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Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk congratulates deputy chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate archpriest Nikolai Balashov on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk congratulates deputy chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate archpriest Nikolai Balashov on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday
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28 December 2021 year 10:08

On December 27, 2021, the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate the metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion congratulated the deputy chairman of the DECR archpriest Nikolai Balashov on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday.

The metropolitan read aloud a congratulatory address which stated:

“Dear reverend Father Nikolai, please accept my heartfelt congratulations on the occasion of your sixty-fifth birthday. Of the years you have lived you have devoted more than thirty of them in service to Christ’s Church as a priest. Beginning in the diocese of Vologda, your pastoral labours continued in the land of Novgorod, and fr om 1998 you have worked at the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, wh ere in various years your have carried out various obediences. You successfully headed the secretariat for inter-Orthodox affairs and foreign institutions of the Russian Orthodox Church, later the secretariat of the DECR MP for inter-Orthodox relations, and since 2009 you have been a deputy chairman of the Department.

You have taken an active part in the work for preparing the Foundations of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, you were the secretary of the Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate for dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. You are a member of the Synodal biblical-theological commission, the commission for parishes adhering to the old rites and for interaction with the Old Believers, and a member of the Imperial Orthodox Society of Palestine.

You have taken part in the preparation and holding of the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2009 and you work prolifically for the Inter-conciliar presence of the Russian Orthodox Church as a member of its praesidium. You are the author of a number of books and articles on the history of the Russian Church, liturgics, ethics and literature.

The success of your multi-faceted activity has been enabled by the education you received at Moscow State University, the Moscow Theological Seminary and the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. For your theological works the degree of doctor of theology has been bestowed upon you.

Your labours in the field of external church relations have been marked by numerous awards by the Russian Orthodox Church and other Local Orthodox Churches.

For your contribution to the cause of preserving and developing spiritual and cultural traditions, for the strengthening of peace and accord among peoples there have been bestowed upon you state awards of the Russian Federation such as the Order of Friendship, the Order of Merit and the Order of Alexander Nevsky.

It is with diligence and a sense of heightened responsibility that you regard the obediences placed upon you by the church hierarchy, and in so doing you show a good example to those who work with you, for which you enjoy the deserved authority of leaders, colleagues and those under you.

You successfully combine your broad church and public activities with pastoral ministry in the Moscow Church of the Resurrection ‘na Uspenskom vrazhke’. The clergy and parishioners see in you a good pastor, a wise counsellor and sympathetic father confessor.

I am pleased that as you approach this milestone in your life you are full of strength and energy. I hope there will be many years of prolific cooperation in the future too. May the Lord grant you bodily health, peace of the soul and constant joy in Christ Jesus. I call God’s blessing down upon you and your labours.”

Addressing Father Nikolai personally, metropolitan Hilarion stated that “I often point you out as an example to our other workers, above all as an example of a conscientious and competent approach towards work. You never fulfill a single task carelessly. You treat every task and every document with the utmost seriousness.”

The metropolitan noted that the area for which Father Nikolai is responsible for is not confined to the position of deputy chairman of the DECR as many people turn to him for answers to many different questions which require a scholarly reasoned opinion on topics concerning inter-Orthodox relations, canon law and many others, and it is for this reason that, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, he is the member of so many commissions and other ecclesiastical bodies.

“You are indeed a very busy person – as the one set directly over you I understand this very well, but I hope that the variety of these ecclesiastical obediences will in no way have a negative effect on your health because I know from my own experience and the experience of others whose lives I have studied that when someone is needed, when he is engaged, it is then that extra energy and resources are to be found,” said the chairman of the DECR.

“May the example of St. Gregory the Theologian serve as an example to you, who dreamed all of his life of dedicating himself to writing in solitude and who said that as soon as he would be free from his labours, then he would devote his entire life to literary works. Yet if we look at his legacy, we see that the most important things that he ever said and wrote were uttered and written in the year and a half when he was archbishop of Constantinople, when he fought against the Arians, when he took back church buildings from them, which is to say when he was most needed,” continued the metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion. “Then the Lord granted to St. Gregory the opportunity to be in those conditions which he desired, and yet he did not do anything of any importance any longer for the Church. He then wrote his memoirs, complaints about the life he had lived, while the most important things – and for which reason we call him the Theologian – were done in that period when he was most needed. The period when you have been needed has lasted far longer. I hope that it will last for a long time yet, that you will be equally successful in your labours and that your workload will not have a negative impact on your health.”

Then metropolitan Hilarion presented Father Nikolai Balashov with the Russian state award of the Order of Alexander Nevsky. The Russian president Vladimir Putin bestowed this award upon the deputy chairman of the DECR for his enormous contribution to the development of international and interdenominational relations and for his many years of conscientious work. In reply, Father Nikolai Balashov thanked metropolitan Hilarion for his warm congratulations and wishes, for his trust and kind disposition towards him.

“Realizing that the increase in years brings not only an increase in a certain experience – good or sad, but inevitably with an objective fading of certain human capabilities, and at the same time, Vladyka, being aware of the inner truth of what you have said, I shall until the last devote my energies to the Holy Church without abnegating the obediences placed upon me, at the same time bearing in my heart the hope that perhaps in the years I have left I will be able to concentrate on that which is most important,” he said.

The ceremony of congratulations was attended by the deputy chairman of the DECR the archbishop of Yerevan and Armenia Leonid, the deputy chairman of the DECR archimandrite Philaret (Bulekov), the secretary of the DECR for inter-Orthodox relations archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, the secretary of the DECR for affairs in the far abroad archpriest Zvonaryov, the secretary of the DECR for inter-Christian relations hieromonk Stephan (Igumnov) and the secretary of the DECR for interreligious relations priest Dimitry Safonov.

DECR Communication Service/

Version: Russian