NEWS AND EVENTS - Saturday, February 28, 2015
EASTERN DIOCESE HOLDS ANNUAL ASSEMBLY
Weirton, WV - With the blessings of His Grace Bishop Mitrophan of Eastern America the annual Diocesan Assembly was hosted this year by the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church in Stuebenville, Ohio at their Cultural Central located in nearby Weirton, West Virginia on February 20-21, 2015.
The following are the Resolutions from the Assembly:
of the Annual Assembly of the
Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America
February 20-21, 2015
The clergy and congregation representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America, gathered at the annual Diocesan Assembly hosted by the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church of Steubenville, Ohio on February 20-21, 2015 under the omophorion of their Archpastor Rt. Rev. Bishop Dr. MITROPHAN, adopted the following resolutions:
1. We greet His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej and all the hierarchs of our Holy Serbian Orthodox Church of which we are and will remain a part, 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 will in this world, and to guide us all to the safe harbor of God’s heavenly Kingdom.
2. We recognize that Christ’s Church is the mystical Body of Christ, and that the main task of the Church commanded by our Lord Himself is to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to all those around us. To carry out this task, we must first know and practice the Faith ourselves, and make it central to every aspect of our personal and parish lives. We call upon our clergy, our congregations, and all our faithful people to continually rededicate themselves to living our faith in all its aspects through an active personal and liturgical prayer life, an honoring of the feasts and fasts of the Church, and prepared and frequent participation in the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Communion. Thus armed, we can boldly offer this same Faith to so many around us who hunger and thirst for the meaning and purpose in life that only Christ can give.
3. According to our Lord, one of the hallmarks of His Church is unity and oneness, both with Him and with each other. 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. We call on all our congregations and our faithful people to guard and maintain the unity and oneness which is a foundational hallmark of the Church, to support our Diocese and Bishop, to take seriously the faith and order of the Orthodox Church, and to 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.
4. 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 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 as Christian Stewards.
5. Our St. Sava School of Theology in Libertyville Illinois has been in existence for three decades and has prepared many of our clergy for their service to our Church and people in North America. To continue this vital work, the School needs the moral and financial support of our people. We appeal to all our faithful to generously support our School of Theology as it works to prepare those whose lives will be given to supporting and nurturing our Church and people.
6. We remain mindful of the situation in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija, and the difficult circumstances which our Serbian Orthodox brothers and sisters endure there. We pledge our continuing aid and support to all of our suffering brothers and sisters in Kosovo and Metohija, and to all those who still remain as refugees from their hearths and homes throughout the former Yugoslavia. We are hopeful for the return of those refugees to their ancestral homes, and urge our faithful to continue to support them spiritually and financially.
At the same time, we note with great pain the persecution of Orthodox and other Christian populations in many majority Islamic countries, particularly in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity. In many of these countries Christians are at best second-class citizens, and are sometimes even treated as aliens in their own countries, denied basic civil rights and the protection of law.
In the past year we have seen the rise of a self-proclaimed “Islamic State” with the stated goals of establishing a world-wide Islamic caliphate and bringing into submission all other societies and governments. In addition to military action, they have made extensive use of murder and terror to bring about their goals, most recently of 21 Coptic Christian martyrs in Libya.
We stand in support of all innocent victims of religious hatred and persecution, and call on the government of the United States to speak and act in their defense.
7. We express our great thanks to God and great joy on the recent release of His Eminence JOVAN, Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skoplje, from prison in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. His Eminence spent much time as a prisoner of conscience in violation of his basic human rights, particularly the right of religious freedom, simply because of his desire to be in communion with the Serbian Orthodox Church and with world Orthodoxy. We thank the Russian Orthodox Church for using its good offices to bring about Archbishop JOVAN's release, and for providing him with medical care in Russia. We continue to call upon the FYROM authorities to respect his human rights and those of his flock, who simply wish to remain in canonical unity with Orthodox Christians throughout the world.
8. It is with deep sorrow and concern that we have witnessed the ongoing violence in Ukraine. We pray that all the people of Ukraine, most of whom are our fellow Orthodox Christians, will follow the principles of civil discourse and peaceful negotiation in seeking peace and a resolution to conflict, as befits a Christian nation. We also pray for the ultimate canonical unity of the Ukrainian Orthodox people in one autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, on the basis of the universal canonical and organizational principles of the Holy Orthodox Church.
9. We view with great concern the increasing moral decline and spiritual confusion infecting the West in general, and the United States in particular. The ongoing divorce of our culture and society from its Christian roots and the rise of an aggressive secularism have had a grave impact on many aspects of life. The foundational unit of society, the family, is rapidly disintegrating, while so many moral underpinnings of society, including the God-ordained committed relationship of one man and one woman in the community of marriage, are being abandoned. Western civilization is rooted in a Christian world view, and the loss of that world view has quickly led to a debasement of society and culture, and to an emboldening of those who would replace our way of life with something alien and ultimately de-humanizing. Love and concern for our families, friends and neighbors demands that we as Christians speak out in defense of traditional morality and witness to the power of Christ to provide meaning and fulfillment to those searching for these things in a world which cannot provide them on its own.