Acton Institute Powerblog

Antiochian Orthodox to Quit NCC

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The terminal politicization of the National Council of Churches has led a major Orthodox jurisdiction to throw in the towel. The Antiochian Orthodox Church, meeting for its bi-annual convention in Dearborn, Mich., has “voted overwhelmingly” to leave the ecumenical body led by Rev. Bob Edgar, a former Democrat congressman. The news has been posted on Touchstone Magazine’s Mere Comments blog, and was phoned in by a correspondent for Ancient Faith Radio who was on the scene in Dearborn.

Metropolitan Philip Saliba, hierarch of the church, has reportedly decided that any further relationship with the U.S. ecumenical body would be “fruitless.”

The Antiochians aren’t the only Orthodox jurisdiction that has acknowledged the NCC’s increasingly leftward tilt. At their own just-concluded conference in Toronto, the Orthodox Church in America also discussed the usefulness of the NCC but has not yet cut its ties. The statement that the OCA issued concerning its discussion of ecumenical relations was a collage of bureaucratic platitudes, mostly expressed in the passive voice, and no doubt indicative that the forces of the status quo were not giving up without a fight. When you read phrases such as “concerns … were expressed” and “it was noted” and “requires careful consideration and discernment” then you can bet that someone’s digging in the heels.

But the clear-sighted action that His Eminence Philip and the Antiochians are taking is a courageous move. Let’s hope more Orthodox follow, and separate their churches from the partisan activism and — let’s face it — Bush baiting that the NCC is known for.

For an excellent resource on the ecumenical disaster that is the National Council of Churches see’s NCC Resource Page. Ancient Faith Radio is also planning to air an interview about the Antiochian pullout and its consequences with the Very Rev. Olof Scott, the newly-elected chairman of the Department of Interfaith Relationships, on Sunday, July 31, at 5 PM EDT.

John Couretas John Couretas is Director of Communications, responsible for print and online communications at the Acton Institute. He has more than 20 years of experience in news and publishing fields. He has worked as a staff writer on newspapers and magazines, covering business and government. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Humanities from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.


  • Thanks for the news. I’d also like to see more churches walk away from what the NCC has become. I’ve linked.

  • Steve Daskal

    I would urge ALL true churches that are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not the false gospel of social humanism, ecumenicalism, and faith in man’s ability to improve himself morally and spiritually, to leave the NCC and its counterpart, the WCC. Mankind’s search for man-made utopias is futile and usually destructive (Napoleon, Marx and Engels, Lenin, etc.). The focus of churches should be on sharing the Gospel — especially with the poor and broken of spirit, and on the Biblical education and motivation of the believers. It should not be on politics, bureaucracy, or meaningless conferences generating statements that confuse Christians and non-Christians alike about what Christ and His church exist to do. –SteveD