CHICAGO, IL [DOM Communications] – The first celebration of the Diocese of the Midwest honoring the 50th anniversary of the Tomos, signed in Moscow on April 10, 1970, which established the Orthodox Church in America as an Autocephalous Church, was held by the Chicago Deanery on Friday and Saturday, February 7 and 8. The weekend event began with a reception on Friday evening hosted by Holy Resurrection Church in Palatine, IL. Following the reception, His Grace Bishop Paul led the faithful in praying the Akathist to the North American Saints. At the conclusion of the Akathist service, guest speaker, Archpriest Andrew Harrison, offered a reflection on the past 50 years in the life of the Orthodox Church in America.
Father Andrew began with a quote from Protopresbyter Alexander Schmeman; “the storm began early in 1970 when one of the largest and oldest “jurisdictions” brought to an end its long quarrel with its Mother Church by asking for and receiving a status of total administrative independence (“autocephaly”), dropped from her name a qualification (“Russian”) which after 175 years of unbroken continuity on this continent was obviously obsolete and adopted a geographical definition (“in America”) corresponding both to its location and vocation.” Father Andrew continued to develop this theme leading the audience through the past five decades of the Orthodox Church in America. A program for children was held simultaneously.
The next morning, Saturday, February 8, clergy and faithful of the Chicago Deanery gathered at St. Peter and St. Paul, Burr Ridge, IL to celebrate the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. In his sermon, His Grace Bishop Paul encouraged those gathered to, “remain faithful to God because God is always faithful to us. No matter how small our church may be, He is faithful to us.” Responses we sung by choir members from the different parishes under the direction of Reader Philip Sokolov.
The weekend festivities concluded with a reception in the parish hall.
Throughout the course of this Jubilee year, 2020, His Grace Bishop Paul will be visiting each Deanery in the Diocese of the Midwest and leading each one’s commemoration of the autocephaly to celebrate, to remember and to reflect on the significance of the Orthodox Church in America not just for the OCA itself, but also for Orthodoxy in America and worldwide. The next celebration will be held by the Michigan Deanery on April 24 and 25.
In addition to these deanery celebrations, select clergy and lay throughout the Diocese have been invited to write a reflection on the 50th Anniversary of the OCA’s autocephaly. Those reflections are being posted on the Diocesan website, one reflection each month, as PDFs. Those reflections can be read here.