NATION Antiochian Orthodox Christians quit council
The group says that the National Council of Churches has become too political.
ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) -- The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is quitting the National Council of Churches, saying membership "no longer contributes" to the mission of the denomination.
The Rev. George Kevorkian, assistant to the bishops at Englewood headquarters, said Antiochian delegates took this action due to the council's "very noticeable shift toward a political agenda," for instance involvement with secular organizations that take liberal stands on abortion.
The Rev. Thomas Zain, dean of the Brooklyn, N.Y., cathedral, said the Orthodox were also upset that the Rev. Robert Edgar, the National Council's general secretary, withdrew endorsement of a joint statement with the National Association of Evangelicals defining marriage as "the holy union of one man and one woman."
The Antiochians have ranked third in size among Orthodox denominations in the council, with 390,000 members in the United States as well as 150,000 in Canada.
The National Council, which retains 35 Protestant and Orthodox member denominations, declined comment pending official notice of the withdrawal.
Antiochian observers have attended meetings of Christian Churches Together, which is developing a new alliance to include some National Council members along with nonmembers like the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical Protestant churches.
Antiochian delegates made the decision by a unanimous standing vote July 29 during a convention in Dearborn, Mich.