ARCHPASTORAL EPISTLE

to the Clergy and Laypeople of the North American Administrative District

of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

 

Esteemed fathers, dear brothers and sisters in the Lord!

 

Apparently, our Christian way of life is not sufficiently pure or filled with love towards God, as it allowed the events of recent days to trouble our quiet and peaceful existence.

 

A spirit of disobedience and a refusal to repent has captured our brother in Christ, Fr. Sergey Serzhanov, which has led him to be like the seed which fell on rocky soil (Matthew 13:5). As a result, he deemed it necessary to abandon the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, a church in which he studied and was worthy of becoming a priest, to seek other altars. A decision he made known to us by a letter on April 18 of this year.

 

Having endured with us the many hardships and been like-minded throughout the numerous trials that our Holy Church has experienced, the dear father was unable to bear the burden of the difficult battle for the salvation of his own soul. He was unable to remain obedient to his own bishop, and was unable to place the salvific nature of our Church, though he spoke of it himself so often, above his own ambitions.

 

We prefer not to believe that we shared the Body and Blood of Christ for so long with a person for whom the possibility of achieving earthly blessings is more important than the Life-saving Sacrifice. We believe that a time of temptation has befallen our brother in Christ and remember that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

 

We see no point in imposing new censures on Fr. Sergey Serzhanov for his actions, as his leaving the body of our Church Abroad is in of itself a worse punishment than any imposed by man, and it is far worse than any restrictions placed on him earlier by any bishops.

 

We are surprised by the actions of the church administration of the ROAC jurisdiction, which accepts a censured cleric of the ROCA without him having a letter of release. Though this practice occurred in rare instances when a cleric from the Moscow Patriarchate was accepted, it was because there was no hope of expecting a fair ruling from its spiritual court. In contrast, a legal investigation by a Spiritual Court had been initiated in accordance with the canons of the Orthodox Church and the documents of the ROCA to examine certain aspects of Fr. Sergeys actions as a cleric. Alas, now it is necessary to isolate the wound, which could not be treated.

 

In accordance with the facts presented above, we announce to all the faithful members of the ROCA, that Fr. Sergey Serzhanov, who was prohibited to serve as a priest since March 16/3, 2008, is no longer a member of or a pastor in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

 

All services by this individual cannot and will not be considered by the ROCA church administration as divine services.

 

The clergy and flock of the ROCA North American District should not participate or be present in such false services.

 

For the sake of our concern for his spiritual well-being, Fr. Sergey Serzhanov is given one year to battle the temptation that has afflicted him and to return before the Spiritual Court, which was convened earlier by us.

 

We will offer our prayers for the blessed intercession of God to help Fr. Sergey in his spiritual misfortune.

Humble Servant

+Andronik

Bishop of Richmond Hill and New York

April 18, 2008, New York