DIOCESE OF EASTERN AMERICA AND NEW YORK: October 31, 2007
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus Heads Celebrations of the 100 th Anniversary of the I All-American Council at St John the Forerunner Cathedral
On October 28, 2007, celebrations were held at St John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA, on the 100 th anniversary of the First All-American Church Council, which was held at this church and presided over by Archbishop Tikhon (Belavin), who later became Patriarch Tikhon of All Russia the New Martyr and Confessor. Having celebrated Divine Liturgy at the cathedral with Mitred Protopriest John Sorochka and the clergymen of the Pennsylvania Deanery, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, addressed the worshipers in a sermon, during which he said:
"Today, dear in the Lord brothers and sisters, we celebrate a joyous occasion which took place one hundred years ago here in Mayfield. On February 20, 21, 22, and 28, 1907, the First All-American Council of the Russian Orthodox Diocese in America was convened.
The council was convened with the blessing of Archbishop Tikhon, who at that time headed the American Diocese. Participating in this Council was also the renowned Protopresbyter Alexander Khotovitsky.
"The sessions were preceded by a moleben sung in this holy church, dedicated to the Holy Prophet and Forerunner John, by Archbishop Tikhon all those who had come for the council. The main purpose of the council was to bring order to the life of the diocese. The sessions concluded with the announcement by Archbishop Tikhon that he was being summoned back to Russia where the assignment to the diocese of Yaroslavl awaited him. This announcement greatly sorrowed all the participants of the Council.
"Fulfilling the will of the Most Holy Synod, Archbishop Tikhon began to prepare for his departure for Russia. The situation in the world was extremely strained, and soon the First World War began. Russia came to the defense of our Orthodox brothers the Serbs.
Unfortunately, the situation in Russia was also very uneasy, which led, as you all know, to an uprising in Russia, which in turn brought Russia to complete destruction, to revolution, where the atheistic communists grabbed power.
"Up until the Revolution, the Russian Orthodox Church in North America tried to have all the Orthodox peoples represented by their own hierarchs, who in turn became part of the episcopacy of the Russian Orthodox Church. In this way they were able to preserve the principle of one canonical territory and avoid the sad situation where several Orthodox hierarchs have the title of the same city. Unfortunately, the Russian revolution did not allow this plan to be fulfilled.
"But the lively conciliar work in North America was very helpful for organizing and planning the All-Russian Local Council in Russia, and in 1917-1918, the All-Russian Local Council was convened. At this council, Archbishop Tikhon was chosen to be the Patriarch, who later suffered greatly and died in 1925, seemingly poisoned by the atheists.
"And so, today we are praying here in this holy church where one hundred years ago St Tikhon prayed, along with the clergy and the faithful who were your ancestors, your relatives and parishioners of the church. We rejoice, I repeat, that we have gathered here to celebrate the work of St Tikhon and his fellow archpastors and pastors, and we prayerfully ask for their intercessions and for strength in our work and striving to establish our Holy Orthodox Faith here and in the entire world.
"I sincerely congratulate Archpriest John and the clergy, and all of you, dear brothers and sisters, with the great feast today! Amen."
Speaking during the festive trapeza organized by the Cathedral Sisterhood were Fr John and Alexei Liberovsky, who delivered a lecture on the I All-American Church Council ( www.oca.org ), and others.