March 18, 2013
Howell, NJ: Metropolitan Hilarion led a Regular Session of the Diocesan Council

On Friday, March 1, a regular meeting of the Eastern American Diocesan Council was held in Howell, NJ, presided over by the Diocese’s ruling bishop, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.

Also taking part in the meeting were:

Bishop George of Mayfield
Bishop Jerome of Manhattan
Archpriest Victor Potapov
Archpriest Serge Lukianov – diocesan secretary
Archpriest Mark Mancuso
Hieromonk Alexander (Frizzell)
Deacon George Temidis
Deacon Michael Wengrin – diocesan treasurer
Reader Peter Lukianov – director of the diocesan media office
Reader Gregory Levitsky – recording secretary
Mr. Serge R. Lopoukhine

The meeting began at 10:15 AM with the singing of "O Heavenly King," followed by the reading of the minutes of the previous Diocesan Council meeting on November 14, 2012. Metropolitan Hilarion ratified the minutes.

1) With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, assistant treasurer and Media Office Editor, Reader Gregory Levitsky was appointed to the Diocesan Council as recording secretary.

2) Metropolitan Hilarion informed the Council that the Triumph of Orthodoxy service in Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral in Passaic, NJ on March 24th has been cancelled. Because of several logistics issues, it was decided to cancel the service and encourage clergy to attend either the Northern or Southern Clergy Lenten Retreats. Metropolitan Hilarion expressed his desire for a moleben to be served in each parish.

3) Council members discussed the ongoing financial crisis at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. On December 14, 2012, Metropolitan Hilarion led a delegation from the Diocesan Council to Jordanville in order to meet with the abbot Archimandrite Luke (Murianka) and investigate the problem. A short film was produced by the Media Office, entitled "Spiritual Waves," which outlines the structural, plumbing, and electrical issues that are threatening the monastery. Media Office director Reader Peter Lukianov reported on several video projects currently being worked on to help raise awareness of the financial crisis. The videos will highlight many of the reasons why Holy Trinity Monastery is so important to the Russian Church Abroad, and why it is worth preserving. Council members discussed the need for more publicity and shared their own experiences of familiarizing parishioners with the history and legacy of ROCOR. Information on the financial crisis can be found here.

Metropolitan Hilarion stressed the importance of the Diocese helping Holy Trinity Monastery in any way possible. Parish rectors are urged to educate their parishioners about the need to support out monasteries, especially in such troubled times of financial crisis. His Eminence also approved a motion to hold a special plate collection in all parishes of the Eastern American Diocese on the feast of Pentecost to benefit Jordanville. A directive will be mailed to all rectors regarding this special need.

 

4) Southern Dean Archpriest Victor Potapov reported on the establishment of a new parish in Stafford, VA, named in honor of St. Herman of Alaska. The parish was formerly named Christ the Savior Church and was part of the Archdiocese of Washington of the Orthodox Church in America. The parish clergy were given a canonical release by Metropolitan Tikhon, and later the parish was dissolved and accepted into the Eastern American Diocese as St. Herman’s Church. The parish rector is Archpriest Alexander Webster, who is assisted by Deacon Alexander Laymon. The parish now serves according to the Old Calendar.

 

Metropolitan Hilarion expressed his gratitude to Metropolitan Tikhon for releasing the clergy to ROCOR and stressed the importance of preserving good relations with the OCA. His Eminence reported on his recent meeting with Met. Tikhon, during which the two Primates agreed to keep channels of communication open regarding the transfer of clerics to and from either jurisdiction. A letter of gratitude from His Grace Michael, Bishop of New York and the Diocese of New York & New Jersey (OCA) was then read aloud. The letter was in response to a greeting sent to His Grace on behalf of the Eastern American Diocese, congratulating him on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his ordination.

 

5) Archpriest Serge Lukianov reported on the closure of All Saints of North America Church in Middlebrook, VA. The parish was shut down and relocated to nearby Harrisonburg, VA, and renamed in honor of the Holy Myrrhbearers. Harrisonburg is a much more densely populated city, and parish rector Archpriest John Moses has already reported significant growth in the parish community since the visit. Council members thanked Fr. John and his assistant Priest Gabriel Weller for their hard work and dedication to the parish.

 

6) Fr. Serge gave a report about the upcoming Lenten Retreats in Holy Trinity and Holy Cross Monasteries. Two retreats will be held this year to give both Southern and Northern clergy an opportunity to attend without having to travel significant distances. The Northern retreat will be held in Holy Trinity Monastery on April 1-3 (click here for more information) and the Southern Retreat will be held in Holy Cross Monastery on April 8-10 (click here for more information on the Southern retreat). Patriarchal Clergy in America and all matushkas are cordially invited to attend either retreat. Metropolitan Hilarion will lead both retreats. Because so much financial aid was received from the Fund for Assistance in 2012, it was decided not to petition for any additional aid towards the retreats. For this reason, the registration was reduced to $150 per person, which includes two nights lodging.

 

7) The Council accepted the resignation as Chairwoman of the Diocesan Music Committee (EADMC) of Ms. Elizabeth Ledkovsky, who proposed that Mr. Jared Brewer (former English-language choir conductor at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC) replace her. Seminarian Nicholas Kotar was also proposed as an addition to the committee. The Council accepted Ms. Ledkovsky’s resignation, thanking her for her dedicated service to the Diocese, and approved both recommendations. Ms. Ledkovsky will stay on as a regular member of the EADMC.

 

8) The Council discussed the upcoming 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia, to be celebrated on the week of July 28th at St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ, itself celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding. The whole week will be dedicated to the anniversary, with several events spread throughout: on Wednesday, July 24th, the lower church, currently undergoing major renovations, will be consecrated in honor of St. Olga; on Friday, July 26th, a cultural ball will be held at the Rodina Russian House. Council members discussed various incentives to attract diocesan clergy to the event, and inquired as to the possibility of inviting a hierarch from the Russian Church in Ukraine as a representative at the celebrations. Council members discussed ordering a monument, presenting a slide show dedicated to the memory of the memorial church’s founders (Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko) and Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky)), and various fundraising options. Detailed information will be posted on the diocesan website in the near future.

 

9) Fr. Serge informed the Council of his recent visit to the Church of our Lady, "Joy of All Who Sorrow," in Atlanta, GA. At the direction of Metropolitan Hilarion, Fr. Serge visited the parish in order to aid in the transition of the new rector, Priest Eugene Antonov, as well as to inspect the new church building. Several meetings with held with the clergy, council, and parishioners, and questions relating to proper church governance were resolved.

 

10) Diocesan Treasurer Deacon Michael Wengrin presented a financial report for the 2012 Joint Pastoral Conference in Nyack along with a current statement of parish dues collections. The total operating expenses for the joint pastoral conference were $139,185.18 and total income received was $150,140.83.

 

11)   Media Office Director Reader Peter Lukianov gave a report about various projects that are underway in the Media Office. Several lectures are close to completion as part of the Pastoral Resources Program and staff members are exploring many new video techniques and styles as part of the expansion of the video program. Documentaries are being produced about Holy Trinity Monastery and St. Vladimir’s Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ, along with short news videos about current events in the diocese. Rdr. Peter reported on the overwhelming success and popularity of the most recent EADMO documentary – "Orthodox in Dixie." Based on feedback from viewers, the Media Office proposed a second feature documentary, similar in style to "Orthodox in Dixie," about the parishes of the Eastern American Diocese in the Caribbean. Council members supported the idea and with the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, filming will begin in the winter of 2013.

 

Rdr. Peter also reported about the working relationship between the EADMO and Russian Television Network "Soyuz." The Media Office has been submitting material to "Soyuz" on a regular basis, which is then broadcast throughout Russia and the world on TV and web. The Media Office has also been subcontracted to work on filming projects for His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, and the Orthodox Church in America.

 

12)   Council members discussed the possibility of organizing a pastoral conference in the fall and decided against the idea in favor of encouraging clergy to attend the St. Vladimir’s Day Celebrations in Jackson, NJ on July 27-28. A clergy symposium will be organized in Jackson as part of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia and 75th anniversary of the founding of St. Vladimir’s Memorial Church.

 


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