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SYNOD OF BISHOPS: April 21, 2007
A Regular Session of the Synod of Bishops is Held

From April 18-20, 2007, a regular session of the Synod of Bishops was held at the Synodal Building in New York in the presence of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. The President of the Synod of Bishops, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, opened the meeting by greeting the bishops on the continuing celebration of the Pascha of Christ and expressed hope that the Resurrected Lord would help the well-being of the Church.

Accepting the agenda and confirming the minutes of the previous expanded session of the Synod of Bishops, the bishops then heard the report of Protopriest Yaroslav Belikov, who was sent to Cannes, France, with the blessing of Metropolitan Laurus, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe and His Grace Bishop Varnava. There Fr Yaroslav participated in the divine services of Passion Week and Pascha held at the Cathedral of Archangel Michael, at which over 300 people gathered.

Having heard a report by Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, the Synod of Bishops made the final text for the decision on the Act of Canonical Communion, which will be read at the rite of its signing. The Synod of Bishops then considered the intercession of Archbishop Job of Kashirsk and Bishop Merkury of Zaraisk on the reconsideration, based on the principle of oikonomia, of the cases of the former clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia: Dimitry Sever, Mark Shinn and Joachim (Parr). In March of this year, the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate made determinations on a number of clergymen who had left its jurisdiction and transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

On the matter of Dimitry Sever, the Synod made the following decision:

  1. To take into account the report of Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff.
  2. In consideration of the forthcoming reestablishment of canonical communion between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, and acting in the spirit of oikonomia, to recognize Dimitry Sever in the rank of presbyter and as a clergyman of the Moscow Patriarchate with the condition that he, in obedience to the decision of his Hierarchy, formalize a legal document dismissing all litigation and will not appear or serve in the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
  3. This decision will take effect upon the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion and after the receipt of the legal document and of a written guarantee the he fulfill the requirements of paragraph 2 of this decision, and upon receipt of a copy of the court's recognition of the cessation of litigation.

In the case of Mark Shinn, it was decided “to recognize him in the rank of presbyter,” and in the matter of Hegumen Joachim (Parr), the Synod lifted his suspension from conducting services imposed upon him in 2001. These decisions will take effect upon the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion.

His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany and His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand reported on their meeting with His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate in January. Archbishop Mark also reported on his recent trip to the Holy Land and on the monasteries of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. Archbishop Kyrill and Bishop Michael reported on their archpastoral visits and on life in their dioceses.

Protopriest Andrei Sommer, Senior Priest of the Synodal Cathedral, made a presentation on the All-Diaspora Youth Pilgrimage and on the celebration of the 1600 th anniversary of St John Chrysostom, which will be held in St Louis, MO, in September.

The Synod of Bishops then examined the report of Protopriest John Shaw of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America on rite of the Divine Liturgy of Holy Apostle Mark. The Synod of Bishops deemed it beneficial to publish this rite and blessed for it to be celebrated in the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

Priest Serafim Gan reported on the proposed celebrations connected with the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion and the visit to Russia of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. The Synod made the following decision:

1) To approve the proposed program connected with the signing of the Act on Canonical Communion and the visit to Russia of a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus.

2) To send an official delegation to attend the ceremony of the Act on Canonical Communion headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, consisting of: His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America; His Grace Bishop Evtikhii of Ishim and Siberia; His Grace Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart; His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe; and His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America; the members of the Commission on talks with the Moscow Patriarchate: Archimandrite Luke (Murianka); Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff; Protopriest Nikolai Artemoff; members of the Pre-Council Committee of the IV All-Diaspora Council, Protopriest Victor Potapov; Protopriest Peter Perekrestov, Priest Serafim Gan, and also the Treasurer of the Synod of Bishops, Protopriest Peter Holodny.

Fr Serafim also reported on the proposed program of the celebrations of the 40 th anniversary of the episcopal consecration of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. On this matter, the following was decided:

1) To celebrate the 40 th anniversary of the episcopal consecration of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus on Monday, September 3, at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.

2) To charge Priest Serafim Gan and Protodeacon Victor Lochmatov with its organization.

3) At the end of the celebrations, to schedule a regular session of the Synod of Bishops, from September 4-6.

Then, hearing a proposal for the establishment of a Synodal Order of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign of three levels and regulations thereto, the Synod of Bishops decreed:

1) To establish a Synodal Order of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign in three levels (gold, silver and bronze).

2) To consider the Gold Synodal Order of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign the highest award in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

3) In connection with the celebration this year of the 40 th anniversary of the episcopal consecration of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, to award His Eminence with the Gold Synodal Order of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign. The awarding of this Order will be made during the celebration of this event.

The Synod of Bishops also approved an Epistle to the God-Loving Flock; considered the declaration of Tikhon Pasechnik, who calls himself “Archbishop of Omsk and Siberia;” and approved the following supplication during the augmented litany, which will be read during Divine Liturgy in the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia until the sixth Sunday of Pascha: “Bless oh Savior the good intentions, of thy servants, the Most Reverened Metropolitain Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, and his companions, and accept their prayers, grant them a spirit of wisdom and reason, place in their hearts a spirit of fear of Thee, a spirit of piety and zealousness for the glory of Thy Holy Name, in order that they may in a well-pleasing manner fulfill the task of building up the unity of the Holy Russian Church, as one Body of Christ. Grant them safe travel in the air and a safe return, hear and have mercy.”

During this meeting, Metropolitan Laurus and the reverend members of the Synod of Bishops blessed Peter A Fekula and the singers of the expanded choir of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia which will participate in the joint divine services connected with the signing of the Act on Canonical Communion. The Deputies of His Eminence, Archbishop Mark and Archbishop Hilarion, along with Fr Andrei Sommer and Assistant Treasurer of the Synod of Bishops Eugene Hrihoriak, then visited St Nicholas Patriarachal Cathedral and the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA. There, His Grace Bishop Merkury of Zaraisk gave the members of the Synod of bishops a set of Eucharist vessels as a symbol of his hope for the expedient overcoming of the eighty-year division among Russian Orthodox people, and also as a symbol of our desired unity at the Chalice of Christ.

Also attending the meeting on the part of the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA, its Secretary, Protopriest Alexander Abramov and Secretary of the Administrator of the Patriarchal parishes in the USA, Hieromonk Joseph (Kriukov).

The meeting of the Synod of Bishops ended with the singing of “Shine, shine.”