PHOENIX – The 41st Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America commenced yesterday with the Orthros service and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy held in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity of Phoenix, Arizona, with approximately 1,200 faithful in attendance. The Holy Metropolis of San Francisco and the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Phoenix are the hosts of this 41st Congress.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America presided over the Divine Liturgy concelebrating with all the Metropolitans of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese. Taking part in the Liturgy were His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, His Eminence Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh, His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, and His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey.
His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Congress, attended the Liturgy from the Solea along with His Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod.
Just before the dismissal of the Liturgy, Archbishop Demetrios of America spoke to the hundreds of faithful who filled the large church. The Archbishop, basing his homily on the Gospel and the Epistle readings of the day, spoke about faith and love as two essential and indispensable pillars. Emphasizing the theme of the Congress he said, “Both are required if we are to ‘go and bear fruit’ as the Lord commands us.” His Eminence directed the attention of the faithful to the two saints commemorated today, the Holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian, who exemplify and demonstrate, in the best possible way, what faith and love should be. He also expressed his gratitude to the host Hierarch, Metropolitan Gerasimos, for the hospitality and the preparations for the Congress, and to all the Hierarchs of the Synod who concelebrated in the Liturgy. He then expressed the love and gratitude of the flock of the Archdiocese to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and introduced the Patriarchal Representative, Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto.
“I have witnessed your faith, and the faith of all the Hierarchs and faithful during the beautiful Divine Liturgy,” said Metropolitan Sotirios and conveyed the paternal and patriarchal greetings and blessings of His All Holiness. Speaking on the theme of the Congress “to go and bear fruit,” he emphasized the importance of children as a precious gift from God, the importance of their well-being, the Orthodox family, the Sunday, day and afternoon schools and our role in cultivating faith in the younger generation.
Immediately following, Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco offered a warm welcome to all. He reiterated the message of love in St. Paul’s Epistle and affirmed this love as the context for “all the hard work we do when we come together in these Congresses.”
Later in the afternoon, Archbishop Demetrios was joined by Metropolitan Sotirios, Metropolitans Methodios, Nicholas and Evangelos, and Leadership 100 Chairman Charles H. Cotros for the cutting of the ribbon at the official opening of the Congress Exhibit Hall. Leadership 100, as a small token of its many years commitment and contributions to the ministries of the Archdiocese, provided a generous gift of $25,000 for the underwriting of the exhibit area, which features numerous booths with vendors from the United States, Canada, Greece, and Cyprus and includes a ministry pavilion which highlights the national ministries of the Archdiocese.
Following the opening of the exhibit area, Archbishop Demetrios attended the opening ceremony of the National Philoptochos Convention. The Convention is held in conjunction with the Clergy-Laity Congress, and this year has a very high attendance of 416 registered delegates. Metropolitan Sotirios read the Patriarchal Message, and a pre-recorded video message of His All Holiness was presented. Philoptochos President Aphrodite Skeadas presented the work and accomplishments of the last two years and thanked among others Bishop Sevastianos of Zela for his devotion to the organization and his spiritual guidance.
Immediately after, His Eminence was accompanied again by Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto and the other Metropolitans of the Eparchial Synod in attending a reception of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians where a choir performed hymns and the 2012 Recipients of the St. Romanos Medallion were announced. The Order of St. Andrew - Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America also held a reception and a very informative presentation on the issues concerning our Ecumenical Patriarchate was attended by the Hierarchs, many Archons and delegates.
Photos of the events are available at www.photos.goarch.org.
Contact: Stavros Papagermanos
Tel.: (212) 570-3530
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