Representatives of Metropolitan Laurus Hold Church Meetings in the Cities of Australia and Speak at the Extraordinary Assembly of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand
From December 14-23, informational meetings were held on the forthcoming IV All-Diaspora Council and on the work of the Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate.
The representatives of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, Mitred Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Secretary of the Commission on talks with the Moscow Patriarchate and Priest Serafim Gan, member of the Pre-Council Committee and personal secretary of His Eminence, arrived from the US to deliver lectures on these matters. Fr Serafim spoke on the steps taken to prepare the program for the All-Diaspora Council, and Fr Alexander informed those in attendance on the work of the Commission on talks with the Moscow Patriarchate. After the lectures, question-and-answer sessions were held with the lecturers. It was apparent that the future of the Russian Church Abroad is important to the faithful of the Diocese.
On December 16, the first such meeting was held under the chairmanship of His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand at the Cathedral in Sydney. Some 250 persons were in attendance.
From December 17-19, Metropolitan Laurus' representatives visited parishes in Brisbane. Fr Serafim concelebrated at all-night vigil with Mitred Protopriest Peter Semovskih, the Rector of St Seraphim Church, while Fr Alexander prayed at Blessed Virgin of Vladimir Church. The following morning, Fr Alexander officiated at Divine Liturgy at the church along with its Rector, Priest Peter Fomin and Fr Serafim. At the end of Liturgy, the Epistle of the Synod of Bishops was read. Later that day, an informational meeting was held at the parish hall, chaired by Protopriest Gabriel Makarov and attended by the parishioners of the churches of Brisbane.
On December 19, the feast day of St Nicholas the Wonder-worker, Fr Alexander officiated at Divine Liturgy at St Nicholas Cathedral, along with the Dean of Brisbane, Protopriest Michael Klebansky, Fr Gabriel, Fr Serafim and Fr Peter, along with Deacon Alexander Borodin, Deacon Gabriel Lapardin, Deacon Ivan Weir and Deacon Konstantin Semovskih. Fr Gabriel greeted the parishioners during the trapeza that followed and expressed gratitude to the guests who shared their information on the events in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with the parishioners of Brisbane.
Later that day, the representatives of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia visited the grand Protection of the Holy Virgin Church in Cabramatta, founded by Protopriest Rostislav Gan of blessed memory; the 30 th anniversary of his repose was celebrated earlier in December. Venerating the church's icons and relics, the guests then headed for the parish hall, where the Choir of the Valaam Podvorie in St Petersburg gave a concert of church and lay music. Here the reverend fathers were able to speak with Priest Boris Ignatievsky and the parishioners of Protection Church. The following morning, the visiting priests used their free time for personal meetings with the clergymen and parishioners of Sydney.
On December 21, a copy of the venerated "Port Arthur" Icon of the Mother of God from the Leushinskoye Podvorie of St Petersburg arrived at Holy Protection Cathedral in Melbourne, whose Rector is Protopriest Nicholas Karipoff. A moleben was then served before the icon. At the end of the service, the clergymen and parishioners of Victoria gathered at the new parish hall, where, under the chairmanship of Protopriest Michael Protopopov, another meeting was held. The lectures were heard with great interest, and afterwards, many thanked the speakers and stressed that such meetings are extremely beneficial, since they serve to unify the faithful and dispel the lies and slander spread by the enemies of our Church.
The following day, Archbishop Hilarion served a moleben before the Port Arthur Icon of the Mother of God at St Nicholas Cathedral in Melbourne to mark the beginning of the Extraordinary Assembly of the Diocese of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, along with Fr Michael, Fr Nicholas and the local Deacon Alexander Abramov. The Assembly then began, during which Metropolitan Laurus' representatives read his epistle and delivered their speeches. Fr Michael was elected Vice President of the Assembly, and Protopriest Michael Boikov was chosen as Secretary. Fr Gabriel Makarov headed the counting committee, and Protodeacon Basil Yakimov of St John the Forerunner Church in Canberra headed the credentials committee. After discussing the lectures, the election of delegates to the forthcoming All-Diaspora Council was held. Chosen were Fr Michael Protopopov, Protopriest Nikita Chemodakov, Protodeacon Basil Yakimov and NG Rotenko. A resolution was then adopted reflecting the scope of opinions of the participants of the Assembly. Unfortunately, not all clerical and lay representatives were able to attend this important Assembly, however, attending were such clergymen as Archimandrite Daniel, the Head of the Indonesian Mission of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, and Priest Arkadii Trashkov of New Zealand.
His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion, in closing the Assembly, which was held in the presence of the Port Arthur Icon of the Mother of God, expressed his thanks to all its participants and visiting representatives of the First Hierarch, who shared information at both church meetings and through personal discussions with the clergy and laity of the Diocese, and invoked God's blessing upon all.