of The Administrative Council of the Serbian True Orthodox Church, addressed to the Holy Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece under the presidency of His Beatitude k.k. Kallinikos, Archbishop of Athens and All-Greece.
23/5 August 2011
Your Beatitude, Your Eminences:
In the name of the Administrative Council of the Serbian True Orthodox Church, we wish to inform Your Eminences of the conciliar decision we have taken to re-establish the independent autocephalous status of our Holy Serbian True-Orthodox Church. Expressing its profound gratitude to the Holy Synod of the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece for its temporary spiritual care for the Serbian True-Orthodox flock in the course of the last ten years, the Administrative Council of the STOC had decreed that contemporary church life demands that we take more decisive measures to re-establish the fully-empowered canonical structures of the True Serbian Church, coming out from under the administrative governance of the Synod of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece under the presidency of His Beatitude k.k. Kallinikos, Archbishop of Athens and All-Greece.
In taking this important and responsible decision for the further development of True Orthodoxy in Serbia, the Serbian Church does not break fraternal unity and communion with the Greek Church, but only restores its historical church-canonical status as the autocephalous Local Church of the Serbian people. Coming out from under the temporary administrative administration of the Greek Synod, the Serbian True Orthodox Church hopes to preserve fraternal unity with the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece in the spirit of the brotherhood and loved enjoined on us by the Saviour of the word, as it was in all the preceding periods of the inter-relationship between the sister Churches of Greece and Serbia.
While informing you about the decision taken at the Administrative Council of the Serbian True Orthodox Church, we also wish to clarify that this decision was not made overnight, but is the result of a long-unresolved situation in Serbia which we presented to You many times, asking from you fundamental changes. The basic problem is the long-lasting, unnatural situation which cannot be justified by the canons of the Church: the fact that the whole territory of Serbia, which is the territory of the Local Serbian Church, is ruled from a distance and by the bishop of another Local Church.
We shall not mention here all the details - such as the fact that the temporary hierarchical administrator appointed for Serbia has not visited for more than a decade - but we want to remind You that this large prospective Church territory has suffered great damage to its spiritual development under these circumstances. Even though we received from your Holy Church fundamental help for our struggle for the revival of the Serbian Church by the mission of True Orthodoxy, after a few years it was clear that this mission will not stand if the administration stays in Greece, in the hands of Greek bishops.
We were the faithful of the Serbian Church, whose hierarchy, under unfortunate circumstances, fell into the apostasy of Sergianism and the pan-heresy of Ecumenism. Therefore we terminated communion with them and asked help from You. We must emphasize here that all of us regard ourselves as the moral and lawful heirs of the Serbian Local Church and, therefore, Serbian clergymen. Thus it was understood that we were ordained by Your hands as clerics of our Serbian Church for the mission of the revival of the Serbian Church. Your help by providing ordinations should not be misused as an anchor to stop our little boat, which approached You asking for help, and to keep it under the Greek flag, without its own helmsman, without hope to sail forward in order to serve faithfully and struggle for its own homeland, under its own helmsman, under its own flag.
It was not once that we appealed to you, pointing out that Serbia needs its own Serbian bishop who will steadily stay with his flock and take an active part in the Church life and missionary work of the Serbian Church. The years have passed, the situation has grown worse, and to this day we have not yet seen any readiness on Your part to make the fundamental changes needed to solve the basic problem of our Local Church. It is vitally important to have our own bishop who will lawfully rule his own eparchy of the Serbian True Orthodox Church. This eparchy will be a healthy and solid foundation on which the revived Serbian Church shall rise. Obviously having one bishop will not bring complete autonomy to our Local Church, but it will be of critical importance to its successful development. Furthermore, it is very important to us which canonical synod will back up that first bishop, for the policies of that synod will strongly influence our Local Church's further development.
We do not mention a canonical release for two reasons. First, we are entering communion with the Russian True Orthodox Church independently, and Your Local Church has not yet done this. Second, we do not consider ourselves clerics of the Church of Greece, and therefore there is no need to ask for a canonical release. We are not making a transfer, but rather are staying where we are - in the Serbian True Orthodox Church for which we were ordained by Your honorable right hand and in which we have been serving all these years. From the Russian Orthodox Church we are asking and hope to receive the same help they gave You when they ordained canonical bishops for Your Holy Church.
We know that there are in Serbia some clerics and faithful who prefer to stay under the administration of Your Holy Synod. In spite of some serious misunderstandings, we do not wish to cause a breach in communion with our brothers and therefore we accept the reality that they will remain under your temporary governance, though they are on the territory of the Serbian Church. We rely on Our Lord to clear up this anomalous situation in due time.
Our present action does not mean that we desire a breach in communion with Your very-dear-to-us Sister Local Church. Nor do we want it to be a reason for the cessation of your dialogue with the RTOC. Therefore we are not spiritually departing from You, for we are convinced that our cooperation and close connection in Christ our Lord shall not cease. With deep gratitude for the help You have given through all these years, we once again calmly and on our knees pray You to show understanding for our struggle, and to continue in communion with us and in dialogue with the RTOC.
Sincerely hoping for Your kind understanding, generosity, and compassion,
Your debtors before God,
The Administrative Council of the Serbian True Orthodox Church:
(Which is composed of the clergy, parishes and monasteries who for more than a decade have been struggling to be given a bishop for the Serbian True Orthodox Church)
Signatures of Priests:
Hieromonk Akakije Stanković
Hieromonk Nektarije Ivanković
Priest Stefan Nikolić
Signatures of the Representatives of Parishes and Monasteries:
Novi Sad Parish
Sts Methodius and Cyril Monastery
New Stjenik Monastery