This is the second collection of essays, compiled from opinion columns written during the period 2012-2020, when George Matsoukas served as executive director of Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL). The first collection, "A Church in Captivity: The Greek Orthodox Church of America," is also a collection of opinion columns, this one written during the period 1990-2007. This series of observational essays can be considered a first cut in putting together the history of Orthodoxy in America during this 30-year period. These essays also tell the OCL story and provide an insight into how the organization functions.
The essays are written from the point of view of how societal events and concerned faithful were energized to advance the mission of Orthodox Christian Laity. OCL is a pan-Orthodox educational and advocacy ministry formed in 1987 to:
+ advocate for the restoration and strengthening of the historic role of the laity in the conciliar governance of the Orthodox Church in the United States.
+ support the spiritual renewal and regeneration of the Orthodox Christian Church in the United States in its Apostolic Mission.
+ advocate for and promote transparency and accountability in the governance of the Orthodox Church in the United States.
+ advocate for and champion the establishment of an administratively and canonically-unified, self-governing autocephalous Orthodox Christian Church in the United States.
Matsoukas’ musings in his first volume, "A Church in Captivity," reflect the deep political changes transpiring after the "fall" of Communism in the captive "Orthodox" nations, and then in what manner those "national" churches began to respond to their "diasporas," those still existing multiple jurisdictions in The United States.
This weighing of the ongoing strain between those who continue to uphold that "a unity through a simple Eucharistic oneness is sufficient" and those who insist on a "canonically unified Church administration" is the stuff of volume two, "Under One Roof: Uniting the Orthodox Church of America." It is the fruit of the author’s essays of the past 13 years.
Matsoukas’ objective is to call us to be faithful to the Canonical Tradition of the Church so that it can bring forth the fullest witness of Orthodoxy through uniting all Orthodox in The United States. Considering the low percentage of Orthodox believers vis-à-vis others in this nation, the call to strength in unity makes practical sense as well. There is strength in numbers.
Matsoukas reminds us that although we seem to be under one Eucharistic roof, he calls for a oneness which must not be as a loose federation of jurisdictions dependent on Synods abroad, but an authentic unity in itself total, canonical, autocephalous, as other local churches each became.
The reader is grateful for the wide coverage given us of thirteen years of new Orthodox witness in the six divisions (Orthodox Christian Laity Story, Promoting Unity, Holy and Great Council, Assembly of Bishops, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Renewal) of this new volume. The reader can take each article, one by one, and enjoy the author’s convincing presentations, and then sit back and enjoy arguing with him! Can an assembly of jurisdictions occasionally gathered at an altar, receiving from one cup and one diskos, be the fullness of Orthodox witness under one roof? The author’s answer is an emphatic, "No!"