The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America

Article VIII

The Diocesan Bishop

Section 1   Definition By virtue of his canonical election by the Holy Synod and episcopal ordination, the Diocesan Bishop possesses full canonical authority within his Diocese, and shall exercise it with the assistance of diocesan clergy and laity. He is the Chief Shepherd of his Diocese. The Diocesan Bishop is a member of the Holy Synod in accordance with Article II, Section 1:. He shall participate in its sessions and provide a regular report to the Holy Synod on the state of his Diocese. The Diocesan Bishop shall have the title of a principal city within his Diocese, his title being determined by the Holy Synod. He shall reside within the limits of his Diocese.  In all matters, the decisions and pronouncements of the Diocesan Bishop are final, except insofar as they are subject to appeal as provided in the Sacred Canons and this Statute. 

Section 2   Competence The following are within the competence of the Diocesan Bishop. The Diocesan Bishop shall:
  1. Expound the Faith and moral teaching of the Orthodox Church and guide his flock in accordance with Church doctrine;
  2. Have the right of initiative and authoritative guidance in all matters concerning the life of his Diocese, and may issue pastoral letters, instructions and regulations for the guidance of clergy and laity;
  3. Establish parishes, missions, provisional missions, mission stations, chapels, and monasteries in his Diocese;
  4. Consecrate churches and chapels, erect permanent altars, and consecrate and provide Holy Antimensia within his Diocese; 
  5. Distribute Holy Chrism consecrated by the Metropolitan;
  6. Maintain custody, with the appropriate Officers of the Diocese, of the patrimony of the Diocese;
  7. Assume possession, with the appropriate Officers of the Diocese, of the sacred and untouchable items, as well as all official records and archives, in all cases of the dissolution of a parish or monastery in the Diocese; 
  8. Ensure that his Diocese and its parishes and institutions are properly organized in accord with local civil law and that they have clear and unambiguous title to their real property with the exception of encumbrances incurred in normal course with the permission of the Bishop;
  9. Convene and preside over the Diocesan Assembly and Diocesan Council;
  10. Approve or disallow the decisions of the Diocesan Assembly, Diocesan Council, and Deanery and parish meetings;
  11. Appoint or confirm Diocesan Officers, as provided in the Diocesan Bylaws, and maintain general oversight of and bear general responsibility for the efficient administration of his Diocese;
  12. Ordain qualified graduates of Orthodox seminaries to the priesthood and diaconate as well as lower clergy for his Diocese; 
  13. Ordain candidates to the priesthood and diaconate for his Diocese otherwise qualified, with the approval of the Holy Synod;
  14. Appoint, transfer, remove, and grant retirement to parish clergy of his Diocese; 
  15. Accept clergy at his discretion from another Diocese of The Orthodox Church in America, receiving their personal dossier and a canonical release;
  16. Release clergy at his discretion to another Diocese of The Orthodox Church in America, at the request of its Diocesan Bishop, issuing a canonical release and conveying their personal dossier and other appropriate documentation; 
  17. Exercise discipline over diocesan clergy and laity in all cases not requiring the action of a Church court; 
  18. Appoint the members of diocesan courts and exercise final authority regarding acceptance of their decisions and action upon their findings; in matters in which final judgment has been reserved to the Holy Synod by this Statute or by resolution of the Holy Synod, convey to the Synod the finding of a diocesan court and all relevant documentation relating to the case and the court’s finding; 
  19. Honor worthy clergy and laity of his Diocese with diocesan awards, or request the Holy Synod to confer synodal awards in the prescribed manner; 
  20. Make canonical visits to the parishes, monasteries, and institutions of his Diocese on his own initiative;
  21. Grant charters and exercise general oversight over diocesan monastic communities and, in consultation with the particular community, confirm its superior; and
  22. Establish diocesan educational or philanthropic institutions according to the needs of his Diocese, issue their charters, and appoint officers as provided in their charters.

The Diocesan Bishop possesses the authority necessary to exercise his episcopal ministry within the Church in conformity with the Sacred Canons.

Section 3  


The Diocesan Bishop shall receive appropriate compensation commensurate with his position and responsibilities, a suitable retirement plan, and a residence or a housing allowance, as determined by norms and practices of the Diocese.

Section 4  

Auxiliary Bishop

An Auxiliary Bishop may be appointed to the Diocese, with a city in the Diocese as his titular see, upon nomination by the Diocesan Bishop in consultation with the Diocesan Council, and canonical election by the Holy Synod, confirmed by the Metropolitan. 

An Auxiliary Bishop shall have his duties, responsibilities, and rights defined by the Diocesan Bishop and the Diocesan Bylaws. He shall be an ex officio member of the Diocesan Council and the Diocesan Assembly. 

He shall receive adequate and proper compensation to be determined by norms and practices of the Diocese.

Section 5  

Vacancy in Office

The office of Diocesan Bishop shall be declared vacant by the Holy Synod in the event of the incumbent’s death, retirement or resignation accepted by the Holy Synod, medically certified incapacity, transfer, or deposition by canonical process.

Section 6  


  1. If he is not already a bishop, the candidate for the office of bishop shall be nominated from among the clergy or laity, monastic, celibate, or widowed.
  2. To receive episcopal ordination, the nominee must satisfy all the requirements of the Sacred Canons pertaining to this highest of all ecclesiastical offices.
  3. It is preferable that the candidate have completed a course of study in a graduate school of Orthodox theology. 
  4. He should be conversant in the English language and, as appropriate, in another language commonly spoken among the faithful of the Diocese.
  5. If at the time of his nomination he is a layman or a celibate or widowed priest, he shall pronounce at least the first monastic vows (rasophore), if he has not already pronounced such vows.
  6. Diocesan bishops shall not be eligible for nomination for another Diocese.

Section 7  

The Vacant See

  1. In the event of a vacancy in the office of Diocesan Bishop, a Locum Tenens, appointed by the Metropolitan, shall convoke and preside over a special Diocesan Assembly for the sole purpose of nominating a candidate as Diocesan Bishop.
  2. Should the election of a new Diocesan Bishop be delayed for an extraordinary length of time, the Holy Synod may authorize the Locum Tenens to assume additional authority proper to a Diocesan Bishop, as required by the best interests and continuing welfare of the Diocese. 
  3. The special Diocesan Assembly shall conduct the nomination in accord with the provisions of the Diocesan Bylaws, and the Locum Tenens shall submit the nominee to the Holy Synod according to procedures established by the Holy Synod.
  4. Upon the acceptance of the nomination by the Holy Synod, the candidate shall be summoned to a session of the Holy Synod for canonical election. 
  5. If the special Diocesan Assembly fails to nominate a candidate acceptable to the Holy Synod, the Synod may elect another qualified candidate as Diocesan Bishop, or they may authorize another Diocesan Assembly to nominate.
  6. With his acceptance of the canonical election by the Holy Synod, the new Diocesan Bishop, if already of episcopal rank, has full authority and prerogatives as Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese to which he has been elected.
  7. If the Bishop-Elect is not yet of episcopal rank, his ordination should occur within thirty (30) days after his canonical election by the Holy Synod. The Metropolitan, or a senior hierarch of the Holy Synod whom he may delegate, shall preside. 
  8. The new Diocesan Bishop’s enthronement in his Diocese shall occur within two (2) weeks following his ordination or, if he is already of episcopal rank, his canonical election to the Diocese. The enthronement shall take place in the Diocese, preferably in the Diocesan cathedral. The Metropolitan, or a senior hierarch of the Holy Synod whom he may delegate, shall preside.

Section 8  

Mission Activity

The Diocesan Bishop shall propagate and expound the Faith and moral teaching of the Orthodox Church among all people within the boundaries of his Diocese, both Orthodox Christians and those not members of the Orthodox Church. 

The Diocesan Bishop shall:

  1. Ensure that his clergy witness to the Orthodox faith in their communities;
  2. Direct parish clergy also to extend their pastoral activity to the unchurched;
  3. Establish missions for the purpose of propagating the Orthodox Faith; and
  4. Ensure that necessary funds are provided for missionary activity within his Diocese.