South Canaan, Pennsylvania
To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
Recently, questions have arisen on numerous internet forums concerning the position of the Orthodox Church in America with regard to those who serve in the Holy Altar in parishes. The questions and ensuing controversy arose as a result of photographs appearing on two parish web sites depicting robed girls performing duties traditionally delegated to males. This has led to a great deal of confusion and discussion as to the policy of the Orthodox Church in America in this regard.
In their concern for maintaining the integrity of the Church and its traditions, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, meeting at Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, October 18-21, 2004, reaffirms the ancient practice of the Orthodox Church that only males are to be admitted to service within the holy altar. Any practice to the contrary in this regard is strictly forbidden.
While reaffirming the Orthodox Church’s practice concerning sacred ministers and others called to serve within and care for the holy altar, the Holy Synod of Bishops also wishes to encourage all Orthodox Christians to offer their services to Christ’s Holy Church, in keeping with their baptismal vocation.
Thanking you for your generous and devoted service to the Church, I remain
Protopresbyter Robert S. Kondratick
Orthodox Church in America