First Episcopal Assembly Meets

Episcopal Assembly

The first Episcopal Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Hierarchs in North and Central America met from May 26 to May 28 at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel in New York City. Convened by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, the Assembly was attended by more than 50 Hierarchs and was made possible through a Leadership 100 grant to the Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, which underwrote much of the expense. Other funding came from a variety of Pan-Orthodox sources.
The Episcopal Assembly is the result of the decision of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference, which met in Chambésy Switzerland in June of 2009, after the extraordinary Synaxis of all the Heads of the Autocephalous Churches convened by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. This Assembly, one of twelve that will be convened around the world in regions where there is no single Orthodox presence, will consist of the active Canonical Bishops who reside in the region designated as North and Central America. In every Assembly, the chairman will be the Senior Bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Among the actions of the Assembly were the establishment of a registry of Canonical Bishops;
a committee to determine the canonical status of local communities in the region that have no reference to the Most Holy Autocephalous Churches; a registry of canonical clergy; committees to undertake the work of the Assembly, among others including liturgical, pastoral, financial, educational, ecumenical, and legal issues; and a committee to plan for the organization of the Orthodox of the region on a canonical basis.

In addition, the Assembly agreed that a directory would be created and maintained by the Assembly of all canonical congregations in respective jurisdictional regions.

The Assembly also declared itself as being the successor of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), assuming its agencies, dialogues, and other ministries.

Moreover, at the formal request of the Hierarchs who have jurisdiction in Canada, the Assembly will submit to the Ecumenical Patriarch a request to partition the present region of North and Central America into two distinct regions of the United States and Canada. Additionally, at the request of the Hierarchs who have jurisdiction in Mexico and Central America, the Assembly will likewise request to merge Mexico and Central America with the Assembly of South America.

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