Tuesday, March 01, 2011
This past week the Chairman of the Assembly of Bishops, Archbishop Demetrios, sent out a formal notification to all the member bishops for the next plenary session of the Assembly. The first meeting was held in New York; this meeting will be held in Chicago, and will convene on May 25-27, 2011.
The Chairman encouraged each committee to begin its work, with the hope of having at least one meeting (via telephone, video conference, or in person) before the Assembly. It is also expected that time will be made available in Chicago for committees to meet, to allow them to prepare their reports to the Assembly.
The Committee for Youth, chaired by Bishop Thomas, has already held two meetings by phone and has compiled initial lists of all Orthodox Christian youth ministries, parochial schools and camping programs. It is in the process of creating a list of Orthodox youth directors in America. The members are united in their hope that the various youth and camping programs can work more closely together, and they discussed ways to facilitate this. They are planning to have another meeting soon, this time in person, to work towards this express goal.
Archbishop Demetrios also apprised the member bishops that the fifth and latest meeting of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission was held this past week in Chambésy, Switzerland. It is generally hoped that this meeting will conclude significant work for the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar process. It was the fourth session of this Commission, held in 2009, that established the various Assembly of Bishops, including the North American Assembly. Among the final issues to be addressed by the Commission, in advance of the planned Great and Holy Council, are the questions of the diptychs (i.e., the order of seniority among the autocephalous churches) and a unified process for granting and recognizing the autocephaly of dependent churches.
This commission is chaired by Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamum. It is possible that he will be present at the forthcoming meeting of the Assembly in Chicago, and will address the bishops about the progress of the commission?s work, and so provide the Assembly an important context for its own work.
It is the responsibility of our Assembly of Bishops of North and Central America to develop a plan for canonical unity in our region, which our bishops can present to the Great and Holy Council of all Orthodox churches.
The Chairman?s office and the Secretariat are currently working on the agenda for the Assembly meeting in May. It is hoped that this will be presented to the member bishops before Pascha.