Recently, Bishop Basil spoke with AFR correspondent Matthew Namee about the historic assembly of bishops which took place in the week following Pentecost. His Grace was elected Secretary of the Assembly. Below are excerpts from the interview, which can be found here in full:
"The bishops delighted in being together and doing the work of the Church."
"The ultimate task was to prepare the Orthodox (Church) of this region...to constitute itself as a canonical, single Church.…It is a huge task, one that a vast majority of Orthodox Christians in America have been praying for, hoping for, talking about, for a long, long time."
"It’s as if the Mother Churches have said to us, ‘Look, you have been asking for this. Before we give it to you, we would like to know, what is your plan?’"
"We were blessed by the work of SCOBA….the work of the Episcopal Assembly was made quite easy by the 50 years of preparation."
"The Episcopal Assembly is comprised of every Orthodox bishop, not just the primates. We had 55 in attendance, (in New York) where the maximum of SCOBA members would have been 8."
Ancient Faith Radio has also posted an extensive interview with Fr. Mark Arey, General Secretary of SCOBA, titled Unraveling the Episcopal Assembly. Additionally, Antiochian.org has compiled a summary of online Assembly articles.
The weekend of June 4th through the 6th proved to be a joyful and historic event for the community of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. Starting with the arrival of His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, His Grace Bishop THOMAS and Archdeacon Hans on Friday, June 4, a weekend of celebration was set in motion for the groundbreaking of the new St. George Church.
On Saturday, June 5, our beloved Hierarchs began the day by meeting with some of the parents, teachers and children of our parish. The morning consisted of a dialogue between Metropolitan PHILIP and our children, and a special arts and crafts project. The groundbreaking Ceremony was celebrated at 11:30 a.m. on the land where the new St. George Church will be constructed. Metropolitan PHILIP and Bishop THOMAS blessed and planted a wooden cross on the land where the church will be built.
Reprinted from The Word, June 2010
The very words of Christ Himself proclaim, “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God,” but all too often we see the very children of the Church embroiled in destructive conﬂict and controversy. Who has not been to a Parish Council meeting or an Annual Parish Assembly where there has been conﬂict or controversy? Who has not experienced strong differences of opinions within families or with siblings? Who cannot say that they know people who have gone through messy divorces in their Church communities? As a matter of fact, a cottage industry has emerged on the Internet now populated with numerous websites and blogs speciﬁcally dedicated to exploring the question of just how we are dealing with conﬂict in the Church. Perhaps one might conclude generally that conﬂict is “normal” to the human condition, and, by extension, to the Church, and we just have to do our best to survive it. But the reality is that, all too often, conﬂict leaves in its wake a myriad of severed relationships and broken ties that ultimately do harm to the very members of the Church that produce it.
Fr. Paul Hodge, Antiochian pastor of St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Sioux City, Iowa, recently republished a fascinating account of the life and times of Fr. Nicola Yanney, the first Antiochian priest to serve in mid-America. Born in 1873 as the son of Elias Yanney in Fi’eh al-Koura, north Lebanon, Fr. Nicola and his young bride Martha George al-Baik of Qilhat, immigrated to America shortly after their wedding, where they led the life of homesteaders in a sod house. Sadly, after happy years spent farming in the Kearney area, Martha and the Yanneys' second daughter Catherine, reposed in 1902. Following this loss, St. Raphael of Brooklyn ordained the widower to the priesthood, as Bishop BASIL recounted in his own Enthronement remarks on December 15, 2004: "Father Nicola’s parish stretched from the Canadian border in the north, to the Mexican border in the south, and from the Mississippi River in the east, to the Rocky Mountains in the west. It is Fr. Nicola who, as a circuit riding priest headquartered in Kearney, followed the example of his Father-in-Christ, St. Raphael, and visited Orthodox Christians in the scattered towns, villages and isolated farm lands throughout America’s Heartland."
Read the full account here.
Conciliar Press has released a new book written by Antiochian priest Fr. Aidan Wilcoxson of Cedar Park, Texas. Titled Aidan's Song, the book recounts the many moments of a parish priest's life, large and small, all experienced within the rhythm of the Church year. The journal entries delight, encourage and inspire. As Bishop BASIL writes on the jacket, "After a few pages priests will find themselves singing along and lay readers will be humming this really great tune. Enjoy! I did!"
From Aidan's Song:
Sunday, November 19: Prophet Obadiah
This morning I’m out among the trees behind the building. The sun hasn’t come up yet, and it’s pretty cold—even with a T-shirt, my clergy shirt, my cassock, and a sweater. I’m going through my sermon, and the sky starts to glow orange like a fire on a crisp morning. Out in the tall grass, a deer breaks cover and bounds off into the trees. But after a few minutes, the deer walks back out towards me. It’s a doe, and she’s got her neck stretched out, and she’s looking straight at me. I can see her brown eyes. I go through the sermon again, and she stays right there, listening. After I’m done, she wheels, her white tail flashes, and she leaps—once, twice, three times—back into the trees.
On May 25, the podcast Ancient Faith Presents featured an interview with AFR CEO John Maddex and Dn. Peter Bolukos, Registrar for the St. Stephen's Course in Orthodox Theology. Dn. Peter highlighted aspects of this unique educational program and encouraged new students to consider studying theology and ministry via the Antiochian House of Studies.
Dn. Peter pointed out that the Antiochian House of Studies and St. Stephen's Course have been in existence for nearly 30 years. Between 120 and 150 students apply annually, and in the courses, students read approximately 13,000 total pages. Additionally, all students must complete a ministerial project with clergy mentors and all must attend yearly classes at Antiochian Village. There are thousands of students who have completed the courses and are serving the Church as both clergy and laypeople, including many from countries like Japan, Ireland, Brazil, Mexico and Australia.
For more information, prospective students may email Dn. Peter at email@example.com, or call (201) 569-0095, Eastern Standard Time.
The June 2010 issue contains the following articles:
Seeking the Peace from Above: Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution in the Church, pg. 5
by Fr. John Mefrige
The Transfiguration on Tabor: A Vision of a Vision, pg. 13
by Bogdan Gabriel Bucur
...plus the Archdiocese Book List and Order Form, and more!
The Word does not publish in July and August. Watch for the September issue later this summer.
Message of the Episcopal Assembly Of the Canonical Orthodox Hierarchs of North and Central America, May 26-28, 2010
We glorify the name of the Triune God for gathering us at this first Episcopal Assembly of this region in New York City on May 26-28, 2010 in response to the decisions of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference held at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Switzerland, from June 6-12, 2009, at the invitation of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Gathered together in the joy of the Feast of Pentecost, we humbly recognize our calling, in our unworthiness, to serve as instruments and disciples of the Paraclete, who “holds together the whole institution of the Church” (Hymn of Vespers of Pentecost).
We honor and express gratitude to the Primates and Representatives of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches who assembled at the Ecumenical Patriarchate from October 10-12, 2008 to affirm their “unswerving position and obligation to safeguard the unity of the Orthodox Church” (Chambésy Rules of Operation, Article 5.1a) and emphasized their will and “desire for the swift healing of every canonical anomaly that has arisen from historical circumstances and pastoral requirements” (Message of the Primates 13.1-2)
We call to mind those who envisioned this unity in this region and strove to transcend the canonical irregularities resulting for many reasons, including geographically overlapping jurisdictions. For, just as the Lord in the Divine Eucharist is “broken and distributed, but not divided” (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom), so also His Body comprises many members, while constituting His One Church.
EPISCOPAL ASSEMBLY - MAY 26, 2010
"Your Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and Brother Bishops:
My opening remarks this morning are taken from the Vespers of Palm Sunday, “Today the Grace of the Holy Spirit has gathered us together.” How wonderful and pleasing to God for all of us to meet and discuss matters related to the life of our Church on this particular continent. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chairman of SCOBA for his hard work to make this gathering possible.
The literature which we received from Chambesy via the Greek Archdiocese of America, raises some important questions.
ONE, Despite the vitality and the dynamic nature of Orthodoxy in North America, no member of SCOBA, not even the chairman of SCOBA, was consulted about what was discussed in Geneva. We received rules from our brothers in Switzerland which we have nothing to do with. We have been on this continent for more than two hundred (200) years. We are no longer little children to have rules imposed on us from 5,000 miles away. Orthodoxy in America has its own ethos. We have our own theological institutions, and we have our own theologians, authors, publications and magazines. We do not intend to be disobedient to the Mother Churches; we just want to dialogue with them and give them the opportunity to know us and understand us.
On Wednesday May 19th The Constitution Reconciliation Committee met in Englewood, NJ under the chairmanship of His Grace Bishop JOSEPH. The goal for this committee is to reconcile any remaining differences between the current Archdiocesan Constitution (approved by our General Assembly at a special meeting which was convened in Pittsburgh, PA in July 2004), and the Constitution that was approved by the Holy Synod of Antioch in October 2004. The Committee conducted a line-by-line “read-through” of a document that highlighted the differences between the two constitutions. The committee noted several areas where the changes introduced in the version approved by The Holy Synod of Antioch are acceptable, and should be recommended for inclusion in the Archdiocesan Constitution. The committee also noted several areas where the changes need to be clarified and perhaps modified in light of the Self-Rule status that was granted to this Archdiocese by a Resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch on October 9th, 2003. The committee will meet again to finalize the recommended amendments.
The founder of the Al-Kafaat Foundation, Mr. Nadim Shwayri, with his wife Lily and daughter Myriam, visited His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP on Monday, May 24th for dinner. The Al-Kafaat Foundation in Lebanon provides services and housing for people with disabilities from all backgrounds; the word Al-Kafaat itself means "abilities." Mr, Shwayri has dedicated most of his life and finances to establishing the foundation that cares for these "least of my brethren" free of charge, from the cradle to the grave.
In conjunction with Conciliar Press, the Antiochian Department of Marriage and Parish Family MInistries has released two much-requested brochures for Orthodox Christians. "Crowned with Glory and Honor," a free, downloadable brochure, presents readers with a set of helpful guidelines for Orthodox marriage preparation, including such concepts as the meaning of crowning, and the purpose of the Betrothal Service. Readers will even learn about the wedding almonds: "The white coating symbolizes purity; the egg shape represents fertility and new life that begins in marriage. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage, and the sweetness of the sugar encourages the hope of the sweetness of future life together. Giving of three almonds signifies the union is indivisible, just as the bride and groom will remain undivided in their union with each other and with Christ."
The second brochure, "A Guide to Parish Etiquette," lists everything parishioners need to know about respectful and reverent behavior while in liturgy. Department Director Khouria Maggie Hock encourages all parishes, couples and families to make use of these valuable, free resources.
O Lord, thy disciple Emperor Constantine, who saw in the sky the Sign of Thy Cross, Accepted the call that came straight from Thee, as it happened to Paul, and not from any man. He built his capital and entrusted it to Thy care. Preserve our country in everlasting peace, through the intercession of the Mother of God, for Thou art the Lover of mankind.
+ Troparion of Ss. Constantine and Helen, Tone 8
"Constantine's legacy can be seen in Christianity's transformation from a private sect into a public church that encompassed the whole of society. He put it on an institutional footing, which enabled the Church to be the leading cultural force in the ancient world."
(From Robert Arakaki's Constantine The Great: Roman Emperor, Christian Saint, History's Turning Point)
The editors of Antiochian.org recently launched a newly improved Liturgical Resources section, accessed on the menu bar of the website's home page. One of the site's most popular destinations, the Resources page now features categories such as "Articles," "Music Resources," and "Podcasts and Audio." An aggregation of the most critical liturgical tools required by chanters, choir directors, deacons and priests, the page is also helpful to laypeople involved in Bible study groups or choir. Browsers can download music, an Akathist, even the Antiochian Archdiocese's well-loved "Little Red Prayer Book."
Recently, Antiochian.org spoke with the Very Rev. Fr. David Barr, respected Antiochian liturgist and Director of the St. Romanos Chanter's Training Program, about the importance of liturgy and music in the life of the Church.
1. Generally speaking, do parish musicians usually need formal training to chant in church? Why/why not? What would you recommend for that musically inclined parishioner who might be interested in chant, but shy?
To chant properly using Byzantine chant, one needs some formal training. Even though a great deal of Byzantine music exists today in western notation, it is important to understand the ethos.
Working Committees, Archdiocesan Synod, Board of Trustees, and North and Central American Episcopal Assembly to Meet
May 17, 2010, Englewood, NJ
Over the course of the next two weeks, several meetings that are critical to the future of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, and all Orthodox faithful in North and Central America, will take place.
Beginning on Wednesday May 19th and Thursday May 20th, two working committees of this Archdiocese will meet in Englewood, NJ. Both committees were appointed by His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP in October 2009, and are chaired by His Grace Bishop JOSEPH. The Constitutional Reconciliation Committee will meet on Wednesday May 19th. The goal for this committee is to reconcile any remaining differences between the current Archdiocesan Constitution (approved by our General Assembly at a special meeting which was convened in Pittsburgh, PA in July 2004), and the Constitution that was approved by the Holy Synod of Antioch in October 2004. The second committee is chartered to study the current “Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities” (originally approved by the Archdiocesan Synod on June 4, 2004, and amended on July 23, 2008). The committee will recommend changes to this manual in light of all of the events that have transpired since the last amendments were made.
The Archdiocesan Synod of Bishops will convene their regular Spring meeting in Englewood, New Jersey on Thursday May 20th in the evening, and will continue on Friday May 21st in the morning. Among the agenda items to be discussed will be the North American Episcopal Assembly which will convene in New York City on May 26th. In addition, each of our hierarchs will give a report on important developments in his diocese since the last meeting.
"There is an actual Orthodox Church in Afghanistan. Let me say that again. There is a Church- not just a chapel – here in Afghanistan, which is to our knowledge the only free-standing, permanent Church structure of any kind in the entire country."
Fr. David Alexander, Antiochian Orthodox priest and chaplain described this and other amazing discoveries in his post-Paschal letter to his home parish, St. Anthony's of Bergenfield, New Jersey. "I nearly broke down in tears while reading the sermon of St. John Chrysostom, and again while giving communion to a newly chrismated member of my Battalion for the first time," wrote Fr. David describing his Pascha at Camp Leatherneck.
Recently Antiochian.org interviewed Fr. David, who also reflects on his unique and challenging life in his AFR podcast In the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
1. Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of how you ended up as an Antiochian Orthodox Christian, serving as a chaplain in the middle of the conflict in Afghanistan?
Well, I am a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese serving on active duty as an officer in the Navy Chaplain Corps. Because the Marine Corps is under the Department of the Navy, they have Navy chaplains, doctors, and combat corpsmen (medics) serving with them all over the world.
Holy Apostles Mission in Bowling Green, Kentucky has received heavy damage to its mission chapel from the recent flooding in the region. No further services are planned in the current location. Weekly Bible studies and Vespers on Saturday evening will be held in members' homes. The Mission is currently working to secure a new location for services.
Donations to may be sent directly to the Mission:
c/o Kevin Burt (Mission chairman)
357 Cedar Ridge Rd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Antiochian Orthodox priest and author, Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of Houston, made a pilgrimage to Syria visiting Metropolitans, monasteries, and ancient churches from April 11-24. Father shares his journal here, and in his Ancient Faith Radio podcast "The Blindside."
The airport: It was a 16-hour flight from Dubai to Houston, having left Damascus the previous day. The lines to get through American Customs were long. When it finally came my turn, I approached the counter to see a sight not seen in my two-week absence: a very white woman with red hair and freckles. “Where you coming from?” she asked. “Dubai,” I said, “I’ve been traveling in Syria.” “Syria! On business?” she asked. “No, I was visiting the holy sites,” I replied. The fair skinned Customs Agent looked at me as if I had six heads and said, 'Why Syria?!'
The May 2010 issue contains the following articles:
Let Christ be in Our Midst: Keeping Young People in the Church, pg. 5
by Corinne M. Cassis
St. Vladimir’s and St. Herman Seminaries Create Program in Missiology, pg. 7
7 Summer Programs for Everyone from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, pg. 26
Finding Scott Hakim, pg. 28
by Fr. David Alexander
...plus reports from the Order of St. Ignatius, the Dept. of Youth Ministries, Antiochian House of Studies and more!
Christ is Risen! Across the United States, in the Canadian Provinces, and around the world, Antiochian priests and laity joined together in the triumphant Paschal hymn, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!" The editors of Antiochian.org have assembled a photo gallery picturing Pascha as it is celebrated, in parishes from California to New York, and Calgary to Florida. If your parish has photos to share, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add them to our collection. Click here to enjoy the photos.