Yet Another Gauntlet: This One From the Laity

The OCL published a declaration that was picked up by our good friend, Nick Stamatakis, on Helleniscope

It’s an important one.

We’ve all watched as the Assembly of Canonical Bishops “got their um-hum (frog in my throat) handed to them” when they expressed their concerns to Archbishop Elpidophoros about Patriarch Bartholomew establishing a vicariate in America headed by a (purportedly) defrocked archimandrite. 

I say “purportedly” because he’s suing everyone for defamation.  It’s not like anyone reported anything with malice or believed what they were reporting was untrue so I can’t imagine what that would be.  So far, the Attorneys General of fourteen different states are pushing back against this defamation suit.  

What was particularly disheartening about Elpi’s response is the way he dismissed their concerns.  In an effort to be liked, Elpi usually plays both sides of the fence, but this time his response was sharp and dismissive.   He wasn’t talking to his brother bishops; he was talking to his underlings; his employees.  At least that’s the way it sounded.  How arrogant to say he was “disappointed” in them as if they were mischievous little kids.  At the very minimum, he could have provided the courtesy of a response acknowledging their concerns. 

Our bishops have been here a lot longer than Elpi.  If he wanted to fit into America, you would think he would see the benefit in watching them, those who have been here a while, rather than going off half-cocked on his own.  Maybe that way he could have avoided the mixed messages. 

Remember when he marched down a crowded street with BLM, a group committed to stripping America of her history, tearing down our statues, and rioting in our streets during the middle of what he described as a dangerous pandemic; so dangerous the Church had to be locked down while he mingled with hordes of people? 

If you want Americans to love you, don’t align yourself with people who hate our country. 

There are too many instances of his questionable judgment to mention here.  I do remember thinking, however, that our own bishops deserved a fresh set of eyes because what I was seeing with Elpi and Bartholomew was a deal-breaker for me.   

Whatever misgivings anyone had about our bishops’ ability to lead, they’ve been put to rest.  They’ve learned to put their differences aside and walk in lockstep.  No longer the “adolescents,” they were once thought to be, they’ve shown considerable more maturity than the Phanar on multiple fronts.

We’ve all faced some pretty difficult things over the last few years.  COVID, of course, but also Ukraine where Bartholomew created an appendage of schismatics no one knows what to do with.  He’s lost the support of the Local Churches and shows no signs of slowing down.  Serbia, thankfully, was quick on their feet in the case of Macedonia or Bartholomew would have been successful in yet another power grab.

The fact that “grabbing” America is on his agenda comes as no surprise.  When he kept referring to us as part of the diaspora (barbarians), it was pretty clear what his intentions were; however, he made a single error in his thinking:

We weren’t on board with that and neither were our Mother Churches, e.g. Antioch, Serbia, Russia, etc.      

Our bishops got it wrong with COVID, but what’s important moving forward is they got it wrong, together, which is to say they have demonstrated their ability to lead as a group, in lockstep.  We didn’t have different Churches coming out with different directives. 

Yes, I know.  George and I were pretty vocal about the mistakes the bishops made during the purported pandemic and different priests did different things which they felt they had to do to fulfill their priestly commitments.  (I think the pandemic was hardest on them.)  We haven’t changed our minds on any of this but that was the past and it can’t be changed.     

What’s important is now.

Our bishops stood up to Elpi and Bartholomew in that letter.  This is an indication they’re ready to step up.  If we support them, we won’t be communing with schismatics which frankly would cause me to look for other options. 

I guess it never occurred to either Elpi or Bartholomew that a sizable number of American Orthodox Christians would never accept the OCU.  Why?  Because no one wants to commune with a group of unordained clerics, many of whom are Nazis. 

Because Bartholomew and Elpi drank from the same cup, they are schismatic, too, and they brought this ugliness to America.  It’s not about “fitting in” anymore (if it ever was).  They want to sully us as they have sullied themselves and our bishops, whom, to their credit, have drawn a line in the sand. 

No communing with schismatics.  Ever.

As a result, we’ve had to back away from the GOA.  Separating from our Greek brothers and sisters has not been easy.  I was made a catechumen by the Greeks.  My husband’s family is Greek.  That we can’t commune with the GOA because of the stupidity of Bartholomew and Elpi is hard to take.  

It’s no easier for the Greeks; certainly not their priests.  They’re not at all comfortable with what Bartholomew and Elpi are doing but they’re stuck.  They’ve got families to feed and Elpi won’t give them releases.  We’ve seen how closed off Elpi is to change that comes from the bottom up.  The only changes he wants to implement are tied to Bartholomew and the globalist agenda.  

That makes them dangerous.  You can’t have two masters and they’ve committed to the one that is anti-Orthodox.  By the tone and tenor of Elpi’s response, you can see he has little love for the Assembly.  Those of us who are traditionalists particularly get under his skin and the idea of autocephaly is unthinkable as he and Bartholomew believe they own us.  They have no intention of giving up such a lucrative enterprise; not even to the people who are the rightful heirs.

Perhaps you, too, have noticed how cutthroat they can be if you fall out of line with their intentions.          

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of us would prefer our own bishops to a power-hungry patriarch and his loyal minion who slice and dice us to get their way.  Their infidelity to the canons and the Church is staggering, but what’s worse is when they dismiss their brother bishops like Bartholomew did when he walked away from the Local Churches who begged him NOT to go into Ukraine without a Council.

He ignored them just as Elpi is ignoring our bishops in the Assembly.  

This isn’t a “one-off” either, my friends.  This is who they are and what they do.  The question is, can you live with it?  Because to “live with it” is to forfeit the canons and teachings of our Church.  You don’t bring in schismatics who refuse to be ordained because they don’t like a Local Church, which represents the largest population of Orthodox in the canonical Church!  That’s just stupid.  But that’s what they did and that’s what they’re doing. 

They’re bringing in a schismatic who was laicized by the Russian Church to head a so-called Slavic vicariate here in America.  

Elpi is a “chip off the old block” as my father used to say.  It’s ludicrous to expect him to be anything but a patsy for Bartholomew.  He’s his “sunflower” after all.  He dismissed the concerns of our bishops without so much as a conversation.  It probably isn’t the first time either. 

A personal note from George:  In the past, privately, I’ve counseled caution when it came to Archbishop Elpidophoros.  I felt –rather naively–that he might just be the GOA primate that might be able to unify all of the American Orthodox jurisdictions.  Sadly –and with much regret–I no longer believe that to be the case.  

I’m pretty sure the Apostles didn’t run around browbeating everyone into submission.  If they had, we wouldn’t be talking about the Orthodox Church because it wouldn’t exist.

Bartholomew walked away from the Church and tried to trick our bishops into communing with unordained charlatans in Ukraine.  Elpi was too weak to stand up to him, even if he wanted to, which we can now see he doesn’t. 

He had his chance.

It’s not like there isn’t a precedent for an American primate to stand up to a foreign despot.  Archbishop Iakovos of the GOA did just that fifty years ago when he stood up to Patriarch Athenagoras who wanted to excommunicate the OCA when Moscow granted it autocephaly back in 1970.

Elpi had an opportunity to show his pro-American bona fides from the beginning; this would have been an easy pitch that he could have batted out of the ballpark.  Instead, he choked and reverted to Phanariote form (which always includes ecumenism these days:  https://religionnews.com/2022/07/05/church-destroyed-during-9-11-attacks-consecrated-as-national-shrine/ )

Elpi is not going to change his spots now or ever and we’re getting closer and closer to that timeline Bartholomew has committed to with respect to bringing us together with the “new, improved” Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Francis, also a globalist to the extreme:  2025 is right around the corner.    

When the bishops announced their joint discomfort with Bartholomew bringing in another schismatic into our midst (this time on our own soil as the head of a vicariate) they were signaling they are ready to step up.  They knew what Elpi’s reaction would be and they knew that unless he capitulated (which was extremely unlikely), they’d have to take this further. 

We need to support them in this effort by asking them to take it all the way. 

To protect our Church, we need to merge and become the 14th Local Church.  Given the abusive behavior which Bartholomew has shown to the other patriarchates, I believe that the other Local Churches will support us as well.  

This is rather a long introduction to a document the OCL prepared entitled:  A Declaration for Orthodox Christian Unity in America.  It’s probably the most important document we will see in this generation.

Please give it a read and more importantly, give it your support.  It may take every last one of us to free us from the bondage of a foreign despot who, frankly, has jumped the rails.   

Pray that God gives us the strength and conviction to see this through, not just for us, but for future generations to whom we have a responsibility to pass down the Faith unadulterated and intact.  Mrs. M

A Declaration for Orthodox Christian Unity in America

We believe that we are the most fortunate of people, blessed by God to be Orthodox Christians and to be free Americans. We accept the responsibility to “make disciples of all nations” on these shores, as Christ required of us at His Ascension.

We take inspiration from the statement in 1922 of Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios, who said: “I have seen and understood how exalted the name of Orthodoxy could be…if more than two million Orthodox people were united into one church organization, an American Orthodox Church.”

We see that Orthodox Christian witness in America is weakened by our fragmentation into more than a dozen ethnic enclaves. We believe that Christ weeps at this disunity.

We call all Orthodox Christian people of America – clergy and laity – to come together in a single, unified Orthodox Church of America, under the historic rules and traditions of Orthodoxy.

We look to our hierarchs in the Assembly of Bishops – which was founded in 2009 for this very purpose – to lead us in this quest. We enjoin them – like Joseph of Arimathea – to take courage, and like us, be seen openly to be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of preserving and growing the Church of Christ for our children and for seekers of divine truth.

We declare ourselves to be Americans of proud descent from ancient shores, but no longer part of a church diaspora that puts ethnicity before Orthodox Christianity, lest our Church fades away as ethnic ties diminish over time.

We believe that the administration of our parishes and dioceses from Mother Churches on distant shores is uncanonical and unworkable. We are guided in this by clear Church canons and traditions: that there be only one Orthodox Christian bishop in any location; that foreign bishops have no authority outside their own territory; and that under the established Orthodox tradition of a great majority of places, when an Orthodox Christian national community is developed in a new territory, a single local church be established, uniting every believer in Orthodox doctrine.

We reassert the proper role of the laity in the governance of the Church. We understand this to mean that the laity defers to the clergy in respect and matters of doctrine. In return, we believe that Orthodox Christian tradition and historic practice require that the clergy respects the laity’s call for accountability, transparency, collegiality, adherence to process and the Canons of the Church, and ultimately then, unity.

In making this declaration, we remind ourselves of the historic courage and leadership of lay people in establishing and growing the single Christian Church, in defending the true belief of Orthodoxy during centuries of dispute, and in building new parishes around the world as immigration flourished.

We believe that foreign administration and indifference, and local ethnic fragmentation and disunity, have led, too often, to bad governance. This has contributed significantly to the decline of American parishes and dioceses, as succeeding generations see ethnic churches that are indifferent and unresponsive to their needs in a multicultural America. We believe we are a distinct and mature American Orthodox Christian community, that is ready to become a single, unified Orthodox Church of America.

We understand the apprehension that comes with the prospect of change. We believe that a unified, revitalized Orthodox Church of America would be a formidable spiritual and moral dynamo that would be a powerful force for good in the world, providing more support and vitality to the ancient Patriarchates and Mother Churches than divided, declining ethnic jurisdictions are providing.

We particularly envision a united Orthodox Christian Church of America to be a strengthened bulwark of support for the ancient Patriarchates that no longer have the internal governmental protection that the national Orthodox Churches have. We believe that this united American Church, wielding the potent voice of committed American citizens, will marshal an unprecedented level of material, moral, and political support for world Orthodoxy. A united, growing fellowship of Pan-Orthodox Archons and Guardians of the Faith of other jurisdictions, pledged to support and protect the ancient Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, will cement the special relationship that binds children to their parents.

We believe that concerns over loss of traditions, customs, and language are also misplaced, for we strongly ascribe to the American ideal of “e pluribus, unum…out of many, one,” for the keeping of local practices, parish by parish. We believe that language and customs should and must be maintained as parishes choose. In this, the American multicultural experiment will continue, just as it has from its beginning. Early Pan-Orthodox efforts such as International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) will see their good work thrive in a united Church.

We also believe that the American model of the new United States, which needed over a decade from declaring independence to agreeing upon a governing constitution, is a useful model for our new Church governance. This new Church would neither obliterate our Orthodox identity nor ignore our traditions and precedents, but will instead adjust these God-inspired and time-honored tenets within the reality of a unified Orthodox Church of America. We believe we can take our time, grow in Christ, and get it right.

We, therefore, believe that our Assembly of Bishops should – as in historic practice – come together as a synod, elect its own presiding hierarch, proclaim the Church in North America to be an autocephalous, canonical church, and seek recognition of this autocephaly from the fifteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

In this, we call upon the Holy Spirit, Who bathes the world in wisdom and good order, and Who knows no national, ethnic, or any other boundaries, to help make clear to all the earth our prayer: to help our Church prosper, thus to keep and bring Christ into the lives of all people. We pray that the Lord will guide these efforts, that they be imbued always with heartfelt humility, and that the new united Church for which we pray and which we work to create would be, at all times and in all ways, for the greater glory of God.

Orthodox Christian Laity board members authored this declaration in June 2022.

Inaugural Signatures

Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit (ROEA—OCA)
Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey (OCA)
Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and West (OCA)
V. Rev. Dr. John H. Erickson, Tucson, AZ (OCA)
Rev. Dr. Timothy Cremeens, Huntsville, AL (OCA)
V. Rev. Fr. Steven J. Vlahos, Cherry Hill, NJ (GOA)
Rev. Fr. Stephen Evanina, Wayne, NJ (OCA)
Charles Ajalat, La Canada, CA (AOCA)
Frederica Mathewes-Green, Johnson City, TN (AOCA)
Dr. Gayle E. Woloschak, Chicago, IL (UOCUSA)
Dr. William Tenet, Manhasset, NY (GOA)
Peter Zarras, Morris Plains, NJ (OCA) – OCL President
Peter J. Petkas, Houston, TX (GOA)
William Souvall, Salt Lake City, UT (GOA)
George D. Karcazes, Wilmette, IL (GOA)
Argo Georgandis Pyle, Houston, TX (GOA)
George Matsoukas, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
Diane Theodora Georgopulos, Cambridge, MA (GOA)
Dr. Michael Constantine, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
William Caras, Great Falls, VA (GOA)
Alice Kopan, River Forest, IL (GOA)
Andrew Kartalis, Cleveland, OH (GOA)
David Oancea, Youngstown, OH (ROEA – OCA)
Timi Loomis Freshman, Beverly Hills, CA (GOA)
Mae Panoplos, Chicago, IL (GOA)
Alex C. Popescu, Montreal, QB, CAN (ROEA-OCA)
Stratos Mandalakis, Harrington Park, NJ (AOCA)
Evangeline Zarras, Sherman, CT (OCA)
Elizabeth MacNeil, Needham, MA (AOCA)
Anita Olga Jones, Round Rock, TX (GOA)
James Gottreich, Glenview, IL (GOA)
Michael Karrys, Wilmette, IL (GOA)
Dr. James Kalpaxis, Austin, Texas (GOA)
Steven Kalpaxis, Austin, Texas (GOA)
Elizabeth A. Gassin, Bourbonnais, IL (GOA)
Josiah McElroy, Wilkes-Barre, PA (AOCA)
Stephen T. Early, Chesterton, IN (OCA)
Hope Alexandra McDermott (AOCA)
John Kaloudis, Cottonwood Heights, UT (GOA)
Iryna Demydova, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
Theodossis family, Wellington, FL (GOA)
Spiro Pappas, Houston, TX (GOA)
Fran & Robert Pond, Houston, TX (GOA)
Dr. Alexander G. Bellas, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
Thomas N. Marudas, Baltimore, MD (GOA)
Demetra Chios Galazoudis, Singer Island, FL (GOA)
Nana Patsatsia, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
Katerine S. Amygdalitsis, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
Vance Poitier, Orlando, FL (AOCA)
Helice Carris Bernstein, Southampton, NY (GOA)
Valerie Grega, Houston, TX (AOCA)

__________________________________________

AOCA = Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
GOA = Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
OCA = Orthodox Church in America
ROEA—OCA = Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America / Orthodox Church in America
UOCUSA = Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

Take note:
Check your email to confirm your email address immediately after
you sign the Declaration to complete the verification process.
Otherwise, your signature will not be recorded. Thank you!

 

Comments

  1. Illumined says

    “Elpi is not going to change his spots now or ever and we’re getting closer and closer to that timeline Bartholomew has committed to with respect to bringing us together with the “new, improved”, Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Francis, also a globalist to the extreme: 2025 is right around the corner. ”

    I’m kind of new to the church, but where did Bartholomew say anything like unification with the Roman Catholics by 2025?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      There is a lot out there on the Internet. They commune with each other now. I just sent you an email with one of their new announcements which is downplaying what they said in 2014. Karloutous had a professional video done on it but I see it’s been scraped from the Internet.

      They probably dropped the date because the Great Reset was moved from 2030 to 2025.

  2. nektarios says

    Sorry, but ROCOR and I am sure others will never be subservient to heretics and schismatics. The OCA communes monophysites and the GOA has created a schism with their Ukrainian experiment. All your signatories are basically Greek to this document, wth a few token Antiochians and of course the OCA.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      The OCA does not commune monophysites. The GOA did not create the schism.

      • Actually, they do. Go to their seminaries and see where and who is allowing the monophysites to commune.
        The GOA as part of the EP created schism by endorsing the EP and its move into Ukraine, and by receiving defrocked priests into their jurisdiction and creating a “Slavic’ Vicariate.
        Read “The Ecclesial Crisis in Ukraine” by Met. Nikiforos of Kykkos and Tylliria, for an honest canonical view on the issue.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          RE: “Actually, they do. Go to their seminaries and see where and who is allowing the monophysites to commune.” Since you’re the first to bring this to our attention, could you provide some links to support it?

          I know the Antiochians have communed with non-Chalcedonians, as have the Oriental Churches. I have no time to go to the GOA’s seminaries but I wouldn’t put too much stock in what they say or do as that’s a school’s problem and has nothing to do with the geo-political position of either the GOA or the EP.

          RE: “The GOA as part of the EP created schism by endorsing the EP. . .”

          That’s like saying “Because my father was a traitor to his country, I must be, too.” The GOA didn’t endorse anything. Elpi did, but he’s not the GOA. He is an underling of the EP who was placed in America over the GOA to maintain the EP’s parental ties.

          The GOA has had nothing to do with Bartholomew’s decision to create the OCU for the schismatics in Ukraine and neither did the Local Churches, including Greece, Alexandria, Cypress or any other territory associated with Orthodoxy.

          The only territory that supported the EP’s move into Ukraine was the territory we know as the U.S. State Department.

          The GOA, et al. don’t want the EP interfering in the GOA’s affairs anymore which is what the declaration is about.

          Rather than saying someone is wrong, show where you are right. That’s how it usually works on this blog, as we don’t want to have people doing research when that responsibility should fall to the person who introduces the subject or the challenge. In other words, don’t say someone’s wrong unless you can prove it.

          • Considering not one hierarch of the GOARCH has spoken out against the EP’s unilateral actions in Ukraine, then I think we can safely assume that they are in full support. You’re going to have to do a lot to convince me that the GOARCH episcopate are really a group of secret trads who can’t wait to break free from Istanbul and establish their own non-Greek American Church. You say that this declaration proves that GOARCH doesn’t want EP interference, but why then are there no GOARCH bishops’ signatures on it? They’re all OCA bishops!

            As for the OCA communing monophysites, it’s true. Obviously you’ll find nothing ‘official’ from them, or the Antiochians and GOARCH, who also do this, but it certainly occurs and one doesn’t have to look very far to get plenty of anecdotal evidence for this. All OCA seminaries (with the one in Alaska being the probable exception) have large groups of monophysites and it’s been said by some that they wouldn’t be able to cover costs without them. Archbishop Alexander of the OCA has (in)famously declared on more than one occasion that both the Nestorians and monophysites are both Orthodox, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this was the widely-held opinion at Syosset, with maybe the exceptions of Bishops Gerasim and Alexis.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I’m not here to convince you of anything.

            • Antiochene Son says

              Antioch receives Monophysites by confession and communion. From the outside it may appear they are “in communion”, the expectation is they will adhere to Orthodoxy after doing so. If they don’t, it is on their soul to answer for at the dread judgment.

              People who shouldn’t receive communion have nevertheless done so since the Mystical Supper itself. That does not mean the church is tainted. Our Lord himself communed Judas, to his condemnation.

              There are no concelebrations with Monophysite clergy, to my knowledge, which is the actual establishment of eucharistic communion.

          • Nektarios says

            The verbal testimony of former seminarians of the OCA who left precisely because of this abnormality is good enough for me. Or are we to disbelieve the priests and seminarians who have witnessed it.
            As for the GOA support, Basil states it quite well. Where is the “revolt” in the GOA if they don’t wholeheartedly support the EP and its meddling?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              You can believe whatever you want. It’s a little weird but a lot of things are weird.

              Are you in the GOA? If not, you’re not going to see it. If you’re in the GOA and no one is talking about it yet (which is the case), you’re not going to see it, either.

              No one talked about a “revolt.” Read the declaration. That it came from the GOA is a certainty.

              • Read the declaration. That it came from the GOA is a certainty.

                Good point and I have no doubts that it came from GOA laity. For the inaugural signers there are no GOA Metropolitans or priests (as of this post), nor Antiochian clergy signees, only OCA. However, always a chance that the GOA hierarchy is working behind the scenes to avoid almost certain persecution.

                However, that it is coming from those within the GOA is a double-edged sword:

                The Good: It shows that there are many in the GOA who care (those of us who were involved in/former GOA members know this already).

                The Bad: It may fail precisely because it comes from the GOA. You would probably be hard pressed to find anyone in other jurisdictions who even trusts GOARCH because no one has spoken up or fought back, to many that implies consent.

                • The document states that it is “a project supported by Orthodox Christian Laity.” OCL is a pan Orthodox movement. Among the initial signers are Charles Ajalat, a former Chancellor of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Fr. John Erikson, also an Antiochian priest and former Dean of St. Vladimir Seminary and Frederika Mathews-Green, also an Antiochian Rather than characterize it as a “GOA laity” document, address the contents of the document itself. Rather than look for hidden meanings (the reference to Joseph of Arimathea as an example of courage, means the drafters want Met. Joseph to be the first head of the united church, etc. read the document as though it says what it means and mean what it says.

                  Do you agree with it or not? Will you sign it, or not? If not, why not.
                  What in it do you disagree with?

                  Will such a united, Autocephalous Church make mistakes? Of course, but they would be its own mistakes and it would have the mechanisms to correct them. What mechanisms exist in America today to correct the mistakes of Moscow, Istanbul (ok, “Constantinople”) Antioch, et al?

                  This may be the pivotal moment when the Assembly of Bishops rises to the occasion and the Ecumenical Patriarchate finally decides to let the GOA join with the others.

  3. If we support them, we won’t be communing with schismatics which frankly would cause me to look for other options.

    This, and especially covid, have caused a massive shift in parishes & jurisdictions. People have gravitated towards more “faithful” jurisdictions and parishes and away from unfaithful ones, GOARCH being the top. This was part of that study that came out mid-pandemic and showed a colossal drop in attendance, and that was prior to the pandemic really ramping up. God might be sorting this out for us.

    They’re bringing in a schismatic who was laicized by the Russian Church to head a so-called Slavic vicariate here in America.

    TBH this might be the best possible thing that could happen for Orthodox unity in America IF the bishops actually keep their promise. If the Assembly is disbanded, or, GOARCH is removed then the bishops have to (not need) to bring back ROCOR. Any shot at unity in America must include the Russians.

    We need to support them in this effort by asking them to take it all the way.

    I sent a message of support to Met. Joseph and highly recommend everyone do the same. I also sent a message to a GOA Metropolitan I occasionally talk to. If they see they are supported it makes them more bold. I’m guessing that the Assembly found their unanimous voice because they realized they were supported against GOA/Elpidophoros by the vast majority of their laity.

    To protect our Church, we need to merge and become the 14th Local Church. Given the abusive behavior which Bartholomew has shown to the other patriarchates, I believe that the other Local Churches will support us as well.

    There are quite a few things that need to be ironed out before this becomes an actual reality, the calendar being one of the top ones. You have some jurisdictions on the old, some on the new and even within the OCA you have at least one diocese (Alaska) on the OC. The reception of converts needs to be ironed out, etc. These are all reasons why ROCOR needs to be included in this and in all discussion, they have proven to be a beacon of Orthodoxy over the last few years and many people (myself included) have flocked to them. Any shot at unity without them will be folly.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Metropolitan Joseph purportedly said that this could happen overnight if we wanted it. Remember, these bishops have been working on this for years.

      • I have no doubts, I remember reading/hearing that there are enough bishops across the jurisdictions to cover all the major metro areas.

        Im sure it could be done.

        There are just things that need to happen before it occurs. All of the bishops of the jurisdictions, including ROCOR, need to get together and hammer things out and all of them need to chose a Patriarch, my current vote would go towards Archbishop Alexis of Alaska, but I may be biased cause I’ve met him, he’s a great bishop and leader. Or one of the monasteries.

        The errors of GOARCH need to be addressed and Elpidophoros or Bartholomew CANNOT be part of it.

        • Joseph Lipper says

          It’s Bishop Alexei now. There was a bit of a name change to conform to Russian practice:

          https://www.doaoca.org/

          • It’s Bishop Alexei now. There was a bit of a name change to conform to Russian practice.

            Joseph, BIshop Alexis didn’t change his name. Alexei is just a different spelling variation of Alexis. Other ways to spell (or say) Alexis: Alexius, Alexios and Aleksey.

  4. Browsing though the OCL website and their news section, it really seems like they are just another mouthpiece for the EP. Am I reading this right?

  5. Margaret Karakas says

    The declarations written in this OCL document calling for the unification of all Orthodox Christians in America are refreshing and uplifting to read. I whole heartedly agree that the time for unity is long overdue and the need to move onward and beyond the current state of the GOARCH affairs is critically necessary and urgently required in order to preserve the Orthodox faith and the diminishing faithful few in the pews. Frankly, I don’t think there would be many people who would disagree with the statements espoused herewith. We now have the momentum necessary with backing from many Priests, monks, etc., from within who are tired of the status quo and are ready to step out and bravely suffer the consequences of forging a new church. Through God, all things are possible! Recognizing and then admitting that the current situation will never change or go away is the easy part– right?

    I kinda see the “break away Orthodox Church in America” being like the Republican Tea Party or the MAGA movement….It starts out as a bunch of people who are still conservatives, but see things differently than the traditional “Rhinos”, in this case ethnic Orthodox believers. The movement starts small; then grows. Then someone who has a calling or whom God chooses to work with (e.g., a Trump, a Martin Luther King) takes the leader role and starts to congeal everyone. This new “American Orthodoxy First” movement eventually takes over and the old Patriarch-run Greek Orthodox Church-in-name-only withers and dies or becomes insignificant. It’s important to note, that is proposed “church” won’t be some “mini-me” model of the old hierarchal Orthodox Church in Istanbul but just replanted here in America like what currently exists.

    Anyone can be a critic, a back seat driver and a Monday morning Quarterback. But who will take the leadership roles within a new church? Furthermore, where’s the admission, accountability for crimes committed, what will become of the stolen Priest pension fund and other questions concerning its parishioners and the apologies from the existing administrative Greek Orthodox Church Archdiocese in all of this? Without accountability and transparency, an “I’m sorry”(of some kind-ha, ha), if you will, I don’t think many Greeks will be able to forgive and forget in order to move forward in their walk with Christ within any Orthodox Church, yet alone a newly formed Pan-Orthodox Church of America. But, we are called to love all of our brothers and sisters in Christ and forgive our enemies for those who trespass against us.

    Until however (there’s always a caveat), there is a proposed framework or organizational structure illustrating how the “newly” proposed OCCA looks, will operate and to whom it will be accountable, pinpointing the many obvious questions such as but not limited to the following: the locations of such churches, homes, office, retail or warehouse locations for services, Christian outreach, discipleship, ministry, etc., all of this is just talk. A first step no less mind you, but words on paper worthless without humility and honor praising GOD for His unmerited grace. Action, transparency and accountability are critical issues to all parishioners who deserve to be treated as equal fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We don’t want or need a hierarchy to “Lord” over us.

    We must first be honest with ourselves and ask whether the answers still rely on using the archaic structure of the existing church as still being relevant today. Does giving Archons the continued financial power as previously established give us the assurances we need moving forward those past mistakes won’t be repeated? Have we not already witnessed just how greed, power and money can corrupt and influence the guidance of the many hierarchs, Bishops, AB’s, Patriarchate, Priests and Archons who have fallen and currently serve in the GOA and have gone astray?

    Rather than “Archons”, how about KINGDOM ADVISORS and SPIRITUAL LEADERS AS OVERSEERS of a new church? Hey, there’s a new idea! If we are to be guided purely by our Faith and trust in God as the proclamation intimates, Spiritual Leaders don’t have to be wealthy financial contributors or educated Theologians to fulfill such a significant role within the church.

    A CERTIFIED KINGDOM ADVISOR is one who is a community member of Christian financial advisors. They provide insight and training on how to manage wealth and help clients, churches, institutions, families and businesses plan financially through biblical principles, as well as a community.

    Spiritual Leadership can be defined in many ways but consider a few traits that characterize a leader specifically when it comes to pursuing God.

    –A spiritual leader has a circle of influence. You have people in your life that you can lead. The circle will vary from person to person. It may be roommates, friends, co-workers, a spouse or family, a small group, a ministry team, or a whole congregation.

    –A spiritual leader cares about these people. You care about what happens in their lives. You care about whether they know God and are pursuing God.

    –A spiritual leader has vision. You can see what people can become. You have an idea of what pursuing God looks like and what you hope to see happen in people’s lives.

    –A spiritual leader serves. Leaders are not about themselves and their own power. They are others centered. Jesus is the epitome of this.

    Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

    –A spiritual leader is willing to take responsibility. Leaders don’t passively sit by expecting someone else to lead. You care enough to embrace responsibility to help others pursue God.

    –A spiritual leader takes the initiative. Feeling responsible isn’t enough. Leaders act. A leader initiates the next step. You’re the one who says to the people around you, “I have an idea. Let’s do this.”

    Who among us are Certified Kingdom Advisors and Spiritual Leaders? My dear friends, brothers and sisters in the OCL, ROEA-OCA, GOA, AOCA, UOCUSA, you may be thinking about it the wrong way. You don’t have to be older, more mature, more spiritual, more experienced, or more godly than the people you lead.

    Of course, you can’t really lead others if you are engaged in any serious, life-controlling sinful habits like what currently exists in the Greek Orthodox Church today. That will keep you from being able to follow through on leading others, and you will lack credibility. When it comes to leading a whole church or a religion such as Orthodoxy, there are high standards of character.

    A good leader humbly recognizes that we are all helpless sinners who depend on God’s grace and power continually. We don’t need an over bloated hierarchal church structure to simply come together, unify and worship Christ as a community of Orthodox Christians. What guarantees will there be in place in order to prevent this new OCAA or any other newly formed Orthodox Church for that matter, from falling into the same rut and demise as the foreign national overseers did with the GOA?

    Christ isn’t looking for us to create more layers, structure, encumbrances and barriers to worshipping Him directly, is He? Simplify the process, remove all barriers such as foreign languages not native to the country in which we live, modernize and abbreviate traditional services and hymns to more uplifting music relevant to today, expand the Priest’s homily, and humbly pray asking for God’s forgiveness and His will in seeking a righteous pathway toward a free and prosperous Orthodox Church aligned with Christ’s biblical teachings and the doors will fly open.

    • Sounds Protestant to me.

      And herein lies the problem of trying to create an ‘American’ Orthodox Church.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Basil, respectfully, Margaret has clearly put a lot of thought into this. I am especially intrigued by her critic of “Archons” and how it’s antithetical to Christian servant-leadership.

        As for myself, I would have absolutely no problem whatsoever with an autocephalous American Church being sustained by tithing. We think it’s “Protestant” and it is but only in this sense: because that is one of the good things that they’ve been known for.

        • I have absolutely nothing against tithing – my parish does it – and I hate Archons as much as the next guy, I was critiquing the business-like approach of “Certified Kingdom Advisors” and talking about “Spiritual Leaders” as if it’s something just about anyone can do (“You don’t have to be older, more mature, more spiritual, more experienced, or more godly than the people you lead.” – actually you do, which is why they are called presbyters/elders), in some kind of democratizing of the Church. Of course, amidst all this jargon, there is no reference to Tradition, the example of the saints, holy elders, the role of monasticism, etc.

          Then there’s this clincher, the final paragraph: “Simplify the process, remove all barriers such as foreign languages not native to the country in which we live, modernize and abbreviate traditional services and hymns to more uplifting music relevant to today, expand the Priest’s homily”

      • Kingdom Advisors sound like JWs to me.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I think that clause about Greek Arcons was to appease the people in the GOA who were lukewarm about this proposal. The rest of us would sure not agree to support the Ecumenical Patriarchate. I mean the Greeks can. But they can’t expect the rest of the American Patriarchate (should it happen) to support him. – I suspect Russia is helping the Assembly navigate this on the Assembly’s side.

          • I studied in Seminary with fellow seminarians from the Malankar Orthodox Church. They are non-Chalcedonians. In my time in Seminary they never communed with us, nor we with them, but we certainly often prayed in services together. I attended one of their Holy Qurbana services (the Liturgy of St Mark, I believe) and it was beautiful.

            I know that my opinion doesn’t matter to anyone whose mind is made up, but these guys aren’t monophysites. They just have a different semantic way of saying the same thing. This was actually resolved in 1968 AND limited intercommunion is allowed if these guys have none access to their clergy or if we don’t have access to ours. The resolution almost got concluded but for politics. Now as I said, my words won’t convince anyone but I researched this extensively personally.

            There are certainly concerns I have about this declaration but I think it has the right idea in mind. I will dedicate some time to what I think needs to be said and done for this to work.

            Just so you all know, I am with the Moscow Patriarchate, heavy ROCOR connections and I live in Russia. I am also American born and a convert to Orthodox Christianity going on 21 years now, so in four more years I will be “grown up”;)

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Now that I’m hearing all this, I wonder why it’s been kept such a secret. At least from me.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              Reader Seraphim, so we have a few Orthodox bishops in their diocese who will commune Malankar, while most bishops won’t, even within the same jurisdiction. It’s quite a disparity, and it probably just creates more tension and confusion when Malankar go to a different Orthodox church and are refused communion. It’s unfortunate that there is no unified response to this yet.

              The late Archimandrite Andronik (Elpidensky), who was a Russian missionary in India for 18 years (before he came to St. Tikhon’s seminary as an instructor and later became the monastery’s ninth abbot) said that his aim “was not to convert the Saint Thomas Christians but, rather, to restore communion between the Indian Orthodox Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.” Rather than proselytizing them, his main work was for “the Indian Orthodox to become acquainted with the life and practice of the Russian Orthodox Church and he did this by daily offering the Divine Services in his own small chapel and by preaching in churches of the Indian Orthodox.” May God continue to bless the memory of Fr. Andronik.

              https://www.rocorstudies.org/2019/03/12/russian-exiles-and-the-indian-orthodox-church-1931-1939/

          • A lot criticism can and has been leveled against “Archons” in the GOA: (1) They are part of the “Patriarchy” because they exclude women. (2) many, if not all of them, believe that by accepting the honor and being awarded a pin or a sash to wear, they have signed an oath of blind obedience to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (3) The “honor” is primarily reserved for major donors (with some exceptions for academics or others who receive financial or other support from the GOA).

            That said, it cannot be denied that it is an organization that devotes a lot of effort and expense in support of Religious liberty in the US and across the entire world. Expanding its efforts to include all members of the Orthodox faith in America.. a pan-Orthodox, all-inclusive army of defenders of all of the ancient Patriarchates which are not supported by their National Governments (as the Declaration states) i.e., Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria is worthy of everyone’s support. Thoughtful members of this brotherhood should understand that endorsing the Declaration and supporting the establishment of a canonical, Autocephalous American Orthodox Church will actually provide more financial and political support for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the other ancient, embattled Patriarchates than a divided, dwindling collection of a dozen or more declining ethnic colonies in the US.

            Rather than speculating on why “Archons” was included in the Declaration (to appease people in the GOA who are lukewarm about the proposal?) why not afford the Declaration the benefit of “innocent construction”? Why not read it as simply saying what it means, and meaning what it says?

            • If documents mean what they say,
              and say what they mean,
              how are lawyers to live?

              • Very funny. How’s that helpful?

                • “Why not read it as simply saying
                  what it means, and meaning what it says?”

                  Who decides what it simply says?
                  Or if it means simply what it says?

                  Usually it’s the lawyers.
                  Simplicity seldom comes easy…

                  • Cato the Elder says

                    No need for lawyers. Familiarity with English and the subject matter under discussion suffices.

                    “Pan-Orthodox Archons and other defenders of the Faith..” means: Orthodox Christians in America of all jurisdictions who defend religious freedom around the world and support Orthodox Christians in areas where they are under duress, or are not supported by the State. For example: Istanbul, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. The four of the five Ancient Patriarchates cited in the Declaration.

                    • One man’s ‘defender of the Faith’
                      is another man’s ‘heretic’.

                      “Pan-Orthodox Archons and other defenders of the Faith..”
                      says nothing whatever about ‘defend[ing] religious freedom’.
                      Whose religious freedom? The cult of Quetzalcoatl? Pachamama?

    • Simplify the process, remove all barriers such as foreign languages not native to the country in which we live, modernize and abbreviate traditional services, and communion, modernize traditional hymns with more uplifting music relevant to today, expand the Priest’s homily

      So we need to “Novus Ordo” Orthodoxy? What you’re describing is exactly what the Catholics wanted to do at Vatican 2, how has that worked out for them. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The above quote should in no way be allowed to happen, with the exception of the priests homily.

      If this is the zeitgeist behind an American Orthodox Church movement then I’ll pass.

      I appreciate your write-up Margaret, it’s clearly well thought out. But, there are a few things I can’t get behind besides the above mentioned quote.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I think people should realize this came from the Greeks to the Greeks. Having been through this process with this in the early stages, I was told some of these things had to be said this particular way to get the Greeks on board, like continuing to support the EP. What the GOA does or doesn’t do with their resources is up to them.

        The part that applies to us, the other jurisdictions, is gathering together to protect ourselves from foreign interests. That doesn’t mean the Antiochians won’t continue to financially help Antioch or the Serbs won’t help Serbia, etc.

        They would have to disband the present Assembly and come up with something new which would belong to America. It would look quite different from what we have now, operating under the Greeks.

        • So certain jurisdictions are threatening to leave the Assembly in America and the OCL wants a united autocephalous local church.

          Is any of that relevant? Orthodoxy actually has canonical processes for dealing with the schismatic activities of the OCU and the Phanar. It even has processes for dealing with the heretical statements of Bartholomew and his minions over the years. There was a petition in the Greek Synod to anathematize Bartholomew as a heretic offered by a scholarly monk in Greece several years ago which, of course, went nowhere.

          However, among these processes we do not find leaving some informal local Assembly or pining for autocephaly. It is “people walking sideways, pretending that they’re leading.”

          • I agree. If the Greeks put forth this much effort into ousting Bartholomew and Elpidophoros rather than pushing for autocephaly, then we would really be taking.

            Trying to gain autocephaly without condemning their errors is essentially just putting lipstick on a pig. We might have “autocephaly” (without the Russians apparently because they aren’t mentioned), BUT, we’re also still saddled with Bartholomew and Elpidophoros.

            Im starting to get the feeling those in GOARCH view other jurisdictions through the lease of GOARCH, since they apparently have never been to a parish under a different jurisdiction. If they’re clamoring for English, go to an OCA or Antiochian parish. If they want to keep Byzantine chant, go to an Antiochian parish. Don’t drag the rest of us down with the GOA sinking ship.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I just want to keep away from the Phanar. I want to commune in Greek Churches. I want to commune with the Old Greeks, too. I want to be powerful enough in America where our parishes and communities can’t be taken over by some foreign entity. Mother Churches of the various patriarchates are fine as long as they stay on the other side of the ocean.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Me too. This silly infighting and oneupmanship is tiresome.

                Until the Phanar at its minions engage in some serious repentance, there can be no authentic unity with them.

                • The truth is that it’s a royal cluster f at the moment. That’s why ROCOR declined to agree to the Assembly’s effort at synodal unity before departing. The divergence in practice alone is prohibitive, setting aside the ecclesiastical and doctrinal issues.

                  The West has undergone a period of “liberalization”. This has infected the Church in various locales to varying degrees. It has destroyed unity of practice and to some extent unity of faith. Yet Liberalism is in remission. The remission is too slow to suit me, especially given the toll it has taken on my life of fifty-four years. I would rather have lived a better life in a sane society. Of course, it could be worse. Those born early in the Russian Soviet period in the former Soviet Union never knew normal. At least we have memories from past ages and a resistance.

                  That being said, all efforts should be made to protect whatever degree of orthopraxis a local church has retained. That is a higher priority than jurisdictional unity in a given territory like the US.

                  • I tend to agree.

                    If any unified Church does form in America it will be a Frankenstein with different practices and different calendars, different ways of receiving converts. The list could go on.

                    Unless these issues are addressed any chance of a legit unified Local Church is zilch and would probably lead to schism.

                    As far as entire jurisdictions go, not just individual parishes, ROCOR has been the best at maintaining Orthopraxy. Probably why they have exploded in parishes and planting mission parishes. My current ROCOR parish has started 3 missions just in the past year.

                    • That’s awesome. What state are you in?

                      I hope ROCOR can eventually establish something nearer where I live.

                • http://byztex.blogspot.com/2022/07/elpidophoros-officiates-first-openly.html?m=1

                  TBH this may be the biggest debacle he’s done yet, and that’s saying something.

        • Of the first ten(10) signers of the Declaration six (6) are OCA; two (2) are AOCA; one is UOCUSA; and one (1) is GOA.

          But I digress..

          Allow me to go back to the initial comment on the Declaration on this website:

          “This is a rather long introduction to a document the OCL prepared entitled: “A Declaration for Orthodox Christian Unity in America.” It is probably the most important document we will see in this generation. Please give it a read and more importantly give it your support.”

          Since that initial comment I have not read much on this website directed to the actual text of the document. That is disappointing. I expected a lot better from those who post comments on this site.

          From: one of the members of the committee that participated in some of the 18 drafts leading up to the final one — first published in a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal and half-page ad in The New York Times on July 5th

          • Gail Sheppard says

            RE: “Since that initial comment I have not read much on this website directed to the actual text of the document. That is disappointing. I expected a lot better from those who post comments on this site.”

            Oh, yes we did and I did! Our post was also quite long. Why don’t you give it a read below? We got 71 comments which I believe exceeded the number of signatures you had at the time.

            The comments can be accessed here: https://www.monomakhos.com/another-gauntlet-this-one-from-the-laity/

            I don’t want other people to be “disappointed” that Monomakhos didn’t do much! This just isn’t true. I actually worked on earlier versions of the Declaration but, of course, I can’t talk about that sort of thing.

            No, George and I just waited for the final document and punched it as hard as we could. There were things in the final version that I wouldn’t have included and stuff that dealt only with the GOA, but on balance, it held together well, I thought.

            The OCL has republished the petition multiple times; rather than referring to the document itself, we talk about it and why unity is important.

            If you Google “unity” and Monomakos and our names (or even “Mrs. M”. I use that name now that George and I are married) you’ll see how OFTEN we’ve talked about it and we continue to talk about it by featuring stories that make it obvious why unity and autocephally has become an imperative.

            If you have any additional ideas, we would be open to your suggestions.

            ***

            Yet Another Gauntlet: This One From the Laity
            July 5, 2022 by Gail Sheppard 71 Comments (Edit)

            The OCL published a declaration. It’s an important one.

            We’ve all watched as the Assembly of Canonical Bishops “got their um-hum (frog in my throat) handed to them” when they expressed their concerns to Archbishop Elpidophoros about Patriarch Bartholomew establishing a vicariate in America headed byk a (purportedly) defrocked archimandrite.

            I say “purportedly” because he’s suing everyone for defamation. It’s not like anyone reported anything with malice or believed what they were reporting was untrue so I can’t imagine what that would be. So far, the Attorneys General of fourteen different states are pushing back against this defamation suit.

            What was particularly disheartening about Elpi’s response is the way he dismissed their concerns. In an effort to be liked, Elpi usually plays both sides of the fence, but this time his response was sharp and dismissive. He wasn’t talking to his brother bishops; he was talking to his underlings; his employees. At least that’s the way it sounded. How arrogant to say he was “disappointed” in them as if they were mischievous little kids. At the very minimum, he could have provided the courtesy of a response acknowledging their concerns.

            Our bishops have been here a lot longer than Elpi. If he wanted to fit into America, you would think he would see the benefit in watching them, those who have been here a while, rather than going off half-cocked on his own. Maybe that way he could have avoided the mixed messages.

            Remember when he marched down a crowded street with BLM, a group committed to stripping America of her history, tearing down our statues, and rioting in our streets during the middle of what he described as a dangerous pandemic; so dangerous the Church had to be locked down while he mingled with hordes of people?

            If you want Americans to love you, don’t align yourself with people who hate our country.

            There are too many instances of his questionable judgment to mention here. I do remember thinking, however, that our own bishops deserved a fresh set of eyes because what I was seeing with Elpi and Bartholomew was a deal-breaker for me.

            Whatever misgivings anyone had about our bishops’ ability to lead, they’ve been put to rest. They’ve learned to put their differences aside and walk in lockstep. No longer the “adolescents,” they were once thought to be, they’ve shown considerable more maturity than the Phanar on multiple fronts.

            We’ve all faced some pretty difficult things over the last few years. COVID, of course, but also Ukraine where Bartholomew created an appendage of schismatics no one knows what to do with. He’s lost the support of the Local Churches and shows no signs of slowing down. Serbia, thankfully, was quick on their feet in the case of Macedonia or Bartholomew would have been successful in yet another power grab.

            The fact that “grabbing” America is on his agenda comes as no surprise. When he kept referring to us as part of the diaspora (barbarians), it was pretty clear what his intentions were; however, he made a single error in his thinking:

            We weren’t on board with that and neither were our Mother Churches, e.g. Antioch, Serbia, Russia, etc.

            Our bishops got it wrong with COVID, but what’s important moving forward is they got it wrong, together, which is to say they have demonstrated their ability to lead as a group, in lockstep. We didn’t have different Churches coming out with different directives.

            Yes, I know. George and I were pretty vocal about the mistakes the bishops made during the purported pandemic and different priests did different things which they felt they had to do to fulfill their priestly commitments. (I think the pandemic was hardest on them.) We haven’t changed our minds on any of this but that was the past and it can’t be changed.

            What’s important is now.

            Our bishops stood up to Elpi and Bartholomew in that letter. This is an indication they’re ready to step up. If we support them, we won’t be communing with schismatics which frankly would cause me to look for other options.

            I guess it never occurred to either Elpi or Bartholomew that a sizable number of American Orthodox Christians would never accept the OCU. Why? Because no one wants to commune with a group of unordained clerics, many of whom are Nazis.

            Because Bartholomew and Elpi drank from the same cup, they are schismatic, too, and they brought this ugliness to America. It’s not about “fitting in” anymore (if it ever was). They want to sully us as they have sullied themselves and our bishops, whom, to their credit, have drawn a line in the sand.

            No communing with schismatics. Ever.

            As a result, we’ve had to back away from the GOA. Separating from our Greek brothers and sisters has not been easy. I was made a catechumen by the Greeks. My husband’s family is Greek. That we can’t commune with the GOA because of the stupidity of Bartholomew and Elpi is hard to take.

            It’s no easier for the Greeks; certainly not their priests. They’re not at all comfortable with what Bartholomew and Elpi are doing but they’re stuck. They’ve got families to feed and Elpi won’t give them releases. We’ve seen how closed off Elpi is to change that comes from the bottom up. The only changes he wants to implement are tied to Bartholomew and the globalist agenda.

            That makes them dangerous. You can’t have two masters and they’ve committed to the one that is anti-Orthodox. By the tone and tenor of Elpi’s response, you can see he has little love for the Assembly. Those of us who are traditionalists particularly get under his skin and the idea of autocephaly is unthinkable as he and Bartholomew believe they own us. They have no intention of giving up such a lucrative enterprise; not even to the people who are the rightful heirs.

            Perhaps you, too, have noticed how cutthroat they can be if you fall out of line with their intentions.

            So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of us would prefer our own bishops to a power-hungry patriarch and his loyal minion who slice and dice us to get their way. Their infidelity to the canons and the Church is staggering, but what’s worse is when they dismiss their brother bishops like Bartholomew did when he walked away from the Local Churches who begged him NOT to go into Ukraine without a Council.

            He ignored them just as Elpi is ignoring our bishops in the Assembly.

            This isn’t a “one-off” either, my friends. This is who they are and what they do. The question is, can you live with it? Because to “live with it” is to forfeit the canons and teachings of our Church. You don’t bring in schismatics who refuse to be ordained because they don’t like a Local Church, which represents the largest population of Orthodox in the canonical Church! That’s just stupid. But that’s what they did and that’s what they’re doing.

            They’re bringing in a schismatic who was laicized by the Russian Church to head a so-called Slavic vicariate here in America.

            Elpi is a “chip off the old block” as my father used to say. It’s ludicrous to expect him to be anything but a patsy for Bartholomew. He’s his “sunflower” after all. He dismissed the concerns of our bishops without so much as a conversation. It probably isn’t the first time either.

            A personal note from George: In the past, privately, I’ve counseled caution when it came to Archbishop Elpidophoros. I felt –rather naively–that he might just be the GOA primate that might be able to unify all of the American Orthodox jurisdictions. Sadly –and with much regret–I no longer believe that to be the case.

            I’m pretty sure the Apostles didn’t run around browbeating everyone into submission. If they had, we wouldn’t be talking about the Orthodox Church because it wouldn’t exist.

            Bartholomew walked away from the Church and tried to trick our bishops into communing with unordained charlatans in Ukraine. Elpi was too weak to stand up to him, even if he wanted to, which we can now see he doesn’t.

            He had his chance.

            It’s not like there isn’t a precedent for an American primate to stand up to a foreign despot. Archbishop Iakovos of the GOA did just that fifty years ago when he stood up to Patriarch Athenagoras who wanted to excommunicate the OCA when Moscow granted it autocephaly back in 1970.

            Elpi had an opportunity to show his pro-American bona fides from the beginning; this would have been an easy pitch that he could have batted out of the ballpark. Instead, he choked and reverted to Phanariote form (which always includes ecumenism these days.) https://religionnews.com/2022/07/05/church-destroyed-during-9-11-attacks-consecrated-as-national-shrine/

            Elpi is not going to change his spots now or ever and we’re getting closer and closer to that timeline Bartholomew has committed to with respect to bringing us together with the “new, improved” Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Francis, also a globalist to the extreme: 2025 is right around the corner.

            When the bishops announced their joint discomfort with Bartholomew bringing in another schismatic into our midst (this time on our own soil as the head of a vicariate) they were signaling they are ready to step up. They knew what Elpi’s reaction would be and they knew that unless he capitulated (which was extremely unlikely), they’d have to take this further.

            We need to support them in this effort by asking them to take it all the way.

            To protect our Church, we need to merge and become the 14th Local Church. Given the abusive behavior which Bartholomew has shown to the other patriarchates, I believe that the other Local Churches will support us as well.

            This is rather a long introduction to a document the OCL prepared entitled: A Declaration for Orthodox Christian Unity in America. It’s probably the most important document we will see in this generation.

            Please give it a read and more importantly, give it your support. It may take every last one of us to free us from the bondage of a foreign despot who, frankly, has jumped the rails.

            Pray that God gives us the strength and conviction to see this through, not just for us, but for future generations to whom we have a responsibility to pass down the Faith unadulterated and intact. Mrs. M

            * * *

            A Declaration for Orthodox Christian Unity in America

            We believe that we are the most fortunate of people, blessed by God to be Orthodox Christians and to be free Americans. We accept the responsibility to “make disciples of all nations” on these shores, as Christ required of us at His Ascension.

            We take inspiration from the statement in 1922 of Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios, who said: “I have seen and understood how exalted the name of Orthodoxy could be…if more than two million Orthodox people were united into one church organization, an American Orthodox Church.”

            We see that Orthodox Christian witness in America is weakened by our fragmentation into more than a dozen ethnic enclaves. We believe that Christ weeps at this disunity.

            We call all Orthodox Christian people of America – clergy and laity – to come together in a single, unified Orthodox Church of America, under the historic rules and traditions of Orthodoxy.

            We look to our hierarchs in the Assembly of Bishops – which was founded in 2009 for this very purpose – to lead us in this quest. We enjoin them – like Joseph of Arimathea – to take courage, and like us, be seen openly to be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of preserving and growing the Church of Christ for our children and for seekers of divine truth.

            We declare ourselves to be Americans of proud descent from ancient shores, but no longer part of a church diaspora that puts ethnicity before Orthodox Christianity, lest our Church fades away as ethnic ties diminish over time.

            We believe that the administration of our parishes and dioceses from Mother Churches on distant shores is uncanonical and unworkable. We are guided in this by clear Church canons and traditions: that there be only one Orthodox Christian bishop in any location; that foreign bishops have no authority outside their own territory; and that under the established Orthodox tradition of a great majority of places, when an Orthodox Christian national community is developed in a new territory, a single local church be established, uniting every believer in Orthodox doctrine.

            We reassert the proper role of the laity in the governance of the Church. We understand this to mean that the laity defers to the clergy in respect and matters of doctrine. In return, we believe that Orthodox Christian tradition and historic practice require that the clergy respects the laity’s call for accountability, transparency, collegiality, adherence to process and the Canons of the Church, and ultimately then, unity.

            In making this declaration, we remind ourselves of the historic courage and leadership of lay people in establishing and growing the single Christian Church, in defending the true belief of Orthodoxy during centuries of dispute, and in building new parishes around the world as immigration flourished.

            We believe that foreign administration and indifference, and local ethnic fragmentation and disunity, have led, too often, to bad governance. This has contributed significantly to the decline of American parishes and dioceses, as succeeding generations see ethnic churches that are indifferent and unresponsive to their needs in a multicultural America. We believe we are a distinct and mature American Orthodox Christian community, that is ready to become a single, unified Orthodox Church of America.

            We understand the apprehension that comes with the prospect of change. We believe that a unified, revitalized Orthodox Church of America would be a formidable spiritual and moral dynamo that would be a powerful force for good in the world, providing more support and vitality to the ancient Patriarchates and Mother Churches than divided, declining ethnic jurisdictions are providing.

            We particularly envision a united Orthodox Christian Church of America to be a strengthened bulwark of support for the ancient Patriarchates that no longer have the internal governmental protection that the national Orthodox Churches have. We believe that this united American Church, wielding the potent voice of committed American citizens, will marshal an unprecedented level of material, moral, and political support for world Orthodoxy. A united, growing fellowship of Pan-Orthodox Archons and Guardians of the Faith of other jurisdictions, pledged to support and protect the ancient Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, will cement the special relationship that binds children to their parents.

            We believe that concerns over loss of traditions, customs, and language are also misplaced, for we strongly ascribe to the American ideal of “e pluribus, unum…out of many, one,” for the keeping of local practices, parish by parish. We believe that language and customs should and must be maintained as parishes choose. In this, the American multicultural experiment will continue, just as it has from its beginning. Early Pan-Orthodox efforts such as International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) will see their good work thrive in a united Church.

            We also believe that the American model of the new United States, which needed over a decade from declaring independence to agreeing upon a governing constitution, is a useful model for our new Church governance. This new Church would neither obliterate our Orthodox identity nor ignore our traditions and precedents, but will instead adjust these God-inspired and time-honored tenets within the reality of a unified Orthodox Church of America. We believe we can take our time, grow in Christ, and get it right.

            We, therefore, believe that our Assembly of Bishops should – as in historic practice – come together as a synod, elect its own presiding hierarch, proclaim the Church in North America to be an autocephalous, canonical church, and seek recognition of this autocephaly from the fifteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

            In this, we call upon the Holy Spirit, Who bathes the world in wisdom and good order, and Who knows no national, ethnic, or any other boundaries, to help make clear to all the earth our prayer: to help our Church prosper, thus to keep and bring Christ into the lives of all people. We pray that the Lord will guide these efforts, that they be imbued always with heartfelt humility, and that the new united Church for which we pray and which we work to create would be, at all times and in all ways, for the greater glory of God.

            Orthodox Christian Laity board members authored this declaration in June 2022.

            Inaugural Signatures
            Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit (ROEA—OCA)
            Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey (OCA)
            Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and West (OCA)
            V. Rev. Dr. John H. Erickson, Tucson, AZ (OCA)
            Rev. Dr. Timothy Cremeens, Huntsville, AL (OCA)
            V. Rev. Fr. Steven J. Vlahos, Cherry Hill, NJ (GOA)
            Rev. Fr. Stephen Evanina, Wayne, NJ (OCA)
            Charles Ajalat, La Canada, CA (AOCA)
            Frederica Mathewes-Green, Johnson City, TN (AOCA)
            Dr. Gayle E. Woloschak, Chicago, IL (UOCUSA)
            Dr. William Tenet, Manhasset, NY (GOA)
            Peter Zarras, Morris Plains, NJ (OCA) – OCL President
            Peter J. Petkas, Houston, TX (GOA)
            William Souvall, Salt Lake City, UT (GOA)
            George D. Karcazes, Wilmette, IL (GOA)
            Argo Georgandis Pyle, Houston, TX (GOA)
            George Matsoukas, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
            Diane Theodora Georgopulos, Cambridge, MA (GOA)
            Dr. Michael Constantine, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
            William Caras, Great Falls, VA (GOA)
            Alice Kopan, River Forest, IL (GOA)
            Andrew Kartalis, Cleveland, OH (GOA)
            David Oancea, Youngstown, OH (ROEA – OCA)
            Timi Loomis Freshman, Beverly Hills, CA (GOA)
            Mae Panoplos, Chicago, IL (GOA)
            Alex C. Popescu, Montreal, QB, CAN (ROEA-OCA)
            Stratos Mandalakis, Harrington Park, NJ (AOCA)
            Evangeline Zarras, Sherman, CT (OCA)
            Elizabeth MacNeil, Needham, MA (AOCA)
            Anita Olga Jones, Round Rock, TX (GOA)
            James Gottreich, Glenview, IL (GOA)
            Michael Karrys, Wilmette, IL (GOA)
            Dr. James Kalpaxis, Austin, Texas (GOA)
            Steven Kalpaxis, Austin, Texas (GOA)
            Elizabeth A. Gassin, Bourbonnais, IL (GOA)
            Josiah McElroy, Wilkes-Barre, PA (AOCA)
            Stephen T. Early, Chesterton, IN (OCA)
            Hope Alexandra McDermott (AOCA)
            John Kaloudis, Cottonwood Heights, UT (GOA)
            Iryna Demydova, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
            Theodossis family, Wellington, FL (GOA)
            Spiro Pappas, Houston, TX (GOA)
            Fran & Robert Pond, Houston, TX (GOA)
            Dr. Alexander G. Bellas, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
            Thomas N. Marudas, Baltimore, MD (GOA)
            Demetra Chios Galazoudis, Singer Island, FL (GOA)
            Nana Patsatsia, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
            Katerine S. Amygdalitsis, West Palm Beach, FL (GOA)
            Vance Poitier, Orlando, FL (AOCA)
            Helice Carris Bernstein, Southampton, NY (GOA)
            Valerie Grega, Houston, TX (AOCA)

            __________________________________________

            AOCA = Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
            GOA = Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
            OCA = Orthodox Church in America
            ROEA—OCA = Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America / Orthodox Church in America
            UOCUSA = Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

            Take note:
            Check your email to confirm your email address immediately after
            you sign the Declaration to complete the verification process.
            Otherwise, your signature will not be recorded. Thank you!

            To sign the declaration, go to: https://ocl.org/a-declaration-for-orthodox-christian-unity-in-america/

      • Solidarity Priest says

        Using English as the liturgical language, yes. Modernizing the services, no. What is this “uplifting music” crap? There has already been enough meddling with the services. A parish need not have a full monastic vigil, but vespers and matins prior to the liturgy should be a must. Cut out the bizarre language like “humankind” for mankind. And we have an Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the OCA. I serve this church, but I’m not on board with the practices of some of it’s more liberal communities. That’s one priest’s opinion, for better or worse.

    • “Simplify the process, remove all barriers such as foreign languages not native to the country in which we live, modernize and abbreviate traditional services and hymns to more uplifting music relevant to today”

      Oh please. This sounds ridiculous. Thousands of protestant denominations would be happy to have you. Leave our Orthodox faith alone.

      The OCL endeavor was on the right track till it invoked the name of Meletios Metexakis. Once I saw that, I knew it was a ploy to cater to wealthy Greek Americans, the only ones who think that Metexakis was a “good guy.”

      The OCA went down this path more than 50 years ago. Why the need to reinvent the wheel? Just join the OCA, dudes. Not that hard.

      Seems really to be ethnic Hellenic Narcissism at play yet again – “if we didn’t do it, then it didn’t happen…..” Whatever.

      • The OCL endeavor was on the right track till it invoked the name of Meletios Metexakis

        As soon as they mentioned him I almost quit reading since he did, and has done, untold damage to the Church. He was likely a Freemason and I’m convinced that God-Willing, if there’s some future council, will be declared anathema.

        Invoking him did them zero favors.

      • ….abbreviate traditional services and hymns to more uplifting music relevant to today<<<

        This line is reason enough not to sign this document.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I don’t care if it’s relevant to today, but it would be nice to have at least SOME of the hymns the same so we can all sing.

          Choir directors take way too much license with the “Ahahahahahahahamens” (are these riffs???) and moving sections around because they “sound better” in a different place. But that’s just me. They sound lovely but I WANT TO SING, TOO, and I can’t follow them!

          Frankly, I miss many of the hymns from my Protestant days, especially during the Nativity.

          Parishes aren’t monasteries. We shouldn’t have to worry about the tones. It drives me crazy to hear the same thing changed from week to week.

          Many choirs are spectacular (I mean truly, truly talented) but they leave me cold if I can’t sing with them. It’s not supposed to be a “performance.”

          My favorite singing days were at St. Barnabus where I’d position myself near Kevin Allen because his voice made mine sound so much better. I so miss Kevin. He used to say to me, “I know you’re a woman but you think like a man and that’s why we get along so well!”

    • KINGDOM ADVISORS and SPIRITUAL LEADERS AS OVERSEERS of a new church

      There’s already an organisation for you. They’re called Jehova’s Witnesses.

      modernize and abbreviate traditional services and hymns to more uplifting music relevant to today

      This alone would make me jump ship to the nearest Old Calendarist parish faster than you could say “anathema”. Vatican II was the single greatest travesty to ever afflict the RCC, and we don’t need a repeat of that here. The calendar was bad enough. Anything we do must be rooted firmly in the long-standing tradition we’ve received from the Fathers.

      expand the Priest’s homily

      Gutting the Liturgy to make preaching the centerpiece is a very Protestant idea. There’s nothing stopping an Orthodox Priest from giving a long homily as it is.

      The entire point of Orthodox Christianity is that we don’t change. We worship in continuity with the Fathers, using by and large the same rubrics and prayers they did. Any alteration to those would be watering down the font of Tradition.

      • One of the reasons people come to Church
        (the Orthodox Church, that is) is for stability.
        In a world that is in constant flux (spinning often out of control),
        the Church provides a firm base on which to anchor our lives.

        If the Church truly is the Body of Christ,
        why would it need to be modernised?
        What with? Tattoos? Nose-rings?
        The smart safety-pin through the cheek?

  6. Gail,

    It is a misleading overstatement to say that Bartholomew “communes” with Roman Catholics, as this implies Eucharistic communion which they do not share…yet.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      No, Brian. This is happening.

      • Solidarity Priest says

        An American Orthodox priest of Italian origin has travelled to his ancestral lands of Sicily and Southern Italy. There are many Uniates there, Greeks and Albanians. Some Greeks have been there before the schism of 1054. Others came later, fleeing the Turks.
        Said priest told me that EP clergy concelebrate with the Uniates there. Whether “officially” or not, it happens. He belongs to a SCOBA jurisdiction which is not an EP dependency. He was invited to concelebrate, but did not.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          If it has to do with the EP’s clergy in the EP’s patriarchate, nothing surprises me.

          • George Michalopulos says

            The word on the street is that “communication” has been going on for several years now at the highest levels, just on a completely secretive basis.

            • I wonder if the word on the street finally got out to the Assembly and that lit a fire under them.

  7. Evidence, please.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      https://stjoerayne.org/2014/11/30/pope-francis-celebrates-divine-liturgy-with-ecumenical-patriarch/ “… Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew are celebrating the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of St. Andrew at the Church of St. George at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.’

      https://df.news/en/2021/09/13/ecumenical-patriarch-bartholomew-meets-with-pope-francis-in-budapest/ “On September 12, Pope Francis arrived in the Hungarian capital where the central event of the first stage of the Pope’s 34th Apostolic Journey was the Holy Mass in the Heroes’ Square in Budapest… The liturgy was attended by government officials and representatives of other denominations, in particular, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.’

      • Gail,

        The first link clearly says the Pope celebrated a private mass earlier that morning.

        The second link just says Bartholomew “attended” the mass.

        I’m not justifying any of this, as anyone who reads my comments knows. I just don’t think it is helpful to give the impression (falsely) that they Eucharisticly “communed.” There are quite enough truthful things that can be said about Bartholomew’s shannagans. This isn’t one of them…yet.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          He couldn’t have done both?

          He attended “divine liturgies” and that means he communed.

          Because the second author refers to it as “a liturgy” and later as “a mass” is understandable given there are two hierarchs involved; one who is Orthodox and one who is Catholic. You wouldn’t want to call it a liturgy and upset Francis or call it a mass and upset Bartholomew, but it was the same event.

          I took the words directly from the sources I gave you, as you know. Frankly, I’m surprised, you’re surprised.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            At the risk of upsetting you further, here is another example. I suppose it’s possible for someone not to commune, but it would surprise me to see Pope Francis just sitting there until it was over.

            The point is they were really trying to unify the Church before Ukraine. Then everything changed. The EP has openly criticized the Pope for not speaking out against Kirill. I’m sure the Pope isn’t thrilled with the schismatics.

            it’s about Ukraine. You wonder how committed they are to unity to let what happened in Ukraine call off their fraternal love for each other. That’s why you have to really know someone before you “marry” them.

            Frankly, I’m on the pope’s side in all this. Bartholomew created a “charlie foxtrot,” as George is fond of saying when he brought in Ephiphany, et al. A bridge too far for most all of us. I wonder where they all are now.

            Interestingly, I remember seeing pictures of them together celebrating the Liturgy but they’ve all been scrubbed. The EP didn’t even go to the celebration of Peter and Paul this year, which is very unusual. They have trouble in their bromance before and got over it so maybe they will this time, as well. They both REALLY want unity to be part of their legacy but with the presence of the OCU, I’m not sure they can bridge the gap.

            I think the fear the EP has of Russia is hard for the pope to understand. The EP sort of presents himself as the “pope of the East” but he’s not. A legitimate pope wouldn’t understand why a specific country would be a problem because he is insulated from all that. What a pope fears is his own church. If you haven’t read Windswept House, I recommend it. It was very enlightening.

            https://slmedia.org/blog/addresses-of-ecumenical-patriarch-pope-francis-during-divine-liturgy-in-the-patriarchal-church-of-st-george-in-phanar-istanbul

            “He [Pope Francis] then traveled by car to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Church of St. George in Phanar, on the liturgical feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle. The Pope was met by His Holiness Bartholomew I, who led him inside the Church where the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom had already begun.”

            • At the risk of upsetting you further, here is another example. I suppose it’s possible for someone not to commune, but it would surprise me to see Pope Francis just sitting there until it was over.

              This is literally what happens every time an “ecumenical guest” comes to an Orthodox Divine Liturgy. They stand there until it finishes and they don’t commune.

              Trust me, if Pope Frank had taken communion at a Divine Liturgy served by Black Bart, then the old calendarists would be screaming about it from the rooftops.

              • Precisely, Basil. And the same would be true multiplied by 10,000 if Bartholomew partook of Roman chalice at a mass.

                The Roman’s would likely be largely pleased, but the Orthodox, even – and perhaps especially the Greeks – would see it as a betrayal in the extreme, although why these same Greeks tolerate everything he does short of this is a mystery that, like so many other things Bartholomew does, can only be explained by factors that have nothing to do with the Faith.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  You and the others were right, Basil. I emailed GD. He had nothing to do with that comment about seeing Pope Francis and Bartholomew communing, nor did he even recognize the site. It kind of shocks me that someone would do that to him. I’m going to erase everything but this last comment. I don’t want people to see something out of context and think it’s true.

            • Perhaps it is the Fatima/Russia connection
              that spooks Francis from criticising Kirill overmuch?

              • Gail Sheppard says

                That’s what I think! He also knows which side of the bread is buttered. The Russian Church is infinitely more powerful in the Orthodox Church and they will block the EP at every turn.

                Another thing the EP did wrong was go into Russian territory and upset the apple cart. A lot of people died.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Possibly. One thing that we can agree on regarding the whole Fatima phenomenon is that for one hundred years now, Russia has been elevated above all other nations for some reason or another. First as an atheistic scourge but now as a Christian paladin(?).

  8. Austin Martin says

    If you want Americans to love you, don’t align yourself with people who hate our country.

    He doesn’t want to be loved. He wants to get feared.

    Whatever misgivings anyone had about our bishops’ ability to lead, they’ve been put to rest.

    This is hugely assumptive.

    No communing with schismatics. Ever.

    The Monophysites have their own chapel at St Vlad’s. Some parishes rent their altars to monophysites. We’ve been straddling this line for a long time.

    Elpi had an opportunity to show his pro-American bona fides from the beginning; this would have been an easy pitch that he could have batted out of the ballpark.

    But he was chosen for this specific reason, to transform the GOA into a globalist tool. He’s not even an American. Expecting LP to do something Orthodox is like expecting Hillary Clinton to be honest on her taxes.

    Given the abusive behavior which Bartholomew has shown to the other patriarchates, I believe that the other Local Churches will support us as well.

    I hope I’m wrong, but this will never happen. But I’ll sign the document regardless

  9. Fr Chris Moody says

    If you want Americans to love you, don’t align yourself with people who hate our country.

    Well said.

  10. Am I the only one who thinks the Joseph of Arimathea reference is a subtle call for Met. Joseph to be elected as the Patriarch of the called-for autocephaly?

    • George Michalopulos says

      We could do far worse. Snark off: he’s a good man AND bishop. We should all pray for him especially but all of the other signatories as well.

      We should also pray for LP for his repentance, to do away with all forms of byzantine arrogance.

  11. It’s hard to imagine ROCOR ever going along with this. It may find itself detached from canonical Orthodoxy once again.

    While I think it is weird that we have so many overlapping jurisdictions here in the US, I find it to be a blessing in some ways. If a GOA parish slip-slides into modernism, one can always join an Antiochian or ROCOR parish. I shudder to think what a “unified” American mega-jurisdiction would be like, especially considering some of the ideas presented in that letter.

    • Fr. Thomas says

      Sad as it is, I have to agree with you. I am with one of the original “slavic” church under the EP and stay for the fact of my parishes closing should I leave, and dedication to the parishioners – there are no alternative Orthodox churches in the area. (I have been serving 20+ years and in the beginning I didn’t fully understand this issue.) A unified “American Church” would be a prime target for manipulation from outside forces seeking to co-opt and control. I could be forced to leave if current trends continue and am thankful there are alternatives.

      • On the contrary, a unified, autocephalous American Orthodox Church would not be subject to manipulation from “outside forces” precisely because, as an Autocephalous Church it would be free to make and correct it’s own mistakes.

        Its bishops would be elected by, and answerable to, the faithful entrusted to them by the Holy Spirit, which is present everywhere and fills all things. They would not be subject to the foreign synods that appoint them and can remove for any, or no reason.

        The idea that keeping the Church in its present uncanonical state, with overlapping jurisdictions is justified because it offers the opportunity to jump from one jurisdiction to another is like surrendering to the inevitability that the single synod of all canonical bishops in America would “slip-slide into modernism”… or some other error.

        The reason one parish may slip-slide one way (towards “modernism”?) and another may slip-slide in another (towards “fundamentalist cults”?) is because of the chaos that arises among bishops prevented from acting “Synodally” because they answer to different, often conflicting foreign synods.

        America declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776. It wasn’t until 1787 that the Founders were finally able to agree on a workable governing document. Even that document wasn’t perfect. It did, however, contain within it the means of correcting and improving it and the lives of those living under it.

        A united, canonical, autocephalous Orthodox Church in America will not be perfect. No human institution is. I believe that the authors of the Declaration and everyone who endorses it agree that it will be better than what we have now.