Thursday, July 09, 2009
New York, NY - The Spring Session of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) met on June 25, 2009 from 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., hosted by the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA at the St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral, 15 East 97th Street in New York City. This was the first time that SCOBA had convened at this historic Cathedral. It was also the first time that the Moscow Patriarchate participated since re-joining the SCOBA after a nearly 40 year hiatus. This session was attended by the following Members of SCOBA: Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Philip, Vice-Chairman (Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Christopher, Secretary (Serbian Orthodox Church), Archbishop Nicolae (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Jonah (Orthodox Church in America - who was attending for the first time as Primate of the OCA), Archbishop Antony (proxy, Ukrainian Orthodox Church) and Archpriest Alexander Abramov (Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA - who was the host and also attending for the first time). Also present were the General Secretary and members of the SCOBA Study and Planning Commission representing the SCOBA member Churches.
Archbishop Demetrios opened the meeting at 10:30 a.m. with prayer and he welcomed the newest Members of SCOBA: Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America and Archpriest Alexander Abramov of the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA. He continued with an informational presentation on the following significant events that occurred since the last meeting of SCOBA and general conditions that the Church faces in the world:
• The Synaxis of the Prokathemenoi of the Autocephalous Churches in
Phanar in October 2008, including the Text of the Synaxis. (Oct. 2008)
• The accompanying Symposium on St. Paul sponsored and hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (Oct. 2008)
• The death of Patriarch Alexy (Dec. 5, 2008) and the election of Patriarch Kirill (Jan. 27, 2009)
• The departure of Bishop Mercurius of Zaraisk from America (May, 2009)
• The inauguration of the new Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) in St. Augustine, FL. (May, 2009)
• The New Testament Military Edition, which will be distributed to all Orthodox Christians serving in the Armed Forces of the USA, and published jointly by the American Bible Society and SCOBA (April 2009)
He then invited Metropolitan Jonah and Fr. Abramov, both first time participants in a SCOBA meeting, for any initial response. They both offered their thanks and joy for their participation in such a meeting.
There were presentations on the SCOBA Website (www.scoba.us) and on a new and independent not-for-profit organization called FOCUS North America, which proposes to engage in Pan-Orthodox philanthropic ministries and is seeking to become a chartered Agency of SCOBA. It was decided unanimously by the SCOBA Members that an authorization to FOCUS for the status of a chartered agency should follow a process in close collaboration with the Study and Planning Commission. Nevertheless, FOCUS received a warm endorsement from the SCOBA Hierarchs for this welcomed initiative. Following this, there was an approval of a Statement prepared by the Social and Moral Issues Commission of SCOBA (SMIC), under the title: DISABILITY AND COMMUNION, Embracing People with Disabilities within the Church, and which will be issued in the next few weeks.
There was also discussion of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference that met at the Orthodox Center of Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Switzerland from 6 - 13, June 2009 and the accompanying Communiqué.