DIOCESE OF BERLIN AND GERMANY: October 6, 2006
Resolution of the Assembly of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany
Illumined by a Holy Cross containing a portion of the Live-creating Wood, on the days following the Elevation of the Cross, we, the clergymen, wardens and other parish representatives of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, gathered for our regular Diocesan Assembly, Pastoral Conference and Warden's Meeting under the leadership of our bishops, His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany and His Grace Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart. The daily cycle of services was served at Munich's Cathedral of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia and St Nicholas Church. The gathering prayerfully honored the memory of the newly-reposed Metropolitan Vitaly, former First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. His pastoral podvig is not forgotten amongst us.
This meeting gave us the opportunity to discuss a wide scope of matters of church life today. In light of the fact that today, everything is closely intertwined, the discussions touched not only upon parish life in Germany, but in the Russian Church as a whole.
We established that before us lie the following challenges:
- Parishes are growing, as is the need for pastoral ministry. It is unwise to disperse our efforts by opening numerous small parishes, and we must consolidate parish life in the existing population centers, growing the parish into a spiritual family.
- Today's flock is poorly "churched." Special attention must be paid to the preparation of people to receive the holy sacraments (baptism, matrimony, communion). Their inner bond must be revealed. Proper catechization is needed not only for those who are baptized as adults, but when children are baptized, their parents and godparents must be likewise prepared.
- The churchification of the family is the first goal. Often, religious life grows in meaning as years pass. It is best if this occur on an equal pace for all members of the family—otherwise, the marriage is in danger, if this is not recognized and understood in time. This especially applies to mixed marriages.
- The world is wallowing in consumerism and immorality, which poison the human soul. We must try to imprint the bright image of the Holy Church upon young hearts as the source of chastity and of spiritual life. In accordance with the IV All-Diaspora Council, a Youth Department is being established in our Diocese, a representative of which will be a member of the Diocesan Council.
- We have great opportunities to teach children. We must strengthen everywhere our traditional teaching of the Law of God to children, who often bring their parents to church. At the same time, as before, it is necessary to enhance the teaching of Russian and Church Slavonic in parishes, to reveal their profound interrelationship.
- We foresee, nonetheless, that the need for the use of the German language in divine services will increase. We are bound to respond to this as not only are there Orthodox Germans in our parishes but because gradually, the Russian language of the children of new immigrants weakens. The Diocesan Assembly has established a committee on church-service translations, and another committee on assembling German-language teaching materials.
- The amount of ecclesiastical and spiritual literature published in Russia today demands attentive and sober discernment. The Diocese is making recommendations on the use of such material.
- All these topics are infused in one way or another with our living communion with the Homeland and with the Church in the Homeland. In Germany, these problems have their own specifics.
We welcome the recent decision of our Synod of Bishops, which opened the path to joint discussion and resolution of these problems on a new level of the church in general and on the diocesan level. We have in view the participation of representatives of our Diocese of Berlin and Germany in constructive work of the Church in Russia, and the prospect of cooperation of the two diocesan structures of the Russian Church in Germany.
Archbishop Mark reported on the decision of the Diocesan Council to invite Archbishop Feofan to our Assembly, who unfortunately could not attend because it coincided with the Diocesan Conference of the parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Germany under his chairmanship. We presume that similar, if not identical, matters are being discussed there, and we greet our brothers, archpastors, pastors and laypersons laboring in the harvest-fields of the Lord, with the knowledge that all the challenges facing us today can be resolved more fruitfully through join efforts to the glory of God.
Munich, September 19-20/October 2-3, 2006