Assembly of Orthodox Bishops Concludes; Decisions Made

May 28, 2011

From May 25-27, the second annual Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America gathered for its meeting at the Chicago O’Hare Hilton. There was a total of 45 bishops in attendance. In addition, nearly all of the members were present at the Assembly.

Three decisions by the Assembly stand out as particularly important. Firstly, the Assembly expressed its desire to define more carefully its relationship to the agencies and endorsed-organizations which it inherited from SCOBA. It was felt that the bishops should do more to enable the success of these ministries in North America, and they agreed that the guidelines previously used by SCOBA were not adequate for the Assembly. These guidelines will be revised by the Secretariat’s Coordinator for Agencies and Endorsed-Organizations, together with the liaison bishops for the various agencies, to allow the Assembly a more active participation in and support of the various ministries under its oversight.

Secondly, the Assembly agreed on the great importance of the role of our military chaplains, who give spiritual support to our dedicated men and women who serve in the armed forces and are subject to the many hardships of deployment and combat. They decided upon the need to develop clear guidelines for Orthodox Christian chaplains, and to create a single, unified endorsing agency for all military chaplains with the Department of Defense. In addition, it is a desired goal of the Assembly to facilitate a gathering of all active Orthodox Christian military chaplains.

And thirdly, the Assembly stressed the great importance of the Church’s ministry to the youth, and as a result, has endorsed three projected conferences to bring together Orthodox youth workers from all over North America. It is hoped that this will help to encourage them in their ministry, eliminate redundancy and divided resources among the various churches, and create a common vision for youth ministry in the Church in North America.

The Assembly decided that it was prudent for itself to be incorporated as a legal entity, as this would bring the Assembly a number of benefits and would further its ability to act as a body. It therefore authorized the proper agents to move ahead with the work of incorporation. In addition, the Assembly reaffirmed its petition of last year to the mother churches, for the partition of the Assembly, by establishing Canada as a separate region, and joining Mexico and Central America to the region of South America. This represents also the desire of the Canadian, Mexican and Central American bishops. Lastly, the Assembly drafted and approved an official message to be issued in its name to the all Orthodox Christian faithful living within the region.

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