I just stumbled on this in a newsletter from OCL. I wasn't aware that Fr. Gilquist had gone to the EP and was rejected.
Greek Orthodox Need to be More Accepting & Open - The National Herald
June 11, 2006
To the Editor:
I am a longtime admirer of Dr. Charles Moskos, Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University, and though this is overdue, his interview with the National Herald on January 14 was very insightful.
Dr. Moskos has also written many poignant articles. The most recent that I'm aware of appearing in the Spring 2006 issue of the AHEPAN, “The Future Of Greek America.”
He cites that more than 60 percent of Greek Orthodox Church marriages involve a non-Orthodox. Estimates now indicate that somewhere between 60-80 percent are “mixed marriages” within the Church nationwide, thus diluting the ethnic Greek identity of Greek Orthodox communicants. Eventually, as the rate of interfaith marriages increases, biologically Greek lineage will be overwhelmingly diluted.
That means the Church in America must become autonomous and less ethnic in order to keep future offspring within the fold.
Dr. Moskos writes that many disillusioned Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Evangelical Christians are “coming over to Eastern Orthodoxy.” That is true, but unfortunately, very few are joining the Greek Orthodox Church. They are predominantly joining Metropolitan Philip and the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Why is that?
A key figure in enticing converts to the Antiochian Church is Rev. Peter Gillquist. The Antiochian Archdiocese, which is non-ethnic, has reportedly almost doubled its membership in the past 15 years. This has transpired since Father Gillquist and his 2,000 “campus crusaders” joined the Antiochian Church.
Father Gillquist was a disillusioned Evangelical Christian. While attending the University of Minnesota, he was instrumental in organizing dissatisfied Protestants on university campuses throughout the country who were seeking a Christian Church with roots in the original Christian Church. They became known as “the campus crusaders.”
After extensive research, the crusaders discovered that the Greek Orthodox Church was the most representative, in the undiluted sense, of the original Christian Church. They eventually made contact with Bishop (now Metropolitan) Maximos of Pittsburgh. They convinced Maximos that they genuinely wanted to join the Eastern Orthodox Church. By that time (1986), the “campus crusaders” numbered 2,000. Bishop Maximos was convinced of their sincerity and arranged a meeting with Archbishop Iakovos. After extensive conversation, Archbishop Iakovos also became convinced of their sincerity to join the Orthodox Church. He accordingly arranged a meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch.
A delegation headed by Gillquist traveled to Constantinople. They spent a whole week meeting with underlings, but the Patriarch refused to grant them an audience. After a week in Constantinople, they returned dejected and empty-handed. They were jilted. Bishop Maximos was also stunned.
Subsequent contact was made with Metropolitan Philip. After several meetings and prescribed indoctrination sessions, the group of 2,000 “campus crusaders” became members of the Antiochian Archdiocese on February 15, 1987. It should be noted that Bishop Maximos was present, and welcomed them to Orthodoxy when Metropolitan Philip consecrated the first group of the 2,000 Evangelicals on that date.
Father Gillquist and his 2,000 crusaders have played a key role in bringing the name of the Antiochian Church to the forefront, and in converting disillusioned Christians of other denominations to Orthodoxy, and to the Antiochian Orthodox Church.
The Greek Orthodox Church missed a golden opportunity when it refused the group entry into the fold. Had the “campus crusaders” been accepted into the Greek Orthodox Church, they would have added some much-needed enthusiastic contact with other Christian denominations, as well as with the general public, which they have done for the Antiochian Church.
The hierarchy of the Antiochian Archdiocese, emanating from Metropolitan Philip, is imbued with love, respect and trust. This filters down to the parishes.
My wife of 59 years, Beth, is a convert, and we are cognizant of this, because we belonged to St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church while living in Orlando, Florida from May 1992 to September 1993. The Greek Orthodox parish in Orlando was in a state of turmoil at that time. Consequently, a number of Greek families had joined St. George's. Beth and I were privileged to meet Metropolitan Philip personally. He is a truly Evangelical, compassionate and down-to-earth spiritual father.
He and Archbishop Iakovos had a close working relationship towards unifying all Orthodox America and Canada. When the Patriarch learned of this, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos was forced into early retirement. Had the unification transpired, it would have elevated the status of Orthodoxy within the United States and Canada. Metropolitan Philip is still working toward unity. But he is finding the hierarchy of the Greek Orthodox Church a deterrent in achieving this goal.
Father Gillquist and I are college fraternity brothers, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, he from the University of Minnesota and I from the University of Wyoming. In addition, Father Gillquist, together with my nephew, Father Lou Christopoulos, head priest of St. Catherine's Greek Orthodox Church in Denver are the national Orthodox chaplains of that fraternity.
My wife and I love our Church, and during my tenure in the military, we often had to travel miles to attend Orthodox Church services. For example, while stationed at Air Defense Command headquarters in Colorado Springs, we had to drive 75 miles (one way) to attend services in Denver. Today, we are members of the Transfiguration Church (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Col. James L. Christopoulos
U.S. Air Force, Retired