MOSCOW: June 24, 2004

The First Joint Session of the Committees of the Moscow Patriarchate on Dialog with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Committee on Dialog with the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

The first joint working session of the Committees of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was held from June 22-24 at the Office of External Church Affairs on the grounds of Danilov Monastery in Moscow.

Participating in the work of the Committees were, on behalf of the Moscow Patriarchate, the President of the Committee, Archbishop Innokentii of Korsun, Archbishop Evgenii of Verey, Protopriest Vladislav Tsypin, Archimandrite Tikhon and Protopriest Nikolai Balashov, Secretary of the Committee.

On the part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, taking part in the sessions were Committee President Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Bishop Ambroise of Vevey, Archimandrite Luke, Protopriest George Larin and Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Secretary of the Committee.

The work of the Committees was productive and was done in the spirit of love and peace, in accordance with the words from Holy Scripture: "BrethrenÉbe perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you" (2 Cor 13:11).

The Committees considered a series of questions in accordance with the agreements achieved during the official visit of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus on May 14-28, 2004. Joint proposals were developed which will be presented to the hierarchies of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The Committee members viewed as a manifestation of the exceptional providence of God the fact that the celebration of the return of the great holy treasure, the Miracle-working Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God to Russia, occurred exactly in the middle of the discussions, on Wednesday, June 23, after a 63-year sojourn abroad.

The Committee members participated in the greeting of the Miracle-working Icon, praying at the Church of Christ the Savior during all-night vigil, led by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia together with Metropolitan Herman, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada [OCA].

The members of the Committees raise their prayers to the Lord God and His Most-Pure Mother with gratitude for the possibility to fruitfully labor towards the overcoming of the sorrowful divisions wrought upon the Russian Orthodox Church as a result of the Bolshevik revolution, and ask the Lord to bless the continuation of their work for the benefit of the Holy Church of Christ and the Russian Orthodox people, both in the Fatherland and in the diaspora, remembering that their joint work must be performed in concordance with the words of the Apostle: " Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Heb. 13:20-21).