The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America

Article VI

The Diocese

Section 1   The Diocese The Diocese is the basic church body which comprises all the parishes of a determined geographical area. It is governed by the Diocesan Bishop with the assistance of a Diocesan Assembly and a Diocesan Council.

Section 2   Boundaries
  1. The geographical boundaries of the diocese shall be determined by the Holy Synod of Bishops;
  2. The diocese may be divided geographically into deaneries, each headed by a dean elected according to the provisions of Article IX, Section 4.

Section 3  

Establishment of Dioceses

Dioceses shall be established by the Holy Synod whenever the growth of the Church demands it or wherever the boundaries of the existing dioceses need to be modified.


Section 4  

The Diocesan Bishop

By virtue of his episcopal consecration and canonical appointment to his Diocese, the Diocesan Bishop possesses full hierarchical authority within his diocese. The Diocesan Bishop:

  1. Shall expound Orthodox Faith and morals and guide his flock in accordance with the teachings of the Church, and will issue pastoral letters to the clergy and laity;
  2. Has the right of initiative and authoritative guidance in all matters concerning the life of his diocese;
  3. Shall distribute the Holy Chrism consecrated by the Metropolitan, and the Holy Antimensia to all churches in his diocese;
  4. Shall ordain Orthodox seminary graduates to the Diaconate and Priesthood for his diocese. Candidates otherwise qualified must receive the approval of the Holy Synod; consideration ought to be given to the candidate’s wishes as to time and place of ordination;
  5. Shall appoint and transfer parish priests and other parish clergy within the limits of his diocese;
  6. Shall exercise the right of pastoral action and discipline in reference to the diocesan clergy and laity in all cases not requiring the action of a Church Court;
  7. Shall make canonical visits to the parishes of his diocese;
  8. Shall erect parishes, missions, chapels in his diocese;
  9. Shall consecrate Antimensia and churches and erect permanent altars;
  10. Shall be a member of the Holy Synod of Bishops in accordance with the provisions of Article 11, Section 2;
  11. Shall convene and preside over the Diocesan Council and Diocesan Assembly;
  12. May appoint a diocesan chancellor and other diocesan officers from among the members of the Diocesan Council;
  13. Shall exercise the right of supervision over the monastic communities in his diocese and appoint their superiors;
  14. Shall approve the decisions of the Diocesan Assembly, Diocesan Council, deanery, and parish meetings;
  15. Shall have custody, in the name of the diocese, of the consecrated items;
  16. Shall reside within the limits of his diocese.

Section 5  

Auxiliary Bishop

If the good of the Church so require, auxiliary bishops may be appointed in order to assist diocesan bishops in the fulfillment of their functions. Candidates for the dignity of auxiliary bishop are nominated by the bishop of the diocese in which they are to serve, with the agreement of the Diocesan Council, and are canonically elected by the Holy Synod.


Section 6  

The Episcopal Benefice

The Diocesan Bishop shall be entitled to adequate financial support from the diocese and an official residence and household.


Section 7  

Vacancy in Office

The office of Diocesan Bishop shall be declared vacant by the Holy Synod in the event of death, voluntary retirement, medically certified incapacity, transfer, or deposition by due canonical process.


Section 8  

The Vacant See

In the event of a vacancy in the office of diocesan bishop, a locum tenens, appointed by the Metropolitan, shall convoke and preside over the Diocesan Assembly whose sole purpose at this time shall be the election of a new diocesan bishop.


Section 9  

Qualifications

  1. The candidate for the office of diocesan bishop must satisfy all the requirements of the Holy Canons pertaining to this highest of all ecclesiastical offices. In addition, it is preferable that he have completed a course of study in a Graduate School of Orthodox Theology and that he be conversant in the English language.
  2. If he is not already a bishop, he can be nominated only from among the monastic or celibate clergy or laymen;
  3. If at the moment of his nomination he is a layman or a celibate or widowed priest, he shall pronounce at least the first monastic vows (rasophoria).
  4. Diocesan bishops of the Orthodox Church in America shall not be candidates for nomination by the Diocesan Assembly of another diocese.

Section 10  

Election

The election of the diocesan bishop shall proceed as follows:

  1. The Diocesan Assembly shall nominate a candidate and submit his name to the Holy Synod;
  2. If the Assembly falls to nominate a candidate acceptable to the Holy Synod, the Synod shall elect the bishop of the diocese;
  3. Upon the approval of a candidate by the Holy Synod, he shall be summoned to a session of the Holy Synod for the canonical election.

Section 11  

Consecration and Installation

  1. If the Bishop-Elect of the diocese is not yet in the episcopal rank, the date of his consecration shall be set within the period of the 30 days following the date of his acceptance by the Holy Synod;
  2. After the consecration, or if the Bishop-Elect is already in the episcopal rank, the date of installation shall be set within two weeks following the consecration or, in the latter case, the election to the Diocese;
  3. The installation of the newly-consecrated Bishop shall take place in the diocese and shall be officiated by the Metropolitan or by a senior Hierarch of the Holy Synod.

Section 12  

Missions

The diocesan bishop, by virtue of his episcopal office, is bound to propagate and expound Orthodox Faith and morals among all people within the diocesan boundaries. In order to accomplish this, he shall:

  1. Take measures to ensure that his clergy make an Orthodox witness in their communities;
  2. Direct parish clergy to extend the limits of their pastoral activity in an approach to the unchurched;
  3. Establish missions for the purpose of propagating the Orthodox Faith;
  4. Take measures to provide the necessary funds for missionary activity within his diocese.