NEW YORK: January 28, 2005

Regular Session of the Synod of Bishops Held

On January 27, the winter session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia concluded, taking place at the Synodal building in New York under the presidency of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. Participating were: His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and the United Kingdom; His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America; His Grace Bishop Ambroise of Vevey, Administrator of the Geneva and Western European Diocese; and His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan.

Opening the session, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus greeted the archpastors on the recent holidays of the Nativity of the Lord and the Theophany and wished everyone good health and God's help in serving the Church and the flock abroad in the New Year. Then,

His Eminence reported on his recent trip to the parishes of South America, where he was able to conduct services in all the countries where parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia exist with the exception of Venezuela. For this reason, His Eminence intends to visit Venezuela in April to conduct services in those parishes on the Annunciation and on the following Sunday.

Hearing the report of the Secretary of the Committee on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate, Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, the Synod of Bishops considered and approved the documents adopted during the 3rd joint meeting of the church committees in November of last year, and expressed the hope that in the near future, with the consent of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy and the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate, certain materials will be published which have already been studied and approved by the hierarchies of both branches of the Russian Church.

Then, the Synod of Bishops decided to convene the 4th All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laity, tentatively scheduled for the first half of next year at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco, where the incorruptible relics of St John (Maximovich, +1966) of Shanghai and San Francisco reside; he was a participant of the 2nd All-Diaspora Council. The reliquary containing the miracle-working remains of the saint, known as the" speedy intercessor," is one of the main holy relics of the Russian diaspora. The participants of the coming Council will unite in prayer around him as well as the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, the Protectress, in the presence of which the saint himself died.

Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand was appointed president of the Council's Organizing Committee, the first meeting of which will be held on February 8 in San Francisco.

Because of the scheduled consecration of the St Nicholas Chapel at the Cathedral in Munich, the next session of the Synod of Bishops will be held at St Job of Pochaev Monastery in that city in May of this year, while the autumn session will be held at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville during the celebration of its 75th anniversary, which the Blessed Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky, +1965) called the "Lavra of the Diaspora" and "our spiritual fortress."