of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Beloved in the Lord Flock!
The Synod of Bishops, having gathered under the protection of the
host of Holy New Martyrs of Russia and of St Nicholas the Wonderworker
of Myra, in Munich, Germany, greets you all, the faithful children
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, with the joyful
Paschal words: Christ is Risen!
Over the 85-year history of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia, we have experienced various periods: times of joy and
times of sorrow, times of growth and times when our numbers decreased;
times of ecclesiastical peace and times of difficult forbearance
in the face of forces hostile to the Church; times of division and
times of coming together. During all these times, our Church not
only survived and continued her existence, but actively reacted
to events, to challenges, to the changes surrounding her, always
remembering the main task of the Church of Christ: to save human
At the present time, the Lord has placed the following goals before
us: over the last 15 years, enormous changes have taken place in
Russia; the process of globalization in the world is rapidly moving
forward; the age of information is not only changing the way that
people interact with each other, but it is changing the very character
of communication; the rejection of Divine moral law is gaining strength—the
very concept of the Christian family is now threatened. At the same
time, the ranks of parishioners have shifted in our church life
and in the lives of the Local (National) Churches; changing also
are intra-church dynamics. Under these circumstances we are obligated
not only to evaluate life that surrounds us, but to determine what
we should do, how we are to live and how we seek salvation. In light
of the abundance of positive changes in church life in Russia, we
are faced with the acute question of the relationship between the
part of the Russian Church abroad and the Church in Russia. This
question was always of vital importance for the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia, but today it is necessary to comprehend
and resolve this question.
The Synod of Bishops feels that the time has come to convene the
IV All-Diaspora Council (Sobor) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia, with the participation of the clergy and laity, the time
of special conciliar cooperation and constructiveness has come.
The IV All-Diaspora is scheduled for May 6-14, 2006, on the significant
85th anniversary of the First All-Diaspora Council, to be held at
the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow"
in San Francisco, a city illuminated by the spiritual labors (podvigi)
of Bishop Tikhon, who later became Patriarch Tikhon of All-Russia
the Confessor, and St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, whose
incorruptible relics reside at the Cathedral.
A Pre-Council Committee has been established by the Synod of Bishops
to prepare the IV All-Diaspora Council, under the chairmanship of
His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney and the Diocese of Australia
and New Zealand.
The main questions to be considered by the All-Diaspora Council
1. The matter of establishing normal relations between the Churches
in Russia and abroad, and
2. The missions and service of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia in the contemporary world.
In the near future, all diocesan bishops will receive an official
Ukase on the Convening of the Council and on the process of the
election of delegates. During the preparations for the Council,
the ecclesiastical press (electronic and printed) will publish materials
relating to this important and crucial church event.
The Synod of Bishops calls upon the clergymen and flock of the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to participate in the pre-Council
process, first and foremost by praying fervently for the success
of the forthcoming ecclesiastical Council, that all its decisions
would be pleasing to God, towards the salvation of human souls and
to the benefit of the Russian Church.
Christ is Risen!