On August 12th (Old Style), H.B., Metropolitan JOHN, with H.G., Bishop FANURIOS and H.G., Bishop CHRISTODOULOS, as well as other clergy met at the Church of the Transfiguration in Woodstock, NY. The purpose of the meeting was officially to facilitate the entrance into the True Orthodox Church of two new bishops (JOSEPH and SERAPHIM); but, wondrously and thanks to God’s movement, it also became the first clergy conference for many of the priests and deacons of the Autonomous Metropolia.
A conference of the Bishops and clergy, was held in the Baptistry of the Church of the Transfiguration. There was ample seating, and, after an informal set of discussions, His Beatitude, Metropolitan JOHN, led the assembled clergy in supplications to Almighty God with the singing of “O Heavenly King”, as well as the chanting of the Trisagion, “All Holy Trinity”, Our Father, and other prayers for the safe beginning of the meeting. At which the Metropolitan explained the purpose of the meeting and how God had turned things to the use of the Church throughout all the past; even when the Enemy meant ill for us, God brought out great goodness. He also explained how essential it is to defend the Orthodox Faith in the face of the heresies of ecumenism and modernism, which now completely control many of former Local Orthodox Churches. He explained how it was necessary to ensure communion with restored Local Orthodox Churches (such as the True Orthodox of Russia, Greece, Georgia, and elsewhere), and to strengthen our bonds abroad and at home with ourselves.
During the meeting discussions were held on a wide variety of spiritual and theological subjects. Reports were given on the state of our Church and sister Churches, as well as the state of the fallen Patriarchates. Discussion was held on how to firmly defend the Orthodox Faith against the new founded heresies of ecumenism and modernism. An emphasis was placed upon more didactic and apologetic material being produced to explain the true and confessing Orthodox position in the face of the widespread confusion wrought by the ecumenical and modernist heresies. Several clergy discussed and requested the production of short booklets on these matters. This suggestion was received with great acclaim and positive review.
Emphasis was also placed upon the manner of missionary, apologetic, and polemical work. It was agreed and expressed, that, while it is absolutely essential to express the full Orthodox Faith and to state our resistance to the heresies of the fallen Patriarchates, this must continue to be done in a manner free of guile. This suggestion was agreed to by all; and discussion was held about the manner in which the Orthodox Faith should be presented to, and conversions facilitated for the members of the fallen patriarchates, so that they might embrace the Orthodox Faith that many believe they hold.
A good deal of discussion was held concerning missionary work among Hispanic peoples. Many priests expressed their desire for this, and many expressed the great opportunity. Several of the Bishops made the comment that the Hispanic peoples must be brought to the Orthodox Faith through means of iconography and holy images in an Orthodox context; as the Hispanic peoples have not lost this part of their culture, unlike other cultures. It was decided to work together to achieve this goal, and to emphasize missionary activities to Hispanic peoples in the United States (while not at all neglecting all other groups).
The suggestions and discussions held between the Bishops and Clergy about these matters generated enthusiastic and much prayerful consideration to engage in a greater deal of redoubled missionary work.
Discussion was held also, about the nature of the Dormition, and the fast being observed, and how this should impel us to continuously turn to Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary during times of great need.
Discussion was held with the bishops being received, with each expressing their adherence to the traditional and true Orthodox Faith.
Great Vespers was celebrated afterwards, with confessions being heard prior to Vespers.
Aside from the formal meetings, a great deal of familiarity and strengthening of personal friendships was achieved between all the participants. A great deal of encouragement was had; especially for priests who had been in a geographically isolated circumstance.
On Sunday 13th, Old Style, Orthros and Divine Liturgy were celebrate at 9am and 10am, respectively, at St. Gerasimus church in Jamaica, Queens. During the service the incoming bishops were receive via the rite of ‘cherothesia’ (or a confirmatory laying on of hands for those possessing forms of ordination), whereby all the essential prayers of all the orders were read over the bishops being received (that is, the prayers for reader, subdeacon, deacon, priest, and then, for bishop, all the bishops laying on hands). Thereafter, the newly receive bishops, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with the Metropolitan and other Bishops of the Holy Synod, along with the clergy present. A prayerful and devout and serious environment was held, and great joy was expressed by the newly received Bishops for the ability to do the work of God and to bring traditional Orthodoxy to the world.
Bishop SERAPHIM was made vicar bishop for Manhattan and Long Island, and Bishop JOSEPH was made Bishop for Edmonton, Canada.
After the celebrations a dinner was held, and a great deal of discussion on continuing possibilities for new monasteries (with additional monks being brought into the Church as time continues).
After the solemnities and celebrations the participants returned back to their places of origin, having gained valuable opportunities and fellowship.