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13th All-American Council: An Overview
By Roslyn Stevens, Lay Delegate

In July I was honored to represent St. Luke parish as its lay delegate to the 13th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, which was held in Orlando, Florida. This experience was packed full of amazing, unforgettable firsts for me and I am glad I had the opportunity to be there.

The largest task set before the clergy and lay delegates to the Council was the election of a new Metropolitan. When I left for Orlando, I did not know how critically the election would impact the strength of the Orthodox Church's position in America. However, this was apparently clear to many other delegates at the First Plenary Session of the Council meetings. In this emotionally charged session, various people lobbied passionately for specific candidates for the metropolitanate. After two voting sessions Archbishop Herman of Pennsylvania was selected.

Concerns about who the next Metropolitan should be were influenced by the lack of Orthodox Church presence at the post-September 11th memorial service in Washington, D.C. on September 14, 2001. Roman Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish clerics were invited to participate in this service but not Orthodox clergy. This situation clearly indicates the importance of Orthodox jurisdictional unity in America so that we might speak as one Orthodox body. As things stand now with our fragmentation, it may be difficult for most Americans to know who Orthodox Christians really are.

Many positive decisions and steps forward were made during subsequent plenary sessions at the Council meeting. Two of these involve agreement on financial issues and further Pan-Orthodox unification. Separate parish-related think-tank sessions provided fresh ideas to bring back to our St. Luke parish and church board. These ideas can positively impact our parish. One piece of trivia may be comforting to our parish with its building project. Currently 85% of other OCA parishes are also involved in building projects. So we share in common with many other parishes the joys and pains that come with new growth.

I will provide further details about items of discussion and the results of the various plenary sessions during my report to the parish in early fall.

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