Thursday, November 08, 2018
Deeply saddened and profoundly concerned, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America condemns the heinous and murderous shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. Regrettably, it has become all too common for peace to be broken by bloodshed.
Nearly one year ago, after the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, we stated, “we witness one more egregious act of hatred and terror. Unfortunately, such sights have become all too familiar in our society; they are the antithesis of love and the worst example for our children of what mankind can be. We are called to rise up in witness of a love that conquers fear and hatred, and to bear witness before society and all civil authorities of the need to eliminate violence.” We are distraught that today the opposite is manifest, and, in this case, even some of the same people were re-victimized.
We fervently pray for the victims and their families during this time of sudden and unfathomable pain and loss. We sympathize and stand in solidarity with the survivors for the healing of both soul and body. As we mourn the loss of innocent lives, we must all work together to transform our broken society. It is time we allow love to overcome hate and light to outshine darkness. Only then will these countless and continuously occurring acts of violence cease and peace prevail.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America expresses its deep sympathies as we mourn the loss of innocent lives and pray for the speedy recovery of those wounded in the recent attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Remembering the Message from our Assembly meeting just last month, we reiterate our “denunciation of all violence, whether caused by senseless acts related to weapons and shootings or instigated by abhorrent acts of discrimination and prejudice.”
Indeed the heinous and murderous act of terror on October 27, 2018 sprang from a place of deep prejudice against people and religion. We unequivocally condemn this rampage as a sin against the local community, religion, and humanity.
We call upon all Christians and all people of good will to stand in solidarity with the families of the victims and the survivors. We pray fervently to the Almighty God for the spiritual healing of the entire congregation and community, especially those in Pittsburgh. In this era of frequent and unprecedented attacks on basic freedoms, especially freedom of religion, it is through love and harmony that hearts might be softened and transformed. For only through love will evil be neutralized, violence cease, and peace prevail.
*2018/2019 Updated guidelines for Clergy Compensation have been posted and can be accessed HERE.
Dear to God,
Christ is in our midst! Please find attached a letter regarding an annual review of clergy compensation, the compensation guidelines and the figures for Median Income for your city and county. Keep in mind that if the cost of living is lower where your church is located than where your parishioners live, the compensation should be based on where the majority of the faithful actually live.
Guidelines for Supply Priests and Deacons are also found here.
Asking your God-pleasing prayers, I remain your unworthy father in Christ,
Yours in Christ,
+Mark, Archbishop of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania
Concerning the Current Developments in the Orthodox World
The Holy Synod of Antioch met in the Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery, Lebanon, (October 3-6, 2018) and made the following statement:
The fathers examined the general orthodox situation. They stressed that the Church of Antioch expresses Her deep worries about the attempts to change the boundaries of the Orthodox Churches through a new reading of history. She considers that resorting to an unilateral reading of history does not serve Orthodox unity. It rather contributes to the fueling of the dissentions and quarrels within the one church. Thus, the Church of Antioch refuses the principle of establishing parallel jurisdictions within the canonical boundaries of the Patriarchates and the autocephalous churches, as a way to solve conflicts, or as a de facto situation in the Orthodox World.
The fathers of the Church of Antioch underline that any approach for granting the autocephaly of a certain church has to be in accordance with the Orthodox ecclesiology and the principles agreed upon by the Churches in a conciliar way in the past years. These principles for granting autocephaly are about the necessity to obtain the agreement of the Mother Church and the acknowledgement of all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches. The Church of Antioch affirms the necessity to resort to the principle of unanimity concerning the common orthodox work and the stand on controversial issues in the Orthodox world, and this unanimity is a true safeguard for Orthodox Unity.
The Church of Antioch warns from the dangers of implicating the Orthodox world in the international political conflicts and the resulting harms which come from approaching the Orthodox Church’s issues on the basis of politics, ethnicity, and nationalism.
The Church of Antioch calls upon His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch to call for an urgent Synaxis for the primates of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, in order to discuss the current developments that the Orthodox world is facing about the issue of granting autocephaly to new churches, and the efforts made to find common solutions before taking any final decisions about this issue.
The Church of Antioch highlights the necessity of spiritual vigilance in this critical period of history, and the importance of preserving the peace and unity of the Church, and to be watchful on not falling into the trap of political entanglement which history has proved to cause the Orthodox Church a weakening of Her united witness in the world.
Many old reports and publications will be making their way to the website. At this time, Diocesan Assembly Reports from the very first through the 1990's Diocesan Assemblies have been added to an Archive. You can explore the archive HERE.
Old issues of Alive in Christ are also being archived. The first (randomly chosen) issue to be scanned and added to the archive is the issue from the Summer of 2006. JUST ADDED - Winter 1991 (chosen randomly!)
St. Tikhon’s Seminary is announcing open enrollment into an expanded Diaconal and Parish Leadership Formation program! The program is currently structured to satisfy the educational requirements of laymen who would like to pursue ordination into the Diaconate. It is also intended for faithful men and women, who would like to deepen their knowledge of Orthodox theology and spiritual life to be more effective in their ministry in the Church. The expanded program now consists of two educational tracks: one for those who intend to serve as Deacons in the Orthodox Church and another for those who are actively involved in parish leadership.
The Parish Leadership Formation program is designed for laypeople who would like to seek greater knowledge of our Orthodox Faith toward exercising a more active role in the life of their parish. The program will be helpful for those: serving on parish council, conducting catechetical instructions, teaching Sunday School, and leading youth activities, assisting with church services either in the altar or in the choir, or undertaking any responsibility in the parish life that can benefit from the knowledge of Orthodox Theology, Spirituality and Liturgy.
Archpriest Victor Gorodenchuk, the director of the program, remarked: “We are very excited with the decision of St. Tikhon’s Seminary to create an opportunity for dedicated Orthodox faithful of our area to learn more about Theology, Scripture and Liturgy. This program is ideal for those who have full-time employment and are able to commute once a week to Philadelphia. In contrast with correspondence courses, the ability to meet for both prayer and classes and to spend time in fellowship with other students allows participants to have an important formational aspect which is indispensable for their ministry in the setting of an Orthodox parish.”
The program meets on Saturdays over the course of two years from September to May at St. Stephen Orthodox Cathedral in North-East Philadelphia, PA. To download a copy of the flyer, click here. For any questions about the program, please contact Fr. Victor Gorodenchuk at 215-745-3232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first ever, national study on evangelization and outreach in Orthodox parishes in the United States has been released by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA.
Download the report in various formats:
• Executive Summary (pdf)
• Full Report (pdf)
The report "Go and Make Disciples: Evangelization and Outreach in US Orthodox Parishes" explores the practices and strategies developed by some Orthodox parishes that can be viewed as "exemplary" in their missionary and outreach efforts. Examples of what the readers will find in the report include:
• The "secrets" of being a parish that attracts and welcomes new members;
• Eight good practices of welcoming first-time visitors and inquirers about the Faith;
• How do "exemplary" parishes achieve a high degree of involvement of their members in parish life;
• Four distinct features of religious education in the "exemplary" parishes;
• Six "lessons" that Church leadership (bishops) can learn from the "exemplary" parishes.
Parishes of seven Orthodox jurisdictions participated in this study. The report was prepared by Alexei Krindatch, the Assembly's Research Coordinator in cooperation with Fr. Eric Tosi (OCA), Fr. John Parker (OCA) and Adam Roberts (Antiochian Archdiocese). The study was initiated and sponsored by the Committee for Agencies and Endorsed Organizations (Bishop Gregory of Nyssa, Chairman).
The Telos Project, a five-year initiative at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology [HCHC] exploring the religious lives of young adults ages 23-29, is seeking 14 parishes belonging to the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America to pilot new forms of young adult ministry. For more information click HERE.
His Eminence, Archbishop MARK has sent out an appeal to the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania to aid Fr. John and Matushka Kyra Nightingale. Fr. John experienced a tragic fall last year, and is continuing to recover, with great expenses. Please read the letter from His Eminence, and as the Great Lent approaches consider making a donation of money or time, and kee[ the Nightengales in your prayers.
Christ is in our midst!
Here you will find two recently revised "Proposed Templates" for parishes desiring to adopt a set of By-Laws or Constitutions where there are none or update them in cases where the old By-Laws are incongruent with the Revised Statutes of the Orthodox Church in America or simply out of date. We welcome feedback on these "Proposed Parish By-Laws." According to Federal Law regulating Non-Profit Organizations, every Non-Profit must have a set of By-Laws and follow them. Those who do not endanger their tax exempt status as well as leave their parish council members open to personal liability. The same could also be said of parishes that have bylaws but do not follow them..
Recently many parishes in the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania have updated their presence on the World Wide Web - too many, in fact, to give each their own separate news story. A website is your parish’s “store front” to the world - statistics show that when searching for a church, the first place most people go is to the internet. Does your parish have a website? Is it updated at least weekly? Is your parish using social media? In the 21st Century these tools are used by many who are searching, and can reach millions.
Congratulations to the parishes below who have made their place on the internet extra special, for taking the time to ensure their message is being clearly and neatly presented. Did we miss your parish? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list.
The Mission of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry is to bring the love of Christ to those who are in prison by providing encouragement, material support, transition and reintegration guidance, Christian education, spiritual guidance and the sacramental life of the Church. How can you help?
Revised OCA Statutes
The revised statutes for the Orthodox Church in America are now available. The Revised Statutes are the governing document for the Orthodox Church in America, its' Dioceses, and Parishes. Please review the Revised OCA Statutes HERE.