Friday, June 10, 2016

What is the Global Orthodox Church?

All eyes (at least all Orthodox Christian eyes) will be on Crete next week as the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church is supposed to begin gathering. This is such an important event that Churches throughout the world will celebrate Divine Liturgies, Vigils, Paraklesis services and other Holy Services of the Church to unite in prayer that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the Church into the future. This is the FIRST time in more than 1200 years the global Orthodox Church has gathered. But I know some do not know what the global Church is.

Unlike our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, the Orthodox Church is not on single global organization with a single head. We all know there is no single Pope in the Orthodox Church. That is true for two basic reasons. The first reason is that ALL Orthodox Christian Bishops are equal throughout the world as the Chief Shepherds of their local Church. Our bishop is His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta. Within the Holy Metropolis of Atlanta, in matters of administration, no other bishop has authority over Metropolitan Alexios. The second reason there is no single Pope, is because throughout the globe Orthodox Christians are “gathered” within regional Churches to consolidate administrative functions. We understand how that works here in America. It would be difficult for each Metropolis to have a seminary and college, so the Archdiocese of America consolidates certain administrative functions for the spiritual benefit of each Metropolis. Globally the regions are basically along national political boundaries, but not exclusively. This is an ancient custom originally begun by the Holy Apostles along Roman political boundaries. Even the term “Parish” is a political boundary.

There are fourteen ‘global’ Orthodox Churches, many like our Archdiocese, with dependent “daughter” Churches throughout the world due mainly to global immigration. The Churches maintain a certain order of seniority based on ancient formulas. They are:
The Church of Constantinople – The Ecumenical Patriarchate
The Church of Alexandria
The Church of Antioch
The Church of Jerusalem
The Church of Russian
The Church of Serbia
The Church of Romania
The Church of Bulgaria
The Church of Georgia
The Church of Cyprus
The Church of Greece
The Church of Poland
The Church of Albania

The Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia

No comments: