The Spring Session of the Holy Synod of Bishops, which convened at the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America May 7-10, 2019, opened with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at Saint Sergius of Radonezh Chapel, at which His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa, presided. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon celebrated a Trisagion for the departed family members of the Holy Synod.
Metropolitan Tikhon the opened the first plenary session with his address to the Holy Synod, the complete text of which may be found below.
Metropolitan Tikhon welcomed Archpriest Alexander Rentel to his first meeting of the Holy Synod since his appointment as Chancellor. He went on to express gratitude to long-time Subdeacon Roman Ostash for his faithful service, and once again expressed gratitude for the work of the former Chancellor, Archpriest John Jillions.
In her report to the Holy Synod, Melanie Ringa, Treasurer, updated the Holy Synod on financial matters for through March 31, 2019, in which she indicated that year-to-date total assets were $3,847,296.00 with total liabilites of $197,035.00 and net assets of $3,650,261—an increase of $475,198.00 for the quarter. The Lilly Foundation “Thriving in Ministry Grant” in the amount of $347,500.00 was received during this period. Metropolitan Tikhon went on to thank Melanie for her years of devoted service as Treasurer. Members of the Holy Synod then confirmed the appointment of Andrew D. Smith as the new OCA Treasurer.
Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary, offered a presentation on the current status of the archives renovation project.
His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin reported on the latest plans for the celebration of the 50th Anniversaries of the Granting of Autocephaly and the Glorification of Saint Herman of Alaska in 2020. Detailed information will be forthcoming.
Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky briefed the members of the Holy Synod on matters of external relations. In response, the Holy Synod issued a statement reaffirming its earlier position, issued in January 2019.
Metropolitan Tikhon presented the report of the manager of the 20th All-American Council, Deacon Peter Ilchuck, and Archpriest Eric Tosi.
Metropolitan Tikhon welcomed to the meeting Archpriest Chad Hatfield, President of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, NY and Archpriest John Parker, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA, who reported on the work of the seminaries. His Eminence, Archbishop David reported on the work of Saint Herman’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kodiak, AK.
During the gathering, His Grace, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh was the guest of the Holy Synod. The Holy Synod also met with 2019 OCA graduates of Saint Tikhon’s and Saint Vladimir’s Seminaries.
On behalf of the members of the Holy Synod, His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, offered gratitude to Metropolitan Tikhon and his staff for the outstanding organization and preparation of the Spring Session.
Opening Address of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
May 7, 2019
Christ is risen!
I welcome all of the brothers to the Spring Session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America. The opening of our session with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy during the paschal season provides us with the opportunity to give thanks to God for the gift of the universal resurrection which each of us has celebrated in his respective diocese. We have all joyfully proclaimed the paschal greeting “Christ is risen” in a multitude of languages, which is not an expression of cultural variety or ethnic self-expression, but a confirmation of the reality that the resurrection is truly universal, meaning that it is offered to all human beings, no matter where they dwell and no matter what language they speak. In this sense, the proclamation of the resurrection is not an expression of the diversity of languages at the tower of Babel, nor should it provide a humorous opportunity to confound others by our use of exotic languages. Our aim should be precisely the opposite: to joyfully, yet soberly, express our unity in the Holy Spirit by giving glory to Christ who rose from the dead.
I pray that this unity of the Holy Spirit and the bright reminder of the “other life which is eternal” will guide us in our deliberations and decisions this week. May the intercessions of Saint Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, whose memory we celebrate today, encourage us in this year, which marks the 25th anniversary of his glorification by the Orthodox Church in America in 1994, as well as the 225th year after the arrival of the monastic missionaries to Alaska in 1794. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the granting of our autocephaly and the glorification of Saint Herman, the time is right for us, not only to celebrate these historic events, but also to engage in a collective self-examination and self-assessment of where we have been, and where we are going, as the Orthodox Church in America. Our meeting this week will be key to this process as we work and pray together as a Holy Synod, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit and traveling the road together (the literal translation of the word “synodos”) as we guide the flock in North America.
We are saddened today by the absence of one of our brothers, His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon, of Boston, New England, and the Albanian Archdiocese, due to health reasons. We extend to him our brotherly prayers and good wishes for a speedy recovery. I will share more details concerning His Eminence’s condition as we begin our sessions this morning.
We also extend our thanks to Benedict Sheehan and the choir from the Orthodox Theological Seminary of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk for their prayerful singing this morning. We are encouraged to see the tremendous talent and faithfulness to Christ and His Holy Church that is being nurtured in all our seminaries. We also look to hear many more good things coming from the Saint Tikhon Choir in particular. I have asked Benedict to share a few words at the conclusion of breakfast this morning concerning some of the work he is engaged in, including his composition of the Divine Liturgy, one of the first complete settings of the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in English. The concert world premiere of this work will take place during the annual Memorial Day Pilgrimage weekend at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery at a church venue in Wilkes-Barre, and the liturgical world premiere will take place in October at the Primatial Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Washington, DC.
Since we have celebrated the Divine Liturgy today, we have incorporated the various litanies and readings from the opening service of Thanksgiving into the liturgy and I will conclude here with the final prayer, after which we will, as is the custom, bless ourselves with the holy water, asking for the grace of the Holy Spirit to both unite us in our work on behalf of the Church and to strengthen us for the week ahead.