NEW YORK: October 10, 2008
Epistle of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia at the Commencement of the "Days of Russian Spiritual Culture" in Latin America 

Dear fathers, brethren, sisters and children, beloved in the Lord! 

Last year, the Lord, in His goodness, granted that we were able to experience the joy of the restoration of the fullness of fraternal fellowship within the one Russian Orthodox Church in the heart of our homeland, Moscow, at a time when the Holy Church was hymning Christ the Savior, Who ascended to the throne of God and reconciled heaven and earth. 

We later noted this joy in the several of the dioceses of the Russian Church Abroad to which the "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God was brought, in company with an official delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate and the choir of Moscow's Sretensky Stavropighial Monastery.  Addressing the clergy and flock of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Laurus, who has since reposed in blessedness, called these solemnities "a happy event for the increase of our efforts, so bestowed that the gifts of grace of the risen and ascended Lord might be worthily received."  This year, within the context of the celebration of the "Days of Russian Spiritual Culture," this same great holy object of the Russian Orthodox Church will be brought to our parishes in Latin America, likewise accompanied by a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church, one of whose members will be the newly-consecrated Bishop John of Caracas, as well as the singers of the aforementioned monastery choir. 

I hope and believe that this journey will have a beneficial influence upon the further development and deepening of our unity and shared service to God and the people.  For the Lord desired this and prayed to His heavenly Father especially for this, that all of His followers might be "one flock under rule of Him", the "one Shepherd" (John 10:16).  For this reason, I call upon everyone to pray before the "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God, to take part in the concelebrated divine services, to receive communion of the holy Mysteries of Christ, to avail themselves of the opportunity of sharing in fellowship with our compatriots, to learn more about the situation of the Church in Russia, and to listen to the compunctionate hymnody of the choir.  Then we will be able worthily to receive the gracious gifts of the risen and ascended Lord, His mercies and blessings, during these festal days.  Amen. 

With love in the Lord and a request for your prayers, 

Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia 
October, 2008