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Ligonier Meeting

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[[Image:Ligonier Meeting.jpg|right|thumb|400px|[[SCOBA]] hierarchs at the Ligonier Meeting]]
{{orthodoxyinamerica}}The '''Ligonier Meeting''' was a meeting of twenty-eight or twenty-nine Orthodox Christian [[bishop|hierarchs]] in North America, specifically those affiliated with [[SCOBA]], held [[November 30]] to [[December 2]], 1994, at the [[Antiochian Village]] in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. The bishops met together (many for the first time), held multiple sessions and presentations, and issued two statements, specifically on evangelism and on the notion of American Orthodox Christians being a "[[diaspora]]."
It was not strictly a council or [[synod]] ''per se'', but it had many of the characteristics of a synod, particularly the conciliarity or ''[[sobornost]]'' which results in the meeting of the Church's bishops together in collegiality, referring to itself as an "episcopal assembly." The conference was presided over by His Eminence Archbishop [[Iakovos (Coucouzis) of America]], then primate of the [[Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America]] and [[SCOBA]] chairman.
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==History==
===Preparation===
For some years, discussions had taken place in [[SCOBA]] regarding a general meeting of all the Orthodox hierarchs in America, rather than just the various jurisdictional primates[[jurisdiction]]al [[primate]]s, as had been usually done. According to Archbishop [[Nathaniel (Popp) of Detroit]], however. the original idea for the meeting at Ligonier was generated in the [[Holy Synod]] of the [[Orthodox Church in America]] some years prior to the invitation by SCOBA:
:The proposal was decided that the Orthodox Church in America, the Autocephalous Church, should issue an invitation to all hierarchs in North America to gather together in fellowship in order to come to know one another, face to face. Included would be even those who were not represented on SCOBA, meaning, at that time, the large Ukrainian Church.
:What transpired is a matter of historical facts and chance. Some of the hierarchs considered that the forthcoming Millennium Celebration of the Evangelization of Rus should take precedence over this local meeting, and thus, an invitation from the Orthodox Church in America was postponed. On another occasion, the Holy Synod resurrected the same idea but a particular hierarch, not a member of the Orthodox Church in America, requested that an agenda was first necessary and so, the meeting was postponed for lace (''sic'') of a more defined purpose beyond the hierarchs getting to know one another and have general discussion about common problems and needs.
:Thus it came to be that, to its credit, the invitation came from the SCOBA which, through its efforts organized and brought about this meeting in Ligonier. Only hierarchs who had representation in SCOBA were invited, and thus the informal gathering envisioned by the Orthodox Church in America came to be a more formal meeting of those hierarchs who were in mutual "canonical" communion with each other. Thus, some of the hierarchs now represented in SCOBA were not then present for the meeting.[http://www.ocl.org/The%20Vision.htm]
Prior to the actual meeting in 1994, various meetings had taken place in Chambésy, Switzerland, regarding the situation of the Orthodox "[[diaspora]]" throughout the world, but particularly in North America. These meetings were part of a pre-conciliar commission preparing for a planned [[synod]] of all the Orthodox Christian hierarchs in the world. As the Ligonier meeting was planned, according to Fr. [[Nicholas Apostola]] (who helped plan the meeting, served as secretary at the meeting, and drafted the original versions of its statements), there was a deliberate decision to base much of the language and conduct of the Ligonier Meeting on the language that had been coming out of Chambésy.
In November of 1994, the invited hierarchs assembled at the [[Antiochian Village]] in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, hosted by Metropolitan [[Philip (Saliba) of New York|Philip]] of the [[Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America|Antiochian Archdiocese]] and presided over by Archbishop [[Iakovos (Coucouzis) of America]], primate at that time of the [[Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America|Greek Archdiocese]] and SCOBA chairman (by custom, the chairman of SCOBA is elected by its members, but the one elected is always the primate of the representative of the [[Church of Constantinople]] in America).
Five months before, Metropolitan [[Spyridon (PapageorgiouPapageorge) of Chaldea|Spyridon (Papageorgiou) of Italy]] gave a speech at the 32nd Biennial Clergy-Laity Conference of the Greek Archdiocese, in which he plainly stated that both he and the Constantinopolitan Patriarch, [[Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople|Bartholomew]], wanted an end to "ethnic ghettoes" which divided Orthodoxy in America. He denounced ethnic insularity at the expense of "our spiritual identity," and that it was time to cut the "Gordian knot of nationalism." Spyridon was generally regarded at the time to be the natural successor to the aged Iakovos, and his bold words for unity seemed the perfect cue for what transpired at Ligonier (Michalopoulos and Ham, 180-181).
Though Iakovos officially presided over the event, he "graciously receded into the background as Ligonier was under the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Philip, who was thus the host and official prime mover behind the conference." Philip gave the address to the gathered bishops, and Archbishop [[Dmitri (Royster) of Dallas]] gave the official response. "By all accounts, unity and amity of purpose abounded. The assembled bishops came to an agreement and issued a statement declaring thir their intention of forming a united American Orthodox Church" (ibid., 181).
===Aftermath===
:Ligonier nailed open the doors of indifference and urged us to go through the wide gates of cooperation, mutual support and service to our fellow citizens, sharing the faith with others and spiritually expanding our own lives in evangelical ministry to all God’s people.
:Let us now hear about the fruits which bear witness to the blessings generated by Ligonier in the Church, and let us be open to be inspired to expand our witness to the unity of the faith and our fellowship in the Holy Spirit.[http://www.ocl.org/The%20Vision.htm]
==Documents==
**Metropolitan [[Silas (Koskinas) of Saranta Ecclesies|Silas (Koskinas) of New Jersey]]
**Bishop [[Alexios (Panagiotopoulos) of Atlanta|Alexios (Panagiotopoulos) of Astoria]]
**Bishop [[Iakovos (KrinisGarmatis) of Chicago]]
**Bishop [[Methodios (Tournas) of Boston]]
**Bishop [[Philip (Koutoufas) of Atlanta]]
**Bishop [[Maximos (Aghiorgoussis) of Pittsburgh]]
**Bishop [[Anthimos (Draconakis) of Olympos]]
**Archbishop [[Kyrill (Yonchev) of Pittsburgh]]
**Archbishop [[Peter (L'Huillier) of New York]]
**Archbishop [[Herman (Swaiko) of Washingtonand New York|Herman (Swaiko) of Philadelphia]]
**Bishop [[Nathaniel (Popp) of Detroit]]
**Bishop [[Tikhon (Fitzgerald) of San Francisco and Los Angeles|Tikhon (Fitzgerald) of San Francisco]]
**Bishop [[Seraphim (Storheim) of Ottawa]]
**Bishop [[Mark (Forsberg) of Boston]]
==Bishops' comments==
In the November 2004 issue of ''Word Magazine''[http://www.antiochian.org/assets/asset_manager/3f8eed08ad9e6b6630a2aa285db2936d.pdf] (the [[Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America|Antiochian Archdiocese]]'s official publication), the comments of [[SCOBA]] bishops (some of whom were present and others not) on the 10th anniversary of the Ligonier meeting were published, including the following:
<font size=+1>==Primates</font>===
Metropolitan [[Herman (Swaiko) of Washingtonand New York]], primate of the [[OCA]]:
:I think of Ligonier as a moment in the history of Orthodoxy in North America when a love for the missionary mandate of the Gospel transcended ethnic and cultural barriers and concerns. Ligonier provided a venue where Orthodox bishops offered words and visions of ecclesial unity. Ten years ago, the prophetic spirit of Ligonier stood opposed to jurisdictional pluralism even when other hierarchs, here and abroad, sought to justify the ''uncanonical'' '''status quo'''. Ten years ago, the bishops of Ligonier expressed a oneness of mind which exposed the falsehood that jurisdictional pluralism does not impede Eucharistic unity when, in fact, the presence of two or more bishops in one city undermines the very reality of ecclesial and, therefore, Eucharistic unity.
:America needs Orthodoxy, without Orthodoxy becoming Americanized. Orthodoxy must continue to develop in spirituality and maturity, growing gradually and appropriately toward a developed polity. I am concerned that aggressive attempts toward premature separation from the mother churches of the old lands will result in disarray and schism. Instead, we are called by the Lord to continue in humble growth and obedience to our organic link with the Patriarchates. We hope and pray for the direction of the Holy Spirit in the future life of our church.
Metropolitan [[Joseph(Bosakov) of America and Australia]], [[Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia]]:
:What we&mdash;the canonical Orthodox bishops&mdash;had done 10 years ago was good. But there are no results so far. It is only a good desire. That means&mdash;such is God’s will. Without Him we can do nothing.
:Therefore, I beseeched the Lord to teach me His statutes. After my prayer as usual I opened my Bible with closed eyes and put my finger on the right place. For the first time I opened Revelation 1:3&mdash;"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." I asked the Lord: "O Lord! What about until then?" And again I opened the Bible, that time on [[First Epistle of Paul to Timothy|1 Timothy ]] 1:15&mdash;"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." And for the third time I tempted the Lord, saying: "O Lord! I am not an Abraham nor a Jew, I'm a sinner, but involve me to understand Your Will." And then I opened the Book of Sirah&mdash;Joshua 24:29-30, where I read in the new American Translation: "Said to myself, I will water my plants, my flower bed I will drench; and suddenly this rivulet of mine became a river, then this stream of mine, a sea. Thus do I send my teaching forth shining like a dawn, to become known afar off. Thus do I pour out instruction like prophecy and bestow it on generations to come."
:And now it is clear for me, that this prophecy should be fulfilled, but not during my life. I think that all of us, Orthodox bishops, who were born and came to America from the old countries, like me, and now control the jurisdictional eparchies, must die. The Holy Orthodox Church needs new generations of Americans to come after us, who shall fulfill the Lord's instructions and prophecy. Because now, as Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky writes: "Spiritually we are still drinking mother's milk, not yet ready for loftier and deeper experiences of the life reaching out to us from Christ and present through the Holy Spirit within our hearts."
Bishop [[Ilia (Katre) of Philomelion]], [[Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America|Albanian Diocese]]:
:The time has come for Orthodoxy in America to move beyond simple affirmation of historical, canonical order. It is time to encourage and develop cooperation among churches, which will prove to be a genuine blueprint for greater unity on all fronts. Specific principles need to be articulated and accepted by all jurisdictions in a common commitment to work in consort. Programs of pan-Orthodox endeavor, at the grass roots, should be initiated and supported so that the faithful experience a oneness in purpose and action. Everything is achievable through mutual respect and sensitivity flowing from faith and love in Christ.
<font size=+1>==Other bishops</font>===
Archbishop [[Kyrill (Yonchev) of Pittsburgh]], [[OCA]]:
:The Ligonier meeting of the Orthodox bishops in North America was a milestone in the history of Orthodoxy in America. The vision of Orthodoxy that was seen at that meeting is still relevant today, but has yet to be realized. Orthodox jurisdictional unity in North America must be our continued vision; any deviation from this is a contradiction to the order and canons of the Orthodox Church. Let us fervently pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us in making this vision a reality.
Bishop [[Nikolai (Soraich) of Sitka and Anchorage]], [[OCA]]:
:The Conference at Ligonier was an exciting moment for many of us who were priests serving the faithful at that time. All who read of the meeting and of its call to unity were inspired with high hopes.
Archbishop [[Nathaniel (Popp) of Detroit]], [[OCA]]:
:Orthodox Christians working out their salvation in Canada and the United States of America must separately be united into two local Autocephalous Churches, each pastored by hierarchs synergetically working in two unique Holy Synods, each one headed by its own Patriarch. The long-term goal of one hierarch shepherding one metropolis will, in time, manifest itself through the will of the Holy Spirit inspiring the entire Church. Inasmuch as each "jurisdiction" serves both an ethnic and indigenous flock, it should continue its ministry uninterrupted. Present imperfect "Eucharistic unity" will be perfected because of administrative unity. Temporarily, administrative unity means each jurisdiction will keep its own administrative structures which, nonetheless, are brought into a national unity through representation by each hierarch in his national, Canadian or American, Holy Synod. Each Autocephalous Church must create a single Constitution and By-laws/Statutes to best serve the needs of the native-born and the immigrant. The unity of the hierarchs, in Synodia, would manifest itself in unity of purpose of internal and external evangelization as outlined ten years ago in the two documents born of the Ligonier meeting. This to be achieved through the movement of the Holy Spirit empowering these Orthodox Christians through fasting, prayer and almsgiving to act creatively.
 
Bishop Ilia of Philomelion, [[Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America|Albanian Diocese]]:
:The time has come for Orthodoxy in America to move beyond simple affirmation of historical, canonical order. It is time to encourage and develop cooperation among churches, which will prove to be a genuine blueprint for greater unity on all fronts. Specific principles need to be articulated and accepted by all jurisdictions in a common commitment to work in consort. Programs of pan-Orthodox endeavor, at the grass roots, should be initiated and supported so that the faithful experience a oneness in purpose and action. Everything is achievable through mutual respect and sensitivity flowing from faith and love in Christ.
Bishop [[Antoun (Khouri) of Miami]], [[Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America|Antiochian Archdiocese]]:
:The Orthodox Church offers the spiritual healing so many need as they realize the emptiness of secularism and materialism. The task for us in the Church is to offer true spirituality rather than the empty entertainment that passes for Christianity in the West. We must get beyond duels over the Scripture with fundamentalists and revisionists, and instead challenge people with the evidence we have for the true healing and ''theosis'' found only in the Orthodox Church.
===Other comments===
Expanding on his remarks published in the November 2004 ''Word Magazine'', Bishop [[Nikolai (Soraich) of Sitka]] ([[OCA]]) had this to say in an open letter in the Winter 2005 issue of his diocesan publication, ''The North Star'' (pp. 3-4)::It says in the [[Akathist]] that St. [[Herman of Alaska|Herman]] envisioned ''"an Episcopal throne in this land." (Ikos 11)'' <font size=+1nowiki>Other comments[</fontnowiki>[http://dioceseofalaska.org/pdf/liturgical/StHermanAkathist-FullPage.pdf PDF of the Akathist]<nowiki>]</nowiki> It doesn't say anything about multiple thrones, but one&mdash;an autocephalous Church in this land&mdash;one that came to be in 1970 [i.e., the [[OCA]]]. I look back on those seminary years and years later when there was much hope for a united church in America. There were pan-Orthodox celebrations; Sunday of Orthodoxy gatherings were major events and the spirit of the faithful and clergy was elevated in this gathering of the Church. Now we look back just ten years later and find the gathering of bishops at Ligonier is hailed as the greatest event of American Orthodoxy! I wonder how the canonization of America's first saint is relegated to some lesser place in the life of Orthodoxy in America. Even Ligonier was hopeful to those of us who were serving the churches in multiple jurisdictions. Soon we were disappointed when hierarchs removed their names from the documents that were prepared; one on evangelism and the other on administrative unity.
Expanding on his remarks published in the November 2004 ''Word Magazine'', Bishop [[Nikolai (Soraich) of Sitka and Anchorage]] ([[OCA]]) had this to say in an open letter in the Winter 2005 issue of his diocesan publication, ''The North Star'' (pp. 3-4)::It says in the Akathist that St. Herman envisioned ''"an Episcopal throne in this land." (Ikos 11)'' It doesn't say anything about multiple thrones, but one&mdash;an autocephalous Church in this land&mdash;one that came to be in 1970 [i.e., the [[OCA]]]. I look back on those seminary years and years later when there was much hope for a united church in America. There were pan-Orthodox celebrations; Sunday of Orthodoxy gatherings were major events and the spirit of the faithful and clergy was elevated in this gathering of the Church. Now we look back just ten years later and find the gathering of bishops at Ligonier is hailed as the greatest event of American Orthodoxy! I wonder how the canonization of America's first saint is relegated to some lesser place in the life of Orthodoxy in America. Even Ligonier was hopeful to those of us who were serving the churches in multiple jurisdictions. Soon we were disappointed when hierarchs removed their names from the documents that were prepared; one on evangelism and the other on administrative unity. :Are we willing to truly pray the Akathist and submit ourselves to the vision of America's most wondrous saint in realizing one Church? We don't need another Ligonier, we need a gathering in Kodiak at the relics of America's first Saint, a prayerful walk on Spruce Island and a willingness to accept the call of Jesus Christ for the sake of Orthodoxy&mdash;not disunited, but united![http://dioceseofalaska.org/pdf/Northstar_winter05.pdf]
A [http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles5/EardwineUnity.shtml reply to his letter] was published in February 2005 on the [http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/ Orthodoxy Today] website.
===Secondary sources===
*[http://wwwyoutube.ocl.orgcom/The%20video.htm view_play_list?p=1A8E785BDE9A776D "A New Era Begins"], a video documentary of the Ligonier Meeting
*[http://www.antiochian.org/assets/asset_manager/3f8eed08ad9e6b6630a2aa285db2936d.pdf ''Word Magazine''], November 2004, focusing mainly on the 10th anniversary of the Ligonier Meeting
*[http://www.ocl.org/The%20Vision.htm The Vision of Ligonier: Inter-Orthodox Cooperation or Ligonier: The Vision and the Reality], by Archbishop [[Nathaniel (Popp) of Detroit]]
*''The American Orthodox Church: A History of Its Beginnings'', a book by George C. Michalopulos and Herb Ham (ISBN 1-928653-14-6); Chapter 11 is entitled "Ligonier and the Challenge to the Old World"
*[http://www.orthodoxnews.netfirms.com/157/TEN.htm Ligonier: Ten Years Later], by Dr. [[Valerie A. Karras]]
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