ATLANTA: The Oriental Orthodox Churches in Atlanta recently celebrated a common Oriental Orthodox liturgy here in Atlanta. The priests, deacons, and laity of the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Antiochene, and Indian Orthodox Churches came together at St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church on October 29, 2005, and celebrated the Eucharist jointly.
The vision for this event was to bring out the fulfillments of the prayer made by Our Lord “Holy father, keep them in thy name, which Thou has given me that they may be one, even as we are one” (St. John 17:11). Fr. Dr. Mathew Koshy reiterated on this in his sermon during the liturgy.
This is the first time that the Oriental Orthodox Churches in communion with each other are having a common event in the Southeastern Region. All of the above Orthodox churches are existing in Atlanta under their respective dioceses. The clergy and lay leaders of these churches have been meeting every other month for the last two years. Bishop Vicken Aykazian of the Armenian Orthodox Church and Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Coorilos of Bombay have also attended these meetings in the past.
Fr. Dr. Mathew Koshy of St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church was the founding President, and Rev. Fr. Luke Wassiff of St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church is the current President of this fellowship. Armen and Greg Avesessian of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Fr. Ephrem Kabede, Fr. Asmeron Hagos, Fr. Michael Yuhannes, Fr. Mark Deress, Fr. Sabapthi, Fr.Mathew Puthukunnathu, and Arch-Deacon Haileyesus from the different churches are working as a core group for its functioning. Thomas David is working as the current secretary, Michael Nawar is the youth-coordinator, and Sunil Varkey as the Public Relations Officer.
It was an unusual experience to have fellowship with the brethren of the same family and to have a common liturgy- said Thomas David the secretary of the fellowship to Indian Orthodox Herald.