The 76th Episcopate Congress
Vatra Românească, 4-6 July 2008
Al 76-lea Congresul Episcopiei

The 76th Congress of the Episcopate met, as each year, over the fourth of July weekend. Some 110 clergy and lay delegates from parishes across the United States and Canada participated.

 On Thursday, July 3, the clergy met in conference to discuss pastoral matters. They also reviewed the main topic to be discussed later in Congress, a Proposal to Establish a Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate in North America. In the evening, the Episcopate Council held its’ pre-congress session to go over the printed Congress reports, etc. Debate stemming from the next day’s “proposal” took the session to after midnight, and required the calling of an additional meeting the next evening.

 A service invoking the presence of the Holy Spirit formally opened the congress on Friday, July 4. Besides the many annual reports and budgets, the main subject of the two day session was the above mentioned proposal to unite the two Romanian dioceses in North America. A Joint Dialogue Commission has considered this matter for over fifteen years, and only in April was a common proposal drafted and blessed by Archbishop Nathaniel and Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese (under the Church of Romania). After questions and answers and open discussion, a Resolution was adopted directing the JDC (dialogue commission) to continue its work toward a finalized proposal for consideration by the Romanian Patriarchate, after which a vote would be taken by an eventual special Episcopate Congress. Committees to study the legal, financial (etc.) implications of a metropolitanate are to be named.   

The Congress marked the 125 anniversary of the birth and 50th anniversary of the falling asleep in the Lord of the Episcopate’s first hierarch, His Grace Bishop Policarp (Morusca). His great-nephew Radu Serban, author of a new book on the bishop, gave a presentation of photographs and memoirs.

On Saturday, the Doina Ensemble of Canton, Ohio offered an entertaining program of dances and song, and the evening ended with all enjoying a traditional dance.

A hierarchal Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Sunday morning, with our Cathedral Choir, directed by JE Lazar, beautifully leading the responses. In the afternoon, the closing banquet was served by the weekend’s host parish: Descent of the Holy Ghost of Warren, Michigan. The Cathedral parish was represented by Fr Lazar, who is also Secretary of the Episcopate Council, and lay delegates Mariana Tipa, a member of the Episcopate Council, and Augustin Vincent. Our Deacon Sabin Pop, as well as a number of other parishioners, also attended the various sessions of the congress.       

The Archbishop reads the Gospel at the Invocation
Flags wave proudly in front of the Grey Tower
Secretary, Fr Laurence Lazar opens the meeting

Fr Ioan Bogdan explains his parish building plan
Geta, Robert & Luana smile for the camera
A peaceful, summer sunset at Vatra

Ladies from Chicago prepare the 'coliva'
Friends from Detroit, Montreal & Ottawa
Clergy & theologians lead responses at parastas

Frs Petrescu, Lazar & Pavel with the Archbishop
Among the saints, rest your servants!
Cathedral Deacon Sabin assists the Archbishop

His Eminence reads an inscription from 1930's
The traditional Saturday dance drew hundreds
Hierarchs & Radu Serban at Bishop Policarp cross

Mr Serban is the great nephew of PS Policarp
Diaconeasa Ramona Pop (center) with friends
Part of the 115 delegates of the congress

10 National AROY Past Presidents were present
Faithful at the Sunday Divine Liturgy
Singing 'Memory Eternal'  for Archbishop Valerian

The "Doina" ensemble of Canton, Ohio
Partial view of serving clergy at Sunday Liturgy
The dancers entertained a crowd of more than 400

(Part of) the Cathedral Choir at Liturgy
John E Lazar directs the acclaimed choir
Guests make their way to the tower pavilion
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