Chambésy proposes Episcopal Assemblies in the 1990s

Fresh from the historic first Episcopal Assembly of North and Central America, it is helpful to remember that the proposal for the regional Assemblies which came out of the Chambésy, Switzerland meetings of the mother churches did not originate only recently. Many have seen this week’s meeting as in some sense a continuation of the famous Ligonier meeting in 1994, but Ligonier deliberately modeled its own published statement on the Church in North America on prior language coming out of Chambésy, specifically the use of the phrase Episcopal Assembly. The formation of the Episcopal Assembly has been at least a twenty year process.

Take a look at the very documents on which much of the language in the Ligonier statements was based here and note how the Episcopal Assemblies of 2010 were described in 1990-93.

2 Replies to “Chambésy proposes Episcopal Assemblies in the 1990s”

  1. Chambesy did indeed invent the term “Episcopal Assemblies,” and Ligonier shows us why:

    “On the national or continental level the body which coordinates the life of a Church is the Synod of Bishops. We have had in SCOBA an Executive Committee that has guided Church Life in North America for over thirty years. In convening this present Conference of Bishops, we find ourselves to be an Episcopal Assembly, a precursor to a General Synod of Bishops. We express our joy that in addition to the regular meetings of SCOBA, this Episcopal Assembly will convene on a annual basis to enhance the movement toward administrative ecclesial unity in North America.”

    If it meets like as synod, and talks like a synod….The idea of Chambesy was to avoid the term “synod.” Ligonier’s response to Chambesy was purposely crafted to use Chambesy’s language in issuing the statement against Chambesy:

    “We await the next meeting of the Commission referred to in the Adopted Text of November 1993. We maintain that it is critical that the Church in North America be directly and concretely represented at that and future meetings. How is it possible for there to be discussion about the nature of the Church in North America in our absence? We must be present to share the two hundred years of experience that we have had of preaching the Gospel and living the Orthodox faith outside of those territories that have historically been Orthodox. We would humbly ask His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch to seek a way, through the venerable Hierarchs of the Standing Conference to accomplish this representation. We also humbly request the Primates of the other mother Churches to support this initiative. The demands upon our Church’s life by an unbelieving society do not allow for any further delay in this process. Episcopal assembly supports the repeated requests of SCOBA for its officers to be granted an audience with His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch and the other patriarchs and Primates of the Mother Churches to discuss the North American reality.

    Furthermore, we have agreed that we cannot accept the term `diaspora´ as used to describe the Church in North America. In fact the term is ecclesiastically problematic. It diminishes the fullness of the faith that we have lived and experienced here for the past two hundred years.”

    As all the documents of Chambesy you posted (thanks, btw), Father, are based on a premise that the bishops rejected as invalid at Ligonier, it would seem obvious that the hiearchs in this province were working off of their previous work (the Federation, SCOBA) rather than adopting a program created at CHambesy. The attempt was to coopt Chambesy (note how the hiearchs on their input)’s language to say things that the Mother Church’s (esp. the Phanar) didn’t want to hear.

    As for the roots of Ligonier, they were grassroots, not transplants. I believe Father you linked to this at aoiusa:

    “For some years, discussions had taken place in SCOBA regarding a general meeting of all the Orthodox hierarchs in America, rather than just the various jurisdictional primates, as had been usually done. According to Archbishop Nathaniel (Popp) of Detroit, however. the original idea for the meeting at Ligonier was generated in the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America some years prior to the invitation by SCOBA:

    The proposal was decided that the Orthodox Church in America, the Autocephalous Church, should issue an invitation to all hierarchs in North America to gather together in fellowship in order to come to know one another, face to face. Included would be even those who were not represented on SCOBA, meaning, at that time, the large Ukrainian Church.
    What transpired is a matter of historical facts and chance. Some of the hierarchs considered that the forthcoming Millennium Celebration of the Evangelization of Rus should take precedence over this local meeting, and thus, an invitation from the Orthodox Church in America was postponed. On another occasion, the Holy Synod resurrected the same idea but a particular hierarch, not a member of the Orthodox Church in America, requested that an agenda was first necessary and so, the meeting was postponed for lace (sic) of a more defined purpose beyond the hierarchs getting to know one another and have general discussion about common problems and needs.
    Thus it came to be that, to its credit, the invitation came from the SCOBA which, through its efforts organized and brought about this meeting in Ligonier. Only hierarchs who had representation in SCOBA were invited, and thus the informal gathering envisioned by the Orthodox Church in America came to be a more formal meeting of those hierarchs who were in mutual “canonical” communion with each other. Thus, some of the hierarchs now represented in SCOBA were not then present for the meeting.”

  2. Isa, well said. In fact, one could look at the present Chambesy proposal and see how identical it was to the 1993 one. Almost word-for-word. Ligonier was very conciliatory but also more prophetically bold. It did not shy away from condemning the hurtful word “diaspora” nor from using the word “synod” to describe the episcopate that exists in America.

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