THE HOLY SYNOD OF ST. ATHANASIUS CONGREGATION
FOR EGYPTIAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN CHRISTIANS ORTHODOX
ON THE NATURE AND CONSTITUTIVE PRINCIPLES OF THE HSSAC
ON THE NATURE OF THE HSSAC
Article 1: IDENTITY
1. The Holy Synod of St. Athanasius Congregation for Egyptian and Middle Eastern Christians Orthodox ( HSSAC) is a community of Christians comprising an autonomous reformed Orthodox Church, founded in the United State of America.
2. The church holds itself to be fully Christian and fully Orthodox, maintaining the seven sacraments and apostolic succession.
3. It has established spiritual, educational and social programs designed to feed those who are in need. Its dedication courage and love of service to Christ is through serving His people.
4. His Grace, Archbishop Maximus I is the Presiding Hierarch of the HSSAC, who was consecrated by the Metropolitans of the Holy Synod of the American Diaspora in America of True Orthodox Christians canonically established through the Old Calendar Greek Tradition
ON THE CONSTITUTIVE PRINCIPLES OF HSSAC
Article 2: BELIEFS AND ORGANIZATIONS
1. The Holy Synod of St . Athanasius Congregation for Egyptians and Middle Eastern Christians Orthodox HSSAC beliefs that the church is One because it is one with its founder, Jesus Christ and in His mystical body is one with all believers.
2. It is Holy because Christ is Holy and sanctifies the church by his continuing presence in the sacraments and his work.
3. It is Catholic as it is universal as being open to all races, all sexes and all nationalities.
4. It is apostolic because it is linked to the faith, teachings and authority of the Apostles and the Early Fathers of the church both sacramentally and historically through the apostolic succession of the bishops and clergy.
5. HSSAC accepts the Nicene, Apostles and Athanasian creeds and observes seven sacraments((Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Penance, Unction, Ordination, Matrimony ).
6. HSSAC Practices open communion for all Christians who acknowledge the real presence of Christ in Eucharist.
1-Article 3: ON THE CHURCH
1. We recognize that the Local Church is the visible and sacramental reality in which is made present the totality of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, established by Jesus Christ.
2. By “Local Church” we understand the people of God organized as a communion of communities that:
a. Professes the faith in accordance with the witness of the Holy Scriptures and the Ecumenical Creeds and Confessions.
b. Observes the liturgy through prayer and the sacramental life, reaching its culmination in the celebration of the Eucharist.
c. Gives evidence of the reality of the Gospel such as fruit of the experience of the gifts of the Spirit that give new life and the capacity to love.
d. Recognizes, as the visible sign of its unity, the bishop who in synodical form presides over it, with the participation of the presbytery and of all the people of God.
e. Through the bishop is in communion with other local churches.
Article 4: ON THE SACRAMENTALITY OF THE CHURCH IN GENERAL AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS
1. We accept and administer the sacraments of Baptism, of Confirmation, of the Eucharist, of Reconciliation, of the Anointing of the Sick, of Holy Orders, and of Marriage.
2. We believe, consonant with the tradition of the undivided Church, that the validity and efficacy of each of the sacraments participates in and expresses the sacramentality of the whole Church.
3. Given that the Local Church is where this sacramentality is expressed, the sacraments find their true significance and efficacy solely when they are administered within and for the edification of the Local Church.
4. Each Ecclesiastical Province is able to determine its own ritual for the celebration of the sacraments in accordance with the situation and cultural context in which it lives, provided that:
a. All the elements believed to be essential for the valid celebration of the same are maintained in their entirety, in accord with the Orthodox tradition, Catholic as well as Latin.
b. The introduction of ambiguous elements is carefully avoided in order not to fall into any form of syncretism and to maintain the Christian tradition in its purity.
5. The following are recognized as ministers who may validly administer the sacraments:
a. For the Sacrament of Baptism: the bishop, the priest and the deacon are the ordinary ministers; the extraordinary minister, in case of grave necessity, is any baptized Christian.
b. For the Sacrament of Confirmation: ordinarily the minister is the bishop. By exception, it can be delegated to a priest so that it may be carried out.
c. For the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance: only the bishop and priest are the authorized and competent ministers.
d. For the Sacrament of the Eucharist: only the bishop and priest are the authorized and competent ministers.
e. For the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick: only the bishop and priest are the authorized and competent ministers.
f. For the Sacrament of Ordination: only the bishop is the authorized and competent minister.
g. For the Sacrament of Marriage: the ministers are the bride and the bridegroom who publicly express their consent. In order to express the consent validly, there is the need for qualified witnesses. Official witnesses are the bishop, the priest and the deacon. In extraordinary cases, when the presence of an ordained minister is impossible for a prolonged period of time, two faithful members of the Church can be witnesses so that matrimonial consent may be validly expressed.
Article 5: ON THE EUCHARIST
1. We acknowledge the Eucharist to be the center and culmination of the Church’s worship.
2. In celebrating it, the local church becomes actual and concrete as the sacramental presence of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
3. We steadfastly believe that by the action of the Holy Spirit within the Eucharistic celebration, presided by the bishop or a priest, the bread and wine are, through the Anamnesis and the Epiclesis, sacramentally transformed, in reality and in efficacy, into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
4. We confess that although Christ was offered once for all time as the expiatory sacrifice for all humanity on the altar of the cross, nevertheless the Eucharist is a true sacrifice because in it the one sacrifice of Christ not only is commemorated but also is actualized and, by the action of the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God is made present, and the new creation of love and communion continues to manifest itself in the history and the life of our communities.
Article 6: ON THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS
1. The sacrament of Holy Orders has three levels: as deacon, as priest, and as bishop.
2. It is indispensable that one be ordained on the lower level in order to be able validly to receive a higher level of the sacrament of Holy Orders.
3. Consonant with the ancient tradition of the undivided Church, HSSAC acknowledges that only Christians of the male gender can be validly ordained as deacons, priests and bishops.
Article 7: ON THE ESSENTIAL CONCEPT OF APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION
1. Our intent is to acknowledge and commit ourselves fully to the concept of the Apostolic Succession, as it was accepted by the Apostolic Tradition and practiced by the undivided Church during the first millennium.
2. For this reason, we believe that the Local Church, as the People of God, that is structured in synodical and participatory form, with the diversity of gifts and ministries, among which there is the ordained ministry, comprising deacons, priests and the bishop, is decisive for understanding the full implications, the exercise and the transmission of the apostolic succession.
3. The ordained ministry can never be understood as something that is above the community, but rather as a gift that, granted by the Holy Spirit, is discerned by the community and is at its service and for its edification.
4. From this it follows that the ministerial capacity that comes from ordination as deacon, priest or bishop cannot be exercised as a personal power or privilege in an autonomous or, to any extent whatsoever, arbitrary way; but that the sacramental validity of the ministry is subject to its being practiced within an ecclesiastical context that reflects everything to which the New Testament witnesses and was actualized in the early Church.
5. In the event of transmitting the Apostolic Succession in an Episcopal Consecration, it is indispensable:
a. For the candidate to have been elected synodically by the People of God and the Presbytery that comprise a legitimately constituted and recognized Local Church, for the purposes of presiding over it, supporting it in its life of faith, and linking it in communion with other Local Churches.
b. That the Primate Bishop, along with the other bishops that comprise the Ecclesiastical Province in which the Local Church is located, ratify the election that has been carried out lawfully by the Local Church.
c. That the College of Bishops that ratified the election proceeds to the Consecration of the bishop, consecrating him according to the ritual legitimately approved by this Ecclesiastical Province.
d. That in the ritual of consecration all that is associated with the laying on of hands, with the consecrating prayers and with other elements believed to be essential for the Orthodox tradition.
Article 8: ON THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE
1. HSSAC acknowledges that the sacrament of marriage is the public and solemn covenant that is brought about between a man and a woman.
2. The matrimonial covenant has the purpose of establishing the exclusive and permanent communion of life for the spouses, with the view of forming a family.
3. The sacrament of marriage takes place through the mutual consent of the couple, lawfully manifested and confirmed by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.
Article 9: ON THE COMMUNION OF THE LOCAL CHURCH WITH OTHER CHURCHES
1. We believe that as a result of its universal dimension, every Local Church, while maintaining its essential autonomy, necessarily implied in its apostolicity, is called to be in organic and interdependent communion with other Local Churches.
2. Every Local Church is a member of an Ecclesiastical Province, which recognizes one bishop as bishop primate.
3. The bishops that preside over churches within an Ecclesiastical Province form a college of bishops.
4. The Ecclesiastical Provinces can be organized into Higher Bodies, each of which is a communion of provinces.
5. Each Local Church, Ecclesiastical Province and Higher Body must have as its concern and goal to achieve the ecumenical unity of all Local Churches. To that end, it is indispensable that an ecumenical sensibility be maintained and initiatives started that promote dialogue and lead toward achieving a visible and organic unity, capable of reflecting and witnessing to the fundamental and unbreakable unity that, by the action of the Holy Spirit, exists in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Article 10: ON THE REGULATIONS OF HSSAC
1. We acknowledge that in order to be able to hold to, live by and implement the Constitutive Principles of HSSAC, it is necessary for there exist a set of rules and regulatory operating procedures.
2. It is on this basis that the regulations of HSSAC are developed, which must therefore be considered to be the Constitutive Principles in a concrete form, and as such are binding on all the member churches.
REGULATIONS OF HSSAC
Article 11: ON THE FUNDAMENTAL EQUALITY OF ALL THE MEMBER CHURCHES
1. HSSAC is a communion of Orthodox Apostolic Churches, in which all the member churches are recognized as equals.
Article 12: ON THE CONCEPT OF A MEMBER CHURCH
1. The reference to the Church is to be understood as referring to the Local Church, presided over and represented by a bishop or by one who on a temporary basis exercises his functions, in accord with what is laid out in the present Constitution (cf. Articles 3 and 4).
2. Each member Local Church is in communion with other Local Churches, being joined together in an Ecclesiastical Province, and, in certain cases, also in a Higher Body, constituted in a legitimate, public, binding and permanent form.
3. All the bishops that preside over Local Churches have to belong to the College of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province and also of the Higher Body, if there is one, to which the Local Church would be linked.
Article 13: ON THE THEOLOGY OF THE CHURCH
1. Orthodox Christians all over the world believe in a God who is both three and one (triune). The Father is the cause or origin of the Godhead, from whom the Son is begotten eternally and also from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally.
2. The Holy Trinity is three, distinct, divine persons (hypotases), without overlap or modality among them, who share one divine essence (ousia)—uncreated, immaterial and eternal. Orthodox doctrine regarding the Holy Trinity is summarized in the Symbol of faith.
3. In discussing God’s relationship to his creation, Orthodoxy used the concept of a distinction between God’s eternal essence which is totally transcendent and his uncreated energies which is how he reaches us. It is also necessary to understand that this is an artificial distinction, not a real one. The God who is transcendent and the God who touches us are one and the same.
4. The Resurrection of Christ is the central event in the liturgical year of the Orthodox Church and is understood in literal terms as a real historical event. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was crucified and died, descended into Hell (Hades in Greek), rescued all the souls held there through sin; and then, because Hell could not restrain the infinite God, rose from the dead, thus saving all mankind.
5. Through these events, he released mankind from the bonds of Hell and then came back to the living as man and God. That each individual human may partake of this immortality, which would have been impossible without the Resurrection, is the main promise held out by God in his New Testament with mankind, according to Orthodox Christian tradition.
2-BIBLE, HOLY TRADITION, AND THE PATRISTIC CONSENSUS
1. The Orthodox Church considers itself to be the historical and organic continuation of the original Church founded by Christ and His apostles.
2. The faith taught by Jesus to the apostles, given life by the Holy Spirit at Pentacost, and passed down to future generations uncorrupted, is known as Holy Tradition.
3. The primary and authoritative witness to Holy Tradition is the Bible, texts written or approved by the apostles to record revealed truth and the early history of the Church.
4. Because of the Bible’s inspired origin, it is regarded as central to the life of the Church.
5. The Bible is always interpreted within the context of Holy Tradition, which gave birth to it and canonized it.
6. Other witnesses to Holy Tradition include the liturgy of the Church, is iconography, the rulings of the Ecumenical Councils, and the writings of the Church Fathers.
7. From the consensus of the Fathers (consensus patrum) one may enter more deeply and understand more fully the Church’s life.
8. Individual Fathers are not looked upon as infallible, but rather the whole consensus of them together will give one a proper understanding of the Bible and Christian doctrine.
3- HOLY COMMUNION
1. The Eucharist is at the center of Christianity. In practice, it is the partaking of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the midst of the Divine Liturgy with the rest of the church.
2. The bread and wine are believed to become the genuine Body and Blood of the Christ Jesus through the operation of the Holy Spirit. Communion is given only to baptized.
Article 14: HSSAC’S MINISTRY
1. Our ministry is to reveal the Light of eternity in a dark world void of it. We are light to the world and are here to transfigure and transform it.
2. Our mission is to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all.Now we can see why He identified Himself as the “Lord of the Harvest” (Matthew 9:38 and Luke 10:2).There was His crowning achievement, the joy set before Him and why He had suffered and died. It was the reason He was crucified to restore lost mankind to Himself. He was the Lord of that Harvest and had received an anointing and was now giving to His Church the anointing to reap it. In Luke 10:2, He Said “’The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.'” A “reaping or crop” is not “going” to be ready. It “was already” ripe, and the only hindrance to that reaping were the workers or laborers. This world needs someone to teach it the Word of God.
3. As far as we appear to be climbing this current mountain of revelation and gifts, we can never disqualify the necessity of teaching and preaching His Word. It’s the very reason the glory was given and that divine power was granted–to “be His witnesses.”
4. You become that laborer and you become that harvester and the prophecy of Jesus of a great glorious white harvest continues to be fulfilled and unfolded. His glory will carry you into the white light of His presence, because you “are a city set upon a hill that cannot be hid” and you are the “light of the world.”
OBJECTIVES AND GOALS OF THE HSSAC
Article 15: ON THE GOALS OF HSSAC
1. HSSAC goal is to see people of all nations experiencing a personal relationship with Christ, growing to be more like Him, and serving in a local body of His family.
2. The true church of God is not any particular church building or denomination. The church is the Body of Christ. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
3. The Body of Christ is made up of all believers from the time of Pentecost until the Rapture. Christ established the church during His personal ministry and is its Head (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18). He promised that He would be with it through the ages and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18; Matt. 28:20).
4. The fundamental objective of HSSAC is to promote the communion among all Christ Churches on a global level.
5. To take responsibility, in the case of conflict among the Churches in the communion, for serving as mediator in order to find appropriate solutions.
6. To take responsibility for establishing ecumenical dialogues with other Communions of Churches similar to HSSAC, with the intent of promoting unity among all Christians.
7. To initiate regional and worldwide meetings of various kinds and levels, among the various member Churches.
ON THE DIFFERENT MINISTRIES OF THE HSSAC
Article 16: GOOD SHEPHERD TV NETWORK
1. Good Shepherd TV (GSTV) is a Christian television network headquartered in Pennsylvinia USA.
2. It televises an extensive blend of interdenominational and multi-cultural programs.
3. It broadcasts spiritual and intellectual programs and provides a continuous 24 hours per day, seven days a week stream of Christian broadcasting.
4. IT presents and exhibits the epistle by love as Jesus commanded us and in an applied Christian way.
5. It is an interdenominational channel, welcomes with open arms all churches of God and all believers.
6. A charismatic movement that strongly believes on the presence of the Holy Spirits and its Gifts. It features spiritual, life-enriching, cultural, historical programs and also programs on marriage and family.
7. Committed to produce and air programs that are wholesome, uplifting and inspiring.
8. Reaches Arabs every where in the world in America, Canada, Mexico and soon in the Middle East through the Nile Satellite.
Article 17: ST. ATHANASIUS INSTITUTE FOR PATRISTIC THEOLOGY ( SAI)
1. St Athanasius institute for patristic Theology (SAI) is headquartered in the united states of America.
2. It is a fully accredited and affiliated university, accredited by Oxford Educational Network (OEN).
3. SAI Dean is Archhbishop MaximusI D.D.
4. IT promote the development of scholarly and professional excellence, provide opportunity for personal and spiritual growth, and cultivate personal responsibility and interpersonal effectiveness.
5. Programs are designed to prepare students and scholars for Christian ministry:, parish, chaplaincy, teaching and research ministries.
6. It’s major focus is on Patristics or Patrology. Patrology is the study of Early Christian writers, known as the Church Fathers. The names derive from the Greek pater (father). The period is generally considered to run from the end of New Testament times or end of the Apostolic Age (circa 100 CE) to either 451 CE (the date of the Council of Chalcedon), or to the 8th century Second Council of Nicaea
7. It is in tune with The Tutorial Method which has been used at Oxford for more than 500 years. It is a rigorous, individualized method of learning and is designed with the adult student in mind.
8. The Oxford model emphasizes thinking through a research project and writing. Students are responsible for planning their own time ensuring the requisite work is accomplished.
The Oxford Method has characteristics:
• Students are treated as individuals.
• It is easy to consult with faculty members, even senior ones.
• Independent learning is emphasized as opposed to teaching by the faculty.
• Learning is accomplished through research and writing.
• Students are expected to discuss their written work with their tutors one-on-one.
• Licentiate in Theology & Humane Letters
• Master of Divinity
• Master of Patristic Theology
• Doctor of Divinity
• Doctor of Patristic Theology
Article 18: ON THE OBLIGATIONS OF EACH LOCAL CHURCH, ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE
1. Each Church is committed to keep jealously all the elements that the Apostolic Tradition recognizes as belonging to a Local Church, including its synodical organization and its commitment to evangelization and missions. To that end it will have regulations approved by the respective councils and ratified by the College of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province to which it belongs.
2. Each Local Church is committed:
a. To establish educational programs for candidates to the ordained ministry, complying with the outlines approved by the Ecclesiastical Province.
b. To abstain from ordaining candidates to the deaconate or to the priesthood until it is clear that they have complied with the established programs and have been approved by the responsible authorities of the Local Church so that they may be ordained in accordance with the Statutes established by each Ecclesiastical Province.
3. Each bishop is committed not to participate as consecrator, co-consecrator or even just laying on of hands in the consecration of another bishop, except:
a. When the candidate, duly elected by the Local Church, has been ratified by the College of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province to which it belongs.
b. When he has been requested, if he is a bishop belonging to another College of Bishops, having been legitimately elected and ratified by that College of Bishops.
4- Each bishop promises to abstain from consecrating and from participating by
laying on of hands in the consecration of another bishop in cases not
expressly provided for in items 3 of this article unless he has previously
obtained explicit and written authorization from the Board of Directors of
ON THE ORGANIZATION OF HSSAC
SECTION ONE: BODIES OF COORDINATION
Article 19: ON THE ORGANIZATION OF HSSAC
1. HSSAC is comprised of TWO bodies: The Board of Directors and the Executive Secretariat.
2. The Board of Directors performs the role of a steering or managerial committee.
3. The Executive Secretariat is the body charged to execute the measures of the Board of Directors, and serves as the organ of communication.
SECTION TWO: THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Article 20: ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
1. Formation: It is formed of the President, Officer, Secretary, Treasurer and one member.
2. Meetings: It meets ordinarily 4 times a year. It meets extraordinarily when it is considered appropriate, prior consultation having been made by the President with its members. The functions of the Board of Directors:
a. To fulfill and ensure the fulfillment of the stipulations of the Constitution.
b. To approve any matter that may be submitted for its consideration in relation to administrative or pastoral questions or questions of faith.
c. To revise, contribute to, modify and approve the General Plan of work both of the Board of Directors and of the Executive Secretariat.
d. To initiate activities to expand the programs of HSSAC.
e. To revise and approve the annual budget of the Executive Secretariat.
f. To carry out those other activities that are related to its responsibility.
Article 21: ON THE DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
1. The specific duties and powers of the President of the Board of Directors are:
a. To represent HSSAC in matters in which it has an interest.
b. To preside over the sessions of the Board of Directors.
c. To prepare the agenda of the meetings in coordination with the Secretary.
d. To watch over the smooth functioning of HSSAC, of the Board of Directors and other bodies on which it relies.
e. To cast a deciding vote in cases of a tie during sessions of the Board of Directors.
f. To do whatever else the Board of Directors and the Constitution may determine.
2. The duties and powers of the Officer of the Board of Directors are:
a. To assist the President in carrying out the duties of his office, making to him suggestions that he deems appropriate for HSSAC to run smoothly.
b. To substitute for the President when the latter is indisposed or temporarily absent.
c. To do those other things that the Board of Directors and the Constitution may assign to him.
3. The duties and powers of the Secretary of the Board of Directors are:
a. To make and maintain a record of the acts of the Board of Directors.
b. To write up and, with the President, authorize the acts of the Board of Directors.
c. To publish the agreements of the Board of Directors.
d. To prepare and submit for the approval of the Board of Directors the draft of the biannual report of activities, to be presented to the board.
e. To prepare the background documentation for matters that the meetings of the Board of Directors are to deal with.
f. To prepare and send the announcement for the various meetings sufficiently in advance.
4. The duties and powers of the Treasurer of the Board of Directors are:
a. To collect and maintain the security of HSSAC funds in the form stipulated by the Board of Directors.
b. To authorize with the President the expenditures, approved by the Board of Directors, incurred in the performance of their duties, as well as to authorize payments that are to be made.
c. To prepare the draft of the annual budget and to present it to the Board of Directors at their Ordinary meeting for its final approval.
d. To keep the Board of Directors informed on all matters that fall within the area of his authority.
5. The duties and powers of the other member of the Board of Directors are:
a. To collaborate with the other members of the Board of Directors in carrying out HSSAC affairs.
b. To substitute for officers on the Board of Directors in case of their indisposition, temporary or definitive absence except for the President.
c. Other duties that the present Constitution, the Board of Directors may assign to him.
SECTION FIVE: ON THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARIAT
Article 23: ON THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARIAT
1. The Executive Secretariat is the standing body charged with carrying out the measures of the Board of Directors and is the permanent organ of communication between all the Local Churches and other HSSAC bodies.
2. The Executive Secretariat is directed by the Executive Secretary.
3. The functions of the Executive Secretariat are the following:
a. To carry out the measures decided and ordered by the Board of Directors.
b. To be the permanent office of communication among all the member Churches of HSSAC through means that may be considered appropriate.
c. To make contacts, provide information and monitoring and offer presentations designed to incorporate new members into HSSAC; the incorporation to be carried out according to the procedures stipulated in the present Constitution.
d. To carry on, in the name of HSSAC, relationships and conduct dialogues with Churches, Bodies and Institutions with which HSSAC has a connection or linkage of any sort.
e. To face and resolve the difficulties and questions which emerge in the life of HSSAC or of its members when these are within its powers or, when they are not, to refer them to the competent authority, ensuring that responses and solutions are found quickly and effectively.
f. To organize, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors, meetings, courses, seminars, discussions and other activities that may sharpen the identity and strengthen the mission of HSSAC.
g. When possible and necessary, to make publications of a theological, historical, pastoral or other nature in which the identity and mission of HSSAC are expressed.