Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad


Odessa, December 6-8, 2007

 

 

Order of Business
Meeting of the ROCA PSEA on December 6-8, 2007

1. Chairman's report on the current state of affairs.
2. Status report for the dioceses and administrative districts.
3. Preparations for the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.
4. Regarding the canonization of Met. Philaret (Vosnesensky).
5. Relations with the Old Calendar Synod of Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria.
6. The legal status of the PSEA, the dioceses and administrative districts.
7. Financial report of the PSEA, the dioceses and administrative districts.
8. Financial report of the PSEA Treasurer.
9. Relations with those who left ROCOR before May 17, 2007.
10. Candidates for ordination as bishop.
11. Awards.
12. Date of next PSEA meeting.
13. Other.

 

***

 

An Appeal

of the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority

of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

December 6-8, 2007

 

Most reverend Archpriests, honorable Fathers, dear brothers and sisters!

 

    With God's blessing, the second, regularly scheduled meeting of the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad took place.  Above all else, it was devoted to the organizational plans in preparation for the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor planned for Autumn of 2008.  A Sobor Planning Commission was established, which was asked to handle all preliminary matters.

    This Sobor should free us from reinterpretations and distortions of the principles of life and service in the Church Abroad and lead to a stable development of Church life.  One of the main matters which we hope will be considered, is the canonization as a saint of the third Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Philaret (Vosnesenskiy), which many have asked for, and for which there have been many accounts of his divine intervention.  A special committee has been created for a thorough review of this matter.

    A report of the PSEA Chairman was given at this meeting of his visit to Greece from November 28 to December 3 and his involvement in the work of the Synod of Resistance of Metropolitan Cyprian.  We thank the members of this Synod for their willingness to participate in the restoration of the complete episcopate of our Church.  We believe that a new phase has now begun in our brotherly mutual relations, which will bring forth many beneficial results for the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and His holy Church.

    With the brotherly help of bishops of the Greek Synod of Resistance, two new bishops have been ordained for the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.  Our goal now is most certainly and assuredly to work hard to restore our spiritual home.

    In light of the approaching Vth All-Diaspora Sobor and our genuine desire to see the Church Abroad in a state of brotherly unity, made up of all those clergy and faithful who have remained devoted to it and who refused union with the Moscow Patriachate, we declare that we do not dare judge those who left the ROCOR Synod of Bishops before May 17 due to ecclesiological reasons, and call upon all faithful ROCA members to endeavor to restore the unity of the Church and participate in the collective efforts to prepare for the Sobor.

    We also offer to all RTOC members to stop all the rhetoric so injurious spiritually and the mutual accusations, return to the ranks of the ROCA, and receive the broad rights of autonomy (the boundaries of which have to be discussed and agreed upon).  Once brotherly relations are restored, we can then, by way of the canons and in unity, determine the standing and status of the parishes located in the Russian land.

    Similarly, we call upon our flock, and all those who have left us, to cease all mutual hostility, to douse the fire of passions, so that we can soberly consider the current situation in Russian Orthodoxy and do all that is possible from us to be faithful sons and daughters of our common Mother - the Local Russian Orthodox Church.

 

    + Agafangel, Bishop of Taurida and Odessa and ROCA PSEA Chairman

    + Andronik, Bishop of Richmond and New York and ROCA PSEA Deputy Chairman

    + Sofroniy,  Bishop of St. Petersburg and Northern Russia and PSEA member

    Archpriest Valeriy Kravits - PSEA member

    Fr. Vladimir Petrenko, standing in for PSEA member Archpriest George Petrenko

    Hieromonk John - PSEA member

 

***

Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority

Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

 

Meeting, December 6-8, 2007

Rectory of the Church of St. Michael in Odessa

 

Attendees:

PSEA Chairman – Most Reverend Agafangel, Bishop of Taurida and Odessa; Temporary Ruling Bishop of

Buenos Aires and the South American Diocese of the ROCA.

ROCA PSEA Members:

Archimandrite Andronik (Kotlaroff), Hegumen Sofroniy (Musienko), Hieromonk John (Smelic), Archpriest Valeriy Kravits, Fr. Vladimir Petrenko (substituting for Archpriest George Petrenko at his behest).

 

ROCA PSEA Secretary – Hieromonk Arseniy (Manko)

 

The meeting began at 10:00 AM with a singing of “O Heavenly King.”

 

Discussed:

The Chairman proposed the Agenda for the meeting of the PSEA (included in a separate document).

 

Decided:

The Agenda was approved as proposed, without any changes.

 

 

Discussed:

The Chairman’s report on the current state of affairs.

 

The Chairman pointed out the importance of tending to all the parts of the Church – the districts, dioceses, monasteries, parishes, clergy and parishioners – regardless how far away they are from the center of the Church.  He added that it is essential to establish a full church life as soon as possible throughout all the parts of the Church, which have been destabilized by the events leading to schism in ROCA on May 17th of this year.

 

The Chairman reported on his trip to Greece, accompanied by Archpriest Valery Alekseyev and Hieromonk John (Smelic).  The visit was at the invitation of the Holy Synod of the Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece under the leadership of Metropolitan Cyprian.  In the course of the visit, which was conducted in a spirit of Christian love and mutual respect, relations with the Synod of Resistance were elucidated completely and clearly.

 

The Chairman informed the Greek brothers in Christ of the status and goal of mutual relations between ROCA and the Russian True Orthodox Church.

 

In the course of the visit, it was also agreed and decided to have two bishops of the Synod of Resistance participate in the ordination of bishops during the course of the PSEA meeting, which is necessary for the restoration of the ROCA episcopate.

 

The Chairman remarked upon the unfortunate intensification of the schism in the Russian Church Abroad.  The letter of ROCOR(MP) Bishop Gabriel to Archpriest Vsevolod Dutikow was discussed.

 

The Chairman expressed his wish for neighborly relations with former members of ROCA.  The principle of finding reconciliation, and even agreement in certain matters, with former members of ROCA was stressed.

 

Decided:

Enter the Chairman’s report into the Minutes, and thank the Most Reverend Bishop Agafangel for his many efforts for the good of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.  Ask the Most Reverend Bishop Agafangel to relay our gratitude to the bishops of the Synod of Resistance and their God-protected flock for their support and brotherly love.

 

 

Discussed:

The current state of affairs in the administrative districts and dioceses.

 

The PSEA members discussed events that impact on the current religious life of our Church.

 

Archimandrite Andronik reported to the attendees that the central church office of the ROCA North American District has been established in Richmond Hill (State of New York, USA), where there is also an existing ROCA parish with a functioning church, all in a 3-storey building.  The church is on the first floor, while the trapeznaya, rooms for the Most Reverend, his office, and other necessary rooms are being renovated.

 

Archimandrite Andronik reported on clergy from various jurisdictions in the USA and Canada, who wish to join the ROCA.

 

Hegumen Sofroniy reported on matters in the St. Petersburg diocese and on a meeting of the diocese which occurred recently.  Unfortunately, he reports there is no building available for the parish in St. Petersburg.  Hegumen also reported that the Bogoyavlenskiy monastery was able to obtain from the government a large building (around 650 sq meters) not far from Pskov and has moved in.  Renovations of the church are underway and services are being held there, while the monastic cells and other rooms are being readied.

 

Hieromonk John reported on the growing impatience among the former ROCOR members in Australia towards our parishes, as well as the ones which remained under the control of Met. Lavr (ROCOR(MP)), and even those of the RTOC.  The Reverend explained that people in Australia have lost confidence in their priests and have stopped coming to church.  The Reverend added relations have improved with Australian parishes of the Synod of Resistance.

 

Hieromonk John reported on the possibility of establishing a convent in Melbourne in the near future.

 

Archpriest Valeriy reported on matters in the ROCA parishes in Russia.  The yearly, weekly and daily cycles of services were discussed, and the way in which one priest is tending to the needs of several parishes and isolated individuals located far from one another. The schedule of services in the Moscow parish was discussed separately.  Archpriest Valeriy reported it was difficult to contact Hieromonk Nikon either by telephone or any other way.  The Reverend shared his joy with the others of the establishment of a church in Voronezh and the commencement of services there.  They also discussed the difficulties of ROCA’s efforts in Voronezh, given the unpleasant actions of the RTOC towards ROCA.

 

The Chairman expressed his understanding of the difficulties of maintaining services at people’s house.

 

Fr. Vladimir reported on matters in the parishes in Brazil.  The Reverend spoke of the difficulties of maintaining Russian parishes in South America and of relations with the parishioners.  The possible visit of ROCOR(MP) bishops to Brazil was discussed.  The Reverend also presented a letter to the PSEA from the priests in Argentina (the document is included in the Minutes).

 

The Chairman asked about the state of the mission in the Holy Land.

 

Decided:

Approve the establishment of a church office for the North America district in the city of Richmond Hill, State of New York, USA.  Designate this city to be the residence of the future Bishop Andronik.  Along with that, change the earlier decision regarding the title of the future bishop and change it to “Richmondskiy i Nyu Yorskiy” (based on the city where he will be located and the state). 

 

Thank Hegumen Sofroniy and the brothers of the Bogoyavlenskiy monastery for their efforts.

 

Bless the increased missionary activity among the Russian populations of South America and Australia.

 

Instruct the clergy and laypeople to treat the former bishops of ROCA with patience and respect, in case they arrive for a visit, but to not concelebrate in any church service with them.

 

Decided to make all efforts to establish church services in the Holy Land.

 

Decided to hold diocesan meetings of the districts twice a year; once during Great Lent and once in the Fall.

 

 

Discussed:

Preparations for the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.

 

The Chairman spoke of the problems organizing the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.

 

Decided:

Make all attempts to convene the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor in the Fall of 2008.  The exact date and location of the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor will be decided later.

Organize a Pre-Sobor Committee to make preparations for the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor, to include:

The Pre-Sobor Committee Chairman - the PSEA Chairman, Bishop Agafangel of Taurida and Odessa.

Members of the Pre-Sobor Committee:

- Members of the ROCA PSEA – Bishop Andronik, Bishop Sofroniy, Hegumen John, Archpriest George, Archpriest Valeriy;

- Hegumen Georgiy (Kravchenko), Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev, Archpriest Igor Hrebinka, Archpriest Vsevolod Dutikow, Archpriest Konstantin Busygin, Hieromonk Arseniy (Manko), Fr, Leonid Plyats, Fr. Victor Dobroff, Fr. Vladimir Petrenko, Fr. Aleksandr Ivashevich.

- Dimitri Gontscharow, Nikolai Tchertkoff, Mark Kotlaroff, Alexander Khitrov.

 

Determine the plan of action for the Pre-Sobor Committee.  Require the Pre-Sobor Committee to meet no less than four times before the Sobor.

 

Establish the following sub-committees to the Pre-Sobor Committee:

-         Administrative/organizational, responsible for the organization and convening of the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor, along with all administrative and financial details.

-         Liturgical/Canonical, responsible for presenting an evaluation at the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor of the actions of the ROCOR hierarchy from the beginning of the 1990’s to May 17, 2007, and also for conducting services during the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.

-         Secretariat, responsible for creating the Charter of the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor, its agenda, and provide necessary materials to be used during the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor, along with collecting necessary information in the period before the Sobor.

 

The Chairman of the administrative/organizational committee will be Bishop Andronik.  Committee members – Hegumen John Smelic, Archpriest Vsevolod Dutikow, Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, Archpriest Valeriy Kravits, Fr. Vladimir Petrenko, Fr. Aleksandr Ivashevich, Dimitri Gontscharow, Nikolai Tchertkoff, Mark Kotlaroff.

 

The Chairman of the Liturgical/Canonical committee will be Bishop Sofroniy.  Committee members – Hegumen Georgiy (Kravchenko), Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev, Archpriest Igor Hrebinka, Archpriest Konstantin Busygin, Fr. Leonid Plyats, Fr. Victor Dobroff, Alexander Khitrov.

 

Resolved that the Secretary will answer to the Chairman of the Pre-Sobor Committee, the ROCA PSEA Chairman, the Most Reverend Agafangel, Bishop of Taurida and Odessa.  Resolved that Hieromonk Arseniy (Manko) will be the Secretary of the Pre-Sobor Committee.

 

 

Discussed:

The proposal to canonize Metropolitan Philaret (Vosnesensky).

 

The Chairman spoke of the many requests from ROCA members to canonize Metropolitan Philaret (Vosnesensky).  The group discussed the Chairman’s remarks and reviewed the submitted information.

 

Decided:

Agreed that the time has come for a comprehensive consideration of the proposal for the canonization of Metropolitan Philaret (Vosnesensky). 

A committee to explore this matter was formed:

Committee Chairman – Bishop Andronik.

Committee Members – Archpriest Gregoriy Kotlaroff, Archpriest Igor Hrebinka, Archpriest Vsevolod Dutikow, Fr. Sergey Klestov, Fr. Aleksiy Mikrikov.

This committee has been asked to prepare, as much as possible, all documentation before the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor and submit it to the Pre-Sobor Committee.

 

 

Discussed:

Relations with the Old Calendar churches of Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria.

 

The Chairman reported on the status and nature of relations with the Old Calendar churches of Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria.  The Chairman read the Act signed during Vladyka’s recent visit to Greece (the document is attached to the Minutes).  Vladyka also shared some of the other official and unofficial documents on this subject.

 

Decided:

The PSEA members unanimously approved the Act and gave thanks to our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ for his many blessings, as seen in the brotherly relations with the Synod of Resistance in Greece and the Old Calendar churches of Romania and Bulgaria.

 

To send a letter to the Synod of Resistance expressing sincere gratitude for the invaluable help given in this critical moment in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.  Preparing the letter was assigned to the ROCA PSEA Chairman and the newly-ordained bishops.

 

 

Discussed:

Regarding the legal status of the ROCA’s PSEA, districts, and dioceses.

 

The Chairman spoke of the possibility of full legal status after the actual creation of the ROCA Synod of Bishops, which should exist by the end of the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.  Vladyka pointed out that, at a minimum, there are two ways to resolve the question of registration, depending on the results of talks with lawyers regarding the property of ROCA before the schism of May 17, 2007.

 

The Chairman said it is essential to consider the parishes without priests and to organize services at such locations.  Also, priests not assigned to parishes, monasteries, or church organizations should immediately get involved.

 

Bishop Andronik proposed to change the name of the administrative district to which he is assigned.

 

 

Decided:

Continue talks with lawyers regarding property and registration.  Managing these efforts should be assigned to the PSEA Chairman, the bishops of the various dioceses (districts), and the diocesan (district) administrators.

 

The bishops of the various dioceses (districts), and the diocesan (district) administrators are required to submit to the PSEA a detailed list every month of all the parishes, monastic groups, church organizations and individual faithful ROCA members that are not included in the new church structure, so that services and pastoral care can be afforded to them.

 

The bishops of the various dioceses (districts), and the diocesan (district) administrators are required to submit to the PSEA a detailed list every month of all the clergy not assigned to parishes, monasteries, or church organizations, in order to determine the nature of their service to the church.

 

To change the name of the administrative district assigned to Bishop Andronik to “North America and Canada.”

 

 

Discussed:

The financial status of the PSEA, administrative districts, and dioceses.

 

The Chairman spoke of the absolute necessity of improving the way in which parishes, dioceses, and church centers are financed.

 

The attendees discussed ways in which this could be accomplished.  They proposed that parishes and church organizations which are unable to sufficiently support their clergy and are unable to make contributions to the their dioceses, should be considered, in time, as missionary entities requiring financial aid from the general fund of the church or specials funds of the ROCA Missions.

 

Decided:

The bishops of the various dioceses (districts), and the diocesan (district) administrators will explain to the parishes, monasteries, and church organizations how a structured approach needs to be established to fund the general needs of church through voluntary donations to the diocesan accounts.

 

The parishes, dioceses, and church centers will make monthly donations to support the PSEA, with the amounts decided monthly, along with notifying the PSEA Chairman.  Contributions will begin as of December of this year.

 

 

Discussed:

Treasurer’s report.

 

The Chairman presented the report, since the insignificant amounts transferred to the PSEA were received only from the church communities in Odessa, Ukraine, and Washington, DC, USA.

 

Decided:

Accept and approve the report.

 

 

Discussed:

Relations between ROCA and the church jurisdictions which separated from ROCA before May 17, 2007.

 

In light of the grave importance of this matter, it was discussed with the participation of the delegates from the Synod of Resistance in Greece – Bishop Georgiy of Alani and Bishop Ambrose of Methone.

 

The discussion was started by listening to a presentation from Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev (the document is attached to the Minutes).

 

The Chairman spoke of relations with the so-called “fragments of ROCA.”  Vladyka told the attendees that in his opinion, it is not possible in good conscience to judge those, who because of their opposition to the decision of the ROCOR Synod to prematurely join with the Moscow Patriarchate, left the Synod led by Metropolitan Lavr before May 17, 2007.  Nevertheless, Vladyka spoke of the need to not make any ecclesiastical compromises which may lead to irreversible damage to ROCA itself.  In part, this relates to the impossibility of recognizing the RTOC as the heir of the catacomb part of the Russian Local Church or its church structure, which was derived from ROCA.  The Chairman suggested voting on a proposal to establish relations with the RTOC and its clergy with the RTOC becoming once again a Bishops Council within ROCA, whose status will be determined at the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.

 

Vladyka Agafangel explained to the attendees the history and activities of the former Bishops Council of Russian Bishops.

 

Fr. Vladimir noted, speaking on behalf of the clergy of South America, that great caution must be exercised towards those who left ROCA before May 17, 2007, as their actions have significantly damaged the ROCA parishes of Brazil and Argentina.  Fr. Vladimir said the canons of the Church must be strictly followed when considering joining ROCA to any other Orthodox jurisdiction or bishops.

 

Fr. Vladimir proposed that after the 3-member ROCA episcopate is restored through the bishops’ ordinations during the PSEA meeting, that a letter be written to all those who left ROCA prematurely, explaining that the seemingly unsettled transition period is over.

 

The Chairman disagreed, saying that in his opinion, it is not possible or proper to address clergy or laypeople of other jurisdictions directly, thus bypassing the episcopate they chose of their own volition.

 

Decided:

Accept Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev’s report into the Minutes and thank him for his efforts.

 

Regarding relations with the RTOC, to propose restoring the RTOC to a Bishops Council within ROCA, whose status will be determined at the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.

 

Regarding relations with the ROAC, it was decided that the ROCA PSEA is prepared to create a committee to consider normalizing relations with them, if they express a desire to do so.

 

Regarding relations with ROCOR(V), it was decided to propose a meeting between their representatives and ROCA bishops to discuss how to normalize relations between the two groups.

 

Regarding relations with RusOC, under the leadership of Metropolitan Anthony (Orlov), it was decided to propose a meeting between their representatives and ROCA bishops to discuss how to merge them with ROCA.

 

Regarding relations with the groups belonging to Damascene (Balabanov) and John (Zinoviev) and their followers, it was decided that it is not possible for ROCA to recognize their religious activities, though this does not preclude the possibility of their personal repentance for the sake of their souls.

 

On the matter of relations with other religious groups, it is not possible at this time, especially in light of all the after-effects of the crisis on May 17, 2007, for ROCA to come to any decision.  Nevertheless, the ROCA hierarchy remains ready to consider any request received by them.

 

 

Discussed:

Regarding candidates for ordination as bishop.

 

A report of the Chairman was heard regarding the candidates proposed for ordination as bishop.

 

Decided:

To accept the nomination of Archpriest Igor Hrebinka as a candidate, which was put forth at a meeting of the North American district.  Archpriest Igor will be invited to a future PSEA meeting for further discussion.  The date and place of his ordination, as well as his future assignment, will be decided later.  The Most Reverend Bishop Andronik was asked to conduct the rite to grant Archpriest Igor to wear a mandya.

 

It was decided that only candidates proposed by administrative districts, dioceses, or church organizations for ordination as bishop will be considered.  Any candidates proposed by individuals will not be considered.

 

 

Discussed:

Awards to be given to clergy.

 

Entered all proposed awards to be given by the church to date into the Minutes.

 

Decided:

To award:

- Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev the right to wear a mitre;

- Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko the right to wear a mitre;

- Hieromonk John (Smelic) with elevation to Hegumen;

- Fr. Roman Kravts with elevation to Archpriest and the right to wear a pectoral cross;

- Fr. Leonid Plyats with the right to wear a pectoral cross;

- Protodeacon Job Chemerev the right to wear a kamilavka;

- Deacon Yevgeniy Brag the right to wear a double orarion;

 

 

Discussed:

The date and location of the next meeting of the ROCA PSEA.

 

Decided:

The next meeting of the ROCA PSEA will be held on May 13-14, 2008, in the city of Richmond Hill, State of New York, USA.

 

 

The meeting ended at 15:00 on December 8, 2007, with the singing of the prayer “It is Truly Meet…”

 

            Chairman of the ROCA PSEA, Bishop of Taurida and Odessa + Agafangel

 

            Vice Chairman of the PSEA, Bishop of Richmond and New York + Andronik

 

            Member of the PSEA, Bishop of St. Petersburg and Northern Russia + Sofroniy

 

            Member of the PSEA, Archpriest Valeriy Kravits

 

            Substituting for PSEA member Archpriest George Petrenko, Fr. Vladimir Petrenko

 

            Member of the PSEA, Hieromonk John

 

            PSEA Secretary, Hieromonk Arseniy