The Preconciliar Commission and the Church Administration of the Orthodox Church in America met at the Orlando Renaissance Resort here January 23-26, 2002 to review final plans for the 13th All-American Council.
The Council, slated to be held at the Renaissance July 21-26, 2002, is the highest administrative organ of the Orthodox Church in America and is comprised of all hierarchs of the Church, clergy and lay delegates from parishes and institutions, and adult and youth observers. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will preside at the week-long convocation.
Preconciliar Commission members reviewed the theme of the Council, “The Parish Community: Our Life in Christ,” which will be developed through a series of presentations, workshops, and forums. Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY, will deliver the keynote address on the theme.
In addition to reviewing proposed Council resources and schedule considerations, members of the Preconciliar Commission also met with the Local Functioning Committee, headed by the Rev. John Chudik, Bradenton, FL and Mr. Stephen Gidus, Orlando, FL. Members of the local committee are continuing their work in the area of logistics, hospitality, public relations, and a number of other areas of concern.
During the meeting, it was announced that His Beatitude, Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania has been invited to deliver a major address to Council attendees on Tuesday evening, July 23. A well-known speaker and missionary, Archbishop Anastasios headed the reestablishment of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania after the fall of communism in the late 1980s, a formidable task in light of the fact that Albania had proclaimed itself the world’s first “officially atheistic state” during its decades under communist control.
Preconciliar Commission members were also informed that invitations had also been extended to His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and to His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America to address the Council. It is also anticipated that His Eminence, Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk, will attend as a representative of the Patriarchate of Moscow.
According to Dr. Alice K. B. Woog, who heads the Council Project Team, “a new feature for Council participants will be individual focus groups during which parish needs and ways of meeting those needs will be explored and addressed.”
In addition to plenary sessions, the Council will pursue several objectives, added Dr. Woog.
“In line with the theme, the Council will aim to explore a vision of the definition and dimensions of the Orthodox parish in North America, consider the challenges faced by parishes as they seek to fulfill this vision, identify and share practices and principles for meeting these challenges in a spirit of learning, growth, and discernment, and align the work of the OCA’s ministry units with the specific needs of today’s Orthodox parish,” said Dr. Woog. “In light of the successful adoption and implementation of Church-Wide Initiatives at the 12th Council in 1999, it is also anticipated that delegates will select a three-year focus project which can make a difference in the OCA’s ability to build and sustain healthy parishes.”
Members of the Preconciliar Commission and Local Functioning Committee also reviewed plans for daily liturgical services, plenary sessions, workshops, luncheon discussions, Bible studies, and youth activities.
Updates on the All-American Council appear in the January/February issue of “The Orthodox Church” newspaper and on the OCA web site