Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel joined fellow bishops of the Oriental Orthodox churches to congratulate the recently installed leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Elpidophoros.
Their visit to the Manhattan headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America took place on Monday, August 12. Bishop Daniel, representing the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, was part of the delegation that included Archbishop John Kawak of the Syriac Archdiocese, Archbishop Titus Yeldho of the Malankara Archdiocese, Archbishop Silvanos Ayoub of the Syriac Knanaya Archdiocese, and Bishop David of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese.
Bishop David, as president of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches (SCOOCH), led the delegation. It was the first formal meeting of the Oriental Orthodox bishops with Archbishop Elpidophoros since the latter’s enthronement in late June.
“The Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America holds an extremely important and influential position,” explained Bishop Daniel, “not only within his own church, but also for all the Eastern Orthodox churches in America. Among them he is essentially considered ‘first among equals.’”
Towards Unity and Communion
The longstanding relationship between the Greek Church and the Armenian and other Oriental Orthodox churches is also vitally important. During the August 12 meeting, the bishops discussed the urgent necessity of drawing their respective “families” of churches—the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox—into greater union with one another.
“Our people are ahead of us clergy in their insistence that our churches be in full communion,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros to his brother bishops.
To that end, the bishops considered various prospects for bringing their people and clergy together for prayer, fellowship, and ultimately joint ministry. One concrete result of the meeting was an agreement to jointly hold an evening of sacred music and prayer, for Friday, December 27. The service, which will incorporate liturgical forms from each of respective Orthodox Christian traditions, will take place in the New York metro area, in a location to be determined.
“We must press ahead towards full Christian unity and sacramental communion among all of the Orthodox churches, Eastern and Oriental,” said Bishop Daniel, reflecting on the meeting. “Such communion would celebrate the diversity of our liturgical traditions and our distinctive Christian witnesses, while encouraging us to more ardently bring the love of Jesus Christ into the lives of all people. I will always support every sincere effort toward this end.”
He added: “That goal is central to the mission of the Armenian Church, as it has been since our people received the Gospel from the Apostles.”
In October, Bishop Daniel will be hosting a follow-up meeting at the Diocesan Center in New York, which will be a broader meeting of Oriental and Eastern Orthodox bishops in the New York region.
Above: Hierarchs of America’s Oriental Orthodox churches met at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in New York, to congratulate the new leader of the Greek Orthodox Church. Pictured are H.E. Mor Silvanos Ayoub (of the Syriac Knanaya Archdiocese), H.E. Mor Titus Yeldho (Malankara Archdiocese), H.G. Bishop David (Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese), H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese), H.E. Mor Dionysios John Kawak (Syriac Archdiocese), and H.G. Bishop Daniel (Armenian Church, Eastern Diocese).