Episcopal Assemblies First Step Towards Unified American Orthodoxy

September 25, 2009

Editor’s Note: Historic events are underway as the worldwide Orthodox churches are slowly preparing for a new Great and Holy Council meeting. Many are hopeful that a unified American Orthodox Church is now within sight. The “Episcopal Assembly” of the United States will be the precursor to this new Orthodox structure which — if successful — will in time eradicate the jurisdictional issues which now plague the United States and much of the rest of the world. This article gives a glimpse into these events now underway.

CHAMBESY, Switzerland – At the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, delegates from the 14 Autocephalous Churches participated in the historic Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference, meeting at the Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy- Geneva, Switzerland on June 6-12.

The Conference was a direct result of the Synaxis of the heads of all the Orthodox Churches, convened by His All Holiness at the Ecumenical Patriarchate Oct. 10-12, 2008. At that time, all the Prokathemenoi (Heads) expressed their “desire for the swift healing of every canonical anomaly that has arisen from historical circumstances and pastoral requirements, such as in the so-called Orthodox Diaspora, with a view to overcoming every possible influence that is foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology.”

At the October 2008 meeting of the heads of the Autocephalous Churches, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew called upon them to “activate the 1993 agreement of the Inter-Orthodox Consultation of the Holy and Great Council in order to resolve the pending matter of the Orthodox Diaspora.”

This agreement provided a plan to establish an “Episcopal Assembly” for the Bishops to cooperate in each of the regions of the so-called Orthodox Diaspora for solutions to canonical problems and for a common Orthodox witness. Acting as formal representatives of the Autocephalous Churches, the members of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Conference in Chambésy affirmed “that is the common will of all of the most holy Orthodox Churches that the problem of the Orthodox Diaspora be resolved as quickly as possible, and that it be organized in accordance with Orthodox ecclesiology, and the canonical tradition and practice of the Orthodox Church.”

The Conference decided to establish “Episcopal Assemblies” in specific regions which are beyond the boundaries of the Autocephalous Churches. The Conference initially identified twelve regions throughout the world. Each Episcopal Assembly will include all the canonical Orthodox bishops in a given region such as North America.

The full article regarding Episcopal Assemblies is available in the free PDF version of the September 2009 issue of the Orthodox Observer:


Official documents regarding the Episcopal Assemblies are endorsed by SCOBA at http://www.scoba.us and are available at:


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