Tuesday, January 31, 2017

ROCA: Summary from Vladivostok about the latest Schism

Editorial from the “Brotherly Listok”

icon-of-the-holy-church-by-matthew-garret3.jpgCommunion between the Far East Diocese and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was restored on the day of the Feast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the past year (2016). This brought us not only the joy of reunion with many of the same faith on the territory of historical Russia and abroad, but also inevitable anxieties.

Already then, the rift between the Synod headed by Metropolitan Agafangel and a group of clerics and laymen was perceptibly unfolding. The group were accusing the Primate of usurping power and non-canonical actions, while demanding the convention of an extraordinary All-Diaspora Council. On August 27, 2016 Bishops Sophrony and Andronik, along with part of their flocks, announced their non-submission to the ROCA Synod and Metropolitan Agafangel. In his response, the First Hierarch addressed the initiators of the convention of this “All-Diaspora Council”, for the first time using the term “parasynagogue”.

images.jpg?w=510(* Parasynagogue (Greek παρασυναγωγή -. arbitrary gathering) - a form of departure from Orthodoxy, other than division based on a heresy in that it does not apply to dogmatic questions and is the result of a violation of church hierarchal discipline – disobedience to the hierarchy established by God. “The ancients … named such meetings as are drawn up by unruly presbyters or bishops and unwise people - arbitrary gatherings. For example, if someone, being rebuked for sin, is removed from the priesthood, thereafter does not submit to the rules, and himself retains the authority and standing of the priesthood, and if certain others separate with him”. (Saint Basil’s the Great: First Canonical Epistle to Amphilochius of Iconium).)

It should be noted that neither the First Hierarch nor the Synod members had any objection in principle to the convening of an All-Diaspora Council. However, they simply and legitimately insisted that the council be held in compliance with the rules of the Church, in accordance with procedure prescribed in the “Regulations on the ROCA”. However, even then it was visible that the goal of the initiators of strife was not a constructive dialogue in the spirit of Christ’s love with a view to resolving the existing problems, but rather – an escalation of the conflict.

In early September 2016, the “Pre-Council Commission” appeared, which even before any investigation or trial announced that “Metropolitan Agafangel and his Synod, by their erroneous decisions and abuse of power have lost credibility and trust.” In October 2016, the members of this self-appointed Commission sent Vladika Agafangel another appeal, which, in particular, offered the First Hierarch “to resign as Chairman of the Council of Bishops and Synod, keeping the rank of Metropolitan and management of the Odessa diocese” and to “decentralize the Church administration”, creating three autonomous church districts - Ukrainian-Moldovan, Russian, and Abroad, - each controlled by its own Synod. It was not clear what was behind this idea - thoughtlessness or a clear desire to weaken the church structure of the remnant of the former ROCOR.

Soon enough however the issue became clear. At the same time a picture was revealed before us, in which the deepening the split transformed into something more dangerous. On October 12, 2016 representatives of the new schismatic group published a statement on their website to the effect that “in our time … we believe that the universal Church has the form of splintered “fragments”, which have no communion with each other.” Metropolitan Agafangel immediately objected to this, saying that this statement directly falls under the anathema, proclaimed by ROCOR against the ecumenists (1983) “To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that the Lord’s Church is divided into so-called “branches” which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all “branches” of sects or denomination, and even religions, will be united into one body, …: Anathema.”

crkva2.jpgAt the Council of Bishops, held in Odessa from 25 to 27 October 2016, this theme was developed further. Members of the Council heard a memorandum by Metropolitan Agafangel “On the Heresy of Schism-ecumenism” and concluded that the Bishops’ Council cannot accept this teaching as Orthodox, which claims that the Local Russian Orthodox Church is split into equally-salvific and grace-filled fragments that do not have communion with one another, neither in prayer or administratively, nor communion in the sacraments, and that these fragments together constitute the Local Russian Orthodox Church. This doctrine was considered a particular form of the heresy of Ecumenism.

Meanwhile, the decision of the Bishops’ Council in relation to the formal leaders of this new division, at the time officially retired archbishops Andronik and Sophrony, were most correct, careful and patient. While warning about the inadmissibility of non-canonical meetings and calling for the dissolution the so-called “Pre-Council Commission”, they also invited their Eminences [Andronik and Sophrony], together with the faithful of their group, to participate “in the preparation of a canonical All-Diaspora Council of our whole Church, in accordance with the Regulations of the ROCOR.” To our deep regret this proposal remained unanswered.

In a special “Appeal” the Council of Bishops once again warned the initiators of this unauthorized meeting that, in the event of it convening, “would be an act of schism and visible evidence of falling away from the Church. If this gathering is convened, all who wish to be present, testify that being warned, they have knowingly and willingly separated from the Church; which will be confirmed by the Council of Bishops by a decree prohibiting archbishops Andronik and Sofrony from serving, the prohibition from serving by their respective ruling bishop of all priests who take part in the unlawful gathering, and for all laity who participate - excommunication from Holy Communion; for which a special Conciliar Decree has been issued.

However, no Appeal, neither any open letter could stop the engine of division, which at full steam rushed to its goal. The arbitrary unlawful meeting, composed of people united by non-Orthodox sophistry, disproportionate ambition and pronounced personal dislike of the First Hierarch, was opened on January 11, 2017 in the state of New York. The final warning of the Council of Bishops of ROCA came into force, and another schism was added to the dramatic history of the Church Abroad.

Metropolitan Agafangel in his comments to the sad events noted “there was on obvious pre-programmed path towards a schism right from the beginning. It is a fact that not a single constructive suggestion for preserving unity was brought forward by the parasynagogue. Our suggestions at the joint meeting with the Greeks were rejected. In other words it is obvious that this group did not need anything else, except a split. In this connection I wish to remind you that it is a documented confirmed fact that all divisions in the Russian Church were provoked by the NKVD-KGB-FSB (the schism of 2007 is as yet not confirmed by documents - the names and titles of the real “heroes” are not yet proclaimed). I do not suspect – by virtue of my position and status in the Church, no, I feel and see the action of external forces in our midst, which are interested in our destruction. To break up something, it is necessary to make an effort - this is an axiom. We now have the visible result of this effort.”

Of course, in these words of the First Hierarch has his own reason [свой резон]. Nevertheless, regardless of the nature of these hostile external forces, it is painful to see with our own eyes how yesterday’s fathers and brothers, have been unable to withstand this temptation, and now they undergo malignant spiritually-harmful mutations and leave for “a country far away”, tearing off chunks of flesh from the Mystical Body of Christ. Yet, however deep the bitterness and pain of the current loss, the more clear are the words of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”.

The editors of the “Brotherly Listok” (Vladivostok).

Source

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Christmas in Sydney

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On the feast of the Nativity of our Lord, the Serbian parish community of Holy Great-Martyr George in Granville (Sydney) had their first full cycle of Divine Services.

The community is part of the Free Serbian Orthodox Church under the omophorion of Bishop Ambrose of Methone, with whose blessing priest Nebojsa Mirkovic (ROCA) celebrated the services for Nativity, blessing the traditional Serbian “Badnjak” oak Christmas tree. On the day of the Nativity, the Divine Liturgy followed.

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The Serbian parish community of St George will be celebrating regular Divine Liturgies with the help of Fr Nebojsa at the Serbian memorial hall at 92 Good Street, Granville. For details of times, please contact Fr Nebojsa Mirkovic
Telephone: 0413354913

Feast of St John of Kronstadt parish in Sydney

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On December 19/January 2, the parish of the Holy Righteous John of Kronstadt in Sydney celebrated its Altar feast. Bishop John visiting from Melbourne concelebrated with priest Nebojsa Mirkovic. The Divine Liturgy was followed by the Serbian Slava.

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Concelebration in Sydney

On Sunday 18.12/1.1. Bishop John visited the Greek parish of Sts Cosmas and Damian in Dulwich Hill (Sydney), concelebrating with priest George (GOC) and priest Nebojsa (ROCA).

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Concelebration and blessing of new Altar on the parish feast of St Nicholas in Brisbane

On Sunday, 5/18 December, the Free Serbian parish of St Nicholas celebrated its parish feast.

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The new Altar table was consecrated by Bishops Ambrose and John, with Archimandrite Hristifor and Hieromonk Simeon concelebrating.

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The parish feast of St Nicholas was transferred to the preceding Sunday, when the Serbian Slava was also celebrated. The sisterhood provided a sumptuous fasting meal.

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Early Christian teachings on the Church

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The Shepherd of Hermas is an early Christian writing which contains teachings also for the Christians of today. Hermas was vouchsafed a series of visions of the Church, who appeared in the form of a Lady, instructing him on the nature of the Church and on the moral obligations of all Christians.

The Lady, (the Church) describes the body of the Church as a great tower:

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Now the tower was being builded foursquare by the six young men that came with her. And countless other men were bringing stones, some of them from the deep, and others from the land, and were handing them to the six young men. And they took them and builded.

The stones that were dragged from the deep they placed in every case, just as they were, into the building, for they had been shaped, and they fitted in their joining with the other stones; and they adhered so closely one with another that their joining could not possibly be detected; and the building of the tower appeared as if it were built of one stone.

and the building of the tower appeared as if it were built of one stone

But of the other stones which were brought from the dry land, some they threw away, and some they put into the building; and others they broke in pieces, and threw to a distance from the tower. Now many other stones were lying round the tower, and they did not use them for the building; for some of them were mildewed, and others had cracks in them, and others were too short, and others were white and round, and did not fit into the building. And I saw other stones thrown to a distance from the tower, and coming to the way, and yet not staying in the way, but rolling to where there was no way; and others falling into the fire and burning there; and others falling near the waters, and yet not able to roll into the water, although they desired to roll and to come to the water.

“Many shall hear; but when they hear, some of them shall be glad, and others shall weep. Yet even these latter, if they hear and repent, shall likewise be glad.”

Many shall hear; but when they hear, some of them shall be glad, and others shall weep. Yet even these latter, if they hear and repent, shall likewise be glad. The tower, which thou seest building, is myself, the Church

“The tower, which thou seest building, is myself, the Church…
Hear then why the tower is builded upon waters; it is because your life is saved and shall be saved by water. But the tower has been founded by the word of the Almighty and Glorious Name, and is strengthened by the unseen power of the Master.”

…your life is saved and shall be saved by water…

The Christian is saved by Baptism, and thereafter, by repentance - both are symbolised by water.

“Hear now concerning the stones that go to the building:
The stones that are squared and white, and that fit together in their joints, these are the apostles and bishops and teachers and deacons, who walked after the holiness of God, and exercised their office of bishop and teacher and deacon in purity and sanctity for the elect of God, some of them already fallen on sleep, and others still living. And because they always agreed with one another, they both had peace among themselves and listened one to another. Therefore their joinings fit together in the building of the tower.”

And because they always agreed with one another, they both had peace among themselves and listened one to another. Therefore their joinings fit together in the building of the tower.

“But they that are dragged from the deep, and placed in the building, and that fit together in their joinings with the other stones that are already builded in, who are they?” “These are they that suffered for the name of the Lord.”

“But the other stones that are brought from the dry land, I would fain know who these are, lady.” She said, “Those that go to the building, and yet are not hewn, these the Lord hath approved because they walked in the uprightness of the Lord, and rightly performed His commandments.”

“But they that are brought and placed in the building, who are they?” “They are young in the faith, and faithful; but they are warned by the angels to do good, because wickedness was found in them.”

“But those whom they rejected and threw away, who are they?” “These have sinned, and desire to repent, therefore they were not cast to a great distance from the tower, because they will be useful for the building, if they repent. They then that shall repent, if they repent, will be strong in the faith, if they repent now while the tower is building. But if the building shall be finished, they have no more any place, but shall be castaways. This privilege only they have, that they lie near the tower.

But those whom they rejected and threw away, who are they?” “These have sinned, and desire to repent, therefore they were not cast to a great distance from the tower, because they will be useful for the building, if they repent. They then that shall repent, if they repent, will be strong in the faith, if they repent now while the tower is building. But if the building shall be finished, they have no more any place, but shall be castaways. This privilege only they have, that they lie near the tower.

But wouldst thou know about them that are broken in pieces, and cast away far from the tower? These are the sons of lawlessness. They received the faith in hypocrisy, and no wickedness was absent from them. Therefore they have not salvation, for they are not useful for building by reason of their wickednesses. Therefore they were broken up and thrown far away by reason of the wrath of the Lord, for they excited Him to wrath.

they are not useful for building by reason of their wickednesses. Therefore they were broken up and thrown far away

But the rest whom thou hast seen lying in great numbers, not going to the building, of these they that are mildewed are they that knew the truth, but did not abide in it, nor cleave to the saints. Therefore they are useless.”

the rest…lying in great numbers…mildewed - are they that knew the truth, but did not abide in it, nor cleave to the saints. Therefore they are useless.

“But they that have the cracks, who are they?” “These are they that have discord in their hearts against one another, and are not at peace among themselves; who have an appearance of peace, but when they depart from one another, their wickednesses abide in their hearts. These are the cracks which the stones have.

…They that have the cracks…are they that have discord in their hearts against one another, and are not at peace among themselves; who have an appearance of peace, but when they depart from one another, their wickednesses abide in their hearts

But they that are broken off short, these have believed, and have their greater part in righteousness, but have some parts of lawlessness; therefore they are too short, and are not perfect.”

“But the white and round stones, which did not fit into the building, who are they, lady?” She answered and said to me, “How long art thou foolish and stupid, and enquirest everything, and understandest nothing? These are they that have faith, but have also riches of this world. When tribulation cometh, they deny their Lord by reason of their riches and their business affairs.”

…the white and round stones, which did not fit into the building… are they that have faith, but have also riches of this world. When tribulation cometh, they deny their Lord by reason of their riches and their business affairs

And I answered and said unto her, “When then, lady, will they be useful for the building?” “When,” she replied, “their wealth, which leadeth their souls astray, shall be cut away, then will they be useful for God. For just as the round stone, unless it be cut away, and lose some portion of itself, cannot become square, so also they that are rich in this world, unless their riches be cut away, cannot become useful to the Lord. Learn first from thyself When thou hadst riches, thou wast useless; but now thou art useful and profitable unto life. Be ye useful unto God, for thou thyself also art taken from the same stones.

“But the other stones which thou sawest cast far away from the tower and falling into the way and rolling out of the way into the regions where there is no way, these are they that have believed, but by reason of their double heart they abandon their true way. Thus thinking that they can find a better way, they go astray and are sore distressed, as they walk about in the regions where there is no way. But they that fall into the fire and are burned, these are they that finally rebelled from the living God, and it no more entered into their hearts to repent by reason of the lusts of their wantonness and of the wickednesses which they wrought.

…the other stones which thou sawest cast far away from the tower and falling into the way and rolling out of the way into the regions where there is no way…are they that have believed, but by reason of their double heart they abandon their true way. Thus thinking that they can find a better way, they go astray and are sore distressed, as they walk about in the regions where there is no way. But they that fall into the fire and are burned, these are they that finally rebelled from the living God, and it no more entered into their hearts to repent

But the others, which are near the waters and yet cannot roll into the water, wouldest thou know who are they? These are they that heard the word, and would be baptized unto the name of the Lord. Then, when they call to their remembrance the purity of the truth, they change their minds, and go back again after their evil desires.”

..the others, which are near the waters and yet cannot roll into the water, …are they that heard the word, and would be baptized unto the name of the Lord. Then, when they call to their remembrance the purity of the truth, they change their minds, and go back again after their evil desires

So she finished the explanation of the tower.

Still importunate, I asked her further, whether for all these stones that were rejected and would not fit into the building of the tower that was repentance, and they had a place in this tower. “They can repent,” she said, “but they cannot be fitted into this tower. Yet they shall be fitted into another place much more humble, but not until they have undergone torments, and have fulfilled the days of their sins. And they shall be changed for this reason, because they participated in the Righteous Word; and then shall it befall them to be relieved from their torments, if the evil deeds, that they have done, come into their heart; but if these come not into their heart, they are not saved by reason of the hardness of their hearts.”

With so many pitfalls, what is a Christian to do to be saved and fit into the building of the great tower? The Lady answers:

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“Seest thou seven women round the tower?” “I see them, lady,” say I. “This tower is supported by them by commandment of the Lord. Hear now their employments. The first of them, the woman with the strong hands, is called Faith; through her are saved the elect of God. And the second, that is girded about and looketh like a man, is called Continence; she is the daughter of Faith. Whosoever then shall follow her, becometh happy in his life, for he shall refrain from all evil deeds, believing that, if he refrain from every evil desire, he shall inherit eternal life.”

Whosoever then shall follow {Faith} becometh happy in his life, for he shall refrain from all evil deeds, believing that, if he refrain from every evil desire, he shall inherit eternal life

“And the others, lady, who be they?” “They are daughters one of the other. The name of the one is Simplicity, of the next, Knowledge, of the next, Guilelessness, of the next, Reverence, of the next, Love. When then thou shalt do all the works of their mother, thou canst live.”

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From Faith is born Continence, from Continence Simplicity, from Simplicity Guilelessness, from Guilelessness Reverence, from Reverence Knowledge, from Knowledge Love. Their works then are pure and reverent and divine. Whosoever therefore shall serve these women, and shall have strength to master their works, shall have his dwelling in the tower with the saints of God.”

Whosoever therefore shall serve these women, and shall have strength to master their works, shall have his dwelling in the tower with the saints of God

Anonymous. The Shepherd of Hermas

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Concelebration in Melbourne

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15194313_385104598488447_5700250187218450523_o.jpgOn Sunday 14/27 November, Bishop Ambrose served in the Free Serbian Church of St Stefan Dechanski in Carrum Downs, Victoria, concelebrating with Bishop John, Archimandrite Hristifor, Protopriest Bojan, Hieromonk Simeon and Priest Zvonimir.

The parish celebrated its church feast day in honour of St King-Martyr Stefan Dechanski (transferred from 11/24 November to the Sunday), with the rite of Serbian Slava and a procession around the church.

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After the service, the sisterhood of St Angelina served sumptuous meal in the parish hall.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Concelebration in Sydney

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On Sunday 31 October/13 November, Bishop Ambrose of Methone served in the Sts Cosmas and Damian Church in Sydney, with priest Nebojsa Mirkovic (ROCA) concelebrating.

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Concelebration in Bentleigh (Melbourne)

bent20161122_111000.jpgOn Tuesday 9/22 November, on the day of St Nectarius of Pentapolis, Bishop Ambrose of Methone (GOC) concelebrated with Bishop John (ROCA), Protopriest Stylianos and priest John in St Gregory the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church in Bentleigh. After the service, the faithful gathered for a communal meal in the parish hall.

Bishop Ambrose visits Annunciation Hermitage

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On Thursday 11/24 November, Bishop Ambrose and a small group of pilgrims visited the Annunciation Hermitage.

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Metropolitan Agafangel
First Hierarch of the Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad

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Bishop John of Melbourne
Vicar bishop of Australia

Church calendar for today

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Divine services channel is updated every Church feast day

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Parishes

Melbourne, VIC
Parish of St Gregory the Theologian

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  • Address: 4 Gilbert grove, Bentleigh, VIC
  • Clergy: Bishop John (ROCA) and Priest Ioannis (GOC)
  • Service times:
    Sundays and feast days: Matins 8 am
    Divine Liturgy: 930 am.
  • Saturdays and eves of feasts: Great Vespers 630 pm

Sydney, NSW
Parish of St John of Kronstadt.

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  • Serving priest: Father Nebojsa Mirkovic
  • Address:
  • Service times:
    Sundays and feast days: Matins 730 am
    Divine Liturgy: 9 am.
    Please contact us to confirm what time Liturgy is served.
  • Saturdays and eves of feasts: Vespers 530 pm
    or All-night Vigil 6 pm

Dandenong, VIC
Community of the Tabinsk Mother of God Icon

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  • Services once a month
  • Visits by Bishop John

Western Victoria
Annunciation of the Mother of God Women’s Monastic Community

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  • Spiritual Father: Bishop John.
  • Address: 266 Nowhere Creek Rd, Nowhere Creek, 3469
  • Service times:
  • Sundays and feast days: Divine Liturgy: 9 am
  • All-night Vigils (including Divine Liturgy) on select occasions.
    Please contact us to confirm what time Liturgy is served.

Brisbane, QLD
Community dedicated to St John Chrysostom

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  • Reader’s services

Canberra, ACT

  • Visits by Fr Protodeacon Basil Yakimov

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