Diocese of New England
Orthodox Church in America
Diocesan Guidelines for Choir Directors
In a perfect world, the vision of the Church as the presence in this world of the Kingdom of God would be a common vision, shared by all the members of the Church. Parish Rectors and Choir Directors would both have that vision and manifest it in the conducting of Divine Services. However, since this world is fallen and sinful, and since we are enjoined by Saint Paul to do all things “decently and in order,” and since the final day-to-day responsibility for Divine Services rests with the Parish Rector alone, it seems good to us, by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, to publish the following guidelines for Choir Directors, which will now be the accepted norm for our Diocese.

All choir directors are to be members of the Orthodox Church. By its very nature, this membership necessitates a regular and disciplined communion of the Eucharist.

To be a choir director in a specific parish of the Diocese of New England, Orthodox Church in America, the person actively engaged in this ministry must be a member of this specific parish. Furthermore, as the choir director performs a valuable parish ministry, he/she is assigned or attached to said specific parish by the Diocesan Bishop. The choir director is to be a person above reproach.

The Rector has the final word and makes all final decisions concerning the specifics of liturgical services, including the musical repertoire, considering the input of the choir director. The choir director is to be obedient to the Diocesan Bishop and the Parish Rector.

The choir director shall possess a basic knowledge of the dogmas and teachings of the Orthodox Church, comfortable familiarity with the liturgics of the various services, and mastery of the basic musical skills to conduct and rehearse a choir.

Attendance and active participation of the choir director is expected at all liturgical services, except where mitigating circumstances are involved. When the choir director cannot fulfill his/her responsibilities for a specific service, he/she is to notify the Parish Rector well in advance, if possible. In the case of a choir director’s absence, he/she shall arrange for a substitute with the blessing of the Rector.

The choir director is expected to encourage participation in the singing of the liturgical services. This includes recruiting children to the choir, encouraging congregational singing where appropriate, and welcoming and encouraging new members to the choir with the blessing of the Rector. Alternate choir directors will be trained and prepared by the parish choir director. Furthermore, regularly-scheduled rehearsals conducted by the choir director are to be considered the norm.

The choir director, actively participating in a vital ministry of the Church, is to act and carry out this ministry in a manner that is for the upbuilding and edification of the Church. As such, the choir director is to promote unity of mind, heart and spirit among the members of the choir and conduct, rehearse, and celebrate the liturgical hymnography in a manner that is in harmony with the liturgical texts being sung and the service being celebrated.

The choir director shall strive to act in a way that will not lead his/her fellow brothers and sisters into temptation, but would rather lead them to God and His eternal Kingdom.
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Release of Fr. Steven Belonick’s book, Pilgrimage to Pascha, to benefit diocesan seminarians
On Feb. 2, 2021, Ancient Faith Publishing (AFP) released a book to honor the memory of Archpriest Steven John Belonick (+2019), former pastor of Holy Ghost Russian Orthodox Church, Bridgeport, CT, and also to benefit seminarians from the Diocese of New England. The book is titled Pilgrimage to Pascha: A Daily Devotional for Great Lent, and it is available for purchase online 
Pilgrimage to Pascha is a republication of a book that Fr. Steven originally co-authored and edited. It was first printed as a booklet for spiritual nourishment in Great Lent and later was published as A Journey through Great Lent, but it has been out of print for many years. M. Deborah Belonick has copy edited and updated the original text, including an epilogue that recounts a conversation with Fr. Steven during his last days in hospice. 
All royalties from the republication will be directed to and placed in the seminarian fund of the Diocese of New England, which has been renamed the “Father Steven Belonick Scholarship Fund.” Proceeds from the book will benefit any student at a seminary of the Orthodox Church in America who is on the ordination track with the intention of becoming a parish priest. Memory Eternal to Fr. Steven, and let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ to bless our seminarians and thereby increase the number of “laborers for His harvest” (Luke 10:2) who will serve as parish priests. Again, you may order the newly released book online, or you may call the Ancient Faith Publishing number to ask for your copy: 1–800–967–7377.

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