Convened in Cleveland, OH on November 10-13, 1975, the Fourth All-American Council further amplified the innovative new format of the preceding council. At the Fourth Council, there were more sessions in section groups than in full plenaries. This council was the first of the Orthodox Church in America councils to have a theme: “MISSION.” This was in fact a return to the theme of the Mayfield Sobor in 1907. In the context of its missionary outlook as a Church in and for America, the council addressed several burning issues facing modern North American society. Having heard reports on missionary activities and needs in Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the southern United States, the council wholeheartedly pledged its moral and financial support to augment these efforts.
A council section on moral issues prepared several resolutions that were then adopted by the Holy Synod. These included the condemnation of homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia and violence, while exhorting the sanctity of marriage and human life as well as the preservation of moral values as taught in Holy Scripture. The council also issued a letter addressed to the Anglican Communion expressing grief and offering consolation for the crisis in that denomination. Additionally, the council approved Section recommendations on witness in the media, education, finances and military chaplaincies. A resolution on religious persecution in the USSR was likewise adopted.
The Fourth Council was the first that did not deal with issues of survival, identity, administration and organization, but rather delved into the crucial issues of the day and thus made an initial attempt to forge a relationship for the Church with contemporary North American society.
Written by Alexis Liberovsky
OCA Archivist, Director of the Department of History and Archives.