Meeting Minutes May 2009


Minutes Part I
of the Joint Meeting of the Russian Hierarchical Members, 
Members of the Higher Church Authority, 
and Clergy of the ROCA Central Russian Administrative District
May 7\20, 2009
Voronezh

The meeting opened at 1200 with the Paschal troparion, “Christ is risen from the dead…”

Attendees:  Metropolitan Agafangel (Meeting Chairman), Archbishop Sofroniy, Bishops Georgiy, Ioann, and Afanasiy; HCA members – Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, ArchpriestValeriy Kravets, Rev. Leonid Plyats; CRAD members – Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, Rev. Sergey Kriulin, Hieromonk Nikon (Iost), Archpriest Roman Kravets, Rev. Sergey Televinov, Deacon Mikhail Buryakov, Deacon Antoniy Gunin, Rev. Aleksandr Martynenko (Odessa Diocese), Hieromonk Dula (Patoska) (Bolgrad Diocese), Y.V. Sosyurko (Odessa Diocese), V.S. Kozhakar (Bolgrad Diocese).

The Chairman reads the proposed Synod Agenda, consisting of 12 points, and notes that they can be added to or changed during the course of the meeting.

Abp. Sofroniy proposes to discuss the establishment of monasteries.

The Chairman proposes to discuss the terms of service for clergy to receive awards.  At the conclusion of a discussion on this point, a proposed plan was formulated for approval by the Synod of Bishops.

The legal status of our Church was discussed.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko warns of the need to consider all legal aspects of this issue.
After discussing the matter, it was decided that all aspects of this matter must be considered thoroughly.

Chairman: A house has been bequeathed to the Holy Trinity Church in Astoria, NY, USA.  At a meeting of the parish, it was decided to provide it to the Synod.  There is a great need for such a residence, but how will we cover its expenses?  Two to three thousand dollars a month are required.  The travel expenses of members participating in meetings of the Synod must be provided for.  They propose to establish a Synod Assistance Council to gather funds from donors.

The matter was discussed further with various comments from the attendees and answers from the Chairman.

The Chairman notes that the question of the SAAO’s status be decided.

The Chairman discusses the matter of establishing monasteries.
Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko notes the possibility of establishing a monastery or skete in Brazil.

The Chairman discuses the election of the new Patriarch of the ROC MP and what statement should be issued.  We should express the traditional views of our predecessors and avoid apocryphal extremes, as well as comments infused with zealotry.

The Chairman reports requests have been received to define the ecclesiological position of our Church, and to annul certain documents, which were approved in the past and confuse the church members.  Discusses the circumstances of the way in which the unfortunate letter to the Serbian Patriarch Pavle was written.

After a spirited discussion, the attendees decided that personal opinions regarding ecclesiological topics (ex. whether sacraments in the ROC MP have grace) should lead to renewed intolerance and a break in relations within our Church.

The Chairman expresses the opinion that all contentious issues should be decided with the spirit of pastoral wisdom and with the involvement of all sides of the question.

After a break for lunch, the meeting resumed at 1525.

The Chairman proposes that a Theological Committee be formed within the Synod to research and examine any such issues that may arise, to avoid any premature decisions.  The work of the Committee will then be reviewed by the Synod of Bishops and the Council of Russian Hierarchics.

The attendees of the Meeting propose the Committee consist of Archpriest Konstantin Busygin, Archpriest Oleg Mironov, Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev, Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, Rev. Aleksandr Lipin, and Rev. Leonid Plyats.  A proposal is made to name B. Georgiy as Chairman of the Committee.  The possibility remains to include other members depending on the issues being considered by the Committee.

The Chairman raises the important, though delicate, issue that in his opinion, the episcopate needs to grow larger, speaks of the needs of South America, and proposes to ordain Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko as the bishop of this cathedra.  All the attendees strongly support the Chairman’s proposal.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko asks that this decision be postponed, even though the attendees repeatedly ask for his agreement throughout the meeting.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko reads a report by Archpriest Vladimir Shlenev and Rev. Aleksandr Ivashevich of matters in Argentina; discuses a request by clerics in South America to decide the form of commemoration of the ruling bishop.  He also proposes the issuance of awards to some of the clerics.

The Chairman speaks of the lack of clerics in South America and how this makes the situation there more difficult.  The matter is energetically discussed by the attendees and Rev. Georgiy.  They discuss likely candidates and their qualifications.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko asks for a clarification for commemoration of the “Russian Land” during the Liturgy, whether it should be “suffering,” or “long suffering,” or something else.  After discussing it, the Chairman recommends having the Synod approve the use of “long suffering.”

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko asks whether there should be a consistent usage of “from enemies seen and invisible” or “from the godless authorities” when saying “free us from…”

The Chairman explains that even though the Synod did approve particular usages, there was never a demand for complete uniformity.  He offered additional liturgical examples.  Uniformity is preferred, but one must be careful in certain circumstances.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko explains many of us have friends, acquaintances, fellow alumni from the seminary, who now belong to ROCOR(MP) or RTOC.  Can we commemorate them during the proskomidia, or memorial services (Met. Laurus, B. Peter, etc.)?

The Chairman advises to consider whether that person would want us to commemorate them.  If they consider us schismatics or heretics and avoids us, then it makes no sense to commemorate them.

B. Georgiy notes St. Simeon of Thessaloniki’s teaching that it is not possible to commemorate at the proskomidia those who are no longer within the church.

The Chairman says parishes have recommended that Archpriest Valeriy Kravets become the bishop for the parishes in the CRAD; others have suggested Hieromonk Nikon (Iost) from Siberia.  Since they are present, he recommends choosing a candidate through secret ballot.  A lively discussion ensued, even heated at times, at different ways to decide the issue.  Among those who spoke out were, Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, Hieromonk Nikon (Iost), Deacon Mikhail Buryakov, Deacon Antoniy Gunin, Rev. Aleksandr Martynenko,and others.  It was discussed that bishops are needed for parishes in the Siberian, Saratov, Volgograd oblasts among others.

The Chairman suggests Hierarchs Ioann and Afanasiy help in with these parishes.

The matter of complaints against clergy was discussed.  The Chairman decides if a Church member accuses another member, they must provide proof at a Meeting.  If there is no proof, the accusing member must ask for forgiveness from the other at the Meeting and publish it in the appropriate forums.

The Chairman tells the attendees that requests have been received by bishops from other jurisdictions asking to establish relations with ROCA.  The matter is discussed.

Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin adds that it is essential that such clergy have proper certificates of departure; including their status, where they are assigned, whether they have their own parish or not, etc.

The Chairman explains the difference between a priest without a parish, one who is assigned to a parish, and a certificate of departure to another diocese.  He explains the significance in today’s world.
The matter is discussed by Abp. Sofroniy, B. Georgiy, and Rev. Georgiy Petrenko.  Examples are given.

The first meeting day was concluded at 1730 with paschal troparions: “The angel cried…” and “Shine, shine…”




Minutes Part II
of the Joint Meeting of the Russian Hierarchical Members, 
Members of the Higher Church Authority, 
and Clergy of the ROCA Central Russian Administrative District
May 8\21, 2009
Voronezh

The second day of the meeting began at 1000 with the Paschal troparion, “Christ is risen from the dead…”

The attendees are joined by Rev. Valeriy Leonichev and Reader Aleksandr Khitrov, who arrived from Moscow.

The Chairman acquaints the new arrivals with the discussions that took place the day before and reminds them of the procedure of how to resolve accusations between members of our Church and taking responsibility for such accusations.  He insists that all problems be resolved in a spirit of Christian love and agreement.

The minutes of the first day are read and corrections are made.

Reader Aleksandr Khitrov asks a general question about the Statutory Acts, which form the basis of the life of our Church.

The Chairman explains that our Church is informed by the Status of the ROCA of 1964, as well as Councils of Bishops and Synods of the ROCA before the signing of the Act of Eucharistic Communion with the ROC MP on May 4\17, 2007.  Any changes must be avoided.  It is possible that church bodies be created that will help with administering the Church and would have the right of a consultative voice, without making any changes to the Status. 

Reader Aleksandr Khitrov asks on what canonical basis was the Council of Russian Hierarchics founded. 

The Chairman explains there are corresponding decisions from ROCA Councils of Bishops.

Reader Aleksandr Khitrov asks that these decisions be published.

A discussion of the need and point of retaining the Council of Russian Hierarchics in the current circumstances ensues, with Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, Reader Aleksandr Khitrov, and the Chairman participating.  The benefit of the existence of this church body is confirmed.

The Chairman explains about letters received from Reader Aleksandr Khitrov about the canonization of certain saints performed by Bishops Ioann and Afanasiy, who recently joined ROCA.  He offers to pass the letters to these bishops to review them and provide a written explanation.  Later, the Theological Committee will also review them, as well as the Synod.

Abp. Sofroniy advises that such matters, which relate to the internal life of our Church, should not be published first on the Internet. 

Reader Aleksandr Khitrov, on behalf of a meeting of his parish, announces there exists grievances against Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin and offers to provide a written explanation to the Synod.

The Chairman offers to discuss them in this meeting.

Hieromonk Ermogen (Petrov) arrives and joins the meeting.

After reading the grievances against Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, a lively discussion ensues about life in the Moscow parishes, joined by the Chairman, Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, ArchpriestValeriy Kravets, Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, Rev. Aleksandr Martynenko, Rev. Valeriy Leonichev, and Reader Aleksandr Khitrov.  In conclusion, the Meeting does not find any serious reasons for disagreement.  All are called to reconciliation and forgiveness in a Christian spirit.

The Meeting ends at 1200 with paschal troparions: “The angel cried…” and “Shine, shine…”
Chairman
Secretary





Minutes
of the Joint Meeting of the ROCA Synod of Bishops,
Council of Russian Hierarchics, 
and the Higher Church Authority, 
May 8\21, 2009
Voronezh
Attendees: Metropolitan Agafangel (Synod Chairman), Archbishop Sofroniy, and Bishops Georgiy (Synod Secretary), Ioann, and Afanasiy; HCA members – Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, ArchpriestValeriy Kravets, Rev. Leonid Plyats.

Agenda
1. A short report from each hierarch of matters in their dioceses.
2. A further elucidation of the status of the North American Administrative District.
3. Regarding a house for the Synod.
4. Commemoration of a bishop in South  America.
5. Registering the Synod Assistance Council.
6. The creation of a Theological Committee attached to the Synod of Bishops.
7. The creation of a convent in the USA.
8. The creation of a convent in the St. Petersburg diocese.
9. Regarding the newly-elected MP Patriarch.
10. Regarding the borders of the dioceses and adding members to the episcopate.
11. Regarding rules for awards.





Part III   Minutes
of the Joint Meeting of the ROCA Synod of Bishops,
Council of Russian Hierarchics,
and the Higher Church Authority,

May 8\21, 2009

Voronezh

Attendees: Metropolitan Agafangel (Synod Chairman), Archbishop Sofroniy, and Bishops Georgiy (Synod Secretary), Ioann, and Afanasiy; HCA members – Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, ArchpriestValeriy Kravets, Fr. Leonid Plyats.



Agenda

1.       A short report from each hierarch of matters in their dioceses.

2.      A further clarification of the status of the North American Administrative District.

3.      Regarding a house for the Synod.

4.      Commemoration of a bishop in South  America.

5.      Registering the Synod Assistance Council.

6.      The creation of a Theological Committee attached to the Synod of Bishops.

7.      The creation of a convent in the USA.

8.      The creation of a convent in the St. Petersburg diocese.

9.      Regarding the newly-elected MP Patriarch.

10.  Regarding the borders of the dioceses and adding members to the episcopate.

11.  Regarding awards regulation.



Discussed:  the Chairman noted that representatives of an Old-Calendar episcopate have expressed a desire to open talks with the ROCA.

Resolved:  Create a commission, to include B. Georgiy, Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev, Fr. Leonid Plyats, to examine the proposals.



Discussed:  a letter to the Synod by Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev (Odessa diocese), which discusses preparations by the Churches belonging to world Orthodoxy for the so-called Supreme All-Orthodox Council and the looming danger of union with the Roman Catholic Church.  The Chairman agrees with the letter in general and Fr. Valeriy’s concern about the possible dramatic new phase in apostasy of the world.

B. Georgiy tells of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Vatican II Council and offers other facts that support the realness of such a threat.

Resolved:  To accept all information provided.  To express our thanks to Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev for his valuable contribution.



The Chairman asks about novice Diodor, a member of our Church in Voronezh, and his long absence from church services and the lack of any information about his whereabouts.

Abp. Sofroniy, Fr. Valeriy, B. Georgiy, and Fr. Georgiy discuss the matter.  The Chairman directs Fr. Valeriy to collect all information about novice Diodor.



The Chairman reports on dioceses under his authority.

            The situation in the Odessa diocese is stable, without any significant changes.  Construction continues, but they lack workers and funds.  It is unfortunate.  As a result, it is necessary to turn down many opportunities that present themselves to rebuild churches or obtain new property for the construction of new church buildings.  All is well at the St. John convent and they have begun building the monastery chapel.  One problem is, they do not have a permanent priest.  Currently, there is no persecution of our Church from the Ukrainian government, but there is from the Moscow Patriarchate.  The Chairman tells of the slander campaign from the pro-Russia TV company ATV, and the filing of a claim against them by the ROCA Odessa diocese.  The Chairman tells of the desire by priests in other jurisdictions to join the Odessa diocese.

            The Chairman tells of the status of the house in New York, USA, made available to the Synod, and of the proposed creation of a convent headed by m. Agapia somewhere in new York State.

            There is no news from Hegumen John (Smelic) in Australia.  The Belarus parish in Melbourne is complaining about the lack of care by Fr. John and is asking the First Hierarch to send them another priest.  Unfortunately, there are no available priests and the parish is encouraged to find one of their own to become a priest.

            The Chairman believes we need to do more to preserve our identity as the historical ROCA, to avoid the temptations of the contemporary world, and not be drawn into any political movements, or engage in any dogmatic or canonical deviations.



Abp. Sofroniy reports on his diocese.  All is well, which can be considered the main achievement in the year passed.  There are no contentions or displeasure among the clergy, and any problems that arise are resolved through discussing them.  Tells of clergy that came over from other dioceses, some that left the priesthood and their replacement by newly-ordained clergy; of a new group in Novgorod; of the diocesan Lenten retreat the third week of Great lent; of his visit with Bishop Feodosiy, which was requested by the First Hierarch.  Bishop Feodosiy belongs to a different jurisdiction and seeks to join the ROCA.



B. Georgiy reports on his diocese.  Relations between the flock and clergy are peaceful and good.  The only exception is the case with the former priest of our Church, Hieromonk Adrian (Zamlinsky), who along with Deacon Ardilyan, avoided their bishop.  After Hieromonk Adrian was censured, he suddenly declared himself to be a “bishop” in the uncanonical jurisdiction RusOC, which is led by “metropolitan” Damascene (Balabanov).  The main challenge in the diocese is the construction of a church in the city of Bolgrad.  they have had to ask for help from the ROCA Assistance Fund.  The diocese has also received an offer of a small plot of land with a house near Belgorod-Dnestrovsk and there is someone who is willing to start a monastery there.  In Kongaz, in the large parish of Archpriest Vasiliy Ikizli, they are building a church and they hope to establish a sisterhood, and later, perhaps a monastery.  Archpriest Vasiliy also has a person interested in becoming a priest and the desire to establish another one or two parishes in Kongaz.  There is a possibility of establishing a monastic skete in the parish in Chadyr-Lung.  B. Georgiy ends by saying they are having problems getting registered in Moldova, but it is important to keep trying, just as it is important to keep trying in Ukraine.

The Chairman offers his advice about the construction in Bolgrad and shares his experiences.  They discuss the need for children’s camps, choral concerts and other ways to enrich the lives of the parishes and dioceses.



B. Afanasiy reports on his diocese.  After they joined the ROCA, a parish in Moscow left them, and a campaign of slander in the mass media (radio, press) was begun against them by the MP.  In Ferapontovo, the local city administration is making it difficult to acquire a plot of land to build a church.  They have filed a claim against the MP for their slander.  They have also set up a church for services, are preparing candidates for priesthood, and are offering the possibility to go to a seminary.



B. Ioann says life in his diocese is more like the traditional catacomb church.  Despite many problems and concerns, the overall situation is good.  One of the parishes has begun building a house church.  Several priests and one bishop from other jurisdictions have asked to join the ROCA.  A lack of funds prevents creating a full life in the diocese.

Resolved:  In case the bishop from the other jurisdiction contacts B. Ioann again, he will ask Abp. Sofroniy to visit the bishop at his church and become acquainted with life there.  All information about this bishop and his flock should be reported to the Synod of Bishops. 



ArchpriestValeriy Kravets provides a brief overview of matters in the CRAD, and then discusses the need for official certificates for the priests and antimens.  In the course of discussions, the Chairman raises the issue of blessing Holy Myrrh.



Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko reports on matters in Brazil.  ROCOR once had 12 churches in this country.  Then there were 11, and later, 7.  Four of these parishes stayed with ROCOR(MP), because there were not enough priests and there was no money for visiting the parishes.  Fr. Georgiy tells of the parishes in Rio de Janiero, Sao Paulo, and other places.  All is well, there are not many parishioners, there are few Russians left.  Catholicism has waned in the country and some locals have even converted to Orthodoxy.  Fr. Georgiy also speaks of matters in Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela.  Trips to Uruguay to minister to the faithful there may be necessary.  Fr. Georgiy says church members who have remained with ROCA remain strong in their opposition to union with the MP.  Fr. Georgiy ends by asking on behalf of the South American clergy about the recognizing the possible canonizations of Czar Ivan the Terrible, Gregory Rasputin, and others, which may have taken place in the Catacomb Church dioceses that joined ROCA and have not been recognized by us.  Fr. Georgiy also asks about several bishops of other jurisdictions that are conducting talks regarding joining us.



The matter of the status of bishops of other jurisdictions and the way in which they might be accepted is discussed by the Chairman, Abp. Sofroniy, Bishops Afanasiy and Georgiy, and Archpriest Georgiy.



B. Afanasiy explains that no decisions in any Catacomb diocese have been made about canonizing Czar Ivan the Terrible, Gregory Rasputin, or anyone else, and could not possibly be made, but if someone chooses to honor them privately, he believes that is on the conscience of that person.

The Chairman reminds everyone of the letters submitted by Reader A. Khitrov and of the decision to have them reviewed by Bishops Ioann and Afanasiy and have them provide a written explanation.  The matter will also be reviewed by the Theological Committee and the Synod.



Discussed:  the Chairman spoke of the settling the status of the North American Administrative District.

Resolved:  the NAAD is considered a temporary legal entity necessary for registration of the ROCA Synod of Bishops in North America.  When the status of this legal entity is received, it will apply equally to the status of the Synod.



Discussed:  the Chairman spoke of the house donated to our parish in New York.

Resolved:  once all legal requirements are satisfied, the house may be used as a Synod Headquarters and Residence of the First Hierarch.



Discussed:  Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko asks for a clarification of the form of commemoration of the ruling bishop in South America.

Resolved: Send an Ukase about the form of commemoration to the parishes in South America.



Discussed:  the Chairman’s proposal to form a Synod Assistance Council.

Resolved:  to approve the creation of the Synod Assistance Council and ask the Chairman to handle all details.



Discussed:  the Chairman’s proposal to form a Theological Commission attached to the Synod of Bishops.

Resolved:  to approve the creation of the Theological Commission attached to the Synod of Bishops.  To name B. Georgiy as its Chairman.  To name the following as members: Archpriest Konstantin Busygin, Archpriest Oleg Mironov, Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev, Archpriest Roman Kravets, Fr. Evgeniy Koryagin, Fr. Aleksandr Lipin, and Fr. Leonid Plyats.

Discussed:  the Chairman’s discussion about establishing a convent in the USA, to be headed by Mother Agapia.

Resolved:  to approve the establishment of a convent in the USA, to be headed by Mother Agapia.



Discussed:  Abp. Sofroniy’s request to establish a convent in honor of St. Nicholas in the city of Dudachkino in the Leningrad oblast, and to be headed by m. Sofroniya and name her the Hegumena. Abp. Sofroniy provides a brief history of the creation of this group (ten women, 2 of which are nuns and 2 novices), and of m. Sofroniya.

Resolved:  to approve the establishment of the St. Nicholas convent in the city of Dudachkino in the Leningrad oblast.  Recommend that m. Sofroniya stay at the St. John convent in Odessa for training.



Discussed:  the Chairman’s opinion of the newly-elected MP Patriarch.

Resolved:  to issue a statement from the Synod of Bishops similar in tone to synodal statements of the past.



Discussed:  the Chairman spoke of the borders of the dioceses and adding members to the episcopate.

Resolved:  to dissolve the Central Russian Administrative District.  To place the Moscow diocese (Moscow and the Moscow oblast) under the temporary authority of the ROCA First Hierarch.  To designate Abp. Sofroniy in charge of the diocese in Siberia.  To establish the Voronezh diocese (to include the Voronezh, Volgograd, and Rostov oblasts).  To designate ArchpriestValeriy Kravets as the Administrator of the Voronezh diocese and also to serve the Kuban diocese.  To consider ArchpriestValeriy Kravets as a candidate to become bishop of the Voronezh cathedra.



Discussed:  the Chairman spoke of the establishment of awards regulation for clergy.

Resolved:  to approve the attached draft of awards regulation.



Discussed:  Abp. Sofroniy’s request to elevate B. Ioann to the rank of archbishop.

Resolved:  to issue an ukase to elevate B. Ioann to the rank of archbishop.



Discussed:  the date and location of the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops.

Resolved:  to hold the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops in Odessa, from November 5\18 – 7\20, 2009.


The Meeting concluded at 17:15 with paschal troparions: “The angel cried…” and “Shine, shine…”

Synod of Bishops Chairman Metropolitan Agafangel
Archbishop Sofroniy
Archbishop Ioann
Bishop Afanasiy
Bishop Georgiy

Higher Church Authority members:
Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko
ArchpriestValeriy Kravets
Fr. Leonid Plyats




Attachment:

Awards Regulation
Approved by the ROCA Synod of Bishops

May 21, 2009

Clergy, who faithfully carry out their clerical obligations, who are not under censure by their Ruling Bishop, and do not have any other restrictions placed on them by the Higher Church Authority are hereby authorized to receive awards according to the following terms of service:


1.      Nabedrennik – 1 year after ordination.
2.      Skufia – 1 year after the previous award.
3.      Kamilavka – 3 years after the previous award.
4.      Pectoral cross– 5 years after the previous award.
5.      Rank of Archpriest or Hegumen – 3 years after the previous award.
6.      Pectoral cross with decoration – 5 years after the previous award.
7.      Palitsa – 5 years after the previous award.
8.      Mitre\Rank of Archimandrite – 7 years after the previous award.

For clergy accepted from other jurisdictions, the start date will be their chirotoniya and they will then begin to receive awards.

Awards given above and beyond the regulations, for special occasions, will be approved by a decision of the Synod of Bishops


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