Chairman Stephen G. Yeonas, in an address to the plenary session of the 39th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress
Stephen G. Yeonas
of The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which concluded in Washington, D.C. July 18th, said clergy and laity “formed a bridge and this connection is critical to the strength and spiritual life of any church.”
More than 1,400 faithful, clergy and laity, representing their parishes, their local Philoptochos and young adults from across the country heard the Chairman extol the clergy for building communities, bringing cohesiveness and coherence to Greek Americans in supporting their aspirations in America.
He singled out His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios for creative and inspirational leadership “over the 550 bridges between clergy and laity in their respective communities between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.” He praised the Metropolitans for providing “the leadership necessary to maintain the bridges in over 6o parishes in their respective Metropolises.”
Chairman Yeonas pointed out that Leadership 100 would be celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2009 and now counted 770 diverse members from 41 states and Europe and said the membership goal was to be in all 50 states as total membership grows. He said grants in excess of $26 million have been disbursed since the inception of the organization for the wide-ranging needs of Orthodoxy and Hellenism, supporting the ministries of the Archdiocese, the Metropolises and individual Priests and Presvyteres. Leadership 100 also provided relief in the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes and fires that ravaged Greece, he added.
The theme of the Congress “Gather my People to my Home” was explained by Archbishop Demetrios in his Keynote address as the focus of the Archdiocese, its parishes and its ministries in the coming years. The Archbishop prescribed specific methods and actions for parishes and faithful to follow and in concluding his address.
His eminence said: "Every time that we are in our churches, in our beautiful parishes, let us think of those other sheep, those other people who are outside, known and unknown, the ones described in the parable of the Great Banquet. Let us think of all others, the truly significant others, who wait to hear the Voice of Christ. The Voice of Christ invites them to gather in His home, to become His flock. But how can they hear the voice of Christ? We are the voice of Christ! My beloved people let such Voice be heard outside of our Churches, calling the people of God to His home. Let us be the Voice of Christ. Everywhere for everyone. At any time, at any place of the wide world of God."
This same theme was repeated and elaborated by the other Hierarchs of the Holy Eparchial Synod in the special sessions that followed the opening ceremony. Metropolitans Iakovos of Chicago, Maximos of Pittsburgh, Methodios of Boston, Isaiah of Denver, Alexios of Atlanta, Nicholas of Detroit, Gerasimos of San Francisco and Evangelos of New Jersey, all presided at these separate breakout sessions where the main congress theme was discussed, a discussion which was carried through the many educational workshops and committee meetings that followed.
Before its conclusion, the 39th Congress adopted two resolutions: a) a Chaplaincy Resolution expressing support for Orthodox Chaplaincy in general and calling for the creation of a canonical pan-orthodox chaplaincy agency in the U.S. military and b) a resolution in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate calling upon the Federal Government and state legislatures to support the religious freedoms and human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.