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Its Declaration of Faith
Constitutions and Canons
(as amended and coded) and
Summary of Proceedings of the First General Synod September, 1921
Historical Notes and Apostolic Succession
Antioch – The First See of St. Peter, Apostle.
Article I. Name.
Sec. 1. The name of this Church, which was organized September 2nd, 1921 is and shall be THE AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.
Sec. 2. The faith of this Church as declared, is ORTHODOX, in conformity with the Orthodox Churches of the East from which its Episcopate is derived.
Membership All Races – Purpose
Sec. 3. The A.O.C. admits to membership and other privileges persons of all races. It seeks particularly to reach out and enfold the millions African descent in both hemispheres.
Autonomous. Controlled by Negroes. Is Independent
Sec. 4. The A.O.C. declares itself to be and is perpetually autonomous, autocephalous and controlled by Negroes. Hence the name, AFRICAN ORTHODOX. In the exercise of its Sovereign rights the A.O.C. is independent of every other Orthodox Eastern Church or Jurisdiction.
Article II. Government and Authority
Sec.1. The government of the African Orthodox Church shall be HIERARCHIAL
Legislative Authority The General Synod
Sec. 2. The general legislation of this Church and the direction of all matters which concern and belong to and affect the Church as a whole, shall be and is vested in its General Synod, subject to its “DECLARATION OF FAITH” and to such Constitution and Canons as it may from time to time adopt.
Executive Supervisory and General Administrative Authority
Sec. 3 (A). The executive supervisory general administrative and supreme authority of the A.O.C. shall be vested in an Archbishop, with the rank and dignity of a PATRIARCH and he shall be designated upon his election by the Conclave or House of Bishops, of which every Bishop of the A.O.C. is a member and must CAST a vote.
The Patriarch, Primates, Bishops and Holy Consistory
(B) The patriarch, Primates, Bishops and Holy Consistory are integral parts of the executive, supervisory and general administration.
Election Confirmed by General Synod, A Life Term
Sec. 4. Notification of the election of the Patriarch and the date, time and place of said election shall be duly given and proclaimed to the Holy Consistory and the General Synod of the A.O.C The term of office of the Patriarch shall be that of his natural life.
Specific Duties Set Forth in Canons
Sec. 5. 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.
Sec. 6. The A.O.C. has jurisdiction in its own name and right in the United States of America and in all the world wherever it may be established.
Sec. 7 (a). The A.O.C. shall be divided into Territories following National or other geographical lines, termed PROVINCES appropriately named, over which the Bishop presiding shall have the rank and title of Archbishop.
(b). The Archbishop presiding over the General Synod of a National Province shall be designated PRIMATE or METROPOLITAN of the same.
Diocese Missionary and Special Jurisdictions
Sec. 8 (a). The Territories of the National Province shall be divided along State or other geographical lines into DIOCESES, MISSIONARY or SPECIAL JURISDICTIONS, over which duly elected and consecrated Bishops shall have executive and administrative authority, subject only to their superiors in office and the General Synod of the A.O.C.
Bishops, Annual Synod. Priests and Lay Deputies from each Congregation
(b) Each such Diocese, Missionary or Special Jurisdiction shall form and establish within its territorial boundary an ANNUAL SYNOD under the jurisdiction of its BISHOP, composed of all the PRIESTS of the A.O.C. resident within its limits and such number of LAY DEPUTIES from each congregation as the Synod shall determine.
( 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.
Dioceses, Diocesan Synod. Name from Principal City
Sec. 9(a) Ten or more contiguous parishes of the A.O.C. being self-supporting, with seven or more priests of this Church each of whom shall be Rector of one of said parishes, may be given the privileges of a diocese by General Synod, from their own Diocesan Synod under the Jurisdiction of a Bishop of this Church, elected by such Synod which shall take its name from the PRINCIPAL CITY located within its territorial limits.
Power to Frame Constitution and Canons. 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. Provision shall be made in the same for the proper maintenance and adequate support of its Bishop.
Missionary and Special Jurisdictions
Sec. 10 (a) The Conclave of Bishops may establish Missionary and Special Jurisdictions with territorial boundaries and elect Bishops therefore, 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.
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.O.C. may become a Diocese, (Sec.9a) in which event the Bishop of the Jurisdiction shall be installed BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE by its Diocesan Synod (Sec. 9b) and adequate provision made for his proper support and maintenance.
Must Elect Same Bishop Holy Consistory Membership Must report to General Synod
Sec.11. Conjointly with the PATRIARCH there shall be a HOLY CONSISTORY of the A.O.C. consisting of the PRIMATES, CONCLAVE OF BISHOPS and such other PRELATES and DIGNITARIES of the Church as the PATRIARCH shall appoint, numbering not more than eighteen (18) nor less than nine subject to call, to assist in the government of the A.O.C. during the period BETWEEN sessions of the General Synod. A report of all these transactions shall be made to the next meeting of the General Synod.
Article III. General Synod
Composition of General Synod
Sec. 1. The General Synod shall be composed of: (a) All Archbishops and Bishops of the A.O.C. in good standing. (b) All Priests of the A.O.C. in good standing. (c) All Lay Officers of General Synod. (d) All Deputies to be elected as provided in the Canons. (e) All persons who attended and voted in the FIRST and SECOND GENERAL SYNODS, and also the SEVENTEENTH GENERAL SYNOD held in September 1937, provided they are still members in
good standing in CHURCH.
Officers of General Synod
Sec. 2. The Officers of General Synod shall be a President, Vice President, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Registrar and Statistician and Historian.
Sec. 3. The President shall be the Patriarch or Bishop of Church designated by him. (b) The Vice President shall be an Archbishop, Bishop or Priest elected by ballot at each regular meeting of the General Synod. (c) The Secretary shall be a Priest with liberty to nominate his assistant. The Assistant may be either of the Clergy or the Laity. (d) The Financial Secretary shall be either a Priest or a Layman. (e) The Treasurer may be either a Priest or Layman. (f) The Chancellor and Vice Chancellor shall be either Bishops or Priests. The Chancellor shall have the privilege to nominate the Vice Chancellor. (g)The Registrar and Statistician and the Historian shall be Priests.
Elected by Ballot
(h) All these Officers shall be elected by ballot at each regular meeting of the General Synod.
Duties of Officers
Sec. 4. 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.
Article IV. MEETING OF GENERAL SYNOD
Regular Time of Meeting
Sec. 1. General Synod shall convene on the last Wednesday in the Month of May in each year, unless for good reason the PATRIARCH shall see fit to make a change, in which case the reason shall be stated and due notice given of the
new date, allowing sufficient time for the DEPUTIES from distant point to arrive.
Sec. 2. The PATRIARCH for urgent reasons, by and with the consent of the HOLY CONSISTORY may on sixty (60) days notice summon an EXTRAORDINARY MEETING of the General Synod.
Sec. 3. 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, that is, every two or three years.
Article V. PROCEEDINGS OF GENERAL SYNOD
Sec. 1. General Synod shall be convened by the PATRIARCH appearing in person, unless hindered by sickness or other unforeseen circumstances, in which case the Senior Bishop in point of consecration in the Province where the General Synod is convened shall preside.
Opening Service Pontifical
Sec. 2. The OPENING SERVICE of general Synod shall be PONTIFICAL, (i.e.) by BISHOPS. If there be a sermon, some noteworthy Priest may be designated to deliver same.
Pontifical Mass and Corporate Communion
Sec. 3. SOLEMN PONTIFICAL MASS and a Corporate Communion of Bishops, Clergy, Lay Deputies and Members attending shall be the Religious feature of each and every General Synod.
Reports from all Officers
Sec. 4. (a) General Synod duly organized shall hear and receive reports from all Officers, including the PATRIARCH, PRIMATES, ARCHBISHOPS, METROPOLITANS, BISHOPS, the Dioceses Missionary and Special Jurisdictions, General Officers, heads of all general Church Organizations,
Domestic and Foreign Missionaries and the Officers of the Special Standing Committees of General Synod. Agenda An AGENDA shall always be issued and used.
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. Freedom of debate shall always be allowed.
Special Sessions of Clergy Only. Concurrence Necessary
Sec. 5. All matters pertaining to Faith, Order, Worship and Discipline shall be presented at a SPECIAL SESSION in which the Clergy alone shall sit and vote, the Bishops and Priests separately, and a majority vote of both Orders shall be necessary for the passage of any measure so voted on.
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.
Increase of Quorum
(b) This number may be increased by legislation at any session of the General Synod.
The Synod Assessment
Sec. 7. AN ANNUAL ASSESSMENT OF TWO DOLLARS ( $2.00) (Years 1936-1937 ?) is ASSESSED EVERY ADULT MEMBER of the A.O.C. and shall be collected and paid into the HEADQUARTERS by the 30th day of April of each and every year.
ARTICLE VI. CONCLAVE OF BISHOPS
Conclave or House of Bishops
Sec. 1. 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.
Duties of Conclave
Sec. 2. The Conclave shall safeguard the Episcopate and the “DECLARATION OF FAITH” and seek communion with other Churches of ORTHODOXY. The Conclave shall assist the PATRIARCH in governing the Church.
Authorization of Archbishops and Bishops
Sec. 3. 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. PETER AT ANTIOCH to THE AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.
Conclave Essential to Life and Work
Sec.4. The Conclave of Bishops constitutes an ESSENTIAL PART in the membership of General Synod and the HOLY CONSISTORY of the A.O.C. for the PRESERVING AND PERPETUATING the LIFE and WORK of the Church.
ARTICLE VII. THE LITURGY
The Liturgy Orthodox
Sec. 1. A standing Commission of which Bishops shall be members, shall prepare and set forth a LITURGY, ORTHODOX IN FAITH, derived from the EASTERN AND WESTERN RITES and published in the ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
Sec. 2. The Liturgy besides the Mass and Propers shall include such other RITES and CEREMONIES as are in use in the A.O.C. in the administration of the SEVEN SACRAMENTS and other RELIGIOUS OFFICES, together with the PSALTER or PSALMS of DAVID.
ARTICLE VIII. THE HYMNAL
Orthodox Hymnal A Standing Commission of which the Bishops shall be members shall compile and publish an ORTHODOX HYMNAL as soon as convenient. Until such publication the hymns ANCIENT AND MODERN shall be the OFFICIAL HYMNAL of THE AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, with the proviso, that the proper Ecclesiastical Authority may, if necessary, authorize the use of another hymnal, not conflicting with the Faith of this Church AND where it is clearly shown that it is for the advancement of the Church.
Priest Responsible at all Times
The PRIEST has charge and shall be responsible for the selection of hymns used in each service.
ARTICLE IX. COLLEGE AND SEMINARY
Orthodox College and Seminary
Sec. 1. A COLLEGE AND SEMINARY shall be founded, duly incorporated and conducted by the learned Dignitaries and Prelates of the Church, together with the aid of competent Priests and Laymen who may be appointed to serve, in which Academic, Collegiate and Theological studies shall be taught.
Courses of Study and Examinations
Sec. 2. Courses of Study shall conform to such as are in general use in institutions in the subjects taken.
Provisions for Candidates for Holy Orders
Sec. 3. Provision shall be made by which ALL CANDIDATES for HOLY ORDERS in this Church, shall receive instructions in the courses of study, or shall prove themselves in possession of knowledge equivalent to the courses of study offered, after a thorough examination.
Degrees. On Whom Conferred
Sec. 4. ACADEMIC, THEOLOGICAL and OTHER DEGREES, both in course and “Honoris Causa” may be conferred on ALUMNI and other PERSONS of distinguished character and learning, who may be presented as worthy and
efficient by the Dean and Chapter, or who have completed examinations in the FULL COURSE of STUDY, with the required average of percentage.
ARTICLE X. RELIGIOUS ORDERS
Religious Orders May Be Organised Control
RELIGIOUS ORDERS of MEN and WOMEN for promoting the life of sacrifice and service towards God, HIS CHURCH and HUMANITY in GENERAL, may be organised with the authority and consent of the PATRIARCH, PRIMATE, DIOCESAN or BISHOP of a Missionary or Special Jurisdiction, who shall have direct and immediate supervision and shall exercise full control of the temporal and spiritual affairs of every such RELIGIOUS ORDER.
ARTICLE XI. PUBLICATIONS
Journal of General Synod Correct List of all Clergy
Sec. 1. The PROCEEDINGS of the General Synod shall be prepared for PUBLICATION by the Secretary, after examination and certification by the President. This journal shall be printed as the OFFICIAL and PERMANENT RECORD of the CHURCH and shall contain a correct list of all its clergy.
Sec. 2. THE AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN, a monthly record of news and information concerning the work and progress of the A.O.C. and its adherents, shall be edited and published as provided for the Canons. Provisions for Expenses Sec. 3. Provision for the necessary expenses incurred shall be made by vote of General Synod.
Article XII. STANDING COMMISSIONS
Sec. 1. There shall be a STANDING COMMISSION and COMMITTEES making report to the General Synod at each meeting on the following: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Constitution and Canons Church Literature Finance Church Extension Episcopate Fund College and Seminary State of the Church Vestments Propaganda
Sec. 2. A MAJORITY of all the members each of the aforementioned Committees a QUORUM for the transaction of business. A proper RECORD of all proceedings and funds shall be kept.
ARTICLE XIII. 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. When presented to the General Synod the Amendment may be adopted by a Two-thirds (2/3) vote of all present and voting. NOTE: - THIS CONSTITUTION AS AMENDED was adopted as a whole on its SECOND READING. THE FIRST READING was at SYNOD IN 1936. THE THIRD READING when this CONSTITUTION was RATIFIED ON ADOPTION AND IMMEDIATELY BECAME LAW, was on TUESDAY, JUNE 6th, 1937 at 01.30 P.M. This CONSTITUTION IS NOW THE ACCEPTED LAW OF THE AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.
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