Statute of the
name of the Church is «The Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church»*, abbreviated ”BAOC”.
Belarusan Orthodox Church dates back to the 10th century A.D. where it was
founded in the ancient Dukedom of Polacak and sanctified through Saint
Euphrosynia of Polacak and Saint Cyril of Turau. The Church was canonically
instituted in the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Belarus) by the Ecumenical
Patriarchate between 1291‑1316. The Church's independence was lost at the end
of the 18th century during czarist rule and was restored on July 23, 1922 and reaffirmed on August 10, 1927 at two
General Conventions held in Miensk. The church was forcibly
suppressed by Soviet Russia in the 1930's and was again renewed on September 2, 1942, at the General Convention held
in Miensk, as the Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The church was
reborn in exile on June 5, 1948, at a convention in Constance, Germany and
formally confirmed by the Council of Bishops on December 20, 1949. The BAOC
constitutes an integral part of One Holy Ecumenical Apostolic Orthodox Church,
headed by the highest Shepherd, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
strictly to the Dogmas and Canons of the Holy Ecumenical Apostolic Orthodox
Church, the BAOC is a sell-governing body with regard to her internal affairs
and is on equal footing with all other Autocephalous Orthodox Churches and is
independent from any external ecclesiastic authority.
the conduct of daily life the BAOC upholds:
(a) Holy Scriptures;
(b) Holy Traditions
of the Church;
(c) Rules of the Holy Apostles;
(d) Rules of the Seven Ecumenical Councils;
(e) Rules of the Ten Local Councils;
(f) Rules of the
Holy Fathers of the Church recognized by the Holy Ecumenical Orthodox Church
and Ecclesiastic Regulations concerning Holy Services and monastic life;
(g) Regulations of
these Statutes; and
(h) Decisions of General Conventions of
is the official language within the BAOC, however, the language of the host
country where a particular part of the BAOC is located is to be used in
6. Aims of
the BAOC are: (a) to provide proper spiritual and religious guardianship
for orthodox Belarusans throughout the world and to implement the idea of
Christian mutual assistance among believers; (b) to spread Faith in Our
Lord Jesus Christ and to propagate His teachings and Christian morality;
(c) to preserve in their immutable form the Dogmas of Faith and Canons of the Holy Ecumenical
Orthodox Church as
well as the Belarusan Church
traditions; (d) to achieve organizational unity among Orthodox Belarusans
worldwide; and (e) to uphold the family unit as the foundation of a
healthy society, Christian upbringing of children being of special concern.
7. In order
to carry out the aims enumerated in paragraph 6 of these Satutes, the BAOC may
organize Dioceses, establish within those Dioceses schools of higher learning,
and courses for priestly and deaconal candidates as well as Sunday schools
within each Parish. The BAOC may also organize monasteries, missions, and other
agencies that may be needed to carry out its mission. The BAOC may purchase
land or buildings for Church-related purposes.
8. In accord
with the Word of God, Traditions and Rules of the Church, described in
paragraph 4 of these Statutes, BAOC
accepts into her jurisdiction all who come to Her seeking spiritual guidance.
into the BAOC of any other Orthodox Church organization, which originally had
its own internal regulations, is effected by the Primate of the BAOC in
accordance with the decisions of the Council of the BAOC, preserving Church
of the BAOC consecrate new Bishops and ordain priests and deacons, after
examining their piety, steadfastness in faith, and moral fitness. No Bishop,
Priest, or Deacon has the right to leave of his own volition a post to which he
has been appointed. If circumstances compel him to do so, he must first obtain
a Certificate of Release from his superiors.
Bishops in the BAOC are equal in rank. Candidates for the position of Bishop
can be proposed by the Council of Bishops, by Diocesan Convention, or the
Council of the BAOC. Each candidate must be approved by the Council of the BAOC
and must meet the canonical Rules of the Holy Canonical Orthodox Church.
Bishop of the BAOC shall not do anything which affects the church as a whole,
without consultation and explicit agreement of the Council of the BAOC. No
Bishop has any right to interfere in the Diocese of another Bishop unless the latter
has explicitly asked for help or at the request of the Council of BAOC.
Bishop of the BAOC may not participate in the consecration of a Bishop, for a
jurisdiction other than the BAOC, without the consent of the Council of the
BAOC. No Bishop of the BAOC has the right to ordain Priests or Deacons for a
jurisdiction other than the BAOC without consent of the Council of the BAOC.
B. Bishop — The Primate
accordance with Rule 34 of the Apostolic Rules, the head of the BAOC is the
Primate, who is elected for life by the General Convention of the BAOC. The
Primate leads the BAOC in accordance with the rules of these Statutes while
occupying the post of a governing Bishop in his Diocese at the same time. When
circumstances require it, he can have at his side a Vicar Bishop. The full
title of the Primate is: "His Eminence The Most Rrevered (the name) Metropolitan (or
Archbishop) of The Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church".
rights and duties of the Primate consist of the following: (a) supervision
over the general order within the BAOC and its representation in external
affairs; (b) the convocation of the General Convention of the BAOC, of
the Council of Bishops, and the Council of the BAOC, at all of which he
presides in person or through his appointed Bishop or Clergyman;
(c) receipt of applications from the Priests of other Orthodox Churches
seeking acceptance into the BAOC jurisdiction; (d) the supervision over
the stavropigial monasteries; (e) signing of honorary certificates and
issuing of pastoral letters in his own name or with other Bishops of the BAOC;
(f) care of the Holy Myrrh and the Holy Antimensia;
(g) consideration of complaints against Hierarchs and the initiation of
due process regarding them; (h) dispensing fraternal advice to Bishops.
16. Should the Council of the BAOC decide by 2/3 majority vote that the Primate
is unable to discharge his duties, or in the event of his passing away, the
most senior ranking consecrated bishop will become Acting Primate until such
time that the Special Convention of the BAOC is convened.
Governing Bishop of
Council of the Bishops, with consent of the Council of BAOC, appoints the
Governing Bishop for the Diocese. The so appointed Bishop heads the Diocesan
Administrative Board and guides the activities of the Diocese. He may have by
his side a Vicar Bishop appointed by the Council of Bishops with the consent of
the Council of BAOC. In case the office of the Governing Bishop of the Diocese
becomes vacant the Vicar Bishop or the Primate, in the absence of the Vicar
Bishop, takes over the leadership of the Diocese.
and duties of the Governing Bishop are grounded in the administration of the
Diocese: (a) To designate and discharge heads of Monasteries, Parishes,
and Missions with approval of the BAOC Council; (b) To designate, when the
need arises, a clergyman to chair the sessions of the Diocesan Council or the
Diocesan Administrative Board; (c) To keep an eye on the state of morals
of the clergy and believers and, when needed, to impose administrative or
spiritual punishments for transgressions; and (d) To pay regular visits
to the Monasteries and Parishes of his diocese.
governing Bishop may not leave the confines of his Diocese for more than 14
days. When the need arises for a longer trip, permission must he obtained from
the Primate of the BAOC.
administrative affairs, the Vicar Bishop is subordinate to the Governing
candidate for the position of priest or deacon may he nominated by the Diocesan
Administrative Board or the Parish Council who notify the Governing Bishop of
the Diocese of their selection. The candidate submits to his Bishop a written
application and, while being ordained as a Priest or Deacon in a Church, signs
and publicly takes an oath before the Bishop as follows:
THE NAME OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY ― GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE
SON, AND GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT ― I, BY GOD'S WILL A HUMBLE SERVANT, (the name),
DO SWEAR BEFORE OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURE AND THE HOLY CROSS,
BEFORE YOUR EMINENCE AND IN THE PRESENCE OF THE PEOPLE, THAT I WILL TAKE UTMOST
CARE AND WILL TEACH THE BELIEVERS, ASSIGNED TO ME, THE PRINCIPLES OF OUR
ORTHODOX FAITH. I WILL WITH DUE RESPECT AND PIETY CONDUCT HOLY SERVICES OF THE
ECUMENICAL ORTHODOX CHURCH. I WILL NEVER VIOLATE HER DOGMAS, I WILL OBSERVE
CHURCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AND I WILL UPHOLD THE STATUTES OF THE BELARUSAN
AUTOCEPHALOUS ORTHODOX CHURCH. I WILL COMPLY WITH DECISIONS OF CHURCH
AUTHORITIES OF THE BAOC AND OF THE PARISH MEETINGS. I WILL NEVER DO ANYTHING
HARMFUL TO THE BAOC OR TO THE PARISH. SO HELP ME GOD!”
Priest or Deacon: (a) who comes from another Orthodox Church into the jurisdiction of the BAOC must submit a
written application and take the oath cited in paragraph 21 of
these Statutes, and he should be in possession of a certificate of release from
his Bishop; (b) who moves from one BAOC Diocese into another, must have
only a certificate of release. Upon his acceptance, the Bishop notifies the
Consistory of the BAOC.
23. Any Priest or Deacon who comes into the
jurisdiction of the BAOC but is unable to
present a certificate of release, nor a certificate of ordination, may quote
the testimony of two BAOC priests who have known him
for at least three years and guarantee that he is a priest or deacon. All
incoming clergy must be approved by the Council of the BAOC.
or Deacon, cited in paragraphs 22 and 23 of these Statutes, after being
accepted into the BAOC jurisdiction must obtain a certificate from the BAOC
Bishop to that effect; only then he is legally a Priest of the BAOC.
Priest has any administrative right in a Parish other than his own without the
knowledge and agreement of the bead of that Parish.
of the Parish
Priest in charge of the Parish is the Head of the Parish appointed by the
Governing Bishop of the Diocese in which the Parish is located. The Parish may
have several Priests and Deacons, all appointed by the Governing Bishop and
subject to the authority of the head of the Parish. The Head of the Parish is
fully subordinate to his Diocesan Bishop. He conducts Holy Services, he is a
spiritual protector and advisor to his parishioners, teacher of Holy
Scriptures, he maintains parish books and makes current entries of the
baptisms, weddings, or deaths of his parishioners, he keeps the chronicle of
current events in the parish. All contacts by the Head of the Parish, with
religious institutions and parishes of other jurisdictions can be conducted
only with the consent of the Governing Bishop.
G. The Deacon
27. A Deacon
is subject to the authority of the Head of his Parish.
candidate for a Subdeacon is selected by the Head of Parish and ordained by the
Bishop. The Subdeacon is subject to the authority of the Head of his Parish.
purchase or disposition of church real estate or property, land and buildings,
are to be carried out by trustees, of at least three persons, (if more than
three the number must be odd). When property of the Consistory is involved, the
latter appoints the trustees. In the Diocese, trustees are appointed by the
Diocesan Administrative Board, in the Parish, they are appointed by the Parish
Council. They may occupy other positions in the life of the Church. Trustees
carry out transactions of purchase or sale in the name of the Consistory,
Diocese or Parish, in accordance with paragraph 107 of this Statute.
person, 18 years of age or older, of Orthodox Christian belief, can become a
full member of BAOC parish, enjoying full rights with the stipulation that they
obey BAOC authorities and fulfill obligations imposed on them by the parish.
Persons under 18 years are entered in the Parish roster upon the declaration of
adult parishioners (their parents or legal guardians).
Register of the Parishioners contains: (a) The first name, family name,
and family status; (b) Date of birth, date of baptism, date of marriage;
(c) Date of acceptance into the Parish; (d) Date of death.
parishioner is required: (a) to attend Holy Services, keep the rules of
fasting, go to Confession, and partake of Holy Communion; (b) work for the
good of the Parish and bring up his children in the spirit of the Christian
wishing to become a Parishioner is required to submit a written application to
the Head of the Parish. This application is to he considered at the next
regularly scheduled meeting of the Parish Council. This meeting can only take
place with the consent and presence of the Parish Head. The decision of the
council is entered into the minutes of the meeting. A newly accepted
parishioner is entitled to vote at meetings of the Parish from the date of his
acceptance. However, he must be a member of the Parish for a year before he can
be elected to any Parish post. This requirement may be waived by the majority
of the parishioners present at the election meeting. Any parishioner who
transfers from another BAOC Parish and who has in his possession a Certificate
of Release from the Head of his former Parish has the right to vote and can be
elected to any Parish post from the date of his acceptance, provided he
conforms to the standards enumerated in paragraphs 32 and 102 of these
statutes. Membership in two BAOC Parishes or other Church at the same time is
A. Obligations of Regular
Rightful Parishioner is: (a) an Orthodox Christian, defined in paragraph
30 of this Statute; (b) was accepted and belongs to the Parish, paragraphs
30 and 32 of this Statute; (c) regularly attends the divine services, goes
to Confession and partakes of Holy Communion, paragraph 32 of this Statute;
(d) pays Parish dues and is not indebted for more than a year, paragraph
102 of this Statute; (e) is subordinate to Church obligations and BAOC
B. Rights of
a Regular Parishioner
Rightful (full fledge) Parishioner as defined in paragraph 34 of this
has the right to: (a) vote at the Parish meetings, paragraph
87 of this Statute; (b) to have the power of attorney from another
Rightful Parishioner to vote on his behalf; (c) to receive information
about the financial condition of the Parish from the Control Committee within
one month; (d) to receive spiritual care (support — treby) from Church
Institution; (e) to be elected a delegate to the General Convention of the
BAOC or to the Diocesan Convention of th BAOC; to be elected to the Council of
the BAOC, to the Diocesan Council of the BAOC, or to one of the Control
Committees of the Church Administration.
of a parishioner from the Parish is decided at a meeting of the Parish Council,
but only in the presence and with the consent of the Parish Head. Exclusion can
occur because of activity detrimental to the Parish for anti-Christian deeds,
and for insubordination to the BAOC authorities. The excluded parishioner has
the right to appeal the decision to the Governing Bishop, whose decision is
VII. GENERAL CONVENTION
OF THE BAOC
highest authority of the BAOC is the General Convention which is convened once
in a period of ten years or less. Should a special need arise, a special
convention can he held. More than half of all BAOC Parishes and Bishops must be
present at the Convention to have a quorum.
of the BAOC Convention include: (a) election of the Primate of the BAOC,
the Council of the BAOC, and the Control Board of the BAOC; (b) changing
and amending these Statutes; (c) making decisions in all areas which
affect the BAOC as a whole.
following have the right to participate in the General BAOC convention:
(a) all BAOC Clergy in good standing; (b) two delegates from each
monastery and Parish; (c) all members of the BAOC Council and the BAOC
Control Board; (d) members of the Consistory; (e) editor of the
official BAOC publishing enterprise in the Consistory; (f) principals of
all BAOC schools.
institution: the BAOC Council, Control Board, Monasteries, and Parishes must
provide their delegates to the Convention with certificates signed by their
heads not later than four weeks prior to the start of the Convention. The
certificate must indicate the full name and address of the delegate. Each
delegate is entitled to only one vote, regardless of his position within the
BAOC. A delegate who is unable to be physically present at the Convention may
authorize another delegate to vote for him at the convention by proxy. A maximum
of two proxy votes can be held by any delegate.
organizational work for the General Convention is done by the BAOC Consistory.
With consent of the Primate, the BAOC Council designates the date, time, and
place for the Convention. Notification of the Convention, which must include
the proposed agenda, is to be sent to all BAOC institutions, Diocesan
Administrative Boards, Monasteries, and Parishes, no later than four months
prior to the date of the General Convention or one month in case of a Special
Convention. The agenda for the BAOC Convention is prepared by the BAOC Council.
the Convention, the BAOC Council appoints a Mandate Commission, which consists
of three persons (a priest and two laymen) whose function is to verify the
legality of the delegates before the start of the Convention and to submit a
report to the Chairman of the Convention. All delegates must register with the
Mandate Commission and present their certificates, upon arrival at the
43. The BAOC
Council appoints a Commission for Resolutions. This Commission consists of
three member delegates, to whose attention all proposed resolutions are
submitted before they are brought before the plenum of the Convention. This
Commission holds open meetings so that authors of proposed resolutions can
speak in their defense.
the Primate opens and chairs the Convention of the BAOC, however, he may
delegate these functions to his representative. The convention will elect a
presidium consisting of minimum of four persons, clergy and layman, plus two
secretaries whose job it is to record and prepare the minutes. Resolutions of
the Convention require approval by the majority of Bishops present at the
Convention and shall only be disapproved if the resolution violates Canon Law.
45. All resolutions at the Convention are
decided by a simple majority of votes by a show of hands. However, if two or
more delegates specifically request it, the vote must be by secret ballot. In
the event of a tie, the vote of the Chairman of the Convention is decisive.
of Bishops proposes candidates for the Primate, however, if the Council of
Bishops has not proposed them, then any delegate present at the General Convention
of the BAOC, may propose candidates for the Primate. For the purpose of
electing the Primate, the post of the Chairman of the Convention is entrusted
to the Head of the Mandate Commission and voting is by secret ballot. In order
to be elected the Primate, a candidate must receive at least two-thirds of the
votes of delegates present at the Convention and those represented by proxies.
If after the first ballot with three candidates or more, neither of them
receives the required majority of votes, the Candidate with the least number of
votes is dropped and the balloting is repeated. In the event that neither of
the Candidates obtains the required two-thirds majority of votes, the election
of the Primate is carried out by the Council of Bishops. After the election of
the Primate, the former Chairman of the Convention resumes his duties.
Council of Bishops, is made up of all Bishops of the BAOC, under the
chairmanship of the Primate or a Bishop appointed by the Primate. In absence of
the Primate, but with his knowledge, session of the Council of Bishops is
chaired by by the most senior ranking consecrated Bishop.
Council is duly constituted when all Bishops of the BAOC are in attendance,
with the exception of those who are unable to attend for valid reasons.
Decisions of the Council are made by a simple majority of those present. No one
among those present at the Council, should abstain from voting. The Secretary
of the Consistory also serves as the Secretary of the Council of Bishops,
however, he has no vote if his rank is lower than that of Bishop.
sessions of the Council of Bishops are held twice a year in accordance with
Canonical rules. Special sessions can be called by the Primate, by a decision
of the Council itself or upon the expressed wish of one or more of the Bishops.
decision of the Council is numbered, dated, and signed by the Chairman and
Secretary of the Council. Decisions involving violations of the dogmas of faith
are to be signed by all Bishops present at the session of the Council.
following matters belong to the sphere of competence of the Council of Bishops:
(a) Questions of faith and morals, teaching of faith, of Church rules and
regulations, of rites and customs, and the approval of new prayers;
(b) The Consecration of Bishops; (c) The Approval of translation of
Holy Scriptures into Belarusan language, of books for Holy Services and
singing, textbooks for religious instruction; (d) Sermons and moral
teachings; (e) The establishment of the Dioceses and the designation of a
permanent Governing Bishop for the Diocese, or a temporary administrator;
(f) The Discharge or transfer of the Diocesan Bishop; (g) The
Commendation of Clergy; (h) The Acceptance of Priests coming from other
Orthodox Churches; (i) The designation of a candidate for the post of the
Primate; (j) The ratification of the monastic rules; (k) Appointment
of a commission for examination of a candidate for Bishop; (l) Questions
of contacts with other Orthodox Churches; and (m) Complaints against
Bishops, defrocking of a priest, and restoration of a priest's rights and
OF THE BAOC
Bishops are members of the Council of the BAOC. In addition, the General
Convention elects up to seven clergymen, Priests and Deacons, and up to eight
laymen to the Council for a term of no more than ten years. Only believers, who
for the last three years have been members in good standing of the BAOC
Parishes, can become members of the BAOC Council. A defrocked clergyman, or one
under some prohibition imposed by his Bishop, is automatically excluded from
Council membership. Repeated absence from Council sessions for a period of two
years, without a valid excuse, also results in exclusion from membership in the
Council. The Primate then appoints a new member to the vacated seat, who must
be approved by the Council of the BAOC.
Council of the BAOC has jurisdiction over the following matters:
(a) supervision over the general administration, over the management of
property and over the finances of the Church; (b) consideration and
approval of an annual budget presented by the Consistory; (c) publishing
necessary books, textbooks, and magazines; (d) final decisions concerning
the purchase or sale of buildings or land by Dioceses and Parishes;
(e) appointment from among the members of the BAOC Council of the BAOC
Consistory consisting of five persons: a Bishop, two Priests and two laymen, but
not fewer than three persons; f) approval of a candidate for bishop;
(g) examination of the report by the BAOC Control Board;
(h) appointment of a Commission for Statutes and of other commissions as
the need for them arises.
Primate, as Chairman of the BAOC Council, through the Secretary of Consistory,
convenes sessions of the Council at his own discretion or upon the request from
three or more members of the Council. Normally, sessions of the Council are
held twice a year, more often if needed. Each session is legally competent when
it is attended by the Primate or a Bishop of most senior consecration and a
simple majority of members. All matters are decided by a simple majority vote
of members present. Upon request of one member, the voting must be by secret
ballot. Minutes of the session are signed by the Secretary and Chairman of that
session. Members of the BAOC Council who, for a valid reason, cannot be present
at a session of the Council, but do participate in the session by means of an
electronic audio connection, can vote on all questions discussed: in case of a
vote by a secret ballot, those not present vote openly.
OF THE BAOC
of the BAOC Consistory are appointed as stated in paragraph 53, point “e” of
these statutes. The Head of the Consistory is a Bishop. All documents prepared
by the Consistory are signed by its Head and by the Secretary. Expense checks
must be signed by the Treasurer and Secretary or designated clergy of the
Consistory. Each expense must be accompanied by justifying primary documents.
56. The duties of the Consistory include:
(a) execution of decisions passed by the BAOC General Convention, Council
of Bishops, and BAOC Council; (b) maintaining close contact with Dioceses
and Parishes; (c) fund raising and preparation of an annual budget
proposal for the BAOC; (d) maintenance of strict accounting for the real
estate and other property of the BAOC; (e) maintaining a roster of BAOC
clergy; (f) intercession for and defense of BAOC interests whenever
needed; and (g) the purchase or sale of real estate and land, following
the decision of the BAOC Council in the matter.
XI. CONTROL BOARD
OF THE BAOC
57. The BAOC
Control Board consists of three persons: the Chairman, his Deputy, and
Secretary, plus three substitutes, all elected by the BAOC General Convention
for a term of up to ten years. All of its members must meet the standards set
in paragraphs 32 and 102 of these Statutes. In the event a member vacates the
seat on the Board, the Council of the BAOC appoints a new member from among
available substitutes. Neither members of the Control Board nor their
substitutes can belong to the BAOC Council or to the Diocesan Administrative
Board. At least once a year the BAOC Control Board is required to examine the
activities, available cash, bank account, and bookkeeping of the Consistory,
Diocesan Administrative Boards and of other general BAOC institutions. It may
insist on similar examination on the part of the local Control Board of any
XII. ECCLESIASTICAL COURT
OF THE BAOC
Parishioner or a Clergyman of the BAOC, having dispute pertaining to
Ecclesiastic Law shall go to Secular Court to pass judgment.
concerning Ecclesiastic Law shall be submitted through the Consistory of the
BAOC to the Council of the BAOC for determination if the matter needs judgment
of the Ecclesiastical Court.
the case warrants, The BAOC Council appoints an Ecclesiastical Court, which
consists of three BAOC members under the chairmanship of a clergyman, to
consider and dispose of court cases, divorces, complaints, and
misunderstandings in the Church-related social life of believers. Members of
the Ecclesiastical Court are not permitted to have either direct or indirect
contact with individuals whose case is under consideration, nor be a blood
relative of either party. The Ecclesiastical Court considers cases and passes
judgments based on the principles and rules enumerated in paragraph 4 of these
Statutes. The convicted has the right to appeal the verdict to the Council of
the BAOC, whose decision is final. The court keeps detailed minutes on each
case. After the conclusion of the case, these minutes are sent, with all other
documents, to the Secretary of the Consistory, who notifies the BAOC Council
and both sides of the verdict.
disputes involving a Bishop are first submitted to the Council of Bishops for
resolution. If the issue can not be resolved by the Council of Bishops, it is
brought before the Council of BAOC for a final and binding resolution. An
Ecclesiastic Court case involving a Priest is considered by a Bishop and two
following punishments can only be imposed by the Council of Bishops:
(a) excommunication from the Church of clergy and believers;
(b) defrocking of a Priest, deprivation of the status of Monk or Nun, and
deprivation of a Bishop of his Diocese.
support of their interests both plaintiff and defendant have the right to
present witnesses and hire lawyers. Both sides must be present at the court
when their case comes up for consideration. In the event that one hour after
the time set for the start of Court proceedings the plaintiff or defendant is
still absent, court can be adjourned for not more than a month. If at the
second session the plaintiff fails to appear, the case is canceled; if the
defendant is absent he is declared guilty.
DIOCESE OF THE
64. BAOC is
divided into Dioceses whose borders are set by the Council of BAOC. All
Monasteries, except for the stavropigial ones, which are located within the
confines of a given Diocese, are directly subject to the Governing Bishop of
that Diocese. All Parishes, Missions, and other BAOC Institutions or religious
organizations are subject to the Diocesan Administrative Board in
administrative matters. The main Cathedral of the BAOC may be subject to the
Primate (can be stavropigialean) if the Council of BAOC renders such decision.
A. Diocesan Administrative Board
Diocesan Administrative Board is headed by the Governing Bishop. This Board
administers the Diocese in accordance with principles stated in paragraph 4 of
these Statutes. All decisions of the BAOC General Convention, BAOC Council and
orders of the BAOC Consistory obligate the Diocesan Administrative Board. The
Diocesan Administrative Board exercises authority over administrative,
educational, missionary, economic, and financial matters of the Diocese. This
Administrative Board consists of five persons: The Governing Bishop and four
members elected by the Diocesan Convention (two priests and two laymen). In
addition two priests and two laymen are elected as alternates. Members to the
Diocesan Administrative Board are elected for a five year term. If necessary
the number of members on this Board can be increased. In the event one of the
members of the Board leaves before the end of his term, the Governing Bishop
appoints a new member from among the alternates for the remainder of the term.
Secretary of the Diocesan Administrative Board must be a priest. He is in
charge of the Board's office and signs all releases and papers.
matters considered by the Diocesan Administrative Board are decided by a simple
majority vote. Its sessions have legal competence when the Governing Bishop, or
his authorized deputy, and three members are present. All matters of Diocesan
jurisdiction that cannot be locally solved are submitted to the BAOC
B. Diocesan Convention
Diocesan Convention takes place every five years. However, if necessary, it can
be convened at any other time without disturbing the five year sequence.
Delegates to the convention are: all clergy of the Diocese, members of the
Diocesan Administrative Board, two delegates from each Parish and one delegate
from each Mission or other BAOC institution located in the Diocese. A Monastery
is represented by the Abbot/Abbess and one delegate monk/nun from each thirty
(full or initiated) of fellow monks/nuns.
69. After a
decision is made by the Diocesan Administrative Board, to convene, Diocesan
Convention, the Governing Bishop notifies Parishes, Monasteries, Missions, and
other institutions about the Convention not later than three months before its
designated date. The notice must show the date, time, place and agenda of the
coming convention. Lists of delegates to the Diocesan Convention from the
Parishes and other institutions, signed by the Head of
the Parish and Chairman of the Parish Council, or by the Leader of the
institution, must be submitted to the Diocesan Administrative Board not later
than one month before the date of the Convention. At the Convention the
delegates must first register with the Secretary of the Diocesan Administrative
Board who checks their names on the lists submitted.
Diocesan Convention may consider and adopt decisions in the following matters:
(a) election of the Diocesan Administrative Board;
(b) administrative, economic, financial, missionary, and educational
problems of the Diocese; (c) and when necessary, the selection of a
candidate for Bishop.
Convention is duly constituted when at least two-thirds of the Parishes are
represented. The Convention is chaired by the Governing Bishop or by his
designated clergyman representative. All decisions at the Convention are passed
by a simple majority vote of delegates present and represented by proxy. These
decisions, signed by the Governing Bishop, are dispatched without delay to the
Consistory. The Diocesan Council cannot pass decisions violating paragraph 4 of
these Statutes. Decisions declaring secession from the BAOC are illegal and the
Governing Bishop who agrees with them is deprived of his position in the
Parish is the basic constituent unit of the Diocese. The form to be used on
letterheads to designate the official name of the Parish is:
T h e B e l a r u s a n A u t o c e p h a l o u s O r t h o d o x C h u r c h
P a r I s h O f
S a I n t (give name) In (give place).
realize the aims stated in paragraph 6 of these Statutes, the Parish builds or
purchases a church building, other edifices and land, manages Church property,
maintains the clergy of the Parish and a Church Choir, organizes Brotherhoods
and Sisterhoods, youth groups and other associations for the purpose of
studying the Holy Scriptures and the preservation of Belarusan Orthodox
traditions; takes care of the financial needs of the Parish by organizing
concerts, lectures, fund drives, etc.; organizes and maintains a Parish school,
and to the extent of its means, helps the needy and disabled.
74. A new
BAOC Parish can be opened upon the application of not less than ten believers,
residents of a given locality, under the precondition that the Parish has
definite prospects of development. At the opening of a new Parish, or at the
coming-over of a whole Parish from another Orthodox Church into the
jurisdiction of the BAOC, a resolution must be passed by a General Meeting of
Parishioners to the effect that they come under the BAOC jurisdiction
voluntarily and submit to all the rules of these Statutes. The original copy of
the minutes of such a Meeting, signed by all members of the Parish Council, is
to be kept in the archives of the BAOC Consistory. On this basis the acceptance
of a new Parish into the BAOC jurisdiction can be completed.
Parish is the sole owner of the Parish Real Estate, Parish property real or
personal, inventory donated or bequeathed, purchased or leased.
the Head of the Parish or members of the Parish Council or of the Control
Board, after election or appointment to their respective posts, refuse to
recognize the authority of the Governing Bishop in whose jurisdiction this
Parish is situated, then they are automatically deprived of said positions to
which they were appointed or elected and the Governing Bishop appoints
temporary leadership for the Parish. The Temporary Parish Council, within a
time period designated by the Bishop, not longer than six months, must call a
Parish Meeting and hold new elections of the Parish Council and the Parish
Control Board. Those deprived of their positions, as the former Head of the
Parish or members of the Parish Council, have the right to appeal to the
Council of the BAOC. The Council of the BAOC, responding by its secretary, must
do so within three months.
the majority of members or the whole Parish Council refuse to discharge their
duties and resign, then the Head of the Parish, with the knowledge of the
Governing Bishop, appoints a Temporary Parish Council under his own
chairmanship. Elections of the new Parish Council should take place not later
than three months after the appointment of the temporary Parish Council.
Original members of the Parish Council, who resigned, must hand over to the
Head of Parish all official files, books, money, and documents belonging to the
Parish. In case of a misunderstanding between the Head of Parish and the Parish
Council, final decision belongs to the Governing Bishop of the Diocese.
A. Leadership of
Parish Council is elected at a Parish Meeting for a term of two years and
consists of the Chairman, his Deputy, Secretary, Treasurer, the Custodian and
his Deputy, but no fewer than three persons. All Clergy of the Parish belong to
the Parish Council and have the right to vote. Allocation of duties among the
newly elected members of the Parish Council takes place at the first meeting
after the election. Whenever needed, the number of the Parish Council members
can be increased. The Parish Council conducts the daily affairs of the Parish
and is in charge of administrative and economic matters ― in harmony and in cooperation with the Head of the Parish, in
accord with these Statutes and with the decisions of Parish Meetings. In case
of a protracted illness of the Parish Head, the Parish Council supports him
financially in accordance with its contractual obligation for three full
Chairman of the Parish Council, in harmony with the Parish Head, exercises
leadership over all the activities of the Council. In his absence his Deputy
discharges the same function.
Secretary of the Parish Council puts in order the documentation of Parish
affairs, conducts the correspondence with the authorities and with
Parishioners, preserves all incoming correspondence and copies of outgoing
correspondence, writes the minutes of Parish Council meetings, and maintains a
correspondence book. In his absence the Chairman may designate one of the
Council members to keep minutes of the meetings.
Treasurer collects Parish dues and offerings for the Church, supervises income
and expenditures of the Parish, keeps the cashbook and all covering vouchers,
and prepares a financial report for each meeting of the Parish Council.
Custodian maintains order and cleanliness in the church building, provides help
during the Holy Services, and ensures that supplies needed for them are
available. His Deputy helps him in his duties and takes over in his absence.
the Parish Council
of the Parish Council are called by its Chairman in consultation with the
Parish Head preferably once a month, but not longer than once every two months.
The meeting is duly constituted in the presence of the Parish Head, Chairman or
his Deputy, and other members, but with no fewer than one half of members of
the Parish Council. All decisions passed by the Parish Council are entered into
the minutes of the meeting which is signed by the Chairman, the Secretary, and
the Parish Head. All matters are decided by a simple majority of votes cast. In
case of a tie the vote of the Parish Head decides.
of the Parish
Parish Control Board, consisting of the Chairman, Secretary, and a member (plus
two alternates), is elected at the General Meeting of the Parish. The Board
checks the management of the church property, financial records, bookkeeping,
and all activities of the Parish Council. The examination maybe made whenever
needed, but not less than once a year, and is obligatory before the Parish
Meeting; it can be done on the Board's own initiative, or on demand of the BAOC
Control Board, on demand of the Governing Bishop of the Diocese, on the written
request of three or more full members of the Parish or the Parish Head.
each examination, the Control Board prepares a report which is signed by all
members of the Board, but in no case by less than two. One copy of the report
is to be sent to the BAOC Consistory, the second copy goes to the Governing
Bishop, the third copy is sent to Parish Head, and the fourth to the Parish
Council. The report of the Control Board is read at the Ordinary Parish Meeting
after all members of the Parish Council finish their reports.
Members of the Parish
Council and of the Parish Control Board
full members of the Parish can be elected to the Parish Council or Parish
Control Board, as indicated in paragraph 34 of this Statute. In case of death,
resignation or release of a Council or Board Member, the Parish Council, with
the consent of the Parish Head, can appoint a new member for the remainder of
the term. The member who is leaving must return all Parish documents, money and
other items, which are the property of the Parish or Church and which were
under his care, to the Parish Head.
Parish Council, with full consent of the Parish Head, calls the Parish Meeting
by posting the announcement and a list of full members entitled to take part in
such a meeting. The list must be publicly displayed on the parish bulletin
board at least 14 days before the date of the Meeting. The right to take part
and to vote at the Parish Meeting is given to those Parishioners who have paid
their dues for the current year and have no arrears for more than one year, and
otherwise meet the standards stated in paragraphs 30, 33, 34 and 102 of these
the prayer of the Parish Head, the Chairman of the Parish Council opens the
Parish Meeting. The Parish Control Board checks off those present at the
meeting against the list of full members entitled to vote, as stated in
paragraph 87 of these Statutes and confirms the legal competence of the
meeting. Only after that is done are the Chairman, his Deputy, and the
Secretary of the meeting elected, who then take over from the Parish Chairman,
the conduct of the meeting. The Parish Meeting is duly constituted when half
(50%) of all full members are present personally or represented by proxy. Any
full member of the Parish can give a proxy — which must be in writing ― to another full member to represent him and vote for him at the
meeting. A maximum of two proxies are allowed for each voter. There must be a
separate proxy from each voting member not present at the meeting personally. A
simple majority of votes decides all issues at Parish Meetings. The voting is
by show of hands. However upon the request of two or more full members a secret
ballot is held.
later than two weeks prior to the date of the meeting, the Secretary of the
Parish Council sends out to all Parishioners a written announcement with the
date, time, place and proposed agenda of the Parish Meeting. At the same time
he puts on public display a copy of such announcement in a conspicuous spot in
the building in which the meeting is to take place. Also for two Sundays before
the meeting the Priest must read aloud the same announcement in the Church
after Holy Services. In the event the Parish Council refuses to call the Parish
Meeting, the Parish Control Board can do so, after consultation with the Parish
Head. If the Head of the Parish is a Bishop, he can call such a Parish Meeting
at his own discretion.
annual meeting of the Parish will be convened normally in February on a yearly
basis. All current matters concerning the Parish are discussed at this time and
elections are held if required.
the event that an insufficient number of full members are present at the
meeting (see paragraph 88) the Parish Council, after consultation with the
Parish Head, designates a new date for the meeting. The date of this meeting is
not earlier than twenty days nor later than sixty days after the date scheduled
for the original meeting. The agenda remains the same for both meetings.
special meeting of the Parish is called whenever a special need arises. This
meeting is convened at the request of the Parish Head, Parish Control Board,
Governing Bishop, or the written request of at least six full members of the
Parish. This special Parish Meeting makes decisions on matters for which it has
been called. All requests to hold such a meeting, designating the matter to be
decided, are submitted to the Parish Head and to the Parish Council.
decisions made at the Parish Meeting are entered into the minutes of the
Meeting which are signed by the Parish Head, as well as the Chairman and
Secretary of the Meeting. Plans for renovations or new construction of parish
facilities shall be submitted for approved at the Parish Meeting and to the
Governing Bishop for approval. No later than a month after the Meeting, a copy
of minutes have to be sent to the Governing Bishop for approval. Election of a
new Parish Council and a new Parish Control Board, and all decisions of the
Parish Meeting are valid and legally binding only after their approval by the
XV. THE MONASTERY
the basis of general Church principles, the Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox
Church, may establish male and female Monasteries, which possess their own
rules of monastic life approved by the Council of BAOC Bishops. All Monasteries
within a Diocese are under the direct authority of the Governing Bishop of that
Diocese. The Governing Bishop appoints an Archimandrite or Abbot for the
Monastery. By permission of the state authorities, various enterprises and
institutions, which do not encroach upon the monastic way of life, may exist at
Monastery may be under the direct authority of the Primate of the BAOC. It is
then called a Stavropigial Monastery, but for that a decision of the Council of
Bishops is necessary.
XVI. BROTHERHOODS AND SISTERHOODS
the purpose of greater revival of the religious and educational life, of
keeping church buildings in proper repair, of cooperation in the organization
of festive Holy Services and for the sake of charity, Brotherhoods and
Sisterhoods can be established in the Parishes. Their by-laws have to be
approved by the Governing Bishop.
the purpose of spreading the Christian Orthodox Faith and defending Orthodox
believers from false teachings, Missionary Groups, headed by Priests, are
organized. These Missionary Groups conduct their activities on the basis of
rules established by the BAOC Council of Bishops. Each Missionary has to be a
believer and full member of the BAOC who meets the requirements of paragraph
102 of these statutes.
localities distant from a Parish Center, where three or more families of full
members are settled, Representations maybe established. Full members of the
locality elect from among themselves one Representative who maintains steady
contact with the Parish Head and with the Parish Council. All members of a
Representation have the same rights and duties as other Parishioners. A
Registered Chapel may exist at the Representation as stated in paragraph 106 of
of higher learning and courses for preparation of candidates for priesthood and
for choir masters may be established at the Diocesan level, as well as Sunday
schools at the Parishes. There may also exist other educational institutions.
The by-laws for a Diocesan school are processed and approved by the Council of
the BAOC. In financial matters, the Diocesan school is under the authority of
the Diocesan Administrative Board. Regulations and the teaching program for
Sunday schools are approved by the Parish Council. Teachers are in charge of
actual organization of the school and conduct of teaching. Financing of the
Sunday School is one of the duties of the Parish Council.
XX. SOCIAL WELFARE
it is possible, the BAOC may have a Pension Plan administered by the Consistory
whose rules and regulations must be approved by The Council of the BAOC. Participants in such a plan may be all clergy
and permanent lay workers of BAOC establishments. Such Pension Plan pays
pensions to the elderly, to those with long and meritorious service, or because
of protracted illness. Welfare plans for BAOC members can exist in the Dioceses
to provide help to destitute widows, orphans, victims of long illness, and
students. The Diocesan Administrative Board is in charge of the Welfare Plan,
whose by-laws are worked out by the Council of th BAOC.
XXI. INCOME OF THE CHURCH
income of the Church consists of: (a) donations, payments for services rendered,
net profits from social events, and from enterprises at the monasteries;
(b) members' dues, plate collection, the sale of candles, icons, crosses,
books, and Church magazines; (c) the Council of the BAOC will establish a
personal duty on each Parishioner, that would be added to and collected as part
of the members dues by the Parish, to cover the needs of the Consistory;
(d) or the Council of the BAOC may devise some other formula to finance
Parishioner, 18 years of age or older, is required to pay Parish dues as
established by the Parish Meeting. Upon their request, widows with young children
under 18 years of age, students, and the infirm can be exempted from payment of
XXII. PROPERTY OF
real estate, land, church buildings, chapels, other buildings, cemeteries, as
well as all movable property and inventory (purchased or donated), funds in
bank accounts or cash in current use under the authority and management of the
Consistory, Dioceses, Missions, and Monasteries which belong to BAOC
jurisdiction are incontestably the property of the Belarusan Autocephalous
real estate, land, church buildings, chapels, other buildings, cemeteries, as
well as all movable property and inventory (purchased or donated), funds in
bank accounts or cash in current use under the authority and management of the
Parishes, which belong to BAOC jurisdiction are incontestably the property of
the Parishes of the Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
three years all Missions, Monasteries, Parishes, Diocese, and Diocesan institutions
must take an inventory of Church property. Copies shall he sent to the Consistory
Office where they shall be kept on file.
of a new church building is carried out under the supervision of a Building
Committee of the Parish, elected at the Parish Meeting, after securing
permission of the Governing Bishop and consent of the Consistory of the BAOC.
deeds of purchase and all the documents for sale of land or buildings by a Mission,
Monastery, Parish, or Dioceses must be legally prepared by the trustees, as stated
in paragraph 29 of these statutes.
documents and agreements made by a Parish or Mission with other organizations
must be reconciled in detail with the decisions of the Parish Council or those
of the Parish Meetings, and approved by the Governing Bishop.
documents and agreements of a Monastery or a Diocesan Administrative Board with
other organizations or units must be in full harmony with the decisions of the
Diocesan Administrative Board and be approved by the Council of the BAOC.
documents and agreements of the Consistory of the BAOC with other organizations
or units must be in full accord with the decisions of the Council of the BAOC.
original documents prepared by the institutions mentioned in paragraphs 107,
108, and 109 of these Statutes must be preserved locally and copies forwarded
to the BAOC Consistory.
of the BAOC, including those of the Dioceses, Parishes, Monasteries, and
Missions, are kept at the BAOC Consistory.
Consistory has its own round seal. The outer circle contains the name
"Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church" rendered in the official
language of the host country. In the inner circle ― the same in the Belarusan language. In the center is the Cross of
St. Euphrosyne and above it the word “Consistory” in the official language of
the host country, below it, the same in Belarusan. This seal is in the care of
the Bishop, the Head of the Consistory, and only he has the right to use it.
seals of a Diocese or a Parish are the same in design as that for the
Consistory, except that the word “Consistory” is replaced by words “Diocese
(name)” for a Diocese, or the words “Parish of Saint (name) in (place)” for a
Parish. The Governing Bishop of the Diocese keeps the Diocesan seal and has the
right to its use. The Head of Parish keeps the
Parish seal and has the right to use it.
XXV. CHANGES OF AND AMENDMENTS TO THESE
a General BAOC Convention has the right to change or amend these Statutes.
Suggestions to that effect may originate with the Council of Bishops, the BAOC
Council, or the Diocesan Administrative Council. All proposals for changes or
amendments of the Statutes must be addressed to the BAOC Council and submitted
through the Consistory.
Council of the BAOC appoints a Statute Committee, consisting of three persons,
a Bishop and two lay experts in the Church law who will first review all
submitted proposals and work out a proposed Statute which must be considered
and approved by the BAOC Council and only then may it come before the General
BAOC Convention for final approval.
XXVI. LIQUIDATION PROCEDURES
of a Mission, Monastery, or Parish can occur only with the order of the
Consistory. When the necessity arises to liquidate or to transfer them to a
jurisdiction other than that of the BAOC, all real estate property, land,
church edifices, and other buildings with furniture and all movable inventory,
as well as books, documents and archives, bank accounts, and cash money, any
and all property that has been under the authority of said institutions, the
Mission, Monastery, or Parish, automatically goes under the direct authority of
the Consistory as property of the BAOC.
a resolution is passed at the General Meeting to liquidate, sell or to transfer
property to other than the BAOC jurisdiction, a Mission, Monastery, or Parish,
the said property automatically falls under the authority of the BAOC
Consistory. No person or institution within the affected unit has the right to
prepare or sign deeds or other documents of purchase or sale of land, church
building or other buildings, or any other Church property, nor otherwise can
anyone sell or take anything of Church property to his home or anyone else's
home, or to give it away to anyone else, nor can anyone in the name of the
liquidated unit enter into agreements with other organizations, associations,
corporations, or institutions. Anyone breaking this rule is accountable
before a court of law.
it happen that the Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church becomes deprived of
Her Bishops, she attains the status of an Orphaned Church. When this occurs,
control of the BAOC is assumed by the Council of the BAOC headed by the most
senior or administratively most astute Priest. This temporary leadership remains
in charge of all BAOC affairs until an Extraordinary Convention of the orphaned
BAOC can be called which should take place within six months after the date or
OF THESE STATUTES
principles of these statutes were adopted at the General Convention of the
Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church held in the Parish of Saint Mary of
Zyrovicy, Highland Park, N. J., on May 28, 1972 and were put into operation
with the signing of the official copy on the first day of January of the year
of Our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy six. The Statutes were amended by a
decision of the General Convention of the BAOC held at St. Mary of Zyrovicy
Church, Highland Park, N. J. on August 30-th of 2003 and became effective upon
signing of the official copy on the thirty-first day of August of the year of
our Lord two thousand and three. These Statutes were further amended by the
General Convention of the BAOC held at the Cathedral of St. Cyril's of Turau,
Brooklyn, New York, on July 21, 2012 and, according to a decision of said
Convention, the amended Statutes went into effect immediately upon their
On the day of
enactment of these official Statutes which are uniform for the Belarusan
Autocephalous Orthodox Church as a whole, all local statutes of Parishes,
Dioceses and others are canceled and lose their validity if they contradict
†Archbishop Sviataslau …...........................................
Primate of the BAOC
S. Trigoubovich …...................... Secretary
of the BAOC General Convention
*) Formerly known as the
Byelorussian Autocephalic Orthodox Church