Unity in Harmony and Peace, from the 43rd Biennial Clergy Laity Congress in Nashville...
“You are the voice of Christ in a changing world”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 43rd Biennial Clergy Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America concluded Thursday, July 7, 2016, with the plenary session and the traditional Grand Banquet at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. A total of 1,197 registered participants were in attendance including 396 delegates to the National Philoptochos Convention.
The work of the Congress culminated with Thursday’ s daylong plenary session, the presentation of the reports and the approval of the budgets for the next two years. The following ministries, departments and committees presented their reports: Stewardship- Outreach and Evangelism, Religious Education, Greek Education, Administration, Finance, Center for Family Care, Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical & Interfaith Relations, Leadership 100, Youth and Young Adults Ministries, Communications, Hellenic College Holy Cross, Chaplaincy and National Philoptochos.
Within the scope of the Administration Committee, three amendments to the Regulations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America were presented and following extensive discussion were approved. The amendments are on Conflicts Disclosure Policy, Whistle-blower policy and Youth protection. Additionally a Financial Disclosure Amendment to the Uniform Parish Regulations was approved.
Several resolutions were adapted by the Congress and included: a resolution proposed by the Order of St. Andrew – Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Religious Freedom, a resolution regarding Hagia Sophia, that deplores the use of Hagia Sophia for conducting Muslim services, opposes any plans to convert it into a Mosque and calls for it to remain as a museum. Also a resolution on terrorism was adapted which deplores the innocent killing of civilians by terrorists affiliated with radical terrorist groups and condemns those who kill others in the name of religion.
In a separate resolution the 43rd Clergy Laity Congress applauds the presence and functioning of the Assembly of Bishops of the United States; calls upon all Orthodox Christians to support the Assembly of Bishops to foster greater unity and coordination of Orthodox Christianity in America; and calls upon all Orthodox Churches in America to work together on the ministries of the Church and serve as a common witness in the secular society of today.
Finally, a resolution of thanks was adapted expressing gratitude to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and all those who contributed to the success of the Congress.
(see available documents on https://www.clergylaity.org/documents)
The festive Grand Banquet was an appropriate finish to the weeklong 43rd Biennial Clergy Laity Congress.
Following the invocation by Archbishop Demetrios assisted by Fr. John Touloumes, President of the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council and the singing of the Greek and American National Anthems, by Steven G. Sotiriadi and Gordon Thomas respectively; co-chairs George and Lee Ann Anderson offered welcoming greetings. Demetria Kalodimas, NBC Channel 4 Anchor in Nashville graciously served as Mistress of Ceremonies.
The Mayor of Nashville, Megan Barry, offered her greeting and remarks of appreciation.
Grammy winner gospel singer CeCe Winans was enthusiastically received as she performed a spiritual musical interlude.
Greetings were also offered by the Ambassador of Greece to the United States Haris Lalakos and the President of the National Philoptochos Maria Logus.
Patriarchal representative Metropolitan Damaskinos of Kydonia and Apokoronos surprised the gala attendees as he, in the Cretan tradition, recited greetings and praise in the form of mantinades, with verses about joy and friendship, hardships and suffering and rhyming commentary on the proceedings, the people and happenings of the Congress he witnessed.
Metropolitan Ambrosios of Korea, the second patriarchal representative, offered warm and heartfelt greetings and appreciation for his experience during the work of the Congress. He additionally spoke of the high “caliber, ethos and mindset” of Archbishop Demetrios and quoted one of his professors at Princeton University who had told him that Archbishop Demetrios is “a really wise and holy man.” Concluding his remarks Metropolitan Ambrosios asked the faithful in America for two things: first to pray for their spiritual shepherd and second to pay close attention and follow his example and said that by doing so “we will surely be the voice of Christ in a changing world.”
Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, the host Metropolitan of the 43rd Congress, offered words of appreciation to the participants and to all who toiled tirelessly for the success of the Congress. He also admonished those in attendance to keep God fist and place Christ at the head of the table so we can be the voice of Christ in a changing world.
A video presentation on the 25 years of Patriarchal Ministry of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, produced by GoTelecom was shown and applauded.
Archbishop Demetrios of America in his response said he was pleased the evening was full of unexpected and unpredictable events. He spoke about the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, which took place in Crete, Greece, only two weeks prior and said “it was a tremendous experience,” demonstrating the vision and the unity of the Orthodox Church, permeated by of the presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He added that the presence of the Holy Spirit was also guiding the faithful at the 43rd Clergy Laity Congress in their work.
Additionally, His Eminence said that we should all be thankful to God for the good progress of the work in rebuilding Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center.
“Whatever we do has to be a manifestation of unity in all levels, unity with harmony and unity in peace,” said Archbishop Demetrios and added “being the voice of Christ in unity will help us grow in the Lord and lead us into transformation and salvation.”
For photo albums from the Clergy Laity Congress visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/goarch/albums/