NEWS FROM THE DIOCESES
 
NEW YORK: July 22, 2006

UKASE
From the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
CIRCULAR

To the Diocesan Bishops and the Parish Rectors Directly Subject to the President of the Synod of Bishops

On 11/24 May, 2005, the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR considered: the convening of the IV All-Diaspora Council.

Decreed: To convene the IV All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laity for the comprehensive consideration of the following matters:

a) the establishment of normal relations between the Churches in Russia and abroad, and
b) the mission and service of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in the contemporary world.

The IV All-Diaspora Council shall be convened on May 6-14, 2006, on the important 85th anniversary of the First All-Diaspora Council, at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco, a city illuminated by the archpastoral podvigi of St Tikhon the Confessor, the future Patriarch of All Russia, and St John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Miracle-worker, whose incorrupt relics abide at the Cathedral.

In connection with this, each diocese is obliged to convene a diocesan assembly to select delegates.

Before this, Reverend Rectors are obliged to announce the forthcoming IV All-Diaspora Council at their regular Annual Parish Meeting, or, if it is too difficult to convene one, at a Parish Council meeting, and to hold the election of delegates from the parish to the diocesan assembly.

Reverend Rectors are to explain to the faithful the spiritual significance of the coming IV All-Diaspora Council and to call upon them to prayerfully participate in this historic Church event.

Parish delegates must be chosen from among parishioners who are active in church life and are helpful to the Church. The number of parish delegates is to correspond to the number of clergymen assigned to the parish (if there is one clergyman assigned, then one parish delegate is sent to the diocesan assembly). The list of delegates is presented to the diocesan bishop.

The diocesan assembly then selects a set number of delegates to the IV All-Diaspora Council. In accordance with the practice of the three preceding All-Diaspora Councils, each diocese is represented by four delegatesótwo from among the clergy and two from among the laity. If a diocese has a large number of parishes, then for each thirty parishes, an additional four delegates are chosen. Each member of the IV All-Diaspora Council must be given a certificate signed by the ruling bishop and affixed with the diocesan seal. Each delegate, upon registration at the Council, must present this certificate to the credentials committee. Expenses for the delegates are to be paid by their diocese.

In connection with this, the Council Organizing Committee at the Synod of Bishops must be notified no later than 18/31 December, 2005, as to whether your diocese will be able to send the established number of delegates, and if it cannot, then how many delegates will be sent from your diocese.

The above is reported to you for execution.

+Metropolitan Laurus
President of the Synod of Bishops

+Bishop Gabriel
Secretary

30 June/13 July 2005A

DDENDUM No 1 TO THE CIRCULAR UKASE
On the Composition of the IV All-Diaspora Council

The IV All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laity comprises:

a) the entire episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia;

b) selected delegates (clergymen and male laity) of the dioceses;

c) the Rector and Dean of Holy Trinity Seminary, representatives of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, of monastics and of the following Synodal institutions: The Fund for Assistance of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Synodal Liturgical Music Advisory Board, the Orthodox Palestine Society the St Herman Conference Committee;

d) Representatives of social and youth organizations invited by the President of the Council Organizing Committee;

e) Persons elected and confirmed by the First Hierarch and the Synod of Bishops; members of the Council Organizing Committee, the Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate and two representatives of the Organizing Committee of the San Francisco and Western American Diocese;

f) members of previous All-Diaspora Conferences who are faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia who receive a written blessing from their Ruling Bishop.

Only selected delegates may attend and participate in the work of the IV All-Diaspora Council.On the Procedure of Electing and Confirming Delegates

for the IV All-Diaspora Council

At the last session of the Synod of Bishops, the following procedure for the election and confirmation of delegates was approved:

a) Expenses for the diocesan delegates are to be paid by their diocese.

b) The First Hierarch appoints one representative for each of the following: the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, monastics, and for the following Synodal institutions: the Fund for Assistance of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Synodal Liturgical Music Advisory Board, the Orthodox Palestine Society the St Herman Conference Committee. Delegates from these institutions must receive a corresponding certificate signed by the President of the Synod of Bishops and affixed with the Synodal seal. Expenses for these delegates to the IV All-Diaspora Council must be paid by the Synodal institutions themselves.

c) The Ruling Bishop of San Francisco and Western America shall appoint two representatives from the local Organizing Committee and issues corresponding certificates with his signature, affixed with the diocesan seal.

d) The members of the Council Organizing Committee and individuals selected by the Synod of Bishops receive certificates from the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, while members of the Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate receive them from its President. Their expenses are paid by the Synod of Bishops.

e) Speakers for the IV All-Diaspora Council are proposed by the Council Organizing Committee, are confirmed by the Synod of Bishops and receive certificates from the President of the Council Organizing Committee. Their expenses are paid by the Synod of Bishops.

f) Representatives of social and youth organizations invited by the President of the Council Organizing Committee are confirmed by the Synod of Bishops and receive corresponding certificates from the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops. Expenses of these delegates of the IV All-Diaspora Council are to be paid by the organizations themselves.

g) Participants of previous All-Diaspora Councils, as well as delegates from each diocese, receive written certificates from their Ruling Bishop; for the former, these certificates must state that they are participating not by election but automatically as participants of a previous All-Diaspora Council. Such participants pay their own expenses.

+Bishop Gabriel
Secretary, Synod of Bishops
June 30/July 13, 2005

Notes:

The Number of Delegates from Each Diocese
(not including speakers, representatives of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, Holy Trinity Seminary, monastics, Synodal institutions, social and youth organizations, members of the Council Organizing Committee and the Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate, members of previous Councils, etc.):

Diocese of Eastern America and New York: 8 (4 priests and 4 laymen)
Diocese of Eastern Canada: 2 (1 priest and 1 layman)
Diocese of Western Canada: 2 (1 priest and 1 layman)
Diocese of San Francisco and Western America: 4 (2 priests and 2 laymen)
Diocese of Chicago and Detroit: 4 (2 priests and 2 laymen)
Diocese of Great Britain: 2 (1 priest and 1 layman)
Diocese of Geneva and Western Europle: 4 (2 priests and 2 laymen)
Diocese of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand: 4 (2 priests and 2 laymen)
Diocese of Buenos Aires and South America: 4 (2 priests and 2 laymen)
Diocese of Ishim and Siberia: 4 (2 priests and 2 laymen)
Diocese of Tavrika and Odessa: 4 (2 priests and 2 laymen)

ADDENDUM No 2 TO THE CIRCULAR UKASE

On Parishioners of the ROCOR and Their Participation in Diocesan Assemblies

Normal Parish By-Laws (Authorized by Resolution of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on June 30/July 13, 1951, and April 15/28, 1955, and 14/27 September 1971.)

1… Note: …The Diocesan Bishop has… the right to remove from their positions any persons in the parish administration and also to exclude from membership of the parish persons who resist the Administration, or those who conduct disruptive work, or who are convicted of crimes or serious misdemeanors harmful to the peaceful life of the parish… The Diocesan Bishop also has the power to… excommunicate laymen in cases of serious violation of Church order and discipline.

7. …A layman who secedes from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and refuses to recognize the authority of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, shall not be permitted to occupy any office in the parish.

8. …Persons in the service of the church shall be considered lawfully appointed if they occupy their said offices by appointment and permission and with the blessing of the Ruling Bishop appointed to this office by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

11. All Orthodox Christians of both sexes, regardless of their nationality, who have reached the age of 21 years, who pay the established membership dues, who make their confession and take Holy Communion not less than once a year, and who tend to the moral and economic welfare of the parish may become parish members.

…Note 2: Persons who live in concubinage without Church marriage, or who are engaged in ignoble business, or who are convicted of criminal offences shall have no right to participate in the parish meetings or be elected to parish offices. Those convicted of criminal offences may be restored in their rights three years after they have served their term and after absolution by their father-confessor.

13. Note 2: Parish members who shall have failed to pay their membership dues during three months shall be deprived of their rights to vote and to be elected to parish offices pending the payment of such arrears. Parish members who have failed to pay their membership dues during twelve months shall be excluded from parish membership. However, should a parish member fail to pay his dues because of some valid reason (illness, unemployment, etc.) the question of his right to vote shall be determined by the Church Parish Council.

14. Parish members who shall be found disloyal to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and to their parish; or who deliberately neglect Church rules and obstruct lawfully adopted resolutions of the parish meetings and the instructions of the Church Parish Council, as well as those who shall have violated the good order and decorum in the church or who shall be found engaged in some ignoble occupation may be excluded from parish membership by decision of the Church Parish Council, submitted by the latter for approval of the Ruling Bishop. The said persons may be restored in their rights by decision of the Church Parish Council provided they repent and prove by their ways of living and behavior their moral rectitude.

24. The minutes of the Annual Parish Meetings, after having been adopted by an editing committee elected by the meeting, shall be submitted not later than seven days thereafter by the rector of the parish to the Ruling Bishop for his ratification.

29. All… officials… with the exception of the Rector and the staff members of the clergy appointed by the Ruling Bishop, as well as the Senior Sister of the Sisterhood selected by the latter, shall be elected by the Annual Parish Meeting for a term of one year, and, on recommendation of the Rector, shall be approved in the respective offices by the Ruling Bishop.

Guidelines for Clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (Established by the Decision of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, dated 9/22 October 1956.)

59. The rectors must see to it that parish meetings are convoked in accordance with the rules, and that only those who, according to the Parish By-laws, have the right to participate in them do so. After the conclusion of assemblies, the rectors must submit the minutes of parish meetings to the diocese bishop for approval.

Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (Confirmed by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on 26 September/9 October, 27 September/10 October, 28 September/11 November, 29 September/12 October and 2/15 October 1956, and by a decision of the Council dated 5/18 June, 1964.)

60. The following people may not be members of the Diocesan Assembly:

A) those who, in the course of the year, do not confess and receive Communion;

B) those who are cohabiting illegally and without the Church's blessing;

C) those found blameworthy by a civil or church court;

D) those engaged in immoral occupations or trades.

64. Decisions of Diocesan Assemblies shall come into force and be implemented only after confirmation by the diocesan bishop.

106. The vicar bishop… has the following duties: …F) confirmation of the minutes of Parish Meetings and election of parish officials.