Friday, July 10, 2020
We, the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, protest the decision of the civil courts in Turkey, as well as the clear direction of their government, to re-convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque. As citizens of the United States of America, we implore our government to intervene for the reversal of this decision. Furthermore, we urge the Turkish government to return to the status quo whereby Hagia Sophia remains a museum, respecting both its origins and history.
By contrast, this unilateral action denies the universal vocation of this holy and sacred place. Hagia Sophia belongs to the whole of humanity as a World Heritage Site. Built in 537 AD during the reign of Emperor Justinian, it has been, for more than a millennium, a place of rich cultural and spiritual inspiration for all.
We are particularly concerned about the negative effects such a change will have on religious pluralism in Turkey, as well as on the relations among nations and between faith-based organizations. We call on the international community to invite the Turkish authorities to revise their decision, affording all people the opportunity to continue enjoying the full and rich history and beauty of this outstanding landmark. This unique Christian monument should remain open to all as a sign of co-existence and peace among all peoples of good will.
We are happy to announce that online giving is now set up! To give online, select the “Give” menu item, and you will be directed to our Tithe.ly giving platform. Thank you for your generous and faithful support of St. George Greek Orthodox Church!
We invite you to tune in to our YouTube Channel, and pray the services with us. The following link will get you there.
Many thanks to Journey to Orthodoxy for sharing this great video about Orthodox Christians converting to Protestantism and returning back! To acquire unity in the future, Christians must turn to the experience of the past. If you are a Protestant or Catholic Christian, and you wonder about where the unity is that Christ speaks about in John 17:21-23, then I encourage you to watch this video.
Click on the link to view the video: https://youtu.be/BtJy_rLPbsg
I had the blessing to see this movie last night in Portland, and I highly recommend you watch it when it gets picked up by Netflix and/or Amazon. Here’s a little teaser from the website:
‘Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury’ follows the path of Luxury, a band from small-town Georgia, who, on the cusp of success, suffer a devastating touring wreck with long-term consequences. In the intervening years, they continue to make records and three members of the band become Eastern Orthodox priests. Through interviews and archival footage, ‘Parallel Love’ tells the gripping and poignant story of Luxury and documents the making of a new record, now as priests.
Here is the link to the movie’s trailer: https://www.parallel-love.com/#trailer
The Orthodox Church is constantly in prayer and in worship of the Holy Trinity and each parish participates in these to the best of their ability. Here at St George you can count on these worship services happening on a regular basis:
Great Vespers every Saturday evening at 6 pm:
The word “vespers” comes from the Greek ἑσπέρα (hespera) meaning “evening”, because it is the evening service of the Church. Christians are to pray to God not just on Sunday mornings, but constantly, sanctifying time by offering prayer throughout the day. The three main components of the Vespers service are the lamp-lighting prayer “Gladsome Light”, and the offering of incense, the chanting of psalmody. The service of Vespers provides a fit conclusion to the day but it also prepares us to greet the coming day, since the day begins not with morning, but with evening. Since Sunday is the “Great and Holy Day”, the “Lord’s Day”, Vespers on Saturday evening is called “Great”.
Orthros or Matins every Sunday morning at approximately 9 am:
The morning service of the Church is called Orthros or Matins. The Matins service of the Church unites the elements of morning psalmody and prayer with meditation on the Biblical canticles, the Gospel reading, and the particular theme of the day in the given verses and hymns. The themes of God’s revelation and light are also always central to the morning service of the Church. There is no break between the end of Matins and the beginning of Liturgy, one flows directly into the other, so when you arrive for Divine Liturgy at, or a little before, 10:00 am, it may seem like you’re late but you’re not. You’re probably catching the end of the Matins service.
Divine Liturgy every Sunday morning at approximately 10:00 am:
The word liturgy means common work or common action. The Divine Liturgy is the common work of the Orthodox Church. It is the official action of the Church formally gathered together as the chosen People of God. The word church, as we remember, means a gathering or assembly of people specifically chosen and called apart to perform a particular task. The Divine Liturgy is the common action of Orthodox Christians officially gathered to constitute the Orthodox Church. It is the action of the Church assembled by God in order to be together in one community to worship, to pray, to sing, to hear God’s Word, to be instructed in God’s commandments, to offer itself with thanksgiving in Christ to God the Father, and to have the living experience of God’s eternal kingdom through communion with the same Christ Who is present in his people by the Holy Spirit.
There are service books that will help you to follow along with the Divine Liturgy. There will be greeters to meet you to assist and answer any questions you may have. They will be able to assist you in getting seated and provide you with a service book to follow along in.
An Orthodox service can be overwhelming on your first visit. Vibrant images of biblical events and saints cover the walls. You will see people lighting candles and venerating icons. The smell of incense fills the air. People will not only be using their voices to worship, but also their bodies. They will be crossing themselves and bowing or prostrating. It may seem strange at first, but this is how Christians have worshiped God for 2,000 years.
All are welcome!
I recently discussed the following quote from C.S Lewis’ Mere Christianity with a group of high school students, “Wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong… Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled.”
The resulting conversation was spirited as they wrestled with this idea. What became apparent was their concept of good and evil was pretty black and white – some people are inherently good and others inherently evil. However, this is not the Orthodox view of the world. God did not create evil people, instead he created each of us in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). So how then is there so much evil in the world?
In Lenten Spring Father Thomas Hopko explains, “[…] By rebelling against God ourselves. We listen to the serpent, the spirit of evil, instead of God. We do things in our own way. And we experience evil for ourselves, by our own volition, and bring corruption to our total being: mind, soul heart, and body. To the extent that this wickedness is in us, we pass it on to those who come after us, and they too become infected by evil from their very conception.”
We experience evil voluntarily as we rebel against God’s will and make our own will the authority. And one of the greatest temptations is to justify our actions, to say to ourselves, “What I am doing is good.” However, none of us has any authority to make that call, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is where we go wrong. This is how goodness becomes spoiled. As we continue down this path of separating ourselves from God through sin, we infect and are infected by those around us. The bottom line is that even if we were able to follow the law to perfection we would still be lost because without Christ we are subject to the death and corruption of this world.
So it is no mistake the pre-Lenten period begins with the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. As he prayed “I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector” (Luke 18:11), the Pharisee’s mistake was believing that he had no sin, that he was immune to the corruption of this world. Unable to recognize his own sin he continued to wallow in it and become infected by it. The Publican’s posture is a recognition of the wickedness in the world and our complete separation from God. In complete humility he beats his breast and cries, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13)
It is unsettling to think that even our most pure thoughts and desires, left to our own devices, can become corrupted and wicked. The Church tries to awaken us to this fact, not that we may despair, but that we may thirst and hunger for communion with the only One who is good, Jesus Christ. When we abide in His goodness, we are filled with His gifts and able to share them with those around us.
“Let us flee the vainglory of the Pharisee, learning instead the true humility of the Publican, so that we may ascend to God and cry to Him: forgive us, Your sinful servants, O Christ our savior: you were born of the virgin and willingly endured the cross for us, raising the dead by Your power as God!”
–From the Triodion for Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America affirms the sanctity of life based on the firm conviction that life begins at the moment of conception. The Assembly remains steadfast in its conviction that any interference in the development of life is a serious issue, and therefore it regularly participates in a variety of relevant events and also releases pertinent statements on the topic.
While recognizing that there are rare but serious medical instances where mother and child may require extraordinary actions, the Assembly of Bishops is deeply concerned that the taking of innocent life through abortion has become an acceptable cultural norm. This phenomenon – increasingly prevalent throughout contemporary societies – was exacerbated by a recent law of the New York State Senate (Bill S.240). The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America categorically denounces these adverse developments that allow for abortion, under certain unjustifiable circumstances, even within the third trimester of existence.
The Assembly of Bishops further reminds the faithful that Christ is a beacon of hope in this challenging world. Accordingly, the Church is always prepared and willing to support women who are considering abortion to find alternative avenues to alleviate any burden, physical and spiritual. The Church is ever a mother – loving, understanding, nurturing, praying, and protecting all human life.