From October 2-6, 2022, under the chairmanship of His Eminence Archbishop Peter of Chicago & Mid-America, the triennial Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of Chicago & Mid-American took place in Austin, Texas. Clergy and laity from throughout the 16-state diocese gathered to hear reports on the various activities of the diocese since the last assembly in 2018, to elect officers to serve on the Diocesan Council and Diocesan Auditing Committee from 2022 to 2025, to share fellowship and learn from best practices from throughout the diocese, and – perhaps most importantly – to celebrate the Divine Services daily. Each morning began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, just as each day ended with the celebration of Vespers. During the day deliberations of the assembly took place. On Wednesday, October 5 and Thursday, October 6 the feast day of the local parish in Georgetown, Texas, named in honor of the Hawaiian Iveron Icon of the Mother God, took place, led by Archbishop Peter. The very icon for which the parish is named, the Hawaiian Iveron Icon, was present at the Divine Services. This was a source of great consolation and joy for the assembly delegates and all who were present at these services – numbering in the hundreds from throughout the Austin area. The Divine Services during the assembly were sung by a choir made up of assembly delegates, while the Divine Services for the Iveron Icon were sung by the local choir of the Mother of God parish in Georgetown. At the Divine Liturgy on October 6 ecclesiastical awards were presented to the following clergymen for their sincere and diligent service to the Holy Church:
Priest Moses McPherson: Kamilavka and Gold Pectoral Cross
Priest Matthew Floyd: Kamilavka
Deacon Aaron Taylor: Double Orarion
The Resolution of the Assembly can be found below, as can the Youth Message of the Assembly.
God willing the next diocesan assembly will be held in October 2025.
Resolution of the Diocesan Assembly, Oct 2-6, 2022
As representatives of the community of prayer which is our Diocese and buttressed here by daily participation in the Life-Giving Divine Services of the Holy Orthodox Church, we the delegates of the Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America, with the blessing, and under the guidance of His Eminence Archbishop Peter, give thanks to God for the many blessings He has poured out upon our Diocese in the past four years:
• By the election of our Council of Bishops, we have a new First Hierarch, His Eminence Nicholas, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York;
• New missions have opened in Lubbock, TX; McHenry, IL; Madison, WI; Portage, WI; Traverse City, MI; Corpus Christi, TX; Lockhart, TX; and Marquette, MI.
• New Church buildings have been built or purchased in Austin, TX; San Antonio, TX; Minneapolis, MN; Ft. Wayne, IN; and Kansas City, KS.
• Nineteen new priests and eight new deacons now serve in our diocese;
• The Pastoral School continues training candidates to serve the Church both in our diocese and other dioceses throughout the world. Of the 49 graduates since its inception, 19 finished their studies in the last four years. More than 100 students are currently enrolled in the Pastoral School;
• Our Diocesan Youth Committee annually sponsors St. Herman conferences and coordinates resources for Church School programs. This year’s conference will be hosted by Sts. Peter and Fevronia parish in Kansas City, KS, December 26-30, 2022.
• Our Diocesan Music Committee has been effectively supporting the liturgical singing in our parishes through in-person workshops, remote instruction, participation in St. Herman Conferences and valuable online resources;
• We have passed through the trial of COVID-19 as communities strengthened and unified in Christ;
• The Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade, reducing the presence of the sin of abortion in many of our communities, a legal decision which spurs us to remember our Christian responsibility to serve Christ through care for our neighbors in need, mothers and their children, born and unborn;
We have prayed that the All-Merciful Lord give rest to the soul of our recently-reposed First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, and to our previous Ruling Hierarch, Archbishop Alypy, and urge the continued prayers of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for them and for the clergy of our diocese who have reposed since we last gathered in 2018: Archpriest Martin Swanson, Hieromonk Nicholas (Chebotar), and priest Vasily Melnyk.
Echoes of the mourning, fear and lament arising from the current fratricidal war in Ukraine reverberate within our parishes, spurring us to prayers for peace and labors of mercy for those displaced and in hardship. We listened with interest to the report of His Eminence, Archbishop Gabriel, on the conflict and appreciate his participation and responses to our questions. We are grateful to God to learn from Archbishop Peter that the parishioners of our diocese have gathered more than $88,000 to aid Ukrainian refugees and those suffering in Ukraine, and encourage such efforts to continue on the local and international level. We learned of the current trials of the Church in Latvia and exhort the faithful to pray for Met. Alexander and his flock.
Aware of our great responsibility for the talents collectively entrusted to us by the Lord, we have resolved to attend to pressing needs within our diocese:
• We rededicate ourselves to supporting, nurturing, and investing in the youth of our diocese. On a parish level, this commitment primarily manifests itself in parish church schools, youth groups and choirs. Within the diocese, the annual St. Herman Conferences and ORPR Camp most visibly carry this torch. We urge each parish to welcome families to worship and to invite youth to serve the church – be it in the altar, the choir, the candle stand or some other way. The support of the spiritual formation of the youth within parish communities must be a conscious and creative act.
• Having been reminded that the Body of Christ as it exists within our diocese is manifest within each local liturgical community, the parishes, and that together these communities support our bishop as well as the diocese as a whole and that the diocese further supports our Metropolitan and the Synod of Bishops, love for God and for our neighbor prompts us to share the gifts generously bestowed to each of us through ungrudging, regular and liberal payment of diocesan dues.
• We have charged the Diocesan Council to review the annual parish assessments, which have not increased since 2018 as well as Archbishop Peter’s salary, which has not changed since 2011.
• We appeal to our brothers and sisters in Christ to also donate to the St. John Kochurov Society since it funds the particular needs of the youth, mission parishes and monastic communities.
We rejoice at the presence of Lord’s Most Pure Mother with us through the miracle-working, myrrh-streaming Hawaiian Iveron Icon of the Mother of God at the patronal feast of our host parish, the Holy Mother of God Orthodox Church in Austin (Georgetown), TX. Our Assembly concluded with the festal vigil and hierarchical liturgy, including ordinations to the priesthood of deacon Gregory Solis and to the diaconate of Christopher Morgan.
We are grateful to and appreciate that Presbytera Eugenia Constantinou, Ph.D., has instructed us about the Orthodox phronema, the mindset which Christ imparted to the Apostles and which they passed on to their disciples and ultimately has come down to us. Just as it has through the centuries, this spring of living water sustains the faithful and has been palpably present in the warm fellowship of our Assembly, for which we earnestly give thanks to Christ the Good Shepherd.
Message to the Youth of the Diocese of Chicago & Mid-America from the Diocesan Assembly 2022
Beloved Orthodox Youth,
We celebrate your growing contributions, and we encourage your continued growth in the life of the Church. In a time of advancing spiritual darkness, the Orthodox Church serves as an anchor of authentic Truth in our Lord, building lives rooted in Holy Tradition, handed down unchanged over two thousand years of Church history. While all Orthodox Christians are called to serve, we recognize that the youth have a particular role in upholding the Faith. We call upon the Orthodox Christian youth of our diocese, with energy and sacrifice, with integrity and love, to make the Orthodox Faith your own, to support each other in your lives as brothers and sisters in Christ, to build Orthodox community together, to stand up for the Faith in every aspect of your lives, and to live full lives within the Church. Our Orthodox Faith is handed down from our Lord Jesus Christ through His Holy and Apostolic Church from generation unto generation, and the youth serve as a vital link in that chain of Faith across the ages, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Orthodox Youth: Embrace the Truth!