The Concelebration of Philadelphia Area Oriental Orthodox Churches
On November 2, St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church in Wynnewood hosted the Seventh Annual Concelebration of the Divine Liturgy. Under auspices of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Liturgy was led by the Very Reverend Father Oshagan Gulgulian of the hosting parish, Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Vicar of the Armenian Diocese, and Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan of Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Cheltenham, PA. His Grace Anba Karas – Coptic Orthodox Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia – gave the blessing for the hosting Armenian clergy to lead the Liturgy, and then presided from his throne.
The Armenian clergy were joined at the altar by Fr. Jose Daniel Patel of St. Peter’s Malankara-Syriac Cathedral, Philadelphia, Fr. Jacob Samuel of Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Philadelphia, Fr. Tesfom Abrahale of Medhane Alem Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church, Colmar Manor, MD, and Fr. Youssef Chehata of St. Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church in Annville, PA, as well as many deacons and altar servers.
The assembled faithful were called to receive the Body and Blood of Christ as a single congregation, and to experience the hymnody of their Sister Churches. Armenian, Coptic, Ge’ez, and Syriac hymns were all chanted during the course of the Liturgy. His Grace Anba Karas preached a moving homily on the unity of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in Christ as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church spoken of in the Creed. He reminded the faithful in his sermon, the Concelebrated Liturgy is the ultimate icon of our unity in Christ, which transcends all earthly categories and divisions.
After the Liturgy, the faithful were treated to an agape meal and brief talks by Fr. Simeon Odabashian and Dn. Gebre Kristos Nicholas Siniari, the Secretary of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches, who encouraged the faithful to reach out to one another across their cultural boundaries to realize their unity in Christ on a regular basis.