This month – on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 – the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches convened at the St. Mary of Zeitoun Christian Center and Coptic Orthodox Church to undertake the planning of several important initiatives. At the meeting – chaired by H.E. Archbishop Mor Dionysios John Kawak of the Syriac Orthodox Diocese of the Eastern USA – it was announced that due to the new responsibilities that he will be assuming as Primate and Bishop Elect of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern), the V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan will be stepping down from his duties as Secretary of the Standing Conference after twenty-one years of devoted service. Fr. Daniel recommended that his assistant, Dn. Gebre Kristos Nicholas Siniari, Ecumenical Officer of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of New York & New England, assume the duties of secretary, and the assembled Fathers unanimously agreed. At the meeting, the Fathers also discussed upcoming concelebrations of the Divine Liturgy, their annual youth conference, and an initiative for missionary outreach to the African-American community conceived of and organized by the V. Rev. Fr. Melake Hayel Amde Tsion-Durden of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Diocese of New York and the Northeastern United States.
The very next day, the members of the Standing Conference convened with their Roman Catholic counterparts at the Bishop Molloy Retreat Center in Jamaica Estates, NY for their annual dialogue. The focus of the two day meeting was on practical, pastoral matters such as helping Oriental Orthodox students to integrate into Roman Catholic schools without compromising their faith, opening Roman Catholic cemeteries to Oriental Orthodox faithful, mixed faith marriages, seeing to the needs of our growing immigrant communities, cooperating to help refugees, and other related matters.
Then, on Saturday, November 10, 2018, the Oriental Orthodox Christians of the Philadelphia area gathered at St. Peter’s Syriac Orthodox Cathedral for the 6th Annual Philadelphia Regional Oriental Orthodox Concelebrated Liturgy, organized by the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches. Although participation was lower than in previous years – due to the occurrence of three unrelated funerals in the local Coptic, Armenian, and Ethiopian communities – six priests led two deacons, around twenty altar servers and roughly 70-75 faithful in a joyous celebration of unity at the altar, followed by traditional Syriac prayers for the departed faithful. After the Liturgy, the faithful shared in an agape meal before the youth engaged in a lively Q&A with the assembled clergy.
Finally, on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, the bishops of the Standing Conference convened with their counterparts in the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America for the 11th Annual Orthodox Prayer Service and Reception for the United Nations Community at St. Vartan’s Armenian Cathedral in Manhattan. H.E. Archbishop Mor Dionysios John Kawak and H.E. Mor Titus Yelhdo led the assembled faithful in vespers in the Syriac Rite after a welcome by Primate and Bishop-Elect the V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan. Among the dignitaries gathered from the diplomatic world was the evening’s keynote speaker, Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Mher Margaryan. Prince Dushan of Serbia was also present as a guest of Serbian Orthodox Bishop Irinej. Archbishop Dionysios, Archbishop Titus, Bishop Irinej, and Fr. Daniel were joined before the altar by H.E. Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, H.E. Metropolitan Joseph, of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, and priests representing Metropolitan Tikhon of the OCA, Bishop David of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of New York, Archbishop Zekarias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Archdiocese of New York, and Metropolitan Evangelos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey.
Photographs from each of these events will soon be available in dedicated galleries on the SCOOCH website and Facebook page.
The Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches also invites the Oriental Orthodox youth of our region and around the world to join the bishops and the local clergy at the 7th Annual SCOOYA Oriental Orthodox Youth Conference on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at the Mor Aphrem Center in Paramus, NJ. Details and online registration here: http://www.scooch.org/7thyouthconference/