The following is from The Word Magazine, March 1994, Page 3-4
ORTHODOX BISHOPS IN THE AMERICAS
SUNDAY OF ORTHODOXY, 1994
To all the clergy and laity of the Holy Orthodox Church throughout the United States and Canada Beloved
Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
THE SUNDAY OF ORTHODOXY HAS COME to take on a special significance for those Orthodox Christians living in North America, in addition to the primary celebration of the day —the victory of Orthodoxy over the Iconoclasts. This first Sunday of Great Lent has also come to be a celebration of the one holy faith that we Orthodox Christians share. We identify ourselves as being in that line of believers that leads back to the Apostles and to the Lord Himself, and we declare our solidarity with them. The Apostles preached and traveled throughout the known world, They and those who followed established Churches everywhere, We are their legacy.
This missionary spirit and the deeprootedness of the faith in our lives led us and those who preceded us to bring that faith here as well. This year marks the Bicentennial of Orthodox missionary activity in North America, However, this history also led to the establishment of the various ethnic dioceses, To many outside of our Holy Orthodox Church, it appears that distinctions in administrative organization are also differences in faith: simply put, that we are not one Church, We take this opportunity to show all the world that we hold to one belief in the Father, His only Son whom He sent to us, and His Holy Spirit who enlivens us. This faith, and the love that we have for one another in our Lord Jesus Christ, “binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).
This unity of the Church is a precious thing that we should not take lightly. It must be nurtured and sustained through vigilant prayer and action, Notice how often we pray in the Divine Liturgy and the other holy services for the unity of the faith and of the Church. For our part, the member Hierarchs of the Standing Conference, we have striven for over thirty five years to lay the foundation for bringing administrative unity to the Church. SCOBA commissions, such as the Orthodox Christian Education Commission, have worked to provide a common religious education base for our youth. All dialogues with other Christian bodies have been coordinated through SCOBA. But clearly more is asked of us.
Last year we established the International Orthodox Christian Charities (10CC) to be the one agency for the whole Church in North America to coordinate relief efforts. While much more could be done, while many more funds are needed, it has been an enormous success. We give thanks to God for all of you who have supported this effort to help people in Russia, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we grow we will in the near future expand our program to include Ukraine, Georgia, Albania and the Middle East, Building on this example, we have established a unified Missions and Evangelism board to coordinate the efforts of all the member jurisdictions to bring the Good News of salvation not only to people in other countries, but here at home as well.
The most important work that we have before us is to move toward administrative unity for the Church in North America. It is not an easy task, but it is a necessary one. It is not something that will be accomplished tomorrow, but we must begin.
Toward this end we are planning to ask all of the Orthodox bishops in North America to convene and discuss issues of common concern. We have established and will establish other study commissions concerned with broadening and deepening the cooperation within our whole Church. In addition, we have decided to establish a full-time office that would give the Hierarchs of the Standing Conference the necessary staff to ensure the success of these initiatives, This will require both spiritual and material assistance. Without your generosity and prayers, we cannot sustain these efforts.
Beloved faithful, the Lord prayed to his Father that his disciples ‘May become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and has loved them even as thou hast loved me,” (John 17:23). We have a sacred task to preserve and proclaim the true faith. May God give us the strength and courage to do this.
With Archpastoral blessings, and prayers for a spiritual Lent and a blessed Pascha,
WE TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW ALL TIlE WORLD THAT WE
HOLD TO THE ONE BELIEF IN THE FATHER, HIS ONLY SON WHOM HE SENT TO US, AND HIS HOLY SPIRIT WHO ENLIVENS US. THIS FAITH, AND THE LOVE THAT WE HAVE FOR ON IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIS “BINDS EVERYTHING TOGETHER IN PERFECT HARMONY.”
Archbishop Iakovos, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America
Metropolitan Philip, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Metropolitan Joseph, Secretary
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
Bishop Nicholas of Amissos, Treasurer American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox
Greek Catholic Diocese in the U.S.A.
Orthodox Church in America
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada
Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States and Canada
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America