Archbishop Elpidophoros of America At the Archdiocesan District Clergy Syndesmos Pre-Lenten Retreat Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church


By His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

At the Archdiocesan District Clergy Syndesmos Pre-Lenten Retreat

Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church

Southampton, New York

March 11, 2024

Beloved brothers in Christ,


Before I commence my remarks, I would like to thank Father Alex and Father Constantine for the gracious welcome of the Hamptons Community here at Κοίμησις Θεοτόκου. I also thank our local Chancellor, Father Elias, as well as the leadership of the Archdiocesan District Clergy Syndesmos, for the organization of this retreat. I am grateful as well for the presence and contribution of Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides, the Executive Director of the CrossRoad Institute at our Theological School in Brookline.

Soon, we will have the opportunity to hear from our main speaker, the very well-educated Hank Hanegraaff, on the theme “The Orthodox Century.” I am thankful to Mr. Hanegraaff for agreeing to be with us, and I for one, am keen to see if he will be relating the history of the century behind us, or envisioning the one before us. I would think the latter, even though the last one hundred years have been truly monumental for our Church.

From the fall of the Ottoman Empire, to the fall of the Soviet Union. From the genocide against the Greeks and Christian minorities of Asia Minor – and the expulsions of their populations – to the extreme reduction of the Christian presence in the Middle East. From the World Wars that realigned the globe, to the technological and economic revolutions of the past fifty years.

The last century was certainly impactful for our Church, and I would propose that the singular individual who has influenced the position of Orthodoxy the most in the world today, is the longest serving Archbishop of Constantinople in history – our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. His All-Holiness is the bridge between these two centuries, having been elected near the close of the Twentieth Century, just as the Slavic Orthodox Churches were emerging from the deadly shadow of communism.

And because of the extraordinary tenure of His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has led the way into not only this new century, but into this new and third millennium of Christianity.

But this procession into the future has not been without great cost. We have witnessed the moral collapse of the Church of Russia by its collaboration with the Putin regime and its utter resistance to the autonomy and, indeed, autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has taken a powerful stand for the independence of the Ukrainian People, and for peaceful and positive relations between all the Orthodox Churches.

Making this spiritual choice for truth of Gospel, over compromise with secular power is, in my mind, the great challenge for our next century.

Orthodoxy has been accused – and rightly on occasion – of being caesaropapistic. His All-Holiness is moving the Church beyond this outmoded and dangerous thinking, and even beyond the ethnopapistic thinking affecting many of the Local Autocephalous Churches, who place their national interests above the Church of Christ.

Our Mother Church of Constantinople remains free from such ethnophyletism and from political spheres of influence, preferring to lead by the power of love, rather than lusting after power.

If the next hundred years are to be the “Century of Orthodoxy,” it will be because the Mother Church is leading world Orthodoxy into a future that is grounded in the truth of the Gospel, which is God’s absolute love for His own creation. How this unfolds, though, will be truly marvelous to behold.

Therefore, let us commence our program and hear from our dear brother, Hank. And with that, I convey to all of you my paternal blessings and prayers for an uplifting retreat, a fruitful Lenten season, a spiritually prosperous Holy Week, and a glorious Resurrection.

May the Lord bless you all!

Archbishop News