Welcome Comrades to the Un-American Council

Art by Heracleides
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The following was sent to Monomakhos unsolicited by Vladimir Berzonsky, who is justly horrified by the desecration of the Church his father helped found by the unholy proceedings that are to take place today and tomorrow. (As for the merits of the case of Fr Zacchaeus Wood, we have no knowledge other than this: as in so many other cases, the concept of “due process” is lost on the Syosset Apparat.)

Regardless, Mr Berzonsky’s words bear careful scrutiny. As to whether Parma will be forever linked with the final ruination of the Syosset regime, only time will tell.

Art by Heracleides

My Father’s House

Dear Parma Council Participants:

Even though I know very few of you, I offer the following personal thoughts for your consideration: As some of you may know, I am the eldest son of Father Vladimir Berzonsky, the priest who created the Holy Trinity parish and temple from literally nothing – from five or six families who wanted to launch an earnest if modest experiment in English-language Orthodoxy. Please look around you. You are looking at my father’s life’s work. At a more conceptual level, he invested fifty years of his life in a church organisation that has since been discredited and desecrated – and it must now be destroyed. At least Holy Trinity remains standing.

* * *

Welcome to my father’s house. Please pay attention to the level of detail put into the new Holy Trinity temple, from the stone tesserrae on the floor to the multiple ensembles of frescoes leading upward to the Pantocrator. It is arguably a unique church interior, blending modern and ancient iconic references in a context that fits solidly within Holy Tradition. If you can find the time, walk down the connecting hallway, through which the entire Book of Revelations is presented – preferably with the text in hand, of course. Taken together, you are surrounded by a mélange of theology and iconographic aesthetics conveying a multifaceted yet integrated statement of who we are as Orthodox Christians.

Not by dint of personal merit I had the good fortune to grow up in the first truly ‘American’ generation of the OCA. After completing college and law school, I worked in the Washington, D.C. area for almost exactly a decade until the Soviet Union collapsed. Then the first heady days of encountering the newly resurrected Russia ensued. Key developments for the OCA included Patriarch Alexey’s first primatial visit to the United States and the creation of a Representational Church (metochion or podvorye) in Moscow. Caught up in this excitement, I wrote a thought-piece memo to three (as I then thought) dynamic leaders of the OCA. In 1992, I sent a memo to Fathers Kondratick, Manzuk and Kishkovsky suggesting that funds be solicited – from Orthodox and/or other charitable foundations, grant moneys, etc. – to convert part of the St. Catherine’s Representational Church compound (not the temple itself, of course) into an international center for Orthodox Christian media relations and communications – the idea being to establish an Orthodox Christian Reuters or Bloomberg, if you will. At the time, I suggested calling the project MCC – a Media & Communications Center. I sent my MCC memo in three original, signed copies to the above-indicated priests but I never received a reply from any of the addressees.

Now roll the clock forward to 2006. Mr. Putin’s Russia has already assumed most of its current configuration, and I am working at the headquarters of a major Russian industrial holding in Nicosia, Cyprus. I receive a furtive telephone call and then a lengthy fax from Father Zacchaeus (Wood), Dean of St. Catherine’s Representational Church in Moscow. Prior to this phone call, we had never met each other. He apologized for approaching me without prior introduction, as it were, and asked me to consider and assess the gravity of certain anomalies that he had uncovered in the financial records of the St. Catherine’s OCA Representation prior to assuming the role of its Dean. Over the course of the next two years, he and I carefully documented all available evidence of what, we determined, amounted to consistent and systematic fraud on the OCA’s financial supporters – its faithful – following which we shared our findings with the US Embassy in Moscow.

As Father Zacchaeus’ attorney in this and subsequent related matters I am unable to provide more detail; but I think that anyone familiar with the OCA’s serial financial scandals should be able to connect the dots and draw the obvious conclusions. I will only add one small detail that has been well documented on the ocanews.org web site: Among the evidence that we uncovered at St. Catherine’s was a bronze (!) plaque of the sort you’d see typically at the entrance to an understated but influential law firm or investment house in London. Elegantly engraved on this plaque, in English, were the words ‘Moscow Media & Communications Center.’

We now jump to the very recent past: July 2011. Father Zacchaeus has become by now a living institution in Moscow. He personally intersects with the Moscow Patriarchate, other sister Orthodox Churches with permanent establishments in Moscow and/or visiting delegations, the diplomatic community – including but not only the US Embassy and embassies of most traditionally Orthodox nations (including Egypt!) – and the Russian federal and Moscow municipal elite. Like any polished, sophisticated ambassador representing a backward Third World country, Father Zacchaeus represents – and thereby presents – an OCA that never lived up to the quality of its Man in Moscow. But this disconnect was violently reconciled when Syosset issued an announcement on its official web site that Father Zacchaeus had become the focus of vaguely described allegations of inappropriate behaviour and, as such, he was summarily suspended from his role as Dean of St. Catherine’s – including from performing any clerical functions – and summoned to Syosset without notice. As we now know, this was a dress rehearsal for the subsequent ambush of Metropolitan Jonah.

* * *

Ladies and gentlemen, what you do and decide in Parma is your business, not mine. I have no dog in this fight. My life is focused permanently, insofar as I can tell, here in Moscow. I have by default joined the Moscow Patriarchate, the Mother Church – not a perfect mother, certainly, but which mother is?

I have already provided my punch line at the beginning of this message to you. The Orthodox Church in America has forfeited whatever legitimacy it received via the Tomos of Autocephaly from the Russian Orthodox Church. Neither Syosset nor the OCA Synod of Bishops has any moral authority – much less charisma – to carry forward the banner of Orthodox Christianity in North America. I take no joy in these assertions. Save yourselves spiritually and canonically!

The best possible outcome of a gathering of what’s left of the OCA such as yours in Parma would be a petition to merge with, for example, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR). This could also be accomplished by electing Metropolitan Hilarion (ROCOR) as the next OCA primate. Just a thought.

Again, welcome to my father’s house.

Yours faithfully,

Vladimir Berezansky, Jr.

About GShep


  1. OMG. Vlad Berezansky ( I guess his father’s name wasn’t good enough) is one of the most pompous people who ever walked the face of God’s green earth. Just ask people from HT in Parma what they think of Vlad Jr.

    Welcome to my Father’s house? Really your Father’s house? That says it all. This guy really thinks it’s his dad’s place. God please save us from such self-loving prima donnas.

    Honestly, George, this guy is totally crank.

    • Nikos writes about Vladimir Berezansky: “I guess his father’s name wasn’t good enough”. This alone shows a false bias towards son Vladimir. Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky, Vlad’s father, served as one of the finest Orthodox priests in America for 50 years. For years he wrote very insightful and spiritual writings in the OCA newspaper “The Orthodox Church” and in other places of print (including SVS Press). His sermons, many of which I have heard at his church (yes, ” his church” in Parma that he lovingly nurtured to being one of the best OCA churches in America – working with God to develop it), were spectacular. He was (and is) a stellar example of what it meant (and means) to be a true Christian (who deeply loves God – it shows in his person). He dedicated his life, with his Matushka at his supportive side, to serving God as a priest, representing Christ’s own priesthood. And he was a great father. I wish there were more priest’s like him. Son Vladimir also is a fine person- not at all “one of the most pompous people to walk the face of God’s green earth.” Does Nikos know Vladimir on a personal level? Apparently not. He doesn’t even know that Vlad changed his name from “Berzonsky” (which was changed wrongly to this misspelling and mispronunciation at Ellis Island when Vlad’s grandparents came to this country as immigrants) to “Berezonsky” because it is the CORRECT pronunciation. Many of us in our families in the USA have gone though the same situation and corrected the spelling and therefore proper pronunciation of our real names. Nothing wrong with that! Nikos – you seem to be an arrogant “crank”. Vlad Berezonsky is not.

      • John P.

        I said nothing against Archpriest Vladimir Berezonsky. His life’s work speaks for itself, and I can ascribe a bit of “fatherly pride” in son Vladimir for his father. But it would be sad to think that Fr. Vladimir did all he did and he himself would consider Holy Trinity in Parma to be “his house.” The temple in Parma is to the glory of God not to the glory of any one person. It was built by the sacrificial giving of those members of the Holy Trinity community and yes by the dedicated work of Fr. Vladimir and Matushka Margarita. But it is not “his” house or “their house” it is God’s House and only by His Grace was it built.

        To infer otherwise is wrong and let us hope that is not what son Vladimir was trying to tell us. And yes, I do know son Vladimir, his father and mother. I also know another side of these people and am not concluding my assessments through rose coloured glasses.

        I am glad that your experience of these people is a good one. I would not want it any other way.

        • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

          In Greater Cleveland we still (wrongly, I’ll admit) refer to Holy Trinity Church as “Fr. Berzonsky’s church.” In addition to the work of his parish, he well represented Eastern Orthodoxy in the National Council of Churches of Christ for many years. Fr. Vladimir is loved and respected throughout the pan-Orthodox community, especially throughout Greater Cleveland as he served as a past President of the Greater Cleveland Council of Orthodox Clergy. He also served on the OCA’s Metropolitan Council and the Midwest Diocese Council. He was wholly dedicated to the progress of the OCA and the greater Church. (I know you’re not criticising him, but I felt a need to add a little about his ministry, as his ministerial work exceeds that of most clergy.)

    • Perhaps “parma donnas”? 🙂

  2. George. Mr. Vladiimir BEREZANSKY is the writer, not “Vladimir Berzonsky.”
    Mr. Vladimir Berzansky is a known advocate of Archimandrite Zacchaeus Wood, of whom he writes here.
    Perhaps he feels he must act as Wood’s defense attorney.
    Nothing wrong with your providing the case for the defense of Archimandrite Zacchaeus Wood.
    I’m not sure why you published it except perhaps because it disparages the Council in Parma.
    I didn’t realize Mr. Berezansky had returned to Russia from Switzerland. He must have found yet another position to try his hand at over there. Who could not wish him all the best?

  3. LongTallSally says

    Thank you, Vladimir, for your sad but true words. I am going to Parma, and though I understand your reasoning, nevertheless I am voting for Metropolitan JONAH.

    I no longer care (respect?) whether my vote is ‘counted’ or not, because I’m convinced that barring a miracle the Synod is going to do its own, crooked will to justify their mistreatment of +JONAH. On the second ballot, I’m going to vote Metropolitan JONAH, and on any other ballots offered. I feel I owe it to the man, who has been so cruelly mistreated, unjustly and uncanonically forced to resign, and financially blackmailed into choosing between his reputation and service to the Church or providing for his parents and sister.

    I hope Moscow is watching. They know Metropolitan JONAH was grossly mistreated. Perhaps their pressure caused the recent press release on the OCA website (http://oca.org/news/headline-news/oca-synod-issues-statement-on-negotiations).

    They write: “Motivated solely by a prayerful desire to achieve an appropriate resolution” –if this was true, the three men making up the Lesser S.O.B.’s would never have conspired against their leader. Why did the former chancellor get his huge salary continued for so long, but Metropolitan JONAH gets threatened with immediate loss of all pay unless he “voluntarily” resigns?

    And the opposites in treatment are glaring. People Syosset opposes, like Fr Zacchaeus and Metropolitan JONAH, get suspension without pay (or the threat thereof) because of false accusations, but people Syosset supports, like puppet bishop Matthias (whose letter slandered +JONAH to the world community –how do you ‘achieve an appropriate resolution’ to THAT?, and who presided over the Fr Zacchaeus sham trial), when accused get to keep their salary –even after the accusations are substantiated and he is found guilty. Hypocrisy.

    And what about the petitions sent out for all parishes regarding the robber AAC –the third one a thinly-veiled attack on Metropolitan JONAH? How’s that for blasphemy: using prayer and the Divine Liturgy to further destroy your innocent brother? When Syosset and the Synod oppose you, they don’t care if you’re already down; they seek to utterly ruin you in the eyes of all to justify their actions.

    They say they want to “achieve a mutual agreement and understanding that will be a Christian resolution acceptable to both,” but they can’t reverse the slander they have falsely brought against +JONAH before all the world. Associating +JONAH with Jerry Sandusky, the pedophile? The international press had a field day with that false letter, headlines reading: “ORTHODOX LEADER COVERS UP RAPE,” and the like.

    It seems to me that if the synod is truly seeking what it says it seeks, satisfaction for Metropolitan Jonah and a Christian resolution, the Synod (and Syosset) would:

    1) Apologize to Metropolitan JONAH, and publicly beg his forgiveness, for their slander against him;

    2) Retract the entire letter of Matthias against him;

    3) Admit that there is no criminal case ongoing against Metropolitan JONAH, that that was a bold-faced lie, and there never was such a case (regarding “alleged crimes”: “We have been communicating with, and continue to communicate with, law enforcement authorities”);

    4) Ensure to the best of their ability that the same world press which publicized their false slander gets and is encouraged to publicize their admission of its lies and their apology for it;

    5) Apologize for conspiring against the Metropolitan behind his back repeatedly, and consciously working against him and his vision for nearly two years;

    6) Release him to serve another jurisdiction, or, what would really be just, reinstate him as Metropolitan of the OCA (and either work WITH him this time, or else resign).

    Yep, I’m going to Parma. And I’m voting for Metropolitan JONAH. No matter what.

  4. Michael Kinsey says

    I very much enjoy reading your lovely language. It does convey a respect for the reader, while relating in calm soberness a grievous series of intolerable financial crimes. I am just a blogger, so what I read was, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear. Those who have done this have no moral authority is a strenuous rejection of this collection of bishops in Parma. Do not tempt God, Love the Lord ,thy God and Him Alone shalt thou serve, live by HIs Word and by bread, lastly. The moral authority of these Words is absolute. My God’s Grace help the faithful laity to find worthy men who will do this.

  5. Fr. Zacchaeus hosted me and my wife in Moscow a few years ago. It was evident from his flock that this was a respected, holy and righteous man. May God be with him and the other like His Beatitude that are being crucified by the Satan’s followers in Syosset. Mr. Berezansky, maybe you can just tell us where or how Fr. Zacchaeus is. Thank you for this thoughtful letter. Your father is a good man!

    Photius F.

  6. Gailina Sheppard says

    BTW, you all DO realize that this was the attorney who implicated Archbishop Job, of blessed memory, in a sting to get Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, right? The whole operation was sleazy from start to finish.

  7. Thomas Paine says

    The writer is a Russophile who wants Wood reinstated. Woody is in suspension. If this guy wants Woody, tell Woody to go into the ROC. I’m sure he can find lots of other fellows like himself there.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Being just a good ole boy from Oklahoma of Greek descent, just what the hell is the problem with somebody being a “Russohile”? Can someone explain that to me?

    • I believe that the ouster of Archimandrite Zacchaeus (Wood) from Moscow was with the full and somewhat enthusiastic backing of the Church of Russia. Neither Russia nor Alaska is an appropriate abiding place for those of that ilk. Leaving such in Moscow or Alaska would be little less problematic than leaving a Priest addicted to gambling in Las Vegas! As for ‘the Satan’s followers in Syosset,” I think the conventional phrase Fotius may have been striving towards is ‘Satan’s Spawn,” no? That’s today’s equivalent of “Those Masons in the Metropolla.” But Fotios may be reading a lot of the post-election laments, eulogies, and curses. The Teapublicans, some of them, really took it hard. Satan in the White House, The Moslem in the White House, the Fairy in the White House, Satan’s followers in Syosset. Satan’s followers have brains, usually. These are Independent Contractors, don’t you know.

    • According to the dictionary, a “russophile” is “A person who loves the country, culture or people of Russia”. In my experience in America, and perhaps in the mind of Thomas Paine, a “russophile” or an “anglophile” or any other type of “ophile” is usually a person who is not of that particular ethnicity who admires another country/culture/people. In Vladimir Berezansky’s case, he is already of Russian heritage (and I would assume he speaks fluent Russian as his father and grandparents did) – that is who he is – even though he was born in America. Does that make him a “russophile” as if that were some sort of abnormal thing for Vladimir Berezansky? Because we are “Americans” – that does not mean that we lose our ethnicity. I for one consider myself an American, but I have not lost my cherished ethnic identity to be only an “American” in some sort of generic “culture” of America that promotes Gay Pride, Homosexual Marriage, Abortion on demand, Gangster Rap, Hollywood values, Consumerism – and a government which believes in giving special treatment to one ethnic group of illegal immigrants – and gives money of entitlement to the folks that Romney called the 47%. But that’s another story. Thomas Paine was an American of English decent, wasn’t he? Did he throw away his ethnic identity? Probably not. What’s more the America he envisioned probably isn’t close to the one that we now have – where morality is often thrown out the window and traditional Christians are seen as the enemy of moving forward. It seems that some of these ideas (particularly the LGBT pride in their sexual orientation) has made it’s way into the Orthodox Church in America. I, for one, see the stability of the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR which has reunited with the Moscow Patriarchate to be the go-to group here in America. We will see what happens after the Parma council – and if the OCA continues on it’s downward spiral to irrelevance in terms of being able to be a beacon of Orthodox faith (in its purity of form) to the American masses. I think that this day has come and gone and the OCA has, unfortunately (due to its “leadership” – which sacked the fine Metropolitan Jonah), become a “jurisdiction” that has failed in many of it’s lofty goals (but there are still a lot of good Orthodox people in it).

    • I’m a Russophile, Tom Paine. I love the Russian people. I pray for the soul of A. Solzhenitsyn, a brave and ‘prophetic’ man. I’ll work on loving you too :>) God is “no respecter of men” (Book of Acts).. we are striving for His likeness to be restored in us, aren’t we?

      Forgive me…


    • Are you a Russophobe, Thomas?

  8. John Tkachuk says

    @ (Patriarch) Photius:

    Who are “the Satan’s followers in Syosset” and where did you get that particular nomenclature?

    With love, only in Christ Jesus,

  9. Thomas Paine says

    #Christianity under Attack | #Israel seizes financial accounts of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem
    NOVEMBER 13, 2012

    [ PIC 12/11/2012 – 09:51 PM ]

    OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The head of the Board of Directors of the Jerusalem District Electricity company, Yousef Al Dajani, called for an urgent processing of the file of the crisis of the company’s accumulated debt for the Israeli occupation.

    This came after the Israeli water company implemented a court order allowing it to seize the financial accounts of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem. Al-Dajani described such step as a dangerous precedent and a warning of dire consequences for the Jerusalemite institutions, whether the religious or the civil ones.

    “This development is extremely important and requires that everyone takes seriously his responsibilities” and participate in solving the debt crisis of the Jerusalem Electricity Company owed for the Israeli company, al-Dajani said in a press statement on Sunday.

    He pointed out that not paying the electricity bills by some citizens and institutions and the continuation of thefts were the main results of the electricity company’s debt crisis, adding that the Israeli authorities are serious in their threats.

    Al-Dajani also noted in his statement that the developments in the case of the Church of the Resurrection and the Orthodox Church prove that Israeli bodies do not respect the church’s sanctities and customs and represent very serious and alarming indicators.

    • Michael James Kinsey says

      Don’t be surprised if the Isrealies decide to sieze it and rent it our to the Freemasons, or at leat Catholic Cardinal freemasons. Pro- Isreal Protestants in the USA won’t mind or the Catholics here.either, or even the UN Wordl Consul of Churches, who might want to claim it themselves. The arrogance of London, Washington and Rome knows no bounds.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        We better be worried that the Roman Catholics will pay the bill and claim the whole Church for themselves. They have been trying to gain control over the Church for centuries. I hear from friends who have been there that the Franciscans can be particularly rude. It is strange how a people who claim to have been persecuted for centuries can show such disregard for the rights of others when they get the upper hand.

  10. George–Is this the whole letter? I just do not see how this lawyer arrives at his conclusion. There are some missing premises there. Strange, coming from a lawyer. And, coming from a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, mighty meddlesome.

  11. Ashley Nevins says

    Comrades of Gods only alone right and one true top down religious dictatorship based in its own power and control do not complain about how the religious dictators treat all of you. All of you wanted the American Orthodox ideal of the church separated from the state and from foreign rule. At the same time you still wanted to keep the structure and system of that dictatorship rule in place minus the state and foreign rule.

    There are three dictators: the state, the religious foreign rule and the top down authoritarian structure and system.

    If you do not rid yourselves of all three you leave the perfect set up for religious dictatorship to rule over you all by and through a religious dictatorship structure and system of top down authoritarian power and control. At best you have only gotten rid of 2 of the 3 leaving the one thing that will keep the religious dictatorships in power and control with no end to them. No end to them is the end of the EO in America.

    America is freedom of religion. That is, it is freedom of religious competition. Freedom to compete is freedom from what kills the competitive edge and that would be state and church as one and designed around a dictatorship structure and system. Like in any competition those with the most advanced structure and system see the most success. You design for success. Competition demands change or you die by being left behind in a no longer competitive paradigm. All Orthodox need to read the rational modernity book: Paradigms by Joel Barker.

    Where the Orthodox came from there was no competition by freedom of religion. There was only Orthodoxy as its own competition. That is a closed, isolated and subjective mentality that refuses to change and is brought about by being closed, isolated and subjective by structure and system. Competition is a a direct threat to a dictatorship that controls all competition by the dictatorship being the only competition. In other words, those who have only been their only competition fail when placed into religious freedom competition. They don’t know how to compete because they have never had to compete before. This is reinforced by the mind set that believes it does not have to compete for it being Gods only alone right and one true church. When that is translated it means, we are the only competition and all stand us as the competitive standard judged by us to be of Gods spiritual correctness or not.

    There was no competition in the religious dictatorship of the Sanhedrin. There was no freedom of religion competition that offers a CHOICE. Competition always gives choices. Freedom always gives choices. Dictatorships don’t give you freedom of choice. They don’t allow competition. When Jesus Christ arrived on scene in the Gospels He came as freedom of religion competition that gave a choice.

    Do the Orthodox know what the choice given to people was?

    Can they compare what Christ offered in comparison to His competition?

    Can the Orthodox see a different structure and system being offered by Christ?

    Did Christ offer freedom over dictatorship as the free choice?

    Did Christ by freedom of choice in competition paradigm shift to change and leave His competition behind in a dying paradigm that refused to change?

    The Orthodox do not really understand freedom In Christ. That is why their jurisdictions are found in a corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying state that is in bondage to religious dictatorships.

    Did you know that no competition leads to no competency? Was Christ competency in competitive comparison to the Sanhedrin?

    Can the Orthodox list all the other problems a lack of competition causes for them? Can they then connect the dots to see their future if nothing by structure and system radically changes?

    This is how the Sanhedrin competed with Christ. It along with the Roman state murdered Christ. The two dictators by their totalitarian structures and systems killed him by their power and control. In a dictatorship there can be no Christ God in Lordship rule over it. Only the religious dictatorship and the state as one can be GOD.

    Orthodox, can a church that has replaced the Lordship rule of Christ with itself as a dictatorship lead that church into corruption that has no solution?

    Can a church be corrupted by the degree it murders Christ in its midst?

    Can a religious dictatorship church murder Christ to become a dictatorship over Christ church?

    What would be the signs, symptoms, proofs and evidences of such a religious dictatorship ruling over Christ? Can they be listed?

    The Orthodox do not listen. They do not even listen to their destructive consequences that encompass them. The Orthodox do not listen because they believe they don’t have any competition. They believe they are the only competition. The dictator cannot have any competition or he will soon find himself without a dictatorship. The dictator will self protect his dictatorship power and control at any cost and even if it destroys his dictatorship. The last thing the dictator wants is a change of his structure and system of totalism power and control.

    All of this continual various Orthodox forums complaining is silly. All of you got exactly who and what you want in rule over you. You have your religious dictatorship structure and system you want in rule over you. Then you complain about what it produces as leaders to rule over you. You expect a religious dictatorship structure and system of rule not to produce religious dictator rulers. You expect the religious dictatorship belief that you are Gods only alone right and one true church not to produce rulers of that self righteousness.

    Self righteous dictatorship is what you got by the structure and system of self righteous dictatorship rule that produces them. Then you complain about them and they are exactly what you want or you would change the structure and system that produces them. None of this complaining sounds or looks like those in the paradigm of God that has shifted right past you. They are focused on the things of God that build and not on the things of evil that destroy. They have a future vision by their structure and system and not a future of destruction by their structure and system. They do not claim to be Gods only true and right church and so they can listen to God and then transform to change to relevancy to church maturity and growth. They can paradigm shift with God to relevancy in the place they are planted and they do that by their structure and system that is the cutting edge paradigm shift of God in our generation.

    Their only claim is that they are Gods true church that worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. They do not see themselves as Gods only alone right and one true structure and system that cannot change for fear of it no longer being Gods only alone right and one true structure and system if it does REFORM. Contrary to them the Orthodox see God as the tradition basis of their church being the relationship with God it is to have. They do not see that as being mechanical over spiritual. The do not see how that subtly over time drifts them into religious works and legalisms. They do not see Christ come to us in the Gospels as replacing the tradition basis with Christ personal relationship basis that hears God. Those who cannot hear God cannot hear what the consequences of their sin against God brings to them. They cannot hear God to hear His solution and they go circular without Godly solution.

    How can a focus on tradition in religion as spirituality and spiritual maturity over a focus on a personal relationship with God as spirituality and spiritual maturity lead to a church going corrupt and then into failure?

    I ask the Orthodox questions they never quite seem to ask themselves. Competition that compares asks questions to compete. I have the freedom to ask hard questions and I have the freedom to see the answers. That is objectivity that can see itself in competition and then does not deny what it sees. Competition that denies what is right before its eyes to see will soon not be competition. The Orthodox believe they are Gods only competition. They believe no other church is a real church and therefore they don’t have any real competition. They deny what God has put right in front of their eyes to see. They are God and so they don’t see what God is revealing to them about themselves. He has revealed they are no competition and that they cannot compete. Idolatry is so enamored with itself it can only see itself and therefore it cannot see what God is telling it by its outcome in the real world. It refuses to believe that its outcome is its dictatorship structure and system that is idolatry. All dictatorships are a form of idolatry and idolatry is always based upon its own power and control.

    Are the EO in America having an idolatry is our god outcome or a Christ is our God outcome?

    Can an idol produce a solution to corruption and failure or can Christ alone produce the solution?

    Is right worship and right belief producing the right church that produces the right outcome?

    Is that right worship and right belief in God or the idol? How can you tell the difference?

    This reveals how they approach God by right worship and right belief in tradition over relationship that is their only solution. They want a solution based upon their structure and system that cannot listen to God. They believe tradition over relationship as their solution and they are found without solution by their solution. They want to be freed of the religious dictators and still want to keep the religious dictatorship structure and system. That is listening to the dictatorship over God. The Orthodox do not listen to God.

    Ashley Nevins

    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

      Ashley, look around you at all the thousands of Protestant sects, and individuals who are so “unique” in doctrine that they refuse to even join a sect, claiming personal relationships with Jesus, all contradictory, some go as far as saying the Bible is not the Word of God, just an idol that gets in way of their personally hearing from “Jesus” (who may or may not be God, born of a virgin, or many other things). For Heterodox Christians who really have a personal relationship with Jesus, rather than “their own personal Jesus,” then their supposed Jesus should be leading them to Orthodoxy. We Orthodox have maintained the same traditions and church government from the Apostles through eras of religious freedom and competition to being a persecuted minority to being completey underground. On the other hand whatever model, whatever shoddy alternative, you have to offer has been around for around at best 1/2 to 1/4 of that time, mostly without the honor of persecution, soft and weak and crumbling wihtout even hard testing.

    • olover wendel douglas says

      Blah Blah Blah. . . give it a rest.

      By the by—I noticed that all the “potential” protestors folded like yesterday’s newspaper in Parma. Good going- – – you get what you deserve. I’m sure things will work out quite well now with everything settled so nice and tidy like.

    • Ashley, No one is saying it was your relentless rants against the Orthodox Faith that finally drove your son to despair, so I think you should calm down and seek out a religion and/or a philosophy that will give you peace. Otherwise people will think you’ve lost it.

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        The foregoing could only have been written by a childless old man whose self control is occasionally on a par with his perception of how often he he turns people off to the Faith when he represents it with nastiness. Ashley – he is right overall about your rants and misperceptions of Orthodoxy (despite some of the valid points you make you string it all together in a way that robs them of all effect in my opinion), but your pain must be exquisite indeed. I will try to help you carry it in my prayers.


        Fr. Geroge

  12. M. Stankovich says

    Vladyka Tikhon,

    Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. (1 Tim 5:17)

    These are the men whom he wishes to be honored most of all, and he adds the reason: for they sustain great labor. For when one is neither watchful, nor diligent, but merely sits in his seat easy and unconcerned, while another wears themselves out with anxiety and exertion, especially if he is ignorant of profane literature, ought not this man to be honored above all others, who more than others gives himself up to such labors?

    For he is exposed to numberless tongues. One censures him, another praises him, a third mocks him, another finds fault with his memory and his composition, and it requires great strength of mind to endure all this. It is an important point, and contributes much to the edification of the Church, that a ruler of it should be apt to teach. If this be wanting, many things in the Church go to ruin. Therefore in addition to the qualifications of hospitality, moderation, and a blameless life, he enumerates this also, saying, “He ought to to teach.”

    (St. Crysostom, Commentary on 1 Timothy)

    I honor you as you enter your eighth decade, and ask that our Heavenly Father continue to bless you with health, continued longevity, peace, and repentance. Εις πολλά έτη Δέσποτα! Many years!

    • Thomas Paine says

      If you are really Michael Stankovich, then your sentiments are way too generous. Most will agree “continued…REPENTANCE,” of sins.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Why don’t you start with yourself and apologize for the slander against His Beatitude?

        • Fr. George Washburn says

          Well that’s just it, George, isn’t it? Each “side” just stands there fuming in subjective, very high, dudgeon, tapping its collective foot with arms crossed waiting for the other side to “repent first.”

          It’s one of the Devil’s best lies, and boy has it worked forever! “I don’t have to go first because they offended first.” Can I get a quote from the Bible and the Fathers on that? No because scripture and the authentic Orthodox tradition tells ALL to be first.

          “We’re gonna dump all over the people who mistreated Met. Jonah!” fumes one “camp,” while the other steams “Can you believe the sectarian slanders those guys have been peddling?” Each stilling the promptings of conscience to be the first to apologize, repent, reconcile by repeated rehashings of the other people’s errors. So in pride and increasing blindness – not to say bitterness – people would rather quit the Church – or say “good riddance” to the seeming losers.

          It is no wonder that Christopher Hitchens and the other neo-atheists make professing Christian v. professing Christian strife one of the centerpieces of their arguments against Faith. The tongue, as St. James says, is a world of iniquity and sets human society on fire.

          Please forgive me for speaking of something that I still have plenty to learn about and practice in my life.

          • Son of Job #2 says

            Fr. George, please.

            Don’t recontextualize the slander against +Jonah into something it is not.

            And don’t purse your lips and shake your stubby little finger over how standing up to the slander defames Christianity.

            And then this:

            Please forgive me for speaking of something that I still have plenty to learn about and practice in my life.

            Nice. You try to shame George because you cannot offer a honest answer about the slander of +Jonah. The shame is on you for your duplicity.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Nice. Why not hold your own self in “abeyance” now: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there: the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20) Be gone. You sowed enough anonymous ill-will for a lifetime, and what? Twice as many “sons” as your last report leaves you with four to hold signs. As Hamlet said, “Words, words, words…” Now is the time to heal. Your magic has no power, and you are already insignificant.

              If one free pizza is delivered, it’s from me – best wishes. If you get one every hour on the half-hour, it’s from /b/. We don’t forget. We are everywhere. We are Anonymous.

            • Fr. George Washburn says

              Well Job #2,

              Recontextualize is a big word. I think it means you don’t like me reframing the question or looking at it from a different vantage point than left field.

              Standing up to the slander …defames Christianity? Let’s break that one down, please. When I read the spiritual writers they all advocate not responding to slander. I grant you that there are times when one must do so, and there are good ways and bad ways to do it.

              You seem think this is a time to stand up, and that standing up in a certain way is appropriate if not compelled. Am I close?

              As to the former point, since the slander is fresh and still seems to cloud some minds, I will grant you that now is not a bad time to do or say something about it. What I am also saying, and here is the nub of what I think you do not like in me, I think the SoJ methods do not come anywhere near the loftiness of the ideals they purport to advance.

              So yeah, I did point with my finger, and straight at you, but after all the composting and mulching of the day – and the whole last week – it was a **grubby** finger, not a stubby one.

              How do you know if I cannot offer an honest answer about the slander of Met. Jonah? You have never asked, and neither has anyone else. And thus the shame is actually on you for the duplicity of censuring me for omitting to answer a question *nobody* has ever asked me, here or anywhere.

              There goes that darn finger again, but at least I washed it since getting home.


              Fr. G

              • Son of Job #2 says

                How do you know if I cannot offer an honest answer about the slander of Met. Jonah? You have never asked, and neither has anyone else. And thus the shame is actually on you for the duplicity of censuring me for omitting to answer a question *nobody* has ever asked me, here or anywhere.

                No, the duplicity was in shaming you opponent and then excusing yourself because you too are a sinner, as if your confession absolved your offense. In reality you slurred someone and wash your hands of it at the same time. It happens a lot with wordy clerics.

                But you say you can offer an “honest answer” about the slander against Met. Jonah? I’m asking. Let’s hear it.

                • Fr. George Washburn says

                  Well young man, i am not sure we are going to have fun, or even communicate. I am concerned about the way you use terms somewhat differently than I think is the norm, as well as your assumptions, but let’s give it a try.

                  First let me say that i do not think George M. is an opponent. I think he’s a member of the Body who is making some important mistakes that defeat his purpose and good intent. I hope and believe i was not speaking in a shaming way, but rather calling the mistakes to his and our attention, which I grant can have a shaming effect on the person. He’s put himself out there ….

                  You also misunderstood my reference to my own faults. Sometimes in these exchanges people bluster about as if they had all the answers and had no sins, doubts,, etc. I was acknowledging that I sometimes fail, not claiming that I should be excused on this or any other occasion if I am wrong in fact, attitude or otherwise.

                  I don’t think you even get the point of what I was saying in the first place, namely that BOTH “sides” (really just different members of the SAME Body) resist apologizing because they are focused on the other side’s faults and feel the other “sinned first” and therefore must “go first” in attempting to resolve the matter. You can interpret that as shaming George if you like, but I think it is better if you take it as written and intended, an exhortation to us all, me too, to be first rather than wait for the other guy to take the lead in repenting. After all, in terms of virtue, if two sinners both have a share of responsibility for a misunderstanding, the one who apologizes first seems to me to be doing God’s work a bit better than the one who just waits and goes second.

                  And now before I try to answer you, please be very specific about the slander, preferably attaching a complete copy of the alleged slander to your reply. Let’s start there and see if we communicate after all. It ain’t easy! And by the way, what is an “honest” answer to the question in your book? Just one that agrees with you, or ….could an honest answerer conceivably disagree with you and still be “honest?”


                  Fr. George

                  • Son of Job #2 says

                    I knew you wouldn’t address the slander against Met. Jonah. Hey, what’s a little slander between friends! Who cares if the allegations of covering up a rape will follow him the rest of his days? No retraction needed here. We are all sinners after all!

                    You are neutralizing the offense Washburn. You want the old status-quo to prevail, the same one that caused the OCA’s precipitous decline. Your prescription will lead to even further decline.

                    This is cute too:

                    And by the way, what is an “honest” answer to the question in your book? Just one that agrees with you, or ….could an honest answerer conceivably disagree with you and still be “honest?”

                    The slander is a fact. You are a master at generalization and you use moral language to do it. You will avoid discussing the slander and make it appear that anyone who does is not following Christ. This is a misuse of your office but a lot of our priests do just that.

                    If you decapitate the primate (that was the purpose of the slander), you have left off Christ. The decline of the OCA will continue. You were not heard when there was a penalty for standing up for the truth and your attempt to position yourself here as an up and coming Orthodox sage will bear no fruit for yourself or the Church.

                    You also misunderstood my reference to my own faults. Sometimes in these exchanges people bluster about as if they had all the answers and had no sins, doubts,, etc. I was acknowledging that I sometimes fail, not claiming that I should be excused on this or any other occasion if I am wrong in fact, attitude or otherwise.

                    No, I did not misunderstand anything. You used the reference to your own sinfulness to excuse slurring someone else, just like you use the fact everyone sins to neutralize the sting of criticism about the deliberate slander of Met. Jonah.

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      Well, Son:

                      Your reactivity is showing. And maybe mine. (see below)

                      I have seen a lot of posts here about the slander issue, but they all seem to assume that the reader knows the details, or at least the gist, of what they are talking about and so a sort of shorthand is used, like the “stinkbomb letter.” I was hoping that you would furnish me with the actual slanders such as the text of that letter and/or supporting documents.

                      But since you haven’t, and I am not about to go rooting around for what you obviously have but don’t furnish, I’ll give you a “qualified honest answer.” Qualified in the sense that I do not know the evidence and have not seen the text of the letter.

                      And by the way you do not help me much with even defining the charge, but I am going to assume for purposes of this answer that the charge they made is more or less this: “Met. Jonah is not qualified to be our leader because he knowingly covered up a rape.”

                      With these assumptions, I will tell you that I have the greatest difficulty believing the charge as phrased, and would need some clear and convincing evidence before I did. The charge is just not consistent with the man I have known, albeit not that well, for more than two decades.

                      Now can I believe that Met. Jonah tried to help someone who turned out to be a bad apple? Sure. That is what Orthodox clergy sometimes do in their desire to help people be saved. Did he try to help someone without checking carefully enough in advance? I could believe that too, or that he did not tip the guy overboard as soon as he could or should have. Or that he didn’t dot each “i” or cross each “t” of protocol as allegations started to accumulate? Or that he was scattered and frustrating to work with? Again, I could envision it without attaching any big blame to him. I believe Met. Jonah’s inner compass is gracious and sets him for people’s healing and salvation, and does not particularly prepare him to sort out legalistic detail and protocols, manipulators, spinners of the truth or players of games. I am sure he has gained some unpleasant and costly experience, mind you, but a concealer of crimes isn’t who he is by inclination, character or experience.

                      But maybe in a Church such as the OCA of the second decade of this century, including both its strengths and its weaknesses, those qualities outside his natural skill set were just what was needed. to go forward from here. I can see how his colleagues could genuinely conclude that it would be better to go forward with some other leader who was better at those things.

                      What I also suspect is that over his years in office some people did to him exactly what the Sons of Job have done in recent weeks to various other hierarchs: because of an agenda, hidden or otherwise: engage in special pleading, selective interpretation of facts and rumor, rushes to judgment that suited the agenda, applying of double standards, etc. etc.

                      And I repeat that you obviously do not understand me. I do not excuse myself or anyone who slanders Met. Jonah or the other hierarchs, and your inability to get that through your head means that our public correspondence is over, Son. The cost-benefit equation doesn’t pencil out for any of us.

                      And by the way, you are speaking like a fool when you chastise me, who writes under his true name, for not be “heard when there was a penalty for standing up for the truth” while you always snipe at others under a pseudonym. Do you even get that you self-serving whippersnapper? You lambast someone with a real name for not speaking up “when there was a penalty” ….while you yourself dodge any possible “penalty” by hiding behind a code name!! I refer you to Proverbs 29:9, preferably in the King James or the American Standard.


                      Fr. George

                    • Son of Job #2 says

                      You can’t do it. You don’t have the courage call on the Synod to retract the letter and apologize.

                      And by the way, you are speaking like a fool when you chastise me, who writes under his true name, for not be “heard when there was a penalty for standing up for the truth” while you always snipe at others under a pseudonym.

                      If they did it to +Jonah, they can do it to me.

                      And you will be right there providing the justifications like a compliant little soldier. Keep this up and maybe they will make you an archpriest.

                      Eventually you will say that no real slander took place. Just watch.

                    • Fr. George,
                      Probably the best summary of the “synod doubters'” position can be found here (link).

                      That summary includes a link to the original “synod letter” of July 16.

                      If you want a more detailed point by point analysis of that letter, it can be found here (link).

                      And then I’m sure you are familiar with the best attempt so far at a timeline of events leading up to Jonah’s resignation as primate (link).

                    • The owner/editor of the forum we are on has never embraced a one-issue calling, and as such has not tried to maintain a presentation of these issues in an organized or summary form. What he has faithfully done is to provide an open forum for discussion. This is not a particularly goal-oriented approach, and some of us might argue with the approach, but this is what George M. has faithfully offered.

      • M. Stankovich says

        If I “really am” me? A most fascinating hypothetical. May I – that would be “me” – point out to you that, “If a man live many years, let him rejoice in them all,” (Ecc. 11:8) and that would include today. Your insults ill be equally offensive tomorrow as they are today, so allow Vladyka Tikhon (Fitzgerald) the honor I offer him. Please.

    • Vladyka Tikhon,
      Many years!

  13. Notice the statement ” restore peace and harmony within herself
    and make comfortable the further life of your predecessor at the
    Metropolitan See of Washington.”

    Patriarchal greetings to His Beatitude Tikhon with his election
    Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada


    His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia sent the
    following greeting to the new Primate of the Orthodox Church in America:




    Your Beatitude,

    Dear Brother in the Lord:

    I congratulate you on your election to the primatial throne of the
    Archbishops of Washington, Metropolitans of All America and Canada.

    By the will of the plenitude of the Orthodox Church in America, a high
    responsibility has been placed on you for the future of the youngest
    Local Orthodox Church, which has experienced a difficult time in her
    history in recent years. I hope that through the efforts of Your
    Beatitude the American Church will restore full-fledged relations with
    other Local Orthodox Churches, restore peace and harmony within herself
    and make comfortable the further life of your predecessor at the
    Metropolitan See of Washington.

    I prayerfully wish that through the intercession of the great apostle of
    America, St. Tikhon the Patriarch of All Russia, the Lord Pantocrator
    will give you strength and wisdom as you will work in the difficult
    field of Primatial ministry.

    With brotherly love in the Lord,

    + KIRILL


    • Mark from the DOS says

      This is as clear a signal as can be imagined. Note also the hope that “full fledged relations” with other Local Orthodox Churches” be restored. Moscow is not blind to what has gone on and its effect on the legitimacy of the OCA.

      It is time for the HS to give Met. Jonah his release and let him get on with his “further life”

  14. Michael James Kinsey says

    My dear Ashley, your observations, questions and conclusions are quite relavent. But ,the Christ was more than sufficient to overcome the world, and the worldly. The Christ states plainly, where the eagles are gathered together, there also will the Body be. Where 2 or more are gathered together in my Name, there I will be also. The Holy Spirit goes where It wills, and God is no respecter of persons. This is also my personal experience, especially in Operation Rescue where just a few Orthodox, Catholice, Protestants, and even some others gathered together. The Holy Spirit was Present in the HOOM, due the the sincere heartfelt desire in some to serve Jesus Christ, dispite the very stupid new age teachings they taught. These were led by the Holy Spirit to abandon reincarnation, astrology, the elitism, ect to enbrace the Truth contained in the Teachings of the Holy Fathers and the Orthodox Church. It was done in a most unseemly manner with Met Pangratious, and then a jump to the den of viper that rule the OCA. But, some like myself, waited,. 15 years to be recieved into the Serbian Church by a suberb Bishop< Bishop Maxim. The Serbians I met, indeed, had what I was looking for. Fruits of the Holy Spirit. I expect there are those in the OCA who ,if I met them ,I would say the same of them. The Only Holy One and HIs Victorious Son are not befuddled by schemes of liars. The Trump of God has yet to be played. It will Trump all lies and liars.