The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America

Article II

The Holy Synod

Section 1   Definition

The Holy Synod is the supreme canonical authority in the Church. The full Holy Synod consists of all the Diocesan Bishops of the Church under the ex officio presidency of the Primate (hereafter, “the Metropolitan”). The Metropolitan shall preside at all regular and special sessions of the Holy Synod.


Section 2  

Regular Sessions

The Metropolitan shall convene regular sessions of the Holy Synod twice annually, in the autumn and in the spring.


Section 3  

Special Sessions

Special sessions may be called by the Metropolitan on his own initiative or at the written request of at least three Diocesan Bishops.


Section 4  

Quorum

The quorum required for a regular or special session of the Holy Synod is two-thirds of its membership.


Section 5  

Competence

The following matters are included within the jurisdiction and competence of the Holy Synod:

  1. All matters involving doctrine, canonical order, morals, and liturgical practice;
  2. All canonical matters pertaining to the declaration of a vacancy in the office of a Diocesan Bishop, and to the election and ordination of a bishop as provided by Article VIII, Sections 5-7;
  3. The transfer of a bishop;
  4. The acceptance of a bishop from another Orthodox Church or the release of a bishop to another Orthodox Church;
  5. The reconciliation of a schismatic bishop;
  6. The grant of any leave of absence to a bishop;
  7. The bestowal of honors upon bishops and of Synodal Awards upon priests, deacons, and laity;
  8. The procedures and normative standards for retirement of the Metropolitan, Diocesan Bishops, and Auxiliary Bishops;
  9. Canonical matters pertaining to the discipline of a bishop;
  10. Initial consideration of any complaint or accusation involving a bishop; 
  11. Acting as court of first instance in all cases involving an accusation against a bishop in accordance with Article XV, Section 8, and as regular court of final instance in matters involving bishops, clergy, and laity in accordance with Article XV, Sections 7-8;
  12. The deposition of clergy;
  13. The establishment of new Dioceses, the definition of diocesan boundaries, and the acceptance of Dioceses into the jurisdiction of The Orthodox Church in America;
  14. Upon referral of the Metropolitan, resolution of problems arising within a Diocese that require the judgment of the Holy Synod;
  15. The examination of annual reports from the Metropolitan and the bishops on the fulfillment of their pastoral duties;
  16. The examination of regular reports from the Church Officers, stavropegial institutions, departments, commissions, committees, offices, and boards of the Church;
  17. Establishment of standards for ordination;
  18. Establishment of general policies regarding relations with other Orthodox Churches, non-Orthodox religious bodies, civil authorities, and secular entities; 
  19. General oversight and guidance of:
    1. Stavropegial institutions;
    2. Monasteries and monastic life;
    3. Theological schools and programs of theological education;
    4. Military and institutional chaplaincies;
    5. Organizations of the Church; 
    6. Missionary, educational, and social programs of the Church; and
    7. Ecclesiastical arts, such as iconography, liturgical music, architecture, and other applied arts;
  20. Appointment and supervision of departments, commissions, committees, offices, and boards of the Church; 
  21. Confirmation of the Metropolitan’s nomination of the Chancellor, Secretary, Treasurer, and other officers of the Church whose competence or service extend beyond the boundaries of a single Diocese; 
  22. Determination in consultation with the Metropolitan Council of the dates, location, and theme of the All-American Council;
  23. Appointment of a Preconciliar Commission upon nomination by the Metropolitan Council;
  24. Confirmation of agenda and rules of procedure for the All-American Council;
  25. Approval or rejection of legislation, resolutions, and initiatives of the All-American Council as provided for in Article III, Section 1:5;
  26. The glorification of saints of the local autocephalous Church; and
  27. Establishment of rules and procedures as appropriate for the conduct of the operation of the Holy Synod.

The Holy Synod has authority necessary and proper to conduct matters within its competence.


Section 6  

Standing Synod

The Holy Synod shall establish a Standing Synod which the Metropolitan convenes between sessions of the Holy Synod and over which he presides. It is composed of the Metropolitan and the Secretary of the Holy Synod, ex officio, and at least two additional Diocesan Bishops.

The Holy Synod shall delegate authority to the Standing Synod to make necessary decisions on specific matters that do not require the judgment of the full Holy Synod. The Holy Synod may also delegate authority to the Standing Synod to make provisional decisions on other matters subject to subsequent ratification by the Holy Synod. The Standing Synod may formulate proposals for consideration by the Holy Synod. All measures adopted by the Standing Synod shall be reported in writing by the Secretary of the Holy Synod to the members of the Holy Synod within thirty days, but in no event later than the next session of the Holy Synod.


Section 7  

Extraordinary Sessions

In the absence of the Metropolitan, the Holy Synod may meet in Extraordinary Session in the following circumstances:

  1. If the absence of the Metropolitan arises from death, retirement or resignation accepted by the Holy Synod, deposition by canonical process, or medical incapacity accepted by the Holy Synod, the member of the Holy Synod senior by rank and date of episcopal ordination shall convene the Holy Synod, which shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of Article IV, Sections 3-4. 
  2. If the Metropolitan is impeded from attending a Regular or Special Session of the Holy Synod because of temporary circumstances, such as a medical emergency or travel difficulties, and if he is able to communicate, he may authorize the Holy Synod to proceed in Extraordinary Session, under the presidency of a member of the Holy Synod whom he shall designate. In such circumstances, the Extraordinary Session of the Holy Synod has the power to make necessary provisional decisions on matters that do not require the judgment of the full Holy Synod, subject to subsequent approval by the Metropolitan. 
  3. If the Metropolitan is impeded from attending a Regular or Special Session of the Holy Synod because of grave circumstances that make it impossible for him to communicate, such as unconsciousness following a medical emergency, the Holy Synod shall meet in Extraordinary Session, under the presidency of the member of the Holy Synod senior by rank and date of episcopal ordination. In such circumstances, the Extraordinary Session of the Holy Synod has the authority to make necessary provisional decisions on matters that do not require the judgment of the full Holy Synod, subject to subsequent approval by the Metropolitan if he is able to consider them. 
  4. If the Metropolitan is unable to fulfill his primatial and episcopal responsibilities, whether because of illness, injury, infirmity, or disabling condition, or because of some other grave circumstance, and if the prognosis for his recovery, recuperation, or return to active service is uncertain in outcome or indeterminate in duration, rather than declare the office of Metropolitan vacant, the Holy Synod meeting in Extraordinary Session may appoint a Temporary Administrator from among the bishops of the Church to assume the affected responsibilities. During a Temporary Administration there shall be no innovations in matters affecting the basic structures and administration of the Church. During a Temporary Administration the Holy Synod shall continue to monitor the condition and circumstances of the Metropolitan, so that appropriate measures may be taken to assure his personal well-being as well as the good estate of the Church.  The Holy Synod may terminate a Temporary Administration either by dissolving the Temporary Administration if the Metropolitan is able to return to active service, or by declaring the Office of the Metropolitan vacant in accordance with paragraph a of this section and Article IV, Sections 3-4.