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Author Topic: The Future of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America  (Read 1060 times) Average Rating: 0
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FatherGiryus
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« on: March 20, 2014, 01:31:18 PM »

The passing of Metropolitan Philip Saliba marks the end of an era for both the Church of Antioch and the Orthodox Church here in the United States and Canada.  While others will soon offer their critiques of his ministry, I would like to move beyond that to the matter of our future.

To say that we can maintain a status quo and have a new Metropolitan that will keep everything ‘as-is’ is dangerously naïve and even silly.  Metropolitan Philip himself was often cast as a ‘visionary leader,’ and he frequently spoke of the need for change and new ways of doing things.  To demand no change would not be in keeping at all with the man that so many dearly loved.

Metropolitan Philip instituted many changes in his time, even up to his death.  In years past, he permitted the cultivation of ‘local traditions,’ and many of his most beloved communities were known for both architectural and musical variance from what would be the ‘standard’ of the Antiochian Church.  His most recent decision was to implement a single standardized text for the entire Archdiocese to reign in this very same ‘innovative spirit’ and bring parishes back to a sense of a single liturgical tradition.

What we must look at is who we are and what the Church of Antioch has become now.  In America, the Archdiocese is no longer a mono-ethnic community with a single point of reference on all matters.  It is a collection of recent- and long-term immigrants, second-third-fourth generations, and converts who are not entirely on the same page about anything.

For some, membership in the Archdiocese is something like a family identity with a Mediterranean flair: absolute personal loyalty to the leader and fellow members.  To others, membership is adherence to the customs and historical significance of the Great Church of Antioch.

Those are not the same thing.

Personal loyalty means that change is all about the group maintaining its group identity through the leader, whereas loyalty to custom means that everyone, most especially the leader, unwaveringly preserves the laws and traditions of the group.  Metropolitan Philip had one foot in both worlds, and so anything he did was liable to upset one group or the other.

This brings us to the present moment and what lies ahead: what about the future of the North American Archdiocese?

When Metropolitan Philip assumed the throne, he presided over approximately 65 parishes across the US and Canada, a territory larger than the entire Patriarchate of Moscow, with congregations made up almost exclusively of families originating in the Levant.  Now, there are over 250 parishes made up of communicants not only with some connection to the Middle East, but almost half with no familial connection whatsoever to the traditional territories of Antioch.

How will all of these people, with such different perspectives on the faith and belonging to the Church, enter into this new era?
The first thing is to remember that the unity that Metropolitan Philip spoke of was far more than mere ‘jurisdictionalism.’  Unity has meant the formation and formalization of ‘dioceses’ (I have placed the word ‘diocese’ in parentheses because our definition of diocese is at variance with the classical understanding held in most other jurisdictions), with distinct boundaries and some local leadership.

If we are going to maintain unity with the Church of Antioch, we are going to have to recognize that doing so will take a great deal of local work.  We cannot take for granted that communities will automatically identify with a church headquartered on the other side of the world that operates in a foreign language.

Many of our people, even those who are not converts, do not have an intuitive sense of group loyalty.  This is not a feature of American culture where identity is mostly a voluntary arrangement where one decides with whom we ally ourselves.

Rather, loyalty is an educational process and one that requires constant maintenance not through large group activities (Archdiocesan conventions, large gatherings, etc.), but through personal teaching and one-on-one contact.  We have seen this disjunction of attitudes towards Parish Life Conferences and Archdiocese Conventions, where some find them absolutely essential while others see them as a colossal waste of resources.

To address the needs of communities, it will be essential for the Patriarchate to closely examine the North American Archdiocese and see where new territorial boundaries can be implemented so that smaller groups of communities can still maintain their identity as Antiochian Orthodox while also benefitting from local policies that will help preserve these loyalties and identity.

Unity has been maintained in the Archdiocese by recognizing that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not always work.  We have seen Metropolitan Philip abandon this approach to his advantage on many occasions, so it should not be off the table as the Patriarchate works towards a new plan for the North American Archdiocese.

One common sense approach would be the formation of an Archdiocese of Canada.  Canada is its own nation with its own cultures that are gradually influencing the beliefs and attitudes of Antiochian Orthodox Christians there. 

Further refinements may include the formation of several other new Archdioceses that encompass regions with similar local cultures.  The recognition of local culture is important both in preserving loyalty as it is in evangelization.  How the new territories are defined will require a great deal of local knowledge, so we can only hope that the Patriarchate will call for input from the clergy and people of the United States. 

Again, I think it is important to look at the example of Metropolitan Philip as a ‘visionary leader’ to see that we must always look to change without fear or making snap judgments.  Impulsiveness and fear are enemies of both unity and survival.

Some may ask what this means for ‘Orthodox Unity’ in North America, and all I can say is that when one looks out into the Orthodox milieu of America, one sees that a preponderance of our communities still derive their senses of identity from our immigrant jurisdictions.  Unity will come when there simply is no more ‘dual-identity.’

New Archdioceses springing forth from the fertile ground of this North American Archdiocese does not necessarily mean the end of all our present cohesion.  The new Archdioceses can continue to share in the resources built up together.  In fact, the sense of responsibility for maintaining the institutions of the former North American Archdiocese will increase.  New people will be challenged to support and expand upon the foundations built over the last 48 years of Metropolitan Philip’s pastorate.

The real test for us all will be to maintain our love and dignity as we enter into brotherly debate.  We must not yell and scream as children in the schoolyard do when they have disagreements.  Rather, we must turn to our Lord Jesus Christ and ask for His blessings and guidance.

-Fr. George Aquaro
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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2014, 02:32:51 PM »

Thank you for sharing those thoughts.

I don't mean to sound insensitive considering how soon it's been, but what is the process for a new primate in our Archdiocese?
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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2014, 03:20:24 PM »

Good question.

The answer is not so simple.  The Archdiocese is legally still operating under the 1975 Constitution: http://appext20.dos.ny.gov/corp_public/CORPSEARCH.ENTITY_INFORMATION?p_nameid=2938485&p_corpid=2916926&p_entity_name=%41%6E%74%69%6F%63%68%69%61%6E&p_name_type=%41&p_search_type=%43%4F%4E%54%41%49%4E%53&p_srch_results_page=0

However, Archdiocese Conventions of years' past, and the Patriarchate itself, have amended the Constitution.  So, what happens next depends largely on how mature the participants can be.  There can be a smooth and Christian way, or there can be a worldly and demonic way.  However, in either case, God will make the choice Himself.

If it is decided to create several new Archdioceses out of the North American Archdiocese, then it may, in fact, be a much simpler process then haggling over conflicting expectations between various communities here and the Patriarchate.


Thank you for sharing those thoughts.

I don't mean to sound insensitive considering how soon it's been, but what is the process for a new primate in our Archdiocese?
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2014, 03:50:02 PM »

Fr. George,

Thank you for a very informational and balanced post.  It would be nice if much of the information presented could make its way into some national publication/letter/all parish bulletins to inform the faithful how different things are in places other than their own parish.  I'm an EOC original, growing up in possibly the most (in)famous parish (Chrismated by Met +PHILLIP when I was 11), but live hundreds of miles away now and go to a wonderful OCA parish.

On a tangential note, have you read Monomuck post today?  I thought it was actually rather nice and balanced, while not sugar coating things.

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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2014, 03:55:20 PM »

Each Archdiocese in the Patriarchate of Antioch seems to be applying a different iteration of the Internal Statute. Over the past several years there have been several Antiochian figures have been trying to get everyone to realize just how problematic this is and how important it is to correct this. I think that if things were more normal in Syria, there would already have been the All-Antiochian Assembly that occasionally gets proposed. Under John X communication between the Patriarchate and the dioceses in the diaspora have improved but they are by no means optimal yet. I think it is unlikely that the Archdiocese of North America will be turned into multiple archdioceses, simply on the grounds that that would have unpredictable results for the balance of interests on the Holy Synod, which Met. Philip had more or less abstained from for many years.
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2014, 04:29:41 PM »

Interesting!  Thank you!

Each Archdiocese in the Patriarchate of Antioch seems to be applying a different iteration of the Internal Statute. Over the past several years there have been several Antiochian figures have been trying to get everyone to realize just how problematic this is and how important it is to correct this. I think that if things were more normal in Syria, there would already have been the All-Antiochian Assembly that occasionally gets proposed. Under John X communication between the Patriarchate and the dioceses in the diaspora have improved but they are by no means optimal yet. I think it is unlikely that the Archdiocese of North America will be turned into multiple archdioceses, simply on the grounds that that would have unpredictable results for the balance of interests on the Holy Synod, which Met. Philip had more or less abstained from for many years.
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2014, 05:12:01 PM »

Quote
many of his most beloved communities were known for both architectural and musical variance from what would be the ‘standard’ of the Antiochian Church

Father bless!

I am very interested to hear and understand the musical variance allowed in the Antiochian Church.  Is this similar to forming new rites within cultural locales in the US?  Or is this concerning the Western rite parishes along with the regular Byzantine rite parishes?  Or the addition of new "Western-style" hymns?
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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2014, 06:18:47 PM »

From the blog the former choir director of Fr. Peter Gillquist Jr's parish (who is QUITE in the know on these things):

"In the Antiochian Archdiocese, for example, “Antiochian tradition” is a very complicated term that can mean one of four things — 1) “authentic” Patriarchate of Antioch tradition as practiced in Syria and Lebanon, 2) the parish practice of an “ethnic” parish in AOCNA (which is somewhat redacted from the first definition, and also depends somewhat on whether or not it’s a parish that was under Toledo or Brooklyn before 1975; those under Toledo seem to have been rather Russified, perhaps for obvious reasons), 3) Antiochian Village camp practice, and then since 1986 there’s definition 4) — practices imported by the EOC that have spread and been somewhat normalized."

Additionally, from another blog post:

"In the meantime, Dr. Sam Cohlmia, protopsaltis of the Antiochian Diocese of Wichita and the Midwest as well as St. George Cathedral in Wichita, was kind enough to send me a review copy of his new recording, Byzantine Chants to the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. It contains many of the festal hymns for the Feast of the Dormition, with Dr. Cohlmia as solo cantor throughout (and providing his own isokratima via the miracle of modern recording technology).


The disc is fairly evenly split between English and Arabic, with Dr. Cohlmia using the Holy Transfiguration Monastery Menaion for most (not quite all) of the metered hymns (prosomoia), and Nassar (apparently modified in spots) for the non-metered hymns as well as the stichera at the Praises. In terms of musical sources, Dr. Cohlmia is using Arabic scores by composers such as Mitri El Murr and Andraos Mouaikel, and adapting those into English himself. The melodies for the Lamentations are a bit of a puzzlement to me — not necessarily on this disc, but in general — since what’s sung here represents the third set of permutations that I have been told are the “authentic” Antiochian melodies, so I’m not sure what that means.

There is a great deal to like on this disc; Dr. Cohlmia has a clear and lovely voice, and handles the vocal requirements of both languages nicely. Although Lebanese-born, his sung English diction is excellent, and all the texts sound smooth and natural throughout. He is able to bring a good sense of style to the presentation; while his approach as a solo cantor makes for a different realization of “Antiochian style” than one hears on, say, The Voice of the Lord (which represents the chant tradition of the Patriarchate of Antioch applied to an English-language choral context), the two recordings clearly share and are honoring the same heritage. That said, some of the differences in approach are evident in spots where the recordings are using the same melody — for example, in the Kathismata for both feasts, the nenano melody “Κατεπλάγη Ἰωσήφ” (“Joseph was amazed” in the HTM books) is employed, and the contrast between the choral and solo realizations is subtle, but interesting.

One thing that both recordings do that’s particularly nice for learning purposes is proper use of metered model hymns. This is a system that can be a bit opaque for cantors who are having to cut their teeth in the Antiochian Archdiocese; neither Kazan nor Nassar make note of their use, Nassar is unmetered anyway, and Kazan just writes them out and shoehorns the texts into them without telling the singer that that’s what’s happening. For metered translations one must turn to the Holy Transfiguration Monastery books, which seems to have something of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” status in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and which also aren’t complete outside of the Menaion. A metered Octoechos doesn’t appear to exist, neither does a metered Triodion, and the Pentecostarion has been being revised and “due any day now” for several years. Even if you have metered texts, however, sources for the melodies are tricky. HTM’s book of melodies is a bit idiosyncratic in terms of musical material, and while Fr. Seraphim Dedes’ is better in terms of being better-grounded in “classical” sources (like the Irmologion of John the Protopsaltis), it’s harder to use with the HTM books because the melody titles are different — sometimes marginally so, sometimes significantly so — and the translations are idiosyncratic. It’s better, frankly, to just learn Byzantine notation and learn the model melodies out of the Irmologion, but then there’s the problem of not getting the sung tradition in addition to the notated tradition. There’s this site, and the recordings are instructive, but not exactly stellar. All of this is to say, Dr. Cohlmia’s recording, as with the Theophany School disc, provides an English-language model for realizing a nice little handful of the model melodies realized with metered translations, and that makes it useful as well as enjoyable and prayerful to listen to. I’m not clear as to why he doesn’t use the metered translation for the stichera at the Praises, and the model melody is quite a bit different from the one that’s in the Greek books (“Ὡς γενναῖον ἐν μάρτυσιν”, “As one valiant”), but the others employed are wonderfully practical learning tools."

This should give you MORE than enough info on "musical variance".

Edit:  just realized some Mod might not like not having a reference, so here it is:

http://leitourgeia.com/2012/08/09/review-and-a-mini-interview-dr-sam-cohlmia-byzantine-chants-to-the-dormition-of-the-most-holy-theotokos/
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2014, 11:56:15 PM »

Good question.

The answer is not so simple.  The Archdiocese is legally still operating under the 1975 Constitution: http://appext20.dos.ny.gov/corp_public/CORPSEARCH.ENTITY_INFORMATION?p_nameid=2938485&p_corpid=2916926&p_entity_name=%41%6E%74%69%6F%63%68%69%61%6E&p_name_type=%41&p_search_type=%43%4F%4E%54%41%49%4E%53&p_srch_results_page=0

However, Archdiocese Conventions of years' past, and the Patriarchate itself, have amended the Constitution.  So, what happens next depends largely on how mature the participants can be.  There can be a smooth and Christian way, or there can be a worldly and demonic way.  However, in either case, God will make the choice Himself.

If it is decided to create several new Archdioceses out of the North American Archdiocese, then it may, in fact, be a much simpler process then haggling over conflicting expectations between various communities here and the Patriarchate.


Thank you for sharing those thoughts.

I don't mean to sound insensitive considering how soon it's been, but what is the process for a new primate in our Archdiocese?
Why would we be operating under the 1975 Constitution, and not the present one?
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2014, 10:45:21 PM »

Some of my thoughts on this topic:  http://roadsfromemmaus.org/2014/05/05/light-from-antioch-the-future-of-the-antiochian-archdiocese-and-orthodoxy-in-america/
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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2014, 12:30:34 AM »

Some of my thoughts on this topic:  http://roadsfromemmaus.org/2014/05/05/light-from-antioch-the-future-of-the-antiochian-archdiocese-and-orthodoxy-in-america/

I listened to the podcast version just yesterday I believe, and I thought it was pretty good. I completely agree in drawing on more of our Antiochian patrimony for our identity, which sadly too often seems to have been largely filled in by other Churches' patrimonies. It is a bit sad, for example, when an Antiochian parish's bookstore/library has books from every tradition ranging from Serbian to OCA but absolutely nothing from our Antiochian heritage, and the community reflects that (of course not causally). It's honestly as though people, even Antiochians, are more aware of Greek/Russian Church histories and heritage than our own, where in perception it's as though Antioch just fell off the Earth for centuries. Maybe this is just me speaking as a convert, even if I was received as a convert into a fairly ethnic-based parish.

I think I would like to see visibly closer relations between the Archdiocese and the Patriarchate, but maybe I just haven't paid enough attention.
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« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2014, 12:50:38 PM »

The passing of Metropolitan Philip Saliba marks the end of an era for both the Church of Antioch and the Orthodox Church here in the United States and Canada.  While others will soon offer their critiques of his ministry, I would like to move beyond that to the matter of our future.

To say that we can maintain a status quo and have a new Metropolitan that will keep everything ‘as-is’ is dangerously naïve and even silly.  Metropolitan Philip himself was often cast as a ‘visionary leader,’ and he frequently spoke of the need for change and new ways of doing things.  To demand no change would not be in keeping at all with the man that so many dearly loved.

Metropolitan Philip instituted many changes in his time, even up to his death.  In years past, he permitted the cultivation of ‘local traditions,’ and many of his most beloved communities were known for both architectural and musical variance from what would be the ‘standard’ of the Antiochian Church.  His most recent decision was to implement a single standardized text for the entire Archdiocese to reign in this very same ‘innovative spirit’ and bring parishes back to a sense of a single liturgical tradition.

What we must look at is who we are and what the Church of Antioch has become now.  In America, the Archdiocese is no longer a mono-ethnic community with a single point of reference on all matters.  It is a collection of recent- and long-term immigrants, second-third-fourth generations, and converts who are not entirely on the same page about anything.

For some, membership in the Archdiocese is something like a family identity with a Mediterranean flair: absolute personal loyalty to the leader and fellow members.  To others, membership is adherence to the customs and historical significance of the Great Church of Antioch.

Those are not the same thing.

Personal loyalty means that change is all about the group maintaining its group identity through the leader, whereas loyalty to custom means that everyone, most especially the leader, unwaveringly preserves the laws and traditions of the group.  Metropolitan Philip had one foot in both worlds, and so anything he did was liable to upset one group or the other.

This brings us to the present moment and what lies ahead: what about the future of the North American Archdiocese?

When Metropolitan Philip assumed the throne, he presided over approximately 65 parishes across the US and Canada, a territory larger than the entire Patriarchate of Moscow, with congregations made up almost exclusively of families originating in the Levant.  Now, there are over 250 parishes made up of communicants not only with some connection to the Middle East, but almost half with no familial connection whatsoever to the traditional territories of Antioch.

How will all of these people, with such different perspectives on the faith and belonging to the Church, enter into this new era?
The first thing is to remember that the unity that Metropolitan Philip spoke of was far more than mere ‘jurisdictionalism.’  Unity has meant the formation and formalization of ‘dioceses’ (I have placed the word ‘diocese’ in parentheses because our definition of diocese is at variance with the classical understanding held in most other jurisdictions), with distinct boundaries and some local leadership.

If we are going to maintain unity with the Church of Antioch, we are going to have to recognize that doing so will take a great deal of local work.  We cannot take for granted that communities will automatically identify with a church headquartered on the other side of the world that operates in a foreign language.

Many of our people, even those who are not converts, do not have an intuitive sense of group loyalty.  This is not a feature of American culture where identity is mostly a voluntary arrangement where one decides with whom we ally ourselves.

Rather, loyalty is an educational process and one that requires constant maintenance not through large group activities (Archdiocesan conventions, large gatherings, etc.), but through personal teaching and one-on-one contact.  We have seen this disjunction of attitudes towards Parish Life Conferences and Archdiocese Conventions, where some find them absolutely essential while others see them as a colossal waste of resources.

To address the needs of communities, it will be essential for the Patriarchate to closely examine the North American Archdiocese and see where new territorial boundaries can be implemented so that smaller groups of communities can still maintain their identity as Antiochian Orthodox while also benefitting from local policies that will help preserve these loyalties and identity.

Unity has been maintained in the Archdiocese by recognizing that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not always work.  We have seen Metropolitan Philip abandon this approach to his advantage on many occasions, so it should not be off the table as the Patriarchate works towards a new plan for the North American Archdiocese.

One common sense approach would be the formation of an Archdiocese of Canada.  Canada is its own nation with its own cultures that are gradually influencing the beliefs and attitudes of Antiochian Orthodox Christians there. 

Further refinements may include the formation of several other new Archdioceses that encompass regions with similar local cultures.  The recognition of local culture is important both in preserving loyalty as it is in evangelization.  How the new territories are defined will require a great deal of local knowledge, so we can only hope that the Patriarchate will call for input from the clergy and people of the United States. 

Again, I think it is important to look at the example of Metropolitan Philip as a ‘visionary leader’ to see that we must always look to change without fear or making snap judgments.  Impulsiveness and fear are enemies of both unity and survival.

Some may ask what this means for ‘Orthodox Unity’ in North America, and all I can say is that when one looks out into the Orthodox milieu of America, one sees that a preponderance of our communities still derive their senses of identity from our immigrant jurisdictions.  Unity will come when there simply is no more ‘dual-identity.’

New Archdioceses springing forth from the fertile ground of this North American Archdiocese does not necessarily mean the end of all our present cohesion.  The new Archdioceses can continue to share in the resources built up together.  In fact, the sense of responsibility for maintaining the institutions of the former North American Archdiocese will increase.  New people will be challenged to support and expand upon the foundations built over the last 48 years of Metropolitan Philip’s pastorate.

The real test for us all will be to maintain our love and dignity as we enter into brotherly debate.  We must not yell and scream as children in the schoolyard do when they have disagreements.  Rather, we must turn to our Lord Jesus Christ and ask for His blessings and guidance.

-Fr. George Aquaro


What is the future of the Antiochian Archdiocese? God-willing only it's only until 2016 when the Orthodox Churches in the USA are unified and there is no more OCA, Antiochian Archdiocese, Greek Archdiocese etc...
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2014, 01:51:21 PM »

I do not think there will be any separations from Mother Churches in our lifetimes.  There are far too many immigrants from lands with dwindling populations to make such a move seem reasonable to those overseas.  If anything, we will see a strengthening of the ties.  This has been telegraphed by all the bishops involved, with the exception being the OCA.


What is the future of the Antiochian Archdiocese? God-willing only it's only until 2016 when the Orthodox Churches in the USA are unified and there is no more OCA, Antiochian Archdiocese, Greek Archdiocese etc...
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