Church of Serbia – 14/3/18
We, the clergy, monastics, and representatives of the people of God, ordained and elected members to the Annual Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America, Serbian Orthodox Church, have gathered together at the church of the Holy Great and Victorious Martyr George in the God-protected city of Clearwater, Florida on February 16 and 17, in the year of our Lord 2018.
Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them:
‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am Holy’ (Lev. 19:2).
Today, when we celebrate the memory of the Venerable Isidore of Pelusium, the Holy Spirit has gathered us in the community of the Body of Christ that He might bring us closer us to our Heavenly Father. Having announced the fullness of God’s Church, gathered around our Bishop, Father and Archpastor Irinej, we greet the fullness of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the person of His Holiness, the Archbishop of Pech, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, and Serbian Patriarch Irinej.
We give thanks to Almighty God for the gift of living in this country, where, in the true sense of the word, we may rejoice in our unity among Orthodox Christians of other jurisdictions. Preserving the inner unity of our own parishes and following the example of our Bishop, every day we have the opportunity to share in the lives of other Orthodox people and their traditions, such that in gathering we experience the fullness of the words of the Apostle that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). That is why, here and now, we pray together that the Lord strengthens the faith of Orthodox Christians and guides us on the road to unity.
We thank Almighty God also for His daily visitation to His people! This year, we have been abundantly blessed by the mercy that has flowed throughout all of Orthodoxy, particularly upon us, through the revelation of the incorrupt remains of St. Mardarije of Libertyville and All America. In the year in which we commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of St. Mardarije’s arrival in North America, the Lord has once again shown us this Saint as a further witness of His word. In July of 2017, the magnificent celebration at the Monastery of St. Sava in Libertyville, which St. Mardarije both built with his own hands and built himself in it, marked the jubilee of St. Mardarije’s arrival as a missionary. This was yet another occasion of the announcement of the universality and unity, not only within the Serbian Church, but among the entire Orthodox Church. “God is wonderful in His saints” (Ps. 67:36).
From this place, we greet His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Alexander, Heir to the Throne, and his wife, Princess Katherine. We have them in our daily prayers, asking that the Lord strengthen and uphold them in their labors for the benefit of our people in the Fatherland. Repeatedly, in the course of the preceding year, they and other members of the House of Karageorge, visited our Diocese and our Bishop. Their sense of responsibility toward their own people encourages them to organize our people in the Diaspora for the sake of helping our relatives and friends in the land of our forbearers. Additionally, His Royal Highness invests considerable effort to represent our culture and traditions to others, drawing them in and encouraging other peoples, engendering a desire to help those for whom help is essential. The Royal Family’s years of experience in this field of charity confirms God’s blessings on them. God grant them Many Years!
We also greet His Grace Longin, Bishop of New Grachanica and Midwestern America, and His Grace Kirilo, Bishop of Diocletia. We greet His Grace Maxim, Bishop of Western America and the Orthodox Institute of Saints Sebastian and Mardarije. This year, for the first time, we have had the opportunity to reap the fruits of their labors in our Eastern American Diocese. From February 13th to 15th, the clergy and faithful of North and South America had the occasion to discuss the challenges facing Christians today, in the spirit of Holy Tradition and ethos of the Orthodox Church.
WHEREAS it is with great concern for the survival of our people in their centuries-old hearth and homeland that we express our support for His Grace Teodosije, Bishop of the Rashka and Prizren Diocese, and all who carefully follow the events related to the survival of our southern province, Kosovo and Metohija, and the salvation of their inhabitants and holy places;
WHEREAS the powers of this world continue to press all the more, we pray to the Lord that those who will bear the responsibility before God and His people throughout history, will act in wisdom in these difficult times both for our land and for our people as a whole; and
WHEREAS it is with a heavy heart that we express our condolences to the family, and, as such, to all the Serbian people, for the tragic loss of +Oliver Ivanovic. May his memory be eternal.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT with great hope in the Risen Lord, the fruits of his noble work may be of benefit to the Serbian nation, most notably in our province of Kosovo and Metohija.
The Church of God is not of this world. Because of that, it will suffer all things until the Second Coming of Christ. In spite of the fact that we live in a land where we are not directly threatened by the dangers of war, persecution and hunger, our Diocese and the whole of the Serbian Church is wounded by the fire which devastated our Pro-Cathedral, the temple dedicated to St. Sava in New York City. By the grace of God, in this short period from Pascha, 2016, after the tragic fire, a great deal of work has been done in preparation for its renovation. Through the efforts of our Bishop Irinej, Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dr. Zivojin Jakovljevic, Dean of the Cathedral Church; Architect S. Don Zivkovic, Project Executive for the renovation; the Board of Trustees and the Building Committee, and the whole Church of God, in the premier city of the world, New York;
WHEREAS, the ruins left by the fire have been cleaned and preparations for the continuation of work are underway, and Almighty God has declared His mercy in our midst, and has shown us that He is always among us;
WHEREAS during the cleaning beneath the Holy Altar, the Holy Relics, sealed in the Holy Table, were found unharmed: We thank all who, through their prayers, expertise and means continue to aid us in the resurrection of our Cathedral; and
WHEREAS we must never forget the love of our Orthodox brethren in New York who during this difficult time came to our aid.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT we especially draw attention to the examples set by their Eminences, Archbishop Demetrios and Metropolitan Hilarion, the priests and faithful of the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox Churches, who always opened wide their doors to our community, giving their churches and centers for our gatherings. May our Lord open wide the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven for them.
With gratefulness to God, during the previous year we were finally able to enact the decision of the Holy Assembly of Bishops, which stated that the Diocesan Center should be located in the largest city in the Diocese, in the City of New York.
WHEREAS the Diocese of Eastern America, heeding the decision of the Holy Assembly of Bishops, succeeded in locating and purchasing a Diocesan Center in the State of New York, in close proximity to the premier city of America, New York;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the new Episcopal Residence and Diocesan Center is now located at 65 Overlook Circle, New Rochelle, NY.
In consideration of our parish life, we thank God for all good things which He grants us. This Assembly is also God’s witness of His presence among us: “for where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20)
WHEREAS the faithful children of the Church are invited to regularly gather and to unite themselves to Christ, to be in communion with Him,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT we affirm the words of St. Ignatius the God-bearer: “Take heed to frequently gather at the Eucharist and in glory. For when you often gather in one place, then the strength of Satan is destroyed, and his devastation is brought about single-handedly by our faith” (To the Ephesians 13:1).
WHEREAS Christ tells us, and history confirms, that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church of God (Matthew 16:18). In witness of the same, during this past year we have celebrated one hundred years of existence of the Church of St. Stephen in Lackawanna, NY; fifty years of existence of the Church of St Stephen of Decani in Columbus, OH; fifty years of existence of the Church of St. George in Clearwater, FL; and twenty-five years of existence of the Cathedral Church of St. Sava in Boston, MA.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Diocesan Assembly of the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church congratulates all the above-mentioned parishes on their meaningful jubilees, wishing them many fruitful years in their life in Christ as they continue to witness to their faithful and to their surrounding communities the Truth of Holy Orthodoxy.
The Church of God is a living organism, which breathes by the Holy Spirit and is expanding, is witnessed to us through the works of love of our people, seen in building construction. New churches are being constructed to the glory of God in Orlando, FL and Atlanta, GA. The end is in sight for the completion of the churches in Miami and North Port, FL. Additionally, in the course of the year, there was a groundbreaking for a chapel to be dedicated to the Holy Bishop Nicholai in Columbus, OH which will be the first in America to be built in the style of Njegosh’s chapel on Lovchen. The parish home in Clearwater, FL was also built and blessed this year, and in the following year, the frescoes in Charlotte, NC will be blessed.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Diocesan Assembly of the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church applauds the extraordinary efforts involved in creating new parishes and erecting new houses of worship, and prays for the continuing success of their efforts in the Vineyard of the Lord.
Today, from this Assembly, we call all parents to educate their children in the knowledge of Christ. Our Lord Himself is the most important lesson in every educational endeavor, and we ask the parents to themselves be the example to their children in the life of Christ. We would bring attention to the fact that children at a certain age begin to question the faith and knowledge of the people around them, and they may oppose what they are hearing. At that time, it is most important that parents, through their example, continue to demonstrate what is essential in the child’s life.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT it is critical that parents not forsake their parental and spiritual responsibilities to their children, especially not at the moment when children show resistance even to the Church, but rather demonstrate the right path through their personal example.
The Department of Christian Education of the Diocese of Eastern America continues with its activities for the advancement and upbringing of our children and youth. Having recognized the importance of the work of this Department under the direction of Deacon Dr Jovan Anicic;
WHEREAS the most fruitful area of activity occurs at the summer and winter camps held at St. Sava Camp in Shadeland, PA, and also at St. Mark in Lake Sheffield, OH, which have been for years the places for meeting and getting to know other Serbian Orthodox youth from across all America and Canada, and very successful winter camps were also held in Orlando and Clearwater, FL;
WHEREAS we are grateful to all those who successfully have organized this important type of fraternal gathering, especially to the Federation of Circles of Serbian Sisters of our Diocese;
WHEREAS we desire to note the first Family Day, which was held at New Marcha Monastery in Richfield, OH, and the first issue of our Children’s Magazine, published in Serbian and English languages, which became available just before the Feast of the Nativity of Christ; and
WHEREAS Vidovdan, the feast of extraordinary importance for the Serbian people, will in the future be celebrated at the Deanery level, for the benefit of our youth and all the Serbian faithful of each Deanery.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT we confirm the need for formation of a Youth Movement, under the Department of Christian Education in the Diocese of Eastern America, which is already in process. May God strengthen all those who labor in the Lord’s Vineyard, working toward the education of our youth.
We also announce that, in addition to that which has been mentioned, it is important to highlight that our Eastern American Diocese will be the host on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the end of the World War I. The central commemoration on the North American continent will be held in Washington, DC on July 28, 2018.
In caring for one another, we care for the Church. Let us hear the needs of the community and let us help our communities by professional advice, through the time we set aside to donate to our communities, and with financial resources that are necessary for life in this world; and
WHEREAS these three examples are the foundation of our Christian stewardship, principles by which the Church has lived in this world for two millennia.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT our faithful are called to uphold and donate to their Church communities the foundational gifts of time, talent and treasure, transforming their communities based on the Stewardship mandate given to us by our Creator.
The Assembly gratefully acknowledges the local Church of God, the Diocese of Eastern America, with its predecessors, expresses its deepest gratitude to its worthy pastors in the Lord’s field who have, in the past year, retired from active parochial service: Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dr. Rodney Torbic and Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Djordje Mileusnic. Those who are acquainted with these exemplary priests are familiar with their dedicated witness to the Risen Christ. In addition, this Assembly also expresses most sincere appreciation to Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Rade Merick for his diligent work and leading the Resolutions Committee for over 25 years. Many years, dear Fathers!
The Assembly expresses it deepest gratitude to the Parish of St. George in Clearwater and to its priest, Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dragan Lj. Zaric, dean of the St. Petersburg Deanery, for their hospitality and care on behalf of those who gathered both for the Institute and for the Assembly. It was a great joy to be in their midst, and we pray the Lord makes us worthy of such communion in His eternal community.
Eastern American Diocese