CONVOCATION OF THE
TWENTIETH REGULAR SOBOR OF
UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
OF THE USA
1 April 2013
TO: ALL CLERGY AND LAY MEMBERS OF OUR HOLY UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
RE: CONVOCATION OF THE TWENTIETH REGULAR SOBOR OF OUR CHURCH
“AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?”
My dearly beloved brother clergy and faithful lay members of the Body of Christ,
GLORY TO OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST! GLORY FOREVER!
I write in fulfillment of the requirements of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA Constitution to announce the convocation of the XXth (twentieth) Regular Sobor of our Church on Thursday through Sunday, 17-20 October 2013 at our Metropolia Center in South Bound Brook-Somerset, NJ. It will once again be an opportunity for us to gather as the children of God, the inheritors of an incredibly rich spiritual legacy passed on to us by our forefathers and mothers of the Faith in Christ – the Word of God – to consider if we are, indeed, not only living up to that legacy but enriching it by committing our lives to Christ, as did those ancestors. Ours is a history dating from our Lord’s earthly ministry and teaching, through the first millennium of His Church’s life, continuing through the second millennium following the Baptism of Ukraine in 988 and into this present third millennium. We must determine whether or not the manner in which we live our lives will serve to enrich the lives of those who will be our descendants. We make this self-examination during the year, which marks the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Ukraine into the Holy Orthodox Faith.
There is a primary question that we must ask ourselves to determine whether or not we have become God’s faithful witnesses. It is the question from the very first chapters of Holy Scripture, which we have chosen as the theme for our 20th Regular Sobor: Genesis 4:9 – “Am I my brother’s keeper?” This is perhaps one of the more thought-provoking questions in all Scripture and one we need to address for the sake of our own salvation and for the sake of future generations. It is answered bluntly by Christ our Lord: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this will all know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). This is a love that is not just symbolic, but a love that Christ exemplified in His willingness to lay down His life, not only for His friends, but for His enemies, as well. Further, St. Paul makes it clear: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law…for all the other commandments are summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor -as yourself’. Love does no harm to a neighbor and therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10)
Throughout the Epistles of Paul, Peter and John we are instructed to receive one another, to edify one another, to serve one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to forgive one another, to submit to one another, to exhort one another, to be considerate of one another and to be hospitable to one another. Nowhere in Scripture is the need to be our brother’s keeper made more clear than in the Parable of the Final Judgment where our Lord bluntly proclaims to us that what we do or fail to do “for the least of His brethren”, we do or fail to do for Him. (Matthew 25:31-46) “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The entire body of our Lord’s message is that there can be no doubt that the answer to the question is a resounding “YES”!.
During this Sobor we must examine how well we are doing. We must stimulate our thinking about how well we are fulfilling our obligations to one another and to the world around us. In particular, we must examine how we deal with the stranger that comes among us in our parishes communities/families – whether we receive them or ignore them, whether we assimilate them into the life of our family or leave them on the fringes, whether we even know their names or not. Do we edify them or put stumbling blocks in their way? Do we encourage them and build them up along with and all other members of the parish community? Or do we weaken the body by our own example – through our words, deeds and attitudes?
During all my years as President of the Consistory and as a hierarch of our Holy Church, I have repeated the message that the Church’s singular mission is the salvation of souls. How can we NOT be our brother’s keeper and expect to fulfill that mission? All discussion of questions, issues and programs during our Sobor must take place in the light of our singular mission. We need the participation of representatives all our clergy and delegates representing our parishes and Central Church Organizations to be effective in evaluating our progress and in developing our plans and programs for the future.
So many people who participated in our Special Sobor of October 2012 continue to comment to me and to His Grace, Bishop Daniel about the wonderfully spiritual atmosphere and love that prevailed throughout that Sobor. We must continue that atmosphere at this 20th Sobor even though we will be discussing more mundane matters than the election of a new Metropolitan. The Holy Spirit can and will provide that same spiritual atmosphere if we are willing to provide the love for one another, as brothers and sisters, who know our responsibility to one another in Christ’s Name.
We look forward to sharing this all too brief time with so many of you during our 20th Sobor! Please remember that the new rules of our Constitution clearly define the number of delegates permissible from each parish and mission. Send as many delegates as you can to enjoy a wonder experience of Orthodox Christian Fellowship. Begin to make your plans now and remember that according to our Constitution delegates are to be elected during a general parish membership meeting.
On the days immediately preceding the Sobor there will be meetings of the Consistory, the Metropolitan Council and the Seminary Board of Trustees – 15 October. A Clergy Conference with the participation of all our clergy will convene all day – 16 October. We will schedule one workshop during the Sobor, the topic of which will be announced later. Delegate registration information and other documents concerning the Sobor will be mailed by 15 June with a due date of 15 September.
Again, the entire staff of our Metropolia Center looks forward to your arrival with much anticipation. The Pre-Sobor Commission has begun its preparations. You are in our prayers on a daily basis and we ask for yours, as well.
May the Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
In our Lord’s All-encompassing Love,
By the Grace of God, Metropolitan