The Common Good
September-October 1997

Where Are the Orthodox

by Stuart Nicodemos Siegel | September-October 1997

IN JIM WALLIS’ article "All Together Now!"
he declares the "four basic constituencies" of
American Christianity to be "evangelical, mainline
Protestant, ...

IN JIM WALLIS’ article "All Together Now!" he declares the "four basic constituencies" of American Christianity to be "evangelical, mainline Protestant, Catholic, and the historic black churches." As an Orthodox Christian, this surprised and shocked me.

There are twice as many Orthodox Christians in this country as there are Episcopalians. The Orthodox Church in America has preached and worshiped in this country for more than 200 years. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The Orthodox Churches have consistently participated in the WCC, the National Council of Churches, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and many other American ecumenical organizations. Archbishop Iakovos marched with Dr. King in Alabama, and Orthodox Christians can be found on all sides of the issues challenging America.

Why did Wallis completely obliterate us from the map of American Christianity? Why this prejudice? In his model of the 21st century church, there is a place at the ecumenical table for "Latino and Asian Christians and...Native American congregations," but no place for the Greeks, Bulgarians, Russians, Serbs, Carpathians, Syrians, Armenians, and all the other Orthodox Christians who continue to contribute a powerful vision to the "rich mosaic" of American Christianity.

Jim Wallis replies: My reaction to your letters was one of being startled by the revelation of what can only be called a "blind spot" on my part. The whole Orthodox tradition was left out and should have been included. The Orthodox churches are playing a more significant role in world Christianity today; our understanding of that is critical to a true ecumenical spirit. I apologize for the omission.

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