America's Orthodox Christians, divided for decades among about 10 churches based on Greek or Serb or other ancestry, soon may be moving toward the formation of a united American Orthodox church.Read the rest here.
Many of them have dreamed of that for decades, especially as conversions to Orthodoxy have skyrocketed. But most church patriarchs have squelched such talk.
Now it appears that the patriarchs are not only supporting but demanding some sort of unity. To explore what this may mean for believers in the United States, the independent, pan-Orthodox group Orthodox Christian Laity will gather for three days, starting Thursday, at Antiochian Village in Ligonier.
In 1994 that retreat center hosted the first and only gathering of all Orthodox bishops in North America. Believing they had approval from church patriarchs overseas, those bishops called for a united church in which the faithful would not be treated as "scattered children" of ancestral homelands.
But the ecumenical patriarch in Constantinople -- the spiritual head of global Orthodoxy -- denounced it as a rebellion against the ancient church and replaced the Greek archbishop who had led it. The unity movement lay dormant for 15 years.
Then, in June, the 14 Old World patriarchs gathered in Chambesy, Switzerland, and declared that all Orthodox bishops outside of traditional Orthodox lands -- including North America -- will begin meeting to address their own issues in their own lands.