Letter to Metropolitan Agafangel from the Pre-Council Committee
To the Most Reverend Metropolitan Agafangel
We appeal to You as a brother in Christ, to Your Christian conscience and to Your powers of reason. Previously, we and many clerics of our Church have often written to you personally, while this time we appeal to you in an open letter.
In Your publications you have called us schismatics.
Ask yourself this question: how many times have You already cast out from the Church other schismatics and why do these actions not bring peace, why do new schismatics arise to replace the old? You believe that you have fallen victim to a conspiracy of forces seeking to decapitate and destroy the ROCA. But look more attentively, among your opponents are those who have grown up in the Church Abroad since infancy, and they are the carriers of the spirit of the Church. Can it be that they are also planted agents?
In your 2007 article “On our Division,” You, then Bishop Agafangel, speaking of the Synod of Metropolitan Laurus, said that the Metropolitan was deaf to the opinion of the laity and did not comply with the principle of conciliarity. Today, now the Metropolitan yourself, you label expressions of the parishioners’ will as manifestations of the “heresy of Presbyterianism” and ignore their appeals to You.
We believe that the cause of our internal church conflict is Your unwillingness to hear your flock and your readiness to use all possible means to rid the Church of dissenters. It is for this reason that the constant conflicts in the Church are followed by punishments, departures to other jurisdictions, or parish self-government and the termination of commemoration of the Metropolitan. This is the reality of today’s ROCA. This is a sure road to the scattering and extinction of the Church, a road upon which You are leading us.
As a result of this situation, we appeal to You with a proposal to create a new form of governance, which will permit us to save what remains of the Church Abroad, and to gather those who for whatever reason have abandoned her.
We believe that the following steps are necessary to achieve this: 1. Rescind the punishments, imposed without benefit of trial, on the bishops, clergy and laity, and establish an Ecclesiastical Court in accord with the canons. 2. We respectfully request that You relinquish your role as Chairman of the Synod, while retaining the rank of Metropolitan and administration of the Odessa diocese. 3. Create three autonomous Church Districts: Ukraine-Moldova, Russia, and the Far Abroad. Each of the Districts will be managed by its own Synod.
It is impossible to single-handedly administer a Church that is dispersed around the globe. The ROCA under Blessed Metropolitan Antony consisted of church districts: the Near Eastern, the Far Eastern, the North American and the Western Europe. In this time of acute crisis in the Church it is imperative to return to the experience of our wise hierarchs.
This decentralization of church authority is exactly what You advocated two years ago in your statement: “… we must with all our strength renounce centralization and central administrative organs, as in today’s circumstances in the Russian Federation, centralization means total control. But Christianity cannot live without absolute freedom in Christ. Therefore, we must be careful, as once freedom is lost, it can never be regained. ”
We propose to do the same – to decentralize Church administration and to preserve our collective Church in the form of self-governing districts. Yet more punishments will only serve to further discredit the Church and to further scatter its flock.
We ask that you consider this letter as evidence of our sincere desire to avoid a schism and to find a form of church relations that will best correspond to the spirit of conciliarity in the historical ROCA.
The Pre-Council Committee of the 6th All-Diaspora Council:
Mitered Archpriest Nikita Grigoriev
Hegumen Andrei (Erastov)
Hieromonk Ignatiy (Krutkov)