NYACK: December 8, 2003


All-Diaspora Pastoral Conference: Day One

On Monday, 8 December, the All-Diaspora Pastoral Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia opened in Nyack, NY. Over 150 clergymen from all dioceses of the Church Abroad gathered, including clergymen from Russia and Ukraine.

After divine liturgy, a service of supplication [moleben] was served at Protection Church before the Protectress of the Russian diaspora, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, and the icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov.

The first day of the Conference began with a greeting by the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. Vladyka Laurus reported on his meeting with President V. Putin and on the fact-finding delegation of the Russian Church Abroad to Russia. The First Hierarch spoke of the necessity of spiritual communion with the Russian people, on the improvement of relations with the Church in Russia and that it is necessary to help our brothers and sisters in Russia, at the same time not forgetting care for our own flock. The improvement of relations does not mean the “self-liquidation” of the Church Abroad. Vladyka Laurus called upon the conferees to honestly examine the questions before us and to pray that the Lord, through the prayers of the Mother of God and St. Seraphim of Sarov, would bless the further path of our Church.

The Rector of Protection Church, Protopriest George Larin, gave a word of greeting and called upon the clergymen not to rely on their own reason, but on the conciliar reason of the Church. Fr. George reminded the participants of the Conference that we will be seen as the disciples of Christ by the love that we have amongst ourselves.

The speech by Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany was devoted to the theme of the paths of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in the past and the future. Vladyka Mark touched upon a series of questions: the succession of church authority in Russia, the attitude of Metropolitans Anastassy and St. John towards the official Church in Russia, the ecclesiology of St. Kyrill of Kazan the New Martyr and the possibility of the nearing of the two parts of the Russian Church. In conclusion, Archbishop Mark posed the question of the desireability of our Church to be part of the process of the return to health of church life in Russia, and read a prayer to SS Boris and Gleb the Passion-bearers.
After Archbishop Mark’s lecture, a round-table was held on the topic of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia today. Bishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America shared his impressions of his first visit to Russia. He repeated several times that Patriarch Alexy, during his meeting with the delegates of the Russian Church Abroad, emphasized that there can be no talk of any communion until all questions separating the two parts of the Russian Church are resolved. Bishop Gabriel spoke of the spiritual care for the people from Russia, and also that the older generation of our parishioners have difficulty accepting the thought of the possible unification with the Church in Russia. Bishop Peter of Cleveland expressed his personal opinion that Sergianism is not a dogma, but rather a form of behavior. Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov (USA) spoke of the glorious and sometimes thorny path of the Church Abroad, and said that unity of mind with the Church in Russia may be achieved only through the repentance of the whole people in Russia and abroad, and only on the basis of the purity of Orthodoxy. Protopriest Nikolai Artemoff (Germany) spoke of parish life in Bavaria and on the meaning of the two historical conferences held in Hungary (2001) and Moscow (2002). Priest Yaroslav Belikoff shared his thoughts on where the path of ecclesiastical isolationism may lead, and also that our main goal is the nourishment of our flock.
Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), Prior of Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, gave a speech on the interrelationship of the two parts of the Russian Church. Some of the expressions of today were painful for him, but in many of them he sensed earnestness, the effort not to betray the truth. He thanked the Russian Church Abroad for everything that she had done for Russia and for Orthodoxy, and stressed that the Church Abroad can offer Russia the experience of existence in a pluralistic society, and the Church in Russia can offer those abroad the extreme experience of existing in a godless society. Further, Fr. Tikhon read a decision of the Council of Bishops (Moscow Patriarchate) on the relationship of the Church and state, and also an interview given in 1991 of Patriarch Alexy, in which he spoke of the rejection of Sergianism. In conclusion, Fr. Tikhon read a letter from Patriarch Alexy to the forthcoming Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
The round-table on the topic: “The Church in Russia Today,” was hosted by Bishop Evtikhii of Ishim and Siberia. The clergy of the Siberian Diocese welcomes dialog with the Church in Russia, but only in the spirit of truth. Protopriest Roman Lukianov (Boston), told of his meetings with clergy and laity in Russia, and Protopriest Maxim Kozlov, a teacher from Moscow Theological Academy, spoke of the most fundamental and actual problems faced by pastors in Russia: 1) The great number of baptized but uncatechized people, 2) the introduction of an un-ecclesiastical and secular mind-set in church life, 3) the crisis of church authority. Protopriest Peter Perekrestov (San Francisco), spoke of the complications face in assessing church life in Russia.

After each lecture and presentation at the round-table, a great number of questions and opinions were offered, too many to enumerate here. On one hand, there were opposing opinions, on the other, great attention paid to the words of the lecturers. The first day was very tense in the sense that many conferees did not know what to expect. The author feels that at the beginning of the day, the participants of the conference were somewhat guarded and more interested in expressing their positions and opinions, while towards the end of the day, more were listening and asking questions.

Day Two of the conference will be on Tuesday. That evening, the clergy will participate in the solemn all-night vigil at the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York on the occasion of the feast day of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God.

Most-Holy Mother of God save us!


This account is not an official report by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, but only a brief personal report of one of the participants of the Conference, and so does not pretend to be exhaustive, nor a complete description of the Conference. At the end of the All-Diaspora Pastoral Conference, a Resolution will be posted on our website.

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