[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 11 most recent journal entries recorded in
|Wednesday, August 30th, 2006|
|Response from Metrpolitan Laurus
To our dear and venerable spiritual children,
Servant of God Natalia and everyone who signed the letter
Addressed to the Council of Archbishops,
Unfortunately, your letter dated 13/26 May of this year and sent to the Holy Trinity Monastery probably arrived on the 29th or 30th of May. The Council concluded on May 5/18. I stayed later in California, serving both in the Cathedral in San Francisco and in Burlingame. I returned to the monastery on 13/26 of May. I began sorting through my mail on Monday and only a few days ago did I see your letter. For this reason, the Council of Archbishops did not have a chance to become acquainted with your letter.
In reading the names at the bottom of the letter, my heart rejoices that so many of our female parishioners have attained such high educational and professional achievement.
I thank all of you for your concern about the fate of our Russian Church Abroad, for your love for Her, and for those who work in our parishes, for your efforts and podvigs for the good Christ’s Church!
Although I cannot agree completely with everything written in your letter, we will take into account your ideas and concerns in the future.
I pray that God helps you to continue, without ceasing, your work in our churches, parishes and especially in your “home churches,” in the raising of children and the formation of our next generation.
May the blessings of our Lord be with all of you.
With love in the Lord,
Дорогия и досточтимыя наши чада,
рабы Божии Натлия и все, подписавшия письмо,
Обращенное к Архиерейскому Собору.
К сожалению, письмо, датированное Вами, 13/26 мая, с.г., и посланное на адрес Свято–Троицкаго монастыря, было получено, вероятно, 29 или 30 мая. Собор закончился 5/18 мая. Я задержался в Калифорни ¬– служил в С. Франциско в Соборе и Бурлингейме. В монастырь я возвратился 13/26 мая. С понедельника я начал разбирать свою почту и только на днях, познакомился с Вашим письмом. Таким образом, Архиерейский Собор не познакомился с Вашим письмом.
При перечислении имен и фамилии, в конце письма, указаны и их професии. Радует сердце, что многия наши зарубежныя прихожанки достигли высокаго, научнаго и профессиональнаго положения.
Благодарю всех Вас за Ваше безпокойство о судьбах нашей Русской Зарубежной Церкви, за Вашу любовь к Ней, а работающихь в наших приходах, за Ваши труды и подвиги на пользу Христовой Церкви!
Хотя нельзя согласиться со всем написанным в Вашем письме, но мы примем к сведению Ваше мнениe и чаяния в будущем.
Молим Господа, помочь Вам и далее продолжать, не покладая рук, Вашу работу в наших церквах, приходах, а особенно в Ваших “домашних церквах”, по воспитанию детей, в формировании нашего будущаго.
Благословение Господне да будет со всеми Вами.
С Любовию о Господе,
|Tuesday, May 16th, 2006|
|Monday, May 15th, 2006|
|Women of ROCOR acknowleged in Resolution of IV All-Diaspora Coucil
"We, the delegates of the IV All-Diaspora Council, mark with profound gratitude the vital living ministry that the women of the Russian Church Abroad perform in the parishes and other establishments of our Holy Church, and we call upon all laypersons to provide help to the pastors in their very difficult podvig."
FULL TEXT: (http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/eng2006/5ensobresolution2.html
SAN FRANCISCO: May 13, 2006
of the IV All-Diaspora Council on the Ministry and Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
We, the participants of the IV All-Diaspora Council, having gathered in the God-preserved city of San Francisco, in the blessed presence of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God and the holy relics of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, having heard lectures and presentations devoted to the life of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in the modern world, express our conciliar opinion on vital questions of our church life.
Throughout the history of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, her bishops, theologians and thinkers untiringly stressed that the ministry of the Church Abroad in the world is inspired by the lofty spiritual ideals of Holy Russia, placing as its cornerstone the fulfillment of the testament of Christ on love for God and man. We confess dedication to the missionary spirit of Saints Sergius of Radonezh, Stefan of Perm, Job of Pochaev, Herman of Alaska, Innokenty of Moscow, Nicholas of Japan, St Tikhon of Moscow and St John of Shanghai and San Francisco. We call upon the children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to lovingly preserve devotion to this spirit, through faith, word and our very lives, to witness Holy Orthodoxy in the world surrounding us, and to act with responsibility within the Church.
We call upon the children of the Church to preserve faithfulness to our hierarchy, remembering the words of St Cyprian of Carthage: "where the bishop is, there is the Church."
The spiritual focus and wellspring of living strength of the Church is the bloodless and salvific Eucharistic sacrifice of the Son of God for all the living and the dead. In the church, at the holy Altar table, and in common church prayer, the earthly Church and the heavenly Church unite; present at the Divine Altar are people and angels and saints. We call upon the rebirth of Eucharistic life, we call for the understanding that in partaking of the Holy Gifts, we unite with Christ, and through Him, with the Universal Church.
We call for the rebirth within the conciliar consciousness of the pastors and flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia the lofty ideal of church community and parish. Only a parish which senses itself as the original structure of the Universal Church and an inseparable part of the Body of Christ will have the strength to battle against that which hinders our salvation—evil and sin. Only the parish that remembers that its roots go back to the time of the Acts of the Apostles can adopt the necessary measures to provide for the spiritual needs of youth, to show merciful love for the unfortunate and needy.
We, the delegates of the IV All-Diaspora Council, mark with profound gratitude the vital living ministry that the women of the Russian Church Abroad perform in the parishes and other establishments of our Holy Church, and we call upon all laypersons to provide help to the pastors in their very difficult podvig.
We call for the establishment of a Commission on Youth under the Synod of Bishops with the purpose of being an all-diaspora coordinating organ. Authorizing the Commission to examine the expediency of opening not only Saturday and Sunday schools everywhere, but also regular Orthodox educational establishments where the young generation would receive both general and Orthodox education, would serve towards the rebirth of Russian Orthodox culture.
|Sunday, May 14th, 2006|
|Protodeacon Nikolai Mohov (2006-05-14)
Why not ask the men who left their women to sign?
A small exercise: it would be interesting to know how many of our married delegates were able to come and partake in this historic event were it not for the women they care about. I fully concur with dyakon Dimitry Temidis's comments in this journal. His talented wife led an angelic chorus of women at the Myrrhbearing feast--where men are also celebrated, the righteous Joseph and Nikodimus--in the Synodal cathedral last Sunday. It was a spiritual experience, especially the all-night (a term from the past) vigils. And fr. Ioakim's sermon was right on, without fanfare, without aplomb, as can be read in this journal. I look forward to serving with the talented Irina Mozeleva who is subbing for the talented Petya Fekula this Sunday. I have seen these three choir conductors do their church thing in cooperation with each other, irrespective of their physical manifestaion here on earth.
I agree that not all women who want to should partake in this past Sobor's work or in any other church activity, but equally not all men should just because they get to stand on the "right" side of the temple. When are we going to start paying attention to the souls of our flock, and not let the flesh get in the way of judgment?
With respect to all,
Nikolai Mohov, protodyakon.
|Saturday, May 13th, 2006|
|Letter from SF from Fr. Victor Potapov (5/12 5:30 EST)
Dear Sisters in Christ,
Thank you for your fine letter. It is at present being translated for the benefit of the non-English speaking bishops. I g ave a copy to Archbishop Hilarion and requested that he convince the Metropoitan to have it read at one of the remaining plenary sessions of the Sobor. In any case, Archb. Hilarion said that it will be read at the all-imporatnt Bishops' Council which convenes next Monday.
BTW, the letter of Lesna nuns, which contains many f the points raised in your letter, was read yesterday at the Sobor.
Again, thank you for your efforts.
Fr. Victor S. Potapov
P.S. My matushka, who has been praying at the relics of St. John for a successful outcome, has been lobbying, as she likes to say "big time" for your common cause.
|Email of support
From: Dimitri Gontscharow
I believe it may be helpful to point out that senior nuns, female hegumens, receive a blessing from their local bishop to enter the altar and to give blessings to people. Surely, if they can enter the altar, considered to be a piece of heaven on earth, they can certainly attend a Sobor.
| Open letter to the Council from the Nuns of Lesna
Open letter to the All-Diaspora Council from the Lesna Convent of the
The 4th All Diaspora Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
Russia, convened for the purpose of considering, from all sides, of the
mission and service of ROCOR in the current times, and most importantly,
for the establishment of normal relations between the church in Russia
and in the diaspora, will be conducted without participation of the
women monastics of our church. Despite the fact that monastics should
be represented at the Sobor, and that at least 80% of our monastics are
female, not one of our women's monasteries will be participating in the
work of the Sobor. In the words of the secretary of the committee which
planned the Sobor, since women did not participate in the All-Russian
Sobor nor in the previous All-Diaspora Sobors, the committee did not
have the right to change this order accepted by the Church of Russia,
and there was too little time to "calmly work out this question, without
any pressure." The Sobor will have delegates from the church-singing
committee, benevolent societies, Russian scouts, but, regretfully,
there was not enough time to "calmly" decide the question of
representation from women's monasticism. This decision is especially
unfair in regards to our sisters in the Holy Land, who are in the point
of the most heated conflicts with the MP about church property. From
the times of the cataclysmic changes in Russia in the beginning of the
20th century, the loss of financial support from the Russian Church and
the loss of pilgrims from Russian, it is in large part directly due to
the unceasing monastic struggle or our women's monasteries in Palestine
that any of the properties of the Russian church have remained in the
possession of the church, either that of ROCOR or of the Moscow
Patriarchate. Our sisters have most palpably of all suffered from the
claims of the MP on our properties, they find themselves in the midst of
our heated conflict with the MP, and in this process of peacemaking and
closeness, they will be the first to feel the impact of the decisions
and determinations of the coming Sobor, but their opinion is considered
not important, and their voice will not be heard.
Our monastery in Lesna also has a unique history, and in our 120
year history, have developed a special relationship with the MP, but
these experiences were found not to be important and unnecessary for the
process or determining our relationship to the church in Russia.
Although we were able to take part in our diocesan conference, and by
our request, two of our delegates visited our monastery, we will no have
representation at the actual Sobor. Other women's monasteries will have
even less opportunity to express their opinions.
By the unexplainable provenance of our Lord, the monastery in
Lena is the only monastery in ROCOR with an uninterrupted history of
existence from its founding in Holmnische in the Russian Empire to this
very day, continuing its struggle in the village Provemon in Normandy.
It was founded with the blessings of the great champion of the Russian
Church, the Righteous Saint John of Kronsdadt and prepodobny Ambrose of
Optina, and under the protection of the Holy Royal Martyrs. In the
beginning of the First World War, our monastery found itself in the
middle of the battlefield, and our sisters, along with the orphans they
cared for, moved to Petersburg and then Nizhniy Novgorod. There they
suffered during the Russian revolution, usurpation of power by the
Bolsheviks and the beginning of the persecutions of the church. Many of
our sisters were confessors and martyrs for the faith. A fifth of our
sisters were able to evacuate to Moldova, and after the end of the war
found themselves outside the Russian Church. Hoping to preserve their
traditions of Russian monasticism, our sisters were taken under the
protection of the Serbian Patriarchate, and settled in the Serbian
monastery Hopovo, were they helped reestablish women's monasticism in
Serbia. For nearly 30 years, the Lesna monastery was part of the
Serbian Church, and only after the Second World War, together with the
other Russian parishes were given over to the Moscow Patriarchate. The
third abbess of our monastery, of blessed memory shema-nun Theodora
(knigina L'vova) was confirmed by Patriarch Aleksey I, who wanted to
transfer the monastery to the Soviet Union, and personally lobbied for
than end before the Committee for Church affairs. By the advice of
Metropolitan Nicholas (Jarushevich) of the MP, the Monastery refused to
depart and was saved from the persecutions under Khrushchev and avoided
being liquidated. By the protection of the Righteous Saint John of
Kronsdadt and the efforts of archbishops Nathaniel and Anthony, our
monastery was able to move to France in 1950, having received a
canonical release from the Serbian church and accepted into ROCOR. In
our history we have experienced a growth into a Lavra of 300 sisters and
then a decrease to 14, we have experienced the blessings of the Tsar and
persecutions by governmental authorities, we have experienced 5
different church jurisdictions. Remaining determined to preserve
specifically the Russian Orthodox traditions of women's monasticism, our
monastery reacted with great hope and openness to the changes that
occurred in the Russian Church during the Perestroika. Since 1993 we
have accepted sisters and novices from Russia, from the catacomb church
and from our parishes, and also those leaving the MP, and also a
multitude of pilgrims. Suffering through all the changes in Russia, our
monastery found itself in the middle of evens having to do with the
changing course of our church in 2000 and subsequent schism in the
Western European diocese. We suffered our internal upheaval, losing the
greater part of its clergy, several sisters, novices and the large part
of our pilgrims and sponsors. And now we stand before a new epoch in
our developing relationship with the church in Russia. What is our view
of the development of ecclesiastic, prayerful and most important,
Eucharistic relationship to the church in our Motherland?
We, as all the faithful children of our church, are witnesses to the
enormous positive changes in the church life in Russia, and rejoice in
them: they give us hope of the possibility of restoring normal
relations as directed in the Ukaz calling together the All-diaspora
council. But returning to the points which were put forward by our
church in the very beginning of the changes in Russia, we are unable to
keep silent about our reservations regarding three points:
* The ecumenical activities of the MP. We all understand
that neither the pious laypeople in Russia, nor the majority of the
hierarch do not support ecumenism and understand that it is heresy. But
in contradiction to the wishes of their own church flock and ignoring
their promises to quit the World Council of Churches, (which were made
several times during the discussions) the MP not only continues, but is
increasing its participation in this movement, which was especially
demonstrated recently in Brazil, in the assembly of the WCC. This
flagrant disregard for the will of its own believers and positions of
our church cannot but raise doubts in the sincerity and good will of the
MP towards ROCOR.
* Relationship between Church and the Government. Despite
the fall of the communist rule and some comments against the Declaration
of Metropolitan Sergius, we do not hear a complete condemnation of his
church politic and repentance in the sins of serving the most bloody and
Godless regime in the history of mankind. Before the Russian church
speaks the entire truth about Sergianism and does not come clean
regarding its own shameful role in collaboration with the Godless
regime, we do not feel a genuine possibility that all the parts of the
Russian Church will "love each other with one thought" under the omophor
of the hierarchy which will "direct us by the word of truth" in the
deepest meaning of these words.
* Property and administrative questions in the
administration of the ROCOR. Observing the recent attempts by the MP,
using all wiles and tactics, recruiting the civil authorities to seize
the church properties in Nice, we cannot but fear for our own future, as
we see that those who have committed these acts will be our own church
leadership. Although the property question is not a principle of the
faith, it directly affects our existence and therefore is very important
for us, who have been accustomed to close, trustful and open
relationships with our governing hierarch and other church authorities.
We humbly ask our Metropolitan Laurus, our hierarchs and participants in
the All-Diaspora Sobor to take our opinions under consideration and
attend to our opposition to immediately forming a relationship with the
MP. We believe, that only by careful consideration of history and
traditions of our ROCOR and meticulous, dispassionate discussion and
examination of the proposed documents regarding the future positions of
our church The Lord will grant us that "spirit of wisdom...[From the translator: "quotes the prayers that have been read at Liturgy"]
|A great Sermon by Fr. Joakim Provatakis on the Myrrh Bearing Women
Delivered in NYC at the Cathedral of the Mother of God of the Sign, on the Sunday of the Myrrh Bearing Women, May 7 (and first day of the Sobor)
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
Christ is Risen!
The Holy Scriptures are a veritable treasure chest of inspiration for the modern Orthodox Christian. We are given example after example of Christian virtue and commitment. But, out of all the examples given to us…examples of how to remain steadfast in faith, examples of what it really means to love, out of all the examples we have the most radiant and inspiring example continues to be that of the Myrrh Bearing women, who the Orthodox Church commemorates and glorifies today…the third Sunday of Pascha.
The short amount of time spanning the Lord’s Crucifixion and death and His Resurrection, a time that lasted no more than about a day and a half, witnessed many truly incredible events .... the curtain in the Temple was supernaturally torn in half…many of the saints actually resurrected, walked the streets of Jerusalem to proclaim the Lord’s Resurrection. Many of these events remain shrouded in mystery…even the most prolific writers and commentators of the Holy Fathers are at a loss to explain the details of what actually happened during these moments after the Lord’s death. So, they touch upon them in the light of allegory and symbolic meaning. Yet, we know these events DID, in fact, occur.
But just at the time of the Lord’s death…when the Sun darkened, it would seem, Evil had achieved some what of a victory. Humiliated, crucified and killed, the Teacher is left to hang on the Cross…it would seem that everything is finished, that there is no longer any hope for mankind. The moment of liberation for the Jews has passed. The hope of a free Israel is shattered. Practically all the Apostles left Jesus on the Cross…they ran to hide fearing persecution from the Jewish authorities. Only one committed and loving disciple, St. John, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary remained standing at the Cross…still showing a thread of faith, a thread of hope…
You see, it would seem that human commitment DOES INDEED have its boundaries. Not too long ago…when Christ entered Jerusalem in triumph, we, along with the Jews, celebrated with palms, the hoards of people surrounded Christ, the Messiah with glee and jubilation. But, today, when He sleeps the sleep of death, very few remain to serve. This shows how shallow our faith can be.
But counted among the few that remain to serve, we find the Myrrh-bearing women. The example that these holy women give us truly reveals what the depth of our relationship to God and to people can and should be.
Love does not know half measures. He, who loves…must love to the end. Love….is not a gluttonous feeling of self satisfaction, true love should not seek and does not demand anything in return…love is ready to give away everything, she is ready to be deprived of everything, she is ready to bring her very self as a voluntary sacrifice for the sake of her beloved.
Love willingly accepts trials, and does not bare resentment on account of these trials…she does not bare resentment because of the temptations she endures. Love is re-assured by her own existence. No circumstance frightens her, she remains true to the end. And this is opened to us especially in the podvig, the spiritual struggle, of the Myrrh Bearing Women. You see, at the time of the Lord’s death, all hope was buried along with the Savior, all hope for human kind ended with his death.
But the Myrrh Bearing women did remain loyal to the end.
And because of this loyalty, God allowed them the honor to be the first ones to meet the Risen Christ. Because of their loyalty, and because of their love, they were clothed with the joy of the Resurrection; they worshipped the living God and were the first to pronounce the Good News of His eternal Pascha to the world. They, indeed, were the Apostles to the Apostles.
This, brothers and sisters in Christ, is the example of the foundation of our faith. Recently there has been much talk of a sort of Resurrection of faith in Russia. But, if there really is a Resurrection of faith there, it can not attributed to agreements made between certain members of the hierarchy and the godless government that once existed. If there is a true revival of faith in Russia…it is thanks to the women…it is thanks to the grandmothers who secretly baptized her grandchildren, against all the pressures of a godless society that once existed. If there is a revival of faith in Russia, it is due to the babushki that filled the one or two churches that were allowed to be opened in a climate of oppression and persecution. So, you see…the voice of our women must be heard, because it is the voice of the people’s FAITH…and just as the myrrh-bearing women were the FIRST ONES to proclaim the risen Christ to the world after the Resurrection of Christ…so now…our women should be the FIRST ONES to proclaim what it means to live a life in Christ, not only in Russia, but here and in all corners of the world.
In this time of weakness and spiritual infirmity, the Orthodox Church gives us the example of the myrrh bearing women… in a very personal sense, for this is the example of the power of love and commitment which the world so lacks, and which we also so often find wanting in our own souls.
When the Lord was once at the Sea of Galilee, He questioned the Apostle Peter saying: do you love Me more than these? (that is more than the Other Apostles do?). In this question the Lord expresses the reality that he who wants to serve God cannot just pay lip-service to his faith. But, he who wants to serve God must love Him with a personal love, with a fiery passion, as His or Her personal Lord and God.
In last night’s Resurrectional Gospel we read the words of Christ to His Apostles: “Go ye, into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature”. This is the fate given to you…the women of the Orthodox Church, who have remained the witnesses of our living faith. This is your calling…take your rightful place at the tomb of Christ…stand up and take your place in the Church as the Apostles to the Apostles.
Truly He is Risen!
|A letter of not support, and responses
*Please note that I am not posting this exchange to publicly shame its author. It was addressed to me personally, but sent to an entire email list, indicating that the author would like all who signed to be aware of his opinion. I'll even hide his "true identity" *
From: A[...] V[...]
Date: May 13, 2006 1:34:07 PM EDT
Subject: women and the sobor
XPICTOC BOCKPECE! I've got a suggestion for you with regards to this "women and sobor" thing. Next time your so called "invisible Church" is going to "strike again", do yourself a big favor and read the Sermon on the Mount. Even better, next Sunday join a church choir at the Divine Liturgy and sing along The Beatitudes. Perhaps this will help you sober up and cool off your desperate desire to strike. Moreover, if you are smart enough, this will also help you understand your being utterly disrespectful to Vladyka, our Hierarchs and the Sobor itself, and hopefully will bring you to repentance. Incidentally, reading The Great Repentance Canon a couple of times will not hurt either.
With love in Christ
I do sing in a church choir. I am on the sisterhood of my parish. I am familiar the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Great Repentance Canon. I find nothing inconsistent with these principles and our letter, and neither do the women, men, clergy and matushkas who have signed it.
I'm sorry you think that our Bishops will feel disrespected by this appeal. I have faith in them and believe that they will see it as an earnest and devoted, carefully crafted expression of our care and love for our church.
And a suggestion to you: next time you write a vituperative letter clearly meant to insult somebody, please do not open and close it with references to our Savior and the joy of His Resurrection. _That_ is disrespectful.
Dear Mr. V[...]
Seems as though you could possibly gain some spiritual benefit from your own advice.
In the Risen Christ,
|Letter of Support from Deacon Dimitri Temidis
Christ is Risen!
Even though the fall of man was instigated by a woman, please remember that it is through The MOTHER of God that the salvation of man, began. It is She, The Mother of our Lord and Savior, a woman, who attained the greatest level of spiritual heights. The Holy Virgin and Mother of God is above all creation! With the exception of only St John the Theologian, The Mother of God never left Her Son's side as He hung on the tree as all the other men ran. Also, it was the Holy Myrrhbearers to whom the resurrected Christ first appeared and charged them to proclaim His resurrection to His disciples that were in hiding. For me personally, I know I would be a useless leaf blowing in the wind without the love, caring and support of the enormous blessing that the Lord bestowed upon me, my wonderful wife. Without her deep faith and strength, we as a family would have nothing. The role of women in the church must be taken into consideration and acknowledged. There are not many aspects in a parish where women do not play a role. I applaud your resolve to write and send this letter. I am glad to see that the Lesna letter and your letter have gained the attention of those that will be able to make a difference. May God bless all of you and thank God for all of you. Don't pay attention to the scientist from RPI, he needs to stick to research and allow the clergy to make suggestions about one's spiritual needs.
With love for our risen Lord and Savior,
diakon dimitri temidis
|Letter on Women at Sobor (5/22 3:30pm EST)
Dear Metropolitan Laurus, Archbishops and Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia,
Christ is Risen! We ask for your blessings and that you hear the concerns of many women of the church. The commencement of the All-Diaspora Council on the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women - without the participation of women - has left many of us with a personal spiritual pain and desire to express our views.
Growing up in the communities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, we are taught that spiritually, intellectually, and creatively neither male nor female is innately superior. In our churches and parish schools we learn that all human beings are equal in spiritual essence. The priests might all be men, and only boys can go into the altar, but when it comes to what is most fundamental, what is timeless and universal - the state of our souls and our quest for salvation - we are all equal. We are taught that every one of us is created in the image and likeness of God, we all carry the divine spark, and we are all reaching for closeness and union with God. In our ROCOR parishes, we nurture children and teach them to pursue their talents. Our priests, matushkas, monastics, and laity set fine examples and encourage us to live full, Godly lives. The Church has always found joy in the successes and achievements of all her children.
Women are an integral part of today's ROCOR. We conduct the choirs, we are members of parish councils, we head church organizations and we teach at the seminary. We are wives and mothers as well as lawyers, doctors, scientists, businesswomen and scholars. Our clergy do not deter women from nurturing their intellectual and creative talents, whether inside or outside the church community. The equality of men and women as God’s creation is not a foreign or feminist concept, but a value we as an Orthodox community share, embrace and live by. We have women vote, we do not hide women behind burquas, we encourage women to learn, think and work.
Orthodoxy is a living faith, and ROCOR is a living and changing church. In 80 years there have been many modifications, additions and alterations to our ecclesiastical organization and church life. Among these changes is the greater role of women. Most of us recognize this as a positive development that has helped our Church flourish and given everyone the opportunity to reach his or her personal spiritual potential.
ROCOR’s legacy is that it is important both to know our past and to have an acute awareness of our present cultural, political and historical context. Our forefathers were bold enough to establish our jurisdiction because they recognized their contemporary situation. Today, our hierarchs recognize the contemporary situation in Russia.
It is inconsistent with this legacy that the historical precedent of no female delegates at past Sobors overrides the clear living reality that women are an integral part of ROCOR, and that the participation of women is a collective value of our Church today. We were told that the decision was taken to have the same rules for participation as were in effect in 1918 at the All-Russian Sobor, and were still (it was believed) maintained by the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. 1918 certainly was a different time: women could not vote in the overwhelming majority of countries, and in many countries people still voted by class or caste, while the vast majority of the world had no popular representation at all. However, we have since learned that in Russia women have in fact been included in Councils. Regardless of the rules set in 1918, the exclusion of women from the All-Diaspora Council in 2006 suggests a disconnect between the priorities of our ecclesiastical organization and the actual life and values of the flock.
The exclusion of women monastics is particularly painful. In the Holy Land, women monastics have struggled for decades in the most difficult conditions anyone in our Church has endured to practice our faith. While the Council organizing committee felt that there was too little time to consider the inclusion of women, sporting and scout associations were summoned to send delegates. This indicates that the Church does not hold in high regard the contributions and worth of its female members.
This decision may lead to a breach of trust and faith between the Church institution and the faithful, and thereby weaken the essential bonds that keep our community together. It is disheartening that the Church that taught us about immeasurable love and moral honesty, that was a place of refuge and acceptance, shuts us out when it comes to making momentous decisions. Many of us are personally pained by this decision because of the energy, love and faith we have poured in to the workings of our Church, and our eagerness and dedication to identify ourselves as members of ROCOR.
Another value that ROCOR's history has instilled in us is not simply to follow blindly, but to trust our hierarchs while listening to the voice of our conscience and having the spiritual confidence to ask questions. So we ask: are women full members of ROCOR? Are the nuns from Lesna or our Holy Land convents worthy of sharing their perspective and experience at our All-Diaspora Council? Does ROCOR appreciate the struggles, contributions and talents of its female members? The exclusion of nuns and women laity from the All-Diaspora Council has sent many of us the message that the answer to these questions is “no.”
We have faith that in your dedication to your flock you will consider our words and help us both to understand this situation and to repair it. We ask therefore that you consider convening a subsequent Church Commission to specifically address the issues of Orthodox women in our Church. Given that the Council will likely consider a changed relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church, and given the dire condition of women and families in Russia, it is particularly important that women’s voices be heard. The status of women needs to be addressed, continuing the discussion where Holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth left it, and recognizing contemporary problems and realities.
Sincerely in Christ,
1. Natalia Ermolaev, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Columbia University
2. Katherine Ermolaev Ossorgin, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Music, Princeton University
3. Lena Serge Zezulin, Attorney, The Services Group, Inc.
4. Nadieszda Kizenko, Associate Professor, Department of History SUNY at Albany
5. Xenia Meyer, Doctoral Student, Department of Education, Cornell University
6. Tatiana Ermolaev, PhD. Head of Sisterhood of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Assumption, Trenton, NJ and teacher at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral Russian School, Howell, NJ
7. Erin Zavarin, Civil Engineer, Geomatrix Consultants, Inc.
8. Ksenya Zavarin, Project Coordinator, Commercial Finance, Genentech Inc.
9. Vera Shevzov, Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Smith College
10. Matushka Nina Shevzov, Church of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, Stratford, CT.
11. Matushka Maria S. Potapov, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC
12. Sophia Resnikoff, parishioner, choir member, and Sunday School teacher of St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC
13. Alexandra Potapov, Wife, Mother and Teacher of 3 Orthodox children
14. Marina Ledkovsky, Professor Emerita, Barnard College/Columbia University
15. Irene Tata Kotschoubey, Member of Board of Advisors Holy Trinity Seminary
16. Eugenia Temidis, Director, Holy Myrrhbearers Diocesan Women's Choir
17. Tatiana Olegovna Rodzianko-Samochornov, Contract Program Officer/Interpreter, International Visitor Leadership Program, US Department of State, member of church choir and Holy Myrrhbearers Women’s Choir.
18. Xenia Woyevodsky, President, International Firebird Arts Foundation, Inc.
19. Irina Papkova, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Government, Georgetown University
20. Marina Rodzianko Petroni
21. Katherine Penchuk, M.A. in Economics, M.B.A. in Finance
22. Natalie Glazunova Penchuk
23. Nadia Mokhoff, Publisher, Russian Orthodox Youth Committee and Martianoff Calendars
24. Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff
25. Marie Borisovna Kizenko, Assistant Editor of the Thoroughbred Daily News, Parishoner, St. Vladimir Memorial Church, Jackson, NJ
26. Olga Peters Hasty, Professor of Russian Literature, Princeton University
27. Katerina Mickle, Masters in Education, Columbia University
28. Natasha Ignatovicz
29. Anna Yedgarian, choir member, in charge of vestments for clergy and altar, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC
30. Anna Rozanova, choir member of St. John's Cathedral in Washington, DC
31. Catherine Yaxley-Schmidt CPA, MBA, RN, Vice President, Planning & Government Affairs, Holy Name Hospital (NJ), and Choir Director, Holy Fathers' Parish, 153rd St., NYC.
32. Tatiana Sarandinaki
33. Anna (Holodny) Ferreira, and her daughters Callista, Calliope and Kiriena who will too someday raise Russian Orthodox Christians
34. Lana Sloutsky, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Art History, Boston University
35. Liana Rodzianko
36. Amber Ralli, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC
37. Natalia Ekzarkhov, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC
38. Galina Leonidovna Mickle, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC
39. Helen Bogolubov Desai
40. Xenia Leonidovna Bogolubov
41. Nina Zarudsky Arlievsky, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, and wife of a Deacon
42. Valentina Zavarin, PhD in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley
43. Nina Zavarin, choir member of Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," San Francisco, CA
44. Eugene Zavarin, PhD.
45. Rev. Joakim Provatakis, St. Sergius Mission Parish, Synodal Cathedral of the Mother of God of the Sign, New York, NY
46. Herman Ermolaev, Professor of Russian Literature, Princeton University
47. Elizabeth A. Ledkovsky, Cornell University, ROCM.org
48. Larissa Rodzianko
49. Michael M. Ossorgin VIII
50. Lena Olhovsky
51. Raisa Priebe, student at the University of Chicago, choir member at Virgin Mary Protection Cathedral, Des Plaines, IL
52. Nina Alexandrovna Ledkovsky
53. Maria Slobodskaya, teacher, MA Columbia University, MA Norwich University, Advanced Graduate Certificate -School District Administration, Stony Brook University
54. Ludmilla Rodzianko, St. Sergius Russian Orthodox Church, Cleveland, OH, member of church council
55. Catherine Doroschin
56. Nadine Kuzmins
57. Paul Grabbe
58. Mary O'Brien, Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Washington DC.
59. Tatiana Eichmann
60. Nina Shishkoff, Mother to three Orthodox Children (one of whom is female)
61. Xenia Levitsky, Wife, mother, elder caregiver, scout camp volunteer, parish member
62. Andrei I. Holodny, MD, Director of the Functional MRI Laboratory, Neuroradiologist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
63. Xenia Constantinovna Grabbe, Former head of the sisterhood and former starosta at the St. Alexander Nevsky Church, in Richmond, Maine
64. Matushka Irene Dutikow, Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, Astoria, NY
65. Natalia Kuzubova
66. Matushka Natasha Sommer, Associate Professor of Electronics, DeVry
67. Serge Shohov, St. Seraphim Parish, Sea Cliff, N.Y
68. Natalie Rjedkin Lee, Registrar, Smithsonian Institution
69. Olga Krueger, GWB Operations Manager, The Port Authority of NY & NJ
70. Elizaveta V. Temidis, Wife and mother, ROCOR member
71. Dimitri Gontscharow
72. Olga Selick
73. Zoya Jakowlew, M.S. in Education, Holy Annunciation Church, Flushing, New York
74. Lora Jakowlew (Larisa Yakovleva), Teacher, M. S. in Elementary Education (K-6). M. S. in Secondary Education/ English Literature (7-12), Choir Member and Parishioner of "Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin", Glen Cove, New York
75. Nina Jodko Fitzgerald
76. Alla Abakumov, Member of Church Council of St. Sergius Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Cleveland, OH; previous Deputy President of International Moscow Bank, Moscow, Russia, presently consultant for IMB.
77. Laura Verbiski, Secretary of Church Council of St. Sergius Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Cleveland, OH; member of Law Offices of Georg Abakumov
78. Tatiana Geringer
79. Olga Schidlowsky ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner), Pediatrix Medical Group
80. David Dutkanicz
81. Irina Mozyleva, soprano soloist and choir singer, assistant regent at Synod Cathedral, NY. Education: Moscow Conservatory, The Juilliard School of Music, The Curtis Institute of Music
82. Natalya Keikuatov Lopoukhine, Business Consultant, Telcordia Technologies
83. Daniela Provatakis, High School Student
84. Svetlana Keikuatov Rjedkin, Photographer
85. Genevieve McLellan
86. Suzannah McLellan, Boston, MA
87. Anna O. Rodzianko, CPA; Partner - Riley, Rodzianko & Clymer, LLP; member of the Holy Myrrhbearers Women's Choir; mother and grandmother of three Russian Orthodox Christians
88. Nataliya Ilieva Bellony
89. Gregory M. Kostura
90. Natalia Tregubov, starshaja sestra, St. Sergius Church, Tolstoy Foundation
91. Mary Levsha
92. Natalie Zelensky, Northwestern University
93. Valentina Belichenko Schatoff, History Teacher, adjunct professor, College of New Rochelle
94. Katya Collaco
95. Elizabeth Kristofovich Zelensky, Assistant Visiting Professor, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
96. Natalia Medvedeva, Instructor of Russian, Rutgers University
97. Anne Thomson, Professor of Meteorology, Penn State University
98. Natalie Karouna-Renier, Ph.D.