EDITOR’S NOTE (Nick Stamatakis): This Declaration for Orthodox Unity in America was being drafted for months as I understand and it truly is a historic text. Please take a look at the bottom of it at the “inaugural signatures” and you will recognize many Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) members, an organization that has been fighting for Pan-orthodox Unity as well as transparency and accountability in GOARCH for decades. Helleniscope has signed the Declaration and is asking our readers to do the same.
We do however have a note of caution stemming from the absence of any reference to our Russian-American Orthodox brothers and especially those faithful belonging to ROCOR who are under the Moscow Patriarchate. And we did note the reference in this declaration to the four ancient Patriarchates (Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople) to which the declaration pledges “moral, material and political support”. The fear here is that this movement toward Panorthodox Unity will turn into a political tool for those fools in the State Department who during the last few years have decided to “play God” with humanity with their unfettered Globalism… At the same time as they stupidly applied the “Clash of Civilizations” on Orthodoxy and in the process wreaked havoc on World Orthodoxy with their non-sensical policies on Ukraine. If Panorthodox Unity is to proceed, it should not make the same mistake of turning one Orthodox against the other… We either perceive ALL Orthodox as brothers or we should not talk about Panorthodox unity… Orthodoxy is truly in dire straights: the way out is to stop “political games” against any Orthodox nation and prioritize love and faith… If by Panorthodox Unity we bring “officially” the Schism of Orthodoxy in America, what’s the use? Who gains? Not Orthodoxy and Not Christianity…
Hoping that there will be a clarification on this issue by those who drafted the Declaration – it is truly a historic text… It was published today in the NY Times and WSJ.
Below you can read it as it appeared on OCL.org You can follow the link here to sign the petition…
A Declaration for Orthodox Christian Unity in America
We believe that we are the most fortunate of people, blessed by God to be Orthodox Christians and to be free Americans. We accept the responsibility to “make disciples of all nations” on these shores, as Christ required of us at His Ascension.
We take inspiration from the statement in 1922 of Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios, who said: “I have seen and understood how exalted the name of Orthodoxy could be…if more than two million Orthodox people were united into one church organization, an American Orthodox Church.”
We see that Orthodox Christian witness in America is weakened by our fragmentation into more than a dozen ethnic enclaves. We believe that Christ weeps at this disunity.
We call all Orthodox Christian people of America – clergy and laity – to come together in a single, unified Orthodox Church of America, under the historic rules and traditions of Orthodoxy.
We look to our hierarchs in the Assembly of Bishops – which was founded in 2009 for this very purpose – to lead us in this quest. We enjoin them – like Joseph of Arimathea – to take courage, and like us, be seen openly to be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of preserving and growing the Church of Christ for our children and for seekers of divine truth.
We declare ourselves to be Americans of proud descent from ancient shores, but no longer part of a church diaspora that puts ethnicity before Orthodox Christianity, lest our Church fades away as ethnic ties diminish over time.
We believe that the administration of our parishes and dioceses from Mother Churches on distant shores is uncanonical and unworkable. We are guided in this by clear Church canons and traditions: that there be only one Orthodox Christian bishop in any location; that foreign bishops have no authority outside their own territory; and that under the established Orthodox tradition of a great majority of places, when an Orthodox Christian national community is developed in a new territory, a single local church be established, uniting every believer in Orthodox doctrine.
We reassert the proper role of the laity in the governance of the Church. We understand this to mean that the laity defers to the clergy in respect and matters of doctrine. In return, we believe that Orthodox Christian tradition and historic practice require that the clergy respects the laity’s call for accountability, transparency, collegiality, adherence to process and the Canons of the Church, and ultimately then, unity.
In making this declaration, we remind ourselves of the historic courage and leadership of lay people in establishing and growing the single Christian Church, in defending the true belief of Orthodoxy during centuries of dispute, and in building new parishes around the world as immigration flourished.
We believe that foreign administration and indifference, and local ethnic fragmentation and disunity, have led, too often, to bad governance. This has contributed significantly to the decline of American parishes and dioceses, as succeeding generations see ethnic churches that are indifferent and unresponsive to their needs in a multicultural America. We believe we are a distinct and mature American Orthodox Christian community, that is ready to become a single, unified Orthodox Church of America.
We understand the apprehension that comes with the prospect of change. We believe that a unified, revitalized Orthodox Church of America would be a formidable spiritual and moral dynamo that would be a powerful force for good in the world, providing more support and vitality to the ancient Patriarchates and Mother Churches than divided, declining ethnic jurisdictions are providing.
We particularly envision a united Orthodox Christian Church of America to be a strengthened bulwark of support for the ancient Patriarchates that no longer have the internal governmental protection that the national Orthodox Churches have. We believe that this united American Church, wielding the potent voice of committed American citizens, will marshal an unprecedented level of material, moral, and political support for world Orthodoxy. A united, growing fellowship of Pan-Orthodox Archons and Guardians of the Faith of other jurisdictions, pledged to support and protect the ancient Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, will cement the special relationship that binds children to their parents.
We believe that concerns over loss of traditions, customs, and language are also misplaced, for we strongly ascribe to the American ideal of “e pluribus, unum…out of many, one,” for the keeping of local practices, parish by parish. We believe that language and customs should and must be maintained as parishes choose. In this, the American multicultural experiment will continue, just as it has from its beginning. Early Pan-Orthodox efforts such as International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) will see their good work thrive in a united Church.
We also believe that the American model of the new United States, which needed over a decade from declaring independence to agreeing upon a governing constitution, is a useful model for our new Church governance. This new Church would neither obliterate our Orthodox identity nor ignore our traditions and precedents, but will instead adjust these God-inspired and time-honored tenets within the reality of a unified Orthodox Church of America. We believe we can take our time, grow in Christ, and get it right.
We, therefore, believe that our Assembly of Bishops should – as in historic practice – come together as a synod, elect its own presiding hierarch, proclaim the Church in North America to be an autocephalous, canonical church, and seek recognition of this autocephaly from the fifteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.
In this, we call upon the Holy Spirit, Who bathes the world in wisdom and good order, and Who knows no national, ethnic, or any other boundaries, to help make clear to all the earth our prayer: to help our Church prosper, thus to keep and bring Christ into the lives of all people. We pray that the Lord will guide these efforts, that they be imbued always with heartfelt humility, and that the new united Church for which we pray and which we work to create would be, at all times and in all ways, for the greater glory of God.
Orthodox Christian Laity board members authored this declaration in June 2022.
Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit (ROEA—OCA)
Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey (OCA)
Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and West (OCA)
V. Rev. Dr. John H. Erickson, Tucson, AZ (OCA)
Rev. Dr. Timothy Cremeens, Huntsville, AL (OCA)
V. Rev. Fr. Steven J. Vlahos, Cherry Hill, NJ (GOA)
Rev. Fr. Stephen Evanina, Wayne, NJ (OCA)
Charles Ajalat, La Canada, CA (AOCA)
Frederica Mathewes-Green, Johnson City, TN (AOCA)
Dr. Gayle E. Woloschak, Chicago, IL (UOCUSA)
Dr. William Tenet, Manhasset, NY (GOA)
Peter Zarras, Morris Plains, NJ (OCA) – OCL President
Peter J. Petkas, Houston, TX (GOA)
William Souvall, Salt Lake City, UT (GOA)
George D. Karcazes, Wilmette, IL (GOA)
Argo Georgandis Pyle, Houston, TX (GOA)
George Matsoukas, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
Diane Theodora Georgopulos, Cambridge, MA (GOA)
Dr. Michael Constantine, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
William Caras, Great Falls, VA (GOA)
Alice Kopan, River Forest, IL (GOA)
Andrew Kartalis, Cleveland, OH (GOA)
David Oancea, Youngstown, OH (ROEA – OCA)
Timi Loomis Freshman, Beverly Hills, CA (GOA)
Mae Panoplos, Chicago, IL (GOA)
Alex C. Popescu, Montreal, QB, CAN (ROEA-OCA)
Stratos Mandalakis, Harrington Park, NJ (AOCA)
Evangeline Zarras, Sherman, CT (OCA)
Elizabeth MacNeil, Needham, MA (AOCA)
Anita Olga Jones, Round Rock, TX (GOA)
James Gottreich, Glenview, IL (GOA)
Michael Karrys, Wilmette, IL (GOA)
Dr. James Kalpaxis, Austin, Texas (GOA)
Steven Kalpaxis, Austin, Texas (GOA)
Elizabeth A. Gassin, Bourbonnais, IL (GOA)
Josiah McElroy, Wilkes-Barre, PA (AOCA)
Stephen T. Early, Chesterton, IN (OCA)
Hope Alexandra McDermott (AOCA)
John Kaloudis, Cottonwood Heights, UT (GOA)
Iryna Demydova, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
Theodossis family, Wellington, FL (GOA)
Spiro Pappas, Houston, TX (GOA)
Fran & Robert Pond, Houston, TX (GOA)
Dr. Alexander G. Bellas, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
Thomas N. Marudas, Baltimore, MD (GOA)
Demetra Chios Galazoudis, Singer Island, FL (GOA)
Nana Patsatsia, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
Katerine S. Amygdalitsis, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
Vance Poitier, Orlando, FL (AOCA)
Helice Carris Bernstein, Southampton, NY (GOA)
Valerie Grega, Houston, TX (AOCA)
AOCA = Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
GOA = Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
OCA = Orthodox Church in America
ROEA—OCA = Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America / Orthodox Church in America
UOCUSA = Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Check your email to confirm your email address immediately after
you sign the Declaration to complete the verification process.
Otherwise, your signature will not be recorded. Thank you!
I left the GOA for ROCOR and any serious movement for Orthodox unity in America is not going to happen until the errors of the Greek Archdiocese have been address and fixed and Elpidophoros has been sent packing.
Just the other day the Assembly of Bishops threatened to disband the assembly if Elpidohphoros proceeded with the consecration of Belya as a bishop….I’ll repeat what I just stated above “Orthodox unity in America is not going to happen until the errors of the Greek Archdiocese have been address and fixed and Elpidophoros has been sent packing.”
I’d love for the Church in America to be united, but, what’s to stop it from being turned into just another cash cow for the Ep. Plus with the current crop a united Church is easier to subvert, it was no accident this was published in the NYT & WSJ, since when do they care about Orthodox unity?
Well said, Menas…. I’m a little hesitant to do my party dance just yet. From the rags of journalism, NYT and WSJ? All of a sudden, Orthodoxy is at the front and center? Only time will tell if this agenda is honorable and genuinely on a trajectory to religious freedom. Freedom of oppression from legalized pilfering gangsters and thugs!
With a righteous leader at the helm, there is hope for American Orthodoxy…. 🙏🏻☦️
That was a paid advertisement, not news article. It is illogical to pillory it as an editorial expression of either the WSJ or the NYT.
You can say that again! Consistent, PAID, yellow journalism and advertisements at best! I’m curious to know why the powers that be, ‘allowed’ it….
The time has come to break away from Elpidophoros and the Patriarch. Constantinople is not coming back and is in Turkish hands. The US and Canada do nothing but give the Patriarchade millions of dollars, reminder look at all the missing funds from the St. Nicholas shrine. Elpidophoros has embraced Marxist ways and marches with BLM who want to destroy the nuclear family. It’s time to stop giving money where these charlatans live it up lavishly and the people are truly sheeple.
GOA is truly a sinking Titanic & only good news is many laity in the dark are finding out ugly truth of AB Elpi & his total disgrace, the Prince of Darkness Alex Karloutsos, who’s soon to be awarded by his sicko buddy
Joe Biden is a joke –
Presidential medal of freedom has been tainted if Karloutsos gets one!
The proclamations written in this OCL document calling for the unification of all Orthodox Christians in America are refreshing to read. I hole heartedly agree that the time for unity is long overdue and the need to move onward and beyond the current state of the GOARCH affairs is necessary and urgently required in order to preserve the Orthodox faith and the diminishing faithful few in the pews. Frankly, I don’t think there would be many people who would disagree with the statements espoused therewith. That’s the easy part – right? Anyone can be a critic, a back seat driver and a Monday morning Quarterback. But who will take the leadership roles within a new church? Where’s the admission, accountability for crimes committed and the apologies from the existing administrative Greek Orthodox Church Archdiocese in all of this? Without transparency, and an “I’m sorry”, if you will, I don’t think many Greeks will be able to forgive and forget in order to move forward in their walk with Christ within the Orthodox Church.
Until however (there’s always a caveat), there is a proposed framework or organizational structure illustrating how the “new” proposed OCCA looks, will operate and to whom it will be accountable, pinpointing the many obvious questions such as but not limited to the following: the locations of such churches, homes, office, retail or warehouse locations for services, Christian outreach, discipleship, ministry, etc., all of this is just talk. A first step mind you, but words on paper worthless without humility and honor praising GOD for His unmerited grace. Action, transparency and accountability are critical issues to all parishioners who deserve to be treated as equal fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
We must be honest with ourselves and first ask whether the answers honestly still rely on the archaic structure of the existing church as still being relevant today. Does giving Archons the continued financial power as previously established give us the assurances we need moving forward those past mistakes won’t be repeated? Have we not already witnessed just how power and money can corrupt and influence the guidance of the many hierarchs, Bishops, AB’s, Patriarchate, Priests and Archons fallen who currently serve in the GOA and have gone astray?
Rather than “Archons”, how about KINGDOM ADVISORS and SPIRITUAL LEADERS AS OVERSEERS of a new church? Hey, there’s a new idea! If we are to be guided purely by our Faith and trust in God as the proclamation intimates, Spiritual Leaders don’t have to be wealthy financial contributors or educated Theologians to fulfill such a significant role within the church.
A CERTIFIED KINGDOM ADVISOR is one who is a community member of Christian financial advisors. They provide insight and training on how to manage wealth and help clients, churches, institutions, families and businesses plan financially through biblical principles, as well as a community.
Spiritual Leadership can be defined in many ways but consider a few traits that characterize a leader specifically when it comes to pursuing God.
–A spiritual leader has a circle of influence. You have people in your life that you can lead. The circle will vary from person to person. It may be roommates, friends, co-workers, a spouse or family, a small group, a ministry team, or a whole congregation.
–A spiritual leader cares about these people. You care about what happens in their lives. You care about whether they know God and are pursuing God.
–A spiritual leader has vision. You can see what people can become. You have an idea of what pursuing God looks like and what you hope to see happen in people’s lives.
–A spiritual leader serves. Leaders are not about themselves and their own power. They are others centered. Jesus is the epitome of this.
Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
–A spiritual leader is willing to take responsibility. Leaders don’t passively sit by expecting someone else to lead. You care enough to embrace responsibility to help others pursue God.
–A spiritual leader takes the initiative. Feeling responsible isn’t enough. Leaders act. A leader initiates the next step. You’re the one who says to the people around you, “I have an idea. Let’s do this.”
Who among us are Kingdom Advisors and Spiritual Leaders? My dear friends, brothers and sisters in the OCL, ROEA-OCA, GOA, AOCA, UOCUSA, you may be thinking about it the wrong way. You don’t have to be older, more mature, more spiritual, more experienced, or more godly than the people you lead or have any of the criteria our existing Hierarchy possess.
Of course, you can’t really lead others if you are engaged in any serious, life-controlling sinful habits like what currently exists in the Greek Orthodox Church today. That will keep you from being able to follow through on leading others, and you will lack credibility. When it comes to leading a whole church or a religion such as Orthodoxy, there are high standards of character.
A good leader humbly recognizes that we’re all helpless sinners who depend on God’s grace and power continually.
We don’t need an over bloated hierarchal church structure to simply come together, unify and worship Christ as a community of Orthodox Christians. What guarantees will there be in place in order to prevent this new OCAA or any other newly formed Orthodox Church for that matter, from falling into the same rut and demise as the foreign national overseers did with the GOA?
Christ isn’t looking for us to create more layers, structure, encumbrances and barriers to worshipping Him directly, is He? Simplify the process, remove all barriers such as language, modernizing and abbreviating services, expanding the homily, ask for God’s forgiveness and His will in seeking a righteous pathway to a free and prosperous Orthodox Church aligned with His biblical teachings and the doors will open.
You can say that again!
Amen, Margaret! Orthodoxy is a Kingdom, not a religion…. I vote, Kingdom Advisors….brilliant!
We receive this worthy comment from our reader Teresa:
Since the late 1960s, I have been committed to Orthodox unit in America and have participated in such efforts (on Steering Committee for the union of foreign missions entities – resulting in OCMC) (one of the founders of Orthodox People Together) (Etc.). My ultimate dream is for an American Patriarchate.
A moving force behind a multitude of unity efforts during the past 40+ years is our brother-in-Christ, Charles Ajalat. I long ago dubbed him “St. Charles the Unifier.” I noticed that Charles has signed the Declaration.
I have a couple of questions.
(1) Will ALL the canonical jurisdictions enter into such a union? If ALL are not united, we still would have division.
(2) Will such a union be Orthodox/traditional or Orthodox/“modern?”? Are the Fordamites involved?
I have signed it and I pray for a metamorphosis of our holy church.
May It Be Blessed!