International Conference on Orthodox Church Music Concludes

The 4th International Conference on Orthodox Church Music concluded on Friday, 10 June 2011 here, at the School of Theology, University of Eastern Finland. The conference, hosted by the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM), featured participants from twenty different countries presenting papers on a variety of topics related to the conference's overall theme of "Unity and Variety in Orthodox Music: Theory and Practice."

Release, statement mark closing of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America

From May 25-27, the second annual Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America gathered for its meeting at the Chicago O'Hare Hilton. There was a total of 45 bishops in attendance. In addition, nearly all of the members were present at the Assembly: the Ecumenical Patriarchate, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the Albanian Orthodox Diocese; the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese; the Patriarchate of Moscow, including the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of the Americas; the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church; and the Orthodox Church in America. Not represented were the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese, as they currently have no bishop, owing to the recent repose of Metropolitan Nicholas; the Georgian Orthodox Church, whose bishop resides in Georgia; most of the bishops of Canada and Mexico, as the Canadian bishops anticipate their own assembly, as do those of Mexico and Central America who have requested to join the Assembly of South America. The Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church were detained by the business of their Synod in Belgrade, which was in session at the same time, and by delays in travel caused by the volcanic ash over Europe, and so were not able to attend.

Historic concelebration of the Divine Liturgy by OCA Metropolitan Jonah, ROCOR Metropolitan Hilarion

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America [OCA], and His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia [ROCOR], concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at Saint Nicholas Cathedral here on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, the Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius.

The Liturgy was an historic one, in that it marked "the first joint service of the American Bishops and the Russian Orthodox Church after nearly 70 years of the liturgical period of absence of communication," according to the web site of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. It represents the fruit of the diligent labors undertaken by the joint OCA-ROCOR Commission.

Metropolitan Hilarion: It is urgent that a system of protecting Christians against persecution be organized

Esteemed Mr. Prime-Minister,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have assembled here in Jamaica not only to sum up the Decade to Overcome Violence declared by the World Council of Churches in 2001 but also to discern together the scale and forms taken by violence in today's world. The principle question we have to answer is what we as Christians can do together in the face of growing violence, aggression, exploitation and terror. Symbolically, the World Council has accepted the invitation of churches in Jamaica and chosen for this forum this very beautiful island, which at the same time is a place with one of the heaviest rates of violence in the world.

Attempt to create Abkhaz "metropolia" will cause deadlock

The creation of a new "metropolia" in Abkhazia announced late last week will only make it more difficult to resolve the Abkhaz church issue, the Moscow Patriarchate has said.

"The church canon laws do not involve the making of decisions to create new metropolitanates, let alone autocephalous churches, at "clerical-laic" congresses. And the nomination by the "laic congress" of bishop candidates is explicitly prohibited by the canon law," Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, deputy head of the Synodal Department of External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday.