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Collegiality and Consensus Mark Fall Meeting of SCOBA Hierarchs

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Oct 14, 1998

New York, NY - The Fall meeting of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) was convened by His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and SCOBA Chairman, on Tuesday, October 13th, at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. In an ecumenical move that has been anticipated for some time, SCOBA decided to re-establish formal ecumenical relations with the Episcopal Church in the United States. Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has been assigned to make contact with his counterpart in the Episcopal Church, and to report back to SCOBA with preliminary arrangements.

Discussions were held in several areas of mutual concern to the various Orthodox Churches in America, including the establishment of a Commission on Contemporary & Moral Issues. Other Commission reports discussed were: International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), Charles Ajalat, President; Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), the Rev. Martin Ritsi, Executive Director; Orthodox Christian Education Commission, Dr. John Boojamra and the Military Chaplaincy Commission. In addition, three committees were appointed to discuss the Celebration of the Millennium, including the preparation of an Encyclical, a National Youth Rally and Orthodox Choral Concerts. The re-investment in the Committee structure of SCOBA has been a long-sought goal of the various jurisdictions, inasmuch as shared Committee work can prevent unnecessary duplication of efforts, especially on the ecumenical and inter-faith levels.

The SCOBA hierarchs, representing over six million Orthodox Christians in the United States, included: Vice-Chairman Metropolitan Philip, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America; Metropolitan Theodosius, Orthodox Church in America; Archbishop Victorin, Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada; Metropolitan Christopher, Serbian Orthodox Church in the United Sates and Canada; Archbishop Peter, Orthodox Church in America; Bishop Vsevolod of Scopelos, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America; and the Rev. Illia Katre, Vicar General of the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America. Not present were the Treasurer, Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos, American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the U.S.A.; and the SCOBA Secretary, Metropolitan Joseph, Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church; and Metropolitan Constantine, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A.

Also invited to a portion of the meeting were the Primates of the Oriental Orthodox Churches -- the Armenian, Syrian, Ethiopian and Coptic Churches. In attendance were Archbishop Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America; Archbishop Ephraim Karim, Primate of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America; and Bishop Kuriel of the Coptic Orthodox Church. These hierarchs joined the SCOBA hierarchs for a formal luncheon. The Oriental Orthodox Church leaders had requested to initiate closer and more formal ties between their communities and those of the Orthodox. This process is expected to be twofold. First, there is a desire in these communities for the relations between the Orthodox Churches and the Armenian, Syrian, Ethiopian and Coptic Churches in the Americas to reflect the status of the international consultations carried on worldwide. Additionally, there is a mutual desire for common approaches and solutions to the contemporary problems of our communities.

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