Later this month, the 19 bishops of the fledgling Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC) will take a major step toward seeking recognition for the EOC as a member of the worldwide Eastern Orthodox communion. Under the leadership of EOC presiding bishop Peter E. Gillquist, the bishops will fly to Istanbul, Turkey, to present themselves to the Ecumenical Patriarch, the spiritual head of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The EOC bishops will be accompanied by Bishop Maximos of Pittsburgh, a representative of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. Bishop Maximos is sponsoring the EOC’s candidacy for membership in the second-largest Christian body in the world, including about one-fourth of the world’s Christians. Although the EOC stresses the importance of continuity with the Orthodox faith, the denomination is not officially recognized by any Orthodox body.

In an unrelated application process, the EOC received word last month that the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) had tabled the denomination’s request for membership. Arthur Gay, immediate past president of the NAE and chairman of the committee that investigated the EOC’s application, had recommended the church’s acceptance. But the organization’s executive committee felt that the time was not right for the denomination to be made an NAE member.

Gillquist said the EOC will continue to seek NAE membership. “We came to Christ through NAE groups, we subscribe to every syllable of the NAE statement of faith, and we have more affinity with the NAE than with the NCC-WCC [National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches].…

“Some of the greatest evangelical preachers, such as John Chrysostom, and some of the greatest missionaries, such as Cyril and Methodius, were ...

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