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НА БЪЛГАРСКАТА ИЗТОЧНОПРАВОСЛАВНА ЦЪРКВА

ДИОЦЕЗ В СЪЕДИНЕНИТЕ АМЕРИКАНСКИ ЩАТИ И КАНАДА

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CONSTITUTION

OF THE

BULGARIAN EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
DIOCESE OF THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA AND CANADA

.

ARTICLE I
FUNDAMENTAL PROVISIONS

Section 1. The name of the organization is the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church –
Diocese of the United States in America and Canada, and is also known as the Bulgarian Diocese
of Toledo – Orthodox Church of America (hereinafter referred to as the “Bulgarian Diocese”).
Section 2. The Bulgarian Diocese acknowledges and accepts the Orthodox Church in
America as the sole Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America and the Bulgarian Diocese
recognizes that the canonical jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in America includes the
Bulgarian Diocese and its parishes. The Bulgarian Diocese shall be governed as a district
administrative unit in accordance with its own Constitution, customs, and traditions.
Section 3. The fundamental guideposts of the Bulgarian Diocese shall be: the Holy
Scriptures, the rules and precepts of the Apostles, the Canons and the decisions of the
Ecumenical and Regional Councils, the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, and the
Constitution of the Bulgarian Diocese.
Section 4. The Bulgarian Diocese juridically is a religious body enjoying all rights
and privileges granted by the law of the United States of America and Canada. The Bulgarian
Diocese is a hierarchical church and includes all parishes and communities, churches and
cathedrals, chapels, monasteries, cemeteries, and other religious organizations which belong to
and are members of the Bulgarian Diocese.
Section 5. The canonical jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in America over the
Bulgarian Diocese manifests itself as follows:
(a) The Bulgarian Diocese receives the Holy Chrism and the Holy
Relics from the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America;
(b) The Name of the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America will
be elevated during the Divine Services by the Bishop of the Bulgarian Diocese;
(c) The Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America is the
highest spiritual authority in all canonical matters;
(d) The Primate of the Orthodox Church in America upon canonical
examination and confirmation of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox
Church in America will consecrate the Bishop-elect of the Bulgarian Diocese;

ARTICLE II

The aims of the Bulgarian Diocese are:

AIMS
(a) To preserve and propagate the Eastern Orthodox Christian Faith in
its purity and fullness in accordance with the teaching of our Savior and Lord,
Jesus Christ, as it is transmitted to us by the Holy Apostles and the Fathers of the
Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church.
(b) To educate morally and religiously the faithful and elevate them to
a position of good Orthodox Christians and loyal citizens of the United States of
America and Canada.
(c) To perform religious practices and services; to instruct parishioners
by religious addresses and sermons; to operate Sunday Schools for the study of
the Orthodox Faith.

ARTICLE III

Section 1. The Bulgarian Diocese shall be guided in its spiritual and administrative
life by the Diocesan Bishop, who is the Diocesan Prelate and Head of the Bulgarian Diocese (the
“Bishop”), and by the Spiritual Council of the Bulgarian Diocese (the “Spiritual Council”(see
Article IV hereunder)). The Bishop shall have full authority and hierarchal power in matters of
faith, morality, priesthood and pastoral service. He shall rule the Bulgarian Diocese with the
assistance of: the Spiritual Council; the Trustees of the Bulgarian Diocese; the annual
conferences of the Bulgarian Diocese; and the Diocesan Congress – Sobor.

DIOCESAN PRELATE

Section 2. The Bishop shall have the following rights and duties:
(a) He shall act as teacher and counselor of the clergy and the people
of his Diocese, both by his words and by his deeds.
(b) He shall keep, protect, support, and propagate the Orthodox Faith.
(c) He shall see to the proper and correct preaching of the Faith by the
clergy and to the spiritual and religious enlightenment of the faithful.
(d) He shall teach and guide the clergy and the faithful by oral and
written instructions to lead a life of peace and love and to advance in devotion and
moral purity.
(e) He shall instruct and encourage the clergy and the laity to practice
acts of mercy and charity.
(f) He shall see to the adequate, uniform and regular performance of
the religious services, to the observance of devotion and reverence during the
religious exercises; and he shall work for the betterment of church singing.
(g) He shall encourage and bless the efforts that are being laid for the
construction and reparation of churches; chapels and monasteries, and shall see
that they are designed and decorated in the proper Orthodox ecclesiastical pattern.4
(h) He shall sanctify and consecrate churches, chapels, and
monasteries.
(i) He shall see that all churches and monasteries are supplied with the
necessary ritual vestments, church books, icons, and other articles used in the
religious services, and that they are kept tidy and in proper order.
(j) He shall ordain and assign worthy men as Parish Priests and other
church help that may be needed by the Bulgarian Diocese.
(k) He shall assign his substitutes and representatives, the abbots of
monasteries and other churchmen for special duties.
(l) He shall meet regularly, but not less than quarterly, with the
Spiritual Council and not less than three times with the Trustees of the Bulgarian
Diocese during each year.
(m) He shall call the annual conference of the Bulgarian Diocese once
a year.
(n) He shall visit each Parish of the Bulgarian Diocese at least once a
year.
(o) He shall receive gifts and trusts willed to the Bulgarian Diocese
and shall use and manage them according to the instructions expressed in the will
with the cooperation of the Spiritual Council and the Trustees of the Bulgarian
Diocese.
(p) He shall be duty bound to initiate court and spiritual litigation
against the clergy and laity of his Diocese who have violated the discipline of the
Church, being guided in that respect by the Statute of the Orthodox Church in
America (the “OCA Statute”) and the Agreement between the Orthodox Church
in America and the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church, Diocese of U.S. and
Canada, dated December 20, 1976 (the “Agreement”), and by the regulations for
the conduct of lawsuits of his competency in the spiritual courts.
(q) He shall appoint, as the needs of the Bulgarian Diocese might
require it, persons in the following positions: Protosyngel (Chancellor),
Secretary, and other church service men.
(r) He shall discharge all the duties required of him by the Church
Canons, the OCA Statute, the Agreement, and the Constitution of the Bulgarian
Diocese.
(s) The Bishop who is the Head of the Bulgarian Diocese shall not be
absent from the Diocesan Territory for a period longer than a month. The consent
of the Spiritual Council shall be required for a leave of absence longer than a 5
BDDB01 5996001v1
month. In both these instances the functions of the Bishop shall be assigned by
him temporarily to his Protosyngel (Chancellor).
(t) The Bishop shall be guided by his conscience in Diocesan relations
with the other Orthodox or non-Orthodox Christian Churches; but he shall always
have in view the interest and defense of the Orthodox Faith in general.
(u) The Bishop shall see to the implementation of the present
Constitution of the Bulgarian Diocese, and the decisions of its Sobor – Congress,
of its annual conferences, and of its Spiritual Council.
Section 3. The Bishop shall be entitled to adequate financial support from the
Bulgarian Diocese and an official residence and household.
Section 4. The Office of the Bishop shall be deemed vacant upon the occurrence of
any one of the following:
(a) Death;
(b) Retirement or resignation;
(c) Permanent physical and/or mental incapacity, upon the medical
certification of at least two physicians chosen by the Spiritual Council;
(d) Unauthorized absence from the Bulgarian Diocese for a period of
one year;
(e) Deposition for heresy, as determined and verified by the Holy
Synod of the Orthodox Church in America upon and by due canonical process.
Section 5. In the event of a vacancy in the Office of the Bishop, his successor shall
be appointed, as follows:
(a) The Spiritual Council and the Diocesan Board of Trustees shall
meet and declare the Office of the Bishop vacant and shall announce such
vacancy to the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, and the Diocesan
Parishes. The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America shall then
investigate the announcement and make a determination as to vacancy.
(b) Within a reasonable amount of time after the date of vacancy in the
Office of Bishop has been officially declared by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox
Church in America, the Spiritual Council and the Diocesan Board of Trustees
shall meet in session for the purpose of placing nominations for the office.
(1) Any nominee for the Office of Bishop must satisfy
all the requirements of the Holy Canons pertaining to this highest
of all ecclesiastical offices. In addition, it is preferable (but not
necessary) that the nominee have completed a course of study in a 6
“Graduate School of Orthodox Theology” and be conversant in the
English language.
(2) According to the Holy Canons, candidates who are
not already in the episcopal rank can be nominated only from
among the monastic or celibate clergy or laymen.
(3) If at the moment of his nomination he is a layman
or a celibate Priest or widowed Priest, he shall pronounce at least
the first monastic vows (rasophoria).
(4) No Diocesan Bishop of the Orthodox Church in
America shall be a candidate for nomination.
(c) The Spiritual Council and the Board of Trustees shall submit the
name or names and the supporting documents of the nominees to the Primate of
the Orthodox Church in America and the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of
America for canonical examination.
(d) Upon the approval of a nominee or nominees by the Holy Synod of
the Orthodox Church of America, the Spiritual Council shall call the Diocesan
Congress – Sobor into special session for the purpose of electing the Bishop. The
written convocation shall list the name(s) of the nominee(s).
(e) The Diocesan Congress – Sobor, convened for the purpose of
electing the Bishop, shall be presided by (1) the Locum Tenens appointed by the
Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, or (2) if he is unable to be present,
by the leader of the Spiritual Council, or (3) if the leader of the Spiritual Council
is unable to so serve, then by another member of the Spiritual Council as
nominated by the Diocesan Congress – Sobor. A nominee for the Office of
Bishop may not preside at this session.
(f) No nomination from the floor for the Office of Bishop shall be in
order nor shall such nomination be accepted.
(g) The election for the Office of Bishop shall take place according to
the following procedure:
(1) All voting shall be by secret ballot;
(2) One single name shall be written on the ballot. Any
ballot with more than one name written on it shall not be counted.
The nominee receiving a majority of votes of the members present
and entitled to vote shall be declared elected. The same procedure
shall apply in the case of a single nominee;
(3) In the event there are three or more nominees and
no one receives a majority of votes of those present, the name of 7
the nominee receiving the smallest number of votes shall be
eliminated from the next ballot. This procedure shall be followed
until a single nominee receives a majority;
(4) If no nominee receives the majority as required
above, the electoral session shall be adjourned and the Office of
Bishop shall remain vacant. The Diocesan Board of Trustees shall
then re-institute the procedure of nomination as provided by this
Constitution;
(5) The tellers, for the purpose of recording, shall
certify to the Secretary of the Diocesan Congress – Sobor the
results of the balloting. The number of votes cast for any nominee
shall not be publicly announced.
(h) Immediately after the nomination, the Primate of the Orthodox
Church in America and the Holy Synod shall be notified by forwarding to them
the minutes of the electoral session, certified by the presiding officer and the
secretary;
(1) Upon approval of the candidate by the Primate of
the Orthodox Church in America and the Holy Synod, he shall be
summoned to a session of the Holy Synod for the canonical
election;
(2) If the candidate is not approved by the Primate of
the Orthodox Church in America, the Holy Synod, the Spiritual
Council and Diocesan Board of Trustees shall then re-institute the
procedure of nomination as provided by this Constitution.
(i) If the Bishop-Elect of the Bulgarian Diocese is not yet in the
episcopal rank, the date of his consecration shall be set with the concurrence of
the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America. After the consecration, or if the
Bishop-Elect is already in the episcopal rank, the date of installation shall set with
the concurrence of the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America. The
installation of the newly-consecrated Bishop shall take place in the Bulgarian
Diocese and shall be officiated by the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America
or by a senior Hierarch of the Holy Synod appointed by him.

ARTICLE IV

Section 1. The Spiritual Council of the Bulgarian Diocese consists of the Bishop,
who presides over it, and only those senior Priests of the Bulgarian Diocese appointed by the
Bishop.

THE DIOCESAN SPIRITUAL COUNCIL

Section 2. The Spiritual Council assists the Bishop in all his rights and obligations.8
Section 3. During the time the Office of the Bishop is vacant, and only during such
time, all spiritual and administrative affairs within the competence of the Bishop shall, to the
extent allowable by Canon Law, automatically devolve to the Spiritual Council. During such
period of time, the Spiritual Council shall be under the leadership of the Protosyngel
(Chancellor), or if there is none, the senior Priest of the Spiritual Council. Any powers or duties
that do not fall within the competence of the Spiritual Council by operation of Holy Canon Law
shall fall with the Locum Tenens of Bulgarian Diocese.

ARTICLE V

Section 1. The Diocesan Board of Trustees shall have charge of all the secular affairs
of the Bulgarian Diocese.

THE DIOCESAN BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Section 2. The number of the Diocesan Board of Trustees shall be seven. It shall be
composed of two Priests and four laymen. Of the two Priests, one shall be appointed by the
Bishop (or the Spiritual Council if the Office of Bishop is vacant), and the other shall be the
elected Diocesan clergy member of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in
America. Of the four laymen, three shall be elected at the Annual Conference and one shall be
the elected Diocesan lay member of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in
America. The Trustees shall serve for a term of three years and shall be allowed to succeed
themselves only once, including the clergy. No more than one lay Trustee shall serve from the
same Parish at the same time.
Section 3. The Diocesan Board of Trustees shall elect from among their number their
own officers: Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Property Manager, and Councilors. The
Bishop is the presiding officer of the Board of Trustees. The officers of the Board of Trustees
and their duties are defined as follows:

PRESIDENT: The Bishop is the presiding officer of the Diocesan Board of
Trustees. He prescribes the agenda and calls the meetings of the Diocesan
Trustees. It shall be the duty of the Bishop to conduct the sessions of the
Diocesan Trustees. He, together with the secretary, signs the correspondence of
the Diocesan Board of Trustees; and represents the Board of Trustees whenever
necessary, or appoints some of the Trustees to represent him. He keeps the
Diocesan seal.

VICE-PRESIDENT: The Vice-President replaces the president in his duty of
conducting the sessions of the Diocesan Board of Trustees whenever that may be
necessary. He cannot convene a meeting.

SECRETARY: The secretary of the Diocesan Board of Trustees, under the
supervision of the president, conducts the correspondence of the Board of
Trustees; keeps the archives of the Diocesan Trustees; writes the minutes for the
sessions of the Board of Trustees; and keeps the record of the member parishes
and prepares the data for the reports of the Diocesan Board of Trustees, except
that of the finances.9

TREASURER: The Treasurer takes care of the receipts and expenditures of the
Bulgarian Diocese. For every sum received, he issues a regular receipt from the
receipt book which must be stamped with the Diocesan seal; and for every sum
spent, he issues a check or has a proper receipt. He shall not keep more than $300
of petty cash of the Diocesan money. He deposits all Diocesan money in an
established bank in the city or its vicinity of the Diocesan headquarters. In order
that money may be withdrawn from the Diocesan checking or saving accounts at
the bank, signatures of the president (the Bishop) and/or the secretary, and the
treasurer are needed. The treasurer must have the approval of the Board of
Trustees for expenditures exceeding the sum of $600 not budgeted. It shall be the
duty of the treasurer to prepare the financial report of the Bulgarian Diocese for
the sessions of the Diocesan Board of Trustees.

PROPERTY MANAGER: It shall be the duty of the Property Manager to keep
correct inventory of all Diocesan movable and immovable properties. To
properly inform the Diocesan Trustees of the need for repair of any of the
Diocesan property, in other words, to maintain all Diocesan property in clean and
orderly fashion. He shall keep a written inventory of all Diocesan property.

COUNCILORS: The two remaining members of the Diocesan Board of Trustees
shall act as Councilors at all times. They shall have equal rights and obligations
as the rest of the Board of members. In case of emergencies or for any other
reason, they shall assume the duty of any of the other officers assigned to them by
the decision of the Board of Trustees or the Bishop.

AUDITING BOARD: Along with the election of the Board of Trustees, an
Auditing Board composed of three members shall be elected at the Annual
Conference. The Auditing Board shall scrutinize the financial activities of the
Board of Trustees and shall examine the books of the treasurer and property
manager at least every six months. The Auditing Board will give an annual report
in writing to the Annual Conference. In case the Auditing Board finds any
irregularities in the accounts of the treasurer or the property manager, it shall
report its findings to the Bishop and the Trustees of the Bulgarian Diocese in a
meeting called for such purpose.

Section 4. The Diocesan Board of Trustees shall be responsible for the following:
(a) It shall manage the property and funds of the Bulgarian Diocese.
(b) It shall prepare the Diocesan Annual Budget and set the Bishop’s
salary.
(c) It shall submit the financial report for the preceding year.
(d) It shall collect all the revenue of the Bulgarian Diocese against
receipt for same and disburse by check all expenditures for the Bulgarian Diocese.10
Section 5. The agenda for the meetings of the Diocesan Board of Trustees shall be
prescribed by the Bishop.
Section 6. The Diocesan Board of Trustees shall have power to purchase, mortgage,
sell or assign real or personal property owned by the Bulgarian Diocese. The Trustees shall
report such activities to the Diocesan annual conference.
Section 7. No meeting of the Board of Trustees shall be lawfully constituted unless
three lay members and the Bishop are present and in attendance.

ARTICLE VI

Section 1. The Bishop shall call the Annual Conference each year during the month
of June. The parishes and the church communities shall be represented at these conferences by
their Parish Priest and one legally elected delegate. Each Parish or church community must have
fulfilled its annual financial obligation to the Bulgarian Diocese before the delegates will be
recognized by the Annual Conference.

THE DIOCESAN ANNUAL CONFERENCES

The Governing Board of the Annual Conference shall consist of the Bishop who shall be
chairman of the Conference; two clergy appointed by the Bishop; and two laymen elected by the
delegates to the Conference. Parishes or church communities which cannot send delegates shall
give their proxies with written instructions to the Bishop who can name delegates to represent
the absent parishes or church communities. These delegates shall have the right to vote
according to the written instructions from the Parish they represent.
Section 2. The Diocesan Board of Trustees shall always be in attendance at the
Diocesan Annual Conference and each trustee shall have full right to vote on all issues at the
Annual Conference.
Section 3. The agenda of the Diocesan Annual Conference shall be prepared by the
Bishop assisted by the Spiritual Council. Each year the following items shall be scheduled for
consideration:
(a) Report by the Bishop on the state of the Bulgarian Diocese.
(b) Report by the Trustees on the financial status and all properties of
the Bulgarian Diocese.
(c) Approval of the budget for the following year.
(d) Report by the delegates on the life and the conditions in the
parishes represented at the meeting.
(e) Miscellaneous.11

Section 4. The Diocesan Annual Conference shall not be competent in the
amendment of any article of this Constitution. Amendments shall be made only at a Church
Congress. – Sobor

ARTICLE VII

Section 1. The Diocesan Congress – Sobor, is the sole and highest legislative body of
the Bulgarian Diocese. It shall be called for all occasions which the Bishop and the Spiritual
Council feel to be of the greatest importance; such as by way of illustration and not limitation,
Constitutional Amendments, and election of Bishop. The Spiritual Council shall determine the
time and place of convocation as well as the agenda thereof.

THE DIOCESAN CONGRESS – SOBOR

Section 2. Any amendment to the Constitution of the Bulgarian Diocese cannot
contradict any of the terms of the OCA Statute or the Agreement.
Section 3. The Bishop shall mail or cause to be mailed a written notice informing
each Parish and church community of the date, time, place, and all proposed changes and
amendments of the Constitution, regulations, and the agenda of the forthcoming Diocesan
Congress – Sobor at least sixty days (60) before the convening of such congress. Each Parish
and church community upon receipt of such notification shall call a general meeting to elect the
necessary delegates.
Section 4. Each Parish and church community shall be represented at the Diocesan
Congress – Sobor by the following:
(a) The Parish Priest.
(b) Two legally elected lay delegates who shall be empowered with
the necessary credentials properly authenticated by the president and the secretary
of the Parish board of trustees and the Parish Priest. If there is no Parish Priest,
the credentials shall be authenticated by the Bishop.
Section 5. At all sessions of the Diocesan Congress – Sobor (including those
convened for the purpose of electing the Bishop), two-thirds (2/3) of all members of the
Diocesan Congress – Sobor shall constitute a quorum. If a quorum cannot be met, the Diocesan
Congress – Sobor shall be adjourned for thirty (30) days, after which time a quorum shall consist
of one-half plus one (1/2 + 1) of all the members of the Diocesan Congress – Sobor.
Section 6. Each Parish or church community shall have fulfilled its annual financial
obligation to the Bulgarian Diocese before the delegates will be recognized by the Congress –
Sobor.
Section 7. The Governing Board of the Diocesan Congress – Sobor, shall consist of
the Bishop, who is the chairman of the Congress – Sobor; two clergy appointed by the Bishop,
and two laymen elected by the delegates of the Congress – Sobor. 12
BDDB01 5996001v1
Section 8. All legislative authority is vested in the Diocesan Congress – Sobor.
Except as provided herein, all decisions of the Congress – Sobor shall be carried by a two-thirds
(2/3) majority.
Section 9. The decisions taken at the Diocesan Congress – Sobor, shall be binding
upon all parishes and church communities and shall become effective immediately after minutes
of the Congress – Sobor, have been signed by the Bishop.
Section 10. The purely church and spiritual matters of the Faith and Religious
Discipline shall be within the competency of the Bishop and the Spiritual Council.

ARTICLE VIII

Section 1. Parishioners are those who, by virtue of their Baptism and Chrismation,
are members of the Body of Christ and strive to live in accordance with their high calling as
Orthodox Christians. No one can be a member of the Parish if he openly betrays the teaching of
the Orthodox Church, or if he leads a life or acts in a manner condemned by the Holy Canons as
incompatible with the name of Orthodox Christian. A “voting member” of the Parish is a
member at least eighteen years of age, who partakes of the Sacraments of Confession and Holy
Communion in his home Parish at least once a year; has belonged to the Parish for a period as
may be fixed by the Parish; and regularly fulfills such financial obligations as may be established
by the All-American Councils, Diocesan Conferences, and Parish.

PARISHIONERS

Section 2. No person shall be accepted for membership in a Parish while retaining
membership in a non-Christian religion, or in a non-Orthodox Christian denomination, or in an
Orthodox Parish which defies the jurisdiction or the ecclesiastical authority of the Bishop, or
who deliberately disregards and transgresses the moral law as may be determined by the Spiritual
Council.
Section 3. The religious, moral and social duties of a parishioner are to apply the
tenets of the Orthodox faith to his or her life and activities; to attend the Divine Liturgy and other
services of worship faithfully on Sunday and Holy Days; to keep the rules and fasts of the
Orthodox tradition; to receive frequently the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion; to
train and teach the young according to the faith and spirit of Orthodoxy, to respect the clergy, the
ecclesiastical authority, and all governing bodies of the Church; to be obedient in matters of faith
and ecclesiastical order; and to cooperate in every way towards the welfare and prosperity of the
Parish and the success of its sacred mission.
Section 4. The obligations of a Parish member are to pay such regular membership
dues and special assessments as the Parish General Membership Meeting may establish.
Section 5. The rights of the Parish member are to attend all regular and special Parish
meetings, to take part in its discussions and to vote therein, and be elected a member or officer of
the Parish Board of Trustees or Council, and in such position to take part in the administration of
the Parish and in the direction of its life and activity.13

Section 6. In an event that a parishioner, as described in section one of this article,
cannot participate as a regular Parish member, such person may benefit from the Holy
Sacraments of the Church as a communicant, but without the privilege to vote or to be elected to
govern the Parish.

ARTICLE IX

Section 1. New parishes and church communities, outside of those now comprising
the Bulgarian Diocese, may be established in such cities and countries as the need arises for
same. Any established Parish or church community of the Orthodox Church not presently in the
Bulgarian Diocese may apply to join the Bulgarian Diocese. The establishment and acceptance
of such parishes and communities shall be decided by the Bishop, the Spiritual Council, and the
Annual Conference.

PARISHES AND CHURCH COMMUNITIES

Section 2. Each Parish of the Bulgarian Diocese shall submit its bylaws to the Bishop
and the Spiritual Council for approval. Any article of the local bylaws in conflict with this
Constitution or the Statutes of the Orthodox Church in America shall be made to conform.
Section 3. The Parish or Parish corporation is the sole owner of all Parish property,
assets, and funds. In administering them, however, the parishioners and the officers elected by
them must always remember the religious nature, purposes, and goals of the Parish and act as
trustees of God’s, not man’s, property. The Parish, as the whole Church, serves God and cares for
God’s work in the world, and all decisions concerning Parish property must be inspired by that
care and by the spiritual needs of the Church. If the Parish is abolished, its property is disposed
of following the provisions of the Parish bylaws. If no such provisions exist, the property is at
the disposition of the Bulgarian Diocese. In all cases, the sacred and untouchable items: the Holy
Antimension, the Tabernacle, and the Sacred Vessels, must be surrendered to the Bishop.
Section 4. In the event of dissolution of the Parish or church community, the real and
personal property thereof, including all proprietary interests derived from rights acquired, shall
devolve to the Bulgarian Diocese.
Section 5. The Bulgarian Diocese shall do with the property as it deems advisable;
and the property or its proceeds, if the property is sold, shall be held in trust for a period of five
(5) years.
Section 6. Should the dissolved Parish or church community again be restored and
incorporated within the Bulgarian Diocese, in accordance with this Constitution, within the five
year limitation, then the Bulgarian Diocese shall restore the property, or the proceeds of the
property, to the said Parish or church community.

ARTICLE X

Section 1. The Parish Priest, by virtue of his canonical ordination and appointment, is
the Predstoyatel (the presider) of a Parish or church community and heads the local Parish of the
Diocese. He has the right and the duty to perform all religious services in the Parish. He must

PARISH PRIEST14

follow and respect dogmas, Holy Canons, Teachings and Traditions of the Orthodox Church, as
well as the directives of the Bishop.
Section 2. The Parish Priest shall have the following spiritual duties and
administrative functions in addition to those directed by the Bishop:
(a) To conduct the Sunday and Holyday services in the Parish
regularly and properly; to perform the religious services, and to cater to the
spiritual needs of his parishioners;
(b) To preach the Word of God in its purity by sermons and other
messages;
(c) To arrange religious lectures in the Orthodox Faith for the
enlightenment of his parishioners;
(d) To take care of and to keep in good order the records of baptisms,
weddings, funerals, and to select the teachers for the religious education (Sunday
School) of the Parish for inspection by the Bishop;
(e) To maintain the dignity of his personal and family life, so as to be
an exemplary spiritual pastor of his Parish;
(f) To be concerned for the proper church life in his Parish and to be
eager in the maintenance of reverence and cleanliness in the temple;
(g) Commemorate the name of the Bishop during the religious
services;
(h) Promote the religious education of the parishioners, in conjunction
with the Parish Board of Trustees;
(i) Established, with the Parish Board of Trustees, the date and the
time of religious services. All schedules shall conform with tradition, dogma and
directives from the Bishop;
(j) Administer the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) and officiate at all
religious services requested by parishioners;
(k) Preside over the Parish Board of Trustees except in cases when the
Bishop is present, or whenever a representative of the Diocese is delegated for
this purpose;
(l) Be a member of the Parish Board of Trustees as a matter of right,
“ex officio”;15
(m) Be the head of the Parish Office, in which capacity he shall be
entrusted with the care, custody and control of the archives of the Parish, together
with the official Parish Seal, baptismal, chrismation, marriage and burial records;
(n) Be responsible and care for all books, vestments, objects of
veneration, and the sacred untouchable items; the holy Antimension, the
tabernacle, and the sacred vessels used in the church services and ritual.
Section 3. The Parish Priest is the head of the Parish. No activities in the Parish can
be initiated without his knowledge, approval, and blessing; neither should he do anything
pertaining to the Parish without the knowledge of his parishioners and Parish organs elected by
them, so that always there may be unity, mutual trust, cooperation, and love.
Section 4. The Parish Priest shall have final authority over the church school.
Section 5. To be free from material preoccupations and wholly committed to his
sacred ministry, the Priest must be compensated by the Parish he serves, and the amount of his
compensation shall be clearly agreed upon at the time of his appointment. It shall be determined
by the Parish membership in conformity with the standard of living in the community. If a
dispute should arise, the Bishop shall be asked to mediate.
Section 6. The Parish Priest shall not absent himself from the Parish without the
consent and prior arrangement of the Bishop and the Parish Board of Trustees.
Section 7. The Parish Priest or the Parish Board of Trustees shall not invite or accept
a clergy of any rank to officiate in their church without the consent and prior arrangement of the
Bishop.
Section 8. A Parish Priest may be transferred from one Parish to another with the
blessing of the Bishop and the approval of the Spiritual Council. The process for the request
shall conform to the following:
(a) Concerns about the pastorate of the Parish Priest should be
registered with and through the Parish Board of Trustees;
(b) Representatives of the Parish Board of Trustees shall meet with the
Parish Priest to discuss the concerns and together, work and strive to overcome
the concerns;
(c) Should the concerns communicated continue and/or grow the
Parish Board of Trustees, by a majority vote, shall send written communication to
the Bishop, documenting not only the concerns but the actions and efforts taken to
resolve the concerns;
(d) In kind, the Bishop shall respond within thirty (30) days to the
Parish Board of Trustees with guidance in resolving the concerns;16

(e) Should efforts continue to be fruitless and the concerns persist, the
Parish Board of Trustees, by a 2/3 majority vote, shall write to the Bishop
invoking a “Request for Transfer.” Documentation of the vote and minutes of the
Parish Board of Trustees meeting shall accompany the request;
(f) Upon receipt of the “Request for Transfer” the Bishop shall
respond to the Parish Council within sixty (60) days, indicating available dates by
which he or his duly appointed representative will visit, in person, the Parish. The
purpose of the visit, by the Bishop or his duly appointed representative shall be to
meet with the members of the Parish Board of Trustees, all authorized auxiliaries,
those members in good standing who request a private audience, and the Parish
Priest to discuss the concerns of the Parish;
(g) Upon meeting with the above mentioned parishioners, auxiliaries
and Parish Priest, the Bishop shall respond, in a timely manner, either in person to
the Parish Council, or in writing, concerning any actions to be taken in regard to
the “Request for Transfer”;
(h) Should the “Request for Transfer” be denied, the Parish may
petition the Bishop after a period of one (1) year from the time of his denial.
Section 9. The Office of the Parish Priest shall be deemed vacant if any of the
following occurs:
(a) Death;
(b) Retirement or resignation;
(c) Permanent physical and/or mental incapacity, upon the medical
certification of at least two physicians;
(d) Deposition for heresy, as determined and verified by the Holy
Synod of the Orthodox Church in America upon and by due canonical process.
(e) Transfer or removal of the Priest by the Bishop.
When retired, resigned, transferred or removed from a Parish, the Priest shall turn over to
his Dean or upon written direction of the Bishop to the Parish Council all records of the Parish
Office, all registers and an inventory of all furnishings, sacred vessels, liturgical books,
vestments and all other property entrusted to him under these By-Laws.
Section 10. In the event of a vacancy in the Office of Parish Priest, his successor shall
be appointed, as follows:
(a) The Parish Board of Trustees shall call within thirty (30) days a
meeting for the purpose of deciding the remuneration being offered. 17
(b) The Parish Board of Trustees shall inform the Bishop about the
remuneration offered by the Parish Board of Trustees by forwarding to the Bishop
a certified copy of the meeting minutes.
(c) Upon the determination that a candidate to the vacant Office of
Parish Priest is available, the Bishop shall issue the Decree of Appointment,
thereby appointing a Parish Priest to the Parish.

ARTICLE XI

Section 1. Each Parish of the Bulgarian Diocese will financially support the
Bulgarian Diocese as follows; by way of illustration and not limitations:

FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF THE DIOCESE

(a) Regular assessments from the parishes of the Bulgarian Diocese.
(b) Extra fees on behalf of the Bulgarian Diocese from weddings,
funerals and baptisms or any other means deemed appropriate.
(c) Gifts and trusts, made specifically for the benefit of the Bulgarian
Diocese.
Section 2. The finance committee as appointed at each Diocesan Annual Conference
or at the Diocesan Congress – Sobor, shall set the annual assessments and extra fees for each
Parish.
Section 3. The Diocesan Financial Year will begin on the first day of June and end
on the last day of May each year. All parishes must meet their financial obligations toward the
Bulgarian Diocese within the fiscal year.
Section 4. The financial contributions of the Bulgarian Diocese to the Orthodox
Church in America shall be mutually determined from time to time as agreed by both parties.

ARTICLE XII

Section 1. The Bulgarian Diocese shall have a circular seal with the following
inscription around: “Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church – Diocese of the United States of
America and Canada” In the center of the seal there shall be inscribed: the Holy Bible, a Miter,
and double and triple candlesticks.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Section 2. Any problem, which is not within the scope of the present Constitution,
may be solved in the spirit of this Constitution and by the provisions of the fundamental guiding
principles of the Bulgarian Diocese, and by consultation to the OCA Statutes and the Agreement
(both attached hereto as Exhibits A and B, respectively).18

Section 3. The Bishop, the Spiritual Council, and the Diocesan Board of Trustees
shall be responsible for the publishing of a Diocesan periodical bulletin and other necessary
pertinent material. 19

GENERAL UNIFORM PARISH REGULATIONS

(As ratified by the Seventh Annual Conference and authorized by the Second Diocesan
Congress – Sobor).
Section 1. The election of the members of the Parish Board of Trustees (Parish
Council) or Church Committee shall be held on any Sunday in November. Only the regular
Parish members of good standing shall have the right to vote and to be elected.
Section 2. The election meeting for the Parish Board of Trustees shall be held at a
place on Parish premises previously announced by the Parish Governing Body and voting shall
be by secret ballot personally cast.
Section 3. Within seven (7) days after the election of the Parish Board of Trustees,
the Priest shall forward the result to the Bishop for review and ratification. The Priest shall at the
same time verify in writing that all candidates were qualified and that the election was conducted
in accordance with the regulations of the Bulgarian Diocese and the Parish bylaws.
Section 4. The election will be ratified upon receipt of the verification hereinbefore
provided for in the absence of the filing of any protest thereto. In the event that a protest is filed
within 15 days and such protest is upheld, the Bulgarian Diocese1
Section 5. On the last Sunday in December, and after ratification of the election has
been received from the Bulgarian Diocese,
will declare the protested
election void and a new election will be ordered. Such a protest must be filed in writing within
the specified period directly to the Bishop with a copy to the respective Parish Priest.
2
Section 6. Each member of the newly elected Parish Board of Trustees is obliged,
without exception, to take the following oath jointly:
the installation of the newly elected members of the
Parish Board of Trustees shall take place, administered by the Parish Priest.
“I (NAME), do solemnly swear that I will uphold the dogma, teaching, traditions,
holy canons, worship and moral principles of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church,
as well as the constitution, discipline and regulations of Bulgarian Diocese of
Toledo – Orthodox Church of America, and that I will fulfill faithfully and
sincerely the duties and obligations required of a member of the Parish Board of
Trustees. So Help Me God.”
Section 7. The Parish Board of Elections shall consist of at least three and not more
than five members elected at the Parish Assembly preceding an election.
Section 8. The Board of Elections shall in cooperation with the Priest and the Parish
Board of Trustees check the list of candidates-nominees, notify all eligible members concerning
the elections, supervise the elections, and tabulate and report the results.
1 The Bishop and the Spiritual Council
2 The Bishop and the Spiritual Council20
Section 9. The nominees or candidates for the Parish Board of Trustees must comply
with Article VIII of this Constitution.
Section 10. When transferring from one Parish to another, the parishioner shall present
to the Priest of the new Parish a letter of transfer signed by his or her former Priest.
Section 11. Each Parish shall be administered by the Priest and the Parish Board of
Trustees. The Priest as head of the Parish (Predstoyatel) by virtue of the ecclesiastical authority
vested in him, shall guide and oversee the total Parish programs, with the advice and consent of
the Parish Board of Trustees, and shall be ultimately responsible for the whole life and activities
of the Parish.
Section 12. Final architectural plans for the erection of a church building or interior
renovation shall be submitted to the Spiritual Council for review and the Bishop for his blessing.
Section 13. In the Event of heresy, schism, or defection from the Bulgarian Diocese,
as determined by the Diocesan Ecclesiastical authority, the segment of the Parish which remains
loyal to the Bulgarian Diocese of Toledo – Orthodox Church of America shall retain title to the
Parish property.
Section 14. Each Parish Priest is entitled to the minimum of three (3) weeks annual
vacation with full pay after securing first permission from the Bishop and the consent of his
Parish Board of Trutsees. In the event that the Priest is incapacitated to take a vacation on
account of pressing Parish work or lack of substitute, he shall then receive the extra payment of
his salary for a half a month.

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* Оригиналът може да бъде изтеглен оттук: Constitution_of_the_Bulgarian_Diocese_2010

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