At the men’s monastery of St Job of Pochaev near Munich, Germany, the first meeting of the European Bishops’ Conference of the Church Abroad took place. The Conference is comprised of the four hierarchs charged with the pastoral care of the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in Europe: His Eminence Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany, locum tenens of the First Hierarch of the ROCOR and President of the European Bishop’s Conference; His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe, Vice-President of the Conference; His Grace Bishop Alexander of Vevey, Vicar of the Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe, and His Grace Bishop Job of Stuttgart, Vicar of the German Diocese.
Following an opening prayer and remarks from the President, the assembled hierarchs proceeded, over the course of two days, to discuss a wide array of matters relating to the life of the Church Abroad in Europe. Brief reports on the internal life of the two dioceses were delivered by their Ruling Bishops, and many matters were addressed relating to the desire to coordinate various activities together, including planning for pilgrimages, the visits of sacred icons, pastoral training of future clergy and care for existing clergy, joint publications and the production of multi-lingual service books; etc.
The hierarchs also discussed the current situation of the world and their shared responses to the terrible war in Ukraine, including the extensive support, across the whole of the Church Abroad’s presence in Europe, for refugees from that conflict. Relations with other Orthodox jurisdictions were also addressed, together with a variety of other matters.
The meetings took place in the environment of the holy monastery, permitting the official sessions to take place amidst the full rota of the daily Divine Services of the monastery, in which the hierarchs took part, thus grounding all their discussions in the prayer of the Church.
The European Bishops’ Conference of the ROCOR was established by a decision of the Holy Synod last year; however, it harks back to a tradition of our Church Abroad that dates from the time of St John the Wonderworker who, as Ruling Bishop of the Western European Diocese, convened similar gatherings for the benefit of the Church as a whole across Europe.