Thursday, April 17, 2014

Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church

1. The Parish shall be a community of Orthodox Christians – clergymen and laymen united at a church.

The Parish shall be a canonical unit of the Russian Orthodox Church under authoritative supervision of the Diocesan Bishop and guided by an appointed rector.

2. The Parish shall be formed by voluntarily consent of the believing citizens of Orthodox confession who have come of age and with the blessing of the Diocesan Bishop.

For obtaining the status of the legal entity the Parish shall be registered by the state bodies in the manner prescribed by the legislation of the country where the Parish is located.

The boundaries of the Parishes shall be determined by the Diocesan Council.

3. The Parish shall began its activities upon the blessing of the Diocesan Bishop.

4. The Parish in its civil and legal activities shall observe the canonical rules, the inner by-laws of the Russian Orthodox Church and the legislation of the country of its location.

5. The Parish shall allocate the money through the Diocese as a compulsory measure for general church needs in the amount established by the Holy Synod and for the needs of the Diocese – in the manner and amount established by the bodies of the Diocesan Authority.

6. The Parish in its religious, administrative, financial and economic activities shall be subordinate and accountable to the Diocesan Bishop. The Parish shall carry out the resolutions of the Diocesan Assembly and of the Diocesan Council and the instructions of the Diocesan Bishop.

7. In the event that some members split off or all members of the Parish meeting withdraw from the Parish, they shall not be entitled to claim any rights to the property and assets of the Parish.

8. In the event that the Parish meeting takes a decision to withdraw from the hierarchic structure and jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Parish shall no longer be recognized as belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church. That will entail the cessation of the activities of the Parish as a religious organization of the Russian Orthodox Church and will deprive it of the right to property, which belonged to the Parish by the right of ownership, use or on any other legal basis, as well as the right to use the name and symbols of the Russian Orthodox Church in its name.

9. The parish churches, prayer houses and chapels shall be organized with the blessing of the Diocesan Authority and shall maintain the order established by the law.

10. The bodies of the Parish administration shall be the Rector, the Parish meeting, the Parish Council and the Auditing commission.

11. The brotherhoods and sisterhoods shall be founded by the parishioners only with the consent of the Rector and with the blessing of the Diocesan Bishop. The brotherhoods and sisterhoods have an objective to attract the parishioners to caring and working for maintaining the churches in the appropriate state, to participating in works of charity, social ministry, religious and moral education. The brotherhoods and sisterhoods at the parishes shall be under the authoritative supervision of the Rectors. In the exceptional cases the Statute of a brotherhood or sisterhood approved by the Diocesan Bishop can be submitted for state registration.

12. The brotherhoods and sisterhoods shall begin their activity upon the blessing of the Diocesan Bishop.

13. In exercising their activities the brotherhoods and sisterhoods shall be guided by the present Statute, the resolutions of the Local and Bishops’ Councils, the decisions of the Holy Synod, the decrees of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the decisions of the Diocesan Bishop and the Rector of the Parish, as well as by the civil statutes of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Diocese and the Parish, at which they are established, and by their own Statute, if the brotherhoods and sisterhoods are registered as legal entities.

14. The brotherhoods and sisterhoods shall allocate through the parishes the money for general church purposes in the amount established by the Holy Synod; for the diocesan and parish needs – in the manner and amount established by the bodies of the Diocesan authority and the Rectors of the parishes.

15. The brotherhoods and sisterhoods in their religious, administrative, financial and economic activities shall be subordinate and accountable to the Diocesan Bishops through the Rectors. The brotherhoods and sisterhoods shall abide by the decisions of the Diocesan Authority and the Rectors of the Parishes.

16. In the event some members split off or all members of the brotherhood or sisterhood withdraw, they shall not be entitled to claim any rights for the property and assets of the brotherhood and sisterhood.

17. In the event that a general meeting of the brotherhood and sisterhood takes a decision to withdraw from the hierarchic structure and jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, the brotherhoods and sisterhoods shall no longer be recognized as belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church. That shall entail the cessation of the activities of the brotherhood and sisterhood as a religious organization of the Russian Orthodox Church and shall deprive them of the right to property, which belonged to the brotherhood or sisterhood by the right of ownership, use or on any other legal basis, as well as the right to use the name and symbols of the Russian Orthodox Church in their name.

1. The Rector

18. Every parish shall be headed by the Rector of the church appointed by the Diocesan Bishop for spiritual guidance of the believers and the administration of the clergy and the parish. The Rector shall be accountable to the Diocesan Bishop for his activity.

19. The Rector shall be responsible for the correct celebration of the divine services in accordance with the Statute of the Church, for church sermon, for the religious and moral state and proper education of the members of the parish. He must conscientiously discharge all liturgical, pastoral and administrative duties determined by his office in accordance with the established canons and the present Statute.

20. The responsibilities of the Rector shall include:

a) guiding the clergy in fulfilling their liturgical and pastoral duties;

b) supervising the state of the church building, its decoration and the availability of all objects necessary for the divine services in accordance with the requirements of the liturgical rubrics and instructions of the Church authorities;

c) caring for correct and reverential reading and singing in the church;

d) caring for the exact abiding by the instructions of the Diocesan Bishop;

e) organizing activities in the public domain, catechetical, charitable and educational activities of the parish;

f) convening and chairing the sessions of the Parish meeting;

g) suspending with sufficient grounds the execution of the decisions of the Parish meeting and the Parish Council on the matters of doctrinal, canonical, liturgical or administrative and economic nature with subsequent referral of the matter to the Diocesan Bishop for consideration;

h) supervising the execution of the decisions of the Parish meeting and the work of the Parish Council;

i) representing the interests of the parish in the bodies of state power and local self-administration;

j) submitting to the Diocesan Bishop directly or through the Dean the annual reports on the state of the parish and its work and on the activities carried out in it;

k) maintaining the official church correspondence;

l) keeping a liturgical journal and parish archive;

m) issuing certificates of baptism and marriage.

21. The Rector can have a vacation and leave his parish for a while exclusively with the permission of the Diocesan authority received in the prescribed manner.

2. The Clergy

22. The Clergy shall be determined in the following composition: a priest, a deacon and a psalm-reader. The number of the Clergy can be increased or reduced by the Diocesan authority at the request of the parish and in accordance with its needs. In any case the Clergy should consist of no less than two persons – a priest and a psalm-reader.

Note: a person in holy orders can assume the office of a psalm-reader.

23. The election and appointment of the clergymen and church servants shall belong to the Diocesan Bishop.

24. In order to be ordained deacon or priest it is necessary:

a) to be a member of the Russian Orthodox Church;

b) to be of age;

c) to have the necessary moral qualities;

d) to have sufficient theological training;

e) to have a certificate from his father-confessor of the absence of canonical obstacles to ordination;

f) not to stand trial by the ecclesiastical or civil court;

g) to take an ecclesiastical oath.

25. The members of the Clergy can be transferred and dismissed from places of their ministry by the Diocesan Bishop at their personal request, according to the ruling of the ecclesiastical court or in accordance with the ecclesiastical expediency;

26. The responsibilities of the members of the Clergy shall be determined by the canons and by the instructions of the Diocesan Bishop or the Rector.

27. The Clergy of the parish shall be responsible for the spiritual and moral state of the parish and for discharging their liturgical and pastoral duties;

28. The members of the Clergy cannot leave the parish without permission of the church authority received in the prescribed manner;

29. A clergyman can take part in the celebration of a divine service in another parish with the consent of the Diocesan Bishop of the diocese, in which this parish is located, or with the consent of the Dean or the Rector provided there is a certificate which confirms his canonical regularity.

30. In compliance with Canon 13 of the 4th Ecumenical Council clergymen can be accepted in another diocese only if they have release documents from the Diocesan Bishop.

3. The Parishioners

31. The Parishioners shall be persons of the Orthodox confession, who maintain living contacts with their parish.

32. All parishioners shall be obliged to take part in the divine services, make Confession and take Holy Communion regularly, observe the Canons and church prescriptions, carry out deeds of faith, strive for religious and moral perfection and contribute to the well-being of the parish.

33. The parishioners shall be responsible for the material maintenance of the clergy and the church building.

4. The Parish Meeting

34. The Parish meeting headed by the Rector of the Parish who is Chairman of the Parish Meeting ex officio shall be the highest governing body of the parish.

The Parish meeting shall include the clergymen of the parish and the laymen who regularly participate in the liturgical life of the parish and who are worthy to take part in the solution of parish matters due to their commitment to Orthodoxy, their moral standing and experience of life. They shall be over 18 years, not under suspension or standing trial by an ecclesiastical or civil court.

35. The acceptance into the membership of the Parish meeting and the withdrawal from it shall be made by the decision of the Parish meeting on the basis of an application. In the event that a member of the Parish meeting is considered not meeting the requirements of his position, he can be removed from the Parish meeting by the decision of the Parish meeting.

In the event that the members of the Parish meetings deviate from the canons and statutes of the Russian Orthodox Church, the composition of the Parish meeting can be changed completely or partly by the decision of the Diocesan Bishop.

36. The Parish meeting shall be convened no less than once annually by the Rector or by the Dean if so ordered by the Diocesan Bishop, or by any other plenipotentiary representative of the Diocesan Bishop.

The Parish meeting convened for election or re-election of the members of the Parish meeting shall be held with the participation of the Dean or any other representative of the Diocesan Bishop.

37. The meeting shall be held in accordance with the agenda presented by the Chairman.

38. The Chairman shall preside over the sessions in accordance with the adopted standing orders.

39. The Parish meeting shall be competent to take decisions if no less than half of its members take part in it. The resolutions of the Parish meeting shall be taken by a simple majority vote. In the event of a tie, the Chairman shall cast the deciding vote.

40. The Parish meeting shall elect from among its members the secretary, who shall be responsible for the minutes of the session.

41. The minutes of the Parish meeting shall be signed by the Chairman, the secretary and five elected members of the Parish meeting. The minutes of the Parish meeting shall become effective upon approval by the Diocesan Bishop.

42. The resolutions of the Parish meeting can be read out to the parishioners in the church.

43. The Parish meeting shall be responsible for:

a) preserving the inner unity of the Parish and assistance to its spiritual and moral growth;

b) adopting the civil Statute of the Parish, amendments and additions to it, which shall be approved by the Diocesan Bishop and become effective upon the registration by the state;

c) admitting and excluding the members of the Parish meeting;

d) submitting the candidature of the Chairman of the Parish Council – the churchwarden to the Diocesan Bishop for approval;

e) electing the Parish Council and the Auditing commission;

f) planning financial and economic activities of the Parish;

g) providing for the safety of the church property and care for its increase;

h) adopting the plans of expenditures, including the amount of assignments for charity and religious educational purposes and submitting them to the Diocesan Bishop for approval;

i) approving the plans and examining the design and budget documents for construction and repair of the church buildings;

j) considering financial and other reports of the Parish Council and reports of the Auditing commission and submitting them to the Diocesan Bishop for approval;

k) approving the list of members of staff and assigning the maintenance of the members of the Clergy and the Parish Council;

l) determining the order of the disposal of the property of the parish under the conditions stipulated by the present Statute, the Civil Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Statute of the Diocese, the Statute of the Parish and also by the acting legislation;

m) attending to the availability of all objects necessary for the canonical celebration of the divine services;

n) attending to church singing;

o) submitting petitions from the parish to the Diocesan Bishop and the civil authorities;

p) considering the complaints brought against the members of the Parish Council and Auditing commission and submitting them to the Diocesan Administration.

5. The Parish Council

44. The Parish Council shall be an executive and managerial body of the Parish meeting and shall be accountable to the Rector and the Parish meeting.

45. The Parish Council shall consist of the Chairman – the churchwarden, his/her assistant and the treasurer. The Parish Council shall be elected from among the members of the Parish meeting for the term of three years. Re-election is unlimited. The Diocesan Bishop shall approve the election of the Chairman of the Parish Council or appoint the Rector or another person to this office by his decree with the inclusion of this person in the Parish meeting.

The Diocesan Bishop shall be entitled to relieve a member of the Parish Council of his/her work, if he/she violates the canons, the provisions of the present Statute or of the civil Statute of the Parish.

46. In the period between the sessions of the Parish meeting the Parish Council shall:

a) implement the decisions of the Parish meeting;

b) submit the plans of economic activities, annual plans of expenditures and financial reports to the Parish meeting for consideration and approval;

c) be responsible for the safety and proper maintenance of the church and other buildings, constructions, premises and adjacent territories, the plots of land belonging to the Parish and all the property which the Parish owns or uses, and keep records;

d) purchase the property necessary for the parish and keep inventory books;

e) solve current economic matters;

f) dispose of the financial assets of the Parish with the consent of the Rector and under his control and keep records;

g) provide the Parish with the necessary property;

h) provide the members of the Clergy of the Parish with living accommodations in the event that they need them;

i) in agreement with the Rector and in accordance with the list of staff hire workers and employees;

j) take care for the safety and beauty of the church, for maintaining decent order during the divine services and processions with the cross;

k) maintain contacts with the bodies of state authority, local government, public associations and citizens;

l) take care for providing the church with all objects necessary for the proper celebration of the divine services.

47. The members of the Parish Council may be removed from the Parish Council by the decision of the Parish meeting or by the order of the Diocesan Bishop, if there are sufficient grounds.

48. The Chairman of the Parish Council – the churchwarden shall represent the Parish Council in business, financial, economic and administrative matters as well as in court and shall issue powers of attorney in case of necessity.

Note: The Parish meeting shall be entitled in case of necessity to charge any member enjoying full rights to deal with the civil organizations and to defend the interests of the Parish in court.

49. The Rector may be elected Chairman of the Parish Council with the blessing of the Diocesan Bishop.

50. All official outgoing documents of the Parish shall be signed by the Rector and the Chairman of the Parish Council – the churchwarden. In the event of the Rector being Chairman of the Parish Council, the treasurer shall be the second signatory.

51. Bank and other financial documents shall be signed by the Chairman of the Parish Council and the treasurer. In civil legal relations the treasurer shall act as chief accountant. The treasurer shall keep records and keep financial assets, donations and other contributions and compile annual financial reports. The Parish shall keep accounting reports.

52. In the event that the Parish Council is re-elected or the Diocesan Bishop changes its composition, and also if the Chairman of the Parish Council is re-elected, dismissed by the Diocesan Bishop or dies, the Parish Meeting shall set up a commission of three members, which shall draw up a statement on the availability of the property and financial resources. The Parish Council shall accept material assets on the basis of this statement.

53. The responsibilities of the assistant chairman of the Parish Council shall be determined by the Parish meeting.

54. The responsibilities of the treasurer shall include the discounting and keeping of the sums of money and other donations, the keeping of account-books, carrying out of financial operations at the instruction of the chairman of the Parish Council within the limits of the budget and compiling the annual financial reports.

6. The Auditing Commission

55. The Parish meeting shall elect from among its members for the term of three years the Auditing commission of the Parish, which shall consist of the Chairman and two members. The Auditing commission shall be accountable to the Parish meeting. The Auditing commission shall audit the financial and economic activities of the parish, the safety and stock-taking of the property and its proper use, make annual inventory, audit the entering of donations and revenue returns and expenditure. The Auditing commission shall present the results of the auditing and the appropriate proposals to the Parish meeting for consideration.

In the event that the abuses are revealed, the Auditing commission shall immediately inform the Diocesan authorities.

56. The right of auditing the financial and economic activities of the parish and parish institutions shall also belong to the Diocesan Bishop.

57. The members of the Parish Council and the Auditing commission cannot be close relatives.

58. The responsibilities of the Auditing commission shall include:

a) regular audit, including the inspection of the availability of money, legality and regularity of the expenditures and the keeping of the expenses book by the parish;

b) supervision of the property;

c) annual inventory;

d) control for the collect-boxes and donations.

59. The Auditing сommission shall compile acts on the auditing and present them at the regular or extraordinary sessions of the Parish meeting. In the event of the abuses, lack of property or money and the revealed mistakes in the keeping and registration of financial operations, the Parish meeting shall take appropriate decision. The Parish meeting is entitled to bring an action in court with prior consent of the Diocesan Bishop.