SCOBA Hierarchs Convene For Fall Session

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

SCOBA Hierarchs Convene For Fall Session

South Bound Brook, NJ - The Fall Session of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) was convened here on November 15, 2005 at the headquarters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (UOC).  Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, chairman of SCOBA, chaired the session.  Metropolitan Constantine of the UOC was the host and welcomed all to the Ukrainian Orthodox Consistory.

    Other Hierarchs present were Metropolitan Herman of the Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese, Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Bishop Antoun of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (representing Metropolitan Philip), Archbishop Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, general secretary of SCOBA.  Also present were members of the SCOBA Study and Planning Commission and the directors of four SCOBA Agencies.

    Actions taken at this session included the final approval of documents submitted to formally establish Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) as the seventh Agency of SCOBA.  Upon appointment of its board, the election of officers and the hiring of staff, this new Agency will begin to function early in 2006.

    An extensive report was offered by Mr. Dean Triantafilou, executive director of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), especially in reference to the response of IOCC to the hurricane Katrina and hurricane Rita disasters.  It was reported that IOCC has provided over $4 million in assistance, while continuing its ongoing long term development projects on the West Bank and Gaza, in Lebanon, Ethiopia, Romania, Serbia and elsewhere.  It is also offering significant aid in Asia to meet needs resulting from the disastrous tsunami and the earthquakes in Pakistan.  The Hierarchs expressed deep gratitude to the staff, board, volunteers and donors who make the work of IOCC possible.

    Another action involved final approval of an agenda for the October 2006 Conference scheduled in Chicago for all canonical Orthodox Bishops of the nine jurisdictions belonging to SCOBA.  The Study and Planning Commission was charged with selecting persons to prepare papers on the topics scheduled during the four day conference.

    Before breaking for lunch, the Hierarchs heard a report from Fr. Mark Leondis on behalf of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship ministry of SCOBA.  This rapidly expanding campus ministry program now has chapters on more than 200 campuses in North America.  The significant efforts of OCF were received with joy and praise by the Hierarchs.

    Following lunch, a report from the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) ministry was given by Fr. Christopher Metropoulos, executive director.  The Hierarchs were updated on the efforts to expand this radio ministry and reaffirmed their support of the January 15, 2006 Share The Light Sunday observance in all Orthodox parishes of the SCOBA jurisdictions.

    The final SCOBA Agency report was that given by Fr. Paul Kucynda, executive director of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission (OCEC).  Fr. Kucynda spoke of the publications of the OCEC and the teacher training seminars offered throughout  the country for all the teachers in the religious education programs of Orthodox parishes.

    A final project approved at this session was the convening of a Clergy Seminar early in 2006, in the Dallas area, on Christian/Muslim Relations.  Based on this model, to be coordinated by Fr. Nektarios Morrow, seminars will then be offered in other regions to assist clergy in dealing in the concerns resulting from the rapid growth of Islam in America.

    The session concluded with the sharing of news from the life of the Church and the scheduling of the Spring Session in May at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in New York City.  This session started with prayer at 10:10am in the Memorial Chapel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Consistory, and concluded with prayer at 4:00pm.

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