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To the Delegates of the 34th Annual Diocesan Convention
of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia
July 17 – 19, 2009
Des Plaines, IL

Beloved in the Lord fathers, brothers and sisters – dear spiritual children,

It is a pleasure to greet you paternally on behalf of the Holy Synod and on our behalf on the occasion of your annual 34th diocesan convention, being held on July 17th, 18th and 19th, 2009, in the new and beautiful Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church "St. Sophia" in Des Plaines, IL.

His Eminence, Our brother in the Lord and your bishop, Metropolitan Joseph, gladdened us with the good news that the Very Reverend Archpriest Fr. Gruiou Popdimitrov Tzonkov, a diocesan counselor and parish priest of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church "St. Sophia", Ms. Rosa Gregory, member of the diocesan board of trustees, Mr. Konstantine Jelebinkov, president of the church council and the organizational committee, together with the church council are happy that you have granted them the honor to be hosts and organizers of the youth conference “My Life in Christ,” of the convention of popadias and diaconissas, and most of all of the 34th annual diocesan convention. We hope that under the spiritual protection of St. Sophia, their great efforts will yield fruit and will be appreciated by all delegates, so that your 34th convention will be one of the best so far.

We, who are in Bulgaria, with God's help keep our Orthodox faith, bow down before the greatness of our Creator, strive to have the light of life, and always praise the Lord God and do not forget “all his benefits” (Ps. 102:2).

In the blessed atmosphere of the house of St. John of Rila, the Miracle-worker, we concluded the 6th Ecclesiastical Council, which accepted the changes and additions to the Charter of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, already in effect since the beginning of 2009.

We diligently make efforts to introduce the subject Religion as an "Orthodox Religion" class in the Bulgarian schools.

According to our abilities, we make our contribution in establishing firmly the Bulgarian spiritual tradition among the Bulgarian Orthodox people, in the keeping of its moral value system, and in the preservation of our national culture.

During March this year in Sofia, at the decision of the Holy Synod, representatives of the Orthodox autocephalous churches met for a working session - a natural continuation of the Holy Expanded Above-Jurisdictional Pan-Orthodox Council in 1998. We gladly offer our prayerful gratitude to all representatives of the local Orthodox churches, who firmly expressed their full support to the canonical Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

It is our consolation that in these uneasy times of financial crisis and moral degradation throughout the world, you stand firm in our right faith, gather together to encourage each other, think over important life and church matters, and that, of course, in the end you will make wise decisions for the good of the diocese and its parish churches, monasteries and missions in the three large-in-territory countries.

Moreover, you have a rich experience. With God's mercy, two years ago, you celebrated the 100th anniversary since the foundation of the first Bulgarian church in Granite City, IL. In September, you will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Macedonian-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church “Holy Annunciation” in Steelton, PA. And next year is the turn of the hundred-year old Macedonian-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox cathedral "Sts. Kiril and Metodii" in Toronto, Canada, to celebrate its anniversary.

All this urges us to encourage you paternally not to despond, but to look ahead. You are Christ's disciples. Do not be afraid of anyone or anything in the world. Follow the Lord, and He will make you fishers of men. And moreover you will be recognized by Him before the Heavenly Father. He will be with you, the chosen disciples of Jesus, on the road of the great self-denial so that you may show to the so-called New World the power with which you are endued from on high (Lk. 24: 49). And if you suffer, do not curse but bless (Rom. 12: 14). Like the apostles, "depart from the presence of the council, rejoicing" that you are counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 5:41). For it is beyond human power to suffer and to die with joy and blessing. We pray that you remain strong.

The strongest are those who rejoice when they suffer and who bless the suffering. The strongest are those who do not die in death, because they know that even if they die, they will live (John 11: 25).

Therefore, become apostles! Become fishers of men! May your nets be like Christ's, woven from the bright spiritual rays of purity. You will be able to transform spiritually the people only by the power of Christ’s nets. Only by imitating Christ can we reach true humanity. In that quest, may your ideal be the God-man, Who achieved the fullness of humanity. May He also be the helmsman of your diocesan church.

May God's blessing be upon you and the 34th diocesan convention.

+ Maxim, Patriarch of Bulgaria

Convention Meetings
On Friday evening are the Working Meetings of the convention, these include: Mixed Council Meeting, Sisterhood Meeting, Financial/Trustees Meeting and the Presidents & Vice Presidents Meeting.
The Working Meetings are followed by the Combined Meeting in preparation for the main Convention Meeting with all the delegates from the parishes on Saturday.
His Eminence adresses the Combined Meeting
His Eminence adresses the Combined Meeting
His Eminence adresses the Combined Meeting
Fr. Stevan Bauman speaking to the Combined Meeting
Fr. Stevan Bauman speaking to the Combined Meeting
Fr. Stevan Bauman speaking to the Combined Meeting
The last meeting on Friday night is the Diocesan Clergy Meeting.

Panorama of convention meeting
His Eminence giving the State of the Diocese address
His Eminence giving the State of the Diocese address
His Eminence giving the State of the Diocese address
Dr. Atannas Pumpalov delivering the Annual Financial Report
Dr. Atannas Pumpalov delivering the Annual Financial Report
Dr. Atannas Pumpalov delivering the Annual Financial Report

Reports to the Convention

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