The African Orthodox Church

Its Declaration of Faith

Constitutions and Canons
(as amended and coded) and

with a

Summary of Proceedings of the First General Synod September, 1921

Historical Notes and Apostolic Succession

Antioch – The First See of St. Peter, Apostle.

which was organized September 2nd. The A. is ORTHODOX. 2 . Article II. The name of this Church. in conformity with the Orthodox Churches of the East from which its Episcopate is derived. Name Sec. 1921 is and shall be THE AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.1. declares itself to be and is perpetually autonomous.C. Autonomous.C. It seeks particularly to reach out and enfold the millions African descent in both hemispheres. AFRICAN ORTHODOX.C. shall be and is vested in its General Synod. The general legislation of this Church and the direction of all matters which concern and belong to and affect the Church as a whole. 1. The A.Constitution Article I. 2. In the exercise of its Sovereign rights the A. The faith of this Church as declared. Controlled by Negroes. Faith Orthodox Sec.O. Government and Authority Hierarchy Sec. 3.O. autocephalous and controlled by Negroes. subject to its “DECLARATION OF FAITH” and to such Constitution and Canons as it may from time to time adopt. Name. Membership All Races – Purpose Sec. Is Independent Sec. 2.O. Hence the name. The government of the African Orthodox Church shall be HIERARCHIAL Legislative Authority The General Synod Sec. is independent of every other Orthodox Eastern Church or Jurisdiction. admits to membership and other privileges persons of all races. 4.

C The term of office of the Patriarch shall be that of his natural life.O.O. Bishops and Holy Consistory (B) The patriarch. with the rank and dignity of a PATRIARCH and he shall be designated upon his election by the Conclave or House of Bishops. has jurisdiction in its own name and right in the United States of America and in all the world wherever it may be established. termed PROVINCES appropriately named. Archbishop Metropolitan (b).O. shall be divided into Territories following National or other geographical lines.O. over which the Bishop presiding shall have the rank and title of Archbishop.Executive Supervisory and General Administrative Authority Sec. shall be vested in an Archbishop. The executive supervisory general administrative and supreme authority of the A. 3 (A). The A. Jurisdiction Sec. The A. Specific Duties Set Forth in Canons Sec.C.C.C.O. of which every Bishop of the A. is a member and must CAST a vote. Primates. time and place of said election shall be duly given and proclaimed to the Holy Consistory and the General Synod of the A. 5. Provinces Sec. Notification of the election of the Patriarch and the date. Election Confirmed by General Synod. supervisory and general administration. A Life Term Sec. Primates. The Archbishop presiding over the General Synod of a National Province shall be designated PRIMATE or METROPOLITAN of the same. 6. Bishops and Holy Consistory are integral parts of the executive. 3 . 4. The specific duties of the Patriarch shall be those set forth in the Canon or Canons of the General Synod of the African Orthodox Church. 7 (a).C. The Patriarch.

C. being self-supporting.Diocese Missionary and Special Jurisdictions Sec. Name from Principal City Sec. Annual Synod. MISSIONARY or SPECIAL JURISDICTIONS.C. 8 (a). Diocesan Synod. elected by such Synod which shall take its name from the PRINCIPAL CITY located within its territorial limits. The Territories of the National Province shall be divided along State or other geographical lines into DIOCESES. subject only to their superiors in office and the General Synod of the A. Bishops.O. composed of all the PRIESTS of the A. 9(a) Ten or more contiguous parishes of the A. Power to Frame Constitution and Canons. with seven or more priests of this Church each of whom shall be Rector of one of said parishes.O. Enact Canons ( c ) Each such jurisdiction shall enact CANONS for its government under the direction of its Bishop not conflicting with the Constitution and Canons of the General Synod. resident within its limits and such number of LAY DEPUTIES from each congregation as the Synod shall determine.O. Missionary or Special Jurisdiction shall form and establish within its territorial boundary an ANNUAL SYNOD under the jurisdiction of its BISHOP. Dioceses. may be given the privileges of a diocese by General Synod. Provision shall be made in the same for the proper maintenance and adequate support of its Bishop. over which duly elected and consecrated Bishops shall have executive and administrative authority. Provisions for Support of Bishop (b) Each DIOCESAN SYNOD shall have power to frame a Constitution and Canons for its own government not conflicting with the Constitution and Canons of the General Synod. Missionary and Special Jurisdictions 4 . from their own Diocesan Synod under the Jurisdiction of a Bishop of this Church.C. Priests and Lay Deputies from each Congregation (b) Each such Diocese.

in good standing.C. (d) All Deputies to be elected as provided in the Canons. and also the SEVENTEENTH GENERAL SYNOD held in September 1937. numbering not more than eighteen (18) nor less than nine subject to call. in good standing. The General Synod shall be composed of: (a) All Archbishops and Bishops of the A.O.C.C. during the period BETWEEN sessions of the General Synod. Conjointly with the PATRIARCH there shall be a HOLY CONSISTORY of the A. the PATRIARCH or PRIMATE assenting thereto in writing and under his official seal after adequate provision has been made for the proper support and maintenance of such Bishop.O.O.9a) in which event the Bishop of the Jurisdiction shall be installed BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE by its Diocesan Synod (Sec. Missionary or Special Jurisdiction Qualifying May Become Diocese (b) Any Missionary or Special Jurisdiction qualifying as to growth of selfsupporting parishes and fulfilling all other provisions of the Constitution and Canons of the A. may become a Diocese. consisting of the PRIMATES. (e) All persons who attended and voted in the FIRST and SECOND GENERAL SYNODS. Article III. provided they are still members in 5 . CONCLAVE OF BISHOPS and such other PRELATES and DIGNITARIES of the Church as the PATRIARCH shall appoint.11. to assist in the government of the A.O. General Synod Composition of General Synod Sec. Must Elect Same Bishop Holy Consistory Membership Must report to General Synod Sec.C. (Sec.O. 1. 10 (a) The Conclave of Bishops may establish Missionary and Special Jurisdictions with territorial boundaries and elect Bishops therefore.C.Sec. 9b) and adequate provision made for his proper support and maintenance. A report of all these transactions shall be made to the next meeting of the General Synod. (c) All Lay Officers of General Synod. (b) All Priests of the A.

Financial Secretary. unless for good reason the PATRIARCH shall see fit to make a change. Officers Sec. (f) The Chancellor and Vice Chancellor shall be either Bishops or Priests. (c) The Secretary shall be a Priest with liberty to nominate his assistant. Assistant Secretary. Bishop or Priest elected by ballot at each regular meeting of the General Synod. Vice President. Elected by Ballot (h) All these Officers shall be elected by ballot at each regular meeting of the General Synod. Secretary. The Assistant may be either of the Clergy or the Laity. MEETING OF GENERAL SYNOD Regular Time of Meeting Sec. General Synod shall convene on the last Wednesday in the Month of May in each year. Duties of Officers Sec. The Officers of General Synod shall be a President. The President shall be the Patriarch or Bishop of Church designated by him. (d) The Financial Secretary shall be either a Priest or a Layman. Article IV. 4. (e) The Treasurer may be either a Priest or Layman. 2. Registrar and Statistician and Historian. 1. the AFRICAN ORTHODOX Officers of General Synod Sec. 3. Chancellor. Vice Chancellor. The DUTIES of said several Officers shall be those usually pertaining to their respective offices and such others as may be prescribed by the Canons. in which case the reason shall be stated and due notice given of the 6 . (g)The Registrar and Statistician and the Historian shall be Priests. (b) The Vice President shall be an Archbishop. The Chancellor shall have the privilege to nominate the Vice Chancellor.good standing in CHURCH. Treasurer.

(i. in which case the Senior Bishop in point of consecration in the Province where the General Synod is convened shall preside. 4. 2. METROPOLITANS. (a) General Synod duly organized shall hear and receive reports from all Officers. If there be a sermon. that is. 1. Clergy. 3. Reports from all Officers Sec. unless hindered by sickness or other unforeseen circumstances. The PATRIARCH for urgent reasons. Other Changes Sec. date. ARCHBISHOPS. 7 . Article V. the Dioceses Missionary and Special Jurisdictions. General Synod shall be convened by the PATRIARCH appearing in person. allowing sufficient time for the DEPUTIES from distant point to arrive.) by BISHOPS. heads of all general Church Organizations. Pontifical Mass and Corporate Communion Sec. PROCEEDINGS OF GENERAL SYNOD Proceedings Sec. The PATRIARCH by and with the consent of the HOLY CONSISTORY may change the meeting of GENERAL SYNOD from Annually to Bi-annually or Tri-annually. PRIMATES. Extra Meeting Sec.e. Opening Service Pontifical Sec. The OPENING SERVICE of general Synod shall be PONTIFICAL. by and with the consent of the HOLY CONSISTORY may on sixty (60) days notice summon an EXTRAORDINARY MEETING of the General Synod. Lay Deputies and Members attending shall be the Religious feature of each and every General Synod. 3. 2. including the PATRIARCH. General Officers. SOLEMN PONTIFICAL MASS and a Corporate Communion of Bishops. some noteworthy Priest may be designated to deliver same. every two or three years.

the Bishops and Priests separately. ARTICLE VI. 5.C. CONCLAVE OF BISHOPS Conclave or House of Bishops 8 . Increase of Quorum (b) This number may be increased by legislation at any session of the General Synod.Domestic and Foreign Missionaries and the Officers of the Special Standing Committees of General Synod. Parliamentary Usage and Freedom of Debate (b) General Synod shall debate and vote as a general body according to such parliamentary rules as may be adopted. Concurrence Necessary Sec.O.00) (Years 1936-1937 ?) is ASSESSED EVERY ADULT MEMBER of the A. and shall be collected and paid into the HEADQUARTERS by the 30th day of April of each and every year. Freedom of debate shall always be allowed. Special Sessions of Clergy Only. All matters pertaining to Faith. and a majority vote of both Orders shall be necessary for the passage of any measure so voted on. Quorum Sec. AN ANNUAL ASSESSMENT OF TWO DOLLARS ( $2. The Synod Assessment Sec. 6 (a) Seven Priests and seven Lay Deputies together with the President of the General Synod shall constitute a QUORUM for the transaction of business. Agenda An AGENDA shall always be issued and used. 7. Order. Worship and Discipline shall be presented at a SPECIAL SESSION in which the Clergy alone shall sit and vote.

together with the PSALTER or PSALMS of DAVID. The Conclave shall assist the PATRIARCH in governing the Church. 3. derived from the EASTERN AND WESTERN RITES and published in the ENGLISH LANGUAGE. A standing Commission of which Bishops shall be members. for the PRESERVING AND PERPETUATING the LIFE and WORK of the Church. Archbishops and Bishops of The African Orthodox Church are AUTHORIZED TO MAINTAIN MEMBERSHIP IN THE CONCLAVE OF THE AMERICAN CATHOLIC CHURCH THROUGH WHICH THE EPISCOPATE was transmitted from the APOSTOLIC SEE OF ST. Contents Sec. shall prepare and set forth a LITURGY. ARTICLE VII. The Conclave of Bishops constitutes an ESSENTIAL PART in the membership of General Synod and the HOLY CONSISTORY of the A.C. THE LITURGY The Liturgy Orthodox Sec. 2. Conclave Essential to Life and Work Sec. 2. ORTHODOX IN FAITH. PETER AT ANTIOCH to THE AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.O. The Conclave shall safeguard the Episcopate and the “DECLARATION OF FAITH” and seek communion with other Churches of ORTHODOXY. Authorization of Archbishops and Bishops Sec. THE HYMNAL 9 . Duties of Conclave Sec. All Bishops of this Church shall be members of the CONCLAVE OR HOUSE OF BISHOPS of which the PATRIARCH or in the absence the Senior Bishop in point of consecration in the Province shall preside. 1. in the administration of the SEVEN SACRAMENTS and other RELIGIOUS OFFICES. 1.C.O. The Liturgy besides the Mass and Propers shall include such other RITES and CEREMONIES as are in use in the A.4. ARTICLE VIII.Sec.

Priest Responsible at all Times The PRIEST has charge and shall be responsible for the selection of hymns used in each service. Degrees. Courses of Study shall conform to such as are in general use in institutions in the subjects taken. in which Academic. duly incorporated and conducted by the learned Dignitaries and Prelates of the Church.Orthodox Hymnal A Standing Commission of which the Bishops shall be members shall compile and publish an ORTHODOX HYMNAL as soon as convenient. On Whom Conferred Sec. 3. 1. 4. together with the aid of competent Priests and Laymen who may be appointed to serve. authorize the use of another hymnal. shall receive instructions in the courses of study. both in course and “Honoris Causa” may be conferred on ALUMNI and other PERSONS of distinguished character and learning. with the proviso. Courses of Study and Examinations Sec. ACADEMIC. or shall prove themselves in possession of knowledge equivalent to the courses of study offered. ARTICLE IX. if necessary. THEOLOGICAL and OTHER DEGREES. COLLEGE AND SEMINARY Orthodox College and Seminary Sec. that the proper Ecclesiastical Authority may. Until such publication the hymns ANCIENT AND MODERN shall be the OFFICIAL HYMNAL of THE AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. after a thorough examination. Collegiate and Theological studies shall be taught. who may be presented as worthy and 10 . Provision shall be made by which ALL CANDIDATES for HOLY ORDERS in this Church. A COLLEGE AND SEMINARY shall be founded. not conflicting with the Faith of this Church AND where it is clearly shown that it is for the advancement of the Church. 2. Provisions for Candidates for Holy Orders Sec.

3. ARTICLE X. ARTICLE XI.efficient by the Dean and Chapter. PRIMATE. DIOCESAN or BISHOP of a Missionary or Special Jurisdiction. Article XII. or who have completed examinations in the FULL COURSE of STUDY. 2. Provision for the necessary expenses incurred shall be made by vote of General Synod. Provisions for Expenses Sec. may be organised with the authority and consent of the PATRIARCH. RELIGIOUS ORDERS Religious Orders May Be Organised Control RELIGIOUS ORDERS of MEN and WOMEN for promoting the life of sacrifice and service towards God. PUBLICATIONS Journal of General Synod Correct List of all Clergy Sec. who shall have direct and immediate supervision and shall exercise full control of the temporal and spiritual affairs of every such RELIGIOUS ORDER. THE AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN. This journal shall be printed as the OFFICIAL and PERMANENT RECORD of the CHURCH and shall contain a correct list of all its clergy. STANDING COMMISSIONS Standing Committees 11 . 1. Orthodox Churchman Sec. HIS CHURCH and HUMANITY in GENERAL. and its adherents. The PROCEEDINGS of the General Synod shall be prepared for PUBLICATION by the Secretary.O. after examination and certification by the President. with the required average of percentage. shall be edited and published as provided for the Canons.C. a monthly record of news and information concerning the work and progress of the A.

2. This CONSTITUTION IS NOW THE ACCEPTED LAW OF THE AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. ARTICLE XIII.30 P. 9. AMENDMENTS Amendment of Constitution ALL AMENDMENTS to this CONSTITUTION shall be submitted in writing to the STANDING COMMITTEE on CONSTITUTION AND CANONS to be presented to the current meeting of the General Synod. 8. 6. A proper RECORD of all proceedings and funds shall be kept. There shall be a STANDING COMMISSION and COMMITTEES making report to the General Synod at each meeting on the following: 1. 5. 1937 at 01. JUNE 6th. NOTE: .THIS CONSTITUTION AS AMENDED was adopted as a whole on its SECOND READING. THE FIRST READING was at SYNOD IN 1936. 12 . THE THIRD READING when this CONSTITUTION was RATIFIED ON ADOPTION AND IMMEDIATELY BECAME LAW. A MAJORITY of all the members each of the aforementioned Committees a QUORUM for the transaction of business. 4. 2.Sec. was on TUESDAY. When presented to the General Synod the Amendment may be adopted by a Two-thirds (2/3) vote of all present and voting.M. Constitution and Canons Church Literature Finance Church Extension Episcopate Fund College and Seminary State of the Church Vestments Propaganda Majority Quorum Sec. 1. 7. 3.

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