Of the Chairman of the Council of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia (HMA)
Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar)
on the life and work of HMA for 2011-2016.
Presented at the Second Church National Assembly of HMA on 15 May, 2016
Today I shall present a report on the life and activities of HMA from 2011 to May 2016. (in a compressed form) Detailed annual reports have been presented at the sessions of the Council of HMA. Complete reports for 2014 and 2015 have been published on the official website of HMA. In addition, the life and activities of HMA has regularly been presented on the official website of HMA “Anyha.org” in the news section (Http://anyha.org/category/novosti/).
I.The first Church National Assembly of HMA
The first CNA took place on 15 May, 2011 in the cathedral church of the monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite in New Athos.
The assembly was attended by:
-Orthodox clergy and monks – 8 people;
– 1102 laymen.
TOTAL AMOUNT: 1,110 registered participants.
(The number of unregistered participants of the 1st CNA made up a few hundred of people).
baptized – 876 people;
unbaptized – 234 people (many of them were baptized in the New Athos Monastery later);
Abkhazians – 987 people;
Russians – 77 people;
Armenians – 27 people;
Greeks – 3 persons;
other nationalities – 16 people;
from Gudauta district – 487 people;
from Sukhum district – 457 people;
from Gagra district – 106 people;
from Ochamchira district – 21 people;
from Tkuarchal district – 19 people;
from Gulripsh district – 13 people;
from Gal district – not a single person;
from the Russian Federation – 7 people.
The following decisions were taken at the 1st CNA of HMA:
753 people of the Orthodox denomination of Abkhazia took part in the voting, according to the results of voting, members of HMA Council became:
On 5 June, 2013, in accordance with the Law of the Republic of Abkhazia “On State Registration of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs”, a religious, Christian organization “Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia” was registered in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, registration number 113RA000316.
CLERGY of HMA:
I would like to note that the lack of the required number of clergy is one of the most difficult problems of HMA. Currently there are only two priests in the ministry of HMA: the first priest in the rank of Archimandrite and the second one in the rank of Hierodeacon. The problem is not the lack of candidates for the priesthood, they are. The problem is the following: there is no bishop on the territory of Abkhazia for 23 years who has the right to dedicate people to the priesthood.
Temples of HMA:
CHURCH SERVICES: In 2011-2016 all church services were held in the Cathedral temple of St. Panteleimon (in summer) and in the church of St. Andrew (in winter). Since October 2015 Church services have been renewed in the Church of Intercession of the Holy Virgin in the town of New Athos in honor of the patron saint’s day.
SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM AND CONFIRMATION. From 2011 to May 2016, 3,140 people were baptized in the church of St. Andrew and in the new Baptistery of the New Athos monastery:
Abkhazians – 1.876 persons;
Russians – 1,057 persons;
Armenians – 178 persons;
other nationalities – 29 persons.
Since 2015 everybody who has accepted the sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation, got a disc containing the Gospel of Mark in the Abkhazian language and a religious-educational magazine “Alasharbaga”.
It should be noted that since the early of 2016 the sacrament of baptism has been held only in a special Baptistery, which is placed at the New Athos monastery. The Baptistery contains all the necessary conveniences for the full immersion of a baptized.
SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY (betrothal and wedding). From 2011 to May 2016 89 couples received the Sacrament of Matrimony in the church of St. Andrew:
– 39 Abkhazian;
– 35 Russian;
– 12 Armenian;
– 3 Ossetian.
SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION. Every Saturday, as well as on the eve of great holidays, after the Vespers, Sacrament of Confession was held in the temples of the monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite for everyone who wished.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK. Every year, on the Great Week of Lent Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick was held in the church of St. Apostle Andrew. In 2015 and 2016 265 people received the Sacrament.
HOLY COMMUNION AT HOME: for 2014-1016, 7 visits (N. Athos, Sukhum and Gudauta).
CONSECRATION OF HOMES: for 2014-1016, 19 visits (N. Athos, Gudauta, Sukhum, MgudzyrKhua, LIkhny, Achandara, Kulanyrkhua and Bzypta).
FUNERAL SERVICE AT HOME: for 2014-1016 18 visits (N. Athos, Eshera, Bambora, Likhny, Sukhum, Gudauta, Mtsara and Mgudzyrkhua).
Memorial service at the grave: for 2014-1016 16 visits (N. Athos, Ankhua, Primorsk, the Armenian cemetery in N.Athos, Sukhum, Likhny, Otkhara, Zvandripsh and Mgudzyrkhua).
III. Monastic life and New Athos monastery
Monasteries and sketes of HMA:
Report on the life and activities of the brotherhood of the monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite of HMA for 2011-2016 will be presented by the abbot of the Monastery Hierodeacon David (Sarsaniya).
Pilgrimage trips: In 2011-2016 HMA organized pilgrimage trips to the holy places of Abkhazia (Ankhua, Pitsunda, Tsabal and Otkhara), employees of HMA, brethren and parishioners of the New Athos Monastery took part in those trips.
Official trips. In 2011-2016 representatives of HMA made a number of formal and informal trips to the following countries: Russia, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Egypt, Israel, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.
The most important official trip of representatives of HMA took place in Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey), in January 2012. On 9 January, 2012 the delegation from Abkhazia which consisted of Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar), Hieromonk Andrey (Ampar), Hierodeacon David (Sarsaniya), Herman Marshaniya and Temur Dzidzariya had an official meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Patronal and other feasts. Every year on May 23 and August 9, at the celebration of the memorial day of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite and St. Panteleimon patronal feasts are carried out (the divine service and litanies with icons of the above Saints) in the monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite of HMA. After litanies all parishioners, pilgrims and guests were invited to the Monastery festive meal. Each year more than 600-700 people participated in those feasts. Since October 26, 2014, after an eight-year interruption, the annual celebration of icon of the Anakopian Theotokos has been resumed. On 23 November, 2014 for the first time after 100 years, the festive divine service was conducted in honor of the Likhny Our Lady of the Sign in the temple of St. Apostle Andrew.
On 14 October, 2015 after five years, the annual divine service in honor of the patron saint’s day was renewed in the temple of the Holy Virgin, New Athos.
CHRISTMAS PERFORMANCES FOR CHILDREN. In 2011-2016 during the Christmas celebrations, HMA organized five annual performances in the Abkhazian State Philharmonic and the Russian Drama Theatre, Sukhum. More than 3,000 children, including the children of immigrants from Syria and Turkey attended the performances. After the performance, all the children received Christmas presents.
OFFICIAL EVENTS: In 2011-2016 annually representatives of HMA attended ceremonies, which were held in N. Aphos and Sukhum: the March offensive during the 1992-1993 Georgian-Abkhazian war (March 16), the victory day of the Soviet people in the World War II (May 9), the memorial day of the victims of makhadjirstvo (May 21), the memorial day of Homeland Defenders of (14 August), the victory day of Abkhazian in the Patriotic War of 1992-1993(30 September).
In 2011-2016 HMA organized 4 different presentations and a photo exhibition in the town of Sukhum.
Representatives of HMA, for 2011-2016, participated in the cultural and social events, conferences, meetings and round tables organized by governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and individuals.
In 2011-2016 the Chairman of the Council of HMA and other representatives of HMA held about 10 press conferences for representatives of the Abkhazian mass media.
The report on sessions of HMA Council for 2011-2016 will be presented by the Secretary Herman Marshania.
VII. EDUCATIONAL AND SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITIES
THEOLOGICAL LECTURES. Since July 2015 Theological lectures have been delivered in the New Athos Monastery. Every Sunday parishioners of the New Athos Monastery can listen lectures on the biblical history, theology, church history and liturgy. The number of visitors of these lectures is about 50 people. Lectures are delivered by: Doctor of Theology of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki – Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar), a doctoral candidate of the University of Fribourg Hierodeacon David (Sarsaniya) and a graduate of the Moscow Theological Academy Herman Marshania.
From July 2015 to May 2016 more than 30 lectures were delivered at the Theological Lectorium.
For communication and information exchange of lecturers and students of the Theological lectures a group called “Theological lecture in New Athos” was opened in the social network Facebook. In May 2015 there are 145 people in the group.
Since March 2016 similar lectures have been delivered in the Sukhum center of Daur Zantariya ( Http://anyha.org/adouxatu-eicfazvarakua-aqua/).
BOOKS, ARTICLES AND NOTES. From 2011 to May 2016 the Chairman of HMA Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) published two books (the total circulation is 6,000 copies.), 19 scientific and 95 other articles, notes and translations.
INTERVIEW. From 2011 to May 2016 the Chairman of HMA Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) gave more than 25 interviews to various Russian and foreign publications.
SPEECH ON TV AND RADIO. From 2011 to May 2016 the Chairman of HMA Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) took part in more than 30 television and radio programs on the Abkhazian State Television and foreign companies.
SCIENTIFIC AND EXPEDITION TRIPS. From 2011 to May 2016 under the leadership of the Coincil of HMA Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) a number of scientific expeditions were made to various Abkhazian villages (Achandara, Duripsh, Kulanyrkhua, Ankhua and Aatsy) to get acquainted with the monuments of Christianity in Abkhazia, to take pictures of those places and to collect various religious materials. In January 2015 the Chairman of the Council of HMA, together with Givy Khashba visited several Greek villages near the town of Veria (the Northern Greece), where Abkhazians lived. On the basis of information which was gathered there, as well as other historical materials, Archimandrite Dorotheos published an article (Alasharbaga, 1 (2015), pp. 64-67).
CHURCH-ARCHEOLOGICAL OFFICE. In November 2015, after an overhaul the Church Archeology Office of HMA was opened. In this library there is a large collection of rarity books on the History of Abkhazia, the History of Christianity in Abkhazia, the Abkhazian Orthodox Church, Byzantinology, Theology, Linguistics and Philosophy.
CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL CENTER “ADUNEY”. In 2008 NGO “Cultural and Educational Center “Aduney” was founded under the patronage of the monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite. In 2009, it was decided to build a large cultural and educational center in the city of Sukhum, thus a land was acquired with financial assistance from the New Athos Monastery. In 2015, the architectural and engineering projects of four-storey building of the cultural and educational center in the city of Sukhum was prepared under the leadership of the new chairman of the CEC “Aduney” – Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar).
THESIS DEFENSE. On 8 May, 2014 the Chairman of HMA Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) successfully defended a doctoral thesis at the Theological Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece). The theme of his thesis is “The place of death of St. John Chrysostom “. Archimandrite Dorotheos was working over the thesis for five years and completed it in December 2013.
VIII. PUBLISHING ACTIVITIES
PUBLISHING DEPARTMENT OF HMA. It was founded in 2011. About 10 people are involved in the work of this department. The head of the publishing department is Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar).
From 2011 to May 2016. The publishing Department of HMA prepared and published:
– 7 books (the circulation is 20,000 copies.);
– 5 different sets of postcards with views of the temples and monasteries of Abkhazia (the circulation is 8,000 copies.);
– 5 audio and video disks (the circulation is 15,000 copies.);
– A brief prayer book in the Abkhazian language (1000 copies.);
– Baptismal certificates in the Abkhazian language (500 copies.).
NEWSPAPER OF HMA “CHRISTIAN ABKHAZIA”. In 2011 HMA has resumed the publication of color newspaper “Christian Abkhazia” (Editor-German Marshaniya). The newspaper was closed in 2014, at the insistence of the leadership of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of AOC. 47 issues of the newspaper “Christian Abkhazia” (the circulation is 94,000 copies.) were published from 2011 to 2014.
MAGAZINE OF HMA “ALASHARBAGA”. Since 2015 the religious and educational magazine of HMA “Alasharbaga” (the author and chief editor of the magazine is Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) has been published.
Two issues in a color glossy design have already been published, which contain 59 articles, notes, interviews in the Abkhazian and Russian languages. The circulation of each issue is 3000 copies. The total circulation of all editions of the Publishing Department of HMA for 2011-2016 amounted to 144.500 copies.
HMA donated a large number of copies of the above editions of the publishing department of HMA to all educational and scientific institutions of the Republic of Abkhazia, to the urban, regional and rural libraries.
WEBSITE OF HMA «ANYHA.ORG». The official website of HMA «Anyha.org» was created under the leadership of Tengiz Tarba in 2011. Since 2014 the administrator of the website is Akhra Smyr.
From 06/01/2014 till the present time the Publishing Department of HMA has supported the functioning of HMA website (www.anyha.org).
For two years 479 unique materials have been published on the website: www.anyha.org they have been published in the following headings:
Library – 99 (62 books and 37 issues of the newspaper “Christian Abkhazia”)
Video – 34
Documents – 45
Museums – 40
News – 152
Articles – 49
Photos – 33 albums
Christianity in Abkhazia – 27 (articles, biographies)
Visitors from more than 50 countries have attended our website, the average number of visits per day is about 500 unique visitors.
WebTV OF HMA «ANYHA-TV». WebTV of Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia «Anyha – TV» was founded in 2011 under the leadership of Tengiz Tarba. In the summer of 2011 two documentary films about the life of the monastery in three languages (Abkhazian, Russian and English) have been made “One day in the life of the monastery” and “From the history of Christianity in Abkhazia”. The director of the films is Sergey Yazvinsky.
The statistics of views in the Internet:
1) “One day in the life of the monastery” – 378,994 views;
2) “From the history of Christianity in Abkhazia” – 35,563 views.
On 22 January, 2014 representatives of one of the largest Metropolis (Diocese) of the Orthodox Church of Greece – The Metropolis of Piraeus organized the show of the documentary film “One Day in the Life of the monastery” in the Church of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica.
In addition to these two documentary films, the project «Anyha – TV» filmed:
1) “Church Service in the Cathedral of St. Panteleimon of the New Athos monastery “- 28,815 views;
2) Seven interviews of Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) about the history of Christianity in Abkhazia and the history of the temple in the village of Kulanirkhua – 7,446 views.
IN TOTAL: 462,920 views.
The report on the activities of the department of social service and charity of HMA for 2013-2016 will be presented by the Head of the Department Hierodeacon David (Sarsaniya).
From 2011 to May 2016 The New Athos monastery, where the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia is placed, has been attended by a large number of official delegations and guests from the following countries: the Russian Federation, Italy, Greece, Turkey, England, France, Belgium, Serbia, Germany, Eritrea, South Korea and other countries.
An excursion along the New Athos Monastery was organized for all the delegations and guests. All guests got books and CD disks about the history of Christianity in Abkhazia in Russian and English.
Financial report on income and expenditure of HMA for 2011-2015 will be presented by Hierodeacon David (Sarsaniya).
XIII. LIST OF STAFF OF HMA ON MAY 2016
1.Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar), the Chairman of the Council of HMA, the head of the Publishing Department of HMA, the main editor of the religious and educational magazine of HMA “Alasharbaga”, the Chairman of the cultural and educational center “Aduney”
2.Hierodeacon David (Sarsaniya), the second vice-chairman of the Council of HMA, a steward of the monastery of Simon the Canaanite and the head of the Department of social service and charity of HMA
May 15, 2015