On 7 September an Extraordinary General Assembly will be held in Paris. This meeting has been called by our Archbishop John of Charioupolis, the head of the Churches of Russian Tradition under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to which our parish belongs.
Representatives, both clergy and lay, from about 130 parishes throughout Europe will gather to discuss and vote on the future of our Archdiocese.
In November 2018 the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew informed our Archbishop John of the decision to disband the existing structure of our Archdiocese, and for all parishes simply to merge with existing dioceses of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in each country.
This means that the Archdiocese which has existed in Western Europe as a self governing body under the Ecumenical Patriarchate since 1931 would cease to exist. This is deeply upsetting for members of the Archdiocese who regard themselves as free from all national prejudices, and have followed closely the decisions taken at the famous Russian Sobor (Council) of 1917-8, which allowed for the free election of their bishops and full participation by the laity in all decision making. Many have seen the Archdiocese as laying the foundations for an independent Orthodox Church in Western Europe.
In February this year, the General Assembly of the Archdiocese voted almost unanimously not to disband, but to preserve the unity of the Archdiocese and support our Archbishop.
Since then, many attempts have been made to find some way of keeping the Archdiocese united and intact. Appeals have been made to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to reverse its decision. Other Churches have been approached and been asked to take us under their protection.
The only Church which has so far offered to accept the Archdiocese has been the Moscow Patriarchate. Our Archbishop John has been negotiating with representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, which has come up with a detailed plan, which they say will guarantee our complete independence and preservation of our current statutes. However, the final choice for the selection of any bishops would lie with Moscow, and we would be required to commemorate the Patriarch of Moscow at all our services.
Reunification with the Moscow Patriarchate is for very many people not an acceptable option. This is especially the case for most of our parishes in Britain, which have in the past suffered deeply at the hands of Moscow. Apart from anything else, if our parish were to join the Moscow Patriarchate, it would mean that we would find ourselves out of communion with other parishes under Constantinople, following the decision by the Moscow Patriarchate to break Eucharistic communion with Constantinople!
Our clergy and delegates from this parish will be asked to vote at the forthcoming Assembly on whether to join the Moscow Patriarchate, or to seek some other solution. One of these would be to remain as an independent church group, temporarily not attached to any of the Patriarchates.
The clergy representing our parish will be Father Patrick Hodson and myself. Our two lay delegates are Celia Olsson and Martin Olsson. If you have any thoughts or questions about the future of our Archdiocese, or about our parish, please contact them, or write or phone me.
Protodeacon Peter (Scorer)
email@example.com 01392 278585 / 07811128275