by His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Apostolos of Derkoi
at the Grant Banquet at the Conclusion
of the 44th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress
in Boston, MA
Your Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of America,
Your Eminences and Graces beloved brother Hierarchs,
Reverend Priests and Devout Deacons of the Holy Altar,
Most honorable Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
Ladies and Gentlemen, representatives of Communities and Philoptochos Sisterhoods and other church Organizations and Institutions, respectable members of the 44th Clergy Laity Congress of the God-saved Archdiocese of America,
With God’s help we came to the end of this Clergy-Laity Congress, during which we examined from various perspectives and points of view and put our hands on the divine words: All things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23), always in reference to the life of this local Church, the chosen and prominent Eparchy of the holiest Ecumenical Throne.
We convened, with the blessing and prayers of His All Holiness, our Patriarch, in difficult and turbulent times for the world in general, but also in days that are slightly free from great hardships and complex problems for this local Church, devoted children of which you all are. Terrible is the shock which the prominent Holy Archdiocese of America has unduly experienced under the well-known circumstances and great is the turbulence of the waves, which rocked and continues to rock people’s consciousness. As human beings, all these things sadden us and cause us considerable agony and trouble us very deeply. But the Church historically has experienced turbulence and storms caused by problems and upheavals, difficulties and obstacles and the Church in America was not in the past nor is it today an exception. It’s not possible for the devil to apathetically watch the salvific work of the Church, the great family of Christ. He tries each time to cause various scandals in order to sway people’s consciousness, to cause confusion, to alter the church morale, to inflict wounds to the Body of Christ. These things are known and common but are not less painful or dangerous whenever and wherever they happen. The enemy of truth and our salvation works deviously day and night. We ought to oppose his machinations with unshakeable Faith to the Omnipotent Holy Triune God of Truth. Faith working through love per Apostle Paul (Gal. 5:6); and not only through love but also through patience and discernment and humility but mostly God-loving unity. Unity toward one another, unity within local Churches, i.e. Parishes, Metropolises and the Archdiocese, and foremost and mainly unity with the venerable Mother Church in Constantinople, which is the devout Fountain of our Race and the secure trustee of the great treasure of our Greek Orthodox inheritance. Our unity around the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the venerable person of our Patriarch, far from any petty ambitions and obstinacy and, God forbid, selfishness, far from short-sightedness regarding the general benefit of the Church, and in conformity with the canonically fundamental and spiritually important things, constitutes a basic weapon against the evil plans of the devil. The name of the Church is identical with unity and that is what the devil fears and hates. Let us not ever allow the devil to celebrate one victory against us. To the contrary, being of one mind with Mother Church, with one soul and with love in our heart that can reach the point of sacrifice and even self-sacrifice, let us all be, Hierarchs, Clergy and faithful people, connected to the holy leadership of the Orthodox Church as strings to the guitar, borrowing from the beautiful image of Holy Martyr Saint Ignatius of Antioch. And from this solid unity, let it be heard throughout America and the whole world the melodious song of Love which is the true God, for God is love (1 John 4:8).
Leaving shortly along with my brother, Metropolitan of Silivria, for the sacred see of the crucified Mother Church, we thank you wholeheartedly for all the pious and kind hospitality you extended to us, which is attributed to the holiest sacred Mother and the person of His All Holiness, as representatives of which we were sent here. We invoke to all of you yet once more the holy Patriarchal blessing and wholeheartedly wish upon you all the goods of God and continuous progress and growth of the Holy Archdiocese and the whole Church in America according to God, for the glory of the name of the Lord and God and our Savior Jesus Christ and in honor of our pious Race. Our love and prayer will warmly accompany you all forever. Rejoice in the Lord and prosper, beloved brothers and sisters, for many salvific years!