Istanbul, March 20, 2020
On Wednesday, March 18, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople “universally declare[d] [its] ecclesiastical resolution and mandate to cease all divine services, events, and rites, with the exception of private prayer in churches that will remain open, until the end of March.”
However, having spoken with Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Elpidophoros, the head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, informed the Archdiocesan bishops that services could continue behind closed doors, with the faithful joining in through livestreaming.
In his explanatory letter to Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, Abp. Elpidophoros writes:
Having discussed the situation with the Sacred Center of Orthodoxy, at length, and having inquired specifically about the United States, I received His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s reply, namely, that we should allow for the divine services, including Divine Liturgies, to be celebrated in our Holy Churches behind closed doors, as is the case with the Monasteries. In this way we may be able to keep our liturgical tradition alive, even in this minimal way, but also that we may broadcast through streaming and other means the aforementioned services for the spiritual benefit of our faithful.
Many priests are now livestreaming their services on Facebook and YouTube, such as Fr. Theodore Petrides of Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Reading, PA, whose services can be viewed at the parish’s Facebook page.
On March 14, Metropolitan Nathanael of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago had already announced that “all liturgical services in parishes of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago are suspended effective immediately, until further notice.”