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
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