Your Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, most honorable Exarch of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, beloved brother in the Holy Spirit and co-celebrant of our Modesty; Your Eminences Brothers Metropolitans-members of the Holy Eparchial Synod; Your Graces; Most Devout Presbyters and Deacons; Most Venerable Monks and Nuns; Most Honorable Presidents of Communities and all ecclesiastical and educational Organizations and Institutions; Most Honorable Ladies of the National Philoptochos and the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, representatives of the Youth who bring us all hope, and all the participants of the Fortieth Clergy Laity Congress of the Holy Archdiocese of America, may the grace and peace of God be with you all.
From the martyred and Sacred Center in Phanar, we continually take note with abundant affection and great interest of the life of the God-protected Eparchies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate throughout the world, among which the Holy Archdiocese of America ranks first. Therefore, it was with joy that we were informed about the convocation of the Fortieth Clergy Laity of the Holy Archdiocese of America on July 3-8, in Atlanta, Georgia; the Congress’ theme being, Gather My People to My Home: Come and See.
We understand that this theme complements the theme of the previous Congress (39th) by the addition of the exhortation, Come and See. By no means do we doubt that the labors and efforts of the church administration and of all the people who contributing to the work of the Gospel, have yielded many positive results with respect to the gathering of the people of God to His home – as we had the opportunity to ascertain this very thing personally during our visit to the United States last October. We witnessed the increased participation of the faithful in the whole life of the Church, both in numbers and spiritual depth, the consolation and assistance of the needy, the spread of the Gospel message, the safekeeping of the holy Greek Orthodox traditions and values, and the multiple ways the Church in America has fulfilled her ecclesiastical ministry. This same witness of service is provided by the Metropolitans who from time to time assist the Sacred and Holy Synod in the Phanar, more particularly their Eminences who have served during the past two-years: the Metropolitans of Denver, Atlanta and Detroit. Glory be to God! We are certain that the Representative of our Patriarchate, His Eminence Archbishop Irineos of Crete, who comes to you as our Patriarchal Representative, will also see, admire, and celebrate along with you the harvest of the power of the Holy Spirit and your own honorable efforts. We can only offer the words of Apostle Paul: But we exhort you, brethren, to do so more and more! (1 Thessalonians 4:10). No matter how much we labor or try or accomplish with all our powers and gifts concerning the work of the edification of the saints, the building up of the Body of Christ, the gathering of the many into the one of the Eucharistic community, the revelation of the Kingdom of God on earth, all our labors will always be little and insufficient. But, we should never tire of laboring with sacrifice, and with pursuing resolutely the unattainable perfection! This is the labor of the people who sincerely love God and man. The Divine Grace, which heals every infirmity and fulfills all that is lacking, will see to the rest, filling the Great Hall of the Lord’s Banquet with those who shall dine with Him and who bear His image!
The Holy Archdiocese of America, with its Holy Metropolises across the great American Nation, constitutes a single brilliant ecclesiastical lamp, which God lit in the Western Hemisphere, through the Most Holy Mother Church of Constantinople, in order to give light to the New World. Light of the knowledge of God, light of truth, light of holy and salvific tradition, light of good deeds, light of every virtue and holiness! The progress and growth in God of the Archdiocese and her children constitutes a wreath of beautiful flowers decorating the gray-haired maternal Head, a cause of praise for the saints-begetting Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, a glory and honor of our Ecumenical Patriarchal Throne! Therefore, you always occupy the center of our prayers, shepherds and flock, clergy and laity, archons and servants, old and young, everyone without any exception! You are bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and, thus, the love we feel for you never diminishes!
By emphatically saying all that from the Holy See of the Mother Church, we congratulate all on the convocation of the Fortieth Clergy Laity Congress. We pray for the complete success of its proceedings and we raise our hands to bless all of you and your God-loving labors in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
June 7, 2010
Your beloved brother in Christ and
fervent intercessor before God
† B A R T H O L O M E W
By the Mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople
And Ecumenical Patriarch