Together with their Arch-pastor His Grace Bishop Siluan, the clergy of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand gathered for their regular annual assembly from the 14th to the 17th of March 2017.
The meeting was held in a spirit of brotherly love, thanks to the Lord, the Giver of all good gifts, to St.Sava the father of our nation and to the Venerable Elder Nikanor our propitiator and unifier. The assembly extends special thanks to the Abbott of St.Sava Monastery Fr. Theodore and the brotherhood for their hospitality and warm welcome.
From its foundation, this monastery has been a centre for prayer, radiating with spiritual warmth welcoming faithful Serbs and visitors from the world over. For this reason we are committed to, and supportive of the spiritual and physical restoration of our monasteries: that of St.Sava in Elaine and New Kalenic in Hall together with the sketes and all Serbian Orthodox Churches in Australia and New Zealand.
The theme of this assembly was, ‘Pastoral care in the contemporary environment’ In the course of discussions, many important questions dealing with the spiritual and ecclesiastical life of our Metropolitanate in Australia and New Zealand were considered. It was generally agreed that with the passage of time, both clergy and faithful will be increasingly confronted with temptations and questions from the modern world, requiring a measured and Christian response. Times are evil, and we can only draw our spiritual strength and health from the Orthodox faith and the treasury of values it maintains. For this reason we are filled with optimism because we know that the Lord is with us, “for all days unto eternity.”
We are saddened by the fact that small, but nevertheless painful divisions still exist amongst us. Every division is evidence of spiritual and every other weakening. It is necessary for us all to pray more fervently and to seek to overcome division, to be ready to forgive, and that like brothers in faith and kin, we extend a hand to one another. The Holy and Venerable Elder Nikanor testified, “We are all brothers in Christ, and that is how we should behave! God is one, Serbia is one, the Way of St. Sava is one: Orthodoxy – one faith, one Church. That is most important, all else is secondary.”
Decisively and of one mind, having learned from the experience of the Church in Australia and New Zealand, the clergy brotherhood is firmly of the opinion that we can no longer be full members of an organization whose activities stand in opposition to all that we preach to the faithful, including the National Council of Churches in Australia. Our clergy is not ready to be just a witness or passive observer in the work of such organisations whose decisions often contradict the teaching of the Orthodox Church.
We stand firm, affirming and preaching Christian values such as, faith, family and Church, and all other virtues which have been handed down to us from our predecessors and during difficult times, defended even unto death by our national heroes.
We therefore appeal to parents, to teach and raise their children with Christian values and to cultivate in their hearts a love for God and virtue. We must be conscious of the fact that social and educational institutions very often stand in direct opposition to the teachings of the Gospel and Christ’s Church. We especially entreat Orthodox mothers to resist giving their children over to ruinous influences which give rise to the entrapments of the ‘virtual world,’ through a false sense of reality, and in so doing separating them from the true path of salvation.
Children are the future of our Church and our people, and the parental home and upbringing of children in the Orthodox Faith and Church are the only guarantee of the healthy development and formation of an Orthodox Christian.
Beseeching the Lord that He may grant us humility, forgiveness love and peace that He help us to complete the remaining time of the fast that we way worthily prepare for the glorious feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Your intercessors before the Lord,
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand
Together with all clergy and monastics of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand
16 the March 2017