The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia held its regular teleconference on Thursday, May 4, chaired by its Primate, His Eminence Nicholas, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York. During his first visit as First Hierarch to Germany, the hierarchs of the ROCOR’s dioceses in Europe gathered together with His Eminence at the Convent of St. Elisabeth the Grand Duchess in Buchendorf, both for the regular session of the Holy Synod — in which the other Synod members participated via videoconferencing from their dioceses in other parts of the world — as well as for time of monastic fellowship, common prayer, and discussion of spiritual and pastoral matters relating to the life of the Church Abroad in Europe.
Present in person in Germany were Their Eminences Metropolitan Nicholas and Metropolitan Mark of Berlin & Germany, Their Graces Bishop Irenei of London & Western Europe, Bishop Alexander of Vevey, and Bishop Job of Stuttgart. Participating in the meeting of the Holy Synod via videoconference were the other regular Synod members: Their Eminences Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco & Western America, Secretary of the Holy Synod; His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada; His Eminence Archbishop Peter of Chicago & Mid-America; and His Grace Bishop Theodosius of Seattle. The chancellor of the Synod, Archpriest Serafim Gan, was also present in Germany.
During its session, members of the Holy Synod and invited vicar bishops discussed a host of matters relating to the life and administration of the Church Abroad during the present difficult times. Special prayers were offered and discussion held on the situation of the longsuffering faithful and hierarchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, enduring grievous persecutions in its own homeland; and the Synod members reiterated their longstanding stance against the bloodshed of war and prayers for the swift end to armed conflict in the region. At the divine services, prayers were offered for His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onouphry, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and all of his brethren and spiritual children.
Bishop Irenei of London & Western Europe gave a report on the status of various matters in inter-Orthodox relations, pertaining to the Church Abroad’s fraternal relations with other parts of the Orthodox Church throughout the world. Reports were also heard on the Church’s missionary endeavors in various parts of the world; on the internal life of the Church’s dioceses; on the activities of the Fund for Assistance (FFA); and on a host of other administrative, disciplinary, and property matters.
Of special joy to those hierarchs gathered in Germany was the possibility to pray together before the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, which was brought from New York to Germany by the First Hierarch, together with the relics of the Kiev Saints and a host of others, brought to Germany from Geneva by arrangement of Bishop Irenei and conveyed from Switzerland by Bishop Alexander and Archdeacon Dometian (Redko). The Hierarchs were thus able to offer their fervent prayers to the Theotokos before her icon, in the presence of the sacred relics of the saints who shone forth in the very Ukrainian lands now so deeply in need of their Heavenly intercessions.