Reflecting on the Clergy-Laity Congress

Reflecting on the Clergy-Laity Congress

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Waking up on the final day of the 43rd Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress in Nashville felt more like waking up after a week of high school football conditioning than an Orthodox Christian conference. My legs had become sore from standing and walking, and my mind was still processing the countless interactions that had occurred during my time on the convention floor.

As this was my first time attending Clergy-Laity, I didn’t know much of what to expect. What I did know was that there would be services to attend and a number of booths to peruse, each with their own selection of ideas to be shared and (much to the chagrin of my wallet) goods to be sold. What I came to find, however, was that standing around the altar and behind the booths, as well as walking the convention floor, were individuals of one confession, each looking to do his or her part in the earthly ministry of our one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. This is not to say that opinions were not doled out and dissenting viewpoints were not discussed—the Orthodox Church is made up of human beings after all—but being among such a great number of faithful gathered under one roof is an experience that is all too rare, especially in an increasingly secular America.

For some of the individuals gathered, this was a time when they could further a ministry known only to a select few, for others this time was used to showcase their livelihood to the greater Orthodox community. And yet for some it was a period of reunion and communion, not only in a strictly sacramental sense of the word, but also in a communal and associative sense.

Perhaps the most assuring sight of the entire conference came from the sight of Orthodox youth—young adults and children alike— participating in the communal life of the church. From selling the merchandise of a family business to socializing with both old and new friends to attending the church services that permeated the conference, the young Orthodox Christians who found their way to Clergy Laity brought an energetic and youthful dimension in a time when droves of their contemporaries seem to be fleeing or forgetting their Christian heritage.

In closing, as this was my first ever Orthodox Christian conference of any type, I am hopeful that it will not be my last. Conferences seem to bring every dimension of a real Christian community together: merchants mingling with priests, children running among presbyters and presbyteras, and laypeople interacting with even the highest echelon of Church clergy. Such a depiction brings to mind a passage from the Gospel of Matthew, which I also believe serves as a fitting endpoint for this piece:

“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

 

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About author
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Mitchell Morfas

Mitchell Morfas is a junior at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts where he is currently working towards a Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies and a minor in Literature and History. He also teaches with HCHC’s Hope and Joy Youth Ministry Program and works as a school photographer and content writer. When not in school Mitchell lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with his family and attends St. Anne's Orthodox Church.