WASHINGTON: Great Lenten Conference for 2002 of the Eastern American Diocese held in
Washington—April 2002

WASHINGTON: Clergy Conference and Lenten Retreat

Clergy Conference and Lenten Retreat [Govenie] of the Eastern-American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The annual lenten retreat [govenie] of the clergy of the Eastern-American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was held March 27-29 at the parish of St. John the Baptist in Washington, D.C. Coming from distant points throughout the diocese ranging from Canada, Maine, Buffalo, NY, to Miami FL, fifty-two clergymen assembled in the nation’s capital for fellowship and prayer. The conference/retreat opened with the moleben [service of supplication] “before commencing any good work.” At the conclusion of the moleben, Vladyka Metropolitan Laurus reminded the clergy that the primary goal of the conference was to cleanse the pastors’ souls of sin, so that the pastors might be able to help the members of their flock prepare to offer sincere repentance, and thus make it possible for them to greet the Resurrection of Our Lord with a clear conscience.

Following introductory remarks, both our Vladyka-First Hierarch and Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan reported to the assembled clergy on the state of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia since the 2001 Council of Bishops, and responded to numerous questions.

The Council of Bishops held in October 2000 had adopted a resolution calling for the holding of a scholarly conference, with participation by independent historians and by clergy, both from the Moscow Patriarchate Russian Orthodox Church and from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, on questions of history of the Russian Church in the 20th Century. That conference took place November 13th-16th, 2001 in Sentendre, Hungary, at the residence of the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Buda Diocese. With the hospitable participation of its honorary chairman, His Grace Daniel (Krstic), Bishop of Buda, papers on the history of the Russian Church during the period 1917 – 1933 were presented and discussed. Among the speakers was Archpriest Victor Potapov, rector of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist, in Washington, DC. At the first post-luncheon session of the govenie/conference he provided a detailed account of the conference held in Hungary and acquainted the diocesan clergy with the summary document adopted at that conference.

There was a very lively round-table discussion of repentance, confession, and spiritual direction. For several hours, priests shared their pastoral knowledge, experiences and accomplishments, and responded to questions.
Of course, the focal points of the conference were the Lenten Divine Services held in the Church of St. John the Baptist, a Temple patterned on the Muscovite/Yaroslavl style of the 17th Century. During the Services, the rite of Confession was taking place in various parts of the Cathedral.

On Friday, March 29th, His Eminence the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan Laurus, assisted by His Grace the Most Reverend Bishop Gabriel, led the celebration of the Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts. All of the clergy, and many laypeople, received Holy Communion at that Divine Liturgy. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, and on behalf of his parish clergy and parishioners, Archpriest Victor Potapov, parish rector, presented His Eminence the First-hierarch with a new arch-pastoral staff. After lunch, the following resolution was discussed and adopted:
“We, the clergy gathered together in the capital city of Washington, in the church of St. John the Baptist, heard the speech in which our Father, the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan Laurus, First-hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, called upon us to prepare properly for the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Communion of the Must-pure Body and Blood of our High-priest and Lord Jesus Christ."

The Most-Reverend Gabriel, Bishop of Manhattan and Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, spoke in considerable detail about the life of our church since the Council of Bishops held in 2001.

The conferees heard Archpriest Victor Potapov’s report on a conference, held last October in Hungary, which was the first conference to deal with the subject of Russian Church history during the tragic period 1917 – 1933, a period in which parts of the Russian Church became separated from one another.

The participants in the Washington conference expressed their wishes as to the urgent necessity of developing sincere dialogue between our Committee on the Unity of the Russian Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, in order to elucidate the true history of the Russian Orthodox Church and to affirm a healthy ecclesiology.

We are grieved that hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate continue to participate in the ecumenical movement, especially in the activities of the so-called World Council of Churches.

We are firmly resolved to follow the path of old shown us by the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and by the testaments of our church’s past First-hierarchs and of such pillars as Holy-hierarch St. John Maximovitch and [Archbishop] Vitaly Maximenko.

We call upon the faithful children of our Church to pray fervently for the healing and resolution of the discords present in our Church, and to worthily prepare to greet the Glorious Feast of Christ’s Resurrection.”

Simultaneous translation into English was provided at all of the talks and ensuing discussions.
The wish was expressed that the next conference/govenie once again be held in Washington.

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