His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, and the hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in America are among over 50 hierarchs participating in the Episcopal Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Hierarchs of North America that opened at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel here on Wednesday, May 26, 2010.
The convener of the Assembly is His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, acting as Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch.
The Assembly is the result of the decision of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference, which met in Chambésy Switzerland in June 2009 after the extraordinary Synaxis of all the Heads of the Autocephalous Churches convened by His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The gathering is one of twelve Episcopal Assemblies that will be convened around the world in regions where there is no single Orthodox presence.
In a recent press release issued by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Archbishop Demetrios explained that the nature of the assembly is as “a temporary, not a permanent institution. It is simply preparatory to facilitate the process of an ecumenical council (in the future) that will decide the final form of the existence of the Church in a particular country.” He further explained that the assembly will meet annually and is not a continuation of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas [SCOBA]. Rather, it works to “prepare a plan for dealing with anomalies, such as more than one bishop in a given locale and other things that interfere with the life of the Church.” It is also designed “to project a unified witness of the faith.”
Sessions will continue through Thursday, May 27. The Assembly will conclude on Friday, May 28, on which the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral.
Prayer/Petition During The Episcopal Assembly
O All Merciful God! Grant our Hierarchs gathered in Episcopal Assembly to grow in wisdom and strength, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to increase in love for each other, deepening Christian fellowship so that conciliar decisions may build up a canonically united Orthodox Christian Church of the Americas. May their work be guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and may the Spirit of unity and love, of compassion and mutual respect, inspire each to contribute toward the building up of the Body of Christ for the glory of Thy name, for Thou hast ordered us to do all things for Thy glory. Bless Thy people, uniting them for the building up of Thy Holy Orthodox Church of the Americas. O generous Creator; hear us and have mercy. For Thou art a merciful God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.