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Encyclical of the Holy Eparchial Synod, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

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Feb 25, 1998

GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA

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New York, NY 10021

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e-mail: archdiocese@goarch.org

Memorandum

TO: To the Reverend Clergy and

The Faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

FROM: The Office of His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon

President of the Holy Eparchial Synod

DATE: February 25, 1998

SUBJECT: Encyclical No. 18/98

Chapter 17 of the Gospel of St. John is often times referred to as the High Priestly Prayer of our blessed Lord. After the bread was broken on the eve of the Savior’s passion at the gathering of the Holy Apostles with the Lord, which is called the Mystical Supper, Jesus spoke to His faithful followers saying:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will

believe in Me through their Apostles’ word;

That they all may be one, as You, Father, are One in Me, and I in

You. . . that they may be one just as We are One”.

The unity of the Church was of such great importance to Christ, that literally just hours before His Crucifixion He prayed that the flock which He would leave on this earth would be ever united in His love.

This unity of faith, belief and tradition has been preserved for nearly 2000 years by the Church through the grace and power of the All-Holy Spirit. The unity of this precious Archdiocese must forever be preserved through love, self-sacrifice and dedication to the one ministry of Jesus Christ for the Holy People of God.

Therefore, please find following a special encyclical issued by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church in America to all the faithful, and people of good will in the Holy Archdiocese of America.

[signed]

Archimandrite John A. Heropoulos

Director of the Office of the Archbishop

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Encyclical of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Protocol Number 18/98 February 25, 1998

To the Reverend Clergy and

Faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Dear Reverend Fathers and Faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America,

‘We beseech all of you, that you walk worthy of the vocation by which you were called, with humility, inner strength and patience, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. For there is one Body and one Spirit….’ (cf. Ephesians 4:1-4)

Many decades have passed since our forefathers and early builders of our Church in America, determined to maintain their faith as a living and vibrant community of believers, established wise methods to allow the body of the Church, Lay and Clergy alike, to participate in the concerns of the Archdiocese. For example, as stated in Article I Section 3 of the Uniform Parish Regulations (U.P.R.):

“Except for questions of a doctrinal or canonical nature, the Clergy-Laity Congress shall concern itself with all matters affecting the life, growth and unity of the Church, her institutions, her finances, her administration, educational and philanthropic concerns, and her growing role in the religious life of the nations of the Western Hemisphere.”

This was an article born out of the care and love of clergy and lay founders of our Archdiocese who wanted to share and propagate their Orthodox Christian Faith. Through biennial Clergy-Laity Congresses and local Diocese Assemblies, procedures were established for regular national and regional participation. In addition to the Archdiocesan Council, Diocesan Councils were established to augment the activities that occur at the Diocese level. The Parish and Parish Councils formed the grass roots level of participation in the ministry of the Church.

Thus the fullness of the ministry of the Church is represented in the form of the All-Holy Cross, with the crossbars representing the vertical sense of hierarchy and order, and the horizontal, the sense of fullness and participation. And we must never forget that all of our participation, as bishops, priests or lay people, revolves around the central act of our Faith where we experience the Mystery of the Cross and Resurrection, the Divine Liturgy, where our Lord Jesus Christ pours Himself out for the life of the world.

Through the Press, through Press Releases, through meetings and unprecedented open dialogues with Clergy and Lay people, we continue to have open dialogue and exchange information to effectively formulate a strong vision for our Church here in America. We lovingly encourage every member of our community to speak their mind and work within the framework of what has been prepared not only from the foundation of the Archdiocese in 1922, but from the very foundation of the world. Our Church has been built upon Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Saints in every generation Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.

All that we have has been given to us in keeping with the dogmas, canons and teachings of our Holy Church. No other ecclesiastical administrative Charter in the Orthodox world provides for the amount and degree of lay participation, as does the Charter of the Holy Archdiocese of America. We must be thankful to our forefathers in this world and the nextwho dedicated decades and countless hours of prayer, study, and reflection to develop a means of Church administration appropriately American and yet consonant with our Orthodox faith and tradition. We have all received these means from those who came before us, the faithful Hierarchs, pious Clergy and devout lay leaders who struggled to plant the Greek Orthodox Church firmly in this blessed land of America.

Together we must pledge to one another and to God, that we will preserve this living legacy and by the Grace of our Lord, continue the work of those who so nobly forged this unique and creative method of synergyLay and Clergy working together, hand in hand, to preach the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul said: “… all things should be done decently and in order.” (1Cor. 14:40) This is the mandate for the governance of the Body of Christ.

Therefore, let us always be faithful to the Holy Scriptures, the Sacred Tradition of the Church, and the established order of the Archdiocese, which has been created in harmony by both Clergy and Laity. It is of great concern for the Church that different groups are attempting to establish themselves as separate and self-proclaimed arbiters of Church governance. Some of them have organized themselves outside and above the Church as overseers of the life of the Church in America.

These groups, although perhaps well meaning, are not representative of the Church, nor do they work within the accepted and established order of the Church. ‘But we beseech you, brothers and sisters, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no factions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment’ (cf. I Corinthians 1:10). Church facilities, resources, and staff, must only be used in order to faithfully carry out that which is prescribed in the Charter of the Archdiocese, the Uniform Parish Regulations and the local by-laws of each Parish, provided these by-laws have been ratified by the Archdiocese.

Therefore, it is reasonable and proper that the resources of the Church, in their various manifestations, may be used by any group whose purpose is consistent with the Church and the Charter and the UPR of the Archdiocese. Organizations which call the faithful away from the Body of Christ in order to randomly critique the Body of Christ, are neither edifying to the Faithful, nor contribute to building up the unity of the Church. The Church is not comprised of parties, camps and factions, but the many members of the one, united Body of Christ. And as the Apostle says:

“Now God has set every member in the Body as it has pleased Him . . . that there should be no division in the Body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with him, or if one member is glorified all the members rejoice with him. For you are the Body of Christ.” (I Corinthians 12:18, 25-27)

The essential mission and call of the Church is to all people and all Nations. It is a call to all people to worship in the Church, to fully participate in the Sacraments of the Church, to fully participate in the life of the Church according to the 2,000 year old witness of the sacred tradition and the established ways and manners which have long been decided by clergy and lay people working together and sealed into Holy Tradition.

The unity of the Church is manifested in the mystery par excellence, the precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, offered for all at the Divine Liturgy. Everyone is called to be part of this Body, the Body of Christ. Let us work together to preserve the unity of the Holy Church, that this generation and the ones that are to come may be told of the Lord, and proclaim His righteousness to a people yet to be born, whom the Lord will create (cf. Psalm 21:31 LXX).

May the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God the Father and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

[signed]

SPYRIDON

Archbishop of America

President of the Holy Eparchial Synod

[signed] [signed]

IAKOVOS, Metropolitan of Krinis ANTHONY, Metropolitan of Dardanelles

Presiding Hierarch of the Presiding Hierarch of the

Diocese of Chicago Diocese of San Francisco

[signed] [signed]

MAXIMOS, Metropolitan of Aenos METHODIOS, Metropolitan of Aneon

Presiding Hierarch of the Presiding Hierarch of the

Diocese of Pittsburgh Diocese of Boston

[signed]

ISAIAH, Metropolitan of Proikonisos

Presiding Hierarch of the

Diocese of Denver

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Archives of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America's press releases are available online at: www.goarch.org/goa/press_releases
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