Metropolitan Herman opens spring session of the Holy Synod of Bishops

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman addresses the Episcopate during the spring session of the Holy Synod of Bishops in Syosset, NY.

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — The spring session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America opened at the Chancery here on Tuesday, March 20, 2007, with the address of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman.

The complete text of the address reads as follows.

“Your Eminences, Your Graces, my dearly beloved Brothers and Concelebrants of the Holy Mysteries:

“In a matter of days, we will join millions of other Orthodox Christian faithful throughout the world in proclaiming the Holy Pascha, the glorious victory of Our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ over sin and its foremost consequence, death, while joyously embracing the new life His victory offers us.

“Certainly, there is little reason for me to ‘sermonize’ on this, the centerpiece of our faith. As Saint Paul so eloquently wrote, our faith and preaching are in vain if Christ has not been raised from the dead. This we know, profess, and fully embrace.

“Ultimately, our proclamation of new life in the risen Christ involves more than words, hymns, and liturgical celebrations. It must be reflected in our lives, our actions, and, as we gather here as the Holy Synod of Bishops, our deliberations and decisions. I would be so bold as to say that we must, at this point in the life of the Church, recognize that the new life that shines forth from the empty tomb must shine with equal brilliance in the Church if we are to allow the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into the Church after a lengthy period of slumber. And if there was ever a time in which we have needed to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us in discerning the will of God in our deliberations, it is this time, this very moment, during which we are challenged by the Lord Himself to restore good order to the Orthodox Church in America.

“Given the ‘heavy’ agenda that is before us, I purposely will keep my opening address brief, fully confident that all of us are thoroughly familiar with each of the items contained therein. As I reminded the Metropolitan Council last week, much of what we have been experiencing since the Fourteenth All-American Council in 2005 has revolved around the struggle to discern what is true and what is false with regard to the allegations of financial mismanagement that surfaced prior to the Council. The past year has been especially painful for all of us. Yet, as the Holy Synod, we must continue our struggle to rebuild trust, to ensure that the sins of the past are not repeated, and to move forward ‘in faith and love,’ in order to emerge stronger and even more dedicated to minister in Christ’s name.

“In the interest of time, I will not relate yet again the chronology of the past year, but I do wish to note that at last week’s Metropolitan Council meeting, many of the concerns and projects emanating from the past year’s meetings of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council have been brought to completion, and are being presented to us at this time for further action and confirmation. In short, while things may not be moving as rapidly as we might hope, things indeed are happening, and I pray that our deliberations will be a tangible sign of the new life I believe we all hope to breathe into our Church.

“The Metropolitan Council met for two days last week and made a number of important and, in some cases, urgent decisions that we will discuss, review, and, as appropriate, address.

“The assembly of the Diocese of the West placed the name of His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of Berkeley in nomination for the vacant See of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the West. We will conduct the canonical election during our time together.

“In light of a number of recent developments within world Orthodoxy, we will give special attention to the report of the Department of External Church Relations. Concurrently, we will discuss preliminary plans for the 15th All-American Council, which will be convened in 2008.

“The Reorganizational Task Force and the Search Committee delivered a thorough report on their work. Three candidates have been recommended to fill the vacant offices of Chancellor, Treasurer, and Director of Ministries and Communications. I am confident that their choices, which represent the result of a lengthy and objective search procedure, are truly capable of fulfilling their respective duties in a most admirable manner. The task force and search committee members are to be thanked for the countless hours they have offered during this time of immense transition.

“We will also consider the latest developments on the ongoing attempts to ensure that ‘Best Practices’ is in full conformity with New York State law, a report from the Wachovia Investment Manager as well as other financial matters, the sale of the Martin Drive real estate, recommendations with regard to upgrading the Chancery computer system, the 2006 financial report and the audit of the first nine months of that year, and a number of other pressing matters.

“However, of greatest importance is the report of the special investigation committee, headed by His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest. After a lengthy and thorough review of the committee’s initial report to the Metropolitan Council, several recommendations were made unanimously, and are being presented to us at this session for consideration and implementation. I hope that you will agree that these recommendations are of the utmost importance, and I pray for your serious and objective consideration of each of them in fulfilling our common—and necessary—mandate to restore order to the life of the Church. While the special committee will continue its work in the days ahead, our response to their initial findings and the unanimous recommendations placed before us by the Metropolitan Council not only represents a first step in fulfilling our mandate, but will set the tone for the committee’s ongoing efforts, as well as our own.

“As we delve into the many issues and concerns that are facing us, I pray that all we do during our time together will be for the glory of God, for the building up of His Body, the Church, and for the realization of the new life so graciously granted by the risen Lord in the day-to-day life of our Church, in our own lives, and in the lives of the faithful entrusted to our spiritual care. We are at a crossroads in the life of our Church, and our serious, objective, and prayerful consideration of the numerous issues we must face at this time ultimately will determine the path we will follow in the future. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen us, despite our human limitations and sinfulness, to discern Our Lord’s will—and to fulfill it in all we say and do.”

The Holy Synod session will conclude on Thursday, March 22, 2007.