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Special Encyclical
The Falling Asleep in the Lord of Archbishop Iakovos
Former Archbishop of North and South America

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On behalf of our Holy Eparchial Synod, I write to you in order to announce the passing on Sunday, April 10 of our deeply respected and beloved spiritual leader Archbishop Iakovos, who served as Archbishop of North and South America from 1959 to 1996. As we mourn his departure, we remember a servant of God whose example of courage and inspiration greatly influenced both our Church and our nation.

For thirty-seven years Archbishop Iakovos guided the Greek Orthodox faithful and parishes throughout the Americas in a continuous growth of ministry and witness. He promoted and solidified the unity of our Archdiocese by establishing new national programs that continue to offer service and resources in the name of Christ. Certainly the vitality of our Church today is a fitting honor to his lifetime of service, and for this we give thanks to God.

Archbishop Iakovos was a believer in the uniting and healing power of the love of God. Throughout his ministry he brought together people of faith, establishing helpful dialogues with the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish communities. He was also sensitive to the truth that God created humankind in His own image and likeness. He vigorously supported Civil Rights legislation, and he marched in 1965 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama, affirming the necessity of equality for all Americans. His commitment to human rights and religious freedom was demonstrated by his response to the needs of Greek Cypriot refugees following the invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and his leadership in supporting our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. He was an ecumenical leader, a friend of presidents, and a tremendous contributor to the global witness of our Orthodox faith.

These are only a few examples of the legacy of faith and service that Archbishop Iakovos has given to us, a legacy that will be remembered for many generations to come. It is in honor of his life and leadership that our Archdiocese will officially observe a period of mourning for nine days from April 10, the day of his passing. During this time I ask that our parishes suspend all non-liturgical functions. Each parish of our Archdiocese should conduct Trisagion services for the repose of Archbishop Iakovos. On the day of his funeral, Thursday April 14, all of our parochial schools should conduct a Trisagion service at 9:00 a.m., and all parishes are instructed to ring their bells in a solemn mode from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. EDT.

As we faithfully complete the Great Fast and prepare our souls for the glorious Feast of Pascha, may we remember and honor Archbishop Iakovos for his many years of service and his faithfulness to God and His Church. May his memory be eternal.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America