Meeting of the New York and Eastern America Diocese Synod March 15

March 215, 2011
St. Arsenius, Bishop of Tver

The meeting took place at the Tolstoy Foundation in Valley Cottage, New York.  The meeting of the Eastern America and New York and Syracuse-Nikolskiy Dioceses of the ROCA was chaired by the Most Reverend Metropolitan Agafangel, Chairman and First Hierarch of the ROCA, and was attended by: Archbishop Andronik, Bishop Joseph, Bishop georgiy, Archpriest Gregory Kotlaroff, Archpriest Vsevolod Dutikow, Fr. Andrew Kencis, Fr. Nikita Grigoriev, Fr. Daniel Meschter, Fr. Oleg Mironov, Hieromonk Makariy (Foster), Fr. John Hinton, Deacon Fr. Dimitriy Dobronravov, Mother Agapia (Stephanopoulos), Dimitri Gontscharow and Evgeniy Vernikovskiy.

The meeting began at 0900 with the prayer “O Heavenly King.”
The meeting accepted the following agenda:
1. Met. Agafangel’s report on matters in the ROCA.
a) On unity between the Local Jerusalem Church and the ROCA
b) On the matter of unifying the “fragments”
c) On relations with our Sister-Churches
d) On the possibility of establishing a residence at Mountain View
2. Reports by the pastors about their parishes.
a) On matters at the Boston parish
3. Report by the Diocesan Secretary.
4. Report by the Diocesan Treasurer.
5. Report by the Pilgrimage Coordinating Committee.
6. Report on the California Mission.
7. Discussion of publications and diocesan websites
a) Proposal to create a Missionary newsletter.
8. Report on the establishment of a correspondence seminary.
9. Discussion of the creation of a catechism for laypeople to include contemporary issues.
10. Other.
1. The Chairman expressed his pleasure that our Church’s overall condition is stable. Others are beginning to view us as the Russian Church Abroad from before, whose destruction was not achieved.  It is important for us that others are confirming who we are. An example is the recent telephone call with the Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos in which he underscored that he is well acquainted with developments in our Church and considers us the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and that he prays for us and has allowed our First Hierarch to commemorate him during the Great Entrance.
It is invaluable that the Patriarch confirmed the historic relations between our churches. The matter will be discussed during the Synod meeting to follow.
Decided: After a varied discussion, the information was taken under advisement and that a decision will be made by the Synod.
1. b) The Chairman noted that much was done to establish contact with the former members of the ROCA, but so far no one from the existing “fragments” has even agreed to talk about what has transpired and how to overcome it.
Bishop Joseph expressed the opinion that it is crucial that these attempts continue, since only through meeting in person may we find a way to come together.
Fr. Andrew spoke of his experience of speaking with parishioners from the “fragments” and his conclusion that they believe the ROCA should be made up of “old émigrés” and that the primary obstacle to our union is our relations with the Synod of Met. Cyprian.
The Chairman pointed out that our views are not exactly those of Met. Cyprian and that we continue the tradition of the ROCA of old, which held to the middle Royal path and avoided extremes.
After more discussion, Bishop Joseph offered to contact Bishop Stefan of the RTOC, who was present at the Vth Council, and invite him to the ROCA Synod session that follows the next day.
1. c) The Chairman said the matter of commemorating the Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos will be decided after consultations with our Sister-Churches.
1. d) The Chairman spoke of the initial agreement achieved between the Synod Chairman and the director of the corporation “Mountain View” George Lukin to develop and renovate the property “Mountain View” together. This will allow the ROCA Synod to establish a residence there. The agreement will be formalized legally and presented for review by the ROCA Synod. At the behest of the ROCA Synod, this matter will be handled by Dimitri Gontscharow.
2. The rectors told the meeting that all is well at their respective parishes.
2. b) Since Fr. Dmitry Amelchenko was not present at the meeting, discussion of the matter was shelved.
3. The Diocesan Secretary’s short statement was taken under advisement.
4. At the behest of the Diocesan Treasurer Alexander Renko, Dimitri Gontscharow provided the financial report and noted that all the parishes of the dioceses submit their tithes regularly and conscientiously. Travel expenses make up the bulk of outlays, but we are able to fund those for now.
Decided: To accept the report.
5. Archbishop Andronik informed the attendees on behalf of Tatyana Tkachenko that people continue to sign up for the pilgrimage. They have 19 interested parties so far, but not everyone has completed the
registration forms.
The Chairman noted that it might be better to merge the pilgrimage and youth committees and use one well-known address as a contact for anyone interested in either activity.
Decided: To assign Mother Agapia as a coordinator for pilgrimages.
6. Fr. Vsevolod reported he has had difficulties contacting Galina Volkova to organize church services in California. He believes that the hope that she will help in this matter will not be realized
Fr. Nikita offered to try to gather information on the faithful that have remained true to ROCA in California.
Decided: To include Fr. Nikita in the diocesan mission in California and continue attempts to organize church services in northern California.
7. Evgeniy Vernikovskiy reported on the status of the ROCA news site
and thanked John Herbst and Dimitri Gontscharow for their timely support and submission of subject matter.
The Chairman noted the importance of organizing more church sites in addition to the parish websites.
Decided: To ask Evgeniy Vernikovskiy to develop a website for the Eastern American & New York diocese and Fr. Oleg Mironov to create one for the Canadian diocese. It was suggested that the websites include parish directories, contact information and a list of clergy with short biographies. Photographs of the clergy and parishes should also be included wherever possible.
7. a) The Chairman explained Peter Nikolayevich Koltypin’s idea of creating a newsletter in color which would include news of the Church and would be distributed widely.
Decided: To ask Dimitri Gontscharow to meet with Peter Nikolayevich Koltypin and John Herbst to discuss the creation of such a publication.
8. The attendees discussed the important need for a correspondence seminary for the Eastern American & New York diocese. Bishop Joseph, Fr. Nikita and others had helpful opinions.
Bishop Joseph stressed that the seminary should be modeled after the Jordanville seminary of old, especially the textbooks used back then.
Decided: To ask the Synod to give its blessing for a seminary in the Eastern American & New York diocese. To ask the group of instructors headed by Archbishop Andronik to hold a meeting to organize the endeavor, plan out a course curriculum for the first year and hold entrance exams for the Seminary on September 16, 2011.
9. Fr. Andrew stressed the need to publish the Church’s official stand on current issues, for example organ donation, which is being heavily promoted in today’s society.  A lengthy discussion ensued.
10. Fr. Andrew reported that Fr. Elias Warnke’s health is declining further and asked everyone to keep Fr. Elias in their prayers.
The meeting concluded at 1600 with the prayer “It is Truly Meet…”
Meeting Chairman
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York
Meeting Secretary
Evgeniy Vernikovskiy