Sergiev Posad: May 16, 2004

Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra Greets the Delegation of the Russian Church Abroad Led by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus

His Eminence Vladyka was greeted at the gates of the Lavra by His Grace Bishop Feognost of Sergiev Posad, Prior of Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. Under the joyous din of the monastery bells, the delegation entered the ancient Holy Trinity Cathedral, where the relics of the Hegumen of the Russian Land, St. Sergius of Radonezh, are found. Venerating the relics, the delegation then went to the Nikon section, where the relics of the student of St. Sergius are located, along with those of a multitude of saints.

Divine liturgy commenced at 9:30 am, at which His Grace Bishop Feognost of Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra officiated, along with the Prior of the stavropighial men's Sretensky Monastery, Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), and 16 archimandrites and hieromonks of the Lavra. During the singing of "Holy God," His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, Their Eminences Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain and Archbishop Kyrill of Western America and San Francisco, along with Archbishop Innokentii of Korsun, entered the royal doors into the altar of the ancient Uspensky Cathedral. The clergymen and other members of the delegation prayed on the right side before the iconostasis. Two kliroses were directed by Archimandrite Matfei (Mormyl') and Hieromonk Lazar. The Rector of the Moscow Theological Academy, Archbishop Evgenii of Verei joined them.

After liturgy, the bishops emerged through the royal doors, and along with the monastery's brethren proceeded to the trapeza. The sermon of St. John Chrysostom on the Sunday of the Blind Man was read during the repast.

After the trapeza, Bishop Feognost spoke a word of greeting and presented His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and the entire delegation with icons of St. Sergius and recordings of the unified choir of Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra and the Moscow Theological schools under the direction of Archimandrite Matfei (Mormyl'). In return, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus expressed thanks to the Prior and the Lavra's monks and presented them with an icon of St. John (Maximovich) of Shanghai and San Francisco containing a part of his relics.

Then the members of the delegation and their guides: Archbishop Innokentii of Korsun, Bishop Feognost of Sergiev Posad and the Prior of the Lavra, Archimandrite Pavel, visited the holy sites and vestry of the Lavra. The delegation also visited the school of St. Sergius of Radonezh in the town of Toporkovo, 15 kilometers from Sergiev Posad. In the span of nine months, a large church was built, and a former "Young Pioneer" camp was transformed into an Orthodox school for children. The new buildings and the magnificently-equipped classes in physics, chemistry, geography, as well as workshops and classrooms for computer learning were impressive.

  At 5 pm, under the chairmanship of Archbishop Evgenii of Verey, a meeting between the delegation headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and the students of the Moscow theological schools took place, during which the following archpastors and clergymen--all members of the delegation--answered questions of teachers and students: Metropolitan Laurus, Archbishop Mark, Archbishop Kyrill, Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Protopriest Peter Perekrestov and Protopriest Nikolai Artemoff. The questions touched upon contemporary life of the Russian Church Abroad and the prospects for rapprochement, and the character of the opposition to this process; the topic of the Social Concept (the relationship of the Church and state) was discussed, as well as the attitude towards ecumenism and modernism, the use of Church Slavonic, the development of theology and church music, pastoral and missionary work... Words of gratitude were expressed for the assistance that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia gave through its publications during the decades that were so difficult for the Russian Church .

  After the warm greeting in the seminary hall, a trapeza was offered during which the male and female choirs of the Choir Directors' School at the Academy performed. At the end of the meal, the delegates were given gifts of books and CDs by the Moscow Theological Academy.

  In turn, Archbishop Mark gave them a series of publications of the Monastery of St. Job of Pochaev in Munich and gave Bishop Feognost a silver medal struck on the 1000-year anniversary of the baptism of Russia. Vladyka Mark noted that on one side, the medal displayed baptism in water, and on the other, baptism through blood--that of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia. Metropolitan Laurus, Archbishop Evgenii, Archbishop Mark, Bishop Feognost, Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Protopriest George Larin and Priest Serafim Gan spoke at the trapeza.

The delegation returned to Moscow at 9 o'clock in the evening.

A visit to Donskoy Monastery is scheduled for May 17, where the relics of St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, are found; the delegation will then visit the Kremlin, its holy sites and the Great Kremlin Palace. After lunch, the group of pilgrims will go to Diveevo Convent, while the working delegation will conduct their first meeting. At a previous session of the Synod of Bishops, it was decided, before the meeting of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, to include Archbishop Mark and Archbishop Kyrill, Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Protopriest Peter Perekrestov, Protopriest Nikolai Artemoff, Protopriest Peter Holodny, Priest Serafim Gan and Priest Pavel Ivanov in the delegation on behalf of the Russian Church Abroad.