By George Matsoukas
May the memory of recently deceased Metropolitan Iakovos be blessed and eternal. He served the Church in the United States for many decades and was head of the Midwestern Metropolis for 38 years. This interim period is a time to reflect upon his legacy and to look forward to the direction of Orthodoxy in the United States in this post-conciliar Age.
His passing affords the Church the opportunity to become unifiedby putting our theology into practice, moving beyond words to actions…moving beyond what is mine and yours to what is ours, as stated by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Iakovos’ passing affords the Church the opportunity to be a conciliar Church, respecting meaningful clergy and laity participation in governance – governance that is transparent and accountable. This heartland Metropolis and multicultural city of Chicago, which has representatives of all canonical Orthodox Christian jurisdictions, offers the appointment of a new Metropolitan, the opportunity to unify Orthodox Christians to fulfill the mission of the Church. Such an appointment can be symbolic and exemplary in helping the ecclesiastical body receive and understand the work of the Holy and Great Council (HGC) and bring canonical order to the Orthodox Church in the United States. This appointment should reflect new beginnings for our 21st Century Church.
We pray that the Holy Spirit guide those vetting and deciding whom to nominate for this office of Metropolitan. We pray that those making the decisions listen to the direction of the Holy Spirit. The office seeks the best candidate.The candidate does not seek the office. This is the Orthodox Way to fill this ministry of service. To find the best candidate the pool can be extended by thinking “outside of the box.”Which archimandrites, widowed priests, and auxiliary bishops would make the best candidate? Surely, the input of clergy and laity groups should be sought before they ask the faithful to acclaim “Axios!”
The task and responsibility of naming a bishop is awesome. We pray that the process will have integrity and broad input. Considerations, in addition to the piety and education of the candidate, should includeservant nature and administrative skills. The candidate should also understand how to combat the rise of Orthodox fundamentalism, which is infecting our faith and parish life. He should also have the strength to enforce the rules and regulations governing the integration of the monasteries into our Archdiocese.
The decision sets the tone for Orthodoxy in the global, post-conciliar age we live in and ministering God’s word to the faithful and seekers.The heartland of the United States is a timey place to chart this Church renewal of our ancient Orthodox Christian faith.
George Matsoukas is Executive Director of the Orthodox Christian Laity.