Assembly of Bishops Honors Metropolitan Philip
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America held its 2011 meeting 25-27 May in Chicago, IL, with forty-five of its current fifty-two members present (of the seven members who were absent, five were attending meetings of their respective Holy Synods overseas, one was incapacitated due to serious illness, and another was unable to attend because of a death in his immediate family). At the closing session His Eminence Archbishop Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., who serves as treasurer of the Assembly of Bishops, offered the following comments and resolution:
“Our esteemed first vice-chair Metropolitan Philip was born in 1931 which means His Eminence will be celebrating his 80th birthday next month - on June 10th. He entered into the Balamand Orthodox Theological Seminary at the age of fourteen. At the age of eighteen he was ordained to the holy diaconate. By the age of twenty-one, he was already a lecturer and a student advisor at the Balamand Orthodox Theological Seminary. He came to the United States in the 1950s and continued his education at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School in Brookline, MA, at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, and continued on to receive his M.Div from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary Seminary in Crestwood, NY. In 1966 he was consecrated to the episcopacy and thus will be marking the 45th anniversary of his episcopal consecration this coming August.
As Metropolitan Philip is the senior member of our Assembly here, and as he is the one who has a unique perspective of history regarding the struggle for Orthodox unity in this country, I offer the following resolution in behalf of myself and my fellow officers -our chair Archbishop Demetrios, our second vice-chair Archbishop Justinian, our secretary Bishop Basil - for the consideration of you, brothers, members of this Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.
“We, the brothers of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America convened in annual assembly in Chicago, Illinois, 25-27 May 2011, express our great joy at the impending high points in the life of our Assembly’s esteemed first vice-chair, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:
* his 80th birthday on 10 June, and
* most importantly, the 45th anniversary of his episcopal concentration on 14 August.
“His Eminence has played a leading role in the incremental progress toward the unity of Orthodoxy in the Americas and has worked toward that goal throughout all of the years of his episcopacy, first in SCOBA and now in this Assembly of Bishops. His Eminence's personal and unique historical perspective on Orthodox history in the Americas always provides to his brother hierarchs a clearer view of any topic being discussed. His understanding, his unrelenting effort towards Orthodox unity over these nearly five decades, has helped lead our Church closer to that unity, and the small but significant decisions taken by him together with all members of this Assembly, continue that effort.
“We greet His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and beseech God's continued blessings upon him and the Holy Spirit's guidance upon all of his future efforts, wishing him many, many blessed and happy years.”
The resolution was accepted by acclamation. Metropolitan Philip responded, saying:
“Thank you Archbishop Antony. It has been my blessing and my joy to work with the brethren. I became a member of SCOBA (The Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas), which is the forerunner of this Assembly of Bishops, upon my consecration to the sacred episcopacy in 1966. I worked with the late Archbishop Iakovos and the other primates, many of whom have now passed on to eternal life. May their memories be eternal.
“We primates, as heads of our jurisdictions, tried our best through SCOBA. Now SCOBA has been replaced by this Assembly of Bishops which encompasses not just the primates but every bishop, and that is the right thing so that all of us can meet and not only a few bishops. All of us bishops now meet and discuss together and make decisions together, and this is reflects the true spirit of the Church. I thank you very much, Archbishop Antony, my fellow officers and all my brother hierarchs, for this very kind resolution, of which I am undeserving.”
(Issued by the Secretariat of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America)