Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Keynote Address for the Metropolis of Pittsburgh Clergy Laity Assembly
September 28, 2023
Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church
Beloved Brother and Concelebrant in the Holy Spirit, Metropolitan Savas,
Dear and Reverend Fathers and Presvyteres,
Assembly Chair, Archon ProtoNotarios Nicholas Lekas,
Esteemed Delegates to the Clergy Laity Assembly,
Beloved Sisters of Philoptochos and Dear Youth Workers of our Parishes,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I rejoice at the opportunity to offer my greetings and paternal blessings to you all, as you gather for the Metropolis of Pittsburgh Clergy Laity Assembly in this beautiful parish of Saints Constantine and Helen in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Under your archpastor and spiritual father, His Eminence Metropolitan Savas, you have been making tremendous strides. But I want to note how pleasing it is to see “Youth Workers” included, along with the usual delegates and the beloved Sisters of Philoptochos. This is the first time I have seen kind of highlighting of their importance, and I commend all of you for recognizing this most valuable ministry of the Church.
I want to pause for a moment to acknowledge something that I know some of you are interested in – the status of the Mixed Commission and the Charter revision process for our Holy Archdiocese. The Mixed Commission, formed by the Holy and Sacred Synod of our Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, will wait for our Holy Eparchial Synod to continue its deliberations and come to a consensus on the general direction for the revision of the Charter before reconvening. There will be more to communicate at a later time.
But for now, I want to highlight the strides that you have made, for the entirety of the Sacred Archdiocese of America rejoices in the groundbreaking this last July for your New Metropolis Center. This visionary and indeed, missionary project, is launching the Metropolis of Pittsburgh in a new trajectory – one that will doubtless yield many and diverse spiritual benefits for all the blesséd souls of this precious ποίμνιον of the Lord. And not only this very significant initiative, but all of the sacred activities of this Metropolis are building a brighter future.
There is a resonant theme here in the building of the New Metropolis Center, inspired by the Hymns of Ascent – τούς Ἀναβαθμούς – the collection of Psalms – the Eighteenth Kathisma – that we read at the Pre-Sanctified Liturgies. These psalms were sung in Israel of old by the priest of the Temple of Solomon, as they ascended to perform the worship of the Lord.
In this moment, I think of your late and ever-memorable Metropolitan Maximos who was your shepherd for decades, and that sublime servant of the Lord, the late and blessèd Father George Livanos. Now they sing these wondrous verses in the ascents of the Everlasting Celestial Temple Not-Made-With-Hands: the Ἀχειροποίητον Αἰώνιον. May their memory be eternal!
The verse I would share with you is from Psalm 126.
Ἐὰν μὴ Κύριος οἰκοδομήσῃ οἶκον, εἰς μάτην ἐκοπίασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες.
If the Lord builds not the house, in vain do they labor who build it.*
All of you have applied intense labors to come to point where the New Metropolis Center is becoming a reality, a dream come true. It will be a house for all the ministries of the Metropolis, and a gathering place for the coordination of the work of the Church.
I am here today to assure you that this house is being built under the watchful eye of the Divine Architect of Creation. The Lord is your foundation, your corner stone, your walls, and indeed the canopy that covers you. Together with His Holy Mother, more spacious than all the heavens, and with the saints, you are all being built, as the Apostle Peter says:
… like living stones … into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. †
The Lord Himself places each one of you in right relationship to one another, as you submit yourselves to Him. You are not casually arranged in the House of God, and this is also true for your endeavor to build the New Metropolis Center. And just like any building, you must be fit together without gaps of alienation and competition. You are the Body of Christ, connected by the Flesh and Blood of God Himself. Let your love for one another in Christ be the mortar that holds you in the bonds of peace and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, my beloved Christians, your labors will not be in vain. The Lord Himself is the Guarantor of your success. Your efforts will yield harvests even to “an hundredfold.” ‡ Your new Center will become the beating heart of the Metropolis ministries, a hub around which you will radiate the love and mercy of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, I bless this Clergy Laity Assembly, and all the co-workers in Christ who have gathered.
May all your godly works and ministries thrive and be filled with the joy of the Lord.
* Psalm 126:1a (LXX).
† I Peter 2:5.
‡ Cf. Luke 8:8.