Church of Serbia – USA – February 2017
The clergy and church-school congregation representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America, gathered at the annual Diocesan Assembly hosted by the St. St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 10-11, 2017 under the omophorion of their Archpastor His Grace Bishop Irinej, adopted the following resolutions:
1. We greet His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej and all the hierarchs of our Holy Serbian Orthodox Church to which we belong, with prayers that God will continue to grant them the great grace of the Holy Spirit to powerfully proclaim the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to lead us into doing His holy will in this world, and to guide us all to the safe harbor of God’s heavenly Kingdom.
2. Since our last annual Assembly two very significant events have occurred in the life of this God-protected Diocese:
- We have bidden farewell to His Grace Bishop Dr. Mitrophan as he left us in obedience to the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church to become the Bishop of Canada. We thank God and him and for the wise, faithful and loving guidance with which he ruled this Diocese for a quarter-century, and pray that God will grant him many more years as he continues that service for his new flock. Eis polla eti, Despota!
- We have received a new Archpastor, His Grace Bishop Irinej, as he comes to us from his decade-plus of service to the Serbian Orthodox Church as Bishop of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand. No stranger to us, he comes as a native son of this Diocese, well-acquainted with our life, our needs and our challenges. In his short time here since his enthronement he has demonstrated great energy, love and commitment in guiding us into the future and towards the Kingdom of God. We pledge to him our support, our loyalty, our cooperation and our obedience as he shoulders this God-pleasing task. We pray that God will grant him health, strength, wisdom and the grace of the Holy Spirit, that he may lead us as our Father and Shepherd for many years, “rightly apportioning the word of God’s truth.” Eis polla eti, Despota!
3. According to our Lord, one of the hallmarks of His Church is unity and oneness, both with Him and through Him of its members with one another. Love unites us, while it is the lust for power and selfishness that divides. In the Holy Orthodox Church the Bishop of the Diocese is the symbol and guarantee of that unity, and it is through him that we are united both with each other within the territory of the diocese and with all Orthodox Christians throughout the world. No Orthodox congregation, and no Orthodox Church life, can exist outside of the local diocese or apart from the local bishop. Therefore, we again call on all our and our faithful people to:
- Guard and maintain the unity and oneness which is foundational to the Church by supporting our Diocese and our Bishop;
- Take seriously the faith and order of the Orthodox Church; and
- Continually work towards more perfectly implementing that faith and order in the lives of their local communities through an active liturgical and sacramental life, respect for and observance of the fasts and feasts, and adherence to the discipline of the Church; and especially
- Center themselves and every aspect of our personal and communal life on the worship of the Church and on the sacramental life which lies at its core. It is in the experience of the presence of the living Christ in our worship, and above all in the Holy Eucharist, that we are transformed and transfigured into a new creation, by experiencing the presence of God’s Kingdom even here and now as its citizens and participants in the new life in Christ.
4. We greet the new President of the United States of America, the Honorable Donald Trump, as he begins his service to our country following his recent election. In obedience to Scripture and in accordance with the Holy Tradition of our Church, we continually lift up our President and all those in civil authority in prayer both liturgically and privately, asking that God will guide them in wisdom and understanding so that we may live in peace, harmony and tranquility under their stewardship (I Tim. 2:1-4). We call on him in leading our country to protect and respect the right of all people to live peaceably with one another in accordance with their own conscience, and to use the authority of his office to ensure that our government protects the weakest among us: the poor, the powerless, the stranger and those in their mother’s womb, and that it administers justice fairly and judiciously. We also call upon him to guide our country to use its natural and human resources wisely and well, to protect God’s creation, and to use its international standing “for the peace of the whole world” and with respect for all peoples and nations, including the vital interests of our Serbian Fatherland.
5. We greet His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Katherine and the entire Royal Family, and commend them for their service to the Serbian people and their humanitarian efforts on behalf of those in need. May God always guide and bless them to continue their good work and exemplary service.
6. Our Diocese and the entire Serbian Orthodox Church was shocked and saddened by the destruction of our St. Sava Cathedral in New York City by fire on Pascha of last year. The Cathedral has stood as a symbol of and witness to the presence and position of the Serbian community and its Orthodox faith in the City and in our country for many years. As His Grace, our Bishop Irinej has reminded us, the Cathedral stands as the Pro-Cathedral of the Serbian Orthodox Church in America, its representation in the very heart of the greatest City of one of the foremost nations of the world. We commend the faithful Serbian Orthodox people of New York for their determination and tireless efforts to resurrect the Cathedral and restore it to its proper place of witness and service in Manhattan. As representatives of the Diocese of Eastern America, we pledge our continued efforts to help rebuild our Diocesan Pro-Cathedral and establish a functional and suitable Diocesan Center there to represent the Serbian Orthodox Church in that great City. Wecall on all Serbian Orthodox people throughout the world to contribute to this goal. We thank His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I for his primatial concern, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios and our brothers and sisters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, as well as the Episcopalian Bishop Andrew M. L Dietsche and the Diocese of New York, for their aid and support in providing temporary places of worship and fellowship for the Cathedral parish. We especially thank His Holiness our Serbian Patriarch Irinej I for his paternal love and guidance, and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia for accepting to serve as Royal Patron of the rebuilding effort.
7. Our Lord repeatedly used the image of the steward, the faithful manager of the Master’s goods, as an image characteristic of His followers. We are called to be Christian Stewards, faithfully using the time, talents and treasure entrusted to us by God for the building up of His Kingdom and the salvation of our souls and of those around us. The Christian steward knows that all he or she has ultimately belongs to God, and that he is responsible to God for its proper use, safeguarding and multiplying it. One aspect of Christian Stewardship is, of course, active financial and moral support for the saving work of Christ’s Church. Another is care for those around us who are in need, as we are reminded each year at this time in the Gospel of the Last Judgment. Still another is proper care for God’s good creation through responsible use and conservation of natural resources and the environment. The members of the Diocesan Assembly again call upon all our parishes and people to take seriously their responsibilities and opportunities as Christian Stewards.
8. We express our solidarity with and support for our brother and sister Christians in areas of conflict and persecution, especially in the Middle East. We also remain mindful of our Serbian Orthodox brothers and sisters who maintain a difficult and precarious existence in their Serbian homeland of Kosovo and Metohija. We call on our faithful to support them and all those who suffer from the ravages of war, civil unrest and discrimination through prayer, through material aid through International Orthodox Christian Charities-IOCC and other conduits, and through making their plight better known to the public and policy makers.
9. His Grace and the members of the Assembly express their deep respect and thanks to the Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dragoljub C. Malich for his many years of service to our Diocese and Church as pastor and as Episcopal Deputy. We wish him a blessed and joyful well-deserved retirement from active ministry. We also express our most sincere thanks to the Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Rodney Torbic, D.Min. for his many years of service to the Diocese as its Director of Religious Education. At the same time we welcome our new, full-time Director of Religious Education, the Rev. Deacon Dr. Jovan Anicic. The need for a full time religious education director has long been felt, and we look forward to many blessings flowing from his ministry here.
10. We sincerely thank Cathedral Dean, Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Aleksandar Vlajkovic, the Cathedral Board, the Circle of Serbian Sisters and all the faithful of the St. Sava Cathedral community for their truly outstanding hospitality and love in welcoming the members of the Assembly to their parish home as true Christ-loving hosts.May God grant them many years!