Diocese of Geneva and Western Europe Holds its Diocesan Conference
at the Church of St Barbara
The XVII Diocesan
Conference of the Western European Diocese of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia was held from Saturday, October 29, through
Monday, October 31, in Vevey, Switzerland. Participating were His
Grace Bishop Ambroise of Vevey and His Grace Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart,
along with all the clergymen of the Diocese (except those who were
unable to attend because of pastoral duties), Abbess Makrina of
Lesna Convent of the Mother of God, accompanied by Nun Evfrosinia,
and also representatives of the laity from all parishes.
began with a moleben in the Church of Holy Great Martyr Barbara,
conducted by Protopriest Pavel Tsvetkoff, Protodeacon Peter Figurek
and Protodeacon Michel Vernaz. The Conference was held at an auditorium
near the church, and devoted mainly to the dialog between the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate. In
his speech, entitled "To Fulfill the Calling of Our Church,"
His Grace Bishop Ambroise, recalling the meaning of Ukase No 362
issued by St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, examined the themes of
the discussions by listing the differences outlined by the Council
of Bishops of the Church Abroad in 1987. Among these questions—to
date not completely resolved—are the problems of the attitude of
the Church towards the state and the problem of ecumenism. As for
the latter, His Grace Vladyka Ambroise noted that the Conference
of Autocephalous Orthodox Churches held in Moscow in 1948 condemned
this movement "with abundant bases in theological proofs."
If since 1961, the Moscow Patriarchate, under pressure from the
Soviet government, embarked upon the path of ecumenism, it is still
important to remember that their "interfaith activities over
the last few years have gradually diminished." Still, the Patriarchate
retains membership in the WCC, even as the Georgian and Bulgarian
Churches have withdrawn. That is why, noted Vladyka Ambroise, "in
February of next year, we will closely observe the General Assembly
of the WCC." His lecture also touched upon the basic principles
of autonomy in the Moscow Patriarchate, which the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia could employ in its existing framework.
In conclusion, Bishop Ambroise stressed that "steps taken towards
the Church in Russia signify joint work towards the reestablishment
of the wholeness of the Russian Church."
delegates, both clergy and laity, discussed various questions reflecting
the concerns of the flock over speedy reconciliation, since the
period of the division between the two Churches lasted almost eighty
years. During the discussion, both bishops were able to express
their thoughts in these matters.
evening, all-night vigil was performed, followed by dinner, during
which the delegates spent time becoming better acquainted. On Sunday
morning, Divine Liturgy was headed by Vladyka Agapit along with
the attending clergymen, while the choir, directed by Olga Igorevna
Englert, was bolstered by the Conference delegates. Liturgy was
attended by a large gathering of worshipers, and many partook of
the Divine Gifts.
After a common
meal, discussions continued, and Vladyka Ambroise announced the
list of clergymen and laymen who will represent the Diocese at the
All-Diaspora Council in San Francisco in May 2006: Protopriest Pavel
Tsvetkoff (Geneva), Priest Quentin de Castelbajac (Lyon), Protodeacon
Andre Meillassoux, and Johann Meier. In addition, two others will
participate in the Council from this Diocese—Viktor Artzimovich
and Bernard le Carreau—the former as a participant in the previous
All-Diaspora Council in 1974, and the latter as a lecturer.
Conference concluded in the second half of the day with the reading
of the Appeal to the flock of the Diocese, the clergymen remained
for another day for a pastoral meeting.
mood of the Conference was calm and possessed a spirit of conciliarity,
with the recognition of the prime importance of prayer as a means
of attaining ecclesiastical peace.