How Not to Win Friends and Influence People

[Editor's Note: Regrettably, this will probably be Part I of an extensive series given the idiocy that has come out of Syosset.]

As many of us have come to realize, the preferred way of dealing with dissent in the New Improved OCA is to shut it down by any means necessary. One way is to lock the door at the upcoming Robber Council. Another way is to alert the local police and let them know that there may be protesters nearby or (Heaven forbid!) inside the Church worshiping (ever heard of the First Amendment?). If that’s not good enough, hire armed guards to augment the local constabulary.

A third way is to blackball people you don’t want from attending. This recently happened to Dr. Joel Kalvesmaki, a pillar of the Orthodox community in Washington and member of the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL). The people of St Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC (his home parish) elected Joel to be an alternate delegate. The present regime’s locum tenens for the Archdiocese of Washington, Bp Alexander Golitzyn, unilaterally and against the OCA’s own statutes, removed him from the slate.

To add insult to injury, Joel’s thought-provoking essay was removed from the OCL’s webste. Your humble correspondent contacted the OCL two days ago asking for an explanation. So far, none has been forthcoming. In any event, if you are interested in reading a primary account of what happened, please read what follows. It comes directly from Joel himself.

The original article removed from the Orthodox Christian Laity website

Did the OCA bishops lie about Metropolitan Jonah?

Source: kalvesmaki.com

For the last two years, bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and key members of the OCA administration have waged a not-so-subtle war against Metropolitan Jonah, doing their utmost to oust him. That effort reached a milestone this summer, when the Metropolitan tendered his resignation.

Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) has reason to be concerned: a strong advocate of its ideals—jurisdictional unity, spiritual renewal, lay participation in church governance, and transparency and accountability in church governance—has fallen.

+Jonah has been an active proponent of jurisdictional unity, not just by being part of the Episcopal Assembly but by achieving real results: he was instrumental in effecting reconciliation and unity in the United States among the OCA, the Moscow Patriarchate (MP), and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). The strenuous difficulties between the OCA and ROCOR go back decades (see an account at Orthodox Wiki), but under +Jonah rapprochement happened in only a few years. In lectures, sermons, and pastoral letters his call for spiritual renewal in the Church and in our country has been consistent and clarion. He encouraged reforms for greater accountability and transparency in the OCA. I have witnessed firsthand his refreshing candor in matters of church governance. As Vice-President of the primatial cathedral, I was at ease expressing disagreement with his decisions (it happened more than once, and on important matters) because he welcomed a free exchange of ideas, trusting that all of us in the church aspire to preserve Holy Tradition. Although he was not a skilled administrator, he knew how to delegate administrative responsibilities to competent people, laity as well as clergy, and he trusted them to do their work well. +Jonah has been one of the few bishops to attend OCL meetings, encouraging us to fulfill our mandate. A finer friend to OCL is hard to find among the bishops.

In their recent actions, however, the OCA bishops and administration have brought harm, both to the faithful of the OCA and to their fellow Orthodox, here and abroad.

The bishops are to be commended for breaking with their customary silence by releasing an official three-page statement on July 16, the day OCL issued its own call for an explanation. At the time, the official statement was refreshing. It did not merely accuse but supplied events, sprinkled with dates, places, and persons. The example that best illustrated the need for +Jonah’s removal involved the accusation of sexual misconduct by a priest. Such frankness was surprising. Allegations like these are usually suppressed or skirted in official explanations.

But a number of persons have taken a closer look at the statement, found serious problems, and argued that it is riddled with fundamental errors of fact and logic. Over the last two months the responses have accumulated. Many of these have been posted as main articles or substantive comments on the blog run by George Michalopulos. (Caveat lector—the best critiques are mixed with the worst.) Now the lengthiest, if not most substantive, critique of the OCA statement has been compiled by Christine Fevronia.

Collectively, these counterarguments portray the bishops as having misled or misinformed the public. At best they have made mistakes, at worst lies, about the few specifics discussed. The account given by the bishops to exemplify Jonah’s wrongdoing is riddled with factual errors. Once those and all other alleged errors are secluded, the statement is heavy on insinuation and light on facts. One cannot help but ask, was the statement merely a pretext to damage +Jonah’s reputation?

The OCA’s response to criticism has been silence, a call for the church to move on and heal. The bishops have not answered any of the objections. Meanwhile their statement has become the basis for stories in the mainstream media that have cast +Jonah and the OCA in negative light (Philadelphia Inquirer [July 17]; Washington Post [July 20]; Newsday [July 22]; Chicago Tribune [August 31]).

The longer OCA leadership ignores charges that they have lied, the greater the faithful will distrust them. I myself want to believe the best of my bishops, but they have not given me any reason to do so. In fact, the July 16 statement indirectly corroborates reports (hitherto rumors) that elements of OCA administration were for a long time secretly working to remove +Jonah. So this is the custom of the bishops? To devour their own? Who is next? Where does it stop? I have done my best to keep my two children from knowing what the bishops have done. I do not wish them to learn from the synod how to treat others.

Members of OCL, no matter the jurisdiction, should be particularly wary of the attack on +Jonah and the way the OCA has presented it to the public. The ideals held by OCL have been offended. Where is the transparency and accountability? Where is the spiritual renewal? Where is the OCA’s regard for its sister churches, all of whom are affected?

A prime concern of the OCL—jurisdictional unity—is at stake. The OCA is one of the few jurisdictions in America to allow the laity to participate in the election of a Metropolitan, and not a few OCL members have looked to the OCA as a model for a united Orthodox Church. But if the voice of the people, the “axios” proclaimed by all the faithful of the OCA in 2008, can be taken away by a select few, absent the laity and without cause or justification, then the OCL should fear the example the OCA brings to a united Church.

Despair is not in order. I can think of two ways the leadership of the OCA could halt their downward spiral:

  • Release a complete account, along with timeline and documentation, to supersede the July 16 statement. Come clean, admit mistakes, and address head-on all the events that have become the OCA’s worst-kept secrets. Do not hide behind the excuse of confidentiality. If it was fine to release anonymized but concrete details of a sexual-abuse charge, surely one can be forthcoming about other matters discussed in the statement that do not have the legal implications (e.g., ecclesiastical relations).
  • Release a letter of repentance written and signed by the bishops and the OCA administration, explaining specifically how and where they themselves have erred. According to Chancellor Fr. John Jillions, the bishops, when they met in August, were of one mind that “we all therefore bear some responsibility for the events that have led to the election of a new metropolitan.” Let us hear about that responsibility. Be as detailed and forceful as you were in the July 16 statement. Expose and confess your errors and sins more eagerly than you have those of +Jonah. Show us how to repent.

If the bishops and leaders of the OCA would exercise this kind of response, would they show a devotion for Holy Tradition, would they show in words and deeds contrition and humility, I would gladly make them role models for my family. Until then, whenever the bishops are brought up in conversation around my children, I must maintain an embarrassed, awkward silence.

Joel Kalvesmaki is a member of St. Nicholas Cathedral (OCA), Washington, DC, where he served as Vice-President in 2011.

The views expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of OCL.

A Bishop’s Response

Source: Kalvesmaki.com

On 18 September 2012 Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) published an op ed piece in which I laid out an argument for how recent events in the OCA should be assessed in light of OCL’s four principles (jurisdictional unity, spiritual renewal, lay participation in church governance, and transparency and accountability in the same). I argued that the bishops’ July 16 statement and other recent actions they took vis-a-vis Metropolitan Jonah (a supporter of OCL) ran counter to those principles. My criticism was meant to be constructive. I offered two ways the bishops might move the Church forward: (1) offer the Faithful a detailed, complete account of reasons for seeking +Jonah’s resignation, correcting or justifying alleged errors in the July 16 statement; (2) teach the Faithful how to repent by explaining how and where members of the synod and administration erred. I had intended the piece to be a firm but polite catalyst to conversation; I looked forward to edifying dialogue that might help me—and anyone confused—understand recent events better.

[...]

Read the entire article on Kalvesmaki.com

Comments

  1. Dear George,

    The link is not working. Post Joel Kalvesmaki’s materials here. On his website is his regular materials and nothing to do with the AAC

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  2. All in the Family says:

    I believe these links are the correct ones which George will update. In the meantime…..

    The original OCL post…….

    and this , A bishop’s response

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  3. All in the Family says:

    Until George is able to update the article with the correct links, below are links to the original OCL article written by Joel and a followup article on how Bishop Alexander responded.

    OCL POST

    A BISHOP’S RESPONSE

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  4. ChristineFevronia says:

    Here is the actual text of the official OCA statute regarding the election of the Metropolitan, Statute IV:

    Article IV: The Metropolitan

    Section 1: The Metropolitan

    Among the bishops of the Church, the Metropolitan enjoys primacy, being the first among equals. He is the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and is the diocesan bishop of one of the dioceses of the Church and bears the title, “Metropolitan of All-America and Canada.” He supervises the internal and external welfare of the Church and represents it in its relations with other Orthodox Churches, religious organizations, and secular authorities. The Metropolitan’s name is mentioned during liturgical services by the other bishops of the Church. The Metropolitan mentions the names of the other heads of autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

    Section 2: Duties

    The Metropolitan:
    a.Consecrates and distributes the Holy Chrism;
    b.Provides the diocesan bishops with the Holy Relics necessary for the consecration of Church altars and Holy Antimensia;
    c.Convenes the All-American Council, presides over it, and promulgates its decisions;
    d.Convenes and presides over the meetings of the Holy Synod and of the Metropolitan Council;
    e.Issues pastoral letters addressed to the bishops, clergy, and laity of the Church;
    f.Reports to the Council concerning the life of the Church;
    g.Initiates action to fill vacancies in the office of diocesan bishop;
    h.Gives advice to his brother bishops, and in cases of necessity, submits their cases to the Holy Synod;
    i.Has the right of pastoral initiative and guidance, and when necessary the right of pastoral intervention, in all matters concerning the life of the Church within the framework of the holy canons;
    j.Receives petitions for admission of clergy from other Orthodox Churches.

    Section 3: Vacancy in Office

    The office of Metropolitan shall be declared vacant by a vote of the Holy Synod in the event of death, voluntary retirement, medically certified incapacity, or deposition by due canonical process.

    Section 4: Election

    When a vacancy has occurred in the office of Metropolitan, the bishop senior by rank and date of consecration shall convene the Holy Synod. After the formal vote declaring the vacancy, the Holy Synod will proceed with the election of a locum tenens. Within a period not exceeding three months (unless some unavoidable necessity forces a prolongation of this period), the locum tenens will convene an All-American Council at which a successor shall be elected. If not already a bishop, a candidate for the office of Metropolitan must fulfill the canonical, moral, and educational requirements stated in Article VI, Section 9. The election shall take place according to the following order:
    a.The Council nominates candidates by secret ballot without previous discussion of names. A blank paper ballot shall be distributed to each member of the Council before the vote.
    b.On the first vote, one single name may be written on each ballot. If the name of a candidate is written on a number of ballots equal to at least two-thirds of the total number of members in attendance at the Council, his name shall be submitted to the Holy Synod for approval by majority vote; in case of rejection, the Holy Synod shall formally state the reasons which motivated the rejection.
    c.If no candidate receives a number of ballots equal to at least two-thirds of the total membership in attendance, or if the person receiving that number of ballots fails to receive the approval of the Holy Synod, a second vote shall be taken.
    d.In the second vote, two names shall be written on each ballot; the tellers shall not count any ballot on which fewer or more than two names are written. The names of the two candidates who receive the highest number of ballots on the second vote shall be submitted to the Holy Synod for their choice by majority vote.
    e.Upon his election, and before the dismissal of the All-American Council, the new Metropolitan will be enthroned according to the established ritual.

    First of all, section 3 has already been violated. Met. Jonah did not die. He did not retire, as he was forced by the Synod to “resign” (and in fact he requested another episcopal assignment, which was in writing, witnessed by the OCA Chancellor–clearly indicating he was not retiring). He was not medically certified to have any sort of physical incapacity. And he was not deposed by due canonical process.

    There is nothing in the Statute about sealing the church doors, and there is certainly nothing in the statute about kicking out people who want to witness the election.
    (17th AAC Delegate Handbook: “Before the balloting process begins, the doors of the Church shall be kept closed; no one will be allowed to leave or enter during the balloting process. The chairman of the session shall ask all persons who are not accredited delegates but have been accredited as observers to the 17th All-American Council to remain in the specially designated area reserved for accredited observers. Only Council officials, accredited delegates, and accredited observers will be allowed to remain in the Church. All others will be asked to depart from the Church.”)

    There is nothing in the Statute about destroying the ballots.
    (17th AAC Delegate Handbook: “Immediately after the tabulation is completed and the report is signed, the chairman of tellers shall place the ballots in the box, seal it, and deliver it to the Secretary of the OCA after presenting his report to the Council. The box shall be in the custody of the Secretary of the OCA until the election is completed, at which time the Secretary of the OCA in the presence of the members of the Secretariat shall destroy the ballots.”)

    There is nothing in the Statute about the Synod’s votes being kept secret.
    (17th AAC Delegate Handbook: “the members of the Holy Synod, with the Locum Tenens acting as Chairman, proceed into the sanctuary where they elect the Metropolitan by secret ballot, the votes being counted by the Chairman.”)

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    • Christina Fevronia,

      Now we see why the statements from the Chancellor, wording on the oca.org website and other OCA statements were trying to insist that Metorpolitan Jonah had retired as opposed to resigned from part of his present job, i.e. actively being the Primate.

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      • ChristineFevronia says:

        Exactly! According to Statute IV.3, there are exactly four ways that a Metropolitan can be removed from office: 1. Death, 2. Voluntary retirement, 3. Medically certified incapacity, or, 4. Deposition by due canonical process.

        Let us not forget the repeated attempts on the part of some of the Synod bishops to remove Met. Jonah using point three, a diagnosis of “medically certified incapacity”. In February 2011, the Synod demanded that Met. Jonah be evaluated for unspecified psychiatric conditions. Met. Jonah had the spiritual discernment to know exactly what his brother bishops were doing–trying to get him diagnosed with a “medically certified incapacity”. Met. Jonah took his own version of the requested leave of absence and was temporarily removed from his position for two months. Then just a few months later in November 2011, the Synod demanded again that Met. Jonah participate in a psychiatric evaluation, and Met. Jonah agreed to a full evaluation at that time. There was no diagnosis issued that was classified as preventing Met. Jonah from leading the Church. Then yet again just a few short months after that, in July 2012, the Synod gave Met. Jonah another ultimatum: check into an inpatient psychiatric treatment facility for a half of a year. Met. Jonah declined.

        And so the Synod moved onto their next available option to oust him: option two–retirement. However, Chancellor Jillions told Met. Jonah that the Synod requested his “resignation”. Met. Jonah signed–in the presence of Chancellor Jillions as witness–that he resigned, and that he was requesting another episcopal assignment–a clear indication that he was not retiring. He very specifically wrote that he was resigning from the office of the Primate, and had every intention of remaining an Archbishop. Chancellor Jillions has been backtracking ever since.

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        • We need the alternative All American Council for people like Christina, LOH, Joel Kalvesmaki and all others who are not eligible for the Robber Council in Parma. For further actions, we should supply our vote results to all autocephalous Orthodox Churches and ask them to consider our votes as equally valuable as votes at Parma, and based on both AACs make a decision about the new Metropolitan.

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  5. Maybe more will understand if its said in a different way. I know it’s not true but…

    In any organization dysfunction can happen. Sometimes the dysfunction is something that one lives with. In others, it becomes a glaring evil that must be addressed or the organization could be effected. Frequently in organizations the leadership begins with good intentions. And just a frequently life happens. Leadership usually comes with three things that can influence the effective functioning of the overall organization. These three are: power, prestige, and money. In many fledgling organizations the leadership comes from the grassroots. These leaders get installed intending to lead in a dynamic and good way. They feel called and privileged to lead, and there is the human tendency to want to “share the wealth” with one’s family, friends, and supporters, not to mention those of like mind. Thus, these people tend to raise up their loved ones and supporters with them, into influential positions simply out of a sense of fraternity. We want to raise up our family and friends along with us. We want our loved one’s to benefit as much as we may. It’s like winning the lottery and sharing the winnings with those nearest and dearest, and to pay back those who have helped advance one’s career or provided support trying times. While this may be stemming from a real fraternal love, in organizations it tends to create a biased and even closed leadership.

    Leaders can only come from within the “clique” of those trying to keep one another in their positions of power, prestige, and money. The organization goes from its “mission statement” to being more about personalities, ethnicity, politicking, power, prestige, etc. This phenomenon may develop in an organization unnoticed. The rest of the organization looking up from below simply trust the leadership to be doing the right thing, in the spirit of advancing the mission. Even the leadership maybe unaware that a “fraternity” of an elect few is developing.

    It may be that the influential few in those positions genuinely try to advance the mission, but may also do it while assuring they and their loved ones benefit and retain their positions of power, prestige, and money. In time, the leadership of an organization like this becomes comfortable and ingrown. Sometimes a few dedicate their loyalty to the organization, and knowingly or unknowingly, pledge fealty to the leadership. It may be unnoticed that the dedication is more to this group of leaders than to the mission itself. Of course, in a misguided and deluded way, these may think that the mission/organization and this elect group of leaders are synonymous. Advancement occurs based on a pledge of loyalty. This pledge gets the loyalist “adopted” and that one may become one of the priveledged few in the organization, raised to be a leader and advancer of the “cause.” They may be appointed to a position of power, prestige, and money, for their loyalty. And these are rewarded with advancement and covering faults.

    This model can not persist, especially in Christ, because it is inapporopriate and dysfunctional. Dysfunction breeds dysfunction, and this “elect few” mentality may end up going to particular individuals heads. They may become “drunk” in their power, prestige, and money, and in their comfort fall into neglect of the organization for the sake of indulging oneself. It is no secret how this can lead to major dysfunction and even abuse of power and authority. Leaders may fall into misuse of company funds, sexual immorality, alcoholism, blackmail, et cetera. It is only a matter of time before this “way of leading,” now business as usual, becomes identified as part of the “personality of the organization.” However, it is also not long before the improprieties born out of this leadership-model-gone wrong come to the light.

    Necessarily, those lower down in the pyramid discover the deep rooted dysfunction and become concerned. It may be that there is an outcry of discontent with the leadership and a call for accountability. The wider organization may call for new leadership. It may be that the organization gets honest about this “elite loyalist leadership model” or not. It may be that the overall leadership decides to scapegoat the few ultra-symptomatic leaders, and thus retain the model. The natural response may be to either give face to or actually elect new leadership. It may happen that the organization moves for an overhaul of the whole organization. The organization may elect fresh new leader to overhaul the whole organization. It is likely that this new leader will be an “outsider” to the loyalists, completely new to the old group of leadership. He then begins his hard task of integrating with the old leadership.

    Naturally, this would surely threaten the generations of inherited or adopted leaders. Obviously, a complete overhaul of the leadership would mean that the “fraternity” would be threatened. In effect, the organization itself would be seen as “in jeopardy.” And the new leader would become the enemy of the organization. The old model and old vision would be threatened and would surely inspire the loyal to action. Out with the “disloyal.” Anyone that threatened the old model would become expendable and seen as traitors to the mission, but more, to that old body of leaders loyal to the original cause..

    The obsession would be how to maintain those positions of power, prestige, and money. By denial and by not discussing it. The rest of the organization, assuming that the dysfunction is not pervaisive, yet intuiting a deeper problem in the organization, naturally would want to work with the “fathers” and “founders” of the organization. The idea initially is that these influential leaders could help find a solution. Surely these dedicated leaders would start feeling threatened if not betrayed by what appears to be a coup de tat. The old loyalists may react to attempts to change the original vision, especially because it would threaten those in positions. Anything that threatens the old leadership model, of rewarding loyalty with advancement, or maintaining positions, or at least the individuals already in place, would bring blow back. Naturally, the underlings would think that the old leadership is trying to undermine the attempt of the new leader to change the system. They might think that there is even a conspiracy to prevent addressing the dysfunction at all. And wouldn’t that be true? Eventually an opportunity arises that will allow the old model to be preserved. The fresh leader then becomes the new scapegoat.

    By shifting the weight, the leadership tries to focus the wider organization so that she forgets the ultra-dysfunctional leaders who preceeded the current overhaul, and who manifested the dysfunctional leadership in the first place. The ultra-dysfunctionals were after all loyal to the leadership and must be rewarded for their loyalty. The fresh new leader, since he represents betrayal to the old model and old leadership becomes an enemy. He is not rewarded but rather defamed and slandered; made more wicked than anything that may have gone before. The dysfunction inherent in the old leadership model is misplace, from the original leadership to the new fresh leader. Any claims of dysfunction are denied and placed on the new scapegoat. It may be a matter of leaders in positions of power, prestige, and money, and these leaders may be caught up in preserving the comfortable feel-good model. They wield their authority and make the organization bend to their “a-greed stance.” Those that may be concerned and speak up are discounted and made “weirdos” and “sinners.” Moving forward becomes the vision, when moving forward may imply denial of dysfunction. The stress is placed on moving forward from the recent fresh new leader’s problems, as thought the former issues are absolutely resolved. In all of this, none of those old issues have been solved, rather denied and skirted. The efforts made by the new leader were actually to resolve the former problems, but since it undermined the old leadership and their positions, he was stopped. Since the dysfunction lies in a leadership model where the few leaders are loyal to one another, and bolster those loyal to “the cause,” nothing can essentially change.

    What is the rest of the institution to do? Pretend nothing ever happened? That all is back to normal. That all is as it should be? The wider organization could continue to call the leadership to change, insisting on a new leadership akin to the former “new fresh leader” or pretend that he was the problem, and now that the scapegoat is dead, we can now live happily ever after. It would appear that retaining the new fresh leader would be the only way forward. Someone not integrated into the “OCA system” is the only thing that can help heal the deep dysfunction. Electing a member from within the loyalist leadership will only perpetuate the problems. The greatest problem is the “conspiracy of silence.”

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  6. Disgusted With It says:

    Who is the editor of the OCL website?

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    • Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL)

      PO Box 6954
      West Palm Beach, FL 33405-6954
      Executive Director: George Matsoukas
      Tel. 877-585-0245

      http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/features/george_matsoukas_executive_director_of_orthodox_christian_laity

      OCL Leadership

      Executive Committee

      William Souvall, Salt Lake City, UT Pres
      Nicholas Karakas, St Louis MO, V.P.
      Andrew Kartalis, Pepper Pike, OH, V.P.
      Dr. Nicholas Pappas, Wilmington, DE, V.P.
      Peter J. Petkas, Houston, TX V.P.
      James A. Koulogeorge, Chicago, IL Co-Treasurer
      George Aravosis, Chicago, IL, Co-Treasurer
      George Karcazes, Chicago, IL, Sec/Legal Council

      Board Members

      Argo Georgandis, Houston,TX
      Dr. Peter Haikalis, Walnut Creek, CA
      Alice O. Kopan, River Forest, IL
      Peter N. Marudas, Baltimore, MD
      Kenneth Mitchell, Washington, DC
      George Pontikes, Chicago, IL

      Board of Advisors

      Charles R. Ajalat, CA
      Anthony G. Andrikopoulos, Cheyenne, WY
      Dean Calvert, Walled Lake, MI
      Evan Chriss, Baltimore, MD
      Paul Cromidas, Dallas, TX
      Jim Demetrion, Cincinnati, OH
      Albert Foundos, Muttontown, NY
      Brian Gerich, Moorpark, CA
      V. Rev. Peter Gillquist, Indiana
      V. Rev. Thomas Hopko, Ellwood City, PA
      John Kaloudis, Salt Lake City, UT
      George Kappos, Pepper Pike, OH
      Anthony Kasmer, Newtown, PA
      Lee Kopulos, Chicago, IL
      John Maddex, IN
      Father Michael Massouh, Pinellas Park, FL
      Frederica Mathews-Green, Linthicum, MD
      Nicholas E. Nicholaou, Oak Lawn, IL
      His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel, Grass Lake, MI
      Cal Oren, Catonsville, MD
      Hon. Robert Poydasheff
      Teva Regule, Brookline, MA
      Brian Smith
      Harry Spell, Edina, MN
      Dr. William J. Tenet, Manhasset, NY
      Dianne N. Thodos, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
      V. Rev. Gordon Walker, Franklin, TN
      Rev. Steven J. Vlahos, Cherry Hills, NJ
      Chris Xeros, Richardson, TX
      Deacon John Zarras, Sherman, CT
      Peter Zarras, Morris Plains, NJ

      Website Oversight Committee

      Dean Calvert
      Joel Kalvesmaki
      George Matsoukas
      Ken Mitchell
      Cal Oren
      [(Archdeacon) David Oancea - Webmaster]

      Executive Director

      George Matsoukas

      http://www.helleniccomserve.com/matsoukas_bio.html

      to email: http://ocl.org/orthodox-christian-laity/contact/

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      • Disgusted With It says:

        Hmm. Does anyone else find it interesting that the OCL website webmaster is Archbishop Nathaniel’s Chancellor? (Not to mention another member of the Website committee is a parishioner and strong supporter of Abp. Nathaniel.) That is: Archbishop Nathaniel, locum tenens of the OCA, a member of the synod who Dr. Kalevsmaki was questioning in his article that was mysteriously removed from the OCL website. It certainly leads one to see perhaps why it was removed.

        But then again, this is the OCA we’re talking about here. Nothing like that would EVER happen in the OCA!

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        • Regule is part of the Romanian Archdiocese and a founder of St. Nina Quarterly.

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        • Dcn. David Oancea does not make policy decisions about what appears on the website. I have confirmed with him that he was directed by a member of the Executive Committee to remove the article in question.

          The obvious link here (which I doubt they will confirm) is that OCL is scheduled to hold its 25th Anniversary Conference at the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington DC in late October, so the same Bishop Alexander who withdrew Kalvesmaki’s AAC credentials apparently threatened to withdraw the invitation to the OCL unless the article was taken down. They have been planning this conference for a year, and this would have forced them to cancel the entire conference, so they caved. So much for their commitment to transparency in governance.

          Earlier this year, Dean Calvert, Joel Kalvesmaki, Ken Mitchell, and I all resigned from the Website Oversight committee, because the Board would not respect the semi-independent status of the committee. The OCL Board acted with total disregard to the Editorial Guidelines they had approved just a few months earlier, and unilaterally stepped in and started making decisions about site design. We saw this as a precedent that they would follow when some really substantive, controversial issue emerged, and resigned.

          The website Leadership page is simply out of date. You will notice that there are at least two deceased persons listed as members of the Advisory Board. There is no replacement Website Oversight Committee. The website is currently being managed by the Executive Director and Executive Committee of the Board.

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          • Disgusted With It says:

            Thank you, Mr Oren, for the clarification. I think we can all sympathize with your position regarding that website. It’s too bad the remaining OCL leadership seems to have lost their integrity. I hope they have a nice conference together with the bishop there who will think they’re a bunch of really great guys. They deserve each other.

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              This so disturbs me. It appears that the OCL is now “part of the problem.” Playing games like this –by the very institution that has tried for 25 years to keep the various synods honest–does not bode well for the future.

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              • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

                I agree . . . this is extremely disturbing. That forms an echo chamber which will stagnate growth.

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                • Original lineup (go to the OCL website if you want to see what’s left of the original website or see the revised lineup :

                  Orthodox Christian Laity Celebrates 25 years of service: Come Celebrate
                  OUR ORTHODOX PAST- OUR ORTHODOX PRESENT- OUR ORTHODOX FUTURE

                  WHEN: Weekend of Thursday, October 25, Friday, October 26 & Saturday, October 27, 2012.

                  WHERE: Savoy Hotel, 2505 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington D.C.
                  MAKE RESERVATIONS TODAY: SPECIAL OCL RATE Call 800-944-5377

                  St Nicholas Cathedral
                  Library of Congress
                  George Washington University, Mt. Vernon Campus

                  Thursday Morning, October 25, 2012 – 9:00 am
                  Hierarchical Liturgy celebrated by His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah at St Nicholas Cathedral, 3500 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C. His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel (Romanian Episcopate) will participate.

                  Reception is planned at the Library of Congress with guest speakers including Dr. James Hadley Billington (Librarian of Congress) and the showcasing of the History of OCL in film. Weekend activities also include a tour of the National Cathedral.

                  Friday Evening, October 26, 2012
                  Vesper and Keynote: His Grace Bishop Maxim, Serbian Orthodox Church, Western Diocese (Alhambra, CA)
                  Topic: Ecclesiology of community and need for tangible Unity in North America.

                  Saturday, October 27, 2012 – 9:00 am
                  Panel Discussion Program:
                  George Washington University (Mt Vernon Campus): West Hall, 2100 Foxhall Road NW, Washington, DC 20052

                  Panelists include:
                  His Grace Bishop Michael, Diocese of New York and New Jersey.

                  Nicholas Gvosdev, Professor U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI.

                  Frederica Mathewes Green, Khouria, author, commentator, lecturer.

                  Matthew Namee, student, independent scholar and Associate Director of Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas (SOCHA-orthodoxhistory.org)

                  Andrew Natsios, Distinguished professor Walsh School of Foreign Service, Former Administrator USAID, , Former Director Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

                  Marilyn Rouvelas, author, speaker, on the topic of Hellenic culture.

                  Michael Tsakalos, business professional, active layman and board member of IOCC.

                  Dr. John J. Yiannias, Byzantinist and Professor Emeritus Art History, University of Virginia, and author.

                  Dr. Andrew H. Walsh, Assistant Director of Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Trinity College, Hartford, CT.

                  Dr. Gayle E. Woloschak, Professor, Researcher, Peer Reviewer, Patent-Inventor, Public Service; faculty member, Departments of Radiation Oncology, Radiology, and Cell and Molecular Biology, Robert Lurie Cancer Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL.

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              • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                I truly hate to say it, but I personally believe that its been corrupt for a while. This is just the point everybody sees it. The old mems of “Overseas Bishops controlling us a la Vatican style,” like Harry Coin likes to say, came from this echo chamber and in the long run did more harm to American Orthodoxy than good, and the OCL just discovered, if it did not know this already, that they were being controlled and manipulated and a simple word from on high (i.e. Bishop) just showed it.

                Everybody uses everybody to some extent, but being controlled and manipulated is something quite different. I truly hope that the OCL regains its intergity for no other reason than so many people have invested time, money and their lives to this organization that all that effort should not go to waste, as well as an organization that truly tried to keep all our jurisdictions honest.

                I will pray for them.

                Peter A. Papoutsis

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                • M.Vasiliou says:

                  The OCL has been manipulated and controlled ever since Archbishop Spyridon was forced to resign. The GOA foreign-born Greek Bishops used the OCL to get rid of the archbishop and to further their own gain (i.e. be promoted to Metropolitans).

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                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                    Don’t say that too loud people might hear you.

                    Peter

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                  • Harry Coin says:

                    Having myself been involved at the time directly, the reason the OCL was so energized was nothing to do with the various bishops you mention as they generally took a dim view of the OCL, often denying the use of parish meeting halls for OCL use. What got the OCL involved then wasn’t really much to do with Spyridon or Turkey as such either strangely enough. You’ll find a voice in the OCL here or there that says pretty much whatever you’re looking for, firmly coming down on whatever side of the question it is you’d like. It’s a big forum that way. Well, it was. Now its status as a voice for thoughtful discussion is plainly been co-opted. Never would they have silenced a voice on the basis of a venue host’s agenda. Anyway, back then, it didn’t have money to do whatever the money supplying leadership wanted, it had to represent the voices of the small donor membership who had more energy than money, who showed up, worked, donated their time, nobody was really paid anything. It was all or nearly all volunteer. Now, not so much.

                    What did it take to give any voice real nation-wide energy in those tight-money days? The only thing that ever mattered: the ‘little people’ and our simple pastoral church-simple common relationships.

                    From first hand experience the reason for the widespread energy supporting their involvement, the energy that made their involvement real and of consequence was actually something much less complicated or strategic or otherwise ‘grand agenda driven’.

                    For many, many years prior to the Spyridon days, the OCL was active as a publishing operation: books, pamphlets, lecture series involving clergy, theological academic presentations. Not for a week or a year but decades. Young professors who spoke or wrote often were quoted by the OCL or had theological works published elsewhere copied and republished by the OCL in anthologies and grouped articles on this or that topic. Years passed by and the young professors and clergymen aged and still published and lectured and were invited around. They became friends. In short, the people in the OCL were parish clergy and seminary clergy and involved laity who had something of an academic flair or connection, who traveled alot and led parish or diocesan retreats. Students who later were parish pastors would invite their old professors to talk.

                    Not really knowing at first many if any details about Turkey/Patriarch or New York/Iakovos these folk learned that five clergy whom they’ve known for decades as seminary professors and speakers and parish clergy, who’ve been going around the country as invited retreat leaders and so forth, who trained in part at least half or more of the clergy serving in the parishes– these senior well known folk got fired from tenured positions on the basis they voted to expel a male-youth molesting graduate-student priest from Greece who was a friend of the Patriarch and sent here and supported by him, along with a team of a few other similar fellows. These men of known character were out on the street, while the then seminary leadership was ordered to give the molester priest a diploma.

                    Until those seminary professors were returned to their jobs, the protest by the OCL and others would continue. That it involved higher leadership ultimately threatening the personal interests of the folks in Turkey was a consequence, was what it turned out to take in order to do justice to the ‘little people’ well known to so many.

                    It never was about the bishops, the Patriarch, Spyridon as such, it was about a really bad decision they made and until that got fixed, it was going to be noisy. All the Turkish Patriarch and his Metropolitans and Archbishop had to do was say ‘oops’ and give those men their jobs back, folk would have forgotten about them in a month, reducing them to the distant figures of no local relationship. Spyridon could have stayed Archbishop, folk wouldn’t be paying much attention. But they wouldn’t give in. Now we see more and more scandals along the ‘same sex theme’. That’s why the OCA shouldn’t think about burning their own house as going under someone ‘over there’ will NOT be any better. In Russia we see clergy being directed toward holding political office. Shall we ‘go under’ those directing the Russian civil authority as well?

                    Now we have distant figures who make bad personnel decisions leading to fantastic expenses owing to creating molestation victims, while their leadership deems it a good career move to become Turkish citizens while leading multi-state US ‘Metropolis’-es. Metropoli? You know, ‘Chicago’ but it includes the non-Metropolis of St. Louis, Minneapolis, like that. Will the folk that remain just leave quietly and not try to correct things? Don’t know.

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      Not really knowing at first many if any details about Turkey/Patriarch or New York/Iakovos these folk learned that five clergy whom they’ve known for decades as seminary professors and speakers and parish clergy, who’ve been going around the country as invited retreat leaders and so forth, who trained in part at least half or more of the clergy serving in the parishes– these senior well known folk got fired from tenured positions on the basis they voted to expel a male-youth molesting graduate-student priest from Greece who was a friend of the Patriarch and sent here and supported by him, along with a team of a few other similar fellows. These men of known character were out on the street, while the then seminary leadership was ordered to give the molester priest a diploma.

                      You mean the molestation case that was proved to be a fabrication. While I appriciate Harry’s version of the facts the other side of the coin (no pun intended) should also be heard. This is what Archbishop Spyridon has to say:http://www.helleniccomserve.com/spyridoninterview.html

                      The ENTIRE story should be told, and many, MANY, parallells to the current situation can be drawn and should be drawn because this is still happening. If you want it to stop then everybodies “Myths” should be laid bare.

                      Peter

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                    • Harry Coin says:

                      Proven to be a fabrication? All those clergy and lay professors, an ER physician, first hand victim testimony, a fabrication? They were banished from their tenured jobs because of principle (clergy and lay) not allowing a boozy abuser of boys to remain a clergyman on their campus? Your ‘proven to be false’ is from the one who ordered the abuser to be given a diploma?

                      Please now. Certainly you can believe as you prefer but the facts are not with you.

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      Proven to be a fabrication? All those clergy and lay professors, an ER physician, first hand victim testimony, a fabrication? They were banished from their tenured jobs because of principle (clergy and lay) not allowing a boozy abuser of boys to remain a clergyman on their campus? Your ‘proven to be false’ is from the one who ordered the abuser to be given a diploma?

                      Please now. Certainly you can believe as you prefer but the facts are not with you.

                      Neither are they with you given Metropolitan Methodius’ letter and TNH’s invesigation that brought not only the letter but the “Alleged” facts to light. By the way such sexual molestation is a criminal offense. Where was the DA’s criminal lawsuit against the “Alleged” abuser of boys boozer? Can you please show that to me and to everybody else. Thanks.

                      Peter

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      By the way I did look and could not find the alleged abuser of boys boozer you mention, but if I overlooked him and you know of him, please point him out to me and I will publically retract what I said and apologize. Thanks Harry.

                      http://pokrov.org/display.asp?ds=Group&id=43

                      Peter

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                    • Harry Coin says:

                      Peter your writing sounds almost like rewriting history like the Turks denying Smyrna. Those clergy and laity put their jobs and careers on the line for the students. Even the librarian for crying out loud. They did it because it had to be done, they couldn’t be party to allowing a boozy boy molesting graduate student priest to stay on their campus.

                      As you well know, that priest you can’t meet, you can’t talk to, as he died in a plane crash some years ago along with some other clergy from Africa. Yes, he was recalled to Greece toot sweet after get got his EP/Sypridon/then Dean Karambis ‘diploma’.

                      You’ll recall Archimandrite Karambis, who found no problems with what that priest did, No duh there.. check out
                      http://pokrov.org/resource.asp?ds=Article&id=881&sSrch=Karambis&sType=Articles
                      and

                      http://pokrov.org/resource.asp?ds=Article&id=904&sSrch=Karambis&sType=Articles

                      And
                      http://pokrov.org/resource.asp?ds=Article&id=1383&sSrch=masseur&sType=Articles

                      But. hey, they weren’t covering for a gay youth molesting archimandrite at the school. Pshaw. Perish the thought. Tish tosh.

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      So you are saying that Metropolitan methodius lied in his letter and the DA was a sleep and no criminal charges were brought. I guess only in Orthodoxy can these sexual crimes occur and no charges are brought.

                      Archbishop Spyridon was vindicated by his main critics and yet you persist and you see no parallels to the current situation. You don’t even address the investigative findings of TNH, and I am the one living fantasy land?

                      An alleged molestation charge that was not brought to the attention of the DA is a far worse crime than what you are trying too push here.

                      Peter

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      So you are saying that Metropolitan methodius lied in his letter and the DA was a sleep and no criminal charges were brought. I guess only in Orthodoxy can these sexual crimes occur and no charges are brought.

                      Archbishop Spyridon was vindicated by his main critics and yet you persist and you see no parallels to the current situation. You don’t even address the investigative findings of TNH, and I am the one living fantasy land?

                      An alleged molestation charge that was not brought to the attention of the DA is a far worse crime than what you are trying too push here as we’ll as guilt by association. So was is it was Metropolitan Methodius lying in his letter or not? Answer that question and stop skirting the issue.

                      Peter

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      I will leave this discussion on this note that everybody should read both sides of the story and make up there own minds. Here is an interview with Archbishop Spyridon for all to read and evaluate themselves. http://www.spyridon.ws/EN/spyr_today/spt_intv9.html

                      This part in particular is my main focus and concern in this past debacle and which many of us have seen played out in recent events with Metropolitan Jonah, the Right Reverend Nikolai Soraich, Protopresbyter Rodion S Kondratick, etc., is this:

                      In the same report, the Hierarchs-including His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of the Boston Diocese, blamed your ministry for allowing the Holy Cross School of Theology to “wither.” In a recently surfaced letter to the President and Vice Chairman of the School’s Board of Trustees, the same Metropolitan reversed his stance and stated in writing that you were not the cause of the problems that plagued the school. In fact, he noted that you had been “victimized” and also noted that throughout the 60-year history of the school, there have been “powerful interventions of archbishops” that have caused a series of problems there. And throughout the course of his letter, he refers to the way you were treated unjustly. How do these statements make you feel-three plus years after the fact that this same hierarch was a contributing factor in your demise as Archbishop of America?
                      This change of views and stance does not come to me as a surprise. It’s rather characteristic of the “politics” that have always been the main obstacle to the Archdiocese’s progress and expansion.

                      However, it is somewhat gratifying to learn that Metropolitan Methodios once again regards the so-called “sexual scandal” at Holy Cross as he himself and the then members of the Eparchial Synod considered it initially

                      All of these past cases up to the current troubles show one thing: NO DUE PROCESS! No Proper vetting of Evidence and facts trickling in after the fact. Everybody wanted immediate removal because of their own political agenda and nobody wanted a full airing of grivences via the due process of law either in Civil, Criminal or Spiritual Court.

                      Serious allegations of alcoholism, child abuse and a covering up of these alleged deals and NOBODY CALLED THE POLICE? Everybody just took to the news papers (i.e. G.O.A.L.) and demanded ouster but never due process!

                      The clergymen referenced above had family, friends and lives that were destroyed and nobody wanted to go to the proper authorities and have their names cleared? Some, likeProtopresbyter Rodion S Kondratick did have his case evaluated and the DA found it lacking merit and did not pursue. Metropolitan Jonah was forced into retirement with his lncome put in jepordy not for himself, but for his family.

                      All these allegation are incredibly serious and obviously life altering and nobody wanted to given them proper Due Process or at least a proper vetting of the evidence? This is why we have rules and laws and tribunals. Otherwise, what happens? Lives, Careers, Minsitries and whole church organizations suffer like the GOA did then and like the OCA is suffering now.

                      don’t blame the hierarchs its we the laity that must demand that ALL proper proceedure be followed and that Due Process is given and that all evidence and accusers are properly vetted. I guranatee you that you and especially the men referenced above would definitely support that. Heck, Due Process, The Right to a Trial, is enshired in our Constitution. If its so important why did these men not get it? Answer – Good Old Fashion Politics.

                      What we see playing out on the National level is almost everyday being played out on the local parish level, and nobody says a word and good priests are transfered out, forced to leave, resign and good and able men are scared away from the priesthood. If you cannot see the problem then either you are not looking or you do not want to look.

                      So…Start looking, think for yourselves and demand that the right thing be done: Due Process, Vetting of Evidence, confronting one’s accusers, then let the chips fall where they may.

                      Peter A. Papoutsis

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                    • Harry Coin says:

                      So mirror minded! Read it again, why didn’t he give the wrongly fired clergy their jobs back? Because he either wouldn’t or was ordered not so to do. Maybe he just carried the spear from Turkey. Whatever, he made his choices and no way were the careers of 6 honest ‘little people’ who’d been working in the USA for years as professors and clergy going to end because they stood up to banish a gay molester from the school.

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      Honest in this situation is a relative and misleading term.

                      Peter

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          • Dean Calvert says:

            I can confirm everything Cal Oren has just said.

            While I personally do not agree with the statements that were posted, I consider the way this entire matter (ie the removing of the posts) was handled by OCL to be abhorrent and completely at odds with the stated purpose of the OCL website and Forum.

            Is it possible to be disappointed, but not surprised?

            Finally, I can attest to Joel’s commitment and dedication. It was a pleasure to serve with Joel, Cal, Ken and Deacon David. Any disparaging remarks about ANY of the above gentlemen should be disregarded as simply ignorant. We need more like them all.

            Best Regards,
            Dean Calvert

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          • Harry Coin says:

            Saw that one coming years ago.

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  7. For those going to Parma in November –

    We would like to get a rough idea how many will be present to protest. We also want to have a way to
    announce when and where to meet the night before if possible, and we will have some fliers to pass out.

    Please contact us at:

    parma2012@zoho.com

    Remember: We are gathering for prayer; to petition God. We will be singing the Jesus prayer
    throughout. We will not be getting in the way of anyone, or blocking anything. We ask for only calm
    conversations, and no outbursts. No rebuttal at all if anyone says anything in opposition to us. Media
    may be called – we will be calm throughout. Bring cameras and/or a notebook to record everything you
    see and hear. And mostly, enjoy the fellowship.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

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    • fatherpep@gmail.com says:

      For those of you who will be going to Parma, video tape everything. This refers to things that occur outside the church, i.e. public spaces like sidewalks. And, just in case someone, a police officer or some other person, tells you that it is illegal to do so, you may want to read, print and take along a copy of a letter from the US Dept. Justice Civil Rights Division warning the Baltimore MD PD that it is NOT illegal to video police in the conduct of their duties. The letter can be found at http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/Sharp_ltr_5-14-12.pdf. There is also a nice case from U.S. Court of Appeals for the FIrst Circuit (the New England area)
      See, e.g., Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78, 82 (1st Cir. 2011) that states “[b]First Amendment principles” and federal case law “unambiguously” establish that private
      individuals possess “a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties.”); Smith v. Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332, 1333 (11th Cir. 2000) (recognizing the “First Amendment right . . . to photograph or videotape police conduct.”); Fordyce v. City of Seattle, 55 F.3d 436, 439 (9th Cir. 1995) (recognizing the “First Amendment right to film matters of public interest”). The First Amendment right to record police activity is limited only by “reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.” Glik, 655 F.3d at 84; Smith, 212 F.3d at 1333. Forewarned is forearmed.

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    • Parma . Who are we? Not to be suspicious but never saw your handle before on this blog. I think given the opposition to the demonstration/protest, it would be good to know who’s doing the talking and rule making.

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      • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

        Well, I’m clueless as to who Parma may be. But I think I have seen some clues in the writing style as to who this person may be, and I hope my hunch is correct.

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    • We would like to get a rough idea how many will be present to protest….Remember: We are gathering for prayer; to petition God. We will be singing the Jesus prayer throughout.

      A fear of many cradle Orthodox is that the influx of conservative Christian converts threatens to remake the Orthodox Church in the image and likeness of their idealized Church of origin. A “perfected” ECUSA, or a “perfected” Roman Catholic Church, or a “perfected” Evangelical movement.

      And to be sure, some of that fear is way overblown. But the deployment of the Jesus prayer as a political protest chant would seem to be their fears made manifest.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        So we gotta babysit the Cradles because the Converts understand the difference between right and wrong? Sorry, that’s idiotic.

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        • “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.”

          To take this confession and make it into a boast is to deny it.
          To take this confession and parade it in the street is to make a mockery of it.
          To take this confession and turn it into a political slogan is to profane it.

          The essence of pornography is to take what is properly intimate and parade it before the world.

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          • It’s a prayer and nothing more. You are the only one turning it into something else.

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            • There is a difference between prayer and “a prayer,” to be sure. One is participation in a relationship with God, the other is a set of words to be recited to serve ego.

              Matthew 6:5-14

              5“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

              9“This, then, is how you should pray:

              “‘Our Father in heaven,
              hallowed be your name,
              10your kingdom come,
              your will be done
              on earth as it is in heaven.
              11Give us today our daily bread.
              12Forgive us our debts,
              as we also have forgiven our debtors.
              13And lead us not into temptation,
              but deliver us from the evil one.a’
              14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

              The difference between the prayer of the heart and a political slogan can’t be more pronounced than declaring the Jesus Prayer to be “a prayer and nothing else.”

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              • One thing I dislike about dialogue among the Orthodox here is that (at least) some of the men are so arrogant, they feel entitled to redefine the meanings of English words and then smuggly condemn other Orthodox for communicating in English rather than in this private language that uses the same outward form as English. It’s as if one cannot be Orthodox unless one has and uses private meanings for words. Must one be a modern day gnostic to be a person of true Orthodox faith?

                It also does appear that many of these private definitions are ad hoc and fluid. As a result they appear to be nothing more than rhetoric devices to inject chaos into discussions that might otherwise be meaningful. This is the kind of tactic that weaker minds use when they know they have no other valid argument, a kind of parachute out of real dialogue without having to face the uncomfortable work of changing one’s own commitments or perspectives.

                I’m not sure if it has to do with Orthodoxy’s triumphalism as a religion or with a paternalistic tendency in many Eastern cultures. Either way the introduction of private meanings into a conversation indicates a life in which you have never been challenged to explain why you are better than everyone else with intellectual integrity.

                It does nothing to further understanding and cooperation within the religion and it certainly will not attract anyone from outside, unless they already have a penchant for magic and manipulative rhetorical tactics (in that case why not join a group that tolerates such parlor tricks?).

                The distinction between prayer and a prayer should be as clear to any Orthodox person as the distinction between poetry and a poem to a poet … or fire and a fire to a fire fighter, for that matter. You know, as long as they speak English they don’t really even need to be Orthodox, poets, or fire fighters respectively. Many languages have the equivalent of the indefinite article (the word “a/an”) in English. I can assure you it really doesn’t cause confusion among the non-Orthodox, and experience tells me Orthodox women are up to the challenge it creates.

                The only thing I can meaningfully take from CQ’s comment is that he is an Orthodox man. Hopefully he’s a good one, because the OCA has a clear need for them right now. I don’t think he is actually advocating the use of what English speakers call The Lord’s Prayer over what English speakers call The Jesus Prayer. If he was, I would congratulate him for making a fine point, it does seem more relevant to the occasion. But I don’t see how The Jesus Prayer could ever be a political slogan unless its use or veneration as a prayer is seen as a test of authentic Orthodoxy.

                Then again, maybe I’m just not giving CQ enough credit here.

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                • We Orthodox have many prayers that are chanted and prayed during public demonstrations of our faith. The Jesus Prayer is not one of them.

                  The Jesus Prayer is taught by the Church as the prayer of the Publican, the sine-qua-non of personal repentance, the prayer of the heart. To say it is “a prayer nothing more” is to both minimize all our prayers (our prayers are “nothing more” than what?) and to have missed the difference of the Jesus Prayer from, say, the prayer of the Three Holy Youths, or any Tropar or Kontakion.

                  As the prayer of the Publican, the Jesus Prayer is not a proclamation of the faith, not a glorification of God, but rather a personal plea for mercy and admission of sin. We do not find it publicly prayed even in our Monasteries, much less in protests.

                  The Jesus Prayer publicly recited to call attention to the misdeeds of others is a prayer turned backwards in every sense of the term.

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                  • “(our prayers are “nothing more” than what?)

                    Prayers!

                    Quit taking this into outer space!

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                    • Nothing “outer space” about proper and clear boundaries, colette.

                      Love has many expressions of varying intimacy and intensity and so does prayer. As intensity and intimacy increase the propriety of display in the public square decreases.

                      And yet there are those who parade such intimacies in public, sometimes for profit and sometimes for self-gratification, and sometimes both. Jesus himself addresses this issue in both Matthew 6 and Luke 18.

                      The Jesus Prayer is not part of our communal prayer life in the Orthodox Church. It is more intimate and private than our Orthodox public prayer life. And yet you say “It’s a prayer and nothing more.” Such a statement raises the question: Nothing more than what?

                      I’m fascinated that you say I’m “taking this to outer space” by raising such a question. To me it is about learning what you think the proper boundaries are for intimacy and intensity of prayer in general and the Jesus Prayer in particular.

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                    • CQ,

                      I think the issue here might be due to miscommunication.

                      It did not seem like you were trying to “raise a question” as to whether a particular prayer was appropriate to an occasion. Instead, it seemed like you were condemning people for planning to pray together at all, presumably because you believe they have the wrong motives. These are very different critiques, I’m sure you will agree.

                      Your critique would be clearer and more constructive even now, if you could offer an alternative prayer (or activity) that you believe would be appropriate and spiritually healthy in this context. Obviously this will only be truly helpful if you can acknowledge the real concerns and felt needs of those you are addressing.

                      I happen to think the Jesus Prayer does not fit the occasion well, unless the motive is to personally identify with the sins of the church during a time of corporate repentance and to humble one’s own heart (perhaps in preparation for some sacred duty). On that point, I agree with you and Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) below.

                      I also happen to think it would not be appropriate to invite outsiders or media into a prayer event of this sort. I sense this is part of your concern too, but I don’t think you have clearly articulated this point. I think it would have been more helpful if you had pointed this out and explained why without harsh condemnations — at least initially.

                      Because neither you nor the Bishop have offered an alternative, it seems like you are condemning both the hearts and the minds of those you are addressing. Even if your motives are right, you might be doing harm to people who are doing the best they can during a difficult situation. I’d like to challenge you to offer an alternative.

                      For example, would it make sense to you that these people pray the Lord’s Prayer and not allow media or outsiders to observe?

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                    • Colette, you once again miss a point that would be naturally understood had you been Orthodox for most of your life.

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                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Saunca, I believe Colette has been Orthodox most of her life, certainly most of her adult life. And her point is that people here are making a big deal about singing the Jesus Prayer as a public protest not because there’s anything especially wrong about it, but because they don’t agree with the protest, which does seem to me to be the case. After all, how much difference is there between protesters singing “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner” and protesters singing “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us”? The latter is regularly sung in public, including at public protests like the March for Life. Does that profane it? Is it not still both a prayer sincerely meant and a profession of faith beneficial to those who sing it as well as those who hear it? To my knowledge, no one has ever complained about singing “Holy God” at a protest. Why then the outrage about singing the Jesus Prayer?

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                  • Thank you, CQ! The Jesus Prayer was developed over a period of time to be interiorized, to become an automatic interior prayer of the heart. Unfortunately, it became somehow an ornament of Orthodoxy. Like Icons, which were intended to be means of communication of the individual soul with the person/event depicted, they became oranaments of the Church which are trotted out to attract people to “Orthodoxy” and not to reveal and present What is represented in them.
                    Nowadays, CQ, there’s a most trendy Orthodox community headed by a spiritual “star” in England that has hit upon the “wonderful” idea of communal singing of the Jesus Prayer.Now it;s even published and copyrighted as a choir NUMBER for Orthodox Choirs and, no doubt, to be sung around the campfires of “movement” outings.
                    “popularizing Orthodoxy!” That’s what’s left of the Savior’s command to “go and teach!”
                    Now some would make it an Orthodox protest exercise! Just as so many social rebels in the 60s used the hymn, “We shall overcome someday”, so, too, now, the Americanized Orthodox want to chant the Jesus Prayer, the prayer of the HEART, the to-be-interiorized practice of ‘hesychasm” into loud noise!
                    Sometimes it has been said that we get the Priest or Bishop “that we deserve.”
                    In what way can the laity inspire the episcopate at an All-American Council to direct their spiritual gazes on The One Thing Needful”, and not on the Best Management of Resources to Bring About a Successful Outcome?

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          • CQ, we aren’t going to use the Jesus Prayer as anything other than what it is, a prayer.

            It is appropriate to pray the Jesus Prayer in group settings, which is what this will be.

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          • Carl Kraeff says:

            Great points. Indeed, most of the personal penitential prayers would be inappropriate. Initially, I thought that it would have been more appropriate to sing “Open to me the gates of repentance,” but after reading your post I have changed my mind. IMO, the Trisagion would be better, as would “O Lord, save Thy people…”

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      • What’s hilarious for me about this is that half the people that I am surrounded by supporting +Jonah are Russians -from Russia and are not converts as well as American born who are not converts. And what about Americans who have no religious past? Orthodoxy being their “original” religion?

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        • And what about Russians and others who grew up under communism and got baptized as Adults. Perhaps you met Constantine and Helen at the cathedral? They converted in adulthood at the cathedral. One of the most pious people I know grew up Atheist in Albania. He serves now as a priest. His sister runs Orthodox tours. They, too, are converts. Similar to converts are those who were raised Orthodox and chose to give a conscious believing commitment to their Faith as adults, i.e. cradle who decided that Orthodoxy is not a birthright but something involving their whole being. They , too, are like converts. And those who have fallen away from active commitment to the Faith, or lapsed, and confess that they might commune again, they too are like converts.

          Let us not rank each other in our belief but rather love one another that we might confess.

          Let us all pray that God’s will be done and pray that it happens sooner rather than later.

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      • CQ,
        Agreed. Grew up in several northern states and Orthodox parishes. Now, I’ve spent most of my adult life south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Most DOS churches are heavily convert based and often overtaken by evangelistic zeal, both in political mission, and in customs. “Cradle” Orthodox Christians visiting or attempting to join their missions are looked at suspiciously. There is a political push from convert priests and parishners that doesn’t fit within traditional Orthodoxy. Fighting the conservative fight, regarding homosexuality and abortion, has become an actual fight! – both online and in political marches. In addition, why has almost every southern mission reverted back to customs not typical of an Orthodox parish in the US? No pews….separate worship sides for men and women, almost all convert women wear their hair up under a scarf?? If this was their original custom, or if they were newly arrived in the US, the intent would be genuine. But, instead it’s hard to perceive that a converted Protestant is doing it for any other reason than to say “look at how pious I am!”
        (What will happen to these converts when their initial “zeal” wears off, when the fighting fire in their bellies quiets enough for their wisdom & experience to catch up to their actions? when they’ve been Orthodox for 15, 30, 50 years?)
        I remain hopeful that, at least some cradle Orthodox, will revolt against the Southern Baptist Evangelization of our Churches and Faith.

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        • Geo Michalopulos says:

          Isn’t it ironic though Saunca, that the “convert-based” DOS people who practice these pietisms come from denominations which don’t practice them as well? That should give us pause before criticising them.

          Also, I wouldn’t ignore the old American adage “you can’t argue with success.” After all, here in the South, where you find this zeal, you also find the only diocese in the OCA that isn’t moribund or lethargic. (I still have hope for the DOS although I wouldn’t put it past the Wonder-boys of Syosset to muck things up here as well.)

          Anyway, what’s wrong with standing up for traditional Christian morality? If it’s a political pose it’s wrong but let’s not forget that very often those who maintain this fiction and uphold customary Orthodox quiescence don’t really adhere to traditional Orthodox understanding regarding sodomy, fornication, and abortion.

          One could say that this quiescence is merely an excuse to not have to take a stand –especially if you don’t agree with the Church’s teachings on these matters. But that would be judgmental on my part.

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          • George, did you ever watch “Thank You for Smoking?”

            Your response to Saunca reminds me of this exchange:

            Joey Naylor: …so what happens when you’re wrong?
            Nick Naylor: Whoa, Joey I’m never wrong.
            Joey Naylor: But you can’t always be right…
            Nick Naylor: Well, if it’s your job to be right, then you’re never wrong.
            Joey Naylor: But what if you are wrong?
            Nick Naylor: OK, let’s say that you’re defending chocolate, and I’m defending vanilla. Now if I were to say to you: ‘Vanilla is the best flavour ice-cream’, you’d say…
            Joey Naylor: No, chocolate is.
            Nick Naylor: Exactly, but you can’t win that argument… so, I’ll ask you: so you think chocolate is the end all and the all of ice-cream, do you?
            Joey Naylor: It’s the best ice-cream, I wouldn’t order any other.
            Nick Naylor: Oh! So it’s all chocolate for you is it?
            Joey Naylor: Yes, chocolate is all I need.
            Nick Naylor: Well, I need more than chocolate, and for that matter I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom. And choice when it comes to our ice-cream, and that Joey Naylor, that is the defintion of liberty.
            Joey Naylor: But that’s not what we’re talking about
            Nick Naylor: Ah! But that’s what I’m talking about.
            Joey Naylor: …but you didn’t prove that vanilla was the best…
            Nick Naylor: I didn’t have to. I proved that you’re wrong, and if you’re wrong I’m right.

            Joey Naylor: But you still didn’t convince me
            Nick Naylor: It’s that I’m not after you. I’m after them.
            [points into the crowd]

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        • Carl Kraeff says:

          Saunca–I agree with most of what you say, but this is not one of them. I am cradle Orthodox who happens to think that cradles are generally not as good Orthodox Christians as the converts. The reason may be that cradles are generally catechized very poorly. Whatever the reason, many cradles seem to think that their praxis must be right just because they grew up in the Church. They are very uncritical, very incurious and very casual about their faith, prayer life, and contributions to the Body (in money, talents and time). Furthermore, even if they are well cathechized, they think that the local church that they grew up in is normative for all other local churches. OTH, converts are generally speaking much more serious about their faith and practice. The only thing that may be a problem with them is that some of them become superOrthodox (check this site to see what I mean: http://hyperdoxherman.tumblr.com/) and a pain in you know where. But, not any more than some cradles. I think the answer is for cradles to “convert” sometime during their life and for converts to calm down a bit. Obviously, we all need to be patient with each other.

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          • Anna Rowe says:

            Carl,
            You wrote
            Furthermore, even if they are well cathechized, they think that the local church that they grew up in is normative for all other local churches.
            This also allows for not all local churches being a good fit for all.

            Anna

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          • Carl, a well written contribution. Point taken on having “patience with each other”

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          • Carl Kraeff says:

            Perhaps, I should give you the other side of the coin. Aside from the super-Orthodox issues, some converts seem to distance themselves as far as possible from whence they came. Thus, the Old Calendar, women and men in separate areas of the church, head coverings for women, liturgical languages, music as different as possible, etc… become very desirable to them. I cannot say whether these things are valued for themselves, as a means to differentiate and increase the distance to the past, or both.

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    • For those who were worried, this is indeed affiliated with the official protest in Parma.

      So if you plan to travel to Parma to protest at the AAC, please do make contact at parma2012@zoho.com.

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  8. Harry Coin says:

    Surely the bishop or the parish pastor has offered some reasons. How can you say removing a delegate was against the OCA’s statute, you’ve written nothing supporting that. Perhaps there are personal / pastoral reasons having nothing to do with the larger church situation.

    It seems really very odd, the notion offered here that an alternate delegate gets removed on the basis he won’t vote as those in leadership might prefer. Why make a fuss about removing an alternate delegate who most likely won’t be casting a ballot anyhow?

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    • Harry,

      That is what is so stupid about the OCA leadership, they have turned Joel into a martyr. If they had any sense, besides acting out in fear or simply being totally reactive, they would have realized that Joel is an alternate so don’t make a big deal out of it. However they have made it into an issue by their incompetent.

      There are no, none, nada, personal reasons for Joel to be kicked out. He is a man of integrity, faith, fidelity, education, intellect, and prayer. He serves with great respect and his response to his ouster is a reflection of the man. How he writes is who he is. Is that to be feared or punished?

      If this was the only scrutiny taking place, then it isn’t such a big deal except that it reveals a leadership group acting like “Chicken Little.” They don’t know what to do, so they shoot a messenger of respectful discourse. This has as much to do with sending a signal to anyone attending Parma that they may be next. They just better sit down and shut up.

      This is also the reason why they are reaching deep into their bench to haul out the dalai lama of protopresbyters to preach at the Council liturgy. His job will be to quell the masses and get them to support the dream of the OCA. Just be nice, play along, don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain. He will call upon the ghosts of the OCA past to deflect attention from the lack of leadership we now endure. Remember this is the man who pledged his fidelity to Mark Stokoe and who said the Holy Spirit was not present in Pittsburgh. So will it be present in Parma because he is there and preaching?

      Sadly, Joel will not be the only potential delegate challenged. I have heard from several clergy that there is a strong push to limit anyone who might be a voice of question and conscience. Some who write here under their own names or using their first name are being crossed checked with registration forms. Of course this will be difficult and quite frankly such an effort is against any semblance that this gathering will be guided by the Holy Spirit. Why? Because they are working feverishly to control the outcome of the Council. Those plans were upset in Pittsburgh when +Job was suppose to be the choice. The fact that it is only a one-day event, with a tightly controlled agenda is proof enough that the synod and syosset hirelings want to get through it as quickly as possible, not to mention that they are hiring cops.

      Further proof will be the ham handed efforts to stop any questions from the floor, any questions of the chair to amend the agenda, to inquire the chair with legitimate concerns. The action against Joel is, I fear, only the tip of the soviet-style control that Parma will forever be in the floundering history of the OCA.

      As an outsider, Harry, you enjoy popping in here and try to play down internal events in the OCA. Of course you can do so but you don’t have a dog in this fight. You don’t live in the reality of a jurisdiction adrift and sinking, like yours was in the days of Ab. Syriodon. People are leaving our parishes. Clergy are scared to speak up and even syosset is dealing with the fact that assessment money is not going up. This is only the beginning because census numbers will be turned in after the Parma Council and if it is nothing more than a rubber stamp show trial for what the synod is already planning to do no matter who the clergy and laity vote for, more people will vote with their feet and leave our parishes.

      And, of course, there may be a significant number of delegates who will vote for +Jonah or a non-OCA bishop. It would not surprise me if a good number vote for a sitting Patriarch of another Church as a message that the current leadership is not up to the task. Will those votes be counted? Will they be thrown out? What happens if +Jonah receives enough votes to go to the second ballot? What happens if he is the Council’s choice? Another non-appearace of the Holy Spirit?

      So the unnecessary and stupid removal of Joel Kalvesmaki’s serious but respectful letter to the synod was met with an arrogant and misguided firm fist. But are we surprised? They have a long record of this and I don’t think that things will change after Parma. However the good and faithful folk of the OCA must soldier on and not give up. Whether the OCA survives is not the issue. Orthodoxy in this land must survive and can through our courageous efforts.

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      • Harry Coin says:

        ‘Nikos’ – I certainly don’t ‘enjoy popping in here’ and to the contrary every Orthodox person in the USA ‘has a dog in this fight’ — if Orthodox communion means anything in a place. Call me inattentive to legalistic detail, but I decline to observe ‘overseas jurisdictional entanglements’ as reasons to feel divided from those who share Christian Orthodox communion. I don’t have a vote in the OCA but I do want it to grow and I do want to feel proud of how it’s doing. Same for the rest here. I think 4 out of 5 50 and under people feel the same way, and 4 out of 5 people with grandchildren feel that way as well. The ordained young never married who don’t have ‘a dog in this fight’ are the childless, wifeless, who don’t feel the pain every week when their own children feel the pull to go elsewhere to church or to no church, especially because of ‘shenanigans with a same-sex theme’ in high places.

        What any Orthodox parish, diocese, whatnot does reflects on us all here. A decade or more ago when most had brothers or sisters in the old country it might have been different. Now most of us are married to folk with no ancestry overseas. The OCA has the name that might attract folk, and it has the ability to take decisions without political overseas foreign policy entanglements.

        Anyhow it’s called the ‘All American Council’ not the ‘All American Amen corner’. Policy disagreements in high places and dissenting voices were contemplated and expected from day 1.

        I admit to being very puzzled by ‘this fight’ since +JP has said nothing about wanting his old job back. I wish folk here wouldn’t ‘pile on’ the current synod since what exactly is the point? The one who has gone isn’t coming back, he’s said nothing of the sort. And, the bishops hint he may have some manner of problem that hasn’t been revealed and perhaps +JP just wants to have some dignity and not have to have it be revealed. If there was some statement that he would accept the job if elected it would be different. Haven’t seen one. Until that happens why go pile on over there? What good will come of it? Who would be the best going forward, that’s what needs talking about!

        I certainly hope people don’t show up and vote for those who are not willing to serve– especially to include members of overseas synods so the vote essentially amounts to giving up the OCA’s ability to choose it’s own future, its autocephaly. To ‘go under’ some foreign center would be the defacto end, those who want a Vatican style setup already have that choice and it’s not really bringing anyone in the doors, but instead going out the doors and not coming back.

        In this present matter, it is a simple matter of human decency, to let someone who has offered to be a candidate for election to some church function to be taken aside by the pastor or the bishop and told why it is he or she can’t be on the ballot– before his/her name comes before the whole parish, before they elect him/her over others who didn’t get enough votes.

        Now look at the mess. Here, late in the process, the bishop decides to delete him/her and by extension offend the entire parish that elected him. Worse, whoever does get elected later on knows they are the parish’s second choice, the majority of the parish preferred someone else. I’m sure they feel great about it.

        It’s just human decency, to not embarrass the candidate that doesn’t meet some requirement, let them know before their name appears on a ballot and to not offend the parishioners who ‘wrongly’ cast their vote. It has nothing to do with the details of the particular controversy.

        Now what has to happen? The parish has to come together and vote for someone else, and hear all about the personal problems of the one they backed?

        I suppose the only way that might make any sense to dump an elected parish volunteer is if the person elected did something awful, something not in keeping with their prior known views and choices, after they were elected by the parish but before the event. If not, sad day.

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        • Harry,

          You made a serious reply and you are right in that we are all in this together, the actions of one affect the other and that is why the serious miscalculations and poor decisions of the OCA synod, not just in the +Jonah situation but misguided decisions for many years are adding up to an OCA jurisdiction that is severely if not mortally wounded. You can’t build the Church upon lies, fear and anger. The bitter fruit of this type of leadership is now coming home to roost.

          It is not piling on to speak truth to power. This synod has acted upon a false principle, “if they believe it to be true, then it is true” even when they are proven not to be the truth and not acting in truth. Coupled with the fact that they now must protect each other from their mutual embarrassment as compromised leaders, this is a broken and dysfunctional organization.

          Respect for our leaders is earned. I respect the office of bishop, and I respect and honor many bishops, but the bishop himself must earn that respect by how he lives and leads. When they call the cops on the faithful, pile on +Jonah with a hateful letter justifying their actions, then a diocesan bishop does the same thing only to be put on an administrative leave for sexual misconduct a few weeks later, does little to engender confidence. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

          It is indeed a sad day when Joel is turned out for having the courage of his convictions and trust in the OCA leadership that they can listen to his questions. Apparently not. Apparently they are more concerned with controlling the outcome in Parma. Shame on them for that and shame on us if we allow it.

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          • George Michalopulos says:

            Harry, I must second Nikos’ assessment here. It is spot on. I would only add that another thing that makes it hard for us in the OCA to respect many of the current bishops is that they used the evil principle of “ends justifying the means” when they set false charges against Jonah. Even if Jonah was an inept leader (arguable), using evil means (slander) does not justify a (possibly) good end.

            We seem to understand this innately because of all the wreckage we see around us that was set in motion by their evil act.

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        • D.C. Attorney says:

          I personally know Dr. Kalvesmaki and served with him on the Parish Council at St. Nicholas. There are few there who have been more dedicated to the parish, and he loves the OCA. Not only that, he is extraordinarily intelligent and qualified. He is held in high regard by everyone, even those who may disagree with him on certain points. The only reason he has been barred is because he eloquently and appropriately asked questions that needed to be asked. If the Administrator would release the letter as he was directed to by the bishop, you would see that. So I agree with you, Mr. Coin, it is a sad day.

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      • Joseph A. says:

        Dr. Kalvesmaki is upstanding, intelligent, learned, and pious — I can’t imagine how Bishop Alexander justifies barring him from the Parma meeting. One expects more of a scholar (if not a prince)!

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        • Disgusted With It says:

          This, in my opinion, is why the bishop is supposed to come “from among the people”. Bishop Alexander is an outsider, an overlord imposed on a diocese. He doesn’t know them, he doesn’t know the parish dynamics, he doesn’t know how they interact with one another and with their clergy. Being a new bishop, one of his brother bishops should have counseled him to show a little more restraint in the matter, or at least get to know the full situation before jumping into such a drastic action. But I fear they were egging him on to do it. It seems that this is how most, if not all, of the OCA bishops act with their own dioceses, so of course he felt dictatorship is the best road. The whole institution of the OCA synod is sick and in need of healing.

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          • Dear All,

            A huge repeated theme today socially after church was folks SHOCKED over Bp. Alexander, Father Perich and Father Valery signing that letter to Joel. It seems uncharacteristic of them. I will attest to it seeming shocking for the last two, at least. And yet, to Joel Kalvesmakii, one of the best of Christians ,it happened. The unthinkable happened.

            I and others still looking forward to meeting Bp. Alexander for the first time. Prejudging is contrary to my genetic makeup . However, I am extremely concerned that the first official act of his as head of the Bulgarian Archdiocese, his title when he was invited by the FOCA, was so misguided. it will prejudice people against him and rob some of the joy of looking forward to meeting him. He is keynoting an upcoming family event at St. Mark’s. Check it out:

            http://www.stmarkoca.org/events1.html

            Sat Oct 20: St. Mark Education Day & FOCA Oktoberfest

            Education Day Lecture: His Grace, Right Reverend Alexander, Bishop of Toledo and Locum Tenens of the Archdiocese of Washington DC, will lecture on “Virtue and the Christian Life” based on the writings of St. Simeon the New Theologian.
            Lecture Time: 2:00 – 5:15 PM.
            Location: Church Sanctuary.
            Cost: A free-will offering is encouraged.

            Oktoberfest: Open to everyone! Family event with fellowship, German food and beer, polka music from “Music by Nancy, The Accordion Queen of Washington D.C.” (see her website at: http://www.musicbynancy.com), and lots of other fun!

            Time: Following Vespers.
            Location: Church social hall.
            Cost: Adults- $15.00 ; Teens- $10.00 ; Children Under Age 12- FREE.

            Note: You don’t have to attend the Octoberfest to attend the lecture. I don’t much cotton to beer, but I do admit to being overly fond of accordians

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      • Nikos says:
        October 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm
        “the dalai lama of protopresbyters to preach at the Council liturgy.”
        “Remember this is the man who pledged his fidelity to Mark Stokoe and who said the Holy Spirit was not present in Pittsburgh.”

        So then, can we put any faith at all in whatever he preaches then?

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        • I would suggest that if they have to make this call to the bullpen it is a rather feeble attempt to legitimate their actions by wrapping themselves in the mantle of the past. Have you listened to some of Hopko’s recent podcasts on AFR? Some of them are just bizarre, rambling streams. This is a pretty blatant attempt to quell the masses. I mean who would dare speak out against Hopko? The who declares if the Holy Spirit is present or not.

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  9. Kosovo is Serbia says:

    You Americans are really quite silly…

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  10. Can any of us honestly say we are a conciliar Church when we see bishops behave like this time and time again.

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  11. Denis Rukobludov says:

    Regarding the recent Metropolitan Council meeting and oca.org, the website states that “Minutes and reports will be posted on the OCA web site as soon as they become available”. It’s been quite a while now and nothing is posted. Patriarchia.ru posts minutes of the Synod meetings same or next day.

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    • All in the Family says:

      Denis,

      Massaging the minutes takes time. Don’t let the fact that the syosset always tells us that they are overworked. They are certainly not underpaid. But, then again, when they are obsessed with sexual misconduct but wont’ do a thing about Archdeacon Gregory Burke or Gregory Becker, both with a direct connection to the OCA Locum Tenens,

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    • All in the Family says:

      Denis,

      Massaging the minutes takes time. Don’t let the fact that Syosset always tells us that they are overworked. They are certainly not underpaid. But, then again, when they are obsessed with sexual misconduct but won’t do a thing about Archdeacon Gregory Burke or Gregory Becker, both with a direct connection to the OCA Locum Tenens, you can’t be too hard on them.

      Just trust Syosset and the Synod and all will be well.

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  12. Rdr. James says:

    I don’t think Bp. Alexander did the deed on his own. He’s too new to actually know Joel. I sense something else here and it isn’t very nice.

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    • All in the Family says:

      Rdr. James,

      No doubt Fr. Perich was a willing participant, following orders, “being obedient” but one cannot under-estimate the role of Denis Bradley, the pro-gay priest at St. Nicholas, who would have no problem with another traditional Orthodox family leaving the Cathedral so that he can continue to advance his agenda.

      Bp Alexander with his affected English accent, and Perich a ego trip dramatic caricature when he serves, (some folks like this type of dramatic reading of the Liturgy) and Bradley doing his dirty work behind the scenes with Kishkovsky and Jillions, it is a poor mess for the remaining faithful at St. Nicholas. God help and protect them from people like this.

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      • Rdr. James says:

        Dear All:
        Just looked at that video you sent, and the priest was operatic and the choir completely out of tune and ‘pushy’ in their sound. Certainly not an adversement for ‘apophaticism, nort one for well done liturgy.

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        • Monk James says:

          I just watched this clip, too.

          It ‘s obvious here that Fr John Perich doesn’t know when to take off his hat, when to stand in the altar, when to make a prostration, or how to cense. It’s also remarkable that his overly theatrical chanting and pronunciation don’t match his equally artificial hunky Pennsylvania accent when he’s hawking his wares on television.

          This man is a liability. It’s only a matter of time before his story emerges.

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      • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

        To All in the Family:

        You cannot be serious how can an Orthodox Priest be pro-gay? That is a very serious accusation, one that should not be casually made. If a Priest is teaching moral heresy, he should be removed and told to repent and accept the teaching of the Church. If he refuses, he should be laicized for teaching moral heresy. Do you people realize the impression that one can get of the OCA reading this blog? I have read that you tolerated a Metropolitan for years who was an active homosexual, one of your bishops has porn on his hard drive as well as a drinking problem, and another made some sort of inappropriate advances on a woman, at least he likes girls. You have a deacon in your Cathedral in Miami who is living in a homosexual relationship with a retired but not deposed Bishop. You had a man living in an open homosexual relationship who was a member of your Metropolitan Council who used the internet to attack anyone he did not like, including my Metropolitan. Your Archbishop in Canada was arrested for molesting children.A man was denied the right to be an alternative delegate to your national meeting because he wrote something the Bishop did not like. If these things are true, the OCA has a lot more serious problems than whether or not Met. Jonah should have been forced to resign or whether or not the rest of Orthodoxy recognizes the autocaphaly of the OCA. Instead of crucifying the Antiochians because we do not wear cassocks at the air port, have seating in our Churches, and are loyal to our Metropolitan and Bishops, you should clean up the OCA of its serious violations of Orthodox teaching. I do not believe that God will condemn a Priest who does not wear a cassock on the street, uses the New Calendar and has pews in his Church, but God will not forgive a Priest or Bishop who rejects the moral teachings of the Church and does not repent.

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        • The pews are kinda over the top. Would you consider removing, say, half the rows, toward the back would be fine, so we could come on over, put our stuff on folding chair for sitting during the sermon and announcements and stand and bow whenever necessary? We also like our children to feel free to move around a tad and not have to sit and fidget on those hard wooden pews. :)

          Y’all can wear whatever vestments make you feel right, as long as they have some dignity and tradition to them.

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          • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

            I think making an issue of pews is over the top, way over the top. No one is more Orthodox than His Grace Bishop Basil. When he built the Temple that became his Cathedral in Wichita, he put pews in it. There are pews in St. Mary’s Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus and in the Patriarchal Cathedral in Constantinople. In all the postings that have criticized Antiochians because we have pews in our Churches, I have yet to read an explanation on why pews are so bad since we have ancient Orthodox liturgical texts that refer to sitting and standing. The Psalms are divided into Kathisma, sitting. We chant the Akathist Hymn during Great Lent. If there is an ancient liturgical text called “Not Sitting,” it is safe to assume that it is not against the Orthodox Faith to sit in the Temple.
            There are far more issues facing American Orthodoxy than whether or not the Antiochians have pews in their Churches. I think the possibility that 25% of what I read on this blog is true, we have a serious problem with people who have surrendered to the secular society and have compromised Orthodox moral teaching than the existence of pews in Antiochian Churches. I do not pay attention to when the people of my parish sit or stand, because all my attention is on the Divine Liturgy. That is what is important for a Priest.

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              Fr John, I mean no offense here but my problem with pews is liturgical, spiritual, and practical. (Please understand I have no problem with chairs, stassidhia, benches along the sides or a few chairs interspersed here and there. I myself sit down during the sermon. If not on a bench then on the floor.)

              1. Liturgically, they make congregational participation extremely difficult, hence

              2. Spiritually, they reduce the congregation to passive audience, thereby deforming the liturgical services into theatrical performances and increasing the likelihood of deforming our anthropology into a clerical/elite vs. laymen/lumpenproletariat, and

              3. Practically, they make the formation of new missions difficult. To build a traditional/Old World-style church without pews that can accommodate 80-100 people standing is less expensive than it is to built a church with pews to accommodate as many people. In short, the architectural footprint is about half the size.

              I have been to Bishop Basil Essey’s cathedral in Wichita and it is a jewel of Orthodoxy BTW, as is His Grace. I just think that way more missions can be established if people start thinking out of the box and not being beholden to Protestant architectural norms.

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              • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                How do pews make it difficult for the people to participate? There is nothing about pews that prevent them from singing the responses along with the choir. There is nothing about pews that prevent one from making the sign of the cross of bowing. Even with pews people can kneel during the Kneeling Prayers of Pentecost Vespers. There is nothing about pews that prevent one from standing at the appropriate times. People should not be wandering around during the Divine Liturgy, but should pay attention and participate in the Divine Liturgy, not pray their private devotions.

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  genuflection can be very difficult if there’s only 10″ between the back of a pew and the front of the seat. Just sayin’

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                  • Priest Justin Frederick says:

                    I’m sorry, Fr. John, you really don’t know how pews make it difficult for people to participate in worship? How many people do the appointed prostrations during weekday services or during Great Lent when there are pews cluttering the nave? A few fervent faithful make the effort to get out into the aisles, the rest use the pews as an excuse to avoid a traditional posture of worship which is prescribed during services. When the church is on the fuller side, some will be unable to assume the traditional form of worship even if they want to. Or will you say that making a prostration in church is really not important or necessary, a nice bit of piety for those who wish it, but which can be safely omitted by those who don’t want to?

                    So pews are good because they keep people from wandering around the church during services?!

                    Further, pews could be said to be bad stewardship. How? Not only do they cost a good bit in themselves, they also force one to build a church building larger than if the pews were not installed. How many square feet do you need for 150 people to stand comfortably? How many to seat the same number in pews? Add up the additional costs imposed by pews: larger building, heating and cooling a larger space, the cost of the pews themselves. I’d call that bad stewardship.

                    And what were the compelling benefits of rows of pews?

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                  • It is non-negotiably, physically impossible to make prostrations in a nave cluttered by pews. There is not enough room in the aisles to accommodate an entire parish trying to make prostrations. It is not possible to make so much as a metanoia (bow) while simultaneously avoiding the obstacles of a kneeler and a pew back. As for kneelers, they absolutely invite parishioners to kneel on Sundays, which we are not to do (with few exceptions). The laypeople knelt in every Greek and Antiochian parish I have attended or visited. I make no apology for opposing pews.

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                    • Michael Bauman says:

                      I’m a parishoner at St. George Cathedral and I can attest to all of the negatives about pews said here and add that they promote “my pew” nonsense; greatly increase disruption when babies cry and folks arrive late; make the installation of icons on the ceiling much more disruptive than it needs to be (but we are about done with that). The biggest impediment to pews, IMO, is the inabiity to do the prostrations or deep metanias.

                      I have been to and worshipped in pewless parishes and rather than ‘wandering around’ during Divine Liturgy I have found that most folks crowd around the outer edges near the benches and as far away from the front as possible. That leaves a large open space in the middle that is intimidating to most (too much like a stage) and therefore not used for prostrations anyway.

                      We had problems with folks sitting too soon and kneeling during parts of the Liturgy on Sunday. Both were pretty much solved by our Dean commanding us not to to that. We also have a lot of physically impaired folks, more than simple benches or chairs around the outside will accomodate.

                      BTW I know of no mandate in the AOA that requires pews. Our parish in Topeka, KS began as a pewless mission and is still pewless, I believe.

                      However, none of the negatives about pews stop us from living an Orthodox life of prayer, mercy and repentance, nor does the absence of pews, in and of itself, lead to greater holiness.

                      Bearing false witness, promoting heretical anthropologies and gross immorality does impair salvation and the witness of the Church.

                      Both are correct in this debate.

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                    • I have worshiped in parishes with pews and in parishes without them. There is no comparison. Pews are terrible.

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                    • Archpriest John Morris says:

                      I honestly cannot believe that Orthodox can get into a fight over whether or not to have seating in the Temple. It is such e patty issue when we we have so many more important issues to deal with as a Church. If we ever unite to form one American Orthodox Church, the former members of the OCA will just have to learn to live with the fact that some parishes have seating, just as we will have to learn to live with the fact that some do not. If your parish does not want to have seating, do not have seating, but do not judge the dismiss as un-Orthodox a parish that has seating in its Temple. What do you do for someone like my wife who has to sit, because she has to use a walker and cannot stand? Somehow when we live in a society that murders millions of unborn children through abortion, considers Biblical moral standards old fashioned, and allows same sex marriage, for the Orthodox to fight about seating in the Church seems rather a waste of time. Let us address the real issues that face our society such as abortion and the abandonment of Biblical standards of sexual morality by society instead of whether or not an Orthodox Church should have pews or other seating.
                      I agree on kneelers. I do not know why any Orthodox Church would have them because the canons forbid kneeling on Sunday. The only time that Orthodox kneel is during the Kneeling Prayers of the Kneeling Vespers on Pentecost, but liturgically that is the service for Holy Spirit Monday, not Sunday. For that one service, the people can kneel on the floor the way that my people do. As for prostrations, there is plenty of room in the aisles or in front of the pews on the first row of my parish for the people to make the prostrations during Great Lent which is the only time that we make prostrations during a service. Our pews are far apart enough to allow a metanoia which we do by bowing and touching the floor. Besides my people stand during most of the Divine Liturgy anyway. They only sit for the Epistle and the Antiphones. I noticed Sunday that every time that I turned to them, they were standing. However, to be perfectly honest, I personally prefer moveable seating to avoid any possible problem with prostrations during Great Lent.
                      I hate to tell you this, but in the Cleveland area pews are quite common in OCA parishes including the Cathedral. I was in one OCA parish that used an organ. If your parish does not want pews, do not have them, but do not criticize others who have them, because it is silly to define how Orthodox a community is by whether or not it has pews or other seating in its Temple. It can easily be established that sitting is allowed during Orthodox services. The division of the Psalms are called Kathisma, which mean sitting. We have a service called the Akathist which means not sitting.These are not modern services, but are ancient services of the Church. It is customary in Orthodoxy to sit during the Epistle. That is why the Deacon says, “Wisdom stand upright. Le us hear the holy Gospel.” before the Gospel. The Deacon says the same thing before the Gospel of Matins. If people did not sit, why would the Deacon tell them to stand?

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                    • P.S. I have not observed that anybody is “fighting” about pews. I don’t recall how the topic came up, but it is a valid point for discussion. I have read “pro-pew” claims that are rational, even though I do not (and am not obligated to) agree with them. Articulating a defensible position, pro- or con-, is not “fighting.”

                      I’m far more bothered here by the “My jurisdiction is better than your jurisdiction. . .” song, being sung to the tune of the old commercial for Kennel Ration dog food.

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                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                    Orthodox do not genuflect, That is a Roman Catholic practice.

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                    • Well you seem pretty convinced it’s just a matter of taste. Clearly there are others who see something more fundamental that relates to a departure from the Gospel.

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            • Dear Fr. John,

              You are right that we have more pressing issues than chairs or no chairs (and if I may I sneak in that I appreciate your faith and the many very true things you’ve contributed on this blog) but I agree with George and LOH here. Standing is age old and it’s meaning-standing before a King was both secular and religious for the Romans-where we got it. Even in scripture it reveals they were standing during prayer. This has been consistent in Orthodoxy until coming here to this country. It allows way more freedoms and expressions during prayer and their is a rhythm and movement too. I can’t remember where I saw this birds eye view of a prayer service in Russia but it was interesting to me this circular movement during the entire service-not just swaying or shifting but almost like a spiral . . .. Anyway, It is worth the discussion I think.

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              • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                Who says that one cannot stand and bow if there are pews in the Church. I do not know what the people of my parish do when my back is to them for obvious reasons. However, whenever I face the congregation the people are standing. During Lent, people go to the aisles to do their prostrations. My whole point is that there are more important issues for Orthodox to argue about than the presence of seating in the Church. Besides, I have also provided historical evidence from the liturgical texts of the Church that people have sat in the Church since ancient times.
                Actually the responses illustrate my point. I listed serious offenses against Orthodox moral teachings alleged to have been committed by leaders of the OCA and as a side mention pews and then get posts that do not comment on the problems that I mentioned, but focus on a side comment on pews. The moral offenses alleged are far more important than having seating in the Church. My point is, that some people in the OCA criticize us as not being really Orthodox over matters that I consider non-essentials, while they ignore much more serious problems in their own jurisdiction.

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                • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                  They have said the same if not worse about the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Yet, even with everything that went down with Abp Spyridon and the whole “Overseas Bishop BS” or denying the EP his official title with everything going on in the OCA, even if only a fraction true, I’ll stay and fight in the GOA any day of the week.

                  Peter

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                • George Osborne says:

                  Dear Fr. John……In my very humble opinion, I think you are dead, spot-on about the arguement of pews versus no-pews in the face of the near travesty the OCA has become over the past ten years. While I have to agree personally with George that I prefer to stand without the impediment of pews, especially during the Lenten seasons, the subject of pews as well as the use of the New Calendar is not one that affects our salvation or the salvation of those around us. Our God is the God of time and space so which clock we use and whether or not we stand or sit seems a bit like saying that God can be bound by our own likes and dislikes rather than his own Soverign Will. However, I digress……

                  As long as the OCA openly allows individuals who diviate from the dictates of the two witnesses of our Faith, the Canon of Scripture and the Canon of Synodical Tradition, it ceases to be an Orthodox Church. Let’s call a spade a spade here. You can sit in a garage and drink gasoline but that doesn’t make you a car. You can dress up, perform a beautiful and correct liturgy, and have a nice building, but if you aren’t practicing the Faith, you are simply not Orthodox. Period. While there are areas that are not primary (pews, calendar, etc.) some are indispensible. The OCA has put the lie to the Hopko and Schmemann fantasy of autocephaly completely and decisvely by allowing these actions. Homosexuality as a violation of Scipture and Canons is unimpeachible. To have allowed it and now to actively promote it simply is the incription on the tombstone. Parma is an epitaph, an appendix, to an experiment in spiritual immaturity gone horribly awry. Not that there are not good and faithdul priest and people, I’m speaking about the institution.

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                  • I whole heartedly agree with this post and admittedly have not been following the Pew vs. no pew argument, just that one I responded to, but having been in churches with pews and ones without it is a different experience when seating is only along the sides and there is open space to worship. That’s all I’ll say because, I don’t think it has anything to do with being Orthodox or not and the OCA troubles are indeed extremely serious and I think that is what needs to be he focus now.

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                    • I think Andreas has a bad case of “convertitis”.
                      I don’t *like* pews (as if my likes/dislikes are what worship is all about!), but relating having pews to departing from the Gospel is just ridiculous.

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                  • “As long as the OCA openly allows individuals who diviate from the dictates of the two witnesses of our Faith, the Canon of Scripture and the Canon of Synodical Tradition, it ceases to be an Orthodox Church.”

                    So my question to all OCA members (and especially clergy) who read this blog is, in light of George’s statement quoted above, what are we in the OCA still doing in the OCA then, if our intent is to be in the Church? I’m asking this quite sincerely, since I am at a loss as to what is the right thing to do. We have advice on this blog spanning the range from “look to your own salvation–what the Bishops are doing doesn’t affect that,” which doesn’t find a real home in my conscience, frankly, because I believe my salvation and everyone else’s is intimately connected in the Church, and thus I can’t simply ignore it when my brother or sister is being abused because it (supposedly) doesn’t immediately impact my own salvation. Even if the only things I can do are pray and raise at least a cry of protest, aren’t those some things I must do?

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      Karen:

                      First off regardless of what is currently happening in the OCA the OCA still is a canonical Orthodox Church. Thus, your local priest performs a valid Divine Liturgy and your local OCA church still possesses the fullness of the Orthodox Church. Unless and until the ENTIRE Orthodox Church decree the OCA or any Orthodox Church non-canonical and/or heretical the fullness of faith still abides in your local OCA.

                      Listen, crap like this goes down all the time. It happens on the local level much more than I care to comment on. In Oak Lawn, St. Nicholas GOA went through a very, VERY bad time. Other GOA Churches went through bad times in Chicago, Olympia Fields, etc., but the Divine Liturgy is still valid and the Holy Chalice still holds the Real Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

                      If and I emphasize IF the axe drops on the OCA you will always have other places to go.

                      Peter

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                    • Thank you, Peter. That’s the kind of counsel and perspective I was looking for.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      The validity of the Mysteries does not depend on the worthiness of the Priest or Bishop. The OCA is worth saving. The way to save the OCA is to elect good and spiritual men to be your Bishops. To do that you need to know them well. You should not elect someone from outside the OCA who is not known to the clergy and people of the OCA. That is one reason the rules of the Antiochian Archdiocese require that a man serve for at least 5 years in the Archdiocese to be eligible for the episcopate. That way we know the person for whom we are voting. If there are problems with his morals, administrative ability or theology it will be well known before he becomes a candidate for the episcopate.

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                • I’m sorry Fr. but these thing are tied together and in many ways pews are more insiduous. I have also heard similar half baked psuedo historical arguments from SVS grads, which is what you get when you model a seminary on western Protestant norms. It’s basically a form of relativism. Too many Orthodox parishes have been reduced to Sunday only. Adopting Protestant styles fuels the confusion. Correction starts at the parish level.

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                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                    There are pews in the Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus. Is the Patriarch of Antioch a Protestant? There are pews in the chapel at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of theology, are they Protestant? By the way, those pews were hand carved in Greece and are very beautiful. I am amazed at how many people want to argue about this issue. It is not theological and has nothing to do with the doctrine of the Church. We also have air conditioning and electric lights in my Church. Because these are modern developments, should we get rid of them and sweat in the dark? Every time that I make any reference to pews, it is like holding a steak in front of a hungry dog, people go crazy arguing about it. Your priorities are all wrong to make an issue out of this. You should spend your time on things that are important, not arguing about pews in Orthodox Churches. No wonder the non-Orthodox make fun of us because they think that we are more concerned with externals and than faith in Christ and righteous living. To them we are not a Church. They see us as a society for the preservation of medieval Byzantine ritual. If we become so obsessed with following every minor detail of ritual and ceremony from the past that we forget the real purpose of the ritual and ceremony, we make a mockery of Holy Orthodoxy.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Fr, are they wooden pews per se or are they rows of individual chairs and/or stassidhia?

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                    • Fr., you attempt to turn this into a black and white issue. You also display logical fallicies that if you see pews (or rows of chairs) in a Church it must be ok. The problem is more complex than that. You made a comment earlier that many organs in Antiochian Churches were no longer used. If I follow your argument so far I could easily replace “pew” with “organ”. Each one of these Western incursions is an attack on the Church just like moral relativism is an attack on the Church. Some have a more profound affect than others and some are more Insiduous, where those in the midst of them cannot see the ill affects.

                      Your statement that we have to look more like Protestants in order to attract people also does not hold water. In my experiance people who find the Church find that our adherance to tradition is a welcome change from the Protestant free for all. Furthermore an adherance to tradition allows for us to be judged by the Church, not the other way around. That is one of the biggest problems with Western tendancies.

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      Fr., you attempt to turn this into a black and white issue. You also display logical fallicies that if you see pews (or rows of chairs) in a Church it must be ok. The problem is more complex than that. You made a comment earlier that many organs in Antiochian Churches were no longer used. If I follow your argument so far I could easily replace “pew” with “organ”. Each one of these Western incursions is an attack on the Church just like moral relativism is an attack on the Church. Some have a more profound affect than others and some are more Insiduous, where those in the midst of them cannot see the ill affects.

                      Your statement that we have to look more like Protestants in order to attract people also does not hold water. In my experiance people who find the Church find that our adherance to tradition is a welcome change from the Protestant free for all. Furthermore an adherance to tradition allows for us to be judged by the Church, not the other way around. That is one of the biggest problems with Western tendancies.

                      This is one of the dumbest discussions I have ever witnessed. Its right up there with Organs, New Calendar, Head Scarfs, whether we should have Jesus Christ on Crosses (Very Cathoic) or just a plain Cross (Very Orthodox), or a Greek Cross as opposed to a Russian Cross. Really guys? Dumb, dumb, dumb. Let’s move on. Otherwise, I will treat people who bog us down on such stuff as internet trolls and just disregard your comments, even if you respond its just not worth a rebuttal.

                      Peter

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      To Andreas

                      I have never argued that we should make our Churches look like Protestant Churches. I have only argued that getting into an argument about pews makes us look silly. There are much more important issues. This evening on this blog, I have read that an OCA Priest told his Parish Council that the Bible is filled with “fairy tales.” I have also read that pro-gay clergy control your Metropolitan’s Cathedral. If these are true, these are violations of the Orthodox Faith. Having pews or benches or seats in an Orthodox Temple is not a violation of the doctrine of the Orthodox Church. You should get your priorities straight and demand that clergy who do not teach and uphold the Orthodox Faith and Morals should be disciplined, and stop worrying about such unimportant issues as pews. If you do want pews in your Temple, no one in our Archdiocese is going to make you put them in your Temple. Ignore our pews and deal with your own serious problems.

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                    • The Maryamiyya in Damascus has normal, fixed pews, as does just about every church I’ve visited in the Middle East, whether it’s Orthodox, Catholic, or Oriental. St George’s Cathedral in Istanbul has a mix of chairs and kind of awkward, high-backed benches with armrests running parallel facing each other down the middle of the church, which I assume are for when bishops meet there, maybe.

                      Don’t the concepts of an akathist hymn and a kathisma assume that people sit during parts of services, i.e. the Psalms? The 12th and 13th century manuscripts from Mt Sinai of Syriac and Arabic translations of the Akathist that I’ve been working on all contain a rubric at the beginning explicitly stating that you’re not supposed to sit during it, which assumes that you would sit during other services. In the 17th century, when Paul of Aleppo visits Russia, he mentions being annoyed with the Russian custom of never sitting during services….

                      But seriously, arguing over this sort of thing is about dang ludicrous..

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                    • Jane Rachel says:

                      Father John, do you think it’s okay for church attendees to drink coffee before Divine Liturgy? I saw people doing that as if it were no problem, and not only that, but I got the feeling that it was “allowed” by their leaders. I was taken aback by it, couldn’t understand it. Along the same lines, speaking of the principle rather than the object, the reason for having no pews, I feel, is this: We are standing in a place where the veil between heaven and earth is as thin as it gets. Should we dare to sit down in that space if we can stand? I couldn’t care less whether there are pews or not. The reason for not eating or drinking anything (if we are able) before partaking of the Eucharist also makes sense to me. On the other hand, if you MUST eat or drink something, or if you MUST sit, or if it is written down in a canon somewhere to sit during a certain prayer, go ahead and do it. The principle is within, not without.

                      The “travesty” that the OCA has become is in the leadership, or rather, some or even a small percentage of them, and these men are in the high places. Nothing new there. Many here, who belong to the OCA and who comment here, including bishops and priests and monks, nuns, and lay people, are doing their best, their absolute best, to speak out against that corruption, loudly, and in any way they can. They want the OCA leadership to be full of good, solid, moral people.

                      There is also corrupt leadership in the high places in every single religious place, including your Antiochian Church. Nothing new there. It’s going to happen as long as we are on this earth. So when you say, “Concentrate on your own problems and leave us [good guys implied here] alone”, as if “yours” is better than “ours,” makes me cringe, a bit. “We” are not different from “you.” We are all in the same boat. Even those outside the Church are also living one lifetime on this ship. And, thinking about it, I would add that subtle, inner, hidden corruption in leadership is far more dangerous and scary, and at least as evil if not more evil in the eyes of God, who sees the heart.

                      “Your” ship is not automatically better than “our” ship. Your leadership is not more blessed by God, or more Orthodox. I would not personally use a Church in another part of the world, or one five miles away from where I live for that matter, as my guide as to what is Orthodox or not.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      To Jane Rachel

                      According to the teaching of the Orthodox Church we are not allowed to drink coffee or eat anything from midnight before receiving Holy Communion. However, there are exceptions for legitimate health reasons. I have serious hypoglycemia and must eat before the Liturgy. One Sunday a few months ago, I did not eat because we had no car because it was in the shop and we ran out of food. About half way through the sermon, I broke out in a cold sweat. After the Great Entrance, I almost passed out. I did not, but I did lose my voice. I barely made it through the rest of the Divine Liturgy. I am under strict instructions from my doctor to eat every few hours.
                      As far as pews are concerned, if you do not want pews in your Temple do not have them, But understand that competent Orthodox authority does not agree with you. I suppose it can be classified as a matter of theologoumenon not doctrine. We are in full communion with Moscow. I am sure that Moscow knows that Antiochians have pews. Metropolitan Hilarion has been in our Cathedral in Wichita and I am sure that he saw the pews. In fact, he is in the United States and just met with Metropoltian Philip. If Moscow is in communion with us knowing that we have pews, it is obviously not that important an issue.

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                    • I know everyone keeps saying that the OCA folks will just have to get used to having no pews…But, I grew up in more than 7 different OCA Parishes as a child. ALL of them had pews. It was only after I moved south that I realized that some Orthodox Churches in the US don’t have pews.
                      FYI- the aisles and spaces in front of the church was plenty large enough to accommodate prostrations.

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          • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

            I think that it is over the top, way over the top to make an issue of pews in Orthodox Churches. No one is more faithful to the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church than Bishop Basil. When he presided over building the new Church in Wichita that eventually became his Cathedral, they put pews in the Church. There are pews in the St. Mary’s Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus and in the Cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople. If you do not want pews in your Church that is none of our business. It is none of your business if we Antiochians have seating in our Churches. I have never read anyone who can explain why seating is not Orthodox when we have ancient liturgical texts that refer to the people sitting. Kathisma for the divisions of the Psalms. Akathist, not sitting, for an ancient service of the Church. The OCA has too many serious problems of its own, to justify criticizing the Antiochians.

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            • George,
              They are pews (in both Damascus & Constantinople).

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              • George Michalopulos says:

                that saddens me.

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              • OK; why do I get two negative votes for simply pointing out the truth?
                I didn’t say I was in favour of pews; I just pointed out there were pews in both churches.
                Personally, I don’t like pews.
                Yeeesh!

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                • Basil, if you are sane and post something sane, you can count on the same two or three people to automatically add their thumbs downs. I’d name them, but I think most of us know whe they are. I have one or two of my very own that just go to pieces if I post something.
                  Pews are a disgrace, of couse, but many people don’t know any better. One Los Angeles Ukrainian woman who belongs to a totally independent Ukrainian parish, visited our parish once with some Ukrainian members of ours, and she was indignant about our lack of seats. I asked her, ‘Why do you have pews? ” She answered, simply, “Because we DESERVE them!” Now one can’t be angry with people like that…
                  I remember at one of the first Bishops’ Conferences that took place after Ligonier but before the currrent Episcopal Assemblies, how pleased I was to hear a Greek American bishop, Iakovos of Chicago, say, ‘Yes, we do need to get rid of those EVIL (his emphasis) pews!”
                  American Orthodox with pews obviously have no backbone, and they are used to the NON-PARTICIPATING sort of worship where the laity, the ignorant, sit down, while the clergy, the learned, stand up, just like all western teachers stand up in their classrooms while the “pupils” sit. Nothing “conciliar” about pew worshipping, or rather, spectating. It’s true that in Orthodox Churches with pews the people get restless and want to ‘do something”, so they love to mumble psalms all together in prose unison, like rudimentary Scotch Presbyterians, but you can’t blame them. They’re confined to those serried rows, called together like school children or, all the slaves on the estate, to listen and watch, and, when directed, recite like machines. They believe they are “participating” because no one tells them different.

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                  • Thank you, Your Grace.
                    I really shouldn’t allow myself to get so exasperated, but it is the internet after all!
                    As someone once said, if you do something in one place long enough (like commenting here), sooner or later the crazy people start to show up.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      To Helga below

                      I do not advocate rearranging the Tpikon or any other service book of the Orthodox Church. I believe that they should be published in their complete form with no subtractions. Even if none of do not follow all the directions in the Typikon, we should know what is mandated by the Typikon and do as much as we can to be faithful to the Typikon and the other services books of the Orthodox Church.
                      I have seen no signs that any of our clergy would support abandoning the moral teachings of our Church. Our Bishops, not just the Metropolitan, are all very firm in defending the moral beliefs of the Orthodox Church. I am quite sure that when the sad day comes when we have to replace Metropolitan Philip, whoever we nominate and the Holy Synod will chose a man whose commitment to Orthodoxy is without question. I do not even know any laity who would not oppose acceptance of homosexuality or lesbianism by our Church.

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                  • Archpriest John Morris says:

                    Your Grace:

                    If the Patriarchate of Antioch has pews in its Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus that means that there is nothing un-Orthodox about having pews in an Orthodox Church. I trust the judgment of our Patriarch. His Beatitude knows what is and what is not Orthodox.

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                    • Rather, it’s a question of what the pastor of the Patriarchal Cathedral is willing to tolerate. and of what he is not willing to tolerate. If you feel the Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus is some kind of touchstone of Orthodoxy in all its details and ramifications, I admire your devotion to your own which is definitely a constant here.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      To Bishop Tikhon

                      Why am I not surprised at your statement? Because you never lose an opportunity to criticize the Antiochian Archdiocese. It is attitudes like yours that is responsible for the division of American Orthodoxy. Why would Antiochians want to unite with a group with Bishops who look down upon us as second rate Orthodox. Yes, I consider the Patriarchate of Antioch a touchstone of Orthodoxy at least as we practice it in the North American Antiochian Archdiocese. It is our mother Church. I am humble enough to believe that they know a lot more about what is and what is not proper Orthodox practice at the Patriarchate than I do. If they have pews in the Cathedral of the Patriarch of Antioch, it is not unOrthodox to have pews in a parish of the Antiochian Church.

                      The presence or absence of pews is what the Lutherans call adiaphora, which as I know you know means something non essential. I have little patience with those who confuse Orthodoxy with every custom from the 19th century and who judge other Orthodox by how faithfully they preserve 19th century customs. The dogma and moral teachings of Orthodoxy do not change, but the way that we express and practice the unchanging beliefs of our Holy Faith in different times and places. That statement does not make me a modernists, it makes me a faithful Orthodox Christian who is intelligent enough not to confuse changeable customs with the essence of the Orthodox Faith. It also makes me Pastor whose chief concern is the salvation of my flock, not keeping my Church as some sort of museum of Byzantine antiquities.

                      While I am on a roll, I have one more complaint with some of the posts on this blog. I have read snide remarks against those of us who have Vesperal Divine Liturgies as if we have committed some unforgivable heresy. With my Bishop’s knowledge and approval, I celebrate most feast days that fall on a weekday with a Vesperal Divine Liturgy. I do this because my concern is helping my people to realize that they should live their lives according to the Church Calendar of feasts and fasts. If I celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the morning, no one will be able to come because people have jobs and school. However, if I celebrate it with an Evening Divine Liturgy following the form used for the Divine Liturgies of Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, I can actually get a congregation that is more than a few old ladies.

                      I know that some people will panic and condemn me for not following the Typikon to the letter. I confess helping my flock to grow spiritually is more important than a legalistic adherence to the Typikon. To paraphrase Christ, The Typikon was made for the Church. The Church was not made for the Typikon. Lest you think that I dismiss the Typikon as unimportant, I spent two years of my life editing the first and only complete translation of the Typikon to be made available in English which Bishop Demetri and I have made available for free download on the Internet. http://almoutran.com/pdf/typikon.pdf I agree that the idea would be Vespers on the eve of the feast followed by Matins and the Divine Liturgy on the day of the feast, but sometimes in the real world you have to punt because that is the only thing that will work.

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                    • Fr John,
                      What you said previously about Antiochians only doing prostrations during Great Lent may hold the key to your different attitude re pews. Do you know if this custom preceded the installation of pews in Antiochian churches? If so, it likely explains the different approach from the Russians. I’m not making an argument here, just trying to work out how the different approaches came about. The same may also apply to the Greeks, who also seem rather less inclined to prostrations (pun intended!) than the Russians. Call it liturgical archaeology of you like: which came first, the pews or no prostrations outside Great Lent?

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      Yawn!

                      Peter

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      To Basil

                      Besides doing a prostration before an icon, when else do Orthodox do prostrations except during Great Lent and Holy Week? We do prostrations during the troparia at the end of Lenten Vespers and during the Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian which we say twice during the Presanctified Divine Liturgy and at the end of the Bridegroom Matins. I also believe that there are Prostrations during the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, but do not have a copy here to consult. Then the people come to the aisle or the areas in front of the pews and do their prostrations. People do kneel during the Great Entrance of the Presanctified Liturgy, which is done like the Little Entrance not all the way around the Church as we do during the regular Liturgy. There may be other differences in that an Antiochian Priest does not wear a cross or epignathion during the Presanctified Liturgy. We also never concelebrate the Presanctified Divine Liturgy. The Priest also does not take Kairon or say the usual vesting prayers. We do not do prostrations on Sundays because the canons forbid kneeling on Sunday and kneeling is like a prostration.

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                    • Fr. John, I am sorry, to break this to you, but these same arguments you use to justify rearranging the Typikon are now used in the OCA to justify sodomite pseudo-marriage and other abuses of the faith.

                      Would it surprise you to know that many of the sodomite-friendly parishes of the OCA have priests in Roman collars rather than cassocks, minimal or absent iconostases, and evening Divine Liturgies?

                      Not everything that is popular is also godly. In fact, the opposite is very often the case.

                      The thing I hate about calling these “non-essentials” is that it leads people to think the traditional practices of our faith are unimportant or dispensable, and your behavior indicates an attitude like this. Once we accept weakness as something to be pandered to rather than overcome, it opens the door to all kinds of horror. Take it from people who know!

                      You don’t think what’s happening in the OCA will happen in the Antiochian Archdiocese? Wait until Sayedna Philip reposes. Try to keep being complacent and saying “it will never happen here”… because they are infiltrating your parishes now. Count on them being sated with bringing down the OCA, and they will bring down the Antiochian church with absurd ease.

                      So take the time you have and use it well. Have a liturgical calendar a little beyond the reach of your average parishioner, and challenge them to stretch a little further to bring even more holiness to their lives. Instead of cutting down a service to fit your parishioners’ schedules, challenge them to rearrange their schedules – and themselves – around Christ. Instead of promising to meet them halfway, see how far they can cross on their own.

                      What in the world would stop you from doing Great Vespers the night before, with Matins and Liturgy the next morning? Start the morning service at 6, 6:30, or 7. Some may not be able to stay the whole service, but they might at least stay through the Gospel reading or homily. Or you could do as Bishop Basil allows it with Vespers, Matins, and Liturgy all rolled into one on the eve of the feast.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Helga, I often find myself agreeing with Fr John because it is clear that he is a good and honorable man. I often that that Orthodoxy was a safe harbor for Christians who have been spiritually abused. However you speak words of wisdom. Although I used to believe that the OCA was the right synthesis between the economia of the GOA/AOA and the akribia of ROCOR, I now see that the answer was not that simple. The ouster of Jonah may be salutary for the rest of us in that we have now been slapped by reality. That the internal rot of ecumenism/modernism is very real and very powerful. To all in the other jurisdictions who comfortable with the accommodations your respective jurisdiction has made, I say beware.

                      P.S. I read on another post that some GOA parishioners went and borrowed chairs from the parish hall of the OCA church where a funeral was taking place. It just goes to show you how soft we have become. Another poster said that some visiting parishioners at another OCA church “we deserve to sit.” Can’t we see how insidious this is? Yes, there is nothing wrong with sitting in church during prescribed times (e.g. kathismata), but there is everything wrong with fixed pews. Schmemann was right about that.

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                    • Fr John,
                      What you wrote below (can’t post this there) about prostrations doesn’t really answer my question. But it does seem from your response that Russians do prostrations of various kinds rather more frequently than Antiochians. Perhaps that in itself explains apparent ease with which the Antiochians (and Greeks?) adopt pews. I agree with you that this is not a matter of faith, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an important issue. Thank you anyway for your reply.

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                    • Monk James says:

                      Archpriest John W. Morris says (October 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm):

                      To Basil

                      Besides doing a prostration before an icon, when else do Orthodox do prostrations except during Great Lent and Holy Week? We do prostrations during the troparia at the end of Lenten Vespers and during the Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian which we say twice during the Presanctified Divine Liturgy and at the end of the Bridegroom Matins. I also believe that there are Prostrations during the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, but do not have a copy here to consult. Then the people come to the aisle or the areas in front of the pews and do their prostrations. People do kneel during the Great Entrance of the Presanctified Liturgy, which is done like the Little Entrance not all the way around the Church as we do during the regular Liturgy. There may be other differences in that an Antiochian Priest does not wear a cross or epignathion during the Presanctified Liturgy. We also never concelebrate the Presanctified Divine Liturgy. The Priest also does not take Kairon or say the usual vesting prayers. We do not do prostrations on Sundays because the canons forbid kneeling on Sunday and kneeling is like a prostration.

                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                      Well, there’s a lot here.

                      Before getting into that, I’d like to suggest that Fr John Morris’s earlier suggestion that the fact that the antiochian patriarchal cathedral in Damascus (why not antioch?!) has pews indicates that there’s nothing unorthodox about pews is an exercise in circular reasoning.

                      Logically, it’s just as likely that the antiochian patriarchal cathedral in Damascus installed pews under the influence of its daughter church in America. That might not be historically true, but it’s a logical possibility and may not be adduced as a proof of the putative orthodoxy of pews.

                      After all, those churches in Greece which have organs usually have them only because wealthy greco-americans thought they were doing their ancestral villages a favor by donating them.

                      Now, into this prostration business.

                      DISCLAIMER: My experience of orthodox church life is heavily russian-flavored, although I attended a greek church as a child since it was closer.

                      When I entered monastic life at age thirty, one of my first obediences in 1977 was to translate Fr Rostislav Gan’s article ‘How Orthodox Christians Behave in God’s Church’ from Russian to English. This was our hegoumen’s way of making sure that I understood and learned the proper postures and reverences which all of us are expected to observe during divine services — and also to make those rules available in English for the novices.

                      Obedience being an occupational hazard (and a great blessing!) for monks, I’ve always followed the directions I learned in that process.

                      This includes many deep bows (proskynEseis) and prostrations (metanoiai) — neither of which can be performed while standing in pews.

                      While other details can wait for another time, I have to say that — in my training and experience — we (officiating clergy and laity, too) make a prostration (metanoia) at two points, at least, during the Divine Liturgy.

                      The first is after the third invocation of the Holy Spirit at the epiklesis (clergy and laity together), and the second — by the clergy in the altar before they approach to receive the Body of Christ, and by the laity when the deacon says ‘In the fear of God….’

                      This pattern is followed every day of the year, weekdays and sundays, and even during the holy fifty days.

                      The notion that we don’t make a metanoia on Sunday probably ought to be filed under the same rubric as ‘oews’, since people who have the first idea usually have the second as well.

                      That a metanoia r’esembles kneeling’ i undeniable, but it’s NOT ‘kneeling’, often described in greek and church slavonic as ‘standing on the knees’. We emphatically don’t kneel on Saturdays, sundays, or during the holy fifty days. But we do make prostrations (metanoiai).

                      Besides, I’ve learned that many parishes/priests/laity of the american antiochian church have decided to follow the nonchalcedonian churches in not observing the Wednesday and Friday fast during the holy fifty days.

                      And also that the greek orthodox patriarchate of Antioch allows intercommunion with their nonchalcedonian counterparts.

                      I, for one, don’t want to follow theobvious and widespread antiochian disregard of tradition.

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                    • Thank you Monk James.
                      It occurred to me later from Fr John’s response that Russians (or those of the Russian tradition) and Antiochians (at least those in North America) must have quite different practices in regard to prostrations. It is almost impossible to imagine a Russian church with pews (I say almost, because apparently there are some in the OCA, which I still regard as a church of the Russian tradition) .

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      To Monk James:

                      It is not important that we differ because the Russians have every right to follow their own traditions, but our people stand during the Anaphora. The rubrics state that a Priest does a deep bow after the Epiklesis. Some kneel, however. It is indeed possible to do a reverence, which I define as bowing and touching the floor in a pew. We do not kneel or do prostrations during the Paschal season. The Holy Synod of Antioch ruled years ago that there should be no fasting during the Paschal season. There has never been absolute uniformity concerning how one follows the fasting seasons. For example, we do not celebrate weddings during the entire Nativity Fast. In fact, we do not do weddings until after Theophany. The Typikon actually allows weddings until December 20. I put a footnote in the English translation stating that no weddings are allowed by the Antiochian Archdiocese during the entire Nativity Fast. However, the Greeks allow marriages until December 12. I knew a Bulgarian OCA Priest who would not celebrate weddings during the beginning of the Nativity Fast but would nearer to the feast of the Nativity.
                      It is a popular myth that we give communion to non -Chalcedonians. Our rules are exactly the same as the rules recently passed by the Holy Synod of the OCA. We receive them through Profession of Faith and Confession. Once they become Orthodox they cannot receive Communion if they attend a Liturgy in a non-Chalcedonian Church. There is a great deal of misunderstanding on this issue. A few years ago the Holy Synod Antioch did a study on how we would handle it if the non-Chalcedonians were reconciled to the Orthodox Church. At that time, it looked as if reconciliation was very close. Now, I am not so sure because the negotiations have hit a snag basically over the fact that they commemorate as saints people like Discoros and Severus who are condemned in our liturgical texts as heretics, “Severus the headless one.” Anyway, some people misinterpreted the study and thought that it had been put in force, which it has not. We do not con- celebrate and are not in communion with the non-Chalcedonians.
                      It is very common for non-Chalcedonians to join our Churches. I once served a parish that had Ethiopians. They joined our Church. Even when one of them, the grandson of the Emperor got married, the Ethiopians did not bring in an Ethiopian Priest but had me do the wedding, although it was an Ethiopian Royal Wedding attended by the crown prince and several members of the Ethiopian Royal Family.
                      There are always people ready to misinterpret Orthodox ecumenism as a sell out. Remember all the flack over the so called Belamand Agreement. To read some of the criticisms one would think that the agreement which was never really accepted officially by most Orthodox and many Uniates, established communion between Orthodoxy and Rome, which we all know it did not do. In fact, when asked about it, Metropolitan Philip said, “It is a committee report. Read it and file it away.” Someone said, “You mean in the round file.” His Eminence replied “that is a good place for it.” Whatever you think of Metropolitan Philip. He is not an ecumenist.
                      Several years ago the Melkites unilaterally declared themselves in communion with us claiming to be Orthodox in communion with Rome. Our Holy Synod held an emergency meeting to officially inform the Melkites that they could not be in communion with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch while they are in communion with Rome. The Holy Synod also stated that a decision on communion with the Melkites could only be made by all of Orthodoxy in the context of an agreement between the Orthodox Church and Rome. Metropolitan Philip sent a decree to be read from the Altar informing our people that despite the Melkite claim we are not in communion with the Melkites.
                      The OCA is much more involved in ecumenism than the Antiochian Archdiocese.

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                  • “American Orthodox with pews obviously have no backbone.”
                    Please think before writing such an all encompassing stereotype. With one exception, I have never belonged to an Orthodox parish that did not have pews. In terms of my personal backbone- I have suffered from a bladder auto-immune disease and Addison’s Disease for more than 10 years. The pain has taken from me many activities that I love dearly. However, except for the sermon, I do not sit down in Church. I have stood during Paschal Service & Divine Liturgy, each year more determined than the last that with God’s help I can do it. I may be lacking in many, many areas, but having no backbone is not one of them. In addition, I grew up surrounded by many wonderful & faithful Orthodox Christians in these parishes. With few exceptions, I would say that their backbones were firmly intact as well.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Saunca, even in Orthodox churches with no pews there are usually plenty of seats. Those are used by the old, infirm, pregnant mothers, etc., as they should be.

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                    • George, I was not addressing the issue of whether there were seats available in parishes with no pews. I wasn’t even arguing (in this particular response) for or against pews. . I WAS addressing Bishop Tikhon’s previous statement that “American Orthodox with pews obviously have no backbone.” When one makes a sweeping statement like that, it is likely that it cannot be upheld as true. There is no way that every American Orthodox Christian, in churches with pews, has no backbone. That’s a ridiculous generalization that in his own OPINION is true.

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                    • Archpriest Jo hn Morris says:

                      There are pews in the Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus. I noticed that the Churches shown in Beirut used for the funeral services for our late Patriarch, because of the civil war in Syria, also have pews. I also believe that there are pews in St. George’s Cathedral in Constantinople the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch. There are pews in the chapel at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston. I think that they know what is and what is not faithful to the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church in the Cathedrals of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Patriarch of Antioch as well as at the Greek Orthodox seminary in Boston. When I attended the Divine Liturgy at the Monastery of the Holy Archangels near San Antonio, Texas, one of the Ephraimite monasteries, they had seating along the side of the name. I also think that they know what they are doing. No one has ever criticized the commitment to Orthodoxy of His Grace Bishop Basil of Wichita, but he put pews in the new Church that was built while he was Pastor of what became his Cathedral.

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                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      Standing, standing at worship (and facing East) in the expectation of the glorious and 2nd Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, was and is a MARK, a DISTINCTIVE MARK of Orthodox worship, of Orthodoxy from the beginnings.
                      Eagerly awaiting the glorious 2nd Coming is the reason that pews are inappropriate (NOTE: inappropriate, NOT sinful!).
                      It is inappropriate and SAD that after the Crusades in the Middle East, so many temples of the Orthodox were furnished with benches and pews, rather than, at the most, say, the stasidia we see in monasteries, which allow a perhaps three-inch platform onto which one rests one’s posterior during sedal’ny (sitting hymns or kathismata). This has led, especially in America, to the idea that one sits UNLESS something particularly ‘IMPORTANT” is happening.
                      SPECIAL NOTE FOR FATHER MORRIS: In this message, and in previous ones, I have tried (and mostly succeeded) in NEVER singling out the unfairly persecuted Antiochian Church or Antiochian Archdiocese, or Antiochian clergy or people for special scorn, opprobrium or disapproval; or invidious comparison(s). I feel it is Father Morris who almost unfailingly inserts interminable defenses of such AS IF anyone had singled out his Archdiocese. Of course, as they say, “if the shoe fits wear it,’ but it is mainly Father Morris who indicates by his defensiveness that it might fit.
                      It is HE who singled out the Damascus Cathedral as DEFENCE for pews; no one had referred to Antioch in that respect in the mesages prior to that. Then, when it was pointed out that not everything in that Cathedral defines Orthodoxy or Orthodox practice, he retorted, “Why am I not surprised at your statement? Because you never lose an opportunity to criticize the Antiochian Archdiocese.” Where, oh where, Father is my criticism of the Antiochian
                      Archdiocese? Well, not only “if the shoe fits, wear it, ” but “…the lady protests too much!”

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            • What is, in fact, the origin and significance of the terms “kathisma” and “kathismata?” The origin is this: the 17th Canon of the Council of Laodicea. The Psalms are not to be run together and read continuously, without interruption. In order to avoid the danger of boredom and inattention after such a continuous reading (with everyone standing: the Psalms were originally always SUNG, that’s why their divisions are called “antiphons”), provision for their interruption was mandated. Such authorized interruptions were often sermons, or readings from the Fathers, etc. When the appointed time to interrupt the Psalter comes, composed hymns are sung while people sit down to REST from the Psalter, and those hymns sung while sitting or taking a seat preparatory to listening to, e.g., a homily, were called “sitting hymns,’ “sedal’nyj”, “kathismata.” It follows naturally, that it is easier to keep one’s place in the reading of the Psalter by such divisions than it is by numbering of the Psalms. So, the Psalter was to be INTERRUPTED by sitting, hymns and homilies. Each such division of the Psalter, therefore was indicated by a “sitting”, and the Psalter could
              be divided up into “Kathismata.” The rather puerile and surface application of the term as a direction to sit DURING the Psalms, therefore, is incorrect.
              Standing, standing at worship (and facing East) in the expectation of the glorious and 2nd Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, was and is a MARK, a DISTINCTIVE MARK of Orthodox worship, of Orthodoxy from the beginnings.
              Eagerly awaiting the glorious 2nd Coming is the reason that pews are inappropriate (NOTE: inappropriate, NOT sinful!).
              It is inappropriate and SAD that after the Crusades in the Middle East, so many temples of the Orthodox were furnished with benches and pews, rather than, at the most, say, the stasidia we see in monasteries, which allow a perhaps three-inch platform onto which one rests one’s posterior during sedal’ny (sitting hymns or kathismata). This has led, especially in America, to the idea that one sits UNLESS something particularly ‘IMPORTANT” is happening.
              SPECIAL NOTE FOR FATHER MORRIS: In this message, and in previous ones, I have tried (and mostly succeeded) in NEVER singling out the unfairly persecuted Antiochian Church or Antiochian Archdiocese, or Antiochian clergy or people for special scorn, opprobrium or disapproval; or invidious comparison(s). I feel it is Father Morris who almost unfailingly inserts interminable defenses of such AS IF anyone had singled out his Archdiocese. Of course, as they say, “if the shoe fits wear it,’ but it is mainly Father Morris who indicates by his defensiveness that it might fit.
              It is HE who singled out the Damascus Cathedral as DEFENCE for pews; no one had referred to Antioch in that respect in the mesages prior to that. Then, when it was pointed out that not everything in that Cathedral defines Orthodoxy or Orthodox practice, he retorted, “Why am I not surprised at your statement? Because you never lose an opportunity to criticize the Antiochian Archdiocese.” Where, oh where, Father is my criticism of the Antiochian
              Archdiocese? Well, not only “if the shoe fits, wear it, ” but “…the lady protests too much!”

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              • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                Your Grace
                Whether or not you have meant it you have indeed responded to my comments in a very sarcastic and insulting manner. It is possible that you do not realize how you come across, but you have.
                It seems that you never miss an opportunity to attack the Antiochian Archdiocese. You have criticized the way that we do the Great Entrance, you have written against some of our Bishops. You criticized the way that we received the Evangelical Orthodox. I have not been hallucinating. I know what I have read. Even if you do not mean to do so you show a certain contempt toward the Antiochian Archdiocese and its practices.
                Perhaps you have misjudged me and misinterpreted some of my statements. Perhaps I have been too sensitive. Perhaps I have over reacted. After all it is rather difficult to fully express oneself within the confines of a message on the internet. I have only tried to respond to your comments about the Archdiocese I have served for over 32 years.
                Besides, even you recognize that people did sit in the ancient Church. I am not sure about your explanation of the application of the title Kathisma to the divisions of the Psalms because I have been in monasteries where the monks sat during the reading of the Psalms.
                Of course I refer to the Patriarchal Cathedral usage. I am Antiochian and try my best to follow correct Antiochian liturgical practices. What better example of Antiochian liturgical practices is there than the Patriarch’s own Cathedral in Damascus. Besides if something is the practice of one of the ancient Patriarchates it is legitimate Orthodox practice. It is not the only legitimate Orthodox practice, but it is a legitimate Orthodox practice.
                I am not a bigot. I recognize that Russian liturgical practices are fully Orthodox. I expect the same from you and others in the OCA recognition that our liturgical practices are also fully Orthodox.

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                • There’s a wonderful old movie called, i think, “My Little Chickadee,” starring W.C Fields and Mae West. There’s a scene where Mae West is on the witness stand, and the judge leans over to Mae West and says, “Are you trying to show contempt of this court, madam?” Mae West wriggles a little and says, pouting, “NO, Your Honor! I’m doing my best to HIDE it!”

                  Father John! It seems foolish to me for a priest so conscious of his learning and experience as to miss almost no chance of referring to them, to come out with this less than intelligent remark: ‘”It seems that you never miss an opportunity to attack the Antiochian Archdiocese!” You have NO SUSPICION of the opportunities to attack practices of the Antiochian Ardhdiocese that I have MISSED deliberately.?
                  i wonder how well you know all the clergy and people in that Archdiocese? Do you imagine that none of them agree with much of what I have written that MIGHT apply (but not only) to the Antiochian Archdiocese? Do you KNOW, Father, that the practice of beginning the Sunday Divine Liturgy with the Typical Antiphons is still followed in villages of Lebanon and Syria, despite the usage in the Damascus Cathedral and throughout the American Archdiocese of following the degraded revised rubrics of Constantinopole, substituting refrains for Psalms? Who was it that referred, in “The Word,” to the Typical Antiphons as Russian Hymns?
                  I sang with the SVS choir at a Presanctified Liturgy at “St.Mary’s” (not of Egypt) Church in Brooklyn, one day. The choir director stood up in the choir loft with us from beginning to end. At the end, he asked Dave Drillock. “Where did you GET that service? Can I get a copy? Dave referred him to Hapgood, of course. Yes, ‘Antiochian Usage there included two altar servitors standing by the Priest as he communed the Faithful: one on each side holding an ice-cream soda glass; on his left side the glass was filled with long handled clear plastic ice cream soda spoons. The Priest would take a spoon out of that glass and commune one communicant. Then he would deposit that “used” ice-cream soda spoon in the ice-cream soda glass on his right. Thus, it was demonstrated that even before AIDS came, the Antiochians feared passing on communicable diseases with the Body and Blood of Christ. After the liturgy was over, we went downstairs to venerate the Cross. As we filed across the deep wall to wall carpeting, beige in color, I was taken down memory lane as the organist, back at his post, played the customary “Postludium”, Bach’s “Jesu, meine Herzensfreude,” (Jesus, joy of man’s desiring). It took me right back spiritually to SS Peter and Paul German-Saxon Evangelical Lutheran Church in Detroit. What a nice feeling!
                  Many of the OCA’s parishes were originally Uniate. When the age of St. Alexis Toth (Tovt) came along they were received into the Russian Orthodox Church. Most of them were instructed in removing the Latinate piety they had become used to while in the Roman Church’s Eastern “Rite” (“rite in that sense being an exclusively Roman concept until the idea caught on amongst Europeanized Orthodox who came up with the idea of concocting ‘Western”.Rite/denomination within the Orthodox Church.). Thus, “St Mary’s Church” in Minneapolis had the All-Night Vigils according to the Russian Church’s Jerusalem Typikon (the one they still follow) right from the start. Other Uniates, though, would not give up their ways, and remained outside the Orthodox Church until a time came when the Greek Church came along and would allow them to keep their ways, and the Carpatho-Russian Diocese “under’ Constantinople was organized.
                  Father John! I feel that Antiochian Orthodox are in many ways more exemplary of evangelical virtues than “the Greeks”, “the Russians’, “the Serbs,’ etc. etc. They show more love of their neighbors than the others…What virtue could be superior to that? However, this is, I feel, not so much to the credit of the Antiochian Patriarchate as it is to being informed by Arabic traits, learned through centuries of rule by first Byzantine “Greeks” and then by Moslems. it seems to me they’re all kinder and more tolerant of other human beings’ foibles including religious ones. The members of the various Antiochian Patriarchates, in Damascus and elsewhere, of the Melkites and Maronites and Jacobites and so on, are all, in my experience mostly kind and generous to a fault. The de facto EXARCH of the Antiochian Patriarch, Metropolltan Philiip Saliba, as far as my experience shows me, is the very foremost example of Christian charity, personal and financial of all hierarchs in America.. Bishop Basil is someone I would LOVE to see as the First Hierarch of The Orthodox Church in America. He’s never EVER defensive about Antiochene liturgical anomalies/peculiarities, and his “Liturgikon”, besides being in great English (the English used in the parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese has long been superior to that of the OCA, the Greeks and others).
                  One semi-mentor of mine was ever-memorable Archpriest George Benigsen. Long ago, he was Dean of the Denver Deanery of the Metropolia. When he would visit a parish, he liked to ask, upon being met by the local rector, ‘And just what violations of the Typikon do you follow here, so I’ll be prepared? ” Neither he nor any Orthodox clergyman or teacher or hierarch would ever, however, claim that theOrthodoxy of ANYTHING was established by its existence or practice in ANY particular temple, including the Cathedral in Damascus.
                  And I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I do not recognize that ANYONE’s liturgical practice is “‘FULLY” Orthodox. I will wait until Christ is All in All before making such an utterance.

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                  • Michael C says:

                    Amen, Vladyka!

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                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                    Your Grace:
                    If no one’s liturgical practice is fully Orthodox, we need to make the changes needed to make them fully Orthodox. Yes, I believe that the way I served a full Matins and Divine Liturgy this morning was fully Orthodox. If I did not think that what I was doing was fully Orthodox, I would make whatever changes are needed to make my liturgical practices fully Orthodox. Our practice is Great Vespers on Saturday evening and Matins on Sunday morning. However, I also recognize that serving a Vigil on Saturday evening Russian style is also fully Orthodox. There is room within Orthodoxy for minor variations in liturgical practice. There is no room for variation in the doctrine or moral teachings of the Church. That is what unites us and what is really important.

                    You are writing about abuses that ended in the Antiochian Archdiocese a very long time ago. Our liturgical practices are much more traditional than they were in the days before Metropolitan Philip. Metropolitan Philip has ordained educated clergy that do not make some of the mistakes made by some of the older clergy who never attended seminary and were ordained because they could chant.

                    The days of multiple spoons has been over for a very long time. I have only seen it once in all the years that I have been Antiochian. The Metropolitan has strictly forbidden the use of multiple spoons for many years, long before the AIDS crisis. When the AIDS crisis took place His Eminence appointed a committee to study the issue which presented a report to the clergy at the clergy symposium and another at the Archdiocesan Convention stating that no one can catch AIDS from Communion and that we should continue to use the common spoon. A copy of the study was published in the Word magazine and sent to every home in the Archdiocese.

                    The use of organs has been discouraged by our Bishops for the at least the last 20 years. Now most, if not all parishes do not use an organ, which I hate. I frankly doubt that you would hear an organ playing a Lutheran or any other kind of hymn in most of our parishes today. I might add that I once attended an OCA Church that used an organ, so we are not alone on that abuse. We all have to liberate ourselves from Protestant or Catholic influences that some how crept into American Orthodoxy. I can actually top you on that the abuse of organ music in Orthodox Churches. Once in a parish that I served on the Western Easter as the people were venerating the cross, I heard the organist playing “Put on your Easter bonnet…” Naturally, I put a stop to that. I do admit that I sometimes listen to Bach Chorals in my office while working, but also listen to Gilbert and Sullivan.

                    I should add that most of our Churches use a lot of Russian music during the Divine Liturgy. My parish even sings the Troparion of St. George, our patron saint using Russian music.

                    There was a time when Priests did not serve the Presanctified Liturgies and began Holy Week on Holy Wednesday, but those days are long gone. We now serve the Presanctified Divine Liturgies on Wednesday evenings during Great Lent. We serve Little Compline with the Akathist Hymn on Friday evenings. We begin Holy Week with the Divine Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday and now do all the traditional services with no cuts or abbreviations out of an excellent Holy Week Book published by our Archdiocese.

                    No one in our Archdiocese serves out of Hapgood. The older Priests use the red Service Book, the rest of us serve out of Bishop’s Basil’s Liturgikon. I use the Antiphons mandated by my Bishop. I am aware that they are different from the Antiphons mandated by the Typikon, but am an obedient Priest who follows the directions of his Bishop. Besides almost no one follows the directions in the Typikon concerning the Antiphons which are very specific. As far as I know no one including the OCA uses the verses for the Beatitudes as mandated by the Typikon. At least the recordings of the Liturgy from St. Vladimir’s do not include them. The Antiphons are a later addition. Originally the Liturgy began the with the Little Entrance which was actually the Entrance into the Temple when the Bishop arrived. We keep the memory of this during the hierarchical Divine Liturgy when the Bishop does not enter the Altar until the Little Entrance.

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                    • I’m glad to hear that the practices I reported from a visit to St. Mary’s of Brooklyn, when the learned Very Reverend Paul Schneirla was the Rector there are now “history.” He also taught Old Testament at SVS, so I assume he was not included in “mistakes made by some of the older clergy who never attended seminary and were ordained because they could chant.” I don’t recall Father Paul’s chanting that well. Could he?
                      Holy Week, that is, Passion Week, begins (as does the Great Forty Day Fast) on a Monday: Great, Good, and Holy Monday. The 40-Day Fast ends with the Pre-Sanctified Gifts Liturgy on Friday. Between the conclusion of the 40-Day Fast and the beginning of the Passions Week, there are: Lazarus Saturday, and the Great Feast of the Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem. For Lazarus Saturday, (once, in some places long ago counted as one of the 12 Great Feasts) and for the Sunday of the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem, bright vestments,, often golden (or in some places, on Lazarus Saturday, white) are worn and adorn the analogia, etc., in our temples, while on the evening on the Sunday of the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem, at Vespers,(as on all the Sunday evenings during the Fast, the bright Resurrectional Vestments of Sunday are changed to dark vestments after the Entrance at Vespers, during the Prayer, “Vouchsafe, O Lord…”
                      The important troparia on the Beatitudes prescribed by the Typikon, are, indeed, sung in some parishes of the Diocese of the West, The Orthodox Church in America, including Los Angeles. The great Russian liturgical scholar, revered so highly by, among others, V.Rev. Alexander Schmeman, Michael Skaballanovich, in his monumental “Tolkovoj Tipikon” (an in depth study of the history and development of the Typikon of the Jerusalem Laura of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified (the official Typikon of the Russian and other Local Orthodox Churches), wrote this on the importance of the Troparia on the Beatitudes:
                      ““Nowhere else in the Liturgy is there such a confluence of special festal songs as is displayed by the Beatitudes with their 8-12 Troparia. This, it could be said, is the most festal part of the Liturgy, especially if we take into account their melodies—the most rich of the melodies of the tones. It is not remarkable, therefore, that the Typikon even replaces the antiphons of our Lord’s Great Feasts (“of the Twelve”) in order to preserve the Beatitudes. For example: if John the Theologian falls on Ascension, the Festal antiphons are omitted and the Typical Antiphons are sung solely so that before the Entrance the memory of the Saint may be marked by the singing of the songs of his canon. This also happens if the day of a Parish’s Patron Saint should fall on Pentecost.”
                      Later, he writes:
                      ” “It is therefore spiritually painful to say that the troparia on the Beatitudes are usually omitted. And this is at Liturgy, a service of such brevity and sanctity that here is the least justification for omissions. Omission of the Troparia on the Beatitudes takes the Liturgy down to the everyday level, ruins the feast. All the more does the reading of the Troparia instead of singing them.”

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                    • Ever hear of the ‘stational liturgy” in Constantinople?

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                    • “I do admit that I sometimes listen to Bach Chorals in my office while working, but also listen to Gilbert and Sullivan.”

                      Fr John,
                      Perhaps you mean to say you admit to listening to Gilbert and Sullivan, but also listen to Bach Chorales? Surely one admits (as in confesses) to listening to Gilbert and Sullivan, but atones for it by listening to Bach? I believe the monks at Platina used to use Bach as therapy for disturbed youth who came to them – does anyone know if that is correct? Gilbert and Sullivan just give me a headache. Oh well, “de gustibus non est disputandum”, at least as far as G & S go; about Bach, however, there can be no argument.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      To Basil.
                      I have to disagree with you on Gilbert and Sullivan. I am a dedicated fan of Gilbert and Sullivan. I have a complete collection of DVDs and CDs of their operas. Including a complete collection of recordings by the great Martyn Green. I help found the Gilbert and Sullivan Society in Austin and even sang in the Sorcerer. When I was in London in 1972, I had the privilege of seeing the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company with the great John Reed, Valery Masterson and Donald Adams perform Yeomen of the Guard, Trial by Jury and H.M.S. Pinafore. I also like Mozart and Verdi and even sometimes watch an opera by Wagner, although Wagner’s operas are very long. I love opera. When I was a student in Frankfurt, I went to the opera almost every week. It was cheaper than seeing a movie. Since I live in an area that is void of opera, I have a collection of DVDs of the major operas. that I frequently watch.
                      I also admit that I frequently listen to classic rock on my car radio.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      To Bishop Tikhon below:
                      Yes, much has changed in the Antiochian Archdiocese under Metropolitan Philip. He has gotten rid of many abuses of the old days like multiple spoons. He requires a full Vespers on Saturday evening and Matins on Sunday before the Divine Liturgy, not greatest hits from Matins that used to be popular when I first became a Priest. His Eminence does not approve of liturgical innovations and requires that we only use approved translations.
                      Some wear bright vestments for the Lamentations service. The first Liturgical Guide, which I helped the Bishop Demetri prepare when he was a Priest at St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge, of our Archdiocese, originally mandated bright vestments for that service, but some time later the rubrics were changed to require dark vestments. However, there is a Youtube video of the Lamentations from Belamand Seminary that shows them wearing white vestments.
                      Strictly speaking, we should not wear purple vestments on Sunday, but most of us do. The Greeks always wear gold. I have a set that is purple and gold for Sunday. We change to dark vestments after the Entrance of Forgiveness Vespers and change to white vestments after the Epistle on Holy Saturday morning. Gold is the correct color in our tradition for Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers. Gold is proper for most Sundays, Blue for feasts of the Theotokos and red for the Christmas Fast, the 3rd Sunday in Great Lent, Holy Thursday and the feast of the Holy Cross as well as feasts for martyrs.
                      However, the whole color sequence is due to Western influence. There is nothing in the Typikon about color. At the very most there is something indicating that bright or dark vestments be used. I never wear black vestments, because I was taught in seminary that black vestments are really Roman Catholic. I believe that I read somewhere that black vestments for funerals was first used in Russia for the funeral of Alexander I. Bishop Basil asks his clergy to wear black or purple vestments at funerals, but that must not be the Russian custom because there several clergy from ROCOR at the funeral for Fr. Matthew McKay asked me why we we wearing black or purple.

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                    • “I also admit that I frequently listen to classic rock on my car radio.”
                      Is that another confession, Fr John? ;0)
                      In any case, you are a gem, and I appreciate your contributions here, even when I disagree with you.

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            • Bishop Sergios (David Black) says:

              Re Father John Morris’ post on Oct. 7 at 10:16 PM – while it may be “over the top” to make an issue of pews, no less a liturgical theologian than the late lamented Father Alexander Schmemann said (and often) that “Either the pews go or the liturgy goes, you cannot have both together, because the ethos of the one is the denial of the ethos of the other.” I don’t believe that Father Alexander was targeting any particular jurisdiction in making the comment.

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              • George Michalopulos says:

                I rather like that statement from Schmemann. I honestly believe that permament, parallel pews to the Sanctuary, do restrict liturgical movement.

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                • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                  Your Grace:

                  The late Fr. Schmemann said and wrote many things some of which are true and some of which are controversial. I serve the Orthodox Divine Liturgy on every Sunday and feast day in a Church with pews and have done so for over 32 years. The only time that I have attended a Divine Liturgy at the chapels at St. Vladimir’s the had seating towards the back.
                  It is not just us. The Greeks also have pews. About a year ago, I did a funeral for a Greek man who was in my parish. It happened that the local OCA Church is right next to cemetery, so we were invited to do the funeral there. As I arrived at the Church the Greeks in the family and their friends were taking chairs from the parish hall and putting them in the Temple. I assume that they had permission from the OCA Priest of the Church, but he never said anything to me about it.
                  I think that this argument over pews has gone about as far as it can go. You are not going to convince me and I am not going to convince you. So let us call a truce. The OCA is in full Communion with the Antiochian Archdiocese. That means that we recognize each other as fully Orthodox despite our differences on minor liturgical matters. Let us leave it at that and treat each other as the brothers we are in Christ. Here in Mississippi we, the OCA and the Greeks all get along very well and work very well together. That is the way that it should be. We are after all one Church.

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                  • What does “some of which are true and some of which are controversial” mean? Shouldn’t perhaps the word “also” be inserted before “controversial?” After all, “controversial” does not mean “NOT true,” where I went to school.
                    Seating at SVS and elsewhere is ALWAYS allowed the sick and infirm (of body and/or soul) in OCA and Russian and other Churches.
                    I recognize that Father John Morris is Lutheran INSOFAR as he distinguishes between essentials and Dr. Martin Luther’s “adiaphora.”
                    I, too, like Father John’s neighbors would, I’m sure, be able to get along very well with and work together with him, no matter how sensitive and defensive he was about the practices he’s allowed.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      Your Grace

                      With all due respect, I have never been a Lutheran. I used a Lutheran term because I am under the impression that you were once a Lutheran and would understand the meaning of the expression. In Orthodox theology we have the term theologoumenon to describe a theological opinion this is not official doctrine or dogma of the Church. Differences over liturgical practice that have no theological significance fall under this category.
                      I recently asked for a truce on the issue of pews, but must comment. To accuse someone of being infirm of soul because they sit during part of the Divine Liturgy is just about the dumbest and most judgmental thing that I have ever read. If that kind of thinking is Orthodox, I am not Orthodox, because I cannot force myself to such pettiness. However, thanks to the Patriarchate of Antioch and other enlightened Orthodox leaders, I know that it is not Orthodox to be so concerned with insignificant externals. It is a distortion of Orthodoxy to make the absence of pews and adherence to 19 century practices the measure of Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is about the Faith of the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils, it is not about obsession with externals that any intelligent person knows have nothing to do with the Faith and have changed through the centuries.
                      Controversial does not mean not true, but it also means that not universally accepted. There are those like Fr. Michael Pomazansky who are very critical of some of his ideas. As well respected as he is, Fr. Alexander was not infallible. I once heard him give a lecture during which he criticized some Orthodox for keeping Orthodoxy in a deep freeze by refusing to distinguish between the essentials and that which can change.
                      If the Cathedral of successor of Sts. Peter and Paul has pews that is good enough for me. That proves that it is not un-Orthodox to have pews in an Orthodox Temple.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      I was thinking. I have never criticized OCA liturgical practices, although I do not understand the reasons for some of them. I do not understand why some people in the OCA feel that they have a license to criticize our Antiochian liturgical practices.
                      I still believe that it is silly to argue over pews and other incidentals. We are not arguing over the doctrine of the Orthodox Church. No one challenges the dogmatic decisions of the Ecumenical Councils or calls for radical Vatican II type changes in our services. No serious Orthodox theologian challenges the moral teachings of the Church. No one wants to change the texts of our liturgical books. That is what is important, not criticizing others who do not follow the exact same liturgical practices as your particular jurisdiction does.
                      There has always been room for minor variations in liturgical practice in the Orthodox Church.
                      If American Orthodox are to unite, some accommodation must be made for the various traditions of the jurisdictions that make up American Orthodoxy. The Antiochians should not expect the OCA to adopt Antiochian customs, nor should the OCA expect the Antiochians to adopt OCA customs. Instead, we must learn to respect each other despite minor differences in custom, because we share a common Orthodox Faith and need to work together not against each other. If we do not show respect for each other Orthodox unity in America will never happen. We will continue to be separate jurisdictions. That would be very bad.

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                    • I did not say and never have said that John W. Morris,an Archpriest, is or was A Lutheran, so it mystifies me that he denies being A Lutheran. It’s my conviction that he is Lutheran, but not A Lutheran. I recommend careful reading before replying to avoid this kind of embarrassment.
                      If he is unable to see the vast gulf between being Lutheran and being A Lutheran…well….
                      “A Lutheran” is a member or adherent of the Lutheran Church. A member of any non-Lutheran Faith Community may not be called A Lutheran, but insofar as anyone, be he Buddhist, animist, Scientologist, Orthodox, whatever, who resembles Dr. Martin Luther in his philosophy, reiigious style, liturgical and/or doctrinal opinions, etc., may be called and is “Lutheran.”

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                  • My older and well established OCA parish has pews. I don’t see the parishioners giving them up anytime soon either.

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                    • Interesting, since throughout the bulk of the arguing here, many have said it is the Russian influenced churches that do not use pews. The OCA is, no doubt, Russian in its descendancy. My family belonged to more than 8 OCA parishes while I was growing up. All had pews.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Schmemann was right about pews.

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                    • When the Orthodox came to this country they tried to “fit in” . This is why many of the Older churches have pews in America. The Orthodox stand and always have (of course I’m not talking about the “leaning chairs” in Monasteries where they pray all night, nor am I talking about benches or chairs along the edges of the church). In the Roman Empire one stood in the presence of the emperor. It has been understood in Orthodox cultures that to stand is to honor God-our King. We stand out of respect as from the time of Rome. Of course in that posture we developed crossing ourselves and bowing -sometimes to the floor, so having pews inhibits this development of prayer. To sit is to relax. When we pray we are active in body posture and mind-we are at attention. It might not seem so important, but it is one more “thing” removed from our worship to a point where some are now at odds with this concept.

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    • lexcaritas says:

      But. + Alexander should never have done it–removed Dr. Joel K. No. Fr. Basil B. such action was not irrational in Machiavellian terms, but it was not logikos as being conformable to the Logos Who is Christ and Whose likeness we–and our Bishops–are to emulate.

      On top of that +Alexander is an interloper, in fact, isn’t he since ++JONAH did NOT resign from his See, only from the office of Metropolitan seeking another episcopal appointment. It would have been then that he would have resigned as Bishop of DC, which–until then–was NOT vacant. This is outlawry in high places. Biblically it is called sinning with a high han by the Chancellor and the “holy” Synod.

      Finally, as for schism, Fr. Basil, who, pray tell is the real cause of this “schism”? is it really ++JONAH and his supporters? Is it those really those who sense the spiritual (not culture) war besetting the entire world, in which the Church finds herself in its throes? I suspect the Emperor and the Arians accused Athansius of schism many times during his five exiles. Such was likely the fate of the many other Orthodox as well who have been cast out through the centuries by ungodly powers that be, who always fashioned themselves as holy and doing God’s work.

      lxc

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      • Carl Kraeff says:

        There are many like you who maintain +Jonah only resigned as Metropolitan but not as Archbishop of Washington. Some (again like you) go on to accuse the Holy Synod of “outlawry in high places.”

        I continue to be amazed at this. I used to get angry but now I am trying to figure out why y’all are saying these things that make absolutely no sense. Please know that I am not trying to entice y’all to explain to me your views and accusations. I just want to provide my view so that a casual reader is not swayed by y’all.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Carl, rather than you or I speculating as to his title, please re-read his original resignation letter. Go down to the end, where he signs it. There you will see not only his name but his title. If that letter is valid, then the title is valid.

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          • Carl Kraeff says:

            George–You know that we should not speculate. What an idea! As for the letter of resignation being definitive, show me where in the Canons or the OCA Statute it even exists. Besides, to say that +Jonah knew exactly what he was doing is refuted by his own admission that he is administratively incompetent. ;)

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              OK, so you concede that he signed it as “Archbishop of Washington”? So your original point is incorrect?

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              • Carl Kraeff says:

                Yes, of course +Jonah signed as Archbishop of Washington. He also asked for another hierarchical assignment–prima facie evidence that he was reigning his diocesan see, as well as the concurrent office of Metropolitan of the OCA. Are you intimating that he has changed his mind? I mean, that is a distinct possibility given his history. But, come on, how can he be so …(you fill it in??

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Not at all: one can be bishop of two different dioceses at once.

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                  • Carl Kraeff says:

                    One cannot be the primary or ruling bishop of two dioceses at the same time. If there is a vacancy in one, a locum tenens is assigned for continuity purposes, but the locum tenens is not the ruling bishop for the widowed diocese.

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                • It was Jonah who wanted the primate in Washington, DC and was criticized for it by the OCA establishment. The reality is that he probably still wants the primate in Washington, DC and was hoping to facilitate that. That’s called “consistency and vision,” Carl.

                  There is also the fact that the synod opened up the DOS see, after two candidates had already been fully vetted and approved by the synod, signaling their intent to move Jonah back to that position. His public request for a new assignment was consistent with a desire to facilitate that plan as well.

                  You can keep spitting in the wind, Carl. Your problem is that the truth and love are not on your side.

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                  • Carl Kraeff says:

                    I really do not know how to respond to you “Um.” I am not privy to highest level discussions like you seem to be. I am also an immigrant and my language skills may not be at the same astronomical level that you seem to enjoy–I merely had a 99 percentile in my GRE, but that was a few decades ago and perhaps old age is finally catching up with me. As for truth and love not being on my side, I try to be trusting and loving, even if I fail miserably at times. Please forgive me, a sinner.

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            • To say Jillions knew what he was doing shows even more administrative incompetence.

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        • I accidentally put a thumbs-up on your comment, Carl, but I do not approve of it. I hope others will give it negative votes for both your poor argument and lack of charity.

          It is a fact that Metropolitan Jonah did not resign from the Archdiocese of Washington. His see has been stolen from him. The brilliant minds of the OCA synod actually confirmed this by appointing two separate locum tenentes to the Metropolitan See and to the Archdiocese of Washington. Two sees, two tenentes. Then they have the nerve to claim they are one and the same! If they truly thought they were one and the same, they would have called Bishop Alexander the administrator of the Archdiocese of Washington to stand for the locum tenens, Archbishop Nathaniel.

          Like it or not, Carl, the Synod can claim it is the highest canonical authority in the OCA, but that does not give them the right to break or enforce canons any which way. And they are not the highest canonical authority in the Church. They are still accountable to God Almighty and to the other autocephalous Orthodox churches. If the OCA bishops lead the OCA into schism through their uncanonical and abusive behavior, they have no one to blame but themselves.

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          • Carl Kraeff says:

            Helga–I was elated (for a fraction of a second) to read that you had given me a thumbs up; only to be deflated soon thereafter. You should not tease me so! Now, I do agree with you that the Holy Synod, inded anyone, cannot break the canons any which way. OTH, a bishop (and no one else) has latitude in interpreting canons in his own diocese, so does the Holy Synod for the local church (and no one else). In that context I am astonished at the attempts by lay persons to dispute bishops’ and Holy Synod’s interpretations. What are we anyway, Orthodox or some extreme Protestant sect where everybody’s opinion is the same?

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          • Dear Helga,

            You have hit the nail on the head. Until and unless the Synod gets a resignation letter from Metropolitan Jonah resigning as Archbishop of Washington, he is still Archbishop of Washington. This would be on reassignment, for he is a valuable leader in the OCA even currently, even without his continuing lack of staff, which has been a problem all along.

            When Metropolitan Irenei Bekish refused to move the primatial see to Washington, D.C. and kept it in New York City, and it was his prerogative so to do, the Primatial cathedral remained in NY City.

            The OCA never provided the money nor the administrative offices to formally move the administrative staff necessary for Washington, D.C. to normally function as a primatial locus, preferring to hobble the functions of the OCA by informally institutionalizing a long commute from a private estate on Long Island to an occasional short visit to the small cathedral in Washington. During Metropolitan Herman’s tenure, a large property became available directly across the street from the cathedral for less than 2 million dollars. There is now for several years a massive Buddhist Temple facing the cathedral instead of a building that would have even functioned well (it was a small embassy) as administrative offices until it could be explanded on those 2 acres of prime real estate. During that period of time and a while before, a third of a million dollars went to an architectural firm to draw plans to subsume the house office next door to the cathedral into yet another plan to expand St. Nicholas Cathedral as a war memorial shrine, which some of the ladies of the cathedral reminded had already been accomplished. Nor will this envisioned expansion create enough space for proper administrative facilities, should it ever be built. And now, I’ll remind people that even with expansion, St. Nicholas cathedral is too small to even handle current Paschal crowds, much less function, even with expansion, as a PRIMATIAL cathedral. Across and down the street is a cathedral, not a primatial one, name of Hagia Sophia, with incredible mosaics, larger space in its nave and extensive conference and office facilities. Did I mention they have parking? With proper administrative and church school and conference facilities built in another location, it would still be hard for St. Nicholas to ever provide parking. And there is no church bus or money for one available to pick up folks from subway and bus stops. St. Nicholas is on one small bus line, far from a subway stop, has morning restricted parking until 9:30 and 2 hour restricted parking otherwise for a limited number of cars, maybe two dozen, constantly subjected to restricted and blocked access of bridges and routes in and to Washington, D.C. and all in addition to some of the longest extended rush hours in the country. Did I mention the cost of building or renovating here compared to the national average? Did I mention our cost of living? Tax burden of parishioners?

            Bottom line, the OCA has been unwilling since the time of Metropolitan Irenej to fund administration space for Washington as a primatial see. And now they have the gall to declare Washington as a necessary appendage to the office of Metropolitan. Never was before, hard to make a case for it now. There is a larger case for St. Sergius chapel being declared the primatial see.

            I was also recently shocked to hear that the Metropolitan Council was described in a recent lecture as “the voice of the laity” !!! First I ever heard that that was supposed to be its purpose! Perhaps the voices of the laity should make some major changes in said Metropolitan Council and along with locating the offices of the primatial see to its primatial city, wherever that may be (the middle of the country perhaps, Chicago perhaps, or Indiana or Detroit ????) actually work to create a staffed, functioning body of support and accountability assisting our dear Metropolitan and the, hopefully (Where there is life, there is hope) Holy Synod.

            The laity have loved Metropolitan Jonah from the minute we were blessed with getting him. I can’t think of an idea he promoted that was not acclaimed by the vast majority of us and that did not galvanize us to be better Christians, even when we were navigating some very unchristian behavior within our institution. There will always be those who will attempt to manipulate holiness to their own ends.

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        • I having trouble Carl understanding why you are not understanding this. It’s a lot to follow but it’s there in black and white.

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          • Carl Kraeff says:

            It is there mostly in black and white, but what is white to me is black to you and vice versa. Pity really.

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            • Do you have some need to say the last word? Especially when you are saying nothing at all??

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              • Carl Kraeff says:

                Dear Colette–I certainly did not mean to irritate you. I had thought that you wanted me to respond. My bad. In Christ, Carl

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                • Dear Carl,

                  You’re probably not aware of this, and forgive me if I have hurt you in any way by saying this, but in the Orthodox Church, we mostly stay away from common LGBT expressions like “my bad” and still use whatever language equivalents of “Forgive me” in our Orthodox communities. I realize these expressions have crept into dialogue on TV and radio shows and into film and onto the street outside the LGBT community so I presume nothing as far as you are concerned, but did want you to be aware, as a probable young person unaware of its use as a kind of signalling expression. It started to be used, deliberately, about two decades ago. Before that, the phrase was ordinarily common in African American street speak but at that time still had the connotation of not really asking forgiveness but suggesting that you are excusing yourself for something.

                  In Russian and in English, we have always alternated between two kinds of apology, the “Excuse me” and the “Forgive me”. Even the Excuse me, used for things like accidentally bumping into someone, (but you are already at “Forgive me” if you spilled coffee on them in the process)has come to be jocularly misused and this misuse could be characterized as “Excuuuuuse Me!!!” as popularized on Saturday Night Live, and meaning that no wish to be excused was intended, quite the opposite, and means you are asking for the apology to come from the person who offended you. Meanwhile, most people in modern culture have been trained to forgo the expression “Forgive me!” altogether, and the regular use of the same has come to connote weakness. I actually think that people who cannot both ask for and receive forgiveness are not only weak, but supportive of these odd secular unchristian standards.

                  No one person in our Holy Synod has yet to ask the forgiveness of Metropolitan Jonah, and seems not only hell bent on trying to remove him as soon as possible and putting the stamp of others’ approval on this with a singular purpose council, but involving as many others as possible in complicity with the same. Meanwhile, the Diocese of the South has remained vacant, business that we have been told cannot be discussed at the Parma AAC.

                  On the phrase, my bad, see: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=my%20bad

                  How do I know the meaning; of the phrase? This little old housewife has a much loved first cousin who died of compications of AIDs at a young age. Thought I’d help you out, honey, in case somebody got the wrong impression.

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                  • Carl Kraeff says:

                    Dear loh–I guess I do have three handicaps; I am of retirement age; I am not a native English speaker, and have nine grandchildren. OTH, I do like to (mildly) shock people at times by calling my fanny back, my murse or man-purse. Thanks for the heads up, though.

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                • Why Carl darling, you never irritate me . . . blink blink.

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        • Carl, this is probably the most honest and vulnerable thing you have ever posted on this blog:

          I am trying to figure out why y’all are saying these things that make absolutely no sense. Please know that I am not trying to entice y’all to explain to me your views and accusations. I just want to provide my view so that a casual reader is not swayed by y’all.

          I’ve been meaning to thank you for this moment of honesty for a while now. Even though the comment contains an internal contradiction (that you are trying to understand others but don’t want to hear what they have to say), your main point is clear. It is very brave of you to admit that you have no interest in dialogue, that your mind is made up without looking at the evidence, and that your real audience is not the individuals you purport to address here but feeble-minded passersby who might be swayed by strong statements consistent with your theology that the OCA synod is infallible and all evidence to the contrary is wrong by definition.

          It is a bit odd that you believe your mind is so impressive that it already contains all the concerns and perspectives of your fellow humans deep within the recesses of its vaste expanse somehow. Clearly this must be your belief, or you would not choose introspection over dialogue when concerning yourself with the lesser goal of understanding others. But when it comes to your primary goal of thwarting the kind of dialogue that might lead to intellectual clarity (and eventually corrective corporate action where prudent), your strategy makes sense. As a political advertisement for the synod, and you do your job very well. They really have given you very little to work with, and you cannot be faulted for that.

          If you could be more honest about your real goals and real audience more often, we could actually have a discussion with one another, and in spite of your best efforts, who knows: We might actually become friends! As strange as that notion may seem to you, I’d actually like that.

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      • Very Rev Father John, bless!

        A few comments on your long response to Bp Tikhon, if I may:

        Because you never lose an opportunity to criticize the Antiochian Archdiocese.

        Actually, he didn’t criticize the Antiochian Archdiocese – he criticized your attitude – for the discussion actually surrounded the Orthodoxy of pews and specifically your defense of them by means of the invocation of the prestige of the (Antiochian) Patriarchal Cathedral practice of pew inclusion. If anyone else were to invoke the practice of a Patriarchal Church to defend an importation of Protestant worship practice into American Orthodoxy, we would be chuckled at, and rightly so.

        Pews, as has been said on this blog et passim, presuppose certain assumptions about worship, about sacred space – namely, the lack thereof, the participation – namely, the lack thereof, and hence about God Himself. Pews are not really a thing indifferent, nor are they unimportant to Holy Worship because, in your constant refrain while misusing the term officialit’s not official teaching of the Church.

        Pews are a subtle, but real, degradation of Orthodox worship. They deny the honor due to God when in his holy presence; they deny sacred space – for who would sit in his presence? (Yes, I know what you’ve said before, that akathists presuppose sitting.); they prevent participation in Orthodox worship to the fullest; and they make the priest – and God – into entertainers, reversing the Orthodox emphasis on Liturgy as the work of the people.

        It is attitudes like yours that is responsible for the division of American Orthodoxy.

        Well, the divisions in American Orthodoxy are far from caused by Vladyka’s negative attitude towards your obsequious reverence for the practice of the Antiochian leadership. The abrogation of fasting during Paschaltide, the ecumenist overstepping of Orthodox bounds in joint prayer services, offering of Trisagions for non-Orthodox (against the stated instructions of the Antiochian Archdiocese’s own Priest’s Guide!), the Evening Divine Liturgy (more on that later), the disrespect towards traditional clergy attire, the misuse of oikonomia in various high-profile, public situations (e.g., Very Rev Fr Joseph Allen, etc) that cause scandal, etc – all these things do not originate in the “poor” attitudes of those like Bp Tikhon. They are cause solely by the Antiochian Archdiocese itself. It has no one to blame but itself for its missteps. Your desperate and constant defense of the departures of Antioch from traditional practice, I suppose, are not surprising, coming as they do from one so actively involved in ecumenical endeavors. However, they do display an over fawning deference to a man (Metr Philip) regardless of the Orthodoxy of his actions.

        Silence would be better than this knee-jerk defensiveness.

        Yes, I consider the Patriarchate of Antioch a touchstone of Orthodoxy at least as we practice it in the North American Antiochian Archdiocese. It is our mother Church. I am humble enough to believe that they know a lot more about what is and what is not proper Orthodox practice at the Patriarchate than I do. If they have pews in the Cathedral of the Patriarch of Antioch, it is not unOrthodox to have pews in a parish of the Antiochian Church.

        Again, for someone with such credentials – and one would assume, learning – and who reminds many on this blog of that fact repeatedly, it appears rather silly to read these words. If the Cathedral started using organs or guitars in worship, would you defend them with the same reasoning? Examples could be multiplied. At what point do you stop defending unorthodox practices in your own Patriarchate?

        The presence or absence of pews is what the Lutherans call adiaphora, which as I know you know means something non essential.

        The Lutheran phronema is hardly a place to find support for Orthodox liturgical practice.

        I have little patience with those who confuse Orthodoxy with every custom from the 19th century and who judge other Orthodox by how faithfully they preserve 19th century customs. The dogma and moral teachings of Orthodoxy do not change, but the way that we express and practice the unchanging beliefs of our Holy Faith in different times and places. That statement does not make me a modernists, it makes me a faithful Orthodox Christian who is intelligent enough not to confuse changeable customs with the essence of the Orthodox Faith. It also makes me Pastor whose chief concern is the salvation of my flock, not keeping my Church as some sort of museum of Byzantine antiquities.

        Fr John, there are many who have little patience with those who blindly ignore innovation when it creeps into their Church’s practice. No one is defending 19th century customs per se. What we are defending is the liturgical traditions that the whole Orthodox Church has, under the providential guidance of the Holy Spirit, developed to this present day. The Bishops, at times, can institute bad policy, in contravention to the Holy Canons. Yes, we must obey those faulty decrees, as long as they don’t contravene basic Orthodox teachings. But, should we add to our sin by defending the same innovations? Again, silence is to be preferred here.

        While I am on a roll, I have one more complaint with some of the posts on this blog. I have read snide remarks against those of us who have Vesperal Divine Liturgies as if we have committed some unforgivable heresy. With my Bishop’s knowledge and approval, I celebrate most feast days that fall on a weekday with a Vesperal Divine Liturgy. I do this because my concern is helping my people to realize that they should live their lives according to the Church Calendar of feasts and fasts. If I celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the morning, no one will be able to come because people have jobs and school. However, if I celebrate it with an Evening Divine Liturgy following the form used for the Divine Liturgies of Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, I can actually get a congregation that is more than a few old ladies.

        For an editor of the Typikon in English, surely you must know that there is a distinction between an Evening Divine Liturgy and a Vesperal Divine Liturgy, the etymology of the first term notwithstanding. The former is a hybrid, modern creation to – let’s be honest – accommodate and legitimize the lower spiritual state of us and the laity in this modern era; the latter is a creation of the whole Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit and consonant with the Orthodox phronema.

        I would argue that it is better to have Vespers and Matins the night before (or Vigil) [630p-830p] and then Liturgy the morning of the Feast [say, 700a-815a] with fewer people, than to mutilate the services – the Holy and Divine Services – just so we can get more people to have Communion the night before. Have we thought of what God thinks? Or what the Saint of the Feast thinks? Better to honor the Saint and Holy Tradition than to codify our own weakness.

        To paraphrase Christ, The Typikon was made for the Church. The Church was not made for the Typikon.

        Yes, very true. But is not the Typikon – furthering your metaphor – just like the Law, in the words of St Paul “holy and righteous and good”? Should we not rather confess our sins of weakness because we don’t make it to Liturgy at 600a or 700a on a weekday rather than change the Divine Services themselves?

        I agree that the idea would be Vespers on the eve of the feast followed by Matins and the Divine Liturgy on the day of the feast, but sometimes in the real world you have to punt because that is the only thing that will work.

        I disagree that it is the only thing that will work. Two hours of Vigil service (with all the meat that is present there in the canons and prayers) would offer at least something substantial to those who come the night before and who feel they couldn’t attend the next morning.

        This way, we wouldn’t be teaching the laity that changing the Divine Services is OK for the sake of our weakness. And, their consciences being pricked because they didn’t receive Communion the night before, they might be extra motivated to make an extra effort to attend early the next morning. And, isn’t that more salvific than a hybrid, modernistic service that legitimizes our weakness?

        I’m sorry, Father, but I simply disagree with you here.

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        • Jane Rachel says:

          Andrew M…. Thank you for your comment. Like.

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        • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

          I am sorry but I disagree with you. I do not consider pews an important matter. If you do not want pews in OCA Churches do not have them, but I have seen pews in OCA Churches, so your feelings are not universal even in the OCA. I was even in an OCA Church once that used an organ. We know that people have sat in the Church since ancient times because we have ancient liturgical texts that refer to sitting. Why would the Church call a service, the Akathist which means not sitting unless people sat? Why would we call the divisions of the Psalms Kathisma, which means sit if people did not sit? Why would we have several troparia after the 3rd ode of the Canon called “Kathisma” if people did not sit? We do not sit most of the time, basically we sit when a Bishop would sit and stand for all the important parts of the Divine Liturgy.
          I also disagree with you on the Evening Divine Liturgy. We are not living in an Orthodox society that recognizes Orthodox feast days. Sometimes we have to do the best that we can to follow the Typikon. The Vesperal Divine Liturgy is the only way that I can follow the cycle of feasts in a parish made up of working people and students who could not come if I served the Liturgy in the morning. My job as a Priest is to foster the spiritual growth of my people. They are not monastics. I have to take them where they are and hope to help them grow to deeper spirituality. If I can get them to observe a feast day through holding the Liturgy in the evening, I shall continue to do so. That is better than the alternative, which is not observing the feast day at all because people cannot get out of work of school to attend a Divine Liturgy in the morning of the feast, or the even worse practice of moving the feast to Sunday.
          If you think that the Typikon has always had its current form, you are quite mistaken. The Typikon has evolved through the centuries according to the needs of the Church. In 1888 the Church of Constantinople published the Violakis Typikon that shifted the reading of the Matins Gospel from its traditional place before the canon to between the 8th and 9thn odes of the canon, so that people who arrived late could hear it. Sometime in the past, no one seems to know for sure when, the whole Orthodox Church shifted the Holy Week cycle of services forward so that we do Matins on the evening during Holy Week so that people can attend. The Liturgy on Holy Saturday morning was originally served on Saturday evening. I personally think that the Vesperal Divine Liturgy is a brilliant solution to a real problem. The Church has frequently made non doctrinal adjustments in the services to make it easier for the faithful to attend. I do not believe that any parish in the OCA follows all the directions in the Typlkon. Do not the Russians greatly abbreviate the 1st Kathisma from Vespers on Saturday evening and sing. “Blessed is the man…?” We all adapt the Typikon to parish use because it would take over 2 hours to do Matins according to the directions of the Typikon. With few exceptions such as the chanting the Matins Gospel in its traditional place before the canon, Antiochian liturgics are basically the same as Greek liturgical practices.
          Antiochians are forbidden by our Bishops to participate in so called ecumenical worship. Remember we left the National Council of Churches several years ago. Yet the OCA did not follow our example and is still very actively involved. Your Metropolitan and Fr. Kishkovsky are both members of the Governing Board of the NCC. I have spoken many times with Metropolitan on the issue of ecumenism. Our Antiochian Bishops are not ecumenists. I cannot say the same for the OCA. The OCA is very deeply involved in ecumenism, much more than we are.
          As far as scandals are concerned I would take a dozen Joe Allens over some of the things that are reported to be happening in the OCA. I know that if I attend a service at the Metropoltian’s Cathedral, I would not hear a sermon proclaiming the stories of the Old Testament “fairy tales,” nor would I see a Priest giving unrepentant homosexuals or lesbians the Eucharist. An Antiochian Deacon who refused Communion to a woman who loudly proclaimed that she was living in a lesbian relationship would be supported by our Bishops. An Antiochian Deacon who ran away to California and married another man would be permanently removed from the diaconate not restored when he returned to Miami where he lives in a rather suspect relationship with a retired OCA Bishop. We have nothing like the scandals reported on this site concerning immoral Bishops in the OCA.
          Of course, I try to follow the liturgical practices of the Patriarchate of Antioch. I am an Antiochian Orthodox Priest. What else would I do? I am humble enough to believe that the Patriarch and his clergy at the Patriarchal Cathedral know more than I do about proper Antiochian Orthodox liturgics.
          Despite your concerns there is not now and never has been absolute liturgical uniformity within Orthodoxy. The Russians developed a very different set of practices than the Greeks. I have been to several services in OCA Churches and still do not understand the OCA method of censing. An OCA deacon who lived over an hour from his parish frequently came and served with me in my parish. There were times when I did not know what he was doing. All these things are not really important. The only requirement is that we all teach the doctrine and moral beliefs of the Orthodox Church. These other minor differences are not important.
          As far as my attitude is concerned. I like most people do not do well with others who consider themselves better than I am. I do not do well with the attitude that Russian practices are the standard for all of Orthodoxy and that any Orthodox who do not follow Russian practices have somehow compromised the Orthodox Faith. Frankly if the OCA can tolerate the way they do services at New Skete they can tolerate almost anything. I do not appreciate the Antiochian Archdiocese being classified as an “ethnic” jurisdiction which compromises the Orthodox Faith. We are just as Orthodox as the OCA which despite its claims is not the local or American Orthodox Church. it is canonical but has no claim to leadership of American Orthodoxy.
          In conclusion, we Antiochians do not criticize the liturgical traditions of other Orthodox. We certainly do not demand that every other Orthodox Church do things the way that we do them. We expect the same respect from other Orthodox.
          Finally, Orthodox should be seeking ways to unite not arguing over minor differences in practice.

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          • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

            To Andrew M

            I just noticed your comment about doing Trisagions for non Orthodox. Antiochian clergy are forbidden to do Trisagions for non-Orthodox. I did not even do one for my brother, father or mother. With the Bishop’s permission we can do a burial service for non-Orthodox, but it is not the same service we use for Orthodox. In fact we use a service that was published in the Book of Needs by St. Tikhon’s.
            Don’t you understand that the whole tone of your post is offensive? Who are you to judge whether or not our practices are faithful to the Holy Tradition of the Church? That is an exercise of sinful pride. Our Bishops know what they are doing. I have never, ever, knowing done anything that violated the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church. It is not up to you to determine whether or not our Antiochian practices are Orthodox.

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            • Please, Father, please. Will you quit with the pews, already??

              Give it a rest. We have larger problems.

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              • George Michalopulos says:

                The OCA certainly does have bigger problems.

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              • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                I did not begin nor have I wanted to continue the argument about pews. I agree that there are much more important issues than pews. Apparently, if what is written on this blog is true, we Orthodox need to work together to combat the rejection of Orthodox moral teachings by some clergy. If the Church is faced with moral heresy we must stamp it out like any other heresy. I will fight to my last breath to prevent the acceptance of homosexuality and lesbianism in the Orthodox Church. If an Orthodox Christian is living an immoral life they should be denied Holy Communion. If they are clergy they should be laicized as should clergy who teach that we should accept homosexuality or lesbianism as an alternative life style.

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Indeed Fr, we have tremendous problems. If the ouster of Jonah is allowed to stand, then the OCA will be unrecognizable in its moral stances from ECUSA.

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                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                    You have to be realistic. The chances of restoring Metropolitan Jonah are extremely slim. You will probably have to live with whoever is elected by the Holy Synod at Parma. I really doubt that the rest of Orthodoxy really wants to get involved in the internal conflicts of the OCA.

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                    • Basil Takach says:

                      No surprise here from me, I will defend the tone and meaning of Fr. John’s comments. They are not really about pews, but rather about arrogance and hubris – two traits which sadly have had much to do with the current state of affairs within the OCA. At least that is how the ‘rest’ of us see things. We have endured the snide comments for decades from the Russifiers that that Typikon and lititurgical praxis of the non-Russians is somehow inferior to that of the Great Church of Mother Russia. Humbug. Those of us who desire it already have organic unity with our OCA brothers and sisters and witness to that reality is borne out across much of the country. Those of you who insist on administrative unity with liturgical practices only on your terms and to heck with the rest of us – you are the ones lacking any sense of organic unity and in the end, your point of view will not prevail.

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                    • oliver douglas says:

                      On the whole, Father John Morris is on target. Maybe some can disagree with him on some stuff around the edges, but what he has shared with us is by no means “Lutheran” or otherwise out of bounds. We should listen to him and not target him with snarky, oh-so-clever comments that don’t add to the conversation. I would be proud to have him as my priest.

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                    • We need Metropolitan Jonah’s voice and his leadership. Allow us to pray that this might happen. Anything can happen with prayer.

                      http://youtu.be/8yys0Y1MSMg

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                    • How can you say that, Fr. John? It is imperative that people in other jurisdictions not ignore what’s going on in the OCA. The OCA bishops have to be called to account for what they have done. They wounded the whole Body of Christ by what they have done, so why should all the responsibility fall only to those of us in the OCA?

                      I know there’s really nothing practically that you can actually do about what’s going on. But if you ignore this as “our” problem rather than yours, it makes people think you have no regard for the well-being of the faithful in the OCA. It will also leave you unprepared when this hits you later.

                      Restoring Met. Jonah outright may be extremely difficult, but then, it didn’t look like there was much Jesus could do for St. Lazarus of Bethany, either. “Lord, by this time he stinketh!”

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Ordinarily I stand with the principle of non-interference. Unfortunately Helga is correct. Because traditionalist Christians of whatever denomination did not take ECUSA to task 30 years ago when they created the office of priestess, the culture has suffered for it in general. Had we Orthodox at least taken a principled and vocal stand, and counselled our Episcopalian brethren against instituting this blasphemous office, America today might not be in the thrall of an aggressive homosexualist agenda, one that is gaining yardage everyday.

                      Sometimes we don’t need to just mind our own business.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      Just what would you have other Antiochians do and me do? We are not OCA. It is not our place to interfere in the eternal affairs of the OCA. Frankly, I find this whole mess confusing. I do not know who is right about Metropolitan Jonah. I never met the man. I do not know enough about the facts to make a judgment. Even if I did, as an Antiochian Priest I have no right to involve myself in the internal affairs of the OCA
                      As long as the Bishops of the OCA do not endorse something that is heretical, the rest of Orthodox is not going to get involved. If the Bishops of the OCA proclaim something that is heretical, the rest of Orthodoxy would break communion with the OCA, thereby casting them out of the Orthodox Church. I very strongly doubt that the Bishops of the OCA are going to embrace heretical doctrine. Therefore, there is really nothing that anyone outside of the OCA can do about your problems. All those of us outside of the OCA can do is pray for the OCA.

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                    • As the large, economy-size, industrial-strength nit-picker here, I have to say I find no flaws at all in Archpriest John W. Morris’s assessment.
                      Metropolitan Jonah resigned.
                      There is no evidence whatsoever that he has the slightest intention of withdrawing that resignation he signed, nor that the wants to have his old job back. What an idea!
                      He’s not stupid!!!! If he feels like it, he can go get a realtor’s license and say good-bye to church politics. If anyone asks him about being First Hierarch of a Local Church, he can say “Hey, been there: done that….and I’m still pretty young.’ Maybe he should go for a doctorate in theology and pursue a Kallistos Ware/Fulton Sheen-type career? THe best revenge? “Let those hierarchs go ahead and live with what they’ve done—I don’t deserve to bave to clean up their messes!”

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Among the questions raised by the resignation: was it legal? Was it canonical? Not if it was coerced or His Beatitude was fed false information (i.e. that it was the vote against him was “unanimous.” It seems to me that the Canons also speak against conspiracies and we know for a fact that a conspiracy against Jonah existed from before Santa Fe.

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                    • Fr. John, I’m not asking you to ride to Parma on a white horse. Although I think it would be cool if you did. :)

                      I’m just saying, please don’t act like this is only *our* problem. Please do not let yourself think the Antiochian Archdiocese is somehow impervious to this. Yes, I know to you it probably looks like the OCA is all about trifles like cassocks and pew-lessness, ignoring the “weightier matters of the Law”, so to speak. But you would be foolish to ignore the consequences of treating less-essential parts of Orthodox tradition as unimportant or disposable.

                      Years and years ago, someone in the OCA had the bright idea to introduce a clergy-lay council to traditional Orthodox church governance, a council that would keep a hold on the pursestrings so our hierarchs wouldn’t have to worry too much about doing complicated math and managing budgets. Nice idea, right? Good way to bring the Orthodox Church into the 20th century? Now we find this council has apparently been used by certain people to facilitate and conceal embezzlement from the church, use sexual blackmail to manipulate several bishops including two primates, use its control over the budget to quash a sexual misconduct investigation, give broad power to clergy and laity who live in complete contravention to Orthodox teaching, and viciously slandering and abusing the most recent Primate until he was forced to resign under duress.

                      My point is that even the best-laid plans to “Americanize” Orthodox polity can turn into unqualified disasters if they are allowed to deviate from the Orthodox phronema. Whether it is one bishop who is allowed to re-define canonical boundaries at will, or one who is elected Primate only to be cruelly marginalized and tormented, these are both grave discrepancies from the true spirit of Orthodox polity, which is supposed to be primacy without dictatorship, conciliarity without mob rule.

                      You may see little difference between priests in cassocks and priests in collars, but what I said about the most sodomite-friendly parishes in the OCA having also dispensed with the “non-essentials” is true. Once we start pandering to weakness by dispensing with small things, it gets easier to erode the larger things as well.

                      My most important request for you, Fr. John, is that you please pray for us, and especially for Metropolitan Jonah. I am sorry you haven’t gotten to meet him, but I bet you would like him if you did.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      To Helga

                      I could not ride into the meeting in Parma on a white horse even if I wanted to because at that time, I will be home recovering from a total knee replacement that I will have next Tuesday. Please pray for me that my surgery goes well and that I recover quickly.
                      I honestly do not know who is right in the controversies currently going on in the OCA. There have been so many charges and counter charges flying around that I do not know enough about Metropolitan Jonah and his resignation to make an intelligent decision on the matter. I do not understand the structure of the OCA or how decisions are made in the OCA. Besides, since I am an Antiochian Priest, it is not my place to interfere in the internal affairs of the OCA.
                      I really doubt that the OCA is about to fall into the moral heresies that have become common in the Episcopal Church. The OCA is still canonically Orthodox. The OCA may have its problem, but I do not believe that the OCA is going to reject the moral teachings of the Orthodox Church and become Eastern Rite Episcopalians. The OCA clergy that I know are no theological liberals nor do they care that I wear a roman collar and have pews in my Church.
                      Despite my disagreements with some people who write on this blog over pews and cassocks outside of the Church, I am not so narrow minded that I would judge the entire OCA because I disagree with a few members of the OCA over what I consider non-essential matters.
                      I hope and pray that all will go well in Parma and that the OCA will unite behind its new Metropolitan and work together with the rest of American Orthodoxy so spread our Holy Faith and to work for the creation of a united American Orthodox Church.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      I am certain that we will all pray for you Fr and your speedy recovery.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Fr. John,

                      I had a total replacement of my knee (arthroplasty) two years ago this December because of an injury. The surgery was at noon on a Tuesday, they had me walking the unit on Wednesday morning, and every morning and afternoon until I went home on Friday afternoon; walking up the 13-stairs to my apartment with my longsuffering wife trailing behind. The nurse/physical-therapist came on Sunday afternoon, and by Wednesday, I was walking with a walker the 3-blocks to the hospital for physical therapy. There (as Fr. Alexander Atty liked to say) “they treated me like a baby… with the honey.” You will be fine.

                      I will gladly read the Akathist to St. Pateleimon on Monday evening to remember you!

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                    • Archpriest Jo hn Morris says:

                      Reply to M. Stankovich below:

                      I want to thank you and others for your prayers. I had the surgery and was in the hospital for 4 day. I had to stay home for a month before I could drive. My doctor arranged for a therapist and nurse to come to my house to take care of me. Fr. Paul Yerger of Holy Resurrection OCA Church in nearby Clinton covered for me during the week and did a funeral for me. Fr. Leo Schelver of St. Peter’s Church in Madison served for me on Sunday. After about a month, I was able to attend the Divine Liturgy, but did not serve. I finally served with Fr. Leo there just in case something happened on the Sunday before the Nativity and on the Nativity. Since then I have been serving alone. It still hurts but the doctor and therapists tell me that I am doing well. Thanks again for your prayers. Please pray for my Khouriye (wife) she was put in the hospital due to complications from diabetes the day after my surgery. After a week, they put her in a rehab hospital for a month. So, I was home alone for a month after my operation.

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        • Carl Kraeff says:

          I am with Father John on this. I think that the following comment is very much like a Roman Catholic argument of Cardinal Newman that was cited in Heresy of Orthodoxy (around page 53 If I remember correctly):

          “No one is defending 19th century customs per se. What we are defending is the liturgical traditions that the whole Orthodox Church has, under the providential guidance of the Holy Spirit, developed to this present day.”

          But of course one is defending what one has received, using the circular argument that any changes from previous practice have been under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is also like the Protestant argument of sola scriptura, which boils down to personal interpretation, no matter how much a person claims to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Of course, in this case, one person is replaced by many, but the principle remains the same; no need to investigate, to question and to correct current practice–in short, no need to reread the Holy Scriptures and the Early Church Fathers, who are closest to the Apostolic Church. Yes, folks are defending 19th Century customs that have been continued into the 21st Century. And, folks are denigrating fully Orthodox theologians for daring to question this reactionary and unthinking mode of thinking.

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        • I agree with the understanding expressed about the importance of sacred space extending in an Orthodox setting from the altar to where the congregation stands. It does seem to me that this is not unimportant, and for me, my first experience was of a little church in which chairs were set in corners, benches also, for the community to use as needed. This, tp me, always felt similar to stepping out of the church to get a breath of air or remind oneself that inside, in there, a standing with bowed head communion with the Divine Presence was taking place. Sitting down was a similar slight removal from what was ‘going on’.

          In those days I had many little children and we would all come to the midnight Easter Service, my children would have the benches to be on, and standing was standing in the presence of God. Thus, to me, it is not so much the prostrations (though it was Forgiveness Sunday and the prostrations then which really brought Orthodoxy home to me) but the emphasis on standing – you sing better that way anyway, so a fully sung service in which the community can participate I think can only happen when you stand freely shoulder to shoulder – as I am sure we shall stand or kneel at the Last Day with no pews.

          And in a little church – how many folk we could accomodate!

          I realize there are large churches and more seating is needed, practically speaking, but again, might it not be arranged around the sides of a central space – I went once to a large Greek church taking relatives for the experience and was stunned to find pews – they did not find it so different from any protestant or Catholic church, and I could understand why. The sacred space did not extend to where we sat. When you stand together, it is a very different atmosphere.

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  13. Mark from the DOS says:

    Sometimes you wonder, is this person dumb or are they just clueless. Ocassionally, there is the dumb person who is also clueless. This, unfortunately, is the OCA HS at this time.

    It is plain dumb, in this country, in this time and this place, to try to deal with dissent by suppression. There are too many means of communication out there to be able to keep people quiet by refusing to let them speak to you. Maybe in medieval Europe, you could throw them in the dungeon, but now all it takes is a blog post for their message to get out. Now people hear the message AND they know you tried to suppress it. Not a great move. But how can Bp. Alexander, and the rest of the Synod, not understand how this looks. Harry Coin posted on the OF Yahoo Group – just have everyone mail their Yes vote in – save travel money. That is exactly how it looks. So not only is the HS dumb to think this will keep dissent from being voiced, they are clueless as to how their actions look.

    Which brings us to the great hypocrisy of the Stokoe-ites. Remember the demands that the HS answer to them for financial irregularity accusations? Remember the detailed retelling of the infamous “listening” tour of the HS, where the refusal to give straight answers was lampooned endlessly by the advocates of openness and transparency? Now that entire crowd is crowing on the OF list about how right and proper Bp. Alexander’s action is.

    I need to call my chiropractor because I have whiplash from the double take I did when I saw those same people praise efforts to shut down the asking of questions.

    If anyone had a single doubt that there is an underlying agenda at work, put those doubts to rest. The ultra-liberal cadre of Stokoe-ites will support any actions by bishops to quiet the laity if it furthers some greater goal of theirs. What that goal is, I will leave to others to discern. But understand, the complete reversal of position by these former advocates of lay people questioning their bishops can only come from an outcome based perspective. It is not about process, structure or modes of church governance. It is driven only by a desire to achieve a pre-determined outcome. All the other words are just window dressing. Just like the dismissal of +Jonah. Process is unimportant, so long as they prevail.

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    • If things have really degenerated to the point where all of this maneuvering is to further the “agenda,” then the Stokoe-ites have won. There is no turning back or healing from such a malady. The only responsible action left for the faithful would be to put the OCA out of its misery.

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  14. Mark from the DOS says:

    And let me comment on the thoughts of the self styled expert on Orthodox Leadership, Fr. Basil Biberdorf, who wrote:

    I would think, though, that what this AAC does NOT need is a spirit of schism, discord, and
    agitation to dominate.

    Really, Mr. Kalvesmaki’s public letter is just a continuation of the same
    narrative we have endured from OCA Truth and Monomakhos for the past year and a
    half. It boils down to accusing the other bishops as being a den of liars and
    worse standing against the metropolitan. One can defend one’s beloved hierarch
    without denigrating the others.

    Thus, while it’s certainly allowable to think Bp Alexander should have acted
    differently, his actions weren’t irrational. It’s a general requirement that
    divisive persons are not allowed to serve on parish councils, a requirement that
    also applies to AAC delegates.

    We are apparently allowed to disagree with the decision, so long as we realize that our bishop is not irrational. Most importantly though, we must not publicly voice or discuss this disagreement, as the most important thing is that the AAC is harmonious. Any issues about what has occurred should be secondary to choosing a candidate for Metropolitan without addressing in any way, shape or form, the circumstances that led to the need to select a new Metropolitan.

    And just to be sure we stay quiet, remember that should you say anything questioning the bishops out loud, you will be labeled a schismatic. Now that’s leadership boys and girls! Keep quiet, or well send you to timeout and call you names! Please Fr. Basil, more advice on leadership! Are you the personal advisor to the HS?

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    • Gregg Gerasimon says:

      Mark,

      Though I’m not a fan of ad hominem insults at all, and I don’t know Father Basil at all, I also do not agree with what you quote him as saying. For documentation purposes, where is this quote coming from?

      Right from the top, where it says that “what this AAC does NOT need is a spirit of schism, discord, and
      agitation to dominate” — this essentially says that asking questions that are not wanted in a public (or even private) forum will not be tolerated. I wholeheartedly believe that what constitutes a “spirit of schism, discord, and agitation” is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s agitation is another man’s desire to have important questions answered.

      Personally, I thought that Joel Kalvesmaki’s letter was thoughtfully written and not unreasonable at all. The fact remains that a good percentage of the OCA — most definitely in the South and the West — *love* Met. Jonah, his zeal for evangelism, and the means by which he engaged American society and publicly questioned “progressive” American social ideals and policies. As Father Hans Jacobse wrote, a lot of us believe that his allegedly forced resignation is bad for American Orthodoxy.

      As Joel wrote, a lot of us do think it’s important to have “a complete account, along with timeline and documentation” of what led up to Met. Jonah’s resignation.

      Honestly, if everything is on the up and up, then releasing further documentation to support the request for Met. Jonah’s resignation shouldn’t be a problem. It’s like getting pulled over by a cop and asked to do a breathalyzer — if you haven’t been drinking, you’ve nothing to worry about. The converse is not automatically true — but the complete refusal to even entertain any questions about the matter does raise eyebrows and always will.

      And the final statement above that “It’s a general requirement that divisive persons are not allowed to serve on parish councils, a requirement that also applies to AAC delegates” — I do agree with this, but then you get back to the crux of the matter of what constitutes “divisive.” It seems that the working definition is that if you like what the person is doing and if he asks questions that you deem OK, then he is not divisive. Throwing the term divisive around in our context is simply too subjective.

      There’s such an easy parallel to our current Presidential race — a reporter who throws a tough question that demands detailed answers at one candidate is probably called divisive by that candidate’s camp, while the other candidate’s camp thinks that the reporter is simply asking the questions that need to be asked.

      If it’s a milque-toast, “harmonious” AAC, with the toughest questions being “where should I park?,” then I don’t think this AAC is going to accomplish any lasting change at all, no matter who becomes the next Metropolitan or whatever else transpires there.

      Tough questions need to be asked — respectfully, and in a spirit of truth and love — and they also need to be answered. Until that happens, “divisiveness,” however you define it, will remain.

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      • Mark from the DOS says:

        I hope I did not engage in ad hominem. I tried to base my criticism on his writings. He is factually, the owner of the blog The Orthodox Leader where he writes on issues of leadership in the setting of Orthodoxy. I do not know of any particular credentials, awards, or experience that establish his authority on the matter. I do know that is what he chose to title his blog and to focus his writings on. Did my post employ some rhetoric? Certainly, but not ad hominem, I hope. My apologies if it was perceived as such.

        The quote is from the Yahoo! group Orthodox Forum. It was posted either late yesterday or early today. I agree with your analysis. A “divisive” person should not serve on a parish council. A person who disagrees with a particular position is not necessarily divisive. You can ask hard questions and demand accountability without being divisive. Indeed, if Mr. Kalvesmaki is divisive, it is difficult to imagine how he was elected by the very people he supposedly divides. If in fact, a significant enough number of people share his concerns such that he was elected as an alternate delegate, that is all the more reason that the Bishop should embrace and welcome his views. These are the concerns that must be addressed to strengthen the Church and move forward TOGETHER! It strikes me that the only divisive action here is Bp. Alexander saying to those who voice concerns, that their presence and input is not needed and not part of the future of the OCA.

        It is hard to be more divisive than to say to a group of people, we will not listen to what you have to say. And to associate the raising of these questions at the AAC as schism is frankly an irresponsible association for a priest to make, IMO of course.

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      • The bottom line is what are you trying to accomplish with your questions and actions? Are you trying to get to the TRUTH of the matter, to be fair to represent what our faith teaches, to care truly about another person or do you only care about getting your way? Do you just want your side to “win”for selfish, fearful, lazy, thoughtless reasons? Everything is not relative. Intention matters. It matters unto our salvation. So while it puzzles me why intelligent people, whom I know and care about are going along with ill-intentioned acts I ultimately wonder how they will justify themselves on that final day?

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        • “So while it puzzles me why intelligent people, whom I know and care about are going along with ill-intentioned acts I ultimately wonder how they will justify themselves on that final day?”

          To be clear I was referring to Fr. Basil . . . who very clearly in this quote associates questions with divisiveness.

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      • All in the Family says:

        With regards to Fr Basil, he is a nice man, but is a sock-puppet for Fr John Reeves and Greg Nescott, two MC members who worked against +Jonah from the get-go.

        Fr Basil is entitled to his opinion about +Jonah and the OCA but he threw in his lot with the anti-Jonah forces long ago and his latest attempt to justify the removal of Joel K. is really a rather sad reminder of his bias. Fr Basil does not know Joel and I doubt that Bp. Alexander really knows Joel either.

        I would hope that Fr Basil would agree that such a move against Joel was bad leadership and quite unnecessary.

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        • Mark from the DOS says:

          To the contrary, Fr. Basil supports and endorses Bp. Alexander’s decision. I was quite surprised as well to see this.

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          • George Michalopulos says:

            I’m sorry to hear that. It’s sad that the OCL decided to play footsie with a hierarch in order to secure a venue. This means that their ministry of keeping the bishops honest is over. Too bad. The only reason we got this far was because of their fine work in the past.

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          • Carl Kraeff says:

            No surprise here but I thought Bishop Alexander did the right thing, even though it exposed him to charges by the usual suspects.

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    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

      We do not give our Bishop a list of delegates before the convention. The Parish Council chooses the delegate to the Archdiocesan Convention. Naturally it is the duty of the Pastor to insure that each delegate is a member of the Parish in good standing and is not under any penance that would prevent him or her from serving as a delegate. Each Pastor has a vote and each parish has a number of votes depending on its size. The Pastor picks up the ballots for the parish delegation. When we have to nominate a Bishop, every priest who is qualified is automatically placed the ballot. The names and biographies are sent to the parish so that the Council and Pastor can discuss the candidates before the convention. I have never seen a case when the candidate who received the most votes was not elected by the Synod of Bishops. There have been times when no one from the parish could attend the convention and the Parish Council made me the proxy for the parish.

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  15. New to Orthodoxy, coming in through the OCA, I have been following all the debacle within the jurisdiction both present and in learning of the problems of the past. I have read that some will be attending Parma with no qualms (though they should have qualms seeing that the church is in an uproar), others will go to protest, others will protest by not attending. I am unaware of any Bishop trying to stand firm for what is right no matter the outcome. I am very well aware of the cost they could pay.
    We cannot make choices for others. I have a choice daily to do what is right in the sight of God (often falling short). We each have to choose ourselves what we will do. I was convicted of this, this morning…
    “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus; that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor”, for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.’
    ‘For you were once darkness , but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.’
    Ephesians 4.17-27; 5.8
    May we all have the courage to do what is right, the courage to admit error, the willingness to forgive.

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    • This all is nothing..you should have been in Jerusalem in about 35AD when Christians were fighting about whether or not all Christians should keep kosher or all Christian men should be circumcized..and then in about 323AD {?} A bishop slapped I mean slapped a priest…this is mild…sad, scary and probably uncanonical but this too will pass..Christ and the Church are forever and are holy and eternally good…
      As Julian of Norwich said”All is well, all matter of things shall be well”..

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  16. Mark from the DOS says:

    While I am at it, let me quote Fr. Basil from his blog, written as one of his essays against the contributors to OCA Truth:

    As I’ve written previously, avoiding false witness is central to those in leadership. We must seek to present others in the most honest and charitable light, not the light in which we want them to stand or the light that makes them look as bad as possible.

    How can that be reconciled with the statement of the Synod associating their former first heirarch with a convicted child molester! Where are the condemnation of this style of “leadership?”

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  17. I’m wondering if +Jonah will be allowed to attend the coming Special Electoral Council?
    If so, will he be allowed to participate and vote along with the rest of the HS?
    If the answer is no to either or both questions, what reasons can they give for excluding him?

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    • Reason?

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    • PdnNJ,

      You offer a very good question. There is certainly no canonical reason why +Jonah could not attend the Parma Council. I do not think he can vote since he has been stripped of his diocesan see. But the only way they could exclude him is by another heavy handed demonstration of uncharitable power.

      However your question leads me to another one. What if +Jonah told the synod that he is withdrawing his resignation? What if he is letting them know that his resignation was under duress, was accompanied by misleading and false information and therefore it was done under a false pretense? In fact we all know now that the pretense for confronting him was false, the “final straw” was nothing but a bunch of half-truth and outright lies to represent him as some sort of protector of rapists!

      Certainly the synod would have to take this under serious consideration. Otherwise they would once again look like the extension of the hatred that +Benjamin has for +Jonah and who at every attempt shouts down anyone who even dares to come to +Jonah’s defense.

      How can the OCA synod be so weak as to be bullied into cowering fear by +Benjamin? What does this man have over the rest of the members of the synod?

      So, again, I wonder how the synod would react if +Jonah informed them that his resignation is being withdrawn? I can only imagine that if +Jonah did this that they would literally block the doors to the church in Parma to keep him out.

      Robber Council?

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  18. cynthia curran says:

    George is no neocon, he doesn’t like Orthodoxy being like the orthodox Greens or Blues of the circus factions that call themselves that even if some of them knife people and stole from people.

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  19. Maybe more will understand if its said in a different way. I know it’s not true but…

    In any organization dysfunction can happen. Sometimes the dysfunction is something that one lives with. In others, it becomes a glaring evil that must be addressed or the organization could be effected. Frequently in organizations the leadership begins with good intentions. And just a frequently life happens. Leadership usually comes with three things that can influence the effective functioning of the overall organization. These three are: power, prestige, and money. The next point is important. In many fledgling organizations the leadership comes from the grassroots. These leaders get installed intending to lead in a dynamic and good way. They feel called and privileged to lead, and there is the human tendency to want to “share the wealth” with one’s family, friends, and supporters, not to mention those of like mind. Thus, these people tend to raise up their loved ones and supporters with them, into influential positions simply out of a sense of fraternity. We want to raise up our family and friends along with us. We want our loved one’s to benefit as much as we may. It’s like winning the lottery and sharing the winnings with those nearest and dearest, and to pay back those who have helped advance one’s career or provided support trying times. While this may be stemming from a real fraternal love, in organizations it tends to create a biased and even closed leadership. Within this closed leadership a dependence upon the system with the positions of power, prestige, and money may develope.

    Leaders can only come from within the “clique” of those trying to keep one another in their positions of power, prestige, and money. The organization goes from its “mission statement” to being more about personalities, ethnicity, politicking, power, prestige, etc. This phenomenon may develop in an organization unnoticed. The rest of the organization looking up from below simply trust the leadership to be doing the right thing, in the spirit of advancing the mission. Even the leadership maybe unaware that a “fraternity” of an elect few is developing.

    It may be that the influential few in those positions genuinely try to advance the mission, but may also do it while assuring they and their loved ones benefit and retain their positions of power, prestige, and money. In time, the leadership of an organization like this becomes comfortable and ingrown. Sometimes a few dedicate their loyalty to the organization, and knowingly or unknowingly, pledge fealty to the leadership. It may be unnoticed that the dedication is more to this group of leaders than to the mission itself. Of course, in a misguided and deluded way, these may think that the mission/organization and this elect group of leaders are synonymous. Advancement occurs based on a pledge of loyalty. This pledge gets the loyalist “adopted” and that one may become one of the priveledged few in the organization, raised to be a leader and advancer of the “cause.” They may be appointed to a position of power, prestige, and money, for their loyalty. And these are rewarded with advancement and covering faults.

    This model can not persist, especially in Christ, because it is inapporopriate and dysfunctional. Dysfunction breeds dysfunction, and this “elect few” mentality may end up going to particular individuals heads. They may become “drunk” in their power, prestige, and money, and in their comfort fall into neglect of the organization for the sake of indulging oneself. It is no secret how this can lead to major dysfunction and even abuse of power and authority. Leaders may fall into misuse of company funds, sexual immorality, alcoholism, blackmail, et cetera. It is only a matter of time before this “way of leading,” now business as usual, becomes identified as part of the “personality of the organization.” However, it is also not long before the improprieties born out of this leadership-model-gone wrong come to the light.

    Necessarily, those lower down in the pyramid discover the deep rooted dysfunction and become concerned. It may be that there is an outcry of discontent with the leadership and a call for accountability. The wider organization may call for new leadership. It may be that the organization gets honest about this “elite loyalist leadership model” or not. It may be that the overall leadership decides to scapegoat the few ultra-symptomatic leaders, and thus retain the model. The natural response may be to either give face to or actually elect new leadership. It may happen that the organization moves for an overhaul of the whole organization. The organization may elect fresh new leader to overhaul the whole organization. It is likely that this new leader will be an “outsider” to the loyalists, completely new to the old group of leadership. He then begins his hard task of integrating with the old leadership.

    Naturally, this would surely threaten the generations of inherited or adopted leaders. Obviously, a complete overhaul of the leadership would mean that the “fraternity” would be threatened. In effect, the organization itself would be seen as “in jeopardy.” And the new leader would become the enemy of the organization. The old model and old vision would be threatened and would surely inspire the loyal to action. Out with the “disloyal.” Anyone that threatened the old model would become expendable and seen as traitors to the mission, but more, to that old body of leaders loyal to the original cause..

    The obsession would be how to maintain those positions of power, prestige, and money. By denial and by not discussing it. The rest of the organization, assuming that the dysfunction is not pervaisive, yet intuiting a deeper problem in the organization, naturally would want to work with the “fathers” and “founders” of the organization. The idea initially is that these influential leaders could help find a solution. Surely these dedicated leaders would start feeling threatened if not betrayed by what appears to be a coup de tat. The old loyalists may react to attempts to change the original vision, especially because it would threaten those in positions. Anything that threatens the old leadership model, of rewarding loyalty with advancement, or maintaining positions, or at least the individuals already in place, would bring blow back. Naturally, the underlings would think that the old leadership is trying to undermine the attempt of the new leader to change the system. They might think that there is even a conspiracy to prevent addressing the dysfunction at all. And wouldn’t that be true? Eventually an opportunity arises that will allow the old model to be preserved. The fresh leader then becomes the new scapegoat.

    By shifting the weight, the leadership tries to focus the wider organization so that she forgets the ultra-dysfunctional leaders who preceeded the current overhaul, and who manifested the dysfunctional leadership system in the first place. The ultra-dysfunctionals were after all loyal to the leadership and must be rewarded for their loyalty. The fresh new leader, since he represents betrayal to the old model and old leadership becomes an enemy. He is not rewarded but rather defamed and slandered; made more wicked than anything that may have gone before. The dysfunction inherent in the old leadership model is misplaced, from the original leadership to the new fresh leader. Any claims of dysfunction are denied and placed on the new scapegoat. It may be a matter of leaders in positions of power, prestige, and money, and these leaders may be caught up in preserving the comfortable feel-good model. They wield their authority and make the organization bend to their “a-greed stance.” Those that may be concerned and speak up are discounted and made “weirdos” and “sinners.” Moving forward becomes the vision, when moving forward may imply denial of dysfunction. The stress is placed on moving forward from the recent fresh new leader’s problems, as thought the former issues are absolutely resolved. In all of this, none of those old issues have been solved, rather denied and skirted. The efforts made by the new leader were actually to resolve the former problems, but since it undermined the old leadership and their positions, he was stopped. Since the dysfunction lies in a leadership model where the few leaders are loyal to one another, and bolster those loyal to “the cause,” nothing can essentially change.

    What is the rest of the institution to do? Pretend nothing ever happened? That all is back to normal. That all is as it should be? The wider organization could continue to call the leadership to change, insisting on a new leadership akin to the former “new fresh leader” or pretend that he was the problem, and now that the scapegoat is dead, we can now live happily ever after. It would appear that retaining the new fresh leader would be the only way forward. Raising up someone not integrated into the “original OCA system” of leaders and loyalists may be the only way to truly bring healing and change to what manifested with Theodosius and Herman, etc. The “cycle” must be broken is the only thing that can help heal the deep dysfunction. Electing a member from within the loyalist leadership will only perpetuate the problems because the dysfunction is inherent in the system. When there was all the pre-Jonah talk about need for change and healing the Church, was is tongue in cheek? Did OCA really there was a problem? Did we really think there was need for change? Was/is it really as bad as Jonah suggested? Do we really think there is a problem still inherent in the system? Are the voices of those concerned really non-voices? Will we ever know? The greatest problem is the “conspiracy of silence.”

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    • I agree, I see this as the problem:

      When the entrenched administration is under fire, they think the Church is under fire. They are the church aren’t they? What a joke!

      For the entrenched administration, Who is “one of us” and who are the outsiders attacking “our” church?, becomes the statement. What a joke!

      The entrenched administration can’t see that they are the problem.

      I think they are too attached to their “dignities” and “vocations” to be of good to the Church. As if the the Church couldn’t function without them. What a joke!

      Maybe the admin/synod should read and consult St. John’s Letters on the Priesthood and connect the dots to their own behavior. Striking resemblances I would say.

      But I’m not worried, the Lord will clean the House, just as He has done in the past. Saints and sinners will emerge.

      The question to each of our egos though is, is one willing repent and step aside for the good of the real Church. Or is one willing to drag the multitude down as they practice the sins mentioned by St. John in his Letters on the Priesthood?

      We shall see.

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  20. Michael(James ) Kinsey says:

    There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. This is a spiritual state that in genuine humility would not ever condemn, by judging, anyone, even Stalin, Hitler, or Mao in a punishment oriented mindset. Humility, that believes in perfect Divine justice, as St Paul always showed us, and the Lord Jesus Christ said on the Cross, Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.. The Christ alone, is the Just Judge, and for our part, we retain good will toward men and desire , for the Christ’s sake, that all men be saved. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ.. Those authentically ,spiritually in the Body of the Christ, know this. I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, Go ye and find out what that means.

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    • justagoodoleboy says:

      Judgement is vastly different from discernment when it comes to roles of leadership.

      It is out of concern for their salvation that when they are no longer qualified or are making a mess of things that one should step aside.

      It is of a greater benefit for their salvation to step aside, it is not punishment. Stepping aside from a position of prominence can indeed be painful and humiliating, but is by no means the end, it may even be a new beginning. It can be what furthers one salvation and brings great benefit to the soul.

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      • Michael James Kinsey says:

        I found your reply quite pleasing, of course there is discernment. But I was writing about the manner of spirit, in which there is no condemnation., and it is this motivation that true discernment always appears.I felt joy when I read your reply.

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        • oliver douglas says:

          How nice that you found the reply “pleasing.” That’s what we’re all about, after all. “Pleasing” and feeling real good about stuff. Whenever the issue of “judging” or “discernment” arises, we have the tired, inevitable, hackneyed references to Stalin,Hitler and Mao. Can’t judge them, after all. Don’t know what was in their hearts. PUUULLEEEZE. Think of all the tens of millions of people who would not have been murdered had someone “judged” and put a bullet into each of their brains as they were starting out. And, “no judgement” in Christ. How about “better that they should never have been born.” Just stop. Now.

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  21. I’ve read some good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting.

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    • oliver douglas says:

      OK-do you want to know how to get everyone’s attention at Parma. Tell Benjamin Peterson if he elected to wear the white hat, that prior to every visit he makes anywhere in the USA, the state and local police will be informed to be on the lookout for him. And that every hotel he stays in will be told to check their computers after he leaves for what kind of reading matter was accessed. Watch him turn different shades of red. Gotta play hardball with the devil gang.

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      • oliver douglas says:

        On reflection, I will make it a point to keep my eyes open and my radio turned up loud when I learn that the proposed metropolitan in waiting visits my state. Oops-now you know what I do for work. Let’s be careful out there.

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      • And if he gets arrested, tell them to put some newspaper down in the back of the police car before bringing him in.

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  22. Saunca says:
    January 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm
    Colette, you once again miss a point that would be naturally understood had you been Orthodox for most of your life.

    Saunca,

    I have been Orthodox most of my life. Now, what did I miss?

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    • You have missed the traditional intent behind The Jesus Prayer…..the very personal nature of it. Instead you, and others, see no reason not to trot it out at a political rally. I see nothing wrong with anyone marching at a pro-life rally. However, I did have a strong reaction of disbelief when I read that this prayer would be chanted or sung in a very public, political way.
      So yes, I believe that by not having access to the Orthodox Church in your younger life you often cannot or do not have a complete, innate understanding of some of the more private,personal ways of The Church. It cannot, and indeed should not, be molded into some sort of Protestant Evangelical movement. There is a quiet way to lead in Orthodoxy, and IMO it surely isn’t by chanting or singing the Jesus Prayer in a Political Arena. My opinion is not based solely on what I personally WANT to do, but instead based on how I was taught by my parents, Sunday school teachers, and parish priests to treat this prayer. So, it seems we will not agree on this matter.

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      • Unfortunately Saunca you and CQ have missed the point. Traditionally the Orthodox Riot over such offenses. Now we could have done that, but I think because we Orthodox also pray, that prayer is a better action-why? Because prayer leaves the outcome up to God. As much as I would have liked to storm the castle, it was not the appropriate thing to do.

        Secondly the Jesus prayer is sung in various Orthodox churches all over the country, even as we are told in England. I know in DC it is before communion. You can sing it as a group and when you do that it changes the nature of the practice of the Jesus prayer. It is now a hymn, a communal hymn. We do this throughout Orthodoxy, singing, chanting and privately praying things we say corporatly in Church together, alone at our prayer table. The Church develops hymns and practices-or do you think the early church sung everything we sing today in the services? No. as long as the practices are consistent with our Theology we add them in and the services get longer and longer . . . . or in the OCA tradition shorter and shorter. Now the last point are you trying to say one can only really understand Orthodoxy if you are raised Orthodox? Aside from being obserd-that sounds rather Gnostic. . . .special knowledge and all.

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        • To add to my second point- the Jesus prayer is also sung corporatly in monasteries in Palestine, Jerusalem and Russia . . . .

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          • The Russian hieromonk Dorotheus, a great instructor in spiritual asceticism, who was in this respect very much like St. Isaac the Syrian, counsels those who are learning the Jesus Prayer to recite it aloud at first. The vocal prayer, he says, will of itself turn into the mental.
            “Mental prayer,” he continues, “is the result of much vocal prayer, and mental prayer leads to the prayer of the heart. The Jesus Prayer should not be said in a loud voice but quietly, just audibly enough that you can hear yourself.”

            I have searched for guidance, other than what I have been given from my parish Priests regarding how and when to use The Jesus Prayer. I can’t come up with much. There are recordings of this prayer being sung, but there is no dialogue accompanying the videos to explain why it is OK to sing The Jesus Prayer.

            Public prayer can be a tricky slope. The Bible often seems to teach that private prayer is ideal over public prayer. But, then there is 1 Timothy 2:8 “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands.” In light of trying to follow both teachings, it seems to me that there are certain prayers that may be best said in private. A prayer that should be said in a low or unspeaking voice towards the goal of praying without ceasing seem to fall best in the category of a private prayer.

            As I’ve said, it seems we will be in disagreement over the matter.

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            “Corporately?” Does that mean they change “me, a sinner” to “us sinners?”

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            • interesting that you ask that, because I have heard “us” before, although that’s not how it is sung here.

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              • Also the pre-communion prayers said out loud in church are meant to be said alone before coming to church. They are in the for of “I”. And interestingly in Rocor churches I notice the faithful do not say them out loud. The priest may read them, but the faithful say them silently.

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          • The Serbian nuns at St. Paisius Monastery in Safford, Arizona also sing the Jesus Prayer, and quite beautifully.

            Here is one rendition. Here is another one.

            Please support the Reverend Abbess Michaela and the Sisters of St. Paisius Monastery by purchasing the CD: A Treasury of Spiritual Songs (All English).

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      • As for Sunday School-that is not an Orthodox practice. It was added here in America as was the Parish Council. I find the later more problematic than the former. So it seems you were given a bit of Protestantism after all.

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        • Colette, I don’t believe that I’ve made any mention of Parish Councils???
          Interestingly, I think we have a misunderstanding about Sunday School, as I obviously used an “American” or “English” word to describe a group, led by adult laity, that influenced my religious life and Faith.

          Of course, I was not meaning to throw support to the Protestant version of “Sunday School” – where children are taken out of the service to color and, as they grow older, read/study the Bible. This “works” within a Protestant tradition because the denominational emphasis is on personal knowledge and interpretation of the Bible. This would never work in an Orthodox Church, because the Divine Liturgy and sacraments are of utmost importance for our growth in faith and ultimate salvation. Why would anyone take children away from that? If there are Orthodox Churches doing this, I’ve just never seen it.

          What I was speaking of was the treasured time all the children AND most adults had after the liturgy was over. A time spent praying with my peers, reviewing the gospel of the day, sometimes reading the Bible, and studying the saints or past leaders of the Orthodox Church. (Oh, and the bagels weren’t bad either!). My Teta spoke about her mother attending such gatherings in Galicia, Ukraine as a child, and before coming to the US with her sisters and Grandmother.

          I suppose it’s possible that Protestantism had already influenced the Ukrainian/Russian churches at that time, or it’s entirely possible that I am using the Protestant-American word “Sunday School” to describe something that was already occurring in Orthodox Churches.

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          • The whole concept of sending children to a Teacher after the church service is a Protestant practice. The Orthodox practice was the parent and God parents instructed the children. The children went to church and prayed like the adults. You should do a study of the development of Sunday schools in this country to see how then the Orthodox fit in this practice when they got here.
            I don’t think Sunday School is bad, but I would rather see education for the parents pushed. The children are more influenced in the home than anywhere else.

            I brought up Parish Councils not because you mentioned it, but because you are unaware of how many parts of Orthodoxy in this country are influenced by the Protestantism here. Yet you rail naively on those who have that background and come onto Orthodoxy. Actually I was Protestant for only a short time on my way to Orthodoxy, but am profoundly grateful for it. It has helped me understand this country in a deeper way and tied me into it’s life and history in a way I would not have understood without that experience. It also pointed me to Scripture. I’ve read it from cover to cover many times. Like our Church Fathers who read it, devoured-knew it by heart. It is our book, we need to know it. You need to know it.

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            • Colette,
              I have studied the concept of “Sunday School,” but thanks again for trying to address my naïveté. Sunday schools originally had nothing to do with Bible study at all. It was a time for working children to receive some basic reading and math education.

              I rail pointedly on converts to Orthodoxy that think they can somehow “Evangelize” the Orthodox faith and Divine Liturgy until even those who grew up in The Church do not recognize it. You express your idea that I am profoundly “naive” to Protestant influences already exhibited in the Church. I have only re-directed your attention back to your own naïveté in regards to what is and isn’t normally acceptable in an Orthodox Church. MANY OC’s currently have pews, MANY have current Sunday school programs, MOST would not use The Jesus Prayer out loud at a political rally.

              So, you have the biblical background, just not the innate connection to some of the Church’s ways.

              And, of course, I need to know the Bible…..just as any Christian does. Believe me, with a 8+ year chronic illness battle that’s often left me bed bound, I’ve had A LOT of time to read and re-read the Bible….sometimes reading to understand, sometimes reading learn more, sometimes reading because I was in so much pain I couldn’t even pray. So please, don’t assume someone has not read the Scriptures as well as you have.

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              • Saunca, Great! You looked into the development of Sunday Schools in America and yes they started as actual schools-on Sundays for the farming communities. But eventually became attached to learning about the faith –That is-Protestant faith.   In Russia, for example it was Alexander Mein very recently who started Sunday
                Schools. He was considered suspect for bringing in “western
                practices” such as this and others practices to Russia. Your next
                paragraph — I don’t really know what you are saying, except this part
                 “MANY OC’s currently have pews” Yes, I and many others here and not here like Schmemon- are
                saying, this is added recently and not necessarily a good thing for reasons
                already mentioned.  Just because it is currently in the churches does not mean it IS Orthodox, or should continue because it is not necessarily carrying on the faith, but rather introducing a different way that impedes our worship.  It needs to be challenged and rethought.  Next you say,
                 “MANY have current Sunday school programs”Yes, I’m saying this is a direct adoption from Protestant faith
                as the other, an influence from a religion you are criticizing people here for
                having in their backgrounds. My point is like it or not you have some in YOUR
                background too.  SO stop criticizing, makes you sound bad.
                Next you say, (although previously you were lecturing on it only
                being contemplative. . .)
                 “MOST would not use The Jesus Prayer outloud at a political rally.” I’m saying I wouldn’t consider this political at all, but matters pertaining to the faith. As Dn. Patrick pointed out what difference does it make if it’s the Jesus
                Prayer or Holy God, when you are trying to alter affairs in prayer? I agree. It was never stated to be a political rally-ever. So why are you and others trying to make it so?  I hope you (and others) now understand my point about the difference of the Jesus prayer being sung-congregationally, (as is practiced in the Orthodox old world as also here) and the practice of the Jesus Prayer in private. They have a somewhat different purpose.  Many things in our Tradition have different
                purposes, yet all come from Scripture or the Fathers and have the same words,
                some are pentetencial yet said as a group –see above example-. . . .
                 I also hope you understand that to separate the body of Christ by saying people don’t know or can’t understand the faith because they were not raised in it is elitist and stands at odds with the Gospel for: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free; male nor female; convert nor raised; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”Special translation. . .

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                • Colette,
                  So it seems we are still at a stalemate, although writing back to me with letters boldened does seem to display your desire to shove your opinion down my throat!

                  You have an opposing view about where/when to make use of The Jesus Prayer. Maybe this is a topic we can actually converse about. Do you have any information on when this prayer started being used publically as an “Orthodox calling sign” of sorts? Beyond videos or lists of Orthodox Churches that currently sing The Jesus Prayer as a congregation, is there any actual directives from a current bishop, former bishop, monks or theologians of the church that describe using the prayer in anything but a private manner? I am truly interested, as I don’t have any factual info on this subject, just an underlying feeling that using it publicly is just wrong.

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                  • Carl Kraeff says:

                    I know the answer to that question!

                    Place: Haight-Ashbury

                    Date: 1966

                    :)

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                  • Saunca,

                    I wrote in bold to help differentiate between the dialogue.
                    I know of no writings from the Fathers that would say it’s wrong to sing this congregational. But I can research this. My husband is a Byzantine Scholar and knows the Fathers well. I can start there.

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          • Archpriest Jo hn Morris says:

            Metropolitan Philip long ago forbade having Sunday School during the Divine Liturgy. Sunday School is very important to teach our children our Orthodox Faith.

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        • Archpriest John Morris says:

          Sunday School was added in America because an Orthodox Priest cannot come to the schools and instruct the children they way that he can in many traditional Orthodox countries. The very idea that we should not teach our children the Orthodox Faith using whatever means possible is astounding to me.

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          • George Michalopulos says:

            Fr, for what it’s worth, Arb Dmitri of thrice-blessed memory instructed his parishes to have Sunday School either before Liturgy or after. He said the greatest education was having the children in church with their parents during the Liturgy. Otherwise, it devolves into a baby-sitting service.

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            • Amen to that. They need to be in Church.

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              • Saturday Schools says:

                For two of the parishes while my children were growing up, thankfully we had Saturday schools. The parents were committed enough to spend all of Saturday morning involved with this. In one Serbian parish, we had an adult class while the children were in their classes where we would discuss one Orthodox book after another. Mind you, in another Serbian parish, I gained the ire of leaders of that parish because they had Sunday school during the liturgyand because I wanted my children to think it is a natural state to attend the liturgy and would not allow them to be removed, I was disliked. This parish still does this but now takes them away after communion instead of trotting them in for communion, a positive change but still not right! To me, it seems that the message being sent by not sacrificing Saturdays to Saturday School and not bringing children to Vigil or Vespers (Balkan churches tend to have their Matins in the morning of Sundays) is to give children the idea that Church is painful, unendurable, not for everybody and that coloring and stuff like that ought take place instead. It makes Saturdays seem optional and Sundays minimal.

                These days, you can often gauge the health of a parish by how many and which ages of children and young adults are there.

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                • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

                  These days, you can often gauge the health of a parish by how many and which ages of children and young adults are there.

                  You are so absolutely right about that. It was interesting to see that playing out right in front of me.

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          • Of course you understand that is not what I am saying . . .Fr. John-I’ve taught Sunday School for 6 years . . . ..

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        • Carl Kraeff says:

          “The whole concept of sending children to a Teacher after the church service is a Protestant practice. The Orthodox practice was the parent and God parents instructed the children.”

          “I brought up Parish Councils not because you mentioned it, but because you are unaware of how many parts of Orthodoxy in this country are influenced by the Protestantism here.”

          Interesting claims, Colette. Would you care to back them up with some citations? The reason I am asking is because I feel that the sweeping and definitive way that you made them had to have more substantial underpinnings than personal opinions. This feeling of mine was reinforced by your lectures too Saunca on what is, and what is not, proper Orthodox praxis.

          Furthermore, would you care to expound on your remarks about “Alexander Mein” and “Schmemon”? Were you referring to Father Alexander Men, who was murdered early on Sunday morning, 9 September 1990, by an axe-wielding assailant just outside his home of Semkhoz, Russia? Were you also referring to Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann of thrice-blessed memory?

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          • One interesting read on this is called, “American Orthodoxy and Parish Congregationalism” by Nicholas Ferencz.

            And yes to both people in your last paragraph. To clarify, I like what I’ve read of Fr. Alexander Mein and very important people to me were his spiritual children, but my point was Sunday Schools were “new” to Orthodox Russia and came through him. You can find this info on-line.

            Does anyone remembers the trials of 2 priests in Russia back in the ’90′s and their connection to Fr. Alexander’s teachings??
            Also found this-I think there is something there for everyone on this blog-but I especially took note that this is about his diary . . . which I am still trying to get to the bottom of . . . .
            http://www.rocorstudies.org/articles/2011/03/10/comparing-notes-the-diaries-dnevniki-of-fr-alexander-schmemann-and-russian-church-unity-in-the-diaspora/

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            • Another interesting article on pews

              http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/12/09/pews-or-lack-thereof-in-early-orthodox-churches/

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              • Please forgive me for stepping in if you think it unseemly. I wished thank Colette for this thread, as it is very relevant to “Orthodoxy” and what we hold and pass to Orthodox children.

                As I understand your points you basically wonder what is left of the “Orthodoxy” received that we are passing on in America. You have made a reasonable assertion, and backed your information up with data. This is commendable and appropriate. It is not easy to keep trying to voice reason against assaults of half-truths and seemingly ego-inflated tirades, and I personally commend you for your effort.

                In Christ

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            • Carl Kraeff says:

              First, thank you very, very much for your answer. Let me start by relating back to you a review of Fr. Nicholas Ferencz’ work in the Leitourgeia kai Qurbana: Contra den Zeitgeist blog. I do not think that Fr. Ferencz and Father Schmemann are too far apart. See the latter’s “the Church is Hierarchical” in http://www.schmemann.org/byhim/churchhierarchal.html. Father Alexander wrote his essay in 1959, while Fr Nicholas’ work was published in 2006 by Gorgias Press under their “Gorgias Dissertations” imprint (very expensive!).

              If the reviewer has done a good job (as I am inclined to believe), Father Alexander would certainly agree with Father Nicholas’ conclusion that ““[r]eal conciliarity on a parish level could be the beginning of the healing of the divisiveness of congregationalism,” (p. 210) with conciliarity being defined as “an authority structure which requires that all the People of God, ordained and unordained, participate in the authority of the church and the exercise of that authority as one, whole Body” (p. 209). At the same time, however, conciliarity is emphatically not “the gathering of an… ‘amorphous mass’ for the purpose of casting votes… [that is,] a democracy. It is the gathering, the coming together, of the Body of Christ in unity and in wholeness” (ibid.). This being the case, it is vital that we realize “[t]he participation of each member of the church is not exactly the same, uniform, and undifferentiated. Each person is called to share in Christ’s authority to the degree and in the manner in which they have received God’s grace to do so” (ibid.).”

              Here is Father Schmemann’s take on this question: ” “The canons of the Ecumenical Councils, – writes Mr. Arkush, – make no mention of the laity as sharing in Church government. On the contrary they indicate that the Bishop solely governed the Church”. I am glad that Mr. Arkush makes this clear statement and, although he tries immediately to question its relevance for us and our time, there remains the fact that our Church knows of no other canonical tradition but precisely that of the Ecumenical Councils period. The Church was governed by the Bishops because the Bishops are the ministers of Church government, and to ask whether this principle or “canon” is still binding is to ask whether the Church is still the Church. What Mr. Arkush overlooks, however, is the fact that the lay participation in shaping the life and the activities of the Church, its voice – was fully recognized, even though they took no official part in the Church councils. The great monastic movement was at its beginning a lay movement, yet it had a great impact on the whole life of the Church. Eusebius of Dorylea was a simple layman when he protested against the heretical teaching of his bishop Nestrorius. Theologians were not necessarily bishops and the tradition of “lay theology” has remained a living one even today. Participation, activity, concern for the Church, thinking, discussion – all this was never denied to the laity, on the contrary, belongs to it as its right and duty.

              It was indeed a wonderful achievement of the Moscow Sobor of 1917-18 that it restored this lay participation to its full capacity and gave the laity new possibilities of cooperation with the hierarchy and creative activity in the Church, and this at a moment when the common defense of the Church became an urgent need. It brought to an end a false “clericalism”, a situation in which clergy alone constitute the active element in the Church. It clearly proclaimed the principle that all Christians are living and active members of the Church. But the Moscow Sobor did not and could not change the basic structure of the Church, as Mr. Arkush seems to interpret its decisions. By introducing the laity into the Sobor – “the supreme authority of the Church”, it did not change the status of the laity in the Church, it did not give them “rights of government”. The final sanction within the Sobor belongs to the Bishops, and this principle according to Prof. Kartashoff was the “corner stone of the whole activity of the Sohor” (A. Kartashoff, The Revolution and the Sobor of 1917-18, in “The Theological Thought”, Paris, 1942, pp. 88) – “All decisions of the plenary sessions, – writes Prof. Kartashoff, – were revised at special sessions of the Bishop’s Council; if rejected by three-fourths of the Episcopate, they were sent back to the plenary session. If not accepted by the Bishops after revisions by the Sobor, they were not to become official acts of the Sobor”. Thus, at this point Mr. Arkush’s interpretation is false. The Sobor created two organs of the Church government: the Synod of Bishops and the Supreme Church Council, and it was clearly stated that to the competence of the Synod of Bishops belong the questions concerning Doctrine, Worship, Theological Education, Ecclesiastical Government and Discipline (Decision of December 8, 1917). Finally, in the Parish statute (April 20, 1918) the government of the parish is defined as follows: “It is the duty of the Rector to have a concern for all the activities of the Parish” (Ch. V. 29). To oppose the Moscow Sobor to the earlier tradition of the Church, to see in it the beginning of a “sobornal as opposed to the hierarchal Church” is therefore a pure distortion.”

              I think that in the Diocese of the South under the wise leadership of Archbishop Dmitri of thrice blessed memory, we have achieved the sort of conciliarity at the parish level that both Fathers Nicholas and Alexander stood for. Indeed the OCA Statute reflects the proper roles and functions of the laos, from bishop to a layperson,

              Regarding the reputations of both Father Alexander Men and of Father Alexander Schmemann, it is certainly true that these two outstanding servants of the Lord do not enjoy the same positive reputation in all segments of the worldwide Orthodox community. There are indeed some segments who have condemned Father Schmemann and Father Men as innovationists–quite wrongly IMHO.

              One of the main points of contention between Father Schmemann and the most conservative segments of the ROC is the different approaches to the Holy Mystery of Penance/Reconciliation and how often the laity should receive communion and under what sort of discipline. I think it would be fair to say that Father Schmemann was in the Metropolia/OCA and not in ROCOR for a very good reason. It would also be fair to point out that Father Scchmemann’s life work was to get rid of Roman Catholic influences from the ROC by appealing primarily to Patristic sources. As for the fact that there were no Sunday Schools in the ROC before Father Men, so what? They exist in the Parishes of the ROC in North America, as they do in ROCOR parishes. I suppose they also exist in Russia herself.

              I think you are in the DC area and I recommend that you check out ROCOR’s St. John the Baptist Cathedral. Not only is there a Parish Council but also Sunday School. Here is the blurb on St. John’s Internet site:

              “English Sunday School classes take place after the meal following the early Liturgy. The School is directed by Deacon John Dean and his matushka Ioannikia (johnedean@comcast.net).

              Russian Sunday School classes meet after the meal following the Slavonic Liturgy. The school is directed by Andrei and Galina Ivanov (andreyivanov1@yahoo.com). Classes are for the children and their parents — i.e. attendance by the parents is MANDATORY!”

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              • Carl, you didn’t understand my point. It’s not that complicated really-These concepts are out of Protestant thought and function-not Orthodox; Sunday School, Parish Council and pews in the churches. Saunca made the assumption that if you are not raised O, and have this bad Protestant background you can’t understand Orthodoxy. My point is Protestantism has influenced Orthodoxy-Fr. Schmemonn was considered Protestant-Orthodox. So, why the arrogance? The reason why Fr. Alexander Mein (or Men-seen it both ways) was suspect in Russia was because he was thought to be an ecumenist. He brought foreign western ideas into the Church. This is just a small example– I am not saying that I agree or disagree with what others think of him but just wanted to point out that it was “new” to Russia-coming from here! A Protestant Nation. I have visited the site where he was killed and prayed. He means a great deal to me so don’t put your misconceptions on me. The Russian Church put 2 of his priests through really hard trials because of their “new” ideas. I don’t what happened to them, I didn’t follow the trials. The church in her wisdom is cautious about change and examines and scrutinises what comes to it. As it should. But after the fall of the Empire, the Occupation of the Ottomans, Peter the Great decapitating the Church by removing the Patriarchate and setting up a German system in the Church and then Communism, the Church didn’t have the checks and balances in place to keep out confused teachings and practices. We haven’t had a council in how long? We have a lot to work out. I can see just in Iconography the confused beliefs of the faithful over the last 300 years. The OCA was let loose because the Russian Church could not take care of it any longer. I don’t think it was ready. As a result I think the OCA has really lost itself now and is moving away from the rest of the Orthodox in America. It’s in the small things-like pews which I would put at the bottom of my concerns right now that show how we no longer understand how we used to function. Parish Councils -which were put on us by this Nation from a Protestant model can really reek havoc in the church due to a secondary power instead of a hierarchical system which is what we are! We are not a democratic Church. We of course need to work together but what do you do when there is trouble? If you have a strong priest it can work, if you have a strong PC, a priest can be manipulated and run out. So you call on your Bishop-but if your Bishop is week . . . another one bites the dust, this doesn’t Glorify Christ! So I believe we need to examine ourselves. I don’t think we ever did in this area, we’ve all just accepted it and mooooooooooooved along. We’ve accepted a lot of things in America as normative to Orthodoxy and they are not. This book is fascinating because he takes a look at this particular topic. He says, “The modified Congregationalism of American Orthodoxy does not promote a unity which flows from an adherence to the one and only authority, Jesus Christ, it seeks rather to divide the church into separate pieces. . . . it not only fosters, but even requires, the separation of the clergy from the laity, each parish from each other parish, each parish from its diocese and jurisdiction.” Isolationism in short. There might be a simple solution. Metroloitan Jonah suggests one, although I still want to argue with him about it. . . . :-) As for ROC- I’ll take that to another post. My kids have attended SS there at St. John’s and I don’t recall being invited . . . but they do have an excellent program and for the 500th time, I am not against Sunday Schools– they are from the Protestants though . . . and brought into Orthodoxy by a convert–all on the web Carl.

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Very well put, Colette.

                  If I may, to all those who think that converts have Protestant “baggage, I propose a deal: Let’s get rid of ALL the Protestant baggage. We conservatives give up our insistence on tithing and Wednesday night services and you liberals give up organs and pews. Deal?

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                • Jonathan Johnston says:

                  ” My point is Protestantism has influenced Orthodoxy-Fr. Schmemonn was considered Protestant-Orthodox”

                  What a completely ridiculous statement. Obviously from someone who has never read any of his works or understands his impact on RE-ESTABLISHING Orthodox thought and practice to the American church.

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                  • George Michalopulos says:

                    In retrospect, given the insanity of a rogue central chancery, bullying bishops, and a Metropolitan Council that goes into “closed session” at the drop of a hat, I think Schmemann unwittingly created a veritable Frankenstein’s monster that is far more Protestant than Orthodox.

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                    • Carl Kraeff says:

                      In true retrospect, that is in historical context, many Orthodox churches have suffered from a rogue central administration, bullying bishops, and secretiveness. And, many of these problems have preceded Father Schmemann or have not been influenced by him.

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                    • Carl Kraeff says:

                      Speaking of rogues and bullies, here is a nugget from 2001:

                      “The Attempted Abduction of Metropolitan Vitaly by Representatives of the ROCOR under Metropolitan Laurus
                      On November 22, 2001 Michael Donskoff ( formerly Bishop of Toronto and vicar of Metropolitan Vitaly) arrived with the Priest Paul Iwaszewicz, several “hired security guards” and the legal counsel of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia under Metropolitan Laurus. They attempted by brute force to remove Metropolitan Vitaly against his will from his own property and monastery.

                      Such behavior was truly the peak of the “New Synod’s” violence towards those who would not accept their change of course. After this shocking event, which literally was seen worldwide and related in several newspapers, a “regrouping” took place in the tactics used by the synod under Metropolitan Laurus to appear more benign. However they still did not stop in their lawsuits against those they deemed vulnerable and their treachery in making secret agreements with those who they claimed were endangering the life and well-being of Metropolitan Vitaly.”

                      http://www.monasterypress.com/attempt.html

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                  • Never read any of his works?!! I graduated from his Seminary-I read MOST of his works!! LOL!

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                • Carl Kraeff says:

                  Colette–You said “Carl, you didn’t understand my point. It’s not that complicated really-These concepts are out of Protestant thought and function-not Orthodox; Sunday School, Parish Council and pews…”

                  OK, while you are at i, let us also catalogue other ideas and practices that have come into Orthodoxy from the outside:
                  - From the Ottoman Turks; Various headgear for priests and bishops.
                  - From the Roman (Byzantine) court: Clerical attite.
                  - From the Catholic Italy: Four-part harmony and the idea of super bishops, of “strong primates.”
                  - From the Protestant and Catholic West: Orthodox theologians trained by Lutherans and Roman Catholics. The former was a problem forth Church of Greece, while the latter for the Church of Russia.

                  You know Colette, I almost dispaired for the future of Orthodoxy after you confirmed to us that even ROCOR is not immune to dreadful Protestant influences. However, my dispair went away when you told us that you intended to talk to +Jonah and take care of this problem. /s

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                  • Carl Kraeff says:

                    Addendum to influences from non-Orthodox sources:

                    Roman Catholic style of icon painting: reflected most splendidly in Christ the Savior Cathedral, Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow

                    Influence by Communists in various Churches, to the point where many clergymen became agents of the state. These Churches include the Church of Russia (not ROCOR or Metropolia); Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, etc…

                    Influence by the Ottoman Turks in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, to the point of the Patriarch buying his position, something that was business as usual in the Ottoman Empire.

                    I am sure there are others. The point is that One can be as myopic and petty as you when you talked about pews, Sunday Schools and Parish Councils.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Surely Carl you’re not implying that the Ottomon suppression (or the Soviet) were salutary to the Church as a whole? Yes, the Turks forced goofy headgear on Orthodox priests. That doesn’t mean we should willingly accept Protestant influences which lead to pietism and then rationalism. And I very much mean pews. What are we, viewers watching a broadway show?

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                    • Carl Kraeff says:

                      George–My point is that despite Roman icons in Christ the Savior Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox Church remains Orthodox; despite Ottoman headgear and Byzantine court vestments, all Orthodox Churches are still perfectly Orthodox; and the existence of Sunday Schools and Parish Councils have not made those churches who have them any less Orthodox than others who do not have these nefarious Protestant influences. Same thing with pews. I pray that we quit using divisive issues to justify where we are. You do not like pews, that’s just fine (neither do I, but I sure use the chairs in the back!). Just don’t criticize those who do for what will you gain but a sense of superiority?

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                    • My post below applies here too. As for iconography, rather than me writing a book-try reading this one,

                      The Image of God the Father in Orthodox Theology and Iconography and Other Studies.

                      by Steven Bigham

                      If you want more visit my web site under bibliography

                      Also note that they wanted to leave every part of Christ the Savior the way it was when it was destroyed, not because they loved the style, but to honor it.

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                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      George accuses the Ottoman Turks of forcing headgear on Orthodox clergy. I would like to see the record (and not the testimony of some 20th century American who thinks he looks “funny” in a kamilavka or skouphos) of ANY Turkish regulation or firman or whatever that forced Orthodox clergymen to wear anything at all on their heads. Byzantines, including clergy, were wearing headgear which emulated the headgear of the ENVIED Persians long before the Turks conquered Constantinople. As for the Fezzes of the Turks, these became fashionable because the “classy” North Africans and the men of Fez wore them. Unlike the Orthodox Christian Kamilavka, however, the fezzes tapered off towards the top, while the Orthodox kamilavkas, patterned on Persian headgear, were purely cylindrical or actually WIDENED towards the top. The Greek parish clergy have little brims on the tops of their kamilavkas, while the monastic clergy do not have such brims, which interfere with deep reverences to the earth which monastics make so frequently.
                      When one prominent Archpriest referred condescendingly to “the Turkish kamilavka”, I challenged him (he was not used to that). He replied that he was an acknowledged expert in Byzantium and things Byzantine, even attached to Dumbarton Oaks. I pointed out that he could examine paintings and bas-relief images of the Persians on horseback with their cylindrical headgear that LONG predated even the appearance of ANY Turks on the scene, let alone Ottomans! He said, ‘You’re right.” But he never ever wrote that he had given misinformation to generations of seminarians.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Your Grace, I was told this by some GOA priests (re fezzes). I believe also that His Eminence Metropolitan Philip said essentially the same thing. If I’m wrong I’ll stand corrected. Anybody who can shed light on this would be most appreciated.

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                    • Mark from the DOS says:

                      Wait, when we discussed the Soviet sphere of influence and recognition of OCA autocephaly, Carl, you denied that the Soviets could possibly have had any impact on the Bulgarians as they were not a daughter church! Now you are telling us that they turned independent, unaffectable Bulgarian clergy into state spies? Man it must be hard keeping your stories straight while shilling for the cause!

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                    • Carl Kraeff says:

                      Mark from DOS–It seems that your antipathy towards me is overriding your memory. I simply said that it was erroneous to contend that the East European nations were daughters of Russia. And, I gave y’all lots of information that showed that if there is to be a mother-daughter relationship, Bulgaria was the logical mother of Russia and not the other way around.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Bulgaria’s patriarchate historically speaking is more senior in age than Russia’s so I really don’t understand the order of the Diptychs in this matter. The point though is that Soviet influence turned this “mother-daughter” relationship around on its head.

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                    • Mark from the DOS says:

                      Carl, if you didn’t dispute my argument, you failed to respond to it. Now you essentially use the same argument. So I will ask you directly here: do you dispute that the recognition of the OCA’s autocephaly by Soviet bloc churches was at least influenced by Soviet domination over its satellite states?

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                    • Carl Kraeff says:

                      Mark–I was responding to this post of yours:

                      “Except that outside the MP daughter churches, the OCA is not viewed as autocephalous. It wouldn’t be viewed as meddling at all. It would be viewed as the parent exercising appropriate supervision over the child. Not an eyebrow would be raised from the EP side because their position is that the OCA is just a component of the MP anyway. For the MP daughters the action would clearly indicate that the OCA’s autocephaly is a dead letter.”

                      Words do have meaning and “daughter church” has a well-defined meaning. That term does not mean a church that is influenced/ruled by another. That term means a church that was founded by another–a mother church. The OCA is a daughter church of the ROC. The Bulgarian Church is a daughter church of Constantinople; Church of Georgia, of Antioch; ROC, of Constantinople, etc…

                      It amazes me how agile is your mind. Instead of daughter churches, we are now talking about the influence of the Soviet State in the recognition of OCA’s autocephaly. This is a very good possibility but I do not believe that it is anything but conjecture. Even after the fall of Communism, I do not think that evidence has been found to support your contention.

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                  • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says:

                    Dear Carl,
                    I’m puzzled why you would post the sordid details of the Metropolitan Vitaly affair above,especially the link to the schismatics.As a ROCOR priest,I know that poor Metropolitan Vitaly,already 91 ears old,was already not in complete control of his facilities.(I suspect Metropolitan Ireney of the OCA was in a similar state before his retirement in 1977).
                    In case you don’t know,Metropolitan Vitaly was in fact used by schismatics to consecrate bishops which have since spilt up into 6 or 7 rival ROCOR “remnants”,most of which would not consider you,me,or the OCA to even be Orthodox.
                    For years,the OCA kept saying to ROCOR,”You’re not in communion with the Orthodox world.”Now,we reconcile with the Mother Church,serve with everybody,and the OCA liberals still aren’t happy!

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                    • Jonathan Johnston says:

                      Wearing head gear, kamilavkas, were absolutely imposed on the Orthodox by the Ottomans. This is historical fact. The Muslims were mistaking Orthodox priests for Muslim clerics in public so the decree was made. Wearing kamilavkas is NOT Orthodox in origin. Same with a bishop’s crown. Orthodox bishops never wore crowns. The crown was worn by the emperor. Once there was no emperor, bishops took the crown along with the emperor’s outer garment, the sachos. The riassa was a judges robe worn by Muslim judges. Wearing head gear in or out of church is not an Orthodox practice.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      Under the Turks Orthodox clergy had certain judicial functions. The Rasso and kamilavka come from Turkish judicial attire. The Ecumencial Patriarch was also the head of the Roman Nation, or Rum Millet because the Byzantine Empire was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East. That is why he began to dress as a Byzantine Emperor. Other Bishops followed his example and the result was modern Orthodox Bishops wear the Saccos and Crown. At one point, an Orthodox Bishop had the authority to sentence someone to be a galley slave. That is one way that the Uniates grew in the Middle East they offered a way to get out of sentences imposed by Orthodox Bishops for various offenses. In Arabic Greek Orthodox are called Roman Orthodox to this day. I notice that in Germany our Antiochian Churches call themselves Rhum Orthodox.

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                    • Carl Kraeff says:

                      Dear Father–I brought it up to point out that the OCA is not the only jurisdiction with issues, past or present. Perhaps I could have chosen examples from other jurisdictions but I wanted some incident that reflected back George’s post of February 6, 2013 at 7:30 am and this affair seemed to be a good fit. Here is what George wrote:

                      “In retrospect, given the insanity of a rogue central chancery, bullying bishops, and a Metropolitan Council that goes into “closed session” at the drop of a hat, I think Schmemann unwittingly created a veritable Frankenstein’s monster that is far more Protestant than Orthodox.”

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                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      Jonathan Johnstone writes :”Wearing head gear, kamilavkas, were absolutely imposed on the Orthodox by the Ottomans. This is historical fact.” I strongly doubt that, but if Mr. Johnstone would be so kind as to cite ONE historical source for his amazing statement I might reconsider. His statement and those of others attributing the street wear of Orthodox clergy in, for example, Russia before the Turks conquered Constantinople, TO Ottoman oppression is, it’s my conviction, utter folk wisdom entirely undocumented in any histories.
                      By the way, it’s only the Russian and Georgian Patriarchs (and Old Believer Hierarchs) that still wear the ‘koukoulion” or rounded headgear that we see, for example, the
                      Three Hierarchs wearing in the canonical icons of them, and in the frescoes of Ravenna, Monreale, etc.
                      I suspect, but I won’t go way out on a limb like Mr. Johstone, that it is the Muslim magisterium that emulated the Greek Christians in wearing the rason, but they preferred the turbans of the monophysites, as they do even today. The Muslim conquerors at first were mostly nomads: it’s when they became “citified’ in the former cities of the Roman and Persian empires that they adopted the kind of robes we see the imams and ayatollahs wear today.
                      The only restriction on Christians of the Ottoman Empire that was of Muslim(Ottoman) origin is the ban on the wearing of colored garments, robes, hats, etc., on the street by any but Muslims. BEFORE the conquest, Bishops could wear their colored monastic mantiyas on the streets. After the conquest, they had to to wear only black on the streets; hence, the custom of meeting a Bishop at the door of the Church with his colored mantiya so he could exchang his black one for it. The black rason (riassa) of Orthodox clergy (please note that is a modification of the Greek philosopher’s robe and a sign of Christianity being the True Philosophy. It’s difficult for me to see how the Rason/Outer Cassock worn across the Christian world, especially in areas which had never SEEN a Turk, could be attributed to Turkish oppression. Mr. Johnstone is correct that the ordinary Eucharistic vestment of the Orthodox Priest was the phelonion/paenula until in late Byzantine times, the Emperors and the ranking Hioerarchs collaborated in adding the saccos, the crown, the general’s epigonation to the Orthodox clergy eucharistic wardrobe. There seems to have developed a habit to “keep up with the Persians,” and so on. This is human. Look what has happened to our American army officer’s dress uniform—we now out-banana-republic the generals of the banana republics! Cylindrical headgear pre-dates the Christian era in Judaism—perhaps the Jews picked that up from the envied Persians as well. Father Morris is wrong if he says the Bishop’s crown or mitra came into usage only under the Turks. That justice was in the hands of the clergy is the reason that justices historically wear robes and headgear, East and West: it’s not the other way around.
                      Even today (though not so much under Patriarchs Alexi and Kirill) the Russian hierarchs rarely performed any ecclesiastical functions outdoors without the purple, or red or blue, etc, mantiyas, while the modern Grecian-style (and Antiochian, of course) is to simply don epitrakhelion and omophorion atop their always black rason. There’s really hardly anything in Russian ecclesiastical and liturgical custom that was imported from Constantnople AFTER Constantinple’s conquest by the Turks. In fact, after the last Greek Metropolitan of Kiev, Isidore, was given the bum’s rush when he returned from concluding (with the rest of the Constantinopolitan hierarchy) the infamous union with Rome BEFORE the Turkish conquest.

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                  • You still didn’t get my point. I didn’t say all were bad . . . .but you know Carl since this is too hard for you to get, I’ll drop this by saying -judge by their fruits. If it carries on the faith and is edifying than it is a good thing to adopt, if not, then let’s rethink it.

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                • Parish councils are an interesting problem. On the one hand you are right in that they are essentially Protestant in origion. The answer to a concious rebellion against a hierachy. On the other hand we face a situation where our dioceses are ineffectually run and the is no administrative support from the top. In this case parish councils form of necesity as result of a leadership failure. I would be all for eliminating parish councils provided the diocese took an active role in assisting with the administration of the parish and providing oversight to assist priests for whom administration is not his strong suit. Until then parish councils are a necesary evil.

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                  • lexcaritas says:

                    I do not agree that parish councils are essentially “Protestant.” Ancient synagogues–like modern ones–were and are governed by a board of elders. Even in ancient Rome the kings and later consuls were advised by the Senate, originally representing the heads of families. Similalr, Moses was advised by Jethro to select elders to assist in rendering judgement and to appoint heads of thousands, hundreds and fifties.

                    A family headed by its father and a tribe headed by its patriarch need not be a dictatorship or a tyranny. The wise father with true authority is not afraid of drawing wisdom from his sons and the fourth commandment, like true obedience and mutual submission, is a two-way relationship of honour and love of pietas and iustitia.

                    lxc

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                    • Recovering Former Parish Treasurer says:

                      Lexcaritas,

                      I am a bit troubled by the ecclesiological implications of your application of “elder” precedents to the parochial rather than diocesan context. Parish council members most certainly are not elders (presbyteroi). Wouldn’t the precedents that you helpfully cite be more suited to the relationship between a diocesan bishop and his deanery(ies), whose members are elders? Of course, you are correct in saying that any sensible priest will draw wisdom from his parishioners (whether parish council members or not).

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                    • I don’t think this has much to do with what I wrote and don’t have too much objection to it.

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                  • Recovering Former Parish Treasurer says:

                    Dan,

                    You are entirely correct that many parishes need administrative support. In a perfect world, we would restore the permanent, paid, full-time diaconate, for which men would prepare with a distinct seminary curriculum (call it a master of diaconal ministry degree, but it would really be a master of parochial administration degree) that would include less theology and church history but more instruction on topics like nonprofit corporate and tax law, insurance, and even building and mechanical systems and maintenance. It would be normative for a parish to be assigned a permanent, paid, full-time deacon before being assigned a second priest. (Future priests, of course, would continue to pursue the M.Div. curriculum.) The deacon would then become the primary point of reference on mundane and temporal matters, freeing the priest to concentrate on liturgics, homiletics, evangelism, visitation of the sick, hearing of confessions, etc.–the original rationale for the establishment of the diaconate by the Holy Apostles. This sort of arrangement should diminish the problem of parish council members trying to “run” the church.

                    An additional complication probably will keep parish councils in existence even if they wield less power within the parish: State laws may require them as a condition of incorporation. A parish is really two entities: an ecclesiastical community subject to the rule of its bishop and a corporation formed under and subject to civil law. My state, at least, requires such a corporation to have trustees, and those trustees have certain fiduciary duties that are enforceable against them personally in court. This duality of responsibilities need not create conflict, as long as everyone respects everyone else’s good-faith fulfillment of their respective obligations. That means parish councils must not abuse their corporate role to derogate the clergy’s authority over spiritual, canonical, liturgical, or other matters of community life, and the clergy must not abuse their office to impede or thwart the trustees’ fulfillment of their legal duties. Having once been ordered by a priest to file a false sales-tax return, I can tell you this cuts both ways. A deacon who has been trained in both church polity and the relevant civil laws could diminish the frequency and severity of conflicts.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      The solution to many problems is to require parish council members to attend seminars on the proper role of the parish council. I believe that a parish council is necessary to take responsibility for raising the money to run the parish and to take care of the building and other facilities of the parish. However, the council should be instructed very clearly that the priest is not their employee and that they are not to interfere in the spiritual duties of the priest. A good parish council can be a great help to a priest. A bad one can be torment for the priest.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      One way to solve that problem is to elect only spiritually-trained (i.e. regular Confession participants) for the PCs.

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                  • Jonathan Johnston says:

                    Having lay people intrinsically involved in the life of any parish is normal. Parish councils only keep openness, transparency and the entire body of Christ involved in the activity of their Church. In foreign countries, the state paid the priest and made the decisions of the churches and the people were by-standers. Not so in in the U.S. and elsewhere.

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                    • Archpreist John W. Morris says:

                      Frankly, I would much rather have a parish council to worry about the plumbing, changing the light bulbs and other maintenance of the facilities. I also prefer to have the council worry about the finances of the parish and other temporal matters so that I can spend my time visiting the sick, hearing confessions, and on pastoral matters.

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                  • M. Stankovich says:

                    Might I suggest you investigate the impact of the Russian “Living Church” (Живая Церковь), also referred to as the “Renovationists,” who in the late 1920′s into the 1930′s went into American courts to claim “possession” of ROC properties, claiming to be the legitimate ROC by virtue of acknowledgement by the Soviet govt. The only recourse to losing their parishes was to incorporate parishes under US law, which included a “board of directors.” Their mission was pragmatic, not “theological” or to adopt an appealing governance model seen in the Protestant denominations.

                    Obviously, this is a very loose description of a complex situation, but to simply conclude that “parish councils” are just another concession to Western innovation is to miss the impact of the chaos and calamity of the time. Into what this has evolved is another matter entirely, but its inception was an essential “concession.”

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      • Anna Rowe says:

        Saunca,
        I totally understand what you are saying.
        Anna

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  23. Michael Bauman says:

    Misbehaving bishops, converts, Sunday School, and pews add those to the precise required translation of the Lord’s Prayer and the uproar over the calender a few months back and I begin to wonder why some folks even bother. Seesh, just get rid of the the pews, the old calendar, Sunday School, all the bishops and start saying the Lord’s Prayer just right oh and get rid of all the homosexuals, bigots, Republicans, adulterers (take your pick like at an old Chinese restaurant: one from column A, one from column B….)

    Makes it seem like the OCA has always been a bubble about to burst with no substance to it from the beginning and no wonder that the worldly agenda seems to have hit the OCA with the most impact so far.

    Yet, I have many friends in the OCA who are sober and take the faith seriously.

    According to the conventional wisdom I’ve been hearing for the last 25 years: The Greeks are crazy, the Antiochians are worldly, the Russians morose and antiquated and Met. Philip will be dead soon. The OCA is “the morning and the evening star.” In short, the OCA is everything! It is God’s greatest message to us all…”

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  24. Archpriest John W. Morris says:

    The following was posted from an article in The American Conservative on Real Clear Religion today under the title Here’s why Bishops Cover Abuse. Somehow I would rather have pews in my Antiochian Churches than this sort of thing. If this is true members of the OCA should spend their time cleaning up their own mess instead of criticizing Antiochians and other Orthodox over such insignificant issues as pews. Metropolitan Philip would never reinstate a deacon who married another man. For that matter, a deacon cannot even marry a woman, because deacons cannot get married. He would be laicized forever. When this sort of thing makes national news it is an embarrassment for all American Orthodox, just not the OCA.

    Here’s Why Bishops Cover Up Abuse posted at http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/priest-bishops-cover-up/

    I think about how indifferent Metropolitan Jonah and the OCA bishops are (were, whatever) to the scandal of the gay archdeacon at the Miami cathedral. True, everyone can be forgiven if he or she truly repents. But forgiveness doesn’t require pretending that the sin never happened in the first place. A remorseful embezzler who has gone to prison and paid his debt to society is entitled to be forgiven and received into the community as a penitent. But he is not entitled to the expectation that he can resume his job as company treasurer. The nature of his sin, or rather, his crime, means that he has forfeited certain opportunities.

    Similarly with the deacon who ran off to get married to a man. It is a breathtaking scandal in the Orthodox Church — but all the bishops seemed to care about was showering this man with cheap grace, and letting him return to his previous life, heedless of the messages this sent to the laity. Serious sexual sin and disorder among the clergy is just not that big a deal to them, though admittedly this particular case might have had to do with the rather outrageous fact that this archdeacon is the longtime, er, housemate of a retired OCA bishop. In any case, the whole think stunk to high heaven, and served to teach lots of lessons, but not in forgiveness.

    Similarly, in my previous writing about Met. Jonah and Archbishop Benjamin of OCA’s Western diocese, I pointed out how they both colluded in reassigning a priest who had a serious sexual assault on his record — this, for his rehabilitation. As I wrote then, and as I affirm today, shouting from the rooftops: The Church is not a stage for the clergy, and the laity simply the supporting cast.

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    • If it helps any there are Antiochian parishes that have deep sixed their pews. It’s not an OCA vs. Antiochian or russian vs. whom ever thing.

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      • Deep sixed?? What do you mean?

        As far as no pews, which is what I think you mean, I have been in various Jurisdictions (Antiochians, OCA, ROCOR, Serbian, -the rest are over seas) that took pews out or built a church without them.

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  25. cynthia curran says:

    Protestants came up with Sunday to not only teach bible stories to kids but to teach them to read. This was in the industrical Revolution when mass eduucation was not widespread and in England the churches were involve in education.

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