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The Greek Archdioceseeighth annual meeting of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America drew to a close on Thursday, October 5, 2017.

On Tuesday, October 10, the Assembly released the text of the gathering’s concluding Message to the Faithful, the text of which appears below.  His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon was among the message’s 32 signatories, together with other US members of the Orthodox Church in America’s Holy Synod of Bishops: His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel; His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon; His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin; His Eminence, Archbishop Melchisedek; His Eminence, Archbishop Mark; His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, who also serves as the Assembly’s Treasurer; His Grace, Bishop David; and His Grace, Bishop Paul.

The text of the opening address of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Assembly Chair, also has been released.

Message of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Garfield, New Jersey

To our beloved Orthodox Christian faithful and all people of good will throughout the United States of America:

“Let the children come to me, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 14.14).

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

We, the Hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, who have gathered in Garfield, New Jersey on October 3-5, 2017 for our eighth annual meeting, greet you with love in Christ as we offer glory and thanks to Him.

Having been welcomed by our host, His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, thirty-two hierarchs, gathered in the unity of our Orthodox faith, began our Assembly with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at Saint George’s Greek Orthodox Church in Clifton, New Jersey, calling to mind in our prayers our suffering neighbors throughout the world.  Once again, our thoughts and prayers were with the kidnapped hierarchs in Syria: Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul Yazigi (brother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch) and Syriac Archbishop John Ibrahim.  We prayed also for the repose of our brothers, Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, Metropolitan Philotheos of Meloa, and Bishop Antoun, formerly of Miami, who fell asleep in the Lord after long and blessed hierarchal ministries, which were notable for their strong support for the work of our Assembly.

Having thus begun with prayer, we proceeded upon three days of convocations and meetings in which we set about our various works.  In the opening session, new officers were welcomed to the Executive Committee: His Grace, Bishop Gregory as Secretary and His Eminence, Archbishop Michael as Treasurer.  His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, our Chairman, noted in his opening address three main reasons for our meeting.  “Our work together,” the Archbishop noted, “is a methodical and intense spiritual exercise in building love and fortifying the bond of our unity in Christ.”  He also pointed out that our task as Orthodox Hierarchs is to “organize and function according to the canonical norms and tradition that our Church Fathers wisely established throughout the centuries.”  Lastly, Archbishop Demetrios urged the Hierarchs to work together on forging an authentic and common witness of Orthodoxy to the younger generation.

Among the many themes addressed during our Assembly, one of the central [themes] this year was that of youth ministry: the place of children and young adults in the Church.  We affirmed the need to enhance our ministry to those for whom the Church is their hope, their glory, and their salvation.  We listened to presentations by Dr. Richard Flory, Senior Director of Research and Evaluation at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California, and by Dr. Ann Bezzerides, Director of the Office of Vocation and Ministry at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.  They highlighted the importance of ministry directed to all ages and stages of youth and identified various challenges and opportunities to the care of youth and emerging leaders.  We remain mindful of the beauty and sanctity of childhood, which our Lord Himself experienced, sanctifying its vulnerability and integrity, its dependency and its development into Godliness.  Jesus Christ welcomed and blessed the young children, and we are thus reminded that “for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 14.14).  We remain steadfast in our commitment to guard “their lives according to God’s word” (Psalm 110.9), so that they may “set an example for all believers in speech and conduct, in love, faith and purity” (1 Timothy 4.12).