On Monday evening, July 23, 2018, the 19th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America opened in Saint Louis, MO at the historic Union Station Hotel with a Service of Prayer for the Opening of a Council, at which His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, presided.
Clergy and delegates from across North America gathered for the opening session, as Metropolitan Tikhon declared the official opening of the gathering. The entire Holy Synod of Bishops of the OCA was present, as well as episcopal dignitaries representing the Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Russia, Serbia, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and Finland.
The AAC attendees were welcomed first by Tom Chulick of the Saint Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce. His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago, represented the host Diocese of the Midwest and the Presconciliar Commission and thanked all those who helped organize the AAC. The Local Organizing Committee was represented by Archpriest Timothy Sawchuck and Robert Butchko, who also presented a plaque commemorating the AAC on behalf of Lyda Krewson, Mayor of Saint Louis.
The theme of the 19th AAC is “For the Life of the World,” based on the classic work of Father Alexander Schmemann. Present to introduce the theme was his son, Serge Schmemann, who spoke of his father’s inspiration and legacy. A video highlighting the reflections of OCA members and punctuated by quotes from Father Alexander’s book followed.
Metropolitan Tikhon then presented his opening address to the assembly. He highlighted his visionary work, Of What Life Do We Speak?: Four Pillars for the Fulfillment of the Apostolic Work of the Church, which will be the subject of forums that will be conducted on Tuesday, July 24. He also addressed timely issues affecting Church life, and invited his listeners to rededicate themselves to the evangelistic mission of the Orthodox Church in America.
Photo credit: Archpriest Gregory Safchuk, Subdeacon Roman Ostash