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Orthodox Christian Faithful Meet at Unity Conference

by Staff
September 14, 2009
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LIGONIER, Penn., (christiansunite.com) -- Orthodox Christianity in America stands at the threshold of a new era of renewal. As the ancient faith lays down new and dynamic roots in America, new and indigenous leadership is emerging as the Church engages American culture. Meeting in Ligonier, Pennsylvania on October 20-31, 2009 for "The Road to Unity: From Vision to Action" conference, leaders and participants will develop ideas on how the American Orthodox Church can achieve unity in America.

The meeting takes on greater significance as world church leaders challenge the American Orthodox jurisdictions to work together to present a nuts and bolts plan for a unified North American Church. The process toward unity was established at the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference of Orthodox Patriarchates in Chambesy, Switzerland, June 2009, and will be guided by an Episcopal Assembly that is inclusive of all canonical jurisdictions, chaired by Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Newly-elected Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will present the keynote address. His unique vision for establishing Orthodox unity in America has stimulated much discussion in national Orthodox circles. Other hierarchs joining him include: Archbishop Nathaniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America; Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid- Atlantic, Bishop Melchisedek, Diocese of Pittsburgh and Western PA and others (confirmation pending).

"Orthodox unification in America is more than an administrative project - it is a spiritual imperative," said George Matsoukas, Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) that is sponsoring the conference. "If we don't unify, we risk losing our faith and the opportunity to share it with our fellow Americans who are seeking the roots of Christianity."

The conference is drawing some of the best leadership emerging in the American Orthodox world, many of whom have tackled the complex issues of how to live as an Orthodox Christian in American society. They include such notables as Father Thomas FitzGerald, Dean of Holy Cross School of Theology, author Frederica Mathewes-Green; John Maddex, CEO of Conciliar Media Ministries; author/lecturer Kyriaki FitzGerald, columnist Terry Mattingly, and others.

Other panelists include Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse, Nicholas Katich, Fr. Justin Mathews, Peter Marudas, George Michalopoulos, Mother Sarah Elizabeth Oftedel, Fr. Antonio Perdoma and Father Nicholas Apostola and more.

Topics cover a broad range but all deal with the question of what it means to be an Orthodox Christian in America. They include: Unity at Work and in Service; Orthodoxy Reaches Maturity in America; Unity at Many Levels; An Accountable and Canonical Unified Orthodox Church of Tomorrow; Orthodoxy and American Culture; Orthodox Communication; Youth; The Great and Holy Council, and more TBA.

Conference organizers report much more interest in the conference than first anticipated. "The conference is attracting strong new voices in American Orthodoxy, especially from the laity," Matsoukas said. "They want a Church that will be here for their children and for the American reality in which we live. This is a time of great hope and challenge. This conference will address the great challenge of being a more inclusive church." More information can be found at www.ocl.org/roadtounity

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