Protocol No. 119/16

July 4, 2016

Independence Day

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 Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, 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,

As we observe the annual commemoration of Independence Day, hierarchs, clergy and laity from throughout our Holy Archdiocese are gathered in Nashville for our 43rd Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress.  Certainly, we are meeting to address the needs and opportunities in the life of our Church in America.  We are also gathered in the presence of God with a focus on a specific theme that guides and challenges our work of ministry: “You are the Voice of Christ in a Changing World.”  On this day and in our celebration of the freedom we have in this country, the voice of Christ should be heard through us so that all may know the true depth and spiritual power of the liberty we have in Him.

Our liberty in Christ is freedom from the bondage of sin.  Through His grace and forgiveness and the power of His presence and our faith, we are free to live life as God created it to be.  We are free in our communion with Him to see His image renewed so that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

Our liberty in Christ is freedom from the captivity of death.  This liberty is given to us as a gift from God.  Through the power of His Resurrection, His power to create and give life, our Lord frees us from the chains of death, into the perfect liberty of salvation.  Jesus said, For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).

Our liberty in Christ is the freedom to witness, and serve, offering the Gospel and His voice to a world in need.  In one of His first public acts, our Lord stood in the synagogue in Nazareth, and read publicly from the book of Isaiah, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19).

This is the voice that must be our voice.  His words must be heard and the Gospel communicated in all that we do.  Now is the acceptable time for us to be the voice of Christ and to use our liberty in Him to offer truth, grace, and eternal life in a changing world.

I ask for your prayers for the abundant blessings of our Lord upon our Clergy-Laity Congress and our plans for offering the voice of Christ through our witness and ministry as the Greek Orthodox Church in America.  I also ask that you reflect prayerfully on how you are offering the voice of Christ in your life, so that through you others may hear and see Him and find abundant and eternal life.

With paternal love in Him,

Archbishop of America

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