Meeting of the ROCOR(A) Synod March 16/17

A very interesting meeting…. NFTU

Minutes No. 1

A Meeting of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
March 316, 2011

Martyr Eutropius of Amasea, and with him Martyrs Cleonicus and Basiliscus

The meeting was held on the grounds of the Tolstoy Foundation in Valley Cottage, New York. The meeting began at 15:20 with the prayer “O Heavenly King.”
The meeting of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was chaired by the Most Reverend Metropolitan Agafangel, Chairman and First Hierarch of the ROCA, and attended by: Archbishop Andronik of Nikolskiy and Syracuse, Archbishop Sofroniy of St. Petersburg and Northern Russia, Bishop
Georgiy of Bolgrad and Belgorod-Dnestrovsk and Synod Secretary, Bishop Afanasiy of Vologodsk and Velikoustyuzhsk and Bishop Gregory of Sao Paulo and South America.

The Synod approved the agenda of the meeting:
1. Chairman’s report.
2. Discuss attempts to disrupt the unity of the Church.
3. Discuss the determinations of the ROCA Bishops’ Councils of 1934 and 1959.
4. Discuss the Synod residence.
5. Discuss the Jerusalem Orthodox Church.
6. Discuss contacts from other jurisdictions.
7. Discuss request from clergyman Nikolay Mogabadze to join the ROCA.
8. Discuss relations with our Sister Churches.
9. Discuss proposal to establish a correspondence seminary in the New York Diocese.
10. Discuss the borders of the dioceses.
11. Discuss the standardization of liturgical practices.
12. Discuss status of delegates to the All-Diaspora Council.
13. Financial report.
14. Other.

1. The Chairman read a report of the current status of the ROCA since the previous meeting of the Synod (see attachment 1).
Decided: The report was accepted.

2. His Eminence informed the Synod that some of the bishops and clergy have been contacted by representatives of the MP for them to cross over to their jurisdiction. He cited several examples and proposed to issue a letter to the flock with the goal of warning them of the possibility of similar contacts. The Chairman read a draft of the letter.

Decided: to accept the draft and publish “A Letter to the Faithful Members of the Russian Church Abroad.”

3. The Chairman read a portion of the statement of the ROCA Bishops’ Council of 1959 which was found in the archives (Minutes No. 2, paragraph 18 (see attachment 2)) and pointed out to the Synod that this statement confirms the correctness of the actions taken by those who remained loyal to the ROCA after May 17, 2007. Decided: To accept and use as a reference the statement from August 31, 1934, which was confirmed by the ROCA Council in 1959.

4. The Chairman provided the Synod a status of talks between the Synod Chairman and George Lukin, the director of the corporation “Mountain View,” to use the center together and develop it further, which will give the ROCA Synod an opportunity to have a primary residence there. The initial agreements will be codified legally shortly. The goal will be for the Synod to provide funds supplied by its members to develop the property, which will be used by both entities.

The Chairman said this was an important step forward and explained that the Synod residence should not be considered part of any canonical diocese, and added that he and Bishop Andronik agreed on this aspect. Archbishop Sofroniy proposed consecrating the main church in honor of the “Kursk” Mother of God icon. The Chairman and others proposed to consecrate it in honor of Holy Metropolitan Philaret. The Chairman proposed a further discussion and to decide when to consecrate the church. A lively interchange followed.

Decided: To ask Dimitri Gontscharow to draft a legal agreement with the firm “Mountain View”, whose terms will be approved by the Synod. To establish a journal, which could be used for legal purposes, listing donations for the creation of a Synod residence. To consecrate the church in honor of Holy Metropolitan Philaret of Eastern America and New York. To announce plans to consecrate the church with an attendant reception onNovember 19, 2011. To have the residence sign read, “Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox ChurchAbroad.”

The Chairman noted the importance of having an administrative assistant on site to answer phones and correspondence.

Decided: To agree on the importance of identifying a suitable administrative assistant and to allow the Chairman to make the final selection.

5. The Chairman reported on his telephone conversation with the Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos. His Eminence noted the importance of this discussion, since it is not enough what we declare about ourselves, but also what statements others make about us. We have the canonical right to support Patriarch Irineos since he does not recognize the decision to depose him, which gives us the opportunity to continue relations with him that were established previously between our Churches. We believe he was deposed as a result of his anti-ecumenical stand, his disagreement with the union of the ROCA with the Moscow Patriarchate and other disagreements he had with official bodies representing so-called “World Orthodoxy.”
The Chairman provided a letter he received from the Synod of Metropolitan Cyprian regarding their views on the possible re-establishment of relations between the ROCA Synod and Patriarch Irineos, as well as his response. (See attachments No. 3 and No. 4.)
The Synod discussed possible actions in support of Patriarch Irineos. A draft of a letter from the ROCA Bishops’ Council to Patriarch Irineos was considered.

Decided: The Synod is pleased that good relations, which existed for many years, have remained between the ROCA and Patriarch Irineos. The question of the commemoration of the Jerusalem Patriarch will be decided only after discussing it with our Old Calendar Sister Churches. To send a letter to Patriarch Irineos from the ROCA Synod (see attachment No. 5.)

6. The Chairman proposed establishing a standard response to requests from those in other jurisdictions seeking to establish relations with the ROCA. A lively discussion followed.

Decided: The Synod will consider such requests in light of the status of those making such requests.

Metropolitan Agafangel spoke of their opinion of the group led by Vladimir Tselishchev and others who belong to the so-called “Metropolitan Vitaliy” group.
Decided: In light of newly-revealed facts, to not recognize the consecrations of all the bishops in this group, as well as any clergy consecrated by them.

The first day concluded at 20:00 with the prayer “It is Truly Meet…”