Photo by Yuri Fokin (San Francisco)
Conference of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia
third week of Great Lent, from March 10 through March 12, the regular
Pastoral Conference and Confession of the clergy of the Western
American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
was held at Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco.
all the ends of the huge diocese gathered, even from some of its
most remote points—from freezing Alaska and from the warn Hawaiian
Islands in order to meet together, to pray together, to listen to
lectures and to exchange views, all under the direction of their
Ruling Bishop, the Most Reverend Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco
and Western America.
opened with a service of supplication before the relics of St. John
of Shanghai and San Francisco, and all of the participants reverently
bowed down before the relics of the great wonder-worker, asking
his heavenly intercession before the throne of God and the blessing
of God upon their efforts.
the conference was dedicated to the theme of Missions. Presentations
were heard together, and clergy participated in round tables and
It was noted
that our mission at the present time consists not only in establishing
missionary communities for those who come to Orthodoxy from other
faiths. Because of the influx of a great number of people from the
former Soviet Union, who are filling our churches, but who, most
often, know little about or understand the Orthodox faith—it is
necessary to organize wide missionary activity among them as well,
through lectures, classes in the basics of Orthodox teaching, and,
for children, a Church School.
gathered together in San Francisco could not fail to pay attention
to the shameful actions, that have resounded throughout the entire
world, that were permitted by the authorities in the city of San
Francisco in allowing people of the same gender to receive "marriage"
licenses, and also the performance of such civil "marriages"
in defiance of the laws of the state of California, not to speak
of the violation of the Divine institutions concerning marriage.
were appointed to prepare a draft text of an Epistle from the Pastoral
Conference, in which the Orthodox view of what had transpired would
be presented. This Epistle was drafted, read to the participants
of the Conference, and, with a few minor corrections, was approved
unanimously. The text of this Epistle can be found here.
also addressed the recently released film of Mel Gibson, "The
Passion of the Christ." One of the participants in the Conference,
Priest John McCuen, had written a brief analysis of this film from
an Orthodox perspective for his Parish Bulletin. His Eminence, Archbishop
Kyrill read this text to all of the gathered clergy, who agreed
with the thoughts of Fr. John, while offering some corrections and
clarifications. The corrected text can be found here.
about his missionary activities on the island of Haiti by Protopriest
Gregory Williams from Tennessee was very interesting. During the
past few years, Fr. Gregory has been able to establish several small
missions in various locations on the island, notwithstanding colossal
difficulties with finding locations and funds, and now, with political
unrest. The presentation was accompanied by photographs.
Conference, the clergy took part in all the services of the daily
Lenten cycle of services, serving or singing on the kleros, where
two choirs alternated—Slavonic and English.
evening the Rite of Preparation for Holy Communion was served, and
during the Great Compline and Matins which followed, all of the
clergy went to Confession with their Spiritual Fathers.
On Friday morning the clergy all gathered for the Lenten Hours,
followed by a Memorial Litiya. Then followed the hierarchical Liturgy
of Presanctified Gifts, during which twenty-four clergymen served
and received Holy Communion in the Altar.
After the Liturgy
a Moleben of Thanksgiving was served before the relics of St. John,
followed by a trapeza, during which it was decided that the next
Pastoral Conference would be held in October in Denver.
letter to His Eminence, Metropolitan Laurus was adopted and signed
by all of the participants:
February 28/March 12, 2004
His Eminence, the Most Reverend LAURUS,
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Your Eminence, Most Reverend Master!
We, the clergy of the Western American Diocese, gathered for the
Great Lenten Pastoral Conference at the Holy Virgin Cathedral in
San Francisco greet you and wish you spiritual and physical strength,
wisdom, and patience from the Lord God.
We thank the Lord, that in such a difficult and responsible time,
you are steering the Ark of our Church by the middle, Royal path
for the spiritual benefit of all of the children of our Church and
of the Russian people.
Dear Vladyka! We express our trust in you and we assure you of our
support and of our prayers, especially in connection with your coming
first official visit to Russia. May the Lord strengthen you, through
the prayers of the All-Pure Mother of God and of Saint John, Wonderworker
of Shanghai and San Francisco.
Asking Your Eminence's First-Hierarchical blessing and holy prayers.Archbishop
Kyrill thanked all of the organizers of the Conference and especially
the Sisterhood, which had prepared wonderful Lenten meals throughout.
was the first Pastoral Conference to be held after the elevation
of the Ruling Bishop of the Diocese to the rank of Archbishop, at
the end of the trapeza, in the name of all those gathered and of
their flocks, Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff congratulated His Eminence,
Vladyka Kyrill with the high ecclesiastical honor bestowed on him,
and wished him strengthening of his spiritual and physical powers,
after which all the participants joined in singing to Vladyka Kyrill
"Save, O Christ God!"