Communique from the Regular Clergy Conference and Retreat of the Diocese of
Eastern America and New York of the ROCOR

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the regular-scheduled Clergy Conference and Retreat of the Diocese of Eastern America and New York was held from March 8-10 at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell (Lakewood), NJ. The Conference began with a keynote address delivered by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. Following this was the report by His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan and the reports of parish rectors. Among these was that of Protopriest Victor Potapov, who spoke of the difficult situation of the Orthodox Serbs and their holy sites in Kosovo and Metojia. The Conferees were told of the fire which razed the Hilandar Monastery on Mt. Athos, which evoked their heartfelt empathy. In connection with this, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus asked the clergy to continue their prayers for the much-suffering brethren Serbs. The clergymen expressed their concern also with the situation of the people in Haiti, for whom they also prayed during the Conference.

Reports given by the rectors included expressions of joy that the parishes of the East Coast were being filled with the faithful from Russia. Voiced also was the need to increase educational efforts, catechising and work towards drawing the new children of our Church closer to church life, for they are in need of special attention and pastoral care. Very encouraging was the news that the English-language communities were enjoying the fruits of their missionary work. The report of Priest Alexis Duncan followed: "On Obedience as a Form of Repentance." The problem of so-called "inexperienced elders" was discussed, and the need to distinguish between true obedience, in the spirit of the Gospel and the Holy Fathers, which leads to good works, and false obedience which does not develop the free will of man. A great deal of interest was drawn by the lecture of Hieromonk Andrei (Kostadis), Master of Theology and Rector of Holy Protection Church in Glen Cove: "Causes of Division in the Russian Church Diaspora," which led to a lively exchange of opinions. During these conversations, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus reported on his forthcoming trip to Russia, which can be characterized as a fact-finding trip, as stated in His Eminence's Great Lenten Epistle. Besides official meetings with the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate, a pilgrimage is planned to the place of martyrdom of the Royal Family and other holy sites. The hope was expressed that information on the discussions will be forthcoming in a timely manner.

The Conference concluded with the celebration of the pre-sanctified liturgy, at which His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus officiated along with Bishop Gabriel and over 40 priests and deacons.