“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the work of
the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor
is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58).
The Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
To all the Clergy and the Laity of the Holy Orthodox Church in the Americas
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We greet you on this Sunday of Orthodoxy in unity of faith, in oneness of Spirit, and in harmonious affirmation of the truth that has been revealed to us by God.
We also are addressing you on this first Sunday of Great Lent, having recently marked six months since the tragic events of September 11th. The horrendous acts of violence that were committed on that day have burdened our hearts and minds as we have labored faithfully to minister to the needs of the bereaved and the suffering, as we have prayerfully addressed the complex effects that this day has had on our world, and as we have sought strength, hope and truth in our faith in God. The strength of our faith has surely been tested in the aftermath of these terrible acts against humanity, as we struggled to bring the peace and love of God to the countless believers who were themselves desperately trying to comprehend the senselessness of all that has transpired.
As Orthodox faithful assemble this day throughout America to celebrate the Triumph of Orthodoxy, let us remember the great people of faith: the holy prophets, saints and martyrs, who were among the first to receive crowns of glory for their earthly sufferings on account of their faith. This day reminds us of the power of faith and the significance of faith in overcoming calamity. As children of God we obey His commandments as living testimony of our faith. His commandments are not burdensome, according to St John, because our faith is the victory that conquers the world (1 John 5:4). “Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5)
On this Sunday of Orthodoxy we announce with one voice the tremendous power of our Orthodox Faith in overcoming any ordeals, difficulties, persecution, and even death. We proclaim in unity the Church’s victory over heresy and error, so that the whole world will know and understand that no power on earth can tarnish the truth we proclaim and the hope we embrace. As St Paul says, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31) As the ark of salvation the holy Church will carry us over any troubled waters stirred by human animosity and passion. “For I am convinced, writes Paul, “That neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).
May we be the proclaimers of our Orthodox Faith, may we confess the Faith in unity and love, so that the holy name of God will be glorified everywhere.
With paternal blessings and love in Christ,
+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Orthodox Church in America
+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
+Metropolitan JOSEPH, Locum tenens
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada
+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
+Metropolitan NICHOLAS OF Amissos, Treasurer
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA