The second meeting of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America convened May 25, 2011, exactly one year and one day after the first one in New York, in Chicago’ s Hilton O’Hare Airport Hotel under the chairmanship of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.
The first-day session opened with prayers with 44 bishops present. Most Canonical Orthodox Bishops from Canada did not attend, as they are seeking to establish a separate assembly. At the beginning of the meeting a letter was read from Patriarch Irinej of Serbia conveying that the Serbian members of the Assembly could not be present at this meeting because of the needs of the Serbian Church.
The agenda and the minutes of the first meeting were approved. Archbishop Demetrios delivered his chairman’s opening address, and invited the vice-chairmen Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, and Archbishop Justinian, the Representative of the Moscow Patriarchtate to address the Assembly.
Archbishop Demetrios conveyed the greetings of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and said that His All Holiness “as the First Throne of Holy Orthodoxy, is much desirous of encouraging and enhancing the unity of the Church, especially through the Pre-Conciliar Conferences that have come to be known as the ‘Chambésy Process’.”
Archbishop Demetrios underlined the importance of this second meeting of the Assembly: “It is not without significance that we have traveled many miles to be with one another, in a spirit of fraternity, peace, fellowship and above all Christian love. As Chairman of this Assembly I am grateful for your prayerful and irenic presence, and I am hopeful that we will be able to move our nascent body forward with positive steps that will lead to tangible results for all the Orthodox.”
The Secretary of the Assembly, Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Archdiocese, presented the Secretariat report. Another report and discussion followed on the agencies and endorsed organization of SCOBA (Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in the Americas). These agencies include the following: Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting (EOCS) - International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) - Orthodox Christian Education Commission (OCEC) - Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) - Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) - Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) - Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM); and the endorsed organizations are: Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion (OCAMPR) - Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration - Orthodox Peace Fellowship (North America) - Orthodox Theological Society of America - Project Mexico - St. Catherine’s Vision, Inc. and Zoe for Life.
Speaking on this subject, Archbishop Demetrios said “as the successor body to SCOBA, the Agencies and Endorsed Organizations are in need of direction from the Assembly, as to how and to what degree the relationship between these pan-Orthodox institutions and our Assembly will unfold. ” He also spoke of the great potential that lies ahead for Orthodoxy in America and around the world.
The Assembly will conclude its work on Friday, May 26, with reports from all thirteen committees: Canonical Affairs, Canonical Regional Planning, Church & Society, Clergy Affairs, Ecumenical Relations, Financial Affairs, Legal Affairs, Liturgy, Military Chaplaincy, Monastic Communities, Pastoral Practice, Theological Education and Youth.
A gallery of photos may be viewed at http://photos.goarch.org/main.php?g2_itemId=4460.