Diaspora? From where? The most recent immigrants in my family tree came here over a century ago, from Norway. I have an ancestor who came to Georgia at His Majesty's request decades before the Revolution. My family's roots are in North America, and have been for about three hundred years. I am not an exile from anywhere except Paradise. The spectacle of primates from cities that don't even exist anymore (Constantinople, Antioch) presuming to meddle in American affairs would be hysterically funny were it not so pathetic. How can we expect our fellow Americans to take us seriously if we're so ludicrously concerned with the opinions of people who have shown no interest in us at all, except as a cash cow?
Just try rehearsing how you'd set about explaining this 'episcopal assembly' official overseas resolution, as if visiting with someone thinking of joining -- someone who is not ignorant of Christianity to begin with, someone whom you would not want to think of you as having mislead them three years after joining when they see the space between the preaching and what happens. For example your spouse-to-be or their family. It would have to go something like this:
'Yes, well our bishop is in a synod along ethnic lines but he's appointed by or has his choices handed down to him from a foreign center that either recently was under communist influence or a center that is presently part of remnant community in Turkey or Syria smaller than a large US parish. But they have announced a new initiative, besides reporting abroad the various local bishops also go, as conferees, at new local 'conference' of other bishops covering our same towns who are part of the other various overseas groups. Now we've been in the USA between 100 to 150 years and we really would like to reach out to our neighbors to show how our faith really takes a wholistic, organic approach, de-emphasizing petty legalisms and ethnic/ancestral divisions as our faith history teaches us properly to live in national entirely locally self-governing sister churches. Also none of our bishops has ever been married, many of them are caught up in gay scandals, and though at one time it was otherwise presently no married priest can be a bishop. Please join and please give generously.'
Could the response to such an invitation be anything except : 'You must be completely mental to stay' ?
Do these overseas bishops cooking up their idea of our future show even the barest sign of thinking about how their choices affect our possibility to retain our people and attract the next generation here? Accepting this means accepting to dwindle. Are we okay with that?
All, there was a follow-up (thanks to the +MP) that stated (essentially) that the local synod president would be elected by all the bishops. NOT just a rep from the EP!!!! In case this rings a bell, go back and reread +Jonah's speech - that was exactly what he was saying! And that is exactly what SCOBA started out to be before the +EP started screwing things up. We live in interesting times.
This is something I've been thinking and discussing with others, and we draw very similar conclusions that you posted. How can someone lgetting married or doing some sort of outreach ever be flat out honest about the Church and what is going on? OTH, how can we NOT be honest and divulge all this to people so when someone does decide to become Orthodox, they are truly prepared for just how deep this corruption runs.
I realize some people don't like to use the words corruption and scandal, but that is what it is as far as I'm concerned.
Frankly I don't think the Bishops "get it". And I have to say my faith is beginning to be shaken and rattled unlike anything I've ever experienced in my Christian life before. When I was an Evangelical, I thought organized/institutional Churches were "corrupt" and bogged down with politics and power games........it wasn't until I had been Orthodox for some years that I discovered I had NO IDEA how bad it really was. (and as an Evangelical I thought the worst, but the reality is much worse than what I imagined) And yet I kept the faith and fought the good fight. But I can not honestly tell others to come into this. Not into my Archdiocese anyway. (GOAA) I cannot tell people "the Church is perfect" or tell them to make it just about "you and the Sacraments", I just cannot do it.
The way I read this press release about the "Diaspora"....my first reaction was, and still is, "well, it looks like they're giving the steering wheel over to Istanbul after all"....I don't see it any other way. Istanbul wants to be in charge, and all the Old World Bishops are giving him permission to be in charge of the barbarian lands. I really wish I saw some other interpretation I could eek out of this, but I cannot.
It really does feel like it will 500 years before we have an "American Church", by then there might not be an "America"....just as today there is no Byzantium or Rome. What irks me more than anything is exactly what you pointed out.....how is this going to affect the mission? And more worrisome, how is this going to affect people like myself who are already Orthodox? Do they consider this? Do they even care? Honestly, I don't think they do. I still believe (for now) the Theology of the Orthodox faith, and still believe it is Christ's Church, and probably will as long as I'm a Christian, however the Church needs a political and jurisdictional Reformation. I know that's a dirty word, but I'm not talking about a Theological one, but a structural one. I don't mean turning the Church into a "democracy" because as others rightly point out, the Church is not a democracy, it is a Kingdom, but Christ is our King, not the Bishops, who seemingly are trying to turn the Church into a human dictatorship controlled by guys in funny hates who live in long dead Empires. It's time to move the Church into the 21st century......I pray Met. Jonah has some magnificent ideas to articulate at St. Vlad's, because I'm starting to run out of hope within my jurisdiction, and rather quickly at that.
Yes, MP's interpretation of the proceedings is different than the official communique of the proceedings. On the other hand, what does it matter? Either way, the goal posts were moved, nothing of consequence is bound to happen and we will languish. This reminds me of the European powers carving up the world for colonies. Well, this colonial thinks it is time to exert our independence. In this colony, we do have an autocephalous Church (the OCA) that constitutes the core cadre of a truly nation-wide and all encompassing North American Church.
If you look at the church membership and attendance figures, it is clear that the Orthodox percentages have not increased for decades. Instead of working to fulfill our mission (the Great Commission of our Lord), we seem to be treading water and not really going anywhere. In short, we are a failed and lukewarm church. I really hope that I am wrong because of the admonitions in Revelation Chapter 3 to the churches of Sardis and Laodicea.
1 To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.
3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you."
14 To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Your references from our Lord's letters to the churches in Revelation is very appropriate. It also reminds us of the fate of the "foolish virgins," that we remember liturgically during the first few days of Holy Week.
That many in the Church leadership, as well as the laity, have been lulled into a lack of urgency in matters of unity and mission, may be a sign of how close our Lord's return actually is.
A monarchial episcopacy may be a tradition of the Orthodox Church due to past imperial influences, but a paternal, conciliar, and collegial episcopacy is what Holy Apostolic Tradition defines, and what our Lord expects. Does anyone seriously believe that our Lord condones the attitudes, titles, and trappings so common among many of our bishops?
Although we are all subject to being "spit out of His mouth," being in a position of leadership, with the increased accountablility to our Lord, makes this terrible possibility an even greater probablility for those in Holy Orders, especially our bishops.
I not only think they 'don't get it', I think they've shown to date no more idea how to express the faith to those who were not first taught it by their parents than a blind person can have of a Salvador Dali painting.
What's really happened over the last 80 years or so is that women no longer died young and so there are no more working age widower priests to become bishops. Those we have are nearly entirely 'ordained young and never married' -- they appear to be locked in a certain inability to use their office to inspire growth among the locals. Lots of attention to shading meanings and expectations as to the 'due respect' and 'the authorities of offices'. They'd have more respect if their record over the last 80 years included the word 'growth'. The more money has been sucked out of the localities the less the localities have to increase.
The real problem, the most serious problem is we don't have 500 years to figure all this out. We don't have 300 or 100. I doubt we have more than 15.
If it takes longer than that to come together and make decisions here with our own synod after being in this country for so long there won't be enough people left to make a go of whatever it is they do finally figure out. And if what they figure out looks anything like having an overseas Pope we should just quit now -- people who like the Vatican's way of doing things already have that choice.
Listen to these people. I ask you. 'conferences' not 'synods'. Are these 'brother bishops' as we read or are they oligarchs trying to protect revenue streams and market share? Trying to give new meanings that put people off to the old words that attracted them and us in the first place.
The saddest thing about the Chambesy statement on proposed "episcopal assemblies" is that not once does it mention "Christ" or "Jesus." Until we put him first, and realize that the only purpose for the Church is to manifest his presence in the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the celebration of the Eucharist -- rather than endlessly fret over "ancient prerogatives" from a world long bygone -- we will get nowhere, and nobody will recognize Christ in us. Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko has it absolutely right: "Everyone in the Church -- first of all her clergy and lay leaders -- must be convinced that everything in the Church begins and ends with Jesus. This may seem too obvious to say, but it must be emphasized since it is so easily forgotten and so often betrayed."
"Paternal, conciliar and collegial..." An excellent string of words to apply to the episcopacy and what it ought to be, Marc. Those of our bishops who demand respect and obedience seem to forget it's a two-way street, according to Ephesians 6:1-5 and Colossians 3:20-21:
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.... Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. "
These verses from the Bible, the Book of the Church, ought to be read every time a staff is handed to a newly-consecrated bishop.
Good observation Gregory. You'll notice in almost all of this controversy going across all the jurisdictions you almost never hear "Jesus" or "Christ" or "God"......the Church has lost it's way, it's mission. I've heard and talked more about "Hellenism" and the 28th canon of chalcedon over the past 3 months than I have about Christ. Something is amiss....I've been a loyal GOAA member for years, but I feel, more and more as though the only jurisdiction that is even attempting to focus on Christ is the OCA. At least Met. Jonah's speech at St. Vlad's mentioned Jesus Christ, and how an Incarnational Mission is, well the mission of the Church.
Very good point.....I hope it reaches the ears of the hierarchy.