I can say this as well. We have some great people in the Orthodox world that care about their church and this is encouraging for me. I think we tend to look at things from our own church perspective and we get lost in the small picture. The next few years are going to require us to have big picture about Orthodoxy in America. Change is coming and in the words of several of the speakers here today we cannot and should not fight it. We need to fully participate in the process.
We talked in the first session about Orthodox and American Culture. I think one of the fears of people as we move closer to unification is that their local customs will change. This is not the case as far as I can tell from our discussions. Letter in the day Metropolitan Jonah said that we need to honor and respect the past. Last night he said we must not forget the histories of our parishes and our diocese but we have to keep moving forward! I cannot agree enough.
Just a few thoughts on Metropolitan Jonah. I will be bold to say this guy gets it! He gets American Orthodoxy. He spoke about our need to Baptize America! I have never heard a bishop speak this way and it is refreshing. I am a big fan of his! Several of his talk are available online and I will try and find some and link to them.
We next talk about youth and the youth experience in a church. Without a doubt the youth want a unified church. This came through strong from the your representative on the panel. OCF functions in a pan orthodox mode and so the youth are used to working that way. Out of the mouths of babes as they say. We need to listen to our youth more was the signal of the day. They do not want us to change the church only unite it, if that makes any sense.
Communication was next and I was part of that panel. We spoke about using the media to further the message of the Gospel. We talked about Ancient Faith Radio, the American Orthodox Institute blog and others as vehicles to educate the people. We need to evangelize the internet. Paul used his letters to reach people we need to use the internet. There are approximately 1.2 million Orthodox in the US. There are 2.5 million Facebook users and the number grows everyday. Use it do not be afraid of it.
The last panel was on the coming Great and Holy Council that will ultimate decide the “American Question” I need to write and article on Orthodox Eclesiology but that will be for another day. We have much work to do but as Metr Jonah put it “Our goal is a unified, indigenous, autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. How we get there is the big question.
My head is full of information and just spinning from all of this. I feel cautiously optimistic that the plan is going to work. We need to pray and pray everyday for our bishops and the others who will be making the decisions.
As I have mentioned before, this is going to be a long hard process and one of give and take. We need to patient with the process and commit it to prayer.