The brilliance of Orthodoxy was in full array in Troy Michigan Tuesday evening, February 19, as Metropolitan KALLISTOS made his first visit to Detroit to discuss the Future of Orthodoxy in the United States. The visit was hosted by St. Andrew House Center for Orthodox Christian Studies.
In what was undoubtedly the most successful Pan Orthodox event ever held in this city, more than 500 people jammed into St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Troy, Michigan, to hear the presentation.
The setting was the beautiful Byzantine sanctuary of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Troy, Michigan, under the pastoral care of Fr. Joseph Antypas. The event had to be moved into the sanctuary when it became apparent that the original setup in the church hall would not suffice.
"We must say the catholicity and universality of the church are more valuable, more fundamental than our national, ethnic, and cultural identity," His Eminence told the assembled group. "If the basis of the Church’s existence is life in the Eucharist, it means that the church is organized on a territorial, and not on an ethnic principle," he continued.
"We need to be clear about our priorities; the catholicity and universality of the Church, are much much more precious than our national or ethnic identity," said the hierarch.
Comments overhead during the evening included, "That man is the reason I am Orthodox," said Bill Nowling, from Brighton, Michigan. "I saw him 20 years ago in Grand Rapids, what a blessing to have him come here," said another man. "For many of us, this will be a once in a lifetime event," said a young Coptic man.
The diversity of the crowd reminded one of the multifaceted and ancient traditions of the Eastern Church. Armenians, Copts, Greeks, Romanians, Russians, Lebanese, Syrians, along with Anglican converts to the faith had come from all across the Midwest, Ontario, and even Florida to listen to the world renowned author and bishop.
Archbishop NATHANIEL of Detroit, president of St. Andrew House, began the evening by reviewing the mission of St. Andrew House as a proponent for Orthodox Unity. "The Church in America was a united Church in the early 1900's under the Russian Diocese of America," said His Eminence, "It was only after the Russian Revolution, which cut off support of the American Church, that the various ethnic jurisdictions began to spring up in America," he continued.
The benediction given by the two hierarchs at the conclusion of the evening still rings in my ears. "Through the prayers of St. Andrew the First called, and the Great Martyr St. George..." said Metropolitan KALLISTOS.
Following that final prayer, and under the leadership of Archbishop NATHANIEL, the building erupted in the hymn of "Lord...Bless thy People" - followed by "Many Years" which was led by Subdeacon Robert Mitchell (spontaneously). The majesty of those two hymns, at the end of such a spectacular evening, still send shivers down my spine.
For a complete recording of the evening, visit www.orthodoxdetroit.com . Recordings of the event were made possible by a continuing partnership between Ancient Faith Radio  and St. Andrew House.
by Dean Calvert