The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, meeting under the presidency of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, held its regular autumn meeting at the Chancery from Tuesday, November 12-Friday, November 15, 2019.
In addition to His Beatitude, the members of the Holy Synod who participated in this meeting were His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, His Eminence Archbishop Alejo of Mexico City and Mexico, His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, His Eminence Archbishop Irénée of Ottawa and Canada, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of New York City and New York and New Jersey, His Eminence Archbishop Alexander of Dallas, the South, and the Bulgarian Diocese; His Eminence Archbishop David of Sitka and Alaska, His Grace Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest.
Participating in the Fall Session by invitation were His Grace Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa; Archimandrite Alexis (Trader), Bishop-elect of Bethesda; Archimandrite Andrei (Hoarste), Bishop-elect of Cleveland; and Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America.
The first session of the meeting opened on Tuesday, November 12, with a Molieben, followed by the rite of election to the episcopacy of Archimandrite Alexis as Bishop-elect of Bethesda, Auxiliary to the Metropolitan for Stavropegial Institutions, and then the same rite for the election of Hieromonk Andrei as Bishop-elect of Cleveland, Auxiliary to Archbishop Nathaniel of the Romanian Episcopate. [See related story.] The date and location of Episcopal Consecration for Bishop-elect Alexis is set for January 24-25, 2020, at the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, Washington D.C. The date and location for Episcopal Consecration for Bishop-elect Andrei is set for January 31 – February 1, 2019, at the Cathedral of Saint George, Southfield, Michigan.
The Holy Synod heard a report from Metropolitan Tikhon on his recent visits to the former Primates of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Theodosius and Metropolitan Herman.
On Tuesday afternoon, at the beginning of the second session, His Beatitude reported on the state of the Diocese of New England and the Albanian Archdiocese, and the funeral services of His Eminence Archbishop Nikon, of blessed memory. The Holy Synod took the decision to begin a process of determining an appropriate lasting memorial in honor of Archbishop Nikon.
Metropolitan Tikhon led the Holy Synod in a discussion on the state of relations within world Orthodoxy, and ecumenical activities. Participating in this session were Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of the Office of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, and Archpriest Daniel Andrejuk, representative of Metropolitan Tikhon and the Orthodox Church in America to the Church of Russia. Fr. Daniel also presented on the state of affairs of the representational Church of Saint Catherine in-the-fields, and the preparations for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Orthodox Church in America’s representation to the Church of Russia.
The Holy Synod considered and approved the proclamation announcing the anniversary celebrations of the reception of the Tomos of Autocephaly and the Canonization of Saint Herman of Alaska. The Holy Synod also approved and announced the following as the official All-Church Synodal celebrations of the anniversaries: May 22-25, the Monastery of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk; August 5-10, Spruce Island, Alaska; November 14, the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, Washington D.C.
On Wednesday, November 13, the Holy Synod celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the feast of Saint John Chrysostom, and commemorated the seventh anniversary of the election of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey, Secretary of the Holy Synod, read a proclamation of the Holy Synod announcing the anniversary celebrations for the reception of the Tomos of Autocephaly and the Canonization of Saint Herman of Alaska. Click here to listen to His Eminence reading the proclamation.
On Wednesday afternoon, at its third session, the Holy Synod heard the report of Treasurer Andrew Smith. The Treasurer’s report for the first three quarters of 2019 is available here.
At the same session, the Holy Synod considered and approved two applications for Mission Planting Grants for the Church of Saint John Kochurov, Rogers, Arkansas; and the Church of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Woodlands, Texas.
Heard by the Holy Synod was a report on the work of the Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America by Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak, who reported on the success of the recent Steward Sunday Appeal on Sunday, October 27.
Heard by the Holy Synod was a report from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon on the plans for the 2020 March for Life, Friday, January 24, 2020 in Washington D.C.
On Thursday, November 14, at its fourth session, the Holy Synod heard a report by the Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, Archpriest Alexander Rentel. Archpriest Alexander reported on the work of the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Advisory Committee and the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations, the Board of Theological Education, and the work of the Preconciliar Commission for the 20th All-American Council.
The Holy Synod heard a proposal and blessed the creation of a committee to work on the standardizing of the Guidelines for the Reception of Converts in to the Orthodox Church in America.
The Holy Synod also considered a range of documents on moral issues.
The Holy Synod heard and accepted reports from His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek on the work of the Canonization Committee.
The Holy Synod concluded their Autumn Meeting on Friday, November 15.
Opening Address of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon
Tuesday, November 12
Christ is in our midst! I welcome all of the brothers to the Autumn Session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America. This year, we celebrate the 225th anniversary of the arrival of the monastic missionaries to Alaska in 1794 and we look ahead to our year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the granting of autocephaly and the glorification of Saint Herman of Alaska. These are historic events that define us as a local Church and they will occupy a significant portion of our agenda this week, along with a number of other important pastoral and ecclesiastical matters. For this meeting, we have deferred the celebration of the Divine Liturgy to allow for a synodal concelebration on the feast of Saint John Chrysostom tomorrow at St Vladimir’s Seminary, a day which also marks the seventh anniversary of my election as the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America. This concelebration by our entire brotherhood, rarely done outside of the All-American Council, will be a wonderful way to inaugurate our anniversary year and to make a formal proclamation to the Church inviting them to participate and prayerfully support our common celebration.
This is the first Holy Synod following the repose of our brother and concelebrant, Archbishop Nikon, formerly of Boston, New England, and the Albanian Archdiocese, who fell asleep in the Lord on September 1st of this year, on the commemoration of the ecclesiastical New Year. I am certain that all of us continue both to remember him in our prayers and to reflect upon the fruit of his Archpastoral ministry and his contributions to this brotherhood and to the life and mission of the Orthodox Church in America. We will have occasion later today to intone “memory eternal” to him and we will offer a memorial service for him on Thursday, as well as lifting up his name tomorrow at the Divine Liturgy.
I am grateful for your prayers as we gather as a brotherhood to address all of the matters that impact the life of the Orthodox Church in America with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and I invite the brothers to venerate the Cross and the Gospel and receive the blessing of the sanctified water.
Once again, it is good to welcome the brothers to the Autumn 2019 Session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America. We have a full agenda and will maintain the structure of our Spring Session, that is, meeting in closed session, unless a guest is specifically invited to make a report. We will also maintain the same clear delineation between deliberative sessions and decision-making sessions, allowing an appropriate amount of time for those topics which require more discussion, but also punctuating our deliberation with clear action items and decisions. Beginning with this meeting, we have also introduced a fully electronic report book which was delivered to you in the form of a dedicated and secure website to which all the documents could be uploaded for easy reference. That website will be continuously updated during our sessions, so please make sure to refer to it as needed. We nevertheless have provided you with a slimmer binder containing the most immediately relevant documents (the main omission are the Metropolitan Council materials). These documents are generally numbered according to the order of their chronological presentation during our sessions, for ease of reference.