Membership in Ecumenical Groups


Would you respond to my question why the OCA and SCOBA continues to participate in the WCC and the NCC? I have enclosed a copy of a post from the Orthodox Christianity list at Indiana University which express well many of our concerns.


While the appropriate person to answer your question would be Father Leonid Kishkovsky, who is the OCA’s ecumenical officer [he is away for a few weeks], I will offer an initial reply.

The OCA, together with the other Orthodox jurisdictions in North America, have consulted on numerous occasions with regard to membership in these two organizations. It is clear that, in virtually every forum in which such matters are discussed, there is a definitive tension between those who see membership in interfaith bodies as a means to bear witness to the truth and those who see membership in interfaith bodies as a capitulation of Orthodox Christianity. There are valid observations to be made on both sides.

While I am not the expert on this subject, it would seem that, as Father John Meyendorff pointed out, there is “good” and “bad” ecumenism. Good ecumenism, one which is focused on proclaiming the truth in whatever public forums are open, is to be encouraged, according to Father Meyendorff. Bad ecumenism, one which focuses on acceptance by others or in any way implies a “watering down” of the Gospel, is to be avoided at all costs, he writes. The critical thing, it would seem, is to approach the topic from the perspective of intention—or at least this is what Father Meyendorff would imply in his writings.

These issues are of deep concern for the OCA, even though there are those who would accuse her of the opposite. In fact, in the October/November issue of The Orthodox Church newspaper there is an article by Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick on precisely the issue of “good” and “wrong” ecumenism which underscores the tension which the topic reveals in its very essence. Fr Kondratick’s article relies heavily on the distinctions made by Fr Meyendorff on this matter.