Female altar servers and readers proposed in Greek Archdiocese

Westfield, New Jersey, May 16, 2023


Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America hopes to implement the jurisdiction-wide practice of girls serving in the altar and being tonsured as readers.

This would include not just young children, but even students of the Archdiocese’s Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, according to a resolution submitted to the Metropolis of New Jersey’s Clergy-Laity Assembly yesterday.

The resolutions, which are intended to be passed on to the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress, read:

Resolved: That the Metropolis of New Jersey Local Assembly convey to the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress the request to develop the role of women and girls in the life of the contemporary Orthodox Church in America. Examples of this would be: involving girls in processions and other liturgical service during liturgy, serving as acolytes, and reading of the Epistle; tonsuring of female students as readers and blessing them to serve in the altar at HCHC, presenting educational programs and symposia at Metropolis Local Assemblies and Archdiocese Clergy-Laity Congresses, and reviving the female diaconate.

Resolved: That the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, theologians and other academics work to form a committee responsible for executing a plan for developing the role of women and girls in the life of the contemporary Orthodox Church in America and present it to the next Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress.

The background to the resolutions notes that Abp. Elpidophoros had a discussion in November on “expanding the participation of women in the Church” with several scholars, including the Archons Cary J. Limberakis and George Demacopoulos.

“The Archbishop explained that the dominant problem is the false notion that only men are allowed within the sanctuary,” the document reads.

According to Byzantine, TX, the resolution did not pass because it was submitted improperly.


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