" or "unstable vs. experienced"?

Those distinctions are not only valid, but more so, because the whole "cradle/convert" thing smacks of surreality to begin with (it implies there is something extraordinary or weird about the Church Baptizing adults!)  I think if you take any issue, you'll find a lot of cross polination of personalities (fitting into various combinations of the above mentioned categories.)  That includes the jurisdictional issue.  I'm sure there are a whole mess of "I-only-converted-to-marry-the-hot-greek-babe" converts who couldn't give a rat's rear-end about the need for the current anti-canonical state to come to a close.  So if we're going to criticize (or even slander perhaps), let's at least get our distinctions straight and really say what we mean - and maybe in some cases, see the ugly truth of what just what "we're" saying when we traffic in imprecise and/or incomplete categorizations.  Like...

"Canonical order is only the desire of zealous-unseasoned-native-converts and zealous-seasoned-"foreign"-cradles, idealists one and all with a dash of healthy pragmatism (usually from the "ethnic"/"foreign" crowd.)  The lukewarm-pragmatists (whether convert or cradle, native or "foreign/ethnic"), OTOH. are to varying degrees quite satisfied with the present arrangement (that is, until they manage to get a deal that heavily/unfairly favours them!), usually in proportion to just how un-serious about the important things they really are.

Of course, even the best of us in this present situation still fall far short.  Where rotten "principles" don't get in the way, varying degrees of vanity and willfullness still creep in.
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« Reply #88 on: February 07, 2007, 04:54:49 PM »

Augustine:

Please do not jump down Veniamin's throat. He was reacting to a comment about converts. If you want to jump on anyone jump on me since I have been labeled a convert basher.
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« Reply #89 on: February 07, 2007, 05:40:50 PM »

Augustine:

Please do not jump down Veniamin's throat. He was reacting to a comment about converts. If you want to jump on anyone jump on me since I have been labeled a convert basher.

Either that, or he was just making a general commentary using Veniamin's post as a jumping point... I don't know.
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« Reply #90 on: February 07, 2007, 10:06:45 PM »

I am jumping on this thread way late (and must confess, I have skimmed and not read every post) so if this is redundant I apologize. But I often thought, that, once the boundaries were settled, that all the bishops in the common diocese would serve as a "junta" with a rotating head bishop every year. This arrangement would continue until they all passed away, or voluntarily retired. Then a new single bishop would be consecrated.

This would be a way that no bishop would have to "step down" or retire unwillingly.

It's probably entirely non-canonical, impractical, etc. but it is the sort of short-tem compromise that might get people over the hump of unification
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« Reply #91 on: April 30, 2007, 04:49:02 PM »

So, jurisdiction is so central to the nature of the Church that some alleged infraction of the proper jurisdictional model (which has changed many times in the history of the Church) is not only ill-advised, but an actual abomination?!?

(I hope I don't need to answer that question!)

I think Fr. John Behr addressed the fallacy -- both historical, theological and spiritual -- of this strange line of thinking in his excellent article in Again magazine (Summer 2006, Vol. 28, No. 2).

Of course, Fr. John put the case mildly (based, it seems, on Peter Lampe's extensive analysis of early Roman Christianity). Regardless, the point is that the administration of the Church is a disciplinary matter, not a dogmatic one, and the exact form of the Church's governance has changed many times -- always as a reflection of the reality in which the Church found herself. When there were small, fractionated communities, there were small, "overlapping jurisdictions." When there was an Empire, there was an Imperial Church. When there were a bunch of nationalists doing the Nation State thing, there were national Churches. (Just to name a few.)

In North America, we currently have small, more-or-less ethnic communities that are only beginning to work together in substantial ways (especially in Canada, New York and New England). Administrative structures simply reflect pastoral realities. If we put more effort into actualizing the unity we already have, unified governance will follow naturally.

Sorry to be so late in replying.  Smiley  I think you miss what I am trying to say.  I am not talking about "Jurisdictionalism".  I am talking about the Church as seen in the Ignatian model, for one.  Fr. John's argument is a bit disingenuous, perhaps, because of course things were very fluid in the early goings in the Church.  "Presbyters" were in some communities the sacramental equivalent of "bishops" in other communities etc. etc.  He also gets into some other points. Of course I see room for exceptions to the "Ignatian rule", if I may call it that, but in the main, I do think that one area, (not necessesarily one city, but territory of some kind) should have one bishop.
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