On December 8-9, 2021, under the auspices of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” and presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the first in-person session of the Synod of Bishops was held in New York City. Also participating were His Eminence Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, Secretary of the Synod of Bishops; His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada; His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe and His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Deputy Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
On Tuesday evening, December 7, after divine services in St Sergius Chapel on the ground floor of the Synodal Residence, Bishop Nicholas hosted a reception in honor of the First Hierarch and visiting archpastors.
Metropolitan Hilarion opened the assembly the next morning, congratulating the hierarchs on the 100th anniversary of the 1st All-Diaspora Council, which was held in Sremski Karlovci, Yugoslavia, in November 1921. Metropolitan Hilarion expressed his pleasure over the first in-person session of the Synod since the beginning of the pandemic.
Approving the agenda, the Synod members heard a report by Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky), Chief of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem of the Russian Church Abroad, on matters in the Holy Land’s monastery, on the recent feast-day celebrations at St Alexander Nevsky Podvorie at the “Russian Excavations” and on renovation work being conducted at Orthodox Bethany School. In conclusion, Fr Roman proposed that the archpastors send their clergymen to the Holy Land on vacation, to lead pilgrimages to holy sites, and conduct divine services in support of the missions’ monastics.
Bishop Irenei, Secretary of the Inter-Orthodox Affiars Department of the Synod of Bishops, spoke on events in the Orthodox world. During his exhaustive report, the uncanonical actions of Metropolitan Jean of Dubna, who received a series of clergymen of the Russian Church Abroad without their canonical release. The decisions of the Spiritual Court of the Diocese of Great Britain regarding these clergymen was reviewed. His Grace then told of his recent visit to Archangel Michael Parish in Cannes, France, which is under the rectorship of Priest Antony Odaysky, who was awarded the gold pectoral cross by the Synod of Bishops. Bishop Irenei expressed hope that this large and active parish will soon return to its church, since in November, a court in Grasse ruled that Archangel Michael Church belongs to Russia.
Archpriest Andrei Sommer, Vice President of the Synodal Youth Department, then spoke on youth ministry, after which the Synod decided to convene a gathering of parish youth of North America in Salt Lake City, UT. It will be held at St George Church on June 13-19, 2022.
The Synod of Bishops also deliberated on various matters of discipline and administration, and heard the intercessions of the Synod member for ecclesiastical awards for their clerics and laity.
The gathering concluded with festive feast-day services at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign,” during which Archimandrite Job (Bandmann) was consecratd as Bishop of Stuttgart, Vicar of the German Dicoese. The Synodal choir under the direction of Vadim Gan sang liturgical music composed by musicians of the Russian Church Abroad.
On Saturday, 11 December, the newly-consecrated Bishop Job celebrated his first Divine Liturgy at the cathedral.
The next meeting of the Synod of Bishops will convene on 22 February, 2022.