NYACK: December 10, 2003


All-Diaspora Pastoral Conference, Day Two, and the Feast Day of the Protectress

Day Two of the All-Diaspora Pastoral Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was on Tuesday, 9 December. After divine liturgy at Protection Church, lectures, a round-table and discussions were held at the church hall.

It is worth noting the organizational aspect of the Conference. Each lecturer is limited to 35 minutes. The time allotted to round-table participants is 8 minutes. After lectures and round-tables, each participant of the Conference is given the chance to express his opinion and ask questions at one of three microphones in the hall. Opinions and questions are limited to three minutes. Specific questions can be asked of one of the presenting clergymen at the round-tables.

Day Two of the Conference opened with a speech by Protopriest Nikolai Artemoff (Germany) on the topic "Sergianism and the Russian Orthodox Church in Accordance with Ukase No. 362." Fr. Nikolai devoted his lecture to the notion that our rejection of "Sergianism" must be accompanied by condescension and be more understandable to the faithful in Russia. It is necessary to take into account the differences that have developed in the perception of some of the basic points in order to facilitate the correction of our contradictions. A series of the more venerable clergymen of the Russian Church Abroad shared their memories of the difficult conditions they lived through in the Soviet Union in the years of World War II. Noted were the previous Epistles of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on "Sergianism," on the need for clear decisions on this matter, and also the question of the illegitimacy of the suspensions issued by Metropolitan Sergius upon those who disagreed with his positions.

Protopriests George Mitrofanov and Michaeol Protopopov.

The round-table on "The Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) During the Soviet Era" hosted presentations by four priests. Priest Andre Papkov (Eastern American Diocese) spoke on the inhumane conditions of the militantly atheist state. Protopriest Michael Protopopov (Australian Diocese) confirmed this, and also reminded the participants of the Conference of the Parable of the Wayward Son. Protopriest John Shaw (Chicago Diocese) shared his opinion on the manifestation of "Sergianism" outside of Russia, when many are in disagreement with certain church events and manifestions of parish life, yet remain silent. Protopriest George Mitrofanov (St. Petersburg, ROC-MP), touched upon the question of the succession of ecclesiastical authority in Russia after St. Patriarch Tikhon. He spoke of three currents among the opponents of Met. Sergius. In conclusion, Fr. George said that the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) now admits the validity of the church path of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the Catacomb Church (in the persons of the hierarchs who did not accept the path of Metropolitan Sergius: Metropolitans Agafangel, Kyrill and others), and the best proof of this is the fact that the opponents of Metropolitan Sergius' path were glorified in Russia and are now set as examples for the faithful. The glorification of these saints in 2000 was a turning point in the ecclesiology of the Church in Russia, although even now there are persons who resist this internally. Over the course of the discusseions, the following topics were touched upon: the "rehabilitation" of the New Martyrs, the attitude of the Church in Russia to the White Movement, the Russian Liberation Army and the Russian Corps, and also the trip of the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate to to ecumenical prayers in Assisi.

After lunch, Protopriest Peter Perekrestov (Western American Diocese) expounded on the views of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Miracle-worker on the Russian Church in the 20th century. Three fundamental positions which weave throughout the thoughts of St. John on the Church in general, and the Russian Church in particular are:

  1. the Church is universal and one of her main goals is the dissemination of the faith in Christ among those who do not yet know the Truth,
  2. the gates of hell will not prevail over the Church, despite all the heresies, schisms, despite the unworthiness and apostasy of many even highly-placed servants of the Church, and
  3. the council of wicked possessed Russia, but through repentance and renewal, she would rise again.

 The greeting of the First Hierarch.

The Conferees arrived at the Cathedral of the Sign at the Synod in New York for all-night vigil for the feast day of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. The Metropolitan was greeted by 140 priests. Vigil was served by Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov. During the polyeleos, the First Hierarch Metropolitan Laurus emerged from the altar, along with a host of archpastors and priests. The magnification was sung to the Mother of God and St. Seraphim of Sarov. An icon was painted especially for this holiday: the Healing of Prokhor (later St. Seraphim) before the Kursk-Root Icon. Vladyka Laurus gave a sermon before the veneration of the icons on the holiday and called upon the worshipers to strengthen their prayers.

 Synodal Protodeacon Eugene Burbelo

On 10 December, Metropolitan Laurus officiated at divine liturgy along with Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney and Australia/New Zealand, Bishops Kyrill of San Franciso and Western America, Ambroise of Geneva and Western Europe, Evtikhii of Ishim and Siberia, Alexander of Buenos Aires and South America, Agapit of Stuttgart and Peter of Cleveland. Synodal administrator Fr. Andrei Sommer was awarded the rank of protopriest during the minor entrance, and Synodal priest Fr. Serafim Gan was given the gold pectoral cross. Some 200 clergymen partook of the Holy Gifts. The worshipers at the Synodal Cathedral this day noted the great spiritual elevation during the services.
After a service of supplication to the Mother of God and St. Seraphim, a festive luncheon was held at a hall near the Synod. During the trapeza, Metropolitan Laurus welcomed everyone and recalled the words of St. Seraphim: "Save yourselves, and thousands around you will be saved."


St. Seraphim, pray to God for us!

On Thursday, the Conference continues in Nyack. It is presumed that the plenary session at the end of the day will begin the drafting of a resolution.


This review is not an official report of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, but only a brief personal account of one of the participants of the Conference, and so does not pretend to be a complete description of the Conference.

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