Friday, September 11, 2009

Orthodox Leaders Seeking Unity

LIGONIER, Penn., Sept. 11 /Christian Newswire/ -- Orthodox Christianity in America stands at the threshold of a new era of renewal. As the ancient faith lays down new and dynamic roots in America, new and indigenous leadership is emerging as the Church engages American culture. Meeting in Ligonier, Pennsylvania on October 20-31, 2009 for "The Road to Unity: From Vision to Action" conference, leaders and participants will develop ideas on how the American Orthodox Church can achieve unity in America.

The meeting takes on greater significance as world church leaders challenge the American Orthodox jurisdictions to work together to present a nuts and bolts plan for a unified North American Church. The process toward unity was established at the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference of Orthodox Patriarchates in Chambesy, Switzerland, June 2009, and will be guided by an Episcopal Assembly that is inclusive of all canonical jurisdictions, chaired by Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Newly-elected Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will present the keynote address. His unique vision for establishing Orthodox unity in America has stimulated much discussion in national Orthodox circles. Other hierarchs joining him include: Archbishop Nathaniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America; Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, Bishop Melchisedek, Diocese of Pittsburgh and Western PA and others (confirmation pending).

"Orthodox unification in America is more than an administrative project - it is a spiritual imperative," said George Matsoukas, Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) that is sponsoring the conference. "If we don't unify, we risk losing our faith and the opportunity to share it with our fellow Americans who are seeking the roots of Christianity."

The conference is drawing some of the best leadership emerging in the American Orthodox world, many of whom have tackled the complex issues of how to live as an Orthodox Christian in American society. They include such notables as Father Thomas FitzGerald, Dean of Holy Cross School of Theology, author Frederica Mathewes-Green; John Maddex, CEO of Conciliar Media Ministries; author/lecturer Kyriaki FitzGerald, columnist Terry Mattingly, and others.

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