1. The name of the Church is "The Belarusan Autocephalous* Orthodox Church", abbreviated ”BAOC”.
*) Also spelled "Autocephalic"
II. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
2. The Belarusan Orthodox Church goes back to the 10th century A.D. where it was founded in the ancient Dukedom of Polatsk and sanctified through Saint Euphrosyne of Polatsk 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 in the 18th century but was restored on July 23, 1922 and again on September 2, 1942 during two General Conventions held in Miensk, at which time the name was reaffirmed as the Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The church was reborn in exile on June 5, 1948, at a convention held 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.
3. Although adhering 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 ecclesiastical authority.
4. In the conduct of daily life the BAOC upholds: (a) Holy Scriptures; (b) Holy Traditions of the Church; (c) Canons of the Holy Apostles; (d) Rules of the 7 Ecumenical Councils; (e) Rules of the Holy Fathers of the Church recognized by the Holy Ecumenical Orthodox Church and Ecclesiastic Regulations concerning Holy Services and monastic life; (f) Regulations of these Statutes; and (g) Decisions of General Conventions of the BAOC.
5. Belarusan 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 external relations.
III. THE PURPOSES
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 original form the Dogmas of Faith and the Canons of the Holy Ecumenical Orthodox Church as well as the old Bela rusan Church traditions; (d) to achieve organizational unity among Orthodox Belarusans; (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, 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 can purchase land and/or buildings for Church-related purposes.
8. The BAOC accepts into her jurisdiction all those seeking spiritual guidance as des cribed in paragraph 4 and in accord with the Word of God and the Traditions and Rules of the Church.
9. Incorporation into the BAOC of any other Orthodox Church unit, which originally had its own internal regulations, is effected by the First Hierarch of the BAOC in accordance with the decisions of the Council of the BAOC, pre serving Church rules.
IV. THE CLERGY
10. Bishops 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.
A. The Bishop
11. All 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.
12. A 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.
13. A Bishop of the BAOC can 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. The Primate
14. In 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 REVERED (the name) METROPOLITAN OF THE BELARUSAN AUTOCEPHALOUS ORTHODOX CHURCH".
15. The rights and duties of the Primate are as follows: a) Supervision over the general order within the BAOC and its representation in external affairs; b) The con vo cation 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 diploma 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 Anti mensia; g) Consideration of complaints against Hierarchs and the initiation of due process regarding them; h) Dispensing fraternal advice to Bishops.
16. In case Council of the BAOC by 2/3 of votes on its meeting decides that the Primate is unable to discharge his duties, or in the event of his passing away, his Deputy takes over as Acting Primate until such time that the Special Convention of the BAOC is convened.
C. The Governing Bishop of The Diocese
17. The Council of the Bishops appoints the Governing Bishop for the Diocese, with the consent of the Council of BAOC. 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 takes over the leadership of the Diocese.
18. Rights 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; 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 punish ments for transgressions; d) To pay regular visits to the Monasteries and Parishes of his diocese.
19. The 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.
D. The Vicar Bishop
20. In administrative affairs, the Vicar Bishop is subordinate to the Governing Bishop.
E. The Priest
21. A 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:
IN 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 NEVER DO ANYTHING HARMFUL TO THE BAOC OR TO THE PARISH. SO HELP ME GOD!"
22. Any Priest or Deacon who comes from another Orthodox Church into the juris diction 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. Any Priest or Deacon who moves from one BAOC Diocese into another, must have 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 has been a priest or deacon. All incoming clergy must be approved by the Council of the BAOC.
24. Priest 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.
25. No Priest has any administrative right in a Parish other than his own without the knowledge and agreement of the bead of that Parish.
F. Head of the Parish
26. The 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.
H. The Subdeacon
28. The 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.
V. THE TRUSTEES
29. The purchase or disposition of church real estate/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.
VI. THE PARISHIONER
30. A 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).
31. The 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.
32. Each 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 Orthodox faith.
33. Anyone wishing to become a Parishioner is required to submit a written appli cation 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 para graphs 32 and 102 of these statutes. Membership in two BAOC Parishes or other Church at the same time is prohibited.
A. Obligations of Regular Parishioners
34. A 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 authorities.
B. Rights of a Regular Parishioner
35. Each Rightful (full fledge) Parishioner as defined in paragraph 34 of this Statue has the right to: a) vote at the Parish meetings, paragraph 87 of this Statute; b) be elected a delegate to the Council of the BAOC or the Diocese Council of BAOC; c) be elected into one of the Governing Bodies of the Control Committees of the Church Administration; d) to have the power of attorney from another Rightful Parishioner to vote on his behalf; e) to receive the spiritual care (support — treby) from Church Institution; f) to receive infor mation about the financial condition of the Parish from the Control Committee within one month.
36 Exclusion 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 insub ordination to the BAOC authorities. The excluded parishioner has the right to appeal the decision to the Governing Bishop, whose decision is final.
VII. GENERAL CONVENTION OF THE BAOC
37. The highest authority of the BAOC is the General Convention which is convened every six years. Should a special need arise, a special convention can he held. At least half of all BAOC Parishes and Bishop must be present at the Convention to have a quorum.
38. Functions 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.
39. The following have the right to participate in the General BAOC convention: a) All BAOC Clergy in good standing; b) Two elected delegates from each monastery and Parish; c) All members of the BAOC Council and Control Board; d) Members of the Consistory; e) Editor of the official BAOC publishing enterprise in the Consistory; f) Principals of all BAOC schools.
40. Each institution: the BAOC Council, Control Board, Monasteries, and Parishes must provide their delegates 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.
41. Preliminary organizational work for the General Convention is done by the BAOC Consistory. With the consent of the Primate, the Consistory 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.
42. Before 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 Convention.
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 public meetings so that authors of proposed resolutions can speak in their defense.
44. Generally 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. Each decision of the Convention requires confi rmation by a majority of Bishops present at the Convention. The Bishops may withhold their confirmation if the decision contravenes Church Canons.
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.
46. 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 assumes his duties.
VIII. COUNCIL OF BISHOPS
47. The Council of Bishops, is made up of all Bishops of the BAOC, under the chairmanship of the Primate or his appointed Deputy Bishop. In the absence of the Primate, but with his knowledge, sessions of the Council of Bishops are chaired by his Deputy.
48. The Council is duly constituted when all Bishops of the BAOC are in atten dance, 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 can 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.
49. Regular 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.
50. Each 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.
51. The 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 Dio cesan Bishop; g) The election of the Deputy for the Primate; h) The Commendation of Clergy; i) The Acceptance of Priests coming from other Orthodox Churches; j) The designation of a candidate for the post of the Primate; k) The ratification of the monastic rules; l) Appointment of a commission for examination of a candidate for Bishop; m) Questions of contacts with other Orthodox Churches; n) Complaints against Bishops, de frocking of a priest, and restoration of a priest's rights and rank.
IX. COUNCIL OF THE BAOC
52. All 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 six 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.
53. The 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; 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.
54. The 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 a simple majority of members, inclusive of the Primate or his appointed representative are present. All matters are decided by a simple majority vote of members present. Upon request of one member, the voting may be by secret ballot. Minutes of the session are signed by the Secretary and Chairman.
X. CONSISTORY OF THE BAOC
55. Members 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) The purchase or sale of real estate and land, following the decision of the BAOC Council in the matter; g) Inter cession for and defense of BAOC interests whenever needed.
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 twelve years. All of its members must meet the standards set up in paragraphs 32 and 34 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 Parish.
XII. ECCLESIASTICAL COURT OF THE BAOC
58. No one among the believers, layman or clergy of the BAOC, having altercation in a Church matters should go to Secular Court to pass judgment.
59. All disputes are submitted through the Consistory of the BAOC to the Council of the BAOC for determination if the matter needs judgment of the Ecclesiastical Court.
60. If 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. Both sides have 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.
61. Court matters which concern 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. A court case involving a priest is considered by a Bishop and two Priests.
62. The 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 and nun.
63. In 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 originally 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.
XIII. THE DIOCESE OF THE BAOC
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.
A. Diocesan Administrative Board
65. The 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 substitutes. 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 substitutes for the remainder of the term.
66. The 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.
67. All 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 Consistory.
B. Diocesan Convention
68. The 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.
70. The 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 election of a candidate for Bishop.
71. Diocesan 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 Diocese.
XIV. THE PARISH
72. 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:
73. To 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 last, 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.
75. Each Parish is the sole owner of the Parish Real Estate, Parish property real or personal, inventory donated or bequeathed, purchased or leased.
76. Should the Head of the Parish or some members of the Parish Council or the Control Board, after appointment or election to their respective posts, refuse to recognize the authority of the Governing Bishop of the Diocese in which their 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.
77. Should the majority of members of 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 leadership. Elections of the permanent Parish Council should take place not later than three months after the appointment of the temporary one. 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 the right of final decision belongs to the Governing Bishop of the Diocese.
A. Leadership of a Parish
78. The Parish Council is elected at a Parish Meeting for a term of two years and consists of the Chairman of the Council, his Deputy, Secretary, Treasurer, the Custodian and his Deputy. 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 months.
79. The 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.
80. The 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, writes the minutes of Parish Council meetings, and main tains a correspondence book. In his absence the Chairman may designate one of the Council members to keep minutes of the meetings.
81. The 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.
82. The 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.
Meetings of the Parish Council
83. Meetings 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 two other members of the Parish Council. All matters are decided by a simple majority vote of those present. In case of a tie the vote of the Parish Head decides. 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.
Control Board of the Parish
84. The Parish Control Board, consisting of the Chairman, Secretary, and a member (plus two substitutes), is elected at the General Meeting of the Parish. The Board checks the management of the church property, financial means, 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 Ordinary Meeting of the Parish; 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 or on the written request of three or more full members of the Parish.
85. After 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.
86. Only 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, to the Parish Head.
B. The Parish Meeting
87. The 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, and 102 of these Statutes.
88. After 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. No group proxies are acceptable. 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.
89. Not 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.
90. The annual meeting of the Parish will be convened in the second half of February on a yearly basis. Elections are held and all current matters concerning the Parish are discussed at this time.
91. In 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.
92. A special meeting of the Parish is called whenever a special need arises. This meeting is convened at the request of the Parish Head, Parish Council 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.
93. All 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. 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 Governing Bishop.
XV. THE MONASTERY
94. On the basis of general Church principles, the Belarusan Autocephalous Ortho dox 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 the Monasteries.
95. A 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
96. For 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.
XVII. THE MISSIONS
97. For 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 Parish who meets the requirements of paragraph 102 of these statutes.
98. In 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 these statutes.
99. Schools of higher learning and courses for upgrading candidates for the priesthood and 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 approved by the Council of the BAOC. In financial matters, the Diocesan school is under the authority of the Diocesan Administrative Board. The 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
100. If it is possible, the BAOC may have a Pension Plan administered by the Consistory. Participants in such a plan may be all clergy and permanent lay workers of BAOC establishments. Any such Plan and its rules and regulations must be approved by The Council of the BAOC. 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
101. The income of the Church consists of: a) donations, payments for services ren dered, 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 Consistory.
102. Each Parishioner who is 18 years and over of age is required to pay Parish dues, established by the Parish Meeting. Upon their request, widows with children below 18 years of age, students, and the infirm can be exempted from the duty of paying dues.
XXII. PROPERTY OF THE CHURCH
103. All 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 Orthodox Church.
104. All 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.
105. Every three years all Missions, Monasteries, Parishes, Diocese, and Diocesan in stitutions must take an inventory of Church property. Copies shall he sent to the Con sistory Office where they shall be kept on file.
106. Construction 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.
107. All 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 sta ted in paragraph 29 of these statutes.
108. All agreements made by a Parish or Mission with other organizations must be recon ciled in detail with the decisions of the Parish Council or those of the Parish Meetings, and approved by the Governing Bishop.
109. All 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.
110. All 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.
111. All original copies of documents prepared by the institutions mentioned in paragraphs 107, 108, and 109 of these statutes have to be preserved locally and a second copy forwarded to the BAOC Consistory.
112. Archives of the BAOC, including those of the Dioceses, Parishes, Monasteries, and Missions, are kept at the BAOC Consistory.
XXIV. THE SEAL
113. The 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 original Belarusan language and trans cription. 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. The seal is in the care of the Bishop, the Head of the Consistory, and it is only used with his permission.
114. The seals for a Diocese or a Parish have essentially the same design as that for the Consistory, except that the word "Consistory" is replaced by that of “Diocese (name)” for 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 preserves and uses the Parish seal.
XXV. CHANGES OF AND AMENDMENTS TO THESE STATUTES
115. Only a General BAOC Convention has the right to change or amend these statutes. Yet suggestions to that effect may originate with the Council of Bishops, the BAOC Council, or the Diocesan Administrative Council. Changes must be addressed to the BAOC Council and submitted through the Consistory.
116. The Council of the BAOC appoints a Statute Committee, consisting of three persons, a Bishop and two lay experts in law, to whom all suggestions for changes or amendments of these statutes are first submitted. Suggestions are first considered by the BAOC Council and only then do they come before the General BAOC Convention for final approval.
XXVI. LIQUIDATION PROCEDURES
117. Liquidation 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.
118. When 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, cor po rations, or institutions. Anyone breaking this rule is accountable before a court of law.
119. Should it happen that the Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church becomes deprived of Her Bishops, she attains the status of an Orphaned Church. When this occurs, the Council of the BAOC chooses the most senior or administratively most astute Priest as the head of the BAOC. This temporary leadership remains in charge of all BAOC affairs until the Extraordinary BAOC Convention can be called which should take place within six months alter the date or orphaning.
XXVII. OPERATION OF THESE STATUTES
120. The principles of these statutes were accepted by a decision of 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 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. It was amended according to the 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.
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 and Dioceses are canceled and lose their validity if they contradict this Statute.
†Metropolitan Iziaslav Primate of the BAOC
Borys Daniluk Secretary of the BAOC Consistory
S. Tryhubovich Secretary of the BAOC General Convention