The Lesser Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America convened here at the Chancery for a one-day session on June 10, 1997. The Lesser Synod is a smaller body of four hierarchs appointed by the larger Holy Synod to meet regularly in order to oversee the on-going work of the Church.
The following reports and presentations were made:
Metropolitan THEODOSIUS informed the hierarchs of recent canonizations in other Orthodox Churches. His Beatitude was informed through official channels of canonizations from the following churches: in Georgia, the parents of St Nino; in Russia, Metropolitan Peter Polyansky, Metropolitan Seraphim Chichagov and Archpriest Thaddeus Uspensky.
The OCA Primate spoke about the recent bi-lateral effort between the OCA and the Patriarchate of Antioch to move forward on the canonization of Bishop Raphael (Hawaweeny). His Beatitude also informed the Synod of a letter he received from Metropolitan Petru of Besarabia, Patriarchate of Romania, regarding the harassment of the Autonomous Metropolitan of Besarabia by the Russian Orthodox Church of the Republic of Moldova.
In the Report of the Treasurer, Protodeacon Eric Wheeler expressed his gratitude to the hierarchs and diocesan treasurers for their cooperation this year in remitting assessments. He also reviewed parishes with outstanding assessments due to the central church. Special mention was made of the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania, which has outstanding assessments owed to the central Church Administration.
In his Report on the Office of Development, Fr Joseph Fester informed the hierarchs that contributions to the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards exceeded by $20,000 the amount received last year at this time. More than 50 churches have joined the fellowship as Parish FOS Members. Furthermore, the Metropolitans Special Appeal netted more than $35,000 in contributions and pledges, which are earmarked for the on-going work of our Church’s ministry units. In September an Outreach Appeal will be conducted, in order to carry out a resolution of the 11th All America Council, in support of the Budget and FOS projects.
The Inter-Church Relations Report was presented by Archbishop PETER and Fr Leonid Kishkovsky. They reviewed developments in the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Moscow, Bulgaria, and discussed the upcoming visit of His All Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew in October, where OCA hierarchs will participate in certain events. Patriarch Bartholomew will be greeted by Metropolitan THEODOSIUS at St Vladimir’s Seminary on October 25. A special event of his visit to America will be a historic meeting of the Ecumenical Patriarch with all canonical Orthodox hierarchs on October 24 at Holy Trinity Cathedral in New York City. In other action, the future of the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops was considered, in view of recent hierarchical changes in North America.
A report on the-12th All American Council was given by Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, OCA Chancellor. As was announced previously, the Council was re-scheduled for July 18-23, 1999. Fr Kondratick updated the hierarchs regarding site locations and hotel availability.
In that 1997 in the Year of Saint Innocent. Metropolitan THEODOSIUS updated the hierarchs on events and activities throughout the Church centered on the bicentennial of Saint Innocents birth . The main celebration will take place at St Tikhon’s Monastery, August 25-26, 1997. Throughout the entire Church, however, dioceses and parishes have already planned major celebrations for this bicentennial observance. The entire Holy Synod of Bishops will be present for the main celebration at St Tikhon’s in August.
Deacon John Hopko updated the Synod on the Personal Assistance Program. The hierarchs authorized him to prepare a contract for the re-negotiation of the program. He stated that a full report on utilization of the program will be given to full synod in the fall.
In his report on our Church Ministry Units, Fr Kondratick spoke at length about this summers Parish Life Conference at St Tikhon’s Monastery. Keynote speakers for this international conference, which will draw participants from Canada and the US, will be the Very Rev Sergei Glagolev, Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, and Deborah Belonick.
This four-day event will include the following workshops and seminars: Christian Education for Children and Adults; Family Life Ministries; Parish Life Ministries; Youth and Young Adult Ministries; Outreach and Community Life Ministries; and Senior Life and Ministry/Women in Church Life. To-date, more than 120 registrations have been confirmed.
Parishes are encouraged to send representatives to this major event in the life our Church.
Participating in this session of the Lesser Synod of Bishops were the following hierarchs: Archbishop PETER of New York, Diocese of New York and New Jersey; Archbishop HERMAN of Philadelphia, Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania; and Bishop NATHANIEL of Detroit, Romanian Episcopate. The entire session was chaired by His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America.