Wichita, KS.- The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has created a legal entity with the filing of its Articles of Incorporation in Washington, D.C. This action follows the second annual meeting of the Assembly of Bishops held May 25-27 in Chicago, Illinois. The Assembly of Bishops is a council of all active, canonical Orthodox bishops whose purpose is to preserve and contribute to the unity of the Orthodox Church by helping to further Her spiritual, theological, ecclesiological, canonical, educational, missionary and philanthropic aims. To accomplish this, the Assembly has as its goals: the promotion and accomplishment of Church unity; the strengthening of the common pastoral ministry to all the Orthodox Christian faithful; and a common witness by the Church to all those outside Her. In addition, the Assembly has as an express goal the plan for the organization of the Church in North and Central America in accordance with the ecclesiological and the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church.
The Assembly hopes to deepen the ties of brotherhood among the bishops, give them a common and united voice, and create a greater unity of action among all the Orthodox faithful, thereby strengthening the Church’s witness to Her faith in Jesus Christ.
The Assembly of Bishops is one of twelve bishops’ assemblies which have been established in different geographical regions throughout the world. It was established in accordance with the decision of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference, convened in Chambésy, Switzerland in June of 2009, attended by representatives from all the universally-recognized autocephalous Orthodox Churches.
The Assembly is a transitional body. If it achieves its goal, it will make itself obsolete by developing a proposal for the canonical organization of the Church in North and Central America. This proposal will in turn be presented to the forthcoming Great and Holy Council, which will consist of all canonical Orthodox bishops throughout the world. Should this proposal be accepted, it is expected that the Assembly of Bishops would then come to an end and be succeeded by a canonically regularized Church in North and Central America.
The Assembly, which meets annually, functions by a consensus of all its members. It has established a number of committees to help further its work. These committees are charged by the Assembly with specific tasks; they are made up of member bishops, and are assisted by over 100 lay and clergy advisors. The Assembly has assumed oversight of all the agencies, dialogues, and other ministries of the former Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA).
In the ensuing months, the thirteen committees of the Assembly of Bishops will be working in earnest. The chairmen of the committees will be calling upon the many priests, deacons, monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen who have been recommended to them as expert consultants so that they may join together with the bishops who are members of the committees in accomplishing the many important responsibilities and tasks assigned to them.