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MOSCOW: July 8, 2008
The Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Hosts an Introductory Reception

On June 26, 2008, after a regular meeting of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia hosted a reception to mark the first ever participation of the Church Abroad in the Council of Bishops of our Church. The evening was organized by Rostislav Ordovsky-Tanaevsky Blanco. Some one hundred eminent clergymen and representatives of government and social organizations attended. The event was covered by two leading television channels, ORT and "Rossiya." 
 
His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion gave a speech at the dinner, during which he said:

"The faithful flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, our fathers  and mothers, and we, their children and grandchildren, always believed that even  in the most difficult years of our 'Babylonian captivity,' our suffering Homeland  lived on. We prayed fervently, and impatiently awaited the day when we could  join the spiritual renewal of Russia, not from a distance, but in person.

"The profound changes in Russia in recent years have led to the momentous day  when the historically separated but spiritually united parts of the Russian  Orthodox Church joined for the great mission of Orthodox rebirth. The  reestablishment of unity in May of last year gives our much-suffering people an  opportunity to occupy its deserved place in the family of Christian peoples. 
 
  "As far back as 1938, our holy hierarch of the diaspora, St John of Shanghai,  wrote that 'Russians abroad are given to shine the light of Orthodoxy throughout  the world, that other nations, seeing their good works, would glorify our Father,  Who art in Heaven, and thereby bring down for themselves salvation.'

"The parishes of the Russian Church Abroad, its schools and organizations, serve  towards the glory of God and represent our historical Homeland in its best light in  the West. We are prepared to continue to labor in the harvest-fields of Christ and  provide spiritual nourishment for the thousands of our compatriots who for one  reason or another find themselves in the emigration.

"In May, 2006, the IV All-Diaspora Council convened in San Francisco. The first  point of order for this most important Council was the matter of our relationship  with the Church in Russia. The second was the matter of the future of our Church  in the diaspora, with special attention paid to our youth and the problems they  face in modern society.  
 
"Through the boundless mercy of God and thanks to the spiritual leadership and  righteous efforts of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and of our Primate of blessed  memory, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, the painful division between the  two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church were, through the signing of the Act of  Canonical Communion, finally overcome, and the process of healing wounds  began.

"A necessary part of this healing process is working with our youth.

"By decision of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside  of Russia held last May, the first Sunday after Pentecost shall henceforth be  celebrated as the Day of Youth of the Russian Church Abroad. The goal will be to  encompass all three basic socio-cultural groups of youth of our Holy Church:  young people born in Russia, those born abroad and those who convert to  Orthodoxy from the countries where ROCOR exists. The program of the Day of  Youth will be organized with the aim of attracting youth who are on the perimeter  of church life, yet who appreciate Russian culture and its legacy, which are  infused with the spirit of Holy Russia.

"We must do everything possible to bring together Russian youth in Russia and in  the West. I am convinced that the most effective way of preserving the  Russianness of our youth in the West is to show them a renascent Russia. For  youth in Russia to visit church groups in the diaspora along with their youth can  help them love their native culture and the Orthodox faith even more.

"During the opening of the Council of Bishops, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy said  that 'the mission of the Church was always difficult. But from the day of the  Pentecost to this day, through the power, the force and the coming down of the  Holy Spirit, She unfailingly pronounces the truth of the Resurrected Christ even  unto the uttermost part of the earth' (Acts 1:8). 

"We believe that the Holy Spirit shall not abandon us. We are ready to work, but  we need your help."

Protopriest Victor Potapov, Executive Director of the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, reported to the guests that in May, 2008, the FfA was granted the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia to continue its work. In his speech, Fr Victor said:

"Our spiritual leaders constantly reminded the emigres, their children and  grandchildren the idea proposed by Ivan Ilyin, according to which 'each of us  must feel himself a representative of Russia, her ways, her values, her character.  Each must remember that other peoples judge all of Russia through us… In this  little way, each contributes to the mission of the Russian emigration.' 

"Our emigre clergymen in fact would love to say 'we are not in exile, but on a  mission.' 

"The history of the Russian Church Abroad has shown that this mission has  proven fruitful. Ministering to many thousands of faithful scattered throughout the  world was and remains the chief goal of our Church; bringing the Orthodox faith  to the West is another goal, and this mission has found success, attested to by the  fact that among the episcopacy and clergy of our Church are people of many  nationalities who adopted our faith. 
 
  "For over 80 years of its existence, ROCOR amassed a great deal of invaluable  experience for Russian Orthodoxy abroad. This experience is needed not only for  the ROCOR flock, but it is needed for Russia and for hundreds of thousands of  our compatriots. 

"In recent years, there has been a significant influx of new parishioners in our  church communities abroad and the level of their religiosity has increased, since  the Church is becoming the center where living spiritual communion between  people occurs. Many examples illustrate how people who were initially cool to  religion, having arrived in the West, became church members. 

"In this regard, the canonical communion achieved in 2007 between the Moscow  Patriarchate and the Church Abroad can become a very important resource for  Russia. Each parish, even where divine services are conducted in another  language, witness through their proximity to the Russian Orthodox tradition the  rich traditions of the Russian Church and the spiritual grandeur of historical  Russia before the heterodox world. But in order to exploit this resource, we must  join the forces of clergymen, social and political leaders and sponsors both in  Russia and in the diaspora." 
 
Fr Victor further reminded the audience of the main goal of the Fund: "To raise funds in order to provide financial support to initiatives of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia whose sole purpose and aim is to propagate the Holy Orthodox faith, spiritually educate and care for Church members, support clergy and maintain its holiest places and houses of worship." 
 
"The Fund for Assistance to ROCOR is prepared to consider other projects aimed at strengthening Russian spiritual values and to collaborate with church, cultural and educational organizations in Russia to develop and strengthen the unity of our Church and people," concluded Fr Victor.