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NEW YORK: June 15, 2012
A Session of the Synod of Bishops is Held

On Thursday, June 14, 2012, a regular conference of the Synod of Bishops was held, chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. This session included the participation of His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America; His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada; and His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America.

Metropolitan Hilarion opened the session by congratulating his fellow hierarchs on the recent holidays and the beginning of lent. His Eminence then reported on his recent visit to Russia, where he participated in ceremonies, celebrations and meetings devoted to the fifth anniversary of the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Orthodox Church. The delegation accompanying the First Hierarch included members of the Committee on Strengthening Church Unity, which had convened on Wednesday, May 16: Archbishop Mark, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe, Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Protopriest Andrew Philipps and Protopriest Serafim Gan. The members exchanged information on progress made on prior decisions reached at last November’s meeting, and discussed organizing a conference of bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church who serve outside of the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. The conference, devoted to the fifth anniversary of the reestablishment of the fullness of brotherly communion within the Russian Orthodox Church, will be held on October 18-20 in London and will conclude with joint celebration of Divine Liturgy. Ongoing matters pertaining to cooperative efforts in celebrating the fifth anniversary of the transitional period as described in the Addendum to the Act of Canonical Communion on the local level were covered.

From May 17-25, the delegation of the Russian Church Abroad visited Diveevo Convent, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow and St Petersburg. They participated in patriarchal services on the feast day of the New Martyrs of Butovo on  May 19 at Butovo Compound under the open skies, and on May 20, concelebrated in a divine service with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Christ the Savior Cathedral. Special litanies were intoned during Divine Liturgy for the souls of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of blessed memory, and a moleben of gratitude for the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Church.

That day, Patriarch Kirill met with Metropolitan Hilarion and the hierarchs and clergymen of the Russian Church Abroad, and with a group created with the blessing of His Holiness charged with discussing strengthening ecclesial unity.

Thereafter, in the Hall of Church Councils at Christ the Savior Cathedral, a ceremony was held to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the reestablishment of unity within the Local Russian Church.

On May 21, in Epiphany Patriarchal Cathedral in Elokhovo, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill performed a commemorative litiya for Patriarch Alexy and Metropolitan Laurus, at which the delegation of the Russian Church Abroad prayed.

Having heard the Primate’s report, the Synod of Bishops expressed their profound gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill for his sensitivity to the problems facing the Russian diaspora, his warm hospitality and paternal care, and also to His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir of St Petersburg and Ladoga and His Eminence Metropolitan Georgy of Nizhny Novgorod and Arzamas for the kind attention and fraternal greeting they offered the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad and his delegation. Metropolitan Hilarion also proposed expressing thanks to His Grace Bishop Evtikhy (Kurochkin), who recently retired and settled in the city of Ishim, for his many years of service to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, ministering to its parishes in Russia which have now joined the jurisdictions of the local ruling bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Archbishop Mark reported on the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem and the poor health of its Chief, Archimandrite Tikhon (Amelchenya).

The archpastors discussed Dormition Church in Casablanca, Morocco, making the decision to make a concerted effort to preserve this church from destruction and its return to its rightful owner.

The Synod then gratefully accepted the invitation of His Eminence Metropolitan Veniamin of Primorsk to bring the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” to his Metropoliate district. Pending the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, the Synod of Bishops will make a final decision in December of this year.

In response to the decision to establish a memorial church in Moscow in honor of the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Orthodox Church and asimilar memorial church in the US, the Synod selected St Seraphim Church in Sea Cliff, NY, as the temple which would honor this great event in the history of our Church. A gramata will be awarded to the clergymen and parishioners of the church on Wednesday, August 1, the feast day of St Seraphim of Sarov. The frescoes of this church, from the narthex to the main cupola, already illustrate the 1000-year path of the Russian Orthodox Church, from the Baptism of Rus to the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion, which will conclude this great image. Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, SS Vladimir and Olga, Equals-to-the-Apostles, the saints of Kievan and Muscovite Rus, of the Synodal epoch, His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, the heavenly protectors of those who worked for unity, all these saints will be depicted as part of our common history, along with the more renowned churches and holy sites of the Fatherland and the Russian diaspora. The painting of the fresco is still in progress.

At the request of Bishop Peter, the Synod decided to prayerfully commemorate the 75th anniversary of the repose of His Holiness Patriarch Varnava of Serbia (+July 10/23, 1937) in the Russian Church Abroad on Sunday, July 22.

Other administrative questions were discussed, as well as intercessions by the hierarch for awards to clergymen and laypersons.

The next session of the Synod of Bishops will be held in September.