below: All-night vigil at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady
Sign on the feast day.
Pastoral Conference; Days Four and Five
The final two days of the All-Diocesan Pastoral Conference
began with divine liturgy, as did the first days. All liturgies
served at Protection Church were, from the Cherubic Hymn on,
sung by the entire host of clergymen.
The first lecture on Thursday, 11 December, was read by the
teacher of St. Petersburg Theological Academy, Protopriest
George Mitrofanov. The topic was "The Glorification of
the New Martyrs of Russia." In the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia, the glorification of the New Martyrs was
general in character, while in the Church in Russia it was
specific, by name. Each glorified New Martyr has a biography,
however brief. Fr. George provided horrifying statistics on
the persecution of the clergy and faithful. For example, in
1937, 136,000 clerical persons were arrested. Of those, 85,300
were shot. The lecturer gave other examples of the horrors
inflicted by the GPU (Soviet Secret Police) on the clergy
and their families.
The Council of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate of 2000
glorified a host of New Martyrs, including "non-commemorating"
clergy. In this way, the Church in Russia not only paid homage
to their martyrs, but also placed an unbreachable barrier
between the Orthodox Church and communism. In the words of
Fr. George, the Orthodox Christian cannot be a communist.
glorifying the New Martyrs of Russia, the episcopacy of the
Church in Russia in fact spoke of its own repentance.
Immediately following the lecture of Protopriest George Mitrofanov,
a round-table was held on the topic of the New Martyrs. Protopriest
Valerii Alekseev (Odessa) posed the question of the desirability
of glorification as a New Martyr (by the Church in Russia)
of Boris Talantov and Archbishop Germogen (Golubeff). Archimandrite
Luke (Jordanville) spoke of the arguable points relating to
some of the glorified individuals, and Protopriest Nikolai
Artemoff touched upon several aspects of Ukase No. 362 of
St. Patriarch Tikhon.
After the round-table, a series of questions was asked, in
part, relating to the opposition of the "Sergianists"
and the "Josephites." Protopriest George Mitrofanov
noted at least one instance when the NKVD turned out to be
a "unifier," Bishop Evgenii (Korbanov, of the "Sergianist"
Metropolitan Joseph and Metropolitan Kirill were executed
together in 1937, on the anniversary of Ukase No. 362.
in line for presentations.
the course of the discussions, the new book by S. Fomin on
Metropolitan Sergius, "At Guard of the House of the Lord,"
was mentioned. This book is in decisive opposition to the
position of the Council of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate
of 2000. The following topics were also mentioned: the glorification
of Metropolitan Joseph, archival research on the matter of
repressed individuals, the glorification of some of the Royal
servants, the politics of Stalin, the glorification of Admiral
Feodor Ushakov, the Solovetsk prisoners and the problem of
verifying oral tradition in regards to the New Martyrs.
On Thursday, after lunch, a round-table on ecumenism was held.
Deacon Nikolai Savchenko (St. Petersburg) gave the opening
remarks. He said that the Church in Russia, in the form of
a significant part of the clergy and faithful, regard ecumenism
with extreme opposition, and that prayer with the heterodox
is practically non-existent. Still, the membership of the
Moscow Patriarchate in the World Council of Churches, and
especially in its administrative body, continues to cause
grief. The leadership of the WCC includes a bishop and several
clergymen of the Moscow Patriarchate. The board includes 8
Protestant women "priests," and, in accordance with
its statutes, the administration is obligated to work towards
disseminating and promoting ecumenism throughout the world.
The ecumenism round-table, consisting of Protopriest Alexander
Lebedeff, Hieromonk Andrei,
Protopriest Maxim Kozlov, Deacon Nikolai Savchenko and Archbishop
Alexander Lebedeff (Los Angeles), expressed the thought that
the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia must continue
to denounce ecumenism, to appeal to the Local Churches with
our concerns and to defend those who left the WCC. Protopriest
Maxim Kozloff (Moscow Theological Academy) opined that restraint
must be observed in the matter of the ecumenical movement.
Dialog with the heterodox within a certain framework can be
beneficial, and the temptations which exist now must be gradually
removed. Archbishop Mark spoke of interrelationships with
the heterodox from a pastoral standpoint. Hieromonk Andrei
(New York) also participated in the round-table.
At the end of the day, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus thanked
the guest lecturers from Russia, Archimandrite Tikhon and
Protopriests George Mitrofanov and Maxim Kozloff, for their
participation, patience and contribution towards the work
of the Conference and blessed them with gift books.
After the departure of the guests from Russia, draft resolutions
On the final day of the Conference, Friday, 12 December, after
liturgy, Protopriest Igor Chitikoff (Florida) read a lecture
on the topic "North America as the Canonical Territory
of the Russian Church."
Before lunch, various draft resolutions were discussed, and
it was decided to issue a pastoral Appeal instead. Every participant
was given an opportunity to express himself on the matter
of the Appeal and to make proposals. By God's mercy, an Appeal
was adopted unanimously. Photo
of the Conference participants.
A number of priests thanked the archpastors for the opportunity
for all the clergymen to honestly speak their minds and share
their concerns. This attests not only to the freedom of spirit
in our church life, but also to our conciliarity. The desire
was also voiced to have the lectures of the
Conference published in the Church press.
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus thanked the organizers of
the Conference, especially the Rector of Protection Church
in Nyack, Protopriest George Larin, and Priest Serafim Gan,
and also the Sisterhood for their hospitality, and called
upon the clergy to live in peace and love, to
labor for the glory of God and, upon returning to their parishes,
to pass along his blessings and tell them about the Conference.
The All-Diaspora Conference was concluded by a service of
supplication before two icons: the Miracle-working Kursk-Root
Icon of the Mother of God and the icon of the Healing of the
Child Prokhor. The clergymen, tired but encouraged by the
communion with and frank discussions of vital ecclesiastical
matters, hurried home to share the coming Sundays with
Glory to Thee, O God, our Benefactor forever and ever!
This account is not an official report of the Conference
by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia, but a brief personal report by one of its participants,
and so it does not pretend to be a complete description of