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Oriental Orthodox Leaders Establish Joint Council

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October 13, 2003, Pomona, CA

Hosted by His Grace Bishop Serapion, Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California, and Hawaii, the leaders of the Oriental Orthodox churches met in the spirit of love and unity on October 7, 2003.

The meeting, held at the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles headquarters in Pomona, H.G. Bishop Serapion welcomed Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church; Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America; and His Eminence Metropolitan Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian Orthodox Diocese of the Western United States. Also in attendance were six priests who accompanied the church leaders.

After expressing the joint wishes of the church leaders for cooperation and collaboration in various areas, in unanimous agreement the leaders established a united council, the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Western United States. This Council, meeting bimonthly, would consist of the bishops and archbishops of the Oriental Orthodox Churches as well as two priests from each church elected by their church leader. The leaders also decided to elect one of the leaders as the Chair of the Council; and one of the priests as the secretary—both of which shall rotate each year among the Oriental Church leaders. The leaders then elected His Grace Bishop Serapion as the Chair, and Fr. John Paul as the Secretary for the first rotation.

Some of the main objectives and goals discussed at the Council by the leaders included: 1) expressing solidarity among the Oriental Orthodox Churches, especially through prayer and worship; 2) establishing and mobilizing the Orthodox community to participate and influence political and social issues; and 3) sharing and uniting common resources in the service of the Orthodox community such as through youth meetings, Sunday schools curriculums, and educational schools.

Then, the leaders decided to inaugurate this Council with a special Vespers liturgy service, celebrated by the leaders, clergy and congregation of all Oriental Orthodox churches. This service will be held on Tuesday, December 16th at 7:30 pm at Holy Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church, located at 4900 Cleland Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90042. The next meeting for the Council will be hosted by Archbishop Derderian on Wednesday, November 19, 2003at the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church at 2:30 pm.

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