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NEW YORK: October 10, 2007
Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan and Bishop Merkury of Zaraisk celebrate the first joint Divine Liturgy at the Synod of Bishops

On October 8, 2007, the day of St Sergius of Radonezh, the parishioners of the Synodal chapel dedicated to the saint marked their feast day. Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan, Secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, together with His Grace Bishop Merkury of Zaraisk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA (Moscow Patriarchate), along with clergymen of the Synodal Cathedral and of St Nicholas Cathedral of the Moscow Patriarchate. This was the first joint celebration by two hierarchs in the Synodal building since the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion on May 17 of this year. After Holy Communion, Bishop Merkury addressed the worshipers with an archpastoral sermon.

After the dismissal, Bishop Merkury congratulated Bishop Gabriel, who, in turn, noted that the joint celebration of Liturgy by bishops of the once-divided Russian Orthodox Church on the day when the fulness of the Russian Church praises the All-Russian man of prayer bears witness to the fact that "even we, through our humble labors and prayers,participate in the work of St Sergius--gathering together the Russian lands."

Afterwards, Many Years was sung to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the attending bishops. A trapeza followed at the Synodal hall.

Later that day, a meeting was held between Bishop Gabriel, Bishop Merkury and Consul General of the Russian Federation in New York, SV Garmonin, during which practical matters of cooperation between the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA and the Russian Church Abroad were discussed. Also participating in this meeting were Hiermonk Joseph (Kriukov) and Protopriest Andrei Sommer of the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign.