Posts tagged SCOBA
This week is a busy one:
March 14, 1767: Philip Ludwell III, the first Orthodox convert in American history, died in London. Decades earlier, in 1738, Ludwell had joined the Orthodox Church in London. He was just 22 at the time, and was a rising star in the Virginia aristocracy. Remarkably, the Russian Holy Synod gave him permission to bring a portion of the Eucharist back to Virginia. In 1762, Ludwell brought his three daughters to England to be received into the Church as well. Of course, we would know none of this were it not for the exceptional research and writing done by Nicholas Chapman, whose articles we’re proud to feature here at OrthodoxHistory.org. Click here to read Nicholas’ first article on Ludwell, and here to read about Ludwell’s landmark translation of an Orthodox catechism. And if you find Ludwell as fascinating as I do, I would highly recommend that you invest $4.95 to download Nicholas Chapman’s recent lecture on Ludwell. (And for $9.95, you get a CD of the lecture, a copy of Ludwell’s portrait, and the Ludwell family book plate.) I rarely encourage our readers to buy stuff, but trust me: this is worth it.
March 14, 1853: Chronologically, after Ludwell, the most important American Orthodox convert has to be St. Alexis Toth, who was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire 159 years ago this week (most of my sources say March 14, but Wikipedia has his birthday as March 18). Originally a Greek Catholic (“Uniate”) priest, Toth was assigned to serve a Carpatho-Rusyn parish in Minneapolis in 1889. But the local Roman Catholic archbishop didn’t want Toth’s “kind” — that is, Greek Catholics — in his diocese, and the two men clashed immediately. In 1891, Toth and his Minneapolis congregation joined the Russian Orthodox Church. Dozens and dozens of Uniate parishes followed suit over the next two decades, and Toth was one of the chief advocates of Uniate conversion to Orthodoxy. He died in 1909 and was canonized by the OCA in 1994.
March 13, 1868: Fr. Nicholas Kovrigin was sent on a pastoral visit to San Francisco, establishing the first foothold of the Russian Church in the contiguous United States. It all started back in the 1850s, when San Francisco’s growing Orthodox community organized into a mutual aid society. In the early 1860s, Russian ships visited the area, and some local Orthodox children — including the future Fr. Sebastian Dabovich — were baptized by a Russian navy chaplain. But there wasn’t a Russian parish until Kovrigin came along later in the decade. His visit was precipitated by the arrival, late in 1867, of the renegade Ukrainian priest Agapius Honcharenko, who moved to the Bay Area and tried to start some kind of hybrid Protestant/Orthodox parish. The Orthodox people seem to have realized that they needed to get an actual, legitimate Orthodox priest in their city, so they sent a formal request to the bishop in Alaska, who responded by sending Kovrigin for a visit. Initially, it was just that — a visit — but later in 1868, Kovrigin was formally assigned to be the pastor of a new parish in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Kovrigin seems not to have been made of the strongest moral fiber, and he ran into all sorts of trouble, ultimately being suspected of foul play in the death of his superior, cathedral dean Fr. Paul Kedrolivansky. Kovrigin was finally sent away in 1879, by the newly arrived Bishop Nestor Zass. On a more positive note, despite many trials and tribulations (and name changes), the San Francisco parish has survived to this day, and is now Holy Trinity, a cathedral of the OCA.
March 15, 1896: Archimandrite Theoclitos Triantafilides celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in Galveston, Texas. I’ve written about Fr. Theoclitos recently: he was one of only three Greek priests to serve under the Russian Mission. Previously, he had been the tutor to the future king of Greece and the future Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. His Galveston parish was multiethnic, composed of Serbs, Greeks, Syrians, Russians, Copts, and American converts. To this day, his old parish of Saints Constantine and Helen venerates him as a holy man. To learn more about Fr. Theoclitos, read this article by Mimo Milosevich.
March 15, 1898: The future Antiochian Metropolitan Antony Bashir was born in Douma, in what was then the Ottoman Empire and what is now Lebanon. Bashir led the Antiochian Archdiocese of New York from 1936 until his death in 1966. This was the era of the “New York-Toledo” schism, when the Antiochians in America were divided into competing archdioceses (one based in New York and the other in Toledo, Ohio). Bashir was a major proponent of pan-Orthodox cooperation and the proliferation of English in church services.
March 13, 1904: Archimandrite Raphael Hawaweeny was consecrated to the episcopacy by Archbishop Tikhon Bellavin and Bishop Innocent Pustynsky. This was the first episcopal consecration in American Orthodox history. Technically, St. Raphael was a vicar bishop under St. Tikhon, the Russian Archbishop of North America, and St. Raphael’s “diocese” was actually a vicariate for Syro-Arabs. Reality was considerably more complicated, and St. Raphael basically functioned as a mostly independent diocesan bishop with ties to both the Russians and the Patriarchate of Antioch. (As he put it, his diocese was a diocese of Antioch, “notwithstanding its nominal allegiance to the Russian Holy Synod.”) He served as bishop until his death in 1915.
March 12, 1914: Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky, dean of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in New York, returned to Russia after nearly two decades of service in America. He went on to suffer under the Communists, died a martyr’s death, and has since been canonized a saint.
March 18, 1956: The exiled Serbian bishop Nicholai Velimirovich died at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. He had first come to America in the 1910s, as a representative of the Serbian Church. After World War II, Bishop Nicholai returned to the United States as a refugee, and he went on to teach at several Orthodox seminaries in the US. I feel like I should have a lot to say about Bishop Nicholai — who, after all, was canonized in 2003 and is famous for his prolific writings (most notably the Prologue from Ochrid), but to be honest, I don’t really know all that much about the man. There are a couple of informative biographical articles online, but I should note that both are written from a somewhat hagiographic (as opposed to a strictly historical) perspective. Click here for one published in The Orthodox Word, and click here for one from the periodical Orthodox America.
March 16, 1960: The Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas — better known simply as SCOBA — held its first meeting. SCOBA arose from the ashes of the “Federation,” a 1940s attempt to foster pan-Orthodox cooperation in America. And while many initially thought that SCOBA might lead to the unification of the various jurisdictions, that obviously never happened. In 2010, SCOBA was disbanded and replaced by the Assembly of Bishops. The two organizations are different in many ways, but two are of particular note: (1) SCOBA included on the heads of the jurisdictions, while the Assembly includes every active, canonical bishop in America, and (2) the “Mother Churches” tolerated SCOBA, but the same Mother Churches actually created the Assembly. Along the same lines, SCOBA was a voluntary association, whereas the Assembly is an official ecclesiastical organization with a clear mandate from the Mother Churches. I realize that I didn’t really say much about the first SCOBA meeting, but that’s a story for another day.
March 13, 1965: On the very same day, both Albanian Bishop Theophan Noli and Greek Bishop Germanos Liamadis died. As far as I know, this was the only instance of two American Orthodox bishops dying on the same date.
March 18, 1981: OCA Metropolitan Ireney Bekish died. He had been the Metropolia/OCA primate from 1965 until his retirement in 1977 — so, the period when the OCA received its Tomos of Autocephaly and established its current identity — but I’ve never heard anyone talk of him as a major historical figure. Nobody talks about the era of Ireney, because it really was the era of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, who effectively led the OCA during Ireney’s entire episcopate.
March 16, 2008: ROCOR’s First Hierarch, the revered Metropolitan Laurus Skurla, died, shortly after helping to accomplish the reunion of ROCOR with the Moscow Patriarchate. Met Laurus had led ROCOR for seven years, and while he is most remembered for that tenure, the bulk of his hierarchical career was spent as abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.
March 13, 2011: Metropolitan Nicholas Smisko of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese (ACROD) died of cancer after more than a quarter-century as primate of ACROD. A year later, his position has yet to be filled. ACROD has established a memorial web page for Met Nicholas; click here to view it.
Recently, I happened to look at Fr. Serafim Surrency’s 1973 book The Quest for Orthodox Unity in America, an invaluable study of American Orthodoxy from 1794 to 1973. This book is one of the best sources for information on, among other things, Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh’s “American Orthodox Catholic Church,” as well as the proto-SCOBA 1940s Federation. It’s also a great source for information on the very early years of SCOBA. Fr. Serafim himself was closely involved with SCOBA, and he provides all sorts of details not available elsewhere.
I thought our readers might be interested in Fr. Serafim’s list of the original member jurisdictions of SCOBA when it was founded in 1960. Here is the list, with Fr. Serafim’s notes:
- Albanian Diocese (under Constantinople)
- Carpatho-Russian Diocese (under Constantinople)
- Bulgarian Diocese (not in canonical relationship with the Mother Church of Sofia)
- Greek Archdiocese (under Constantinople)
- Romanian Archdiocese (under Bucharest)
- Russian Metropolia (not in canonical relationship with the Mother Church of Moscow)
- Russian Exarchate (under Moscow)
- Ukrainian Diocese (under Constantinople)
- Ukrainian Autocephalic Diocese (not in canonical relationship with the Mother Church)
- Syrian Archdiocese of N.Y. (under Antioch)
Of the eleven founding member jurisdictions, ten are what we would today consider “mainstream.” The odd one out is the Ukrainian Autocephalic Diocese, also sometimes known as the Ukrainian Church in Exile. In addition to those eleven jurisdictions, Surrency listed several more jurisdictions which, for one reason or another, didn’t participate in the founding of SCOBA:
- Albanian Archdiocese (in communion with the Church in Albania)
- Syrian Archdiocese of Toledo (under Antioch)
- Independent Romanian Diocese (not in canonical relationship with Bucharest)
- Russian Church in Exile (not in canonical relationship with the Church of Moscow)
- Ukrainian Metropolia (not in canonical relationship with the Mother Church)
Oddly, the Serbs are not mentioned at all.
Fifty years later, at the end of its existence, SCOBA also included eleven jurisdictions:
- Greek Archdiocese of America
- Antiochian Archdiocese of North America
- Serbian Church in North and South America
- Carpatho-Russian Diocese in the USA (under Constantinople)
- Romanian Archdiocese in the Americas (under Bucharest)
- Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church (under Sofia)
- Orthodox Church in America
- Ukrainian Church of the USA (under Constantinople)
- Moscow Patriarchal Parishes (under Moscow)
- Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (under Moscow)
- Albanian Diocese of America (under Constantinople)
There have been various mergers, name changes, and so forth, but the biggest difference between the 1960 list and the 2010 list is the absence of the Ukrainian Autocephalic Church. This body was led by Archbishop Palladios Rudenko. Here is what Surrency had to say about them (p. 114):
In the United States there are two other Ukrainian jurisdictions with less than a dozen parishes between them: one is called the “Holy Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church in Exile” headed by Archbishop Palladios who has been hospitalized and unable to function for the last four or five years-his jurisdiction seems to enjoy a quasi-canonical relationship with the Greek Archdiocese-and the second group is known as the “Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church in Exile” (Sobornopravna) which is headed by Archbishop Gregory.
They were, in 1973, one of the smallest jurisdictions in America, with just one bishop and five parishes. I’m still trying to get a handle on their history, but eventually, I’ll try to get an article done. Surely there’s a story to be uncovered.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
Recently a historic event took place in New York: A pan-Orthodox Assembly of the Fullness of God’s Church on the North American continent, represented by the Hierarchs of the local Orthodox dioceses. The most important goal of this body is to witness Orthodox unity in a “new world,” and to secure a more effective organization of mission, witness, and cooperation of the local Orthodox Churches in the diaspora, faithful to the soteriological needs of contemporary man and society.
In accordance with the decision of the Fourth Pre-conciliar pan-Orthodox conference held June 6-12, 2009 in the Orthodox center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Switzerland, and at the invitation of Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the first Assembly of canonical Orthodox Hierarchs of North and Central America was held in New York May 26-28, 2010. Of sixty-six hierarchs of this region, fifty-five were present at this historic gathering.
It needs to be said that the entire gathering was held in a spirit and atmosphere of brotherly love, in the joy of the Pentecost Feast Day: Greeks, Serbs, Romanians, Bulgarians, Russians, Syrians, Arabs, Americans, and Latin Americans all together spoke with one mouth and one heart demonstrating that the ontological foundation of the unity of the Church is inconceivable without multiplicity. Discussions about various questions and problems of the “diaspora” went on in a spirit of understanding, while Archbishop Demetrios wisely and capably led the gathering. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios presided over this Episcopal Assembly, having Metropolitan Philip (Antiochian Orthodox Church) and Russian Archbishop Justinian (Moscow Patriarchate) as co-chairs. Bishop Basil of Wichita (Antiochian self-ruling Archdiocese) was elected secretary. His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher of Libertyville/Chicago and His Grace Bishop Maxim of the Western American diocese represented the Serbian Orthodox Church.
One of the topics that was repeated many times as a refrain during this three-day Assembly was the will and desire of all participants “for the swift healing of all canonical anomalies which resulted from historical circumstances and pastoral necessity.” Above all, soteriology is of primary importance for this Assembly in its reflections on God, man, the Church, and the world today, and our unity must be visible, Eucharistic, and structured in accordance with the one-many life that the Eucharist imparts to the Church from its source in God Himself.
Along with this the participants emphatically called to mind the contributions of the Primates and representatives of the Orthodox autocephalous Churches gathered at the Ecumenical Patriarchate from October 10 to 12, 2008, to confirm their “unswerving position and obligation to safeguard the unity of the Orthodox Church” (Chambésy Rules of Operation, Article 5.1a). A slightly different view was presented by one of the hierarchs, who questioned the necessity of jurisdictional connections with autocephalous Churches which are, as he stated, over seven thousand miles away and do not have any ties with the “new world.” This was somewhat of an isolated opinion. If there was an opinion that it is only necessary to follow the Primates of the autocephalous churches, or so called “Mother Churches,” in spirit rather than in letter, Archbishop Demetrios gave a witty answer: “This would test the distinct American sentiment for independence and democracy.” Through this exchange of opinions the participants came to the conclusion that the relatively “young” American Orthodoxy has a need for guidance and help from the “mother Churches” of the Old World, Middle East, Bosporus, and Balkans. There is the need for both dependence and a certain independence in making decisions.
During this gathering, and in conformity with the rules for regional Episcopal Assemblies established during the Fourth Pan-Orthodox pre-conciliar conference, the following were accomplished: A registry of canonical bishops (Article 6.1); a committee to decide the canonical status of local communities in a region which cannot be connected with (have no reference to) any of the Holy autocephalous Churches (Article 6.2); a registry of canonical clergy (Article 6.3); committees that will take on the work of the Assembly in addressing liturgical, pastoral, financial, educational, ecumenical, and legal questions (Articles 11 and 12); a committee to plan the organization of the Orthodox in this region on a canonical basis (Article 5.1). In addition to the above, it was agreed that the Assembly establish and maintain a directory of all canonical congregations in our region. This is in conformity with the basic Orthodox ecclesiological principle: it is primarily the bishop who presides at the Eucharist in his local church, so the principal manifestation of the Church is the gathering of the whole community around the bishop and his presbyters and deacons for the Liturgy.
A decision was also reached regarding the question of SCOBA. This Episcopal Assembly understands itself as the heir of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), and it has taken over all SCOBA agencies, dialogues, and other services. Interestingly, the question of the OCA (the Orthodox Church in America, formerly the Russian Metropolia) was not discussed, but it has become clear that its “autocephaly” (given by a unilateral decree of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1970) is understood only as autonomy. Even though the OCA’s autocephaly is not recognized by most Orthodox local Churches (including the Serbian Patriarchate), the fact is that her hierarchs at the Assembly enjoyed the same rights and honor as others. The order of seating at the Assembly followed the Diptychs (the established order of precedence of the ancient and newer Patriarchates and autocephalous Churches), so that the bishops of the OCA came after the Serbian and Romanian delegations (a representative of Georgian church was not present at this gathering).
Upon formal petition of the Hierarchs who have jurisdiction in Canada, the Assembly will send to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in accordance with the rules of procedure (Article 13), a petition that the current region of North and Central America be divided into two separate regions, of the United States and of Canada. In addition, upon petition of the Hierarchs who have jurisdiction in Mexico and Central America, the Assembly will similarly recommend that Mexico and Central America join the regional Assembly for South America. For example, Serbian Bishop Mitrophan, who has jurisdiction in both those regions, would become a member of both those Episcopal Assemblies. Canadian Bishop Georgije, on the other hand, will be a member of the Canadian Episcopal Assembly, given that he has no jurisdiction outside Canada.
In open discussions about the demands of evangelization and enculturation, one could hear opinions on various questions of importance for Orthodoxy: questions of liturgical practice, pastoral challenges, financial aspects, the future of educational schools and programs, ecumenical dialogues, as well as some other legal issues. In this context, it was also clearly understood that contemporary Orthodoxy must be prepared to open up its theological frontiers to other sciences and cultural concerns and the challenges coming from the non-theological world.
It was clearly established that the Episcopal Assembly does not have jurisdictional power; rather it is of a consultative character, although in some questions it naturally has authority (as in establishing and maintaining the previously mentioned registries of canonical bishops, clergy, and parishes).
His Eminence Iakovos, Greek Metropolitan of Chicago, strongly emphasized that we Orthodox have a gift of dogmatic and liturgical unity that we already share, and that incidental differences (customs, liturgical practices, language, and similar things) need to be secondary. The Eucharist, understood in the light of the Trinitarian mystery, is the criterion for the functioning of the life of the Orthodox Church as a whole and the institutional elements should be nothing but a visible reflection of the reality of the mystery. The fact that this assembly-conference, as every church assembly from apostolic times to this day, can have its own controversial points need not discourage us; on the contrary, it should inspire participation and motivation. The use of the English language in services was also discussed, especially focused on the variations in usage of the personal pronoun when directly referring to God.
The question of the boundaries and limits of participation in theological dialogue with heterodox and non-Christians was raised, and in the discussion which followed the answer was crystallized: the Orthodox Church, not being afraid of dialogue because it has Truth, enters into such discussions with the deepest conviction that faithfulness to her Orthodox Tradition and active ecumenical engagement are not incompatible with each other, but rather one demands the other.
The Serbian Orthodox Church views this regional Episcopal Assembly as something positive, as is reflected in the Communiqué from the regular Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church held in Belgrade from April 26 to May 5, 2010:
“The Assembly of Bishops heard and approved the following reports regarding the life of the Church over the past year since last year’s meeting: … on the decisions of the Fourth pan-Orthodox Pre-conciliar conference in Chambésy near Geneva in June 2009 on the theme of a more efficient and organized mission, witness, and cooperation of the local Orthodox Churches in the Diaspora and on the stand of the pan-Orthodox preparatory commission for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, held in December of last year also in Chambésy, on the manner of proclaiming church autocephaly and autonomy. In this context, the Assembly especially analyzed the status and problems of the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora and made appropriate decisions.”
Moreover, on the eve of the convening of this First Episcopal Conference of Orthodox Churches in North America, in the spirit of Pentecost, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej sent the Serbian hierarchs in North America his Patriarchal greeting for its successful work and for rich spiritual fruits of the descent of the Holy Spirit the Comforter to come upon all Orthodox in North America, calling them to take a part in this new Pentecostal work of historical significance. This conference is truly an excellent opportunity to clearly define a vision and establish a platform for the future of the Diaspora on a healthy theological and ecclesiastical foundation.
Here it is worthwhile to remember the visionary Saint Nicholai of Zicha and Ochrid, one of the first Serbian Orthodox laborers on the American continent. The most eloquent example of Nicholai’s openness and pan-Orthodoxy is his readiness to view the Serbian Orthodox Church in America in the context of the ancient orthodox canonical tradition and the wider, contemporary Orthodox context, as most eloquently witnessed by his words: “When, by God’s providence, the time comes for the realization of unity, it will be a joy for many. Undoubtedly, the primates and hierarchs of all of our Orthodox Churches, in Europe, Asia, Africa, guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, will show love and understanding, and give their consent and blessing for the establishment of one new sister church in America” (Bishop Nicholai, Collected Works XIII, pages 565-572, Serbian text pages 573-579).
The appearing of Episcopal Assemblies throughout the world (these gatherings have already started work in Europe) should not be understood pretentiously, nor should they be presented one-sidedly, but rather it is necessary to take into consideration the reality and need for ecclesiastical unity on a pan-Orthodox level in its totality. A correct interpretation of this ecclesiologically and theologically important attempt from Chambésy to accomplish a fuller unity, cooperation, and catholicity (sabornost) on the territory of the diaspora only contributes to a stronger position for the particular Orthodox Churches and to the avoidance of their marginalization in their future ecclesiological formation on the American continent. With this, above all, we must be mindful of the pan-Orthodox consensus expressed in Chambésy.
Participation in the Episcopal Assembly is equally faithfulness to the Pneumatological catholic institution of the Holy Spirit who “holds together the whole institution of the Church” (hymn for Vespers on Pentecost). In this way we show faithfulness to the Apostolic Orthodox Faith, which obliges us to contribute “to this common work of addressing the pastoral needs of the Orthodox who live in our region.” By working together through this forum, the Serbian Church also has the opportunity to witness to its specific and particular place in the Orthodox family of America.
This synthetic and unifying work of the Assembly was also evident in the opening speech of Archbishop Demetrios. Regarding the equal dignity and particular gifts which each nation brings the Church, Archbishop wisely said: “In Pentecost, we celebrate the call to unity for all human beings through faith and obedience to the one Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, however, in Pentecost, we celebrate the refreshing reality of the diversity, wonderfully manifested in the extraordinary fact of the proclamation of the one Gospel in many languages as a result of the advent of the Holy Spirit.” Alluding to the reality of Orthodoxy in America, he added:
“As we behold the event of Pentecost, we observe that the multiplicity of languages used by the Holy Apostle in proclaiming the single Gospel is not a cause of confusion or conflict, but a reason for thanksgiving and celebration. The one Gospel does not obliterate linguistic, ethnic, or cultural differences and particularities. The Gospel is clearly a call to unity, but as our history of 2000 years demonstrates, it does not cause an eclipse of the diversity within the Church. And this speaks directly to our case today.”
The hierarchs have called the clergy and faithful to join them in these efforts “to safeguard and contribute to the unity of the Orthodox Church in this region and her theological, ecclesiological, canonical, spiritual, philanthropic, educational, and missionary responsibility.”
The Assembly concluded its work by serving the Divine Liturgy on Friday, May 28, 2010 in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York. During Liturgy, prayers were offered for the eleven reposed victims of the ecological accident in the Gulf of Mexico, for the consolation of their families, and for all those who are afflicted by this catastrophe.
Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Western America
Editor’s note: On June 12, Ancient Faith Radio aired an interview I did with Bishop Basil of Wichita, the Secretary of our Episcopal Assembly. Recently, I learned that AFR produced a transcript of that interview. For our readers who might prefer text to audio, I’m reprinting that transcript here in full. I’ve made a few minor changes, mostly correcting spelling and punctuation (and if you find any additional errors, please let me know in the comments). To listen to the audio of the interview, click here.
Matthew Namee: I’m privileged today to be sitting here with His Grace, Bishop Basil of Wichita, the new Secretary of the Episcopal Assembly. His Grace has graciously agreed to sit down and chat with me a little bit about the Episcopal Assembly, the process, and his own impressions of it. Thank you very much for your time, Sayedna. First of all, could you tell us a little bit about what your impressions were of the meetings? What was it like to be one of the hierarchs there?
His Grace Bishop Basil: Before I do that, I just want to thank you for being interested in Episcopal Assembly. It’s been about two weeks now — two, two and half weeks — since the Episcopal Assembly ended, and the enthusiasm that was surrounding the assembly seems to have dwindled a little bit since the Assembly ended. I don’t know what it was that people expected us to do at the Assembly, but something very exciting happened. And I think it’s important that we do talk about it, and that the enthusiasm continue and that it builds. It was a very historic event in that — unlike Ligonier which was self-motivated. You know, that came from the bishops here in the United States and Canada at that time. We convened ourselves — SCOBA convened that meeting for us to define ourselves and to discuss our own ministry here.
The Episcopal Assembly is very different in that we were called to this assembly by the Mother Churches and given specific tasks. That was not self-driven or even self-motivated, and in that, it’s a very historic meeting. We’ve been sitting back for decades now waiting for the Mother Churches and in some instances even criticizing Mother Churches for being inactive or inattentive. Well, they’ve not been inactive or inattentive. They’ve been having their preconciliar meetings. Perhaps we were a little bit impatient with them. And now, the time has come, and they gave us very specific tasks. And it’s not just us in the New World that got the tasks. It’s all the Orthodox that are outside the “historic” geographic territories of the Mother Churches. So, all of the Orthodox in Western Europe, in the New World, in Australia, in Oceania, the Far East, have been given tasks by the Mother Churches.
The atmosphere, that first day, I think was a combination of excitement. We knew this was a historic event as we gathered. It was interesting because there were so many new bishops since our last gathering. Again, it was a SCOBA-sponsored event in Chicago, our last gathering, but so many new bishops since then have been consecrated or assigned here to this country. So we were busy meeting each other. What was evident besides that excitement of just meeting brother bishops was the goodwill. I think that’s a description that characterized the entire assembly for those two days. It was palpable, the goodwill. It didn’t mean there weren’t some rough spots or some levels of uncomfortability, I guess, because we were discussing very serious matters, but the goodwill was palpable. Everyone wanted this thing to work. Everyone was willing to lay aside their own agendas to see what the agenda was that the Mother Churches had presented to us, and it’s a very serious agenda that was given to us. So I think the atmosphere was wonderful. It was evident in the meetings. It was a little bit more staid in the meetings because the meetings, of course, were organized in a very business-like manner, but it was especially evident during mealtimes and during the breaks. The bishops delighted in being together and doing the work of the Church.
Matthew: You mentioned the agenda that was given, the purpose of the Assembly. Could you talk a little bit about that? What are we doing with this?
Bishop Basil: The Assembly has planned obsolescence in it. The Assembly will only last until the convening of the Great and Holy Council. I don’t even know if we’re going to incorporate ourselves legally. That wasn’t discussed, but I can’t imagine us having a need to legally incorporate ourselves when, God-willing, we’ll go out of business very soon. Again, that’s not within our purview to decide when that will happen.
The business that was given to us to attend to, the task that was given to us to attend to, first of all, was to define our region. As Father Mark Arey and others have already reported through various means, the hierarchs of Canada have asked that they constitute their own distinct Episcopal Assembly, and the hierarchs of Mexico, which is geographically part of North America, and those which have oversight for the nations of Central America have asked that they be attached to the South American region Episcopal Assembly which would then leave us just the United States as the Episcopal Assembly. So that was one task: to define who we are, just geographically, what that would be. Those recommendations or desires will be communicated by the chair of our Episcopal Assembly, which now is called the North American Episcopal Assembly to his All-Holiness. And what we expect will happen is that Canada will become a distinct Episcopal Assembly, and Mexico and Central America will be removed from the North American Episcopal Assembly, and according to their wishes, attached to the South American Assembly. So, that leaves us the United States. That was our first task.
But the ultimate task is to prepare the Orthodox of this region, now that we define, or hopefully will define just as the United States, to prepare the Orthodox Christians: that includes hierarchs and priests and deacons and sub-deacons and readers and laity, all Orthodox Christians of this region are to constitute itself as a canonical, single Church. And to use the language that’s been floating around our country for decades: an administratively united Church. That’s one of several committees that has been prescribed for us. Even the names of the committees — we certainly can add to the list of committees — but even the names of the primary committees had been given to us. These are committees that the Mother Churches want us to constitute: a canonical committee, a legal committee, and this committee that will formulate our plan, or our vision for what the Church here in this region — as I said by that time that should be defined as the United States, I’m expecting, what the Church here would look like and how it would function. So that when we do go, and all hierarchs of the world, of course, would be invited to that Great and Holy Council, that the hierarchs from America will have adopted through the work of a committee then presented to the entire Episcopal Assembly here that we all tweak and then finally adopt, our plan, then, we would submit then to the Great and Holy Council for what we see the Church in America looking like.
That’s a huge task! It’s something that Orthodox Christians in America — I would say the vast majority, I’m not so unrealistic to think that it’s 100 percent, but the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in America have been praying for, have been hoping for, sometimes have been working for, always talking about for a long, long, long time. It seems that it’s at the doorway. I don’t know, you know, we’re Orthodox. I’m not saying it’s going to happen next month or next year even, but it is closer today than it was yesterday. And as I said, what’s unique about this approach is that it’s something that’s coming from the Mother Churches themselves to us. It’s as if they’re saying: look, you have been asking for this. We’re getting ready to give you this, but before we give it to you, we would like to know, what is your plan? That’s really a very exciting kind of task that’s set before us. It’s a very sobering kind of responsibility and it’s one that will take prayer and thoughtfulness and patience, continued humility and goodwill, all of that, I think, topped by what covers all of that is that it’s going to require patience.
I think many people were hoping that great fireworks and beautiful things were going to be announced from our Episcopal Assembly in New York City, and it was a rather quiet meeting in that sense. We didn’t have huge announcements coming out, but it was our first meeting, organizing ourselves, getting officers, setting up committees. We couldn’t even finish committees because we need to define the committees before we can ask the men, the hierarchs, to volunteer for a committee. How can they volunteer for something that they don’t know what the committee’s responsibility is? So, we have to do very basic things, and we have to do it carefully as I said, prayerfully, and thoughtfully because this is laying the groundwork for a very profound event, and that’s in God’s time and certainly by his grace, the establishment of a canonically structured Church here in the United States.
Matthew: You’ve been mentioning the committees and obviously it sounded like there are several committees, not just the committee to look at the canonical administrative unity issue. Could you maybe talk a little bit about what these sorts of committees might be doing? I know you said you haven’t defined them completely.
Bishop Basil: We haven’t defined them at all. [laughter] We’ve got a list of the committees. I’ll tell you what happened during the meeting. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, who of course is the chair, distributed among all the hierarchs present a list of about the 10 committees that were prescribed the preconciliar meeting in Chambesy. As I said, that includes the Canonical Committee, the Legal Committee, the Pastoral Committee, things like that. They were the titles, the names of the committees, and each bishop was asked to select three that they would be interested in serving on, and to prioritize them. The committee you’d like to serve on the most, make it number 1, and then number 2, and number 3. I was able to do that, several other bishops were able to do that, but there were others of our brothers who asked questions like “what does this committee do?” What is the difference between a legal committee and the canonical committee? And they were taking it so seriously—and really I admire that in them—that they were hesitant to even prioritize their choices for committees until they knew what those committees were going to do.
That wasn’t because they might sign up for a committee that they didn’t want to work on, that wasn’t the point. They wanted to be sure that they prioritized their choices for the committee that they wanted to be on the most, but they wanted that defined. That’s yet to be done. The archbishop is chair and the other officers of the Episcopal Assembly will, probably within the next week, or for sure within the next several weeks, have those defined and sent out again to all the bishops, now with brief paragraphs describing the work of each committee and then ask each bishop to prioritize their three choices.
Another important committee is the Pastoral Committee. And since the meeting in Chicago, we are aware of over 20 different issues that the various Orthodox jurisdictions handle very differently in this country, pastoral issues. They are, of course, tinged with canonical coloring, but we handle them very differently and create pastoral problems for the Church here in this country.
For instance, how do we handle marriage? Some jurisdictions recognize only marriages which take place in the Orthodox Church, others recognize every marriage, whether it’s a civil marriage or a marriage done in another faith group as well as those that happen in our own Church. How do we handle divorces? Some have that the actions of the civil court, civil decree of divorce, is sufficient while others have their own marital courts, church-run marital courts. What do we do about the reception of converts? Some baptize all who come into the faith, others receive some by chrismation, and even that is different because some do chrismation according to their koloyan on the forehead, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the lips, etc, etc, while other groups can receive a person simply by chrismation on the forehead, and it’s prescribed for that. Others simply by a profession of faith. What do we do when we receive clergymen most especially from the Latin Church, the Roman Church? Do we re-ordain or do we vest?
Those kinds of matters will be discussed in the pastoral committee. So again, it’s a very important work that has been set before us to do. The Legal Committee will not only help the Episcopal Assembly with its own legal work, but I think its first task will be to help the agencies of SCOBA reincorporate themselves. How will they legally now change themselves from being answerable to SCOBA, which really doesn’t exist anymore, to being answerable or having oversight given them by the Episcopal Assembly. One important thing I should say about these committees is that they will not just be constituted of bishops. You know, this is the work of the whole Church. The bishops, through the Episcopal Assembly, will establish the committees and will be the first to volunteer for those committees, but we’re going to need the help and the input of all talented and interested Orthodox Christians.
The Legal Committee is going to need attorneys, and it doesn’t matter if you’re ordained a bishop or a priest or a layman, we need experts in all of these areas: people, again, who come with goodwill, who come with patience, who come with humility to work for the accomplishment of that task. This is the work of the Church. It’s not just the work of the bishops. But as parents have to have themselves together before they can go to their children and make sure they’re both on the same page, a mother and dad have to be on the same page, we bishops who have been charged to be the overseers for the Church in this country, need all to be on the same page. Then we go to our flock, and not only ask and invite their participation, we expect it. It’s their Church like it’s our Church, together it’s our Church. But the bishops, like parents have to all be on the same page first. That was the purpose of that “closed” session of the Episcopal Assembly. It’s not that we did anything secret. It’s just that we needed to get our act together before we could go to the Church at large.
Matthew: You mentioned SCOBA. And SCOBA, as you said, is pretty much no more. It’s been superseded. Can you give us some thoughts about both the legacy of SCOBA and also what makes the Episcopal Assembly something much different than SCOBA.
Bishop Basil: At the Episcopal Assembly, His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese gave an overview of the 50-year history of SCOBA and its work. And when he was finished, I mentioned to the bishop sitting next to me, ”That was the best description of SCOBA I have ever heard.” What’s a shame is that it came at the demise of SCOBA. It was really a brilliant paper presented by Archbishop Nicolae. This is the 50th anniversary year of the establishment of SCOBA: the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas. We were blessed, really, by the work of SCOBA. The work of the Episcopal Assembly was made quite easy by the 50 years that were used as preparation for that. We didn’t come together as strangers.
There’s a legacy of inter-Orthodox cooperation, not only with the goodwill among the bishops, but the actual incarnating of the work of the Church under the auspices of SCOBA, its various agencies, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, preaching the gospel, and etc, etc. The Episcopal Assembly, I believe, is the natural outgrowth of SCOBA or the fruit that SCOBA bore. They can’t exist together, and it’s not because one is good or one is better than the other, just that there was a time for everything, there was a season, and there was a 50-year season preparing us for this very sacred moment of doing what it was that SCOBA had hoped.
SCOBA, again, was self-constituted. It was the bishops themselves, the primates of the jurisdictions here in the United States and Canada, the goodwill that they had one for another. So there’s a big difference between the constitution of SCOBA and how it was constituted and established and the Episcopal Assembly. The Episcopal Assembly is compromised of every Orthodox bishop, just not the primates, or the prime bishops of the jurisdictions. We had 55 in attendance, or was it 56? The number is a little bit confusing. I think 55, where the maximum that would’ve been SCOBA members would’ve been eight of the eight jurisdictions. SCOBA also allowed for proxies to attend, so for instance if Metropolitan Philip could not attend a SCOBA meeting, he could send Bishop Antoun or myself or Bishop Joseph or anyone of our bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese to represent that jurisdiction, our jurisdiction.
There are no proxies on the Episcopal Assembly because we don’t represent jurisdictions. We’re there because we’re bishops, and only a bishop can be a member of an Episcopal Assembly. We’re not representing jurisdictions. We received invitations, not as members of a jurisdiction but as Orthodox bishops. We bless the memory of the founders of SCOBA. They were brilliant men, people with a lot of foresight for what the Church should be in this country, people like Metropolitan Leonty and Archbishop Michael of the Greek Archdiocese, and others. They foresaw and worked for the day that we’ve come to now, and we bless their memory. We thank those who were their successors in SCOBA who worked right up until the moment of the assembling of the Episcopal Assembly, but there’s something new now, and it’s the fruit that SCOBA bore.
Matthew: We’ve heard various things, reports, about the Executive Committee of the Assembly, but my understanding is that the voting is actually done by the whole Assembly. Is that right? The Assembly itself is where the power lies, essentially.
Bishop Basil: The word “Executive Committee” was not even mentioned. You didn’t hear those words at all during the whole Episcopal Assembly. What constitutes the members of the Executive Committee—there’s a lot of speculation and a lot of talk going on about it, but those words were not even mentioned at the Episcopal Assembly because it is so secondary. Its importance is so secondary, or even tertiary to the work of the assembly and its committees. Unlike what we Americans generally think of as an Executive Committee being just the officers, the chair, the vice-chairs, the secretary, and treasurer, that’s not what the Chambesy document defines as the Executive Committee. It’s that: it’s the officers, but then the heads of the Mother Churches representatives in this country. So that those who are not officers—for instance, Metropolitan Christopher is the senior hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, he’s not an officer of the Episcopal Assembly, but as the senior hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate, he would be a member of the Executive Committee. But it’s really just for consultation, no decisions will be made by the executive committee, everything has to be referred back to the Episcopal Assembly. That’s why I believe it wasn’t even discussed at this meeting at all.
I don’t want to say it’s not important because it did come from Chambesy so I assume it has some function, but you know, in the age of teleconferences and everything, we can have an Episcopal Assembly just at the drop of the hat, doesn’t mean we have to travel anywhere. All we need is telephones or a computer, and we can have the entire Episcopal Assembly. Times have changed. The voting, that’s another interesting thing that did not happen at the Episcopal Assembly. There were no votes. Everything was done—it was supposed to be done by consensus, asking everyone, how does this church feel, how does this church feel? There wasn’t even any voting by consensus.
We were of such one mind that everything was done unanimously. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios simply asked if there was any objection to the item being discussed. If there was no objection, there was no need to even ask for a consensus. Everything was done unanimously. It was really a very God-blessed assembly, a fruitful time together. It’s by God’s providence, I believe, honestly, that it was convened during the week following Pentecost. As I said, the goodwill was palpable. The love was palpable, the joy was palpable, and those are gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew: At the Assembly, you were obviously elected Secretary, and I have understood that you’re not just taking notes and minutes of the meeting. You’ve got a bit more of a role than that. Could you talk about your role and then the Secretariat that you’ll be working with?
Bishop Basil: I’m sort of discovering day-by-day. Yeah, the first three officers, the Chair and the two Vice Chairs were done by the diptychs and the presbeia or the seniority within those diptychs, so that the first church among the diptychs is the Church of Constantinople, and the first hierarch of the Church of Constantinople became the Chair. That’s Archbishop Demetrios. The second church in the diptychs is the Church of Alexandria. Well, we don’t have that in America, so they went to the third church in the diptychs which is the Church of Antioch. Senior hierarch of the Church of Antioch in the new world is His Eminence Metropolitan Philip so he’s the first Vice Chair. After that comes Jerusalem. We don’t have Jerusalem in this country. Next in the diptychs comes the Church of Russia and the first hierarch of the Church of Russia in this country is the newly appointed Archbishop Justinian. So he was second Vice Chairman. So the first three positions of the officers were done by the diptychs or the order of the Churches, and by the presbia, there’s seniority within those diptychs.
The other two officers, the Secretary and Treasurer were done as we would do, like Robert’s Rules of Order, sort of an American style. The Archbishop made a nomination, Archbishop Demetrios nominated myself to be Secretary. It was seconded by Metropolitan Philip I believe. The Archbishop asked if there were any other nominees, and not being any other nominees, I was elected by acclamation. The same thing happened for His Eminence Archbishop Antony of the Ukrainian Church. He was nominated by Treasurer by Archbishop Demetrios. He was seconded, again I believe it was by his primate, Metropolitan Constantine, and the Archbishop asked if there were any other nominees. There were none, and he was nominated by acclamation.
The responsibilities of the Secretary are more than just taking minutes. That would be nice if it were just taking minutes. [laughter] I understand, and I’m understanding more and more every day that it will — its prime responsibility of the office is to oversee a Secretariat and an entire staff, whether it’s one or two or three persons. It certainly won’t be an enormous Secretariat, but that does the work of the assemblies, that spurs on the work of the committees. It seems that which will be communicating not only among the hierarchs itself, keeping the hierarchs informed of the work of the assembly that is being accomplished, but the entire Church involving all the clergy and lay people, setting up a website, making sure all the documents that have been issued for or by the assembly are available for everyone to see so there’s no secrecy in anything. Because again, it’s the work of the Church, the body of Christ, which is all of us. Certain tasks, again, were given to the assembly by the preconciliar committee in Chambesy, and the Episcopal Assembly gave it over to the Secretariat to do that. We’re going to have a database of all the Orthodox hierarchs in America which doesn’t exist right now. That will be easy because there’s like 55 of us.
The more difficult is going to be a common database for all of the Orthodox clergy, the higher clergy, the priests and the deacons. That’s something that needs updating, probably weekly, not only because of deaths but because of new ordinations, because of suspensions, because of depositions. And beyond that, we were mandated to create a list of all the Orthodox congregations, all the Churches and missions, and that’s another thing that will have to be updated rather frequently. Hopefully not because anything is closing, but because new ones are being established all the time. That’s all the work of the Secretariat, not the Secretary (me), the Secretariat. [laughter] And it will be daily work because I honestly believe that we have not a lot of time to get all of this accomplished.
As I mentioned earlier, once the Great and Holy Council is convened, the work of the Episcopal Assembly and all of its committees really is done. At least that’s the plan now, and not our plan, that’s the plan of the Mother Churches, but at that time, various either autocephalous or autonomous Churches will be established in these now Episcopal Assembly regions, that’s what we’re called now, around the world and that those hierarchs which prior to that moment constituted themselves as an Episcopal Assembly will become a Synod.
That’s what’s foreseen, and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done before that time whether it one year or whether it’s 10 years. That’s what’s on everyone’s mind. How long of a timetable do we have? I don’t know, and I don’t know that anyone knows. Whatever it is, it’s shorter than we thought it was because the Mother Churches are moved now by the Holy Spirit. The time is here, and the time for us talking about it and complaining “how come it’s not happening”, and everything that’s been going on for these past decades here in America, it’s not time for that anymore. It’s time for all of us to get the work and do it, and again, to do it with goodwill and love and patience and humility.
Matthew: Thank you very much, Sayedna. Do you have any final thoughts that you’d like to offer before we close this interview?
Bishop Basil: I’m so excited about this. Really, I’m very excited, and I hope our clergy and people can be joyfully excited with their hierarchs. We need everyone to help in this. As I said, the bishops now have met. We’re all on the same page. We might not know all the writing on the page, but we’re all on the same page, and we’ll discover what’s written on that page as time goes by. I have my diocese in conference next week. The very first evening I’m going to share all of this with our clergy and more. Your questions were rather specific. I have more things, even, about the Episcopal Assembly I’ll share with all of my clergy and their wives that very first evening, inviting their help and their participation, their ideas, the offering of their talents.
And the very next night, I’ll present the thing to the work of the Episcopal Assembly in my assessment of it to our entire diocese, to all the lay people, from church-school children all the way up to senior citizens, parish councils, ladies groups, teen groups, choirs, so that everyone in our diocese will be apprised and will have the invitation to help in this. I hope everyone accepts the invitation. As I said, when you accept though, you have to come with goodwill and patience and love and humility. This is an offering to the body of Christ, and we need to do it with pure hearts, with joyfulness, and with a spirit of sacrifice.
Matthew: Sayedna, thank you so much for your time and for telling us all about the Assembly. And we will look forward in the coming weeks and months to getting more information and seeing the website that the Assembly will launch and learning more about what we can do to help the work of the Episcopal Assembly.
On today’s episode of the American Orthodox History podcast, I interviewed SOCHA executive director Fr. Oliver Herbel on the subject of the “Federated Orthodox Greek Catholic Primary Jurisdictions,” a 1943 attempt to create a national, pan-Orthodox organization.
The Federation is to SCOBA what the League of Nations was to the United Nations. Both the Federation and the League of Nations were missing a crucial player: the Federation lacked the involvement of the Russian Metropolia (today’s OCA), while the League of Nations didn’t include the United States. Both SCOBA and the UN were essentially trying to do the same things as their predecessor organizations, but they were obviously more successful and long-lasting.
Metropolitan Antony Bashir was the head of the Antiochian Archdiocese of New York, and he was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Federation. Even after it was basically defunct in 1944, Bashir tried to keep it going, at least on paper. In the 1955 and 1956 Yearbooks of American Churches, for instance, Bashir is listed as the President of the Federation, even though it has been non-functioning for more than a decade. In a 1961 publication commemorating Bashir’s 25th anniversary as Metropolitan, we find this sentence: “In March of 1960, he spearheaded the reorganization of the Federation into the much stronger Conference of Orthodox Bishops of the Americas, which he now serves as Vice-President.”
In a way, then, the Federation was SCOBA.
UPDATE (12/3/09): Fr. James Early sent an email asking if I could identify the people in the above photo; in particular, he asked whether the “right-most suit-wearing hierarch” was Metropolitan Antony Bashir. Here is my reply:
Metropolitan Antony is indeed the right-most suit-wearing hierarch, standing near the center of the picture. However, I don’t know who most of the other men are. Certainly, the bishop in the white hat is Metropolitan Leonty Turkevich, and I assume the bishop in between Antony and Leonty is Archbishop Michael Konstantinides of the Greek Archdiocese. Abp Michael died on July 13, 1958, so if he’s in the photo, we can be sure it was taken before that date. His successor, Abp Iakovos, is not in the photo, which further suggests a date of 1958 or earlier.
I doubt that all of the individuals in the photo are bishops. In fact, it may be that Bashir is the left-most bishop in the photo, as all the men to the left of him look like priests.
UPDATE (12/23/09): According to Fr. Alexander Lebedeff in the comments (below), the second man from the left is Fr. George Grabbe, Chancellor of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops. Fr. Alexander writes, “The ROCOR had been very involved in the precursor of SCOBA, and participated in the organizational meetings of SCOBA, as well. The ROCOR withdrew when informed that the Bishop in charge of the Moscow Patriarchal parishes in America would be invited to join SCOBA. That did not occur, but the ROCOR never returned to the table.”
UPDATE: (2/23/10): I have just received an email from Fr. Demetrius T. Dogias, in which he identifies several other individuals in this photo. According to Fr. Demetrius, the man standing at the far left is Bishop (later Metropolitan) Germanos Polyzoides. The fifth man from the left (that is, the man standing to the left of Met Antony Bashir) is Bp Demetrios of Olympus, who, at the time, was Chancellor of the Greek Archdiocese. The fourth man from the right (that is, the man with his head down, next to Met Leonty Turkevich) is Bp Bohdan, of the Ukrainian Archdiocese associated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Fr. Demetrius also offered this background information on the Greek Archbishop Michael, who is in the center of the photo (in between Bashir and Turkevich):
It may interest you to know that Archbishop Michael, also in the Dec. 2 picture, had studied in Kiev and that one of his teachers was the later Metropolitan Anastassy of the Russian Chuch Outside Russia. Michael went to London as the priest at the St. Sophia Cathedral, and was granted the extremely rare title of Great (or “Grand”) Archimandrite. He then was elected Metropolitan of Corinth in Greece, from which position he was elected Archbishop of North and South America.
Many thanks to Fr. Demetrius for providing all this information. We can now identify quite a few of the individuals in the photo. Here it is again, with numbers to make the identification easier:
Click on the photo to see a larger image. Here are the people we’ve identified so far:
1. Bp Germanos Polyzoides of Nyssa, Greek Archdiocese
2. Fr. George Grabbe, ROCOR Chancellor
5. Bp Demetrios of Olympus, Greek Archdiocese Chancellor
6. Met Antony Bashir, Antiochian Archdiocese
7. Abp Michael Konstantinides, Greek Archdiocese
8. Met Leonty Turkevich, Russian Metropolia
9. Bp Bohdan, Ukrainian Archdiocese
As more identifications come in, I’ll continue to update this article. And once again, thanks to all those who have sent in identifications so far.