From 105 to 50 in a New York Minute — Part I. How We Got Here

Editor’s Note: It has been reported that Melanie Ringa, the Treasurer of the OCA met recently with the Metropolitan Council and the Holy Synod in which she presented two budgets for their consideration. The OCA at present is funded on the national level based on an assessment of $105 per capita.

However a new plan which was proposed by the Diocese of New York/New Jersey was also considered. The “NY Plan” radically decreases this assessment by over 50 percent –down to $50 per capita. This latter plan has gained momentum in the Dioceses of the West and the South and as has been reported in pro-Syosset websites, there is a real fear that between the decreased attendance of the AAC and a high proportion of delegates from the West and the South, it is sure to be implemented.

Though this is unpopular with the Central Chancery, Ms. Ringa has exercised her fiduciary responsibility and taken the time and effort to present a budget based on the new numbers. Because of its length, the following essay will be serialized for the sake of readability.

Part I: How We Got Here

An Existential Crisis

In a hierarchical church, the fundamental building block is the diocese. A bishop is not a bishop without a flock. As St Cyprian of Carthage said, “where the bishop is, there is the Church. Where the Church is, there is the bishop.” As such the work of the Church is done close to the people. Regional, territorial or otherwise national churches exist when the bishops of said territories convene in a synod to deal with issues of an inter-diocesan nature. Examples would include the consecration of new bishops, discussion of theological matters, and so on. National councils otherwise that are held together by a strong central administration are an oxymoron.

That being the case, we could say that there is definately an existential crisis within the OCA at present. On one side we have a canonical Episcopate divided into several dioceses (each with its own chancery), and on the other a national chancery which acts on its own all the while siphoning money from the dioceses. This is indicative of eparchies which are dependencies of an overseas patriarchate, basically one powerful archbishop surrounded by several auxiliary bishops. That this still exists in the OCA indicates that for all its talk of autocephaly, it is still beholden to an archaic system that is not conducive to a national church but an eparchial one.

This means that not only are strong central chanceries problemmatic, but so are national “metropolitan councils.” The latter raise even more questions because they are for all intents and purposes equal to the Holy Synod, all protestations to the contrary notwhithstanding. As such, the present regime of church governance is untenable. At some point in the near future, the dioceses (which are growing in strength) will come to loggerheads with the central chancery.

This may not be obvious to many who are beholden to the old system and who view it as a necessary check on an Episcopate which has been viewed in the past as either corrupt or inept (or both). Unfortunately, future events dictate otherwise. If nothing else, the dire economic straights which this country presently faces (and will face for the foreseeable future), as well as the contentious leadership that central chancery and the Metropolitan Council have exhibited, make this conflict inevitable.

Let it be said at the outset though that just because the Metropolitan Council and the central bureaucracy are not canonical does not mean that they are illegitimate per se, just that within an autocephalous Church, there are no structures called “metropolitan” or “patriarchal” councils. In a vibrant autocephalous Church, central chanceries likewise concern themselves mainly with the direct activities of the primate. Even within churches that are considered overly hierarchical and centralized–such as the Roman Catholic Church–the dioceses are remarkably autonomous, with only the bishop being chosen by the Roman Curia. And though there is no canonical warrant for diocesan-level councils, they at least are more rational in that they are far less unwieldy at that level of ecclesial governance. And of course the parish council is perhaps the most necessary of all. Were it not for them, then I dare say that most of our parishes would cease to exist. No such rationale can exist for national councils.

Historical Antecedents

At the risk of belaboring this point, a little history is in order. As is well-known, outside of the Alaska Mission, Orthodoxy in America was planted here exclusively as an immigrant phenomenon. The ethnocentrism of all traditional Orthodox immigrants did not melt away in the great American Melting Pot. This is ancient history. Moreover, the implantation of dioceses took place on a colonialist model; as noted, usually only one archbishop with perhaps a few auxiliaries. Ecclesial dependence flowed from overseas to the Americas while monies traveled via the opposite route. To institutionalize this arrangement, these exarchates felt the need to create central chanceries and archdiocesan councils. Both were usually headquarted in and around New York City, not the nation’s capital (as would be mandated by good canonical order). The reason of course is because most immigrant communities clustered in larger numbers in New York and could thus sustain a national archbishop and a central chancery.

In a situtation in which the local Orthodox presence is contingent upon an overseas patrarchate, the phenomenon described above is not unusual. In fact, it’s the only logical outcome that could be expected.

On the other hand, the OCA (which has proudly maintained its autocephalous status) continues to act like an exarchate, at least unwittingly. As such, the OCA is no essentially no different from the other jurisdictions as far as the facts on the ground indicate. With the exception of election of its hierarchy, the similarities with the other ecclesial dependancies are stark indeed. Nowhere is this more evident than in the veneration that lavished on the central bureaucracy which is located in Syosset, a town in the Diocese of New York. Viewed in this light, our autocephaly is almost an afterthought.

Another Model?

Is there however another model? One which is more in line with ecclesial governance? One that is not only canonical, but more rational? Yes, there is: it is called the Diocesan Model (DM); not only does it conform to historic Christian ecclesiology, but it is more efficient, more local, and more capable of evangelism.

The present hidebound system is clunky and inefficient, with no growth to show for it. This will be proven in due time. Moreover, the Diocesan Model is not burdened with any of the institutional memories that presently hang like albatrosses around the neck of the OCA. It will become obvious that not only is the DM vastly preferable. This is to the good because the present model, the Central Chancery (CC) is too unwieldy and unresponsive to local concerns. Despite the best wishes of those who are wedded to it, it simply is not sustainable.

+ + + + + + + + + +

Part I. How We Got Here

Part II. Syosset: A Trajectory of Failure

Part III. Syosset: Ends, Means, Wants and Necessities (coming soon)

Part IV. Back to the Future? A History of the Diocese of the South (coming soon)

View entire essay (coming soon)


  1. I’m supportive of lowering the assessment to $50 from the current $105, but not for the reasons stated above. The lowering of the assessment should be less about a diocesan centered approach to governance and more about punitive measures which starve an arrogant, meandering, and ultimately sick Central Administration. The last six years have seen an ever-decreasing OCA population for good reason – people are tired of a leadership which is consumed with process over production. We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a multitude of self-important committees which produce nothing but vapid documents.

    From a more practical standpoint, one can easily see why the Central Administration was needed. There is not one single diocese in the OCA which can sustain the various aspects of ministry which the Church needs to maintain in order to have a truly evangelical perspective. Thus, the idea that the entire OCA needed to pull resources together from across the country in order to produce an effort greater than any one diocese alone could produce, is (was) logical. However, what has actually been produced in the last six years by the Central Administration? Not much, if anything. The reports posted for the upcoming AAC are somewhat deceiving to the less careful reader. Many of the reports highlight plans for the future over results from the last three years. Others are shockingly concerned with pointing the finger at the Metropolitan for their own failures.

    It should also be noted that the comment about local governance, that the “parish council is perhaps the most necessary of all” has yet to be proven, at least in it’s customary form. Most parish councils, it seems to me, have very little focus on the evangelical aspects of parish life which drive the rest of the agenda. They can often be riddled with busybodies which desire to “control” the parish, even when it’s driven into oblivion. The entire parish council concept as we normally have it today is a failure.

    My proposal would be to create a third way: Rid ourselves of both the uncannonical “Metropolitan Council,” and largely ineffective “Diocesan Councils.” Each diocese should, by requirement, hire a professional outside financial controller which controls the money with professional standards. Budgets and goals would be set by the bishop in each diocese surrounded by a small group of clergy and qualified lay people who are appointed by him, but they would be judged by results and would have to be confirmed by the larger body. Aspects of ministry which are outside the abilities of any one diocese (and as has been proven, the entire OCA) would be outsourced to professionals in the field. For instance, an Orthodox company which produces educational material with professional standards is much more desirable than the 30-and-40-and 50-year-old pablum which exists today – our children and parishes continue to suffer for the lack of effective material. Missions and evangelism could likewise be handled by an expanded OCMC which could easily charge a fee for professional services as experts in the field, or at least, support their efforts on a local level for parish growth and evangelism. By outsourcing such efforts, we ensure more effective results and have expectations for the money we spend programs, most of which have failed miserably today.

    The bottom line is, the OCA has lost her way. She’s headed off a precipice, driven by the arrogance of the current leaders, as well as those calling the shots from behind the scenes. The experiment is over, and it has failed miserably. Instead of trying to pump life into a dead body, let’s let the dead bury the dead and begin anew. The situation requires radical new thinking about needs at the parish level which actually produce results, not committees and documents, investigations and intrigue, from an arrogant and ineffective Central Administration and Metropolitan Council.

    • Spasi, I see some wisdom here, but I’m not willing to give up on the Parish Council. Even though you are correct about “busybodies” the way to rectify that is by having only qualified laymen/women sit on the PC. That means people in good spiritual standing. This is reflect btw by their giving.

      I’ve thought that there might be two bodies within the parish. One would be the PC which would be responsible for all that they are presently responsible for, a second body would be a Council of Elders. These would be three senior citizens who have long served in the parish and who have institutional memory. Mainly just an advisory body to the priest and the Sr Warden. Their purpose would be to be there to bounce ideas off, i.e. vet the Agenda of the PC so that the rest of the PC and parish knows that what’s being proposed is non-controversial.

      • I’ve always felt that church attendance was a better yardstick for who should be elected to parish council, rather than who’s the bigger donor.

        Who’s a better example for other parishioners – the person who gives a fairly sizable donation but only shows up around the Gospel reading? Or the person who gives a widow’s mite, but manages to come to liturgy for “Blessed is the Kingdom”?

        What about Sunday-morning Orthodox versus those who faithfully attend Vespers? The person who shirks church-cleaning duties, versus the person who cleans without asking or receiving credit?

        • George Michalopulos says

          As usual you’re right. My point was simplistic but I didn’t mean “big donors” but actual “givers,” i.e. the faithful whose attendance in church is reflected in their piety and level of giving (ideally the true tithe). Please forgive me for that oversight.

    • The things that bring people together and the things that separate them have not changed since Adam’s children. You can change organizational structures and postulate on forms, but at the end of the day leadership is created by inspired souls who work among people with their heart to God and their hand to man. They create teams that can work together; they attract membership (“I want what they have”); and genuinely accomplish goals which they set before themselves.

      Yes, it is often episodal, but that’s what Life is all about. We have our moment in the sun and then we fade – like the grass of the field that is here today and gone tomorrow. It is what we do with that time allotted to us that is so key.

      The distractions, law suits, and never-ending wastes of energy that seem to follow upon the OCA administrative staff year after year are a sign of idle men with time on their hands. Maybe the real issue is whether or not to cut their budget so low ($) that they are simply forced to “fade away”; or join the working world with the rest of us?

      How about a fresh start with fresh people and a concentration on spirituality? One of the great awakenings in life is just how unnecessary some of us are for progress to proceed.

      • Jane Rachel says

        How about a public repentance by priests and bishops first? I want to hold something in my hand that says you are sorry for what you’ve done. Repent of that petition you signed, priests of the Midwest. You followed a false shepherd. What in the world made you incapable of seeing what was happening? Sorry for saying it, but you did. All you priests who bought it hook, line and sinker, and shouted it from the roof tops, and condemned those who doubted you, all you priests who can’t be wrong, you led your people astray. We need for you to repent publicly. Someone who knows what they are doing should get it together and get that going. Doggone it. It won’t happen. Silence is golden.

      • I read the treasurer’s report for the council. I am appalled at the completely naked bias in it against the $50 resolution. I would like to give her a choice between $50 and $0.

  2. M. Stankovich says

    Your quotation of St. Cyprian of Carthage is incorrect, but should rather read: “You ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church.”* It seems reminiscent of the recent comment of Mt. Kallistos that a dynamic aspect of the living and evolving Theology of the Church necessarily includes the “grace brought to the Church by the Bishops.” To interpret this to suggest the significance of location is unfounded.

    I take exception to the term “granting” of autocephaly, when, historically, the ability of a local church to demonstrate the ability to be αὐτό (and in this is usage, it is an emphatic expression of the term self) κεφαλή (headed) was acknowledged by the mother church, and reciprocally so by those in communion with the mother church. It was certainly not a “license” to practice as an autocephalous body (which, theoretically, could be revoked). This should obviously beg a certain question, distinct from the well-worn objection of the Church of Russia’s “lack of canonical authority”: What motivated the Church of Russia, greatly oppressed and under extraordinary persecution, to bring forth such an acknowledgement? A “forthright” conviction, brought about by convincing observation of a “successful” tradition and self-governance in the American church? Could it have been misguided as to the state of the local church in America, or hoped “it would all work out in the end?”

    Judging solely from I’ve read on this site, “how we got here” is a charitable euphemism for “is this really a functioning, autocephalous church by tradition and vision for the future?” Perhaps its people are not “with” the bishops and refuse to experience the grace they bring. Perhaps its bishops – certainly not as disparagement of their high calling – lack the ability to provide κεφαλή and vision. Conversely, perhaps this church is too immature and undirected as to “produce” hierarchs with such abilities. Is it possible that, in the best interest of the Church, this local “experiment” seek the wise omophor of a more mature church?

    I cannot begin to speculate as to the answers, though I am reasonably convinced that the time for rhetorical “solutions” has long past. St. Tikhon of Moscow stated at the beginning of the Revolution, that for the Church, “the night would be long.” And apparently in America, no one set the alarm.

    * (St. Cyprian of Carthage, “Epistle 68:8,” in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.)

    • Thank you M for fleshing out Cyprian’s quote. I believe that essence of it regardless. I got it from essays which described St Cyprian’s work. I believe it was this saint as well who said “He does not have God for a Father if he does not have the Church for a mother.

  3. John Christopher says

    The historical narrative put forth in this piece is simply wrong. “Central administration” has been a part of local Orthodox Churches since the time of St. Athanasius the Great. It continues in all modern Orthodox Churches save, perhaps, Sinai, where there is nothing but the center.

    • JC, in the late Roman Empire, when there was one nation, there were five patriarchates. There were many more autocephalous churches in fact as there was much territorial independence. There was no Roman Curia and not one of the patriarchates exercized authority over the other.

  4. Alexey Karlgut says

    Oct. 10th, 2011

    We have paid $8.1 million in last three years in Central Church Administration Assessments (CCA)  ($2.7 million a year according to Strategic Plan for OCA, p. 19) from our parishes and dioceses. Current rate of Assessments for OCA is $105.00 per capita (person) per year. 

    Over 90 percent “is spent on administrative expenses – LESS THAN 10 PERCENT IS SPENT ON THE OUTREACH MINISTRIES OF THE CHURCH.” (Strategic Plan for OCA, p. 19-20)

    For those moneys we have received Absolutely Nothing of Christian Value (or Any value) to our parishes and dioceses, but continual administrative turmoil, attempts by factions on MC to remove Metropolitan, scandals, blog wars, divisions into camps (between administrative bodies – HS, MC, Central Staff, and even within those bodies – pro +Jonah, anti +Jonah, pro Stokoe, anti Stokoe, ‘appalled Four’, etc.) -resulting in direct loss of revenues, parishioners, and potential converts in our parishes and dioceses.    

    Their inability to work out their differences, respect each other as colleagues, come to common ground, and work for the greater good of the church, is shamelessly put on display for the OCA laity year after year. We pay a national circus tax, a tithe on our hard-earned incomes during a severe economic depression, so these guys can stab each other in the back and whine about it to their audiences. 

    I believe that reducing National (OCA) Assessments as set forth in a Resolution adopted by the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, WILL reorient our priorities and resources to diocesan and parish growth, from National Church waste.
    While I am certainly sympathetic to the OCA treasurer’s position, as expressed in Strategic Plan that suggests that OCA freeze CCA Assessments for next triennium at current level of $105 per capita, (2.7 Million a year), what she fails to understand is that cutting the assessment from the parishes does NOT necessitate cutting the budget commensurately … they just need to find other ways to raise funds.  Other jurisdictions — the GOA (Leadership 100), the AOA (Order of St. Ignatius), the ACROD (DDD Fund), all have other ways to subsidize their Church Budget.


    • Alexei, very well put. I’m glad you brought this up: a cutting of the assessment will not necessarily result in a diminution of income, although in my opinion it should. This is because I do not believe in a strong central administration. The Metropolitan does need a chancery, as do the other bishops. Like theirs’, his should be oriented towards administrating the Archdiocese of Washington. To the extent that it needs to be somewhat larger, it makes sense that the other dioceses should pony up perhaps 1% of their total income. The only reason the Metropolitan would need a few more employees than the dioceses is because his would have to coordinate travel his travel plans and those of the other bishops. It’s almost ceremonial at that point.

      Now I believe that the dioceses should have as many employees as they see fit. It is the dioceses’ responsibilities to have summer camps, orphanages, parochial schools, hospitals, etc. I’m rather chary of the concept of stavropeghial institutions although I imagine for the sake of expediency that SVS should remain stavropeghial. Ideally, every diocese should have its own seminary (among other things). Monasteries should be diocesan as well.

      In the DOS, each parish tithes (literally) to the diocesan chancery. Perhaps in the interest of maintaining national ministries each parish should give only 9% to the diocese and 1% to Washington, or 10% to the diocese and the diocese give 10% in turn to Washington. Something equitable could be worked out.

      Regardless, the central chancery should be in Washington, DC, near the Metropolitan. Hey, here’s an idea: build a monastery in DC, make the Metropolitan the Abbot of the monastery, and have the monks be the national church’s functionaries.

      Evangelism begins at the parish and it is best supported by the diocese. This has been proven time and time again in the DOS.

      • Hey, here’s an idea: build a monastery in DC, make the Metropolitan the Abbot of the monastery, and have the monks be the national church’s functionaries.

        Actually, the Metropolitan already has a brotherhood of monks in DC, so he’s already a couple steps ahead of you. 🙂

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          That is true, but I do not who they are.

          • Doesn’t one of them go to or teach at SVS or something? I heard about them from somebody at my old parish and she said she met one of them there.

      • Fr, forgive me, I should have used your title when addressing you.

    • While I am certainly sympathetic to the OCA treasurer’s position, as expressed in Strategic Plan that suggests that OCA freeze CCA Assessments for next triennium at current level of $105 per capita, (2.7 Million a year), what she fails to understand is that cutting the assessment from the parishes does NOT necessitate cutting the budget commensurately … they just need to find other ways to raise funds. Other jurisdictions — the GOA (Leadership 100), the AOA (Order of St. Ignatius), the ACROD (DDD Fund), all have other ways to subsidize their Church Budget.

      You’re absolutely right, Fr. Alexey. I really hope you will print out your entire comment and read it in front of the entire AAC.

      I was very glad to read Melanie Ringa had devised a budget for a $50 assessment after all. From the way Stokoe talked about her in his article, it sounded like the Metropolitan was treated as being ridiculous for even suggesting that they prepare for the possible passage of the resolution.

      When I was looking over the info about the finances for the AAC, I noticed that they are going to try to bring FOS out of its present mostly-dormant state. That’s a nice start, but as you said, what they really need to do is curb the waste of funds at the top. It’s pathetic that they spend $30,000 on the stupid lawn around the chancery, but only $10,000 on charity. Stokoe opined that this was because Kondratick had run off with money earmarked for charity, but to me it makes no sense to cut off charitable contributions because of that. The problem there was giving too much unchecked power to chancery staff. If they want to whine, cry, and stab each other in the back, they can do it on their own dime. I’m only paying for them to do God’s work.

      If every other institution in the OCA tithes, the central administration should as well – 10% (at least) of its revenue should go to charitable contributions, or be re-invested where needed within the Church. At the current revenue level, they should be giving almost $200,000 to charity, or at least directing that money towards mission grants and helping the seminaries. Think of how much good that would do!

    • Jane Rachel says

      Reading these comments, I was reminded of the Dayton family of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They founded their corporation on Christian principles. You can see the results. Success anywhere, all the time, no matter how large or small, comes only with integrity as its base. Target Corporation, which still gives a percentage of their profits away, was founded by Douglas Dayton. I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like today if all corporations followed the Dayton family’s example.


      Glad Tithing: Personal and Corporate

      George Draper Dayton (1857-1938); Kenneth Nelson Dayton (1922- ); Donald Chadwick Dayton (1912-1989); Bruce Bliss Dayton (1918- ); Wallace Corliss Dayton (1921- ); Douglas Dayton (1924- )

      In 1921, George Draper Dayton, the founder of a Minneapolis-based retail empire, received a letter from a minister named Charles Bronson. Since seminary, Bronson had received charitable support from George Dayton and he expressed his appreciation by writing “most men spend all their time making money. You evidently spend not a little in thinking how to give it away.”

      George Dayton subsequently shared a copy of Bronson’s letter with his children and added, “I can truly say to you, my children, that nothing brings as much pleasure to your father and mother as the doing something for others. Our hope is that our children will catch the spirit of it and find great pleasure in their passing on to others some of the good things which God has brought to them.”

      True to his wish, George Dayton’s descendents caught his philanthropic spirit and became important philanthropists.

      Grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. George Dayton, 1924As for a specific approach to giving, George Dayton promoted tithing because he believed it caused one to deliberately plan and budget one’s annual philanthropy. In a business tithing fashion, five of George Dayton’s grandsons followed his teachings. In 1946, these five Dayton brothers established a Dayton Company (Dayton’s) policy of annually giving 5 percent of the corporation’s pretax profits to charity, which was the maximum amount deductible under the federal tax code. Kenneth Nelson Dayton, who would become one of the most prominent Dayton grandsons as well as the head of the reconstituted Dayton Hudson Corporation, would even give public speeches promoting corporate philanthropy and the “five percent solution.” In a 1980 address in Houston, Kenneth Dayton stated, “At Dayton Hudson we’re convinced that corporate philanthropy, combined with a comprehensive program of community involvement, is not only good for our city, it’s good for our business and it’s good for the free enterprise system. Ultimately, the Dayton Hudson Corporation would not only become a corporate philanthropy leader but also illustrate the value of such giving when it faced a hostile takeover.

      The Family Tree

      George Draper Dayton was born in New York in 1857. He was raised in a deeply religious home, and intended to have a career in the ministry. In 1881, then a young businessman, he moved to Minnesota to take over a troubled bank there. He later became a silent partner in a dry goods store in Minneapolis and, with his son David Draper, bought out the store and ended up in the retail business. They renamed the store Dayton’s. The father-son team kept it prospering, even during the Depression. Family members managed the business until 1983, when Kenneth Dayton retired. In 2000, the corporation renamed itself the Target Corporation.

      As the Dayton family’s wealth grew, they proved ample bearers of the family giving legacy. Accounts note that the Daytons gave a portion of their company profits to charity before the Dayton brothers instituted the policy of giving 5 percent of their pretax profits to charity in 1946. At that time, Dayton’s was the second U.S. corporation, after S&H Green Stamps, to institute such a giving policy.

      This corporate philanthropy program began at a time when the concept of corporate giving was viewed as suspect and only those gifts that clearly illustrated a direct benefit, such as a community service that aided its employees, were generally accepted. Even by 1974 the Filer Commission stated that only 6 percent of corporations gave more than $500 and corporate givers averaged 0.85 percent of pretax profits.

      When the corporation went public in the late 1960s, the Daytons made it clear to investors that they viewed the 5 percent philanthropy program as an important part of the company’s long-term profitability. The Daytons subscribed to what is known in management circles as the stakeholder model; they argued that the health of a corporation, as well as the free enterprise system, revolves around careful attention to all its stakeholders: stockholders, customers, employees and community.

      With the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, the Dayton Hudson Foundation head, Wayne Thompson, created the Five Percent Club (later named the Minnesota Keystone Program), which initially represented a group of 26 Minneapolis corporations that promised to give 5 percent of their pretax profits to charity. By 1996, 147 Minnesota corporations participated at the 5 percent level and 90 more at the 2 percent level.

      In 1987, the Dayton Hudson Corporation faced a hostile takeover bid from the Dart Group. In that year, the goodwill and social capital built up by decades of corporate philanthropy paid off in ways unimaginable to the Dayton family members. Just after the takeover was announced, a legion of charities, employees, customers and others lobbied for Dayton Hudson’s cause. The Minnesota governor called a special session and the legislature enacted anti-takeover laws to help the Dayton Hudson Corporation.

      The Legacy

      In the twentieth century, Dayton family members clearly upheld the legacy of George Draper Dayton, the man who started a retail empire but also encouraged all to carefully plan their philanthropy and make substantial gifts. George Dayton’s grandsons made his company into a national corporate philanthropy leader.

      As usual, I struggle to put what I want to say into words and am often embarrassed after I post something here. I wish, I wish things would change. The above article tells a story that has been proven over time. Please understand. Learn from the Dayton family. Apply their principles and methods to the OCA administration and see what happens. It’s all about integrity from the top down. Leadership in giving, caring, and reaching out with all that we have and all that we can give to the world around us.

      • Jane Rachel says

        Any business that makes enough money to give back, whether non-profit or not, should give back. Corporate profits in the United States amount to several trillions of dollars. If U.S. companies followed the proven and highly respected Minnesota Keystone Program, whose member companies give 2-5 percent of their profits back into their communities, it would transform the world. No wonder the rest of the world is fighting mad at us.

  5. I would never pretend to be an historian. However, it seems to me that it is neither necessarily logical nor illogical, canonical nor non-cononical for Washington, DC to be the seat of what in any other autocephalous Church would be the Patriarch of the United States. After all, there was more than one Patriarchate in the Roman Empire even though that empire (for the most part) constituted one government.

    It seems to me that what constituted a Patriarchate (and those more learned will no doubt correct me) was simply a major city, a regional “hub” (if you will) around which all commerce and culture naturally revolved in a given geographical area. Thus it was natural that the major cities (Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, and later Constantinople) became Patriarchates. These cities had influence of all kinds and therefore wealth.

    And it is precisely on the matter of wealth that our present models (in both the OCA and in the exarchates in the U.S.) are the exact reverse of what Patriarchates used to be. Instead of being “Patriarchs” (in other words fathers) that support and assist their children because they have the resources to be a “Patriarchate”, our models of centralization become little more than taxing bodies that take rather than give. This may be a reality that is unavoidable in our day, but it is nevertheless true.

    And so I agree with George that a Diocesan Model is the only thing that makes sense in our current environment, the only model that allows for the richer to assist the poorer so that love can flourish and the Gospel can be spread.

    • Thank you Brian. My only quibble is that though you are correct in the main (as I pointed out in my response to JC above), I think it is vital that the Primate of the American Church reside in the capital city. The patriarchs of the Old World churches reside in their capital cities even if they are not patriarchs per se (e.g. the Archbishop of Athens). While I concede your point about major regional hubs (Alexandria) becoming patriarchates, we must remember that the First Among Equals was the Bishop of Rome. This was so even when Rome had disintigrated to being little more than a ruined village of 50,000 people (as opposed to what it was at its height). Rome was no more a regional hub than Corinth but because it was the Queen City with a Senate, its bishop remained primatial.

      More to the point, the existence of an American metropolitan in the city of Washington can help evangelize the seat of federal authority.

  6. Fr John Parker says


    Your claim that the DOS supports the $50 plan is unsubstantiated. Perhaps in the light of transparency you would state clearly who told you our “delegation” supports this?

    Please remove reference to our Diocese and our ‘delegation’ from your speculation.

    Fr John Parker
    Holy Ascension Orthodox Church
    Mt Pleasant, SC

    • Fr Parker,

      With all due respect, who are you speaking for? Have you been anointed to be the spokesperson for the DOS on this matter, or are you speaking only for yourself and thus insisting from that singular standpoint demanding that George “remove reference to our Diocese”?

      I have every confidence in the good people of the DOS that they get it and have figured it out for many years regarding the OCA assessment. As you well know, it is a moot point in the DOS because you don’t have to worry about it as a priest of the DOS. You don’t collect one thin dime of OCA assessment from your parish. You know full well that such a burden was taken off your list of parish considerations because the DOS has a tithing system to the diocese and the diocese has assumed that burden TOTALLY.

      So, with all due respect, your post is pure pompous postering and since it is your singular opinion, please speak for yourself and say so in the future.

      • igumen Gregory says


        you should read your posts before you sen them. With all due respect is how you begin and then you blast away at Fr. Parker. I think a bit more nipsis is in order>

        • Point taken, good father. Please disregard “With all due respect” and just let my comments blast away at Fr. Parker. No point in trying to sugar coat what I wrote.

          • Let’s try not to seem like an anti-clerical bunch, Jacob. I am sure Fr. John meant well by asking George to revise what he’d said. I think nicer phrasing is in order for both you and him.

            • Helga,

              I bow my head to you. I stand corrected, not for what I said but how I said it. Sorry Fr Parker for my tone but I stand by the substance of my comments on the wisdom of the good people of the DOS.

              Please forgive.

        • Igumen, I believe that while Jacob may have been a little too intemperate in his language, his fundamental point needed to be stressed. And that is that thanks to the venerable +Dmitri of Blessed Memory, we stopped collecting this hated “head tax” (shades of the Turkokratia!) about 4-5 years ago. This puts a whole new perspective on this from the point of view of other dioceses, especially NY which is pioneering the new plan. I’m not a pastor but if I was, I could not in all honesty go to individual parishioners and ask them to pay a $105 assessment on top of what they already give. Even in the best of economic times (which this ain’t) that’s unconscionable.

          As for Spasi’s comments that the AAC is going to be nothing but a well-orchestrated +Jonah hate-fest, I pray that that assessment is overdrawn. If it is, then the MC will have shown itself to be an even more base organization than it is already perceived to be. That is has mishandled monies, pursued boondoggles, and placed the Church in hock to pay for failed lawsuits is ultimately nothing but money lost. Money can always be made in the future but hatred displayed to an innocent bishop who manifests Christ is unconscionable. At that point, I would have to join Spasi in screaming at the top of my lungs: ANAXIOI!

          • Read the reports, George. Here’s a few excerpts of the setup:

            From the Interim Chancellor’s report (Bp Melchisedek):

            His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah’s visits to the Chancery have been infrequent, but when they did occur, we always met to discuss current situations.

            From the Director of External Affairs report (Fr Kishkovsky):

            In April 2009 Metropolitan Jonah, in a sermon given in Dallas, Texas, offered pubic criticism of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the position taken by the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the Orthodox “diaspora.” Before long, His Beatitude understood that he had to offer a public apology to His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew. This apology was posted on the Orthodox Church in America’s web site at the end of Holy Week 2009. An immediate consequence of the Dallas sermon and the resulting controversy was the cancellation by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the scheduled visit of
            our Primate to the Patriarchate. Efforts to renew the planned visit have been

            Until April 2009 it was the understanding that the Orthodox Church in America, although not recognized as an autocephalous church by all the Orthodox Churches, would nevertheless be a full participant of the Assembly of Bishops. This meant that the Primate of the OCA would be seated in the Executive Committee of the Assembly. In May of 2009 the message was conveyed that this formula would not be applied. While
            the bishops of the OCA were all invited to the Assembly, the OCA would not have a seat on the Executive Committee.

            In the course of 2009 His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, in addresses at the Assemblies of the Diocese of the South and the Diocese of Canada, offered his initial thoughts on his vision of the status of the Orthodox Church in America, suggesting the possibility of relinquishing the autocephaly in favor of “maximal autonomy” within the Moscow Patriarchate.

            One result of the conversations initiated by Metropolitan Jonah on the subject of “maximal autonomy” was the Encyclical of the Holy Synod affirming the autocephaly of the OCA.

            From the Metropolitan Council “Crisis Committee” report:

            It was decided at the recent Metropolitan Council Meeting to
            delay the release of this report until the Holy Synod had an opportunity to review and report on its contents. It will be released online after the meeting of the Holy Synod.

            From the Metropolitan Council “Ethics Commitee” report:

            In 2011, six different ethics complaints were filed against one person in the central administration of the OCA. The Ethics Committee considered the complaints and reduced them to four different complaints. The Committee has been working in close cooperation with the
            Holy Synod regarding these issues.

            The lynch pin in all of this will be the release of the so-called “Crisis Committee” report. It will the the instrument used to crucify Jonah. It will be released soon enough to maximize negative feelings about him, to damage his reputation among delegates, and to bring discontent to a crescendo in order to effectively remove him either at the AAC or immediately afterwards. The result of this will be a series of Locum Tenens who will administer the OCA as nothing more than a figure-head, while the power-brokers call the shots. It’s coming – sit back and watch.

            • Spasi, that’s revolting information, but somehow I’m not surprised. Is there anything we can do for Metropolitan Jonah, besides pray? I’ve been sporadically working through some of Stokoe’s crap to poke holes in his false narrative, but I’m not sure how to post it online where people will see it and read it.

              The problem we’ve all been dancing around is that Stokoe, while problematic in and of himself, is really little more than a tool. He’s like a cancerous lymph node, but the cancer came from somewhere else. You have to find them both and cut them out, and often you have to nuke and poison everything around it to make sure you killed it all.

              So who’s the cancer?

              • Carl Kraeff says

                I have not read the reports but assume that Spasi is quoting them correctly. That said, it is clear who is the problem. For the good of the Church the Metropolitan should resign, the sooner the better. Otherwise, his partisans, like you and many others on this site, will continue to hunt like ravenous wolves to find and crucify the “cancer” and all real and perceived “enemies” of the Metropolitan. Bottom line: your admirable loyalty is misplaced; work to preserve the Church and not one person.

                • This is not about Met Jonah. This is about respect for the good order of the Church. Orthodox Christians respect and show honor to their bishops, and especially to the first among them. We don’t discard them when we don’t like their political stance or because they might need growth in managerial areas. We don’t take them out back and shoot them like a sick dog. The larger concern is not with Met Jonah, it’s about what and who is behind his ouster and their sinnister agenda. Every bishop of the Holy Synod must know that whoever takes Jonah’s place is next on the hitlist. If they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you. It’s about the takeover of the OCA by the Metropolitan Council, having become much too powerful and influential. We’re no longer a church led by bishops. And that’s why the OCA is tanking. People are not stupid, but they won’t wait around for the end. They’ll go elsewhere, where they find peace and quietness and good order. The OCA hasn’t been peaceful in almost a decade. This latest blunder will not bring peace, it will bring further destruction.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Very well put Spasi. Carl, your brief if very naive and unecclesiastic. In addition, you bring nothing forward but simple assertions, that “+Jonah is the problem.” OK, you said it, now back it up, what criminal, unethical, immoral or uncanonical act did +Jonah do that causes you to view him as a “problem”?

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    I do agree with the following part of your post: “This is not about Met Jonah. This is about respect for the good order of the Church. Orthodox Christians respect and show honor to their bishops…We don’t discard them when we don’t like their political stance or because they might need growth in managerial areas.” Except for violations of Canon 34, the Metropolitan has not done anything that is subject to deposition. The Holy Synod has decided not to pursue canon 34 violations and deposition, and I respect the decision. I have only called for +Jonah to resign his position as the Metropolitan; I have not called for his deposition and he can contribute to be an arch-pastor at a diocese that the Holy Synod assigns him to.

                    You may have noticed that I do not agree with your statement that we should honor our bishops and “especially,,the first among them.” Granted that the Metropolitan is nominated by an AAC and elected by the Holt Synod, I do not see any need to respect him any more than any other bishop. Just basic ecclesiology

                    The OCA is a conciliar church, a hierarchical church, a church with a Holy Synod, All American Council, Metropolitan Council, national officers, dioceses, deaneries and parishes. That is who we are; not EP, MP, or any other local church but our distinct yet thoroughly Orthodox Church. If any one has problems with the way that we are set up, there are proper procedures to follow to effect proposed changes. None of these procedures calls for the character assassinations and paranoid fantasies that are present on this site.

                    • Where is your defense of “All American Council, Metropolitan Council, national officers” leading us? Is it making us better Orthodox Christians, or is it simply creating a Church in the image and likeness of a more democratic society that eschews hierarchical authority? When the OCA finds itself on the outside looking in, Carl, where will your posturing be then? When the OCA is marginalized as a fringe organization by the rest of the Orthodox world, you’ll be grasping to your copy of the Tomos for what purpose? How much we in the OCA like to point fingers at the MP – but when you go to Russia you learn what true respect for hierarchical and clerical leadership is, and you’re humbled by their deep and abiding piety to simply be members and servants in the Church of God. What we’ve lost in the OCA is the warmth of being in the family of God. We’ve replaced ministry and evangelism with investigations and crisis committees. We’re creating a Church that never, ever existed except in the textbooks and imaginations of academics. We’ve ignored the dramatic lessons of “mainstream” churches who wanted to be relevant and inclusive and became just another worldly organization, all the way to irrelevancy and extinction.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      We can argue about this until the cows come home. But, to be clear, are you saying that you are rallying behind the Metropolitan as he is valiantly leading the OCA back to “regular” Orthodoxy, regardless of the way that he is waging this “valiant” effort?

                      BTW,. when you reply to me, would you be kind enough to direct me to the source of your quotations of the various reports that you earlier cited? Thanks, Carl

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Spasi–I am not, nor is anyone else, advocating a Church that “eschews hierarchical authority.” I have opposed monarchical exercise of hierarchical authority but the two are not the same, are they? I have always marveled at the vast contradiction between piety that you see amongst the Russians and the other side of that coin. Today, only 4% of baptized Orthodox in Russia attend church on a regular basis. In the same vein, the deeply inspiring Russian piety did not prevent the overwhelming majority of believers to apostatize after the October Revolution. As Metropolitan Hilarion asked “How did it happen that the country known as ‘Holy Russia’, with such a long history of Orthodox Christianity, was in a very short period of time turned by the Bolsheviks into ‘the first atheist state in the world’? How was it possible that the very same people who were taught religion in secondary schools in the 1910s with their own hands destroyed churches and burned holy icons in the 1920s? What is the explanation of the fact that the Orthodox Church, which was so powerful in the Russian Empire, was almost reduced to zero by its former members?” He does provide the answers in his insightful essay, Atheism and Orthodoxy in Modern Russia”

                      My point is that the grass is not greener elsewhere. From my perspective in Diocese of the South, OCA parishes here following truly Orthodox praxis; no harm on piety from our conciliar model.

                    • “Monarchical”? Why do you insist on a model which doesn’t provide for a leader? Too Papal? It’s ridiculous, really. Why must the first bishop be in a position which has become chiefly ceremonial – a man who has to ask 60 people for permission to lead a church? “Our conciliar model,” as you put it, is completely novel in the history of the church. Where’s the biblical precedent for it? Where’s the historical precedent for it? Which Father talked about anything like a Metropolitan Council? Which ancient church implemented such a thing from the time of the apostles?

                      The grass is indeed greener, elsewhere, Carl. Maybe you weren’t around 30 years ago, but I was. I remember when ROCOR was “sectarian.” Now, we’re getting a taste of our own medicine. Pride goes before a fall.

                • Oh, Carl, Carl, Carl. You clearly didn’t bother to read Spasi’s post very carefully, because you’re taking all of the criticisms of Metropolitan Jonah at face value. That’s rather silly and short-sighted of you.

                  The critical aspect of the “maximal autonomy” remarks that people like you and Stokoe miss time and again is that the possibility of sacrificing the Tomos and returning to Moscow is only a stop-gap measure, intended to lead to the creation of a fully-united, autocephalous American Church. Moscow has said time and again that they are not interested in taking the OCA back underneath it. The only way the Tomos would be revoked is so that a new autocephalous Church could be born in place of the OCA. Other jurisdictions are not interested in simply submitting themselves to the OCA, because it would basically be saying that they were here uncanonically in the presence of an autocephalous local Church. The Tomos issued in 1970 is very explicit in saying that it does not make those other jurisdictions uncanonical, and that the Tomos itself is only issued in order to facilitate local unity of Orthodox in America. Notice also that this is an extremely kenotic move on the part of Metropolitan Jonah, who would not necessarily be head of that united Church. What he’s talking about is sacrificing his own power for the good of the Church. If that’s poor leadership, then God grant us many more ‘poor’ leaders.

                  Do you remember when Metropolitan Jonah made that “public criticism” of the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate? He was responding to a vicious and incendiary attack on the OCA’s autocephaly, not to mention all of us who have no country to be “diaspora” of. This was a brilliant defense of the OCA’s autocephaly as well as the right of all American Orthodox, OCA or not, to have a truly autocephalous, united American Church. I am only sorry that to keep the peace, Metropolitan Jonah was the one who gave an apology, when he should have been the one to receive an apology from Fr. Elpidophoros and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

                  The EP may have punished the OCA because of what Metropolitan Jonah said, but that does not mean Metropolitan Jonah was in the wrong for what he said. The Patriarchate of Constantinople has been foisting an overreaching, untraditional interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon on the rest of the Orthodox world for nearly a century. Metropolitan Jonah offered a long-needed challenge, despite the huge toll it would take on his personal standing and the earthly dignity of the local Church he leads. Metropolitan Jonah showed himself to love Christ and his flock more than the accolades of men, and for that, I honor him.

                  • Helga, you got it right, as usual. The Stokovites continue to try and rewrite the history of the OCA and Jonah has not been playing by their rules, so, he has to go!

                    It should be noted, again, that in 1999, Met. Theodosius stood before the assembled Church meeting at the AAC in Pittsburgh and said that “the OCA would be willing to give up her autocephaly IF it meant it would lead to a united Orthodox Church in America.” That comment was met with a standing ovation by the assembled. But Wheeler was not pleased, nor Stokoe, and they vowed to take Theodosius down and Kondratick.

                    Stokoe, Wheeler, Kishkovsky, Garklavs, Melchesedek want the OCA to continue as independent so they can use it as their play toy; an experiment to teach the world how their model of a local Church is the only way for the rest of the world’s local Orthodox Churches to follow. They are that arrogant. You don’t have to mine very deep to discover this. Kishkovsky, in particular, has reacted most aggressively against Jonah because he is literally fighting for his privileged life so he can continue to travel the world peddling his ecumenical baloney. Kishkovsky is addicted to this style of life.

                    No, Helga, you and Spasi are hitting the nail on the head. Those like Carl are too invested in seeing all the OCA’s ills are because of Jonah. We know that is not the case. Jonah is part of their problem because he was bold enough to try and move the Church away from the course that Stokoe and Wheeler put it on. They are still not giving up. The job offer to Jillions is proof of that.

                    The fight continues and the experiment of the OCA may fail, but the dream of a truly united Orthodox Church in this country should never die.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      I was initially disgusted by your post but have reconsidered. I am now deeply disturbed by what you wrote, especially the sentence “Stokoe, Wheeler, Kishkovsky, Garklavs, Melchesedek want the OCA to continue as independent so they can use it as their play toy; an experiment to teach the world how their model of a local Church is the only way for the rest of the world’s local Orthodox Churches to follow..” And yet, you accuse them of being arrogant!!!!!??

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Helga–May I to respond to your points one by one and give my own grades for +Jonah’s performance on two simple criteria: his position on the substance of the matter and how he handled the matter (process).

                    1. I do take the reports at face value for two reasons: First, they are official reports and second, they were submitted by people that I trust and value. They indicate that there are problems with the way that +Jonah is handling his duties as the Metropolitan. I refuse to indict all of the CA folks and the MC just because they have problems with +Jonah. Grades: Substance–unknown; process-F.

                    2. Regarding “maximal autonomy,” I disagree with +Jonah 100%. But, that is not the problem with him expounding on this at various public fora. The problem is that he is flying solo, going rogue, doing his own thing, leading, (however one may wish to describe his actions)–that is he is not doing his job as the Presiding Bishop of the Holy Synod, or the Metropolitan. The first and foremost responsibility that +Jonah has as the Metropolitan is to build consensus; on this matter, as Bishop Nikon reported to his own diocese, most of the bishops on the Holy Synod were not in agreement with him. However, +Jonah for some unknown reason had expounded on maximal autonomy anyway. Grades: Substance–F, process-F.

                    3. Regarding +Jonah’s response to the Chief Secretary, I agree completely with the substance of his reply. The problem again is whether he did this on his own or in spite of advice to the contrary. We only have (a) Stokoe’s report that he had been advised not to and (b) a pattern of behavior that is in consonance with Stoko’e report. Grades: Substance–A, Process–Unknown (but leaning toward the lower end of the scale).

                    Finally, is there a link to the reports partially quoted by Spasi so that I may read them in their entirety? Thanks, Carl

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Helga, again I am indebted to you for fleshing out the context. In this case +Jonah’s speech in Dallas 2.5 years ago. People forget that HB was reacting rightly to that scabrous speech by the Archimandrite of No Monastery Elpidophoros who is now the Metropolitan of No Diocese, Turkey. As far as the GOA priests who were there when he delivered it, they were scandalized. I know from my sources at Holy Cross that he was taken to the woodshed soon after.

                    Kishkovsky, a Helmsman of Our Decline has no business criticizing +Jonah for the speech, as there was no possibility of HB meeting with the EP except in his own fantasy world. His grovelling spirit has not served us well and he cannot see that he has been played for a fool by the Phanar for decades, them always promising more than they are willing to give.

                    As for the other Stokovites, can you imagine what their reaction to +Jonah would have been had he NOT spoken in defence of the OCA after Lambrianides’ scandalous speech?
                    How about this for a headline: “+Jonah Won’t Defend OCA’s Autocephaly! He’s a Wimp!”

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      George–In your attack on Father KIshovsky (from whom you inexplicably stripped his rightful title), you sure sounded like another voice from Russia. Have you started a coordinated campaign with the he/she who will not be named?

                      PS: I thought that I was making a play on words derived from Harry Potter, but it occurs to me that your narrative is just as compelling and interesting as J. K. Rowling’s. The similarities about: evil forces (Stokovites), lonely but brave leader (+Jonah), an ineffective and generally clueless ministry (the Holy Synod) and finally the brave band of heroes who are fighting for truth, justice, and goodness (OCAT, George, Helga, Spasi, etc…). Can’t wait to see the first movie.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Helga, thanks for your diligence. Early on in Monomakhos existence, you helped provide evidence in the form of screenshots of Stokoe’s comboxes that proved his mendacity. Having said that, I think Spasi’s narrative is rather audaciously negative. This scenario for all we know is from the febrile mind of Stokoe’s original e-mail. We really don’t know if he’s just some internet loner living in his mother’s basement thinking that he has the ability to coordinate world events.

                Make no mistake, I do believe that there are backstabbers in Syosset who would love nothing better than for +Jonah to go away but even if we accept Stokoe’s scenario in its entirety, we must also accept the fallout that has happened since then. By this I mean:

                1. the expulsion of Bp Mark Maymon from Dallas and the incredibly long odds against him ever being a bishop on the Holy Synod,

                2. the exposure of the plot against His Beatitude,

                3. the exposure of the canonical ambiguities of +Melchizedek’s election as bishop,

                4. the rumblings about past indiscretions about some of the anti-+Jonah partisans,

                5. the crumbling of the united front of the so-called Appalled Four (+Tikhon being well-disposed to HB, +Nikon in his capacity as locum tenens of the South asking HB to pastorally intervene in the South on several occasions, and of course +Benjamin’s laudatory introduction about HB in the most recent book published by SVS),

                6. the inception of The New York Plan and its momentum (especially the fact that the OCA treasurer felt compelled to prepare a budget based on its possible passage at the AAC), which of course will result in the marginalization of Syosset in itself and as a locus of opposition to HB,

                7. the loss of OCAN’s credibility as a news source,

                8. the exposure of a homosexualist/liberal/ecumenist wing within the OCA and the fact that this cabal is the vanguard of the opposition to HB,

                9. the demarche given to the anti-+Jonah bishops/partisans by Moscow,

                all of which leads to the conclusion that:

                10. the idea of a “rotating” locum tenancy until the next AAC would be viewed as a complete laughing stock within world Orthodoxy

                all of which result in:

                11. the loss of moral authority of the anti-+Jonah jihadists and the possible derecognition of the OCA as an autocephalous church up to an including its loss of all canonical standing. This of course would result in the expulsion of the OCA from the Episcopal Assembly and lead to widespread acceptance of parishes and congregants in the MP or ROCOR.

                So what does this mean? In Clausewitz’s famous dictum “the best plans of an army crumble under first contact with the enemy.”

                The Stokovites never saw this coming.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  An American Orthodox Church will arise, but what the statusof her independence will be is up in the air. The very crux of an Independent and Autocephalist Orthodox Church arising in America has always been about the loss of money the Old World Sees would loose if America were allowed to go indepdent.

                  Now with the sharp economic downturn the picture of a United and Autocephalist Orthodox Church in America may, and I emphasize MAY occur, but just as Moscow has basically controlled the Autocephalist OCA so will Old World Sees continue to control a potential American Autocephalist Church.

                  The EP still has great control over the Church of Greece, Cyprus and Crete even though these church are indepdent or semi-independent from the EP.

                  Moscow still has control over the OCA even though the OCA is autocephalists.

                  This is the way of things, the way of our fallen world. In the end what people want is good Church order, stability and a good Orthodox Temple to pray in. Most people do not care, and have never really cared about the administrational structure of our Churches. Between, work, school, raising kids, loving each other in your marriage, taking care of your elderly parents, running a buisness, Church governmence is on the bottom of most people’s list of concerns.

                  Although, almightly God is always first, as He bestows the blessing on one’s life. Food for though. Although, Spasi is definitly telling the truth. For that I am truly sorry for all my brothers and sisters in the OCA.


                • Thanks, George, but I am not sure I can be so optimistic. You make several good points, but I have to say I wouldn’t put Bishop Nikon or Bishop Benjamin in Met. Jonah’s corner yet.

                  Bishop Benjamin did indeed write the foreward to Met. Jonah’s book, but as you can see in the Amazon preview of the front matter, it was dated June 1st, 2009. This predates an apparent falling-out that they have had, as evidenced by Bishop Benjamin’s reaction to Met. Jonah’s attempt to investigate Bishop Nikolai’s accusations. More recently, Bishop Benjamin has reportedly been demanding Met. Jonah’s resignation. Remember Fr. Fester’s email to Met. Jonah saying that Bishop Benjamin was the one who deserved to be put on a leave of absence? Also, don’t forget the anti-Metropolitan resolutions from the diocesan council of the Diocese of the West in March, which were reportedly rammed through by Bishop Benjamin.

                  The only reason Bishop Mark was taken away from St. Seraphim’s was because the consensus of the people at the cathedral was so overwhelmingly against him. Stokoe still plays this as a victimization of Bishop Mark for being “insufficiently pro-Jonah” in the eyes of “Team Jonah”. Note also that Bishop Mark wasn’t removed from the DOS; he was merely sent to the other cathedral. And finally, note that despite the fact that Bishop Mark was and remains an auxiliary bishop to Met. Jonah, Met. Jonah apparently cannot bring him back to the Diocese of Washington on his own initiative, but had to defer to Bishop Nikon just to move him to a different place within the DOS.

                  Speaking of authority he’s no longer “allowed” to exert, Met. Jonah also cannot fire chancery staff on his own initiative, despite being explicitly given the authority to do so by the human resources handbook of the OCA. His authority to fire Fr. Garklavs should have been uncontested, and he should have been able to remove Bishop Melchisedek (the one who hired Fr. Garklavs as a “consultant”) as interim Chancellor. Instead, the “Synod” (that is, a simple majority of diocesan bishops) issued a resolution placing authority over chancery staff with themselves. Read over those resolutions from the May meeting again – they’re all intended to castrate the Metropolitan, and they all remain in effect.

                  Also, I’d suggest rereading Met. Jonah’s February draft speech to the Synod. Stokoe unwittingly did us a great service in stealing and publishing that, as it’s the Metropolitan’s no-holds-barred assessment of the situation as of February. Notice how the chancery staff has so much contempt for the Metropolitan’s person and authority that they can even avoid paying him his salary.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Helga,a lot of what you say is true, probably all of it. The fact remains however that we only “know what we know,” what is officially reported. We don’t really know that +Nikon “yelled at +Jonah” at the MC, only that Stokoe reported that he did. Personally I tend to believe Stokoe in the broad outlines while of course necessarily questioning his motives.

                    What’s my point? That because we can’t really “know” what transpired, then if the coalition against +Jonah collapses (as it is presently collapsing for the most part), then the antagonists have plausible denyability. It’s only Stokoe, Wheeler and others who have publicly gone on a jihad who are hung out to dry.

                    If you will permit me to digress a little on the Bp Maymon thing, yes, you are right, he’s been “exiled” to Miami but I’m fairly confident that he’s not ever going to be Bishop of the South based on the fact that the overwhelming majority of the deans and the priests can’t trust him because of his connection to Stokoe. And that’s sad because some of these priests have told me that he’s an otherwise “delightful” man. Very sad, tragic even. He could conceivably be elected as Bishop of Alaska but the official story as told by him was that because he suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, he can’t move to Alaska.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Herlga–I must thank you for confirming yet another of Stokoe’s much maligned reports. You said “Also, I’d suggest rereading Met. Jonah’s February draft speech to the Synod. Stokoe unwittingly did us a great service in stealing and publishing that, as it’s the Metropolitan’s no-holds-barred assessment of the situation as of February.”

                      When I had originally read that report, I prayed that Stokoe was wrong or that whoever gave the info had misheard +Jonah for I could imagine that a Metropolitan of the OCA could possibly say “Only I as Metropolitan have the responsibility for this Church as a whole, in the face of God.” Pope Gregory VII could not have said it better. Never mind the OCA Statute or Apostolic Canon 34. So sad and so unnecessary.

                    • That was a draft of the speech that the Metropolitan sent to Fr. Fester for him to look over. I would assume that Stokoe got it from Bishop Mark.

                      Just like Stokoe, you’re taking a quotation completely out of context to beat Metropolitan Jonah over the head with. What the Metropolitan said is that he means he’s the only individual in the OCA with regular oversight over the whole OCA, which is true. He was not challenging the oversight of the Holy Synod. He was just trying to give them a sense of the extra weight that has been put on his shoulders alone, even though they are all equal in dignity.

                      Your overwrought worship of Stokoe is getting on my nerves again.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Helga–I have read and read the article. It is still mind bogling to me than a Metropolitan of the OCA has so little regard, not only for the OCA Statute, but also for veracity. I’ll give you one jarring example. When he was ranting against the Metropolitan Council, he said “The Metropolitan Council is a body that has as its primary statutory responsibility to care and provide for the financial support of the central church administration, but also to create and support charitable institutions. It needs to be confined to these essential tasks, and stop trying to run the Church. I have had several members tell me that the Synod needs to take back the leadership of the Church. The MC is to carry out the decisions of the AAC, and assist the Synod and Metropolitan in doing so; but it is not and does not have the authority of the AAC.“

                      That was a metropolitan who has not read the basic document of the Church of which he is the protos. The Statute says “The Metropolitan Council is the permanent executive body of the Church Administration which exists for the purpose of implementing the decisions of the All-American Council and continuing its work between sessions.” Since the Holy Synod blesses the work of the AAC and the MC, any sucssed decision is inded similarly authoritative. So, it is plainly not true that the MC is not trying to take leadership of the Church; the Holy Synod has always been the supreme authority and will hopefully remain so (against the Metropolitan’s wish for the other bishops to submit to his Papish leadership). It is just as plainly clear that +Jonah does not know what he is talking about or is twisting the statutory language to suit his purposes. Is this Metropolitan unable to comprehend the English language, is he unable to undrstand basic governance principles, or is he willfully ignoring and/or misrepresenting the plain meaning of the Statute. I think that the likely scenario is that he is so self-oriented that he molds the truth to his likes and dislikes. Lord have mercy on us all.

                      I am sorry I am getting on your nerves. You may suspect that y’all have been getting on my nerves too. I keep on praying for y’all and I hope that you do the same for me. I have not given up on you or on +Jonah! I just want him to act on his own recognition that he is not a good administrator and to thus resign for the good of the Church.

                    • I didn’t realize that speaking against the Metropolitan Council was the new unforgivable sin in the OCA. And what exactly was it that Met Jonah said that was wrong in the above statement? That the Synod needs to take back the Church? That the MC should focus on financial support and charity and **needs to be** confined to these things? Is he not entitled to give his opinion? Is he not clearly hoping for what might be, for his vision of where the OCA should go? And what does his statement have to do with reading the statute? When you’re giving your opinion, who cares about the statute? He’s clearly implying that he disagrees with the statute on these points and it should be changed. Many of us have been saying that for years, and I’m praying fervently for it now. Am I going to be taken to the woodshed too for not understanding English and “basic governance principles” (whatever that has to do with it, I’ll never know)?

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Can you believe it? Stokoe did us “a service in stealing it”? What else do we need to know about the Stokovites in Syosset and the MC? Carl are you so immoral that you approve of common theft? Where will it stop Carl, grand larceny? How about fire-bombing the Cathedral? If not, why not?

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      George–I did not say that Stokoe stole it; I merely quoted Helga who said that, to include the “we should be thankful” bit. If you have an issue, take it up with her. In the meantime, have you ascertained yet how Spasi came across unpublished reports? Are they stolen or leaked? Or is Spasi the Metropolitan himself–the only person I know who could have come across such reports?

                    • All the documents are right here for the whole world to see. And to make it completely clear for you, look under the section entitled “Documents.” On the right hand side. Blue links. Click on them. A little finger will pop up. That’s them.

                      And I find it highly ridiculous that you’d think that I’m the Metropolitan of the OCA. Who’s talking conspiracy now? I highly doubt the way Syosset is running that the Metropolitan even saw these or gave his blessing for the majority of these reports before they were released. In fact, I’ll bet the farm he never saw them. Such an action shows a complete lack of respect for His Beatitude, but it’s indicative of the atmosphere at Syosset.

                      If I dared to write a report indicting my boss for all that ails the organization at my place of employment, I’d be quickly shown the door and I’d be out of a job. It’s called insubordination. But apparently in the OCA, insubordination to the first hierarch is a virtue.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Spasi–Finally you gave up your source for the reports. In retrospect I should not have goaded you with my underhanded “may be he is +Jonah” remark.

                      I just read the entire report of Fther Leonid Kishovsky and I see nothing exceptional in it; just an honest accounting from his point of view. Please note that he is not there to be the Metropolitan’s mouthpiece or his lackey–he is the Director of External Affairs and reports to the Holy Synod, albeit through the Metropolitan. I am sorry that you work in an organization that would fire you for telling the truth. I am happy to be a part of the Orthodox Church of America that does do so.

                    • I said Stokoe unwittingly did us a service by stealing the document because it contains a lot of information about the nature of the people working against the Metropolitan. Obviously, Metropolitan Jonah is probably the person most intimately acquainted with the extent and nature of Stokovism in the OCA, but he could never have said all this in public. The best he could do was tell his brother bishops, because the problem is eventually going to be a threat to them as well. Stokoe stealing and publishing the speech allowed the Metropolitan to tell everyone what was going on – and defend himself – without actively doing anything out of line for a monk.

                      Also, frankly, Stokoe’s commentary told us a lot, too – it shows Stokoe for the biased liar that he is.

                    • Of course you don’t see anything wrong with the report. How stupid of me to think that someone that works at the Chancery shouldn’t openly and repeatedly blame and cast in a bad light the Metropolitan of the Church. How un-American of me.

                      And it’s not about truth, Carl. It’s about respect and propriety. And frankly, there’s no evidence that Met Jonah’s words had any effect on the OCA not being included on the executive committee of the Episcopal Assembly. We can be quite sure the Ecumenical Patriarch had no intention of allowing that given the current status of the OCA.

                      However, I’ll answer your previous little swipe at Kondratick. I’ll guarantee you that had Kondratick been the chancellor, not only would Jonah have been on the executive committee, the arrangement of that room would not have been as it was. Because as it was, the OCA was seated so close to the exit and so far away from the head table, they might as well have been in another room. If you don’t think that was intentional, you know absolutely nothing about Byzantine politics. Kondratick would have insisted that the room be arranged in such a way that it would have given the impression that the OCA was at the front. Guaranteed.

                      But these clowns know nothing. And they get what they deserve.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Kondratick would have insisted that the room be arranged in such a way that it would have given the impression that the OCA was at the front. Guaranteed.

                      So out of my league, but so cool.

                    • Carl, I think you’re the one with reading comprehension issues, not Metropolitan Jonah. He said the Synod – not himself, but the Synod – needs to take back the leadership of the Church, rather than letting the MC run everything. The Metropolitan is not demanding that they submit to him, but that they recognize their own authority and dignity as bishops of the OCA and actually USE IT.

                      Also, I think Spasi is slightly mistaken, because as I see it, the Metropolitan was supporting the MC acting within the confines of the current statute. They are supposed to continue the *work* of the AAC between sessions – that is, they implement decisions made at the AACs – but they do NOT have the authority of the AAC. Metropolitan Jonah is completely right to ask them to step behind the boundaries of the Statute.

                    • Carl, there was never any question of Spasi “giving up the source” for the reports. They have been on the AAC website for God and everybody to look at for several days. I haven’t had time to go through them all yet, which is why I’m thankful Spasi posted about what they contain, but the reports were publicly released on the council website and publicized on You are just attacking Spasi in order to avoid confronting your own ignorance and failure to keep up with church news, other than what Stokoe force-feeds you.

                      And to elaborate on Spasi’s comments about respect and propriety, that doesn’t mean they should just ignore abuse and malfeasance if it comes from the Metropolitan, it means they ought to handle their disagreements with the Metropolitan with the respect due to a bishop of the Church. If a CEO, or a primate, really is causing severe problems by mismanagement, it can be handled and addressed while still giving that person the respect due to him for his office. The merits of the complaints against Met. Jonah are questionable, but even if they weren’t – even if Met. Jonah were as guilty as they claim – their cruel and disdainful treatment of the Metropolitan is unacceptable and abusive, and should not be used against anyone, much less a bishop of the Church.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Helga–I do agree with you and I apologize if I myself have strayed beyond the bounds of decorum. OTH, would you not agree that many folks, on both sides of this discussion, have not given the respect due to persons because of their office? I can find no better example of disrespect than the caricatures produced by our resident funny guy and the folks who encourage him. My problem, again, is that the appeal to respect to authority seems selective, that is, biased in favor of one of the many bishops, priests and church officials that have been players in our drama.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Igumen, your words are a wise reproach indeed. I think more “nipsis” is indeed called for. I’m just hurt that some of our spiritual elders have not shown any nipsis to our Metropolitan. Instead, if the reports are to be believed, they have acted in a ghastly fashion.

          Fr John, as for my blanket statement regarding the apparent solidarity of the Diocose of the South regarding their support for the New York Plan, I stand by it. Even though there has been no formal vote in anticipation of the AAC, it appears that at least as far as the majority of people in the South, there is broad support for it. Whether it passes or not at Seattle is not knowable at this point.

          And please note: I mean no defiance to you. I’m just asserting my belief which happens to be in accord with what I’m hearing from the various deaneries of the South (and what appears to be the sentiments of NY/NJ and the West).

  7. George Michalopulos says

    Thank you Fr for bringing forth another point of view. Please understand that like my hero, the great Ronald Reagan of Blessed Memory, I choose to paint in bold brushstrokes and not soft pastels. Of course I would not ask you to reveal the names of those in our Diocese who support the present regime so I ask similar forebearance. All I can honestly say is that from several quarters (including all deaneries) there is broad-based support for the New York Plan. It is gaining momentum.

    Having said that, I’m a veteran of a very similar thing in the GOA. In 2002, we OCL types were loaded for bear against the new “Patriarchal Charter” which unilaterally eviscerated the old charter and was imposed top-down. The powers that be were able to cut off debate and derail any consideration. In other words, they dodged a bullet. I think that may happen in Seattle as well. However, like the GOA, the handwriting for the present decrepit regime of eparchialism is headed for the dustbin of history, either this year or the next. I’ve seen this happen to the GOA which since 2002 has had fewer and fewer attendees at every subsequent biennial Clergy-Laity Congresses. (The last one in Atlanta had delegates from only 299 parishes (out of 549 total) –barely 50%.

    Or course the GOA is at least twice as large as the OCA so it still has a way to go before its own implosion but that should be cold comfort to the Stokovites who Think They Know Better How to Run a Church than Holy Tradition.

    If the New York Plan is not adopted, then their will be no more AACs because there will be no more OCA.

    • Just a point of clarification: In actuality, the supporting membership of the GOA is almost 6x that of the OCA, and the nominal membership of the GOA is easily 10x (or more) that of the OCA.

      The unlucky few who attend this year’s AAC in Seattle (about 525 at last count, as opposed to Miami which numbered about 2,500) will be treated to an unprecedented event orchestrated solely to publicly humiliate Metropolitan Jonah. The pathetically low turn out is a clear indicator of the lack of enthusiasm of parishes for the sustained infantile drama emanating from the Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod. My prayer is that brave souls will stand up and speak against this public crucifixion to come, not only for the sake of Met Jonah, but for the peace and quietness of the of God’s Holy Church.

      The most dramatic move to make this clear will be to support the reduction in the assessment to $50. The Metropolitan Council should answer and apologize to the entire Church for their failure to be good stewards of the money of hard-working Christians in allowing the disgraced former chancellor, Fr Garklavs, to continue to be paid $140,000 a year and for showing very few measurable results by the various departments. There is literally “nothing to show” for the millions of dollars that poured into Syosset. Having been given grain by the thousands of financial supporters of the OCA, the Central Administration and Metropolitan Council and handed us a stone.

      • Spasi,

        I believe you meant 2500 in Orlando, but I also believe that there were at least twice as many folks in Miami than are planning to go to beautiful Seattle.

        Another example of the incredible waste and bad judgement of the Metropolitan Council in the Mark Stokoe/Eric Wheeler new and improved OCA was the ill-advised hiring of Fr. Andrew Jarmus, who because the MC did not do its due diligence discovered that his immigration status coming from Canada made it impossible for him to be a full-time employee of the OCA. Thus, WE, the people who pay our OCA assessment had to eat his salary and buy him out of his contract to avoid legal ramifications. Nice job MC stewards!

        And what about the Blackbaud computer software system that cost over $100K and has never been fully implemented by the Chancery? Nice oversight MC!

        And what about the Kondratick countersuit which cost the OCA $750,000 ($500K in legal fees and $250K in a settlement? What was the point of flushing that 3/4 of a million dollars down the crapper? Thanks for taking care of our legal affairs, MC!

        Yes, paying Garklavs is the latest outrage of an Metropolitan Council, charged to watch over the finances of the Church but has been an failure in that duty.

        Why? Because they are too busy telling Jonah that he is “gravely troubled” or “unfocused” or “not up to the job” or whatever overreaching of their authority. Maybe that is why Faith Skordinksy got out when she did, one step ahead of the posse!

        Is there any wonder why people are saying enough. Metropolitan Council members, you do not deserve to be stewards of that much money any longer. You will now be stewards of less so that the life of the Church in the parishes and dioceses of the OCA can receive a much needed boost in a shift of focus and priorities and so don’t mismanage the funds given you by the parishes and dioceses.

        Shameful, MC. Shameful job. You get an “F” on my report card.

        • Yes, I’m sorry, you’re correct – Orlando.

        • Jim of Olym says

          I live in WA state, and attend an OCA parish that is helping put on the AAC. It is in Bellevue, not Seattle!
          And last Sunday I learned that over 700 people are signed up as delegates of one sort or another. The main hotel is filled and they are having to contract with other local hotels to give rooms to attendees. Also, the ‘Orthodox Mall’ is full up with over 70 vendors of everything from antimensia to klobuks and beyond. It should be an interesting time for all, in more ways than one!

          • Jim,

            Thanks for the correction but Seattle is easier to remember than Bellevue and the logo for the Council features the skyline of Seattle with the beautiful mountain backdrop. Nice logo but nothing about Bellevue in it!

            As to the 700, I am sure that includes observers because as late as two weeks ago at the Metropolitan Council meeting with 525 registered, a large number were not delegates but observers and vendors. But nonetheless, it is good that more people are registered, although the main hotel being sold out only means that the planning committee did not reserve more rooms than they could anticipate using. It is always easier to get an overflow hotel than it is to get more rooms from the host hotel.

            • Fr. Eric mentioned the “Seattle”/”Bellevue” issue in his podcast today. Apparently, on the East Coast, “Bellevue” tends to be associated with a mental hospital. Most people know where Seattle is, but not “Bellevue, Washington”. Also, I gather most people will be flying into Sea-Tac.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Helga, based on Spasi’s report, Bellevue may be the final word on the AAC.

                • If the AAC written reports are a harbinger of things to come, and if the word on the street is correct, then this council won’t be remembered for the rich displays, the Orthodox Mall, or beautiful mountains of Washington, as wonderful as those things are. It will be remembered as the council that publicly humiliated and ousted a Metropolitan that fell victim not to his own short-comings, but to a blood-thirsty power-hungry group of thugs that brow beat him into submission. It will be where the OCA takes a literal left turn, fulfilling the desires of a few academics and dreamers who envisioned the OCA to be the fulfillment of the Moscow 1917-1918 Council. Met Jonah just pressed too many buttons and raised too many red flags. You can’t openly speak about “maximal autonomy,” “realigning the Metropolitan Council,” “engaging society,” and “downsizing Syosset” without paying a very heavy price. Met Jonah questioned the OCA’s existence as an ecclesiastical sandbox for the pipedreams of the academic elite, wanting rather to create a dynamic, evangelistic and society-influencing church. You can’t have that agenda in today’s OCA and survive very long. They’ll call you mentally unstable and demand your removal.

                  • Heracleides says

                    Well said.

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    And sad.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    The GOA lost Spyridon
                    The OCA will soon loose Jonah.


                    establishment 2, Faithful 0.

                    Good luck guys, but the dye is already cast. I am signing off for the day.


                    • I am not sure about that. It seems to me that Stokoe is being defeated at just about every turn lately. He is far from winning the battle. We have to trust God in this. The reason that Stokoe is getting so frustrated and it is reflected in OCAN is because he is being exposed and his plans are not working.

  8. Fr John Parker says


    I do not contest that this $50 idea is “gaining momentum”. I have no measurable way to know.

    I repeat my request, however, that you remove your second phrase,

    That two dioceses…”have already decided that their delegations to the All-American Council will support it.”

    This is a false statement, at least as far as the Diocese of the South is concerned. We have made no such decision.

    Please remove this “broad brush” stroke, which paints a false picture of the facts.

    Fr John Parker
    Holy Ascension Orthodox Church
    Mt Pleasant, SC

    • To clarify Fr John’s point, I, too was surprised at George’s statement that the Diocese of the South and West had “decided” their delegations would support it. At the present time, representation at the All-American Council is at the parish level (each priest in a parish may attend, with up to one “lay” delegate, to include deacons, for each priest that attends). Selection of the lay delegates varies from parish to parish, and perhaps some parishes give guidance to delegates. However, there is no provision in the OCA Statute for dioceses to instruct parish representatives how to vote on business at the AAC.

      Thus, Fr John’s point: The DOS and DOW did not decide their delegations will do anything or not. It’s not a diocesan call. This is especially evident for those dioceses that will be conducting their diocesan assemblies AT THE AAC itself, since those dioceses (including the DOS) haven’t had a chance to render a decision in the first place.

      As for the $50 assessment, $105 is possibly too high, but $50 will push the OCA further into irrelevance. Funding the OCA chancery with donations from the well-heeled only re-institutionalizes the cronyism that’s been hampering us for years. (Just look at how the Greek Archdiocese looks the other way when its Archons take public position at odds with Church teaching.) It’s just another venue for buying access and influence. The idea that the chancery would be run in a way that furthers the interests of the entire OCA by monks under spiritual obedience to their abbot who also happens to be the primate seems rather doubtful.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Priest Basil, thanks for your clarification. I see my error now. Yes, you and Fr John are correct in that no diocese “directs” their delegates to vote one way or the other. Therefore I stand corrected and will make the necessary changes in due time. What I meant to say (again with “broad brushstrokes”) is that there is wide agreement within each of these dioceses (and apparently overwhelming agreement in NY/NJ) for the decrease in the assessment to $50.

        As for $50 possibly pushing the OCA “further into irrelevance,” I can’t see how it could be any more irrelevent than it is presently. The current back-stabbing campaign by the Syosset/MC axis against His Beatitude has all but demolished the raison d’etre for the OCA in the eyes of the other jurisdictions –to say nothing of its moral authority. After all, what body that bears the name of Christ can have leaders that engage in such atrocious tactics (to say nothing of hateful language) against their Primate? That there is credible talk that the AAC may be nothing but a circus of hate against His Beatitude only cements my contempt for those who would hold such unChristian attitudes.

        I do however take your point about the GOA and how it’s beholden to a form of “cronyism”; that it is essentially held hostage to the whims of the few well-heeled Archons. I think however that we would presume too much if we stated that this somehow forces the GOA to “[look] the other way when its Archons take public positions at odds with Church teaching.” Would that this were true but the current crop of bishops (tragically with only a few brave exceptions) are reflective of a liberal, ecumenist mindset that emanates from Istanbul itself. That most bishop-candidates are slavishly beholden to the secular powers-that-be became obvious to me when they salivated like Pavlov’s dogs at the prospect of gaining Turkish citizenship.

        But I digress. Regardless, a half-way measure of settling on (say) $75 won’t solve the problems that we face. In fact, like an addict who is given only two Methadone tablets a day when he needs four, it will only cause more desperation and possibly illegality.

        So we know what the problems are. What is the solution?

        If you don’t mind me saying so, the answer is not a strong central administration at all. A few local priests who are situated in the Archdiocese of Washington could take care of most of what actually needs to be taken care of by Syosset. By this I mean setting the Primate’s schedule, corresponding with foreign churches, interfacing with the other jurisdictions, etc. Not really much more than that. Since under this scenario they would already be salaried parish priests, they could be given stipends to attend to these affairs. All other programs could be outsourced to the dioceses. And I mean all other ministries. As for the Archives of the Church, why can’t SVS house them? The Archivist could teach at SVS. SVS (or St Tikhon’s) could also set the educational standards and materials for all Sunday Schools. As for office space in Washington, it’s cheaper believe it or not than what we pay in monthly maintenance at Syosset. And if we sell Syosset, then monies could be used for all other dioceses including retrofitting SVS to take care of the Archives.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Frs John and Basil, in the interests of fairness and objectivity, I made the necessary changes to the introduction as per your advice. I pray it meets with your collective approval.

          • Fr John Parker says

            Thank you, George.

            Perhaps I will have a chance to meet you at the AAC.

            I appreciate your making the change.

            Fr John Parker
            Holy Ascension Orthodox Church
            Mt Pleasant, SC

            • George Michalopulos says

              You’re welcome. I pray I gave you no offence either in the original posting or in any subsequent replies.

        • Martin Pendergrass says


          Please tell us how much space is needed to store the archives and which building at SVS could house them? Also, please tell me what the OCA Archivist would be teaching at SVS?

          Finally, can you tell me which parishes in the Metropolitan’s diocese pay full-time salaries complete with benefits which would allow for them to be stipend employees in the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America.



          • Geo Michalopulos says

            OK Martin, I’ll bite.

            As for the size of the Archives at SVS (or St Tikhon’s or St Stokoe’s basement), I imagine we’d need as much as space as we have now at Syosset. I think I mentioned something about retrofitting SVS (that means adding a room or a suite or a wing as needed). Also, the kids these days done tole’ me about this new teknolojy called “scanning.” I guess a couple of interns could work each fall term on scanning the various documents.

            As for the Archivist, what he could do. I dunno, he could be an archivist and get paid for it or he could be given a position teaching history if that’s more cost-effective.

            I guess you didn’t read my response. I thought it was obviou: the stipends would come from the assessments from the dioceses. How much should each stipendiary get for taking care of Chancery business? I dunno, how does $2000/month sound? I just pulled this number out of thin air. But let’s work with it. Let’s see, as Amos stated above, the DOS presently sends $211K/yr to Syosset. That’s $17,600.00/month. Under The New York Plan, this would be reduced to $115K/hr to Syosset. That’s $9500.00/month.

            Now, bear with me while we walk through this. If we have five employees for the Central Chancery in Washington DC (Youth Director, External Relations, Chancellor, Secretary, Legal Affairs), and each of these men are priests who have a full-time salary as rectors or associate priests, and each one of them were receiving a $2,000.00/mo stipend, the DOS alone could pay for the “salaries.”

            • Martin Pendergrass says

              the point I wanted to make is it is not helpful to propose hypothetical solutions to real problems.
              I am not saying any of your ideas are bad. But you make assumptions about the capacity of SVS and the Diocese of Washington D.C.

              Also, George, you really show an ignorance about the status of clergy in the OCA. I would venture a safe wager to say there is not a single large American City which could provide the 5 clerics on which you base your solution. Where I am from, one of three major american cities, with 10 oca parishes in the metropolitan area, i know that there are not five priests, making full time salaries with full benefits, who could even afford the time to also work at a chancery. Much less five clergy who fit the above plus just so happen to have the necessary skill set to do the jobs properly.

              So, what are you talking about?

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Well, they better start thinking fast because whether the assessment goes down to $50 this year or not, it’s coming down. At the rate the Keystone Kops in Syosset have run the OCA $50 is gonna start looking a lot better than $0 from defunct parishes.

                Snarkiness aside, the economic environment mandates that people start thinking smarter, leaner, and meaner. Yes, this means tightening our belts. I’ve done it in my life and eventually the ritzy crowd at Oyster Bay is gonna have to do it. They may not like it but you know what? I don’t either. I worked 67 hrs last week without complaint because I gotta job and I know at my age they’re are hungrier kids out their who’d love my job.

                As to your point that there aren’t five priests capable in the metro area where you live of doing the work of the Chancery, then I suggest an increase in evangelism. And with increased converts you get tithing. But wait, we can’t do that, because nobody in their right mind wants to join the Orthodox Clown Association the way the the Metropolitan Soviet runs things.

                • Martin Pendergrass says

                  All of what you said was fair. I agree, we all need to tighten belts and decide what we NEED as the church. Bishop Nikon once said it quite well, “we are living a champaign lifestyle on a beer budget”.

                  But there is a deeper problem. Why is it that there are clergy who are satisfied with holding such administrative positions in the church? Who goes to seminary for the purpose of being a church administrator and not being a pastor? If there are such people they are exactly the people you do not want in church administration. The Church does not need careerists. The Church needs servants. And as long as the positions in the administration of the church are filled through a candidate application process we run the risk of drawing the wrong candidates.

                  With regards to your comment on the need for evangelism: how is a priest suppose to evangelize if he has to spend his time working for the central church administration?

                  Your snarkly comment about the “Orthodox Clown Association” is most unnecessary. My parish is apart of the OCA and we are growing nearly every week. People want to join the body of Christ and that is what my parish offers. I am sorry if your parish there in Oklahoma is baptizing its converts into the Orthodox Church in America. But of course I don’t think that to be the case.

                  I love our OCA. I was born into, my father and mother straddled the Metropolia/OCA and my grandparents on both sides worked diligently to A. grow and maintain their parishes, and B. keep their parishes within canonical Orthodoxy and outside the hands of usurpers. But all the same it is clear in my mind what my priest and my fellow faithful are encouraging our neighbors, friends, seekers to become apart of, not the OCA but the Body of Christ. Heresy if you think otherwise.

                  And please top with the “converts” “tithing” thing. His Beatitude doesn’t even speak of tithing as much as he speaks of being a cheerful and plentious giver. My parish is made up of a large minority of converts. As a community our parish does not tithe. Individuals may, but our parish doesn’t and our priest consistently preaches on stewardship and of the necessity of giving our first offering to the church. Were our parish to tithe our income would go from appx. 30,000 a month to a little more than half that.

                  That’s enough for now. I appreciate the conversation. Let’s just be sure to keep it grounded in reality and for the good of the Church.

                  • Martin,

                    While it’s certainly commendable that your parish is growing “nearly every week,” and that your income in the parish is “$30,000” a month – there seems to be a disconnect between your knowledge of the life of priests in the three major cities and the life of OCA parishes in the three major cities. Your parish is atypical, and is probably one of only five parishes out of the 500 or so parishes in the OCA that’s bringing in that kind of money. Assuming you mean LA, NYC and Chicago, the OCA numbers in those cities is not impressive, especially in comparison both with the population in general and the more specifically, the Orthodox population. What is the supporting membership at the cathedrals of those cities? In each of them, it’s 100 members or less. I believe the latest number from the LA cathedral is 75 supporting members. The Chicago cathedral is probably more like 50 poeple. Compare that with the Greeks, Antiochians, ROCOR, and Serbian numbers in those same cities.

                    The point being, if you want this conversation “grounded in reality” then let’s look at the reality of the OCA on the whole and not be distracted by the outliers of parishes who are “growing every week.” The reality is that the OCA on the whole is not “growing every week.” In fact, it’s shrinking, quickly. The assessment numbers will soon be below 20,000. The trend in the OCA is not one of growth, it’s one of extinction, regardless of a few parish outliers in the data. The finances of the OCA at the national level are simply pathetic. The departmental work of the OCA has virtually grounded to a halt. The seminaries have their lowest new student numbers in decades.

                    The fact is, George’s ideas have merits. All of them center around the idea that Syosset as the center of the OCA no longer works – it is financially unsustainable, impractical, and it’s bleeding the OCA dry. There’s no value in having this large house in the middle of a very expensive neighborhood in Long Island which is difficult to access. There needs to be a different model in order serve the Church properly, keep the archives and documents in order, and keep the office of the Metropolitan staffed with a minimum amount of help in order to keep his essential travel schedule as the first hierarch. Everything else could go away and it really wouldn’t make much of a difference in today’s OCA. It’s all become a black hole into which we’re throwing money down.

                    So indeed, let’s talk about reality. Let’s talk about evangelism and growth. But let’s not be naive about the reality of where the OCA is headed as an institution, and about the perception of the OCA among both the faithful and the other Orthodox churches.

                    • Martin Pendergrass says

                      i don’t now, nor did I in my last post disagree with anything you have to say.
                      You are correct that my parish is very a-typical. But my parish priest is not a-typical for what a priest should be. And nothing about our location or parish is a-typical. We are as typical as it comes. So why my parish and not the Cathedral in Chicago or any other parish in the OCA? Why? because of the preist. That is another part of our problem, most of our priests are not creative, have little inspiration and for the most part fit more the role of the Levitical priesthood than anything else.

                      Until our bishops start taking seriously their role as manager of their clergy; until the bishops stop keeping priests in parishes that they do nothing with we will continue to have this problem no matter what the bishops, mc, central church does.

                      Look at the diocese of the midwest. For years not they have had the Parish Health Program which seeks to revitalize dead parishes. I don’t know many of the parish needed revitalized that has actually benefitted from this 80,000 a year program. My parish doesn’t need it. Our priest is our vitalizer, revitalizer, whatever, I call him pastor and shepherd.

                      Back to the Syosset, chancery talk. You might be correct in all you say about Syosset, its location extra. But again, if we don’t take a serious look at what we NEED before we decided on funding we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Further, it must be noted that if we do take our autochephaly seriously we must then be able to fund an Office of the Metropolitan.

                    • I understand your comments, but not sure what you’re proposing here. It’s easy to accuse priests of being “Levitical,” and maybe you’re right on that. I’m happy that you’re in a parish with such a gifted priest. But the question comes back to “what to do?”. Assuming the problem in parishes is “the priest” (I think it’s a contributing factor, maybe even a major factor – but certainly not entirely the only issue?) there’s possibly some remedies, but I’m not convinced that you can “fix” the problem so easily. The only saying that comes to mind is the old Russian one: “You get the priest you deserve.” 😉

                      But surely there are other factors. What’s the history of the parish? What’s the location like? What are the people like? How much do they contribute? Are they cooperative? Do they come to church? Are they faithful believers?

                      But all of this is tangential to the discussion at hand: The current sad state of the OCA in general. Good for your parish and good for your priest – you’re bucking the trend.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Spasi, if I may put on my amateur anthropoligist hat, I agree that the ultimate problem is the laity and their niggardly giving. But why are they so miserly? One reason people hide income is because they don’t believe in the Grand Poo-bahs. Hence the GOA is now dependent on the Archons and exhausting festivals to keep the parishes running and the central administration going.

                      Martin, I belong to a tithing parish and it’s growing as well. But we’re talking outliers. If I were multi-generational OCA living in the Midwest or Northeast and saw the decrepit ineptitude of Syosset –sorry, “the check is in the mail.”

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Martin, please forgive me for my snarkiness but what you are describing regarding your parish is an outlier. I am involved in evangelical programs and the “good” kind of ecumenism (March for Life) and I can assure you, that many good, decent, and interested Christians are horrified at what the OCA is doing to itself.

                    As for your assessment of church administrator types vs pastors, I see no disagreement at all with you. I think you’re creating a straw man. You just asked me a simple question about who could do the stuff in Syosset if it were transferred to DC. I gave an answer. It’s not rocket science. If you don’t want parish pastors being delegated these tasks then give them to monks and/or nuns. Or have full-timers in DC where the cost of living is less than Syosset. Did you know for example that office space can be leased in DC for less than what we currently pay in maintenance at Syosset?

                    What am I trying to say? Bishops need chanceries located near them. I get that. Everybody gets that. These chanceries take care of the dioceses’ business. Again, no-brainer. Why can’t the Archbishop of Washington not have a chancery like that, one that’s in DC and concerned with that diocese? Maybe this chancery would need one extra person, just to coordinate national church actitivies (which usually means the Metropolitan’s schedule)?

                    We don’t need to succumb to the siren song of vaticanism, careerism, and institutional bureaucracy which exist for their own sakes.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    I love “our” OCA too Martin. But will it be “our” OCA when the Lavender/Ecumenist Mafia takes over?

              • The point is that what we have now is not working and we need to not think about keeping the status quo paying salaries to the Chancellor and Secretary totaling $280K and a part time treasurer making $70K. Talk about the 1% vs. 99%, as you clearly point out that most clergy where you live and in many other places have to be full time clergy and full time workers outside the parish. What George is saying, if you just look at the Statue of the OCA, you will see what the essential duties of those Church officers and the Metropolitan can be done in a more efficient manner.

                It wasn’t that long ago (2006 and before) that full time clergy working in Syosset made less than the part time Treasurer now makes and the Chancellor made just a bit more than she makes and more got done than is taking place today.

                Syosset is broken and the new model since 2006 is not working. It needs to change. That is the point.

                • Just for clarification: Which chancellor are you talking about? The dismissed-and-disgraced-former-chancellor-but-still-hanging-around-and-getting-paid-a-full-time-salary-not-to-not-be-the-chancellor chancellor? Or the apparently-not-very-busy-even-though-he’s-bishop-of-one-diocese-and-locum-tenens-of-another-diocese-and-interim-chancellor chancellor? I get them confused.

                  • Golly, i guess I mean the “The dismissed-and-disgraced-former-chancellor-but-still-hanging-around-and-getting-paid-a-full-time-salary-not-to-not-be-the-chancellor chancellor” but then again, I suppose that the “not-very-busy-even-though-he’s-bishop-of-one-diocese-and-locum-tenens-of-another-diocese-and-interim-chancellor chancellor” is also getting paid something, so that makes it even worse!

                    Another swig, please, Stan!

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Surely a great improvement over Kondratick. Incidentally,the ailing Bishop of Pittsburgh is apparently more capable than the Archbishop of Washington. Is that why folks here have tried to bring him down a peg or two with unsubstantiated accusations?

                    • Again Carl, with your assertions. On what do you base your increasingly hallucinatory ramblings? How much is Stan-the-Tran paying you?

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      I am basing my rejoinder to Spasi’s “hallucinatory ramblings” on consequences.

                      1. Kondratick is a Mister.

                      2. +Melchisedek has not been disciplined by the Holy Synod, unlike +Jonah who was put on a mandatory leave of absence.

                      BTW, I must have hurt your feelings by comparing you the he/she. I do apologize.

                    • Carl, the fact that some corrupt men within an organization may have put +Jonah on a “mandatory leave of absence” does not help your case, indeed it detracts from it.

                    • Carl, point out to me where I have my facts wrong.

                      1. Point out where I used an inappropriate title to refer to the former Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick. Give me one example. Anything?

                      2. Give me evidence from the statements of the Holy Synod where Met Jonah’s period of rest was characterized to be a measure of discipline by them. Give me one example. Anything?

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      George–According to official reports, the “corrupt” men were: Archbishop Nathaniel and Bishops Nikon, Tikhon, Benjamin, Melchisedek and Michael. Bishop Mark and the then Bishop-elect Matthias also attended the Synodal deliberations as non-voting participants. Bishops Alejo, Irenee and Irineu were absent. So rthat leaves out only Metropolitan Jonah who did not agree with the leave of absence. But, wait: he did agree to it, even though her later denied that it was a leave of absence and actually proceeded to break it. So, tell me George, since when does a consensus decision by seven bishops becomes a decision made by “some corrupt men”?

                      Spasi–I have no issue with you regarding Bob Kondratick’s current title. My intent was to show that as a consequence of his misdeeds (thievery to be exact) he is no longer a priest, let alone a protopresbyter. Regarding specific language in the Santa Fe minutes or anywhere else where the leave of absence is characterized as a disciplinary measure, there is none. That is my characterization based on the common sense observation that if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is indeed a duck.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Carl, I will give you one example of a corrupt bishop present at the attempted lynching of +Jonah. I will not name him but he admitted that he hacked into a priest’s e-mail account. That’s called theft Carl.

                    • Re: The “theivery” of former Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick – note well the follow up of the SIC published for the upcoming AAC.

                      “…the SIC Report was shared with the Nassau County District Attorney, who declined to pursue the matter.”

                      Declined to pursue the matter. I wonder why? With all that “evidence”? Seems strange, doesn’t it? Given that prosecutions of similar cases happen on a daily basis, for far lesser amounts of money, why in the world would one of the most powerful, influential county District Attorneys in the United States decline such an “open and shut” case? Plus, we had a federal prosecutor on the MC who could have easily filed federal charges of tax evasion, wire fraud, embezzlement, etc. Hmmm…

                      And then, the OCA paid the former Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick $250,000 after he was accused by them of this “theivery.” Hmmm…

                      Strange. I wonder what that reason could be? Hmmm….

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      George–One person does not make “some” persons. Also, the bishop you are referring to did not vote. Finally, there was no attempted lynching, just a slap in the wrist. Furthermore, +Jonah agreed to the disciplinary action (only to later renege later). I think that a man who cannot keep his word is at least as bad as a man who accesses an office computer than belongs to a former employee. Don’t you?

                      Spasi–You ask good questions. However, we do not know the answers to your questions. We only know the answer to one question: was former Chancellor of the OCA, the former Protopresbyter Robert Rodion Kondratick, convicted by a spiritual court? The fact, as opposed to speculation, is that he was indeed and shortly thereafter the Holy Synod said: “After hearing the report and recommendation of the spiritual court, the Holy Synod of Bishops resolved that the suspended Father Kondratick be permanently deposed from all sacred functions of the priesthood, effective July 31, 2007, and that his name be removed immediately from the list of clergy of the Orthodox Church in America.” That is good enough for me.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Spasi, being relatively new to the OCA, I’m agnostic on the issue of Kondratick. However you raise severeal interesting points that predispose me to be sympathetic to the previous chancellor. It’s curious, the Feds went after Martha Stewart hammer and tong for not paying $50K in taxes, which for someone as wealthy as her can be found in the cushions of her couch. Yet we are told that Kondratick took hundreds of thousands of dollars from a church. Carl: what’s missing from this picture?

                    • Of course it’s good enough for you. It just wasn’t good enough for an actual, real, and impartial court of law.

                      In other words, that so-called spiritual court was no court at all. It was a firing squad. Everyone knows that. There are bishops who sat on that court that want that verdict that you’re so satisfied with, reviewed. The accuser that brought the charges doesn’t even attend an Orthodox Church any more. The Metropolitan that called for the court now recants his charges. How easy it is to point to the ‘verdict,’ but how shameful to point to such a thing to know that nothing confirms it, and a real court of law with experienced prosecutors and attorneys rejected it.

                      How sad that the OCA sold its soul for 30 pieces of silver. And look at where we are today. A pathetic mess.

                    • Carl, how dare you accuse Metropolitan Jonah of reneging on his word! He was right in stating that he was not on an official leave of absence because there is no such thing as an official leave of absence without a signed agreement to that effect. But he did promise to take a leave from his usual duties, and he kept that promise. If you want to continue to accuse him of lying, I insist that you bring charges against him in spiritual court instead of defaming him behind his back.

                    • Spasi, is it true that the Kondraticks received the $250,000 settlement in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement?

                    • I honestly have absolutely no idea aobut that. I don’t think the terms of the settlement were made public, other than the settlement dropped mutual suits.

                    • Spasi, I just always thought it was strange that the Kondraticks never spoke out about the charges against them or presented exculpatory evidence. That is the primary reason I’ve never really questioned the verdict of the spiritual court. If it wasn’t them, then who? Where did the 9/11 funds go?

                      If there is indeed a miscarriage of justice in the OCA, I will fully support rehabilitating Kondratick and restoring his priesthood. However, there needs to be some evidence besides the Nassau County DA’s not bringing charges.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Helga asks: “Spasi, is it true that the Kondraticks received the $250,000 settlement in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement?”

                      RESPONSE: “I believe you are correct Helga. In most Civil Settlement contracts called “Releases” there is alwasy standard confidentiality language which are drafted as part of the agreement. This means that the details of the Settlement Negotiations are never discussed. Further, the very nature of a release is to simply END THE LITIGATION, and specifically states that no determination of civil liability is made by entering into the settlement.

                      However, I can tell you that as Civil Litigation attorney in Chicago with 15 years of legal and trial experience no one enters into a settlement if the Plaintiff’s has NO merit. In fact, its always the opposite. Its because a Plaintiff’s case has merit that the liable (i.e. guilty) party executes a settlement so that the Plaintiff’s legal cause of action does NOT go in front of a jury.”

                      I hope this helps.

                      As for Kondratick I firmly believe, after looking at this matter myself and looking at the history of this matter from the comm boxes and articles on OCAN that I can see why a legitimate court of law found Kondratick NG (i.e. Not Guilty). Simply put there was NO legitimate case against him!

                      This was a complete smear job from top to botton with Mark Stoke framing the debate and issues from the get go. This was not a pursuit of justice, but a settling of old scores, and Kondratick. was acused, tried and convicted on the internet by Mark Stoke and his supporters, which unfortunately Carl is one of. If you haven’t figured it out yet people like Carl are the NEW OCA!

                      The Old OCA and everything that was good about it started to die when Kondratick.was let loose and all the rest started to happen. Fr. Fester was wrong in only one sense you were not going to lose the OCA you already lost it!

                      Look at what has occured: 1.) Fr. Kondratick. – GONE! 2.) Fr. Fester – GONE! 3.) Met Jonah – ALMOST GONE AND PROBABLY SOON WILL BE GONE! this was all orchestrated by one man with access to a computer Mark Stoke! However, Mark is only doing the bidding of his overlorads at Syosset.

                      This is a carbon copy divide and destroy pattern I have seen and continue to see in the GOA. All of you need to go to AAC and make your voices heard. Now I am not saying your going to get everything you want, but the OCL made noise at its Clergy-Laity Council back in the day, and although the OCL did not get everything it wanted it definitely changed the mood and debate in the GOA and still does to this day. in fact, its because of the OCL, which I am not a part of of, that the GOA is not as far gone as it could have been.

                      The OCA needs the OCL or an OCL type of organization that can do the same in the OCA. Otherwise, start looking for your nearest ROCOR or GOA or Antiochian church and call it a day. Take care.


                    • Peter, I’m sorry, but Kondratick was never found “not guilty” in a criminal court. What happened was the Nassau County District Attorney declined to file charges. That does not mean Kondratick was innocent. It means that the DA was unwilling or unable to proceed to a criminal trial for whatever reason.

                    • While I agree he wasn’t found “not guilty,” let’s not minimize the significance of a pass on prosecution, as well as a failure of a successful civil case. We may not know the reason why the pass, but we can make a reasonable assumption that there was no case. No DA in his right mind would pass on prosecuting a church official who was accused of embezzeling millions of dollars, and all the other various charges. That’s a career-making prosecution, and the public would have eaten it up.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Helga–I dare to say that +Jonah reneged on his word because he acted contrary to what he had agreed to in Santa Fe. Yes, it is true that he later maintained that his verbal agreement was no binding because he had not signed a document to that effect. That cheap lawyer’s argument (excuse) does not change the facts one iota. It is in fact the argument of a child, not a grown up.

                      As for spiritual court business, I believe that paradoxically that is the weapon used to stave off serious charges because proceeding in that direction is problematic for all concerned (except for +Jonah). For one thing, such a move will inevitably involve other local churches and nobody wants that. Second, the bishops want to avoid having to replace yet another Metropolitan, Finally, and this is the most important factor, the bishops want +Jonah to behave; they do not want him to be punished. So, the best solution for all concerned is for +Jonah to resign for whatever reason he wants to use.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      To Helga:

                      Helga I have dealt with many a State’s Attorney in Chicago and other parts of Illinois. When they do not go forward its because there case is BS. Trust me when I tell you this. State Attys are out to get convictions and have the full force of the State behind them. If they did not go after him its because they had NO case. Trust me when I tell you this.

                      However, if you what to believe otherwise go ahead, but in the real world thats what it means.


                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      PS you are correct it was not an official pronoucement of NG, but thats how attorneys would view the matter if the State Atty did not prosecute a case. Our current States Atty Alvarez would have been jumped on something like this in the City of Chicago, even James Glasgow, after the Fox debacle, would never turn something like this away.


                    • That’s true, Spasi, and I am not arguing that Kondratick is absolutely guilty or innocent. The SIC report stipulated to the disappearance or destruction of a large amount of evidence (financial records, etc.) in the case.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Spasi–Responding to your remarks on the quality of the Spiritual Court or the lack thereof, may I remind you that (a) the Holy Synod agreed with the spiritual court and (b) Kondratick’ has not said anything about the funds that were missing. Now, it may be that poor old Bob took the rap for somebody else; we do not know, do we? What happened to the 9/11 fund, Bob? Silence… What happened to the xyz, Bob? Silence… Well, he may indeed be a patsy for somebody or for some cause but there is no denying that the SIC report is damning–to me and the spiritual court and to the Holy Synod, as it turned out. The way to clear up his good name is not to attack the process and fantasize about conspiracies but for Mister Kondratick to come clean. Until he does, all your arguments signify nothing.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Carl Says: Spasi–Responding to your remarks on the quality of the Spiritual Court or the lack thereof, may I remind you that (a) the Holy Synod agreed with the spiritual court and (b) Kondratick’ has not said anything about the funds that were missing. Now, it may be that poor old Bob took the rap for somebody else; we do not know, do we? What happened to the 9/11 fund, Bob? Silence… What happened to the xyz, Bob? Silence… Well, he may indeed be a patsy for somebody or for some cause but there is no denying that the SIC report is damning–to me and the spiritual court and to the Holy Synod, as it turned out. The way to clear up his good name is not to attack the process and fantasize about conspiracies but for Mister Kondratick to come clean. Until he does, all your arguments signify nothing.

                      Come clean? That’s what the man was trying to do before he was thrown out like bad trash by an organization that he gave a significant part of his life to! I have known many people like “good ol Bob” and when its all done and they have been used up they never come back Carl. They are done! What is bob going to say that he hasn’t said before? “Good Ol Bob whated to put it all on the record, and maybe did, but the HS said NO to him. No lawyer no nothing. You seriously need to wake up as you are greatly delusion about what real power does to people and how those people are affected.

                      After Archbishop Spyridon was ousted he stopped talking about it. The National Herald has done interviews with him when he never talks about it. Yeah, books were written and articles written, but the man checked out and said good bye and good riddence. I don’t blame “Good ol Bob” for staying quite.

                      However, if you want to know so bad why don’t you call him and report back Carl, or maybe you don’t want to know or don’t have the guts to talk to the man personally and get his side of the story. If you want to be a man then call him and call him a liar to his face. Don’t go and smear him on a blog.

                      Good day to you sir.


                    • Carl, there is no “verbal agreement” that Metropolitan Jonah reneged upon. He said he would take a break from his usual duties, and that is exactly what he did.

                      If you have anything else to say, tell it to a spiritual court. Otherwise, shut your mouth and stop falsely accusing Metropolitan Jonah of lying.

                    • Carl, you’re simplifiying a very complex situation, and much of that complexity was never considered, because the small minds on the spiritual kangaroo court wanted someone’s blood, and they were going to get it, no matter what. Much of it was driven by envy and jealousy and the backstory makes that very obvious. The whole thing was a set up, there’s no record to go back to, because that’s the way hit-jobs are done. Make sure there’s no evidence of how this murder happened.

                      My arguments are too much for you to handle because you’ve never answered even one of them. All you have is “that’s what the Synod agreed with.” Big deal – it’s what they wanted and it’s what they got. Now you have some of those same members that all of a sudden are growing a conscience and saying, “maybe this was wrong.” But you can’t handle that.

                      Not only that, but virtually every major Orthodox church in the world spoke against it. Oh but wait, we’re autocephalous – we can summarily have a trial, pronounce judgment, execute them, and bury the body, and no one can do anything about it. We’re in the big leagues now!

                      Pride goes before a fall.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Carl, Peter, Helga, Amos, et al: One thing we seem to be forgetting that regardless of the guilt or innocence of Kondratick, the fact remains that he was operating under the “strong chancellor” form of church governance. The powers-that-be foolishly do not understand that they are still operating under the old paradigm and that the next chancellor is going to be just as powerful as RK. The classic example of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to get a different outcome.

                      The answer? Devolve as much power as possible to the dioceses.

                    • Why, exactly, is a so-called “strong chancellor” a bad thing? I think your fears are misplaced. The chancellor (in its correct sense) is essentially, to use corporate lingo, a COO. They deal with the day operations and workings of the organization. It frees the CEO (in this case, the Metropolitan), to be the leader, visionary, and idea man. In a position like that, you *have* to be powerful. You have to have the authority to be decisive. Every major bishop has a strong chancellor.

                      The OCA, of course, in a way only they can screw up, removed the authority of the chancellor, and messed with the reporting structure to emasculate both the Metropolitan and the chancellor. Another fine move that blew up in their face.

                      Oh but wait, we’re “concilliar”! We can do everything by committee. Yay for democracy!

                    • Spasi, the problem with a strong chancellor is when they are so strong that they overpower the people they are supposed to be working with and for.

                      Look at Fr. Alexander Garklavs, who undermined the Metropolitan at every turn, helping concoct the spurious SMPAC memorandum, and even deprived him of his salary. Look at Bishop Melchisedek, who despite being merely an interim chancellor, took it upon himself to invent a totally new chancery position for Fr. Garklavs after the latter had been fired. The Metropolitan Council, unfortunately, has been enabling this model of the chancellorship in order to stab Metropolitan Jonah in the back.

                      Ideally, the chancellor should be someone who can work with the Metropolitan and the rest of the chancery staff. Instead, they have picked Fr. John Jillions, a dangerously underqualified candidate who believes in such mythological entities as ‘sexual minorities’. You mark my words. If they allow Metropolitan Jonah to survive the AAC, pretty soon he will be having problems with this chancellor, and Stokoe will use this as ‘proof’ that Metropolitan Jonah is the problem rather than the chancellors. And the problem is not with Metropolitan Jonah, but with the people who hate him so much that they sabotage him at every turn and try to make his life a living hell.

                    • Helga, we would have to discuss how this works in a healthy church. To speak about a “powerful chancellor” or a “powerful bishop” in today’s OCA just makes no sense. It depends on what we mean by powerful. I don’t see the examples you gave as powerful in the sense I understand it. You’re giving examples of these positions in the midst of a chaotic, leaderless organization that is flailing like a fish out of water and gasping for air in its death-throes.

                    • Spasi, I mean – and I assume George means – a strong chancellor in the sense that he’s too big for his britches and able to act without accountability. Did anybody ever look into the whole Metropolitan-Jonah-being-denied-his-salary thing? There needs to be an adherence to hierarchical structure and polity. They can start by looking up the thirteenth amendment.

    • I think the Diocese of the South’s Treasurer came out in support of the NY NJ plan in his June 2011 message.
      A substantive endorsement in the Diocese, I think.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I believe that the emphasis was on percentage (i.e., tithing) assessments rather than s particular dollar amount. Here is the relevant paragraph:

        “That the membership assessment system needs to be replaced by percentage-based system should finally be apparent. A Resolution to reduce the present OCA Assessment amount from $105 to $50, put forth by the New York State Deanery for consideration at the upcoming All America Conference. is a necessary step in that direction, At first glance the magnitude of the proposed cut is a bit shocking, but the Central Administration is certainly no less capable than the Diocese of the South in devising alternatiive strategies to offset the loss of assessment income. Some dioceses may be more open to a percentage-based system than others, therefore a diocese-by-diocese transition, rather than transition ‘en masse’, would be.a more effective strategy. Thus, an AAC Resolution authoriizing the Central Administration to proceed in this manner is all that is needed to begin phasing out the present failed system.”

        • It is an endorsement nonetheless. For the DOS, the impact of a reduced OCA assessment is profound, dropping the amount of money leaving the diocese collected from tithes from parishes, so that this money could be used to fund more missions. The DOS has been working toward the goal of 25% of DOS total income going to Syosset, 25% for DOS Missions and 50% for Administrative costs, including salary for the bishop, other DOS personnel, travel, benefits, etc. Even now, the DOS does fund 25% to missions, and makes up the difference on the administrative side (it does work out not having a bishop, bottom line wiseCurrently, I these are ballpark figures, the DOS sends $211,500 to Syosset based on $105. It would send $115K under a $50 amount. That would get the DOS much closer to the 25% goal while allowing the DOS to use the approx. $100K internally, or maybe even available to the OCA in some transition phase in pattern. The DOS is not interested in destroying Syosset, rather, as the late Archbishop Dmitri always encouraged, that Syosset know its role, limited, and let the dioceses do their major part.

          I think that is finally gaining traction in the OCA and the Inner Circle in Syosset is running scared. Syosset has never been very good at listening. Maybe they will this time.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Amos, thank you for providing the figures. However all of us are forgetting that economic models should take into account dynamic scoring. Yes, the drop to Syosset would be from $211K to $115K. But that doesn’t take into account church growth. If the DOS (in your case) has more money for missions then more missions = more growth. Even though the percentage may be down, actual dollars to the Central Chancery would increase in due time.

            • By George, you’ve got it!

              The more parishes, the more people, the more tithes and the 25% to the OCA has NO TOP LIMIT. As the DOS grows, the OCA benefits! Simple, if you have faith!

              • This wisdom was propogated by Ronald Reagan, who cut tax rates but INCREASED tax revenues. It’s the “hocky stick” graph. When tax rates are increased, there’s a temporary spike upward but then it steadily trends down. On the other hand, when rates are decreased, there’s a temporary spike downward but as the economy improves and people have no incentive to hide their wealth, then the graph trends upwards.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                It’s all about faith, isn’t it?

            • Carl Kraeff says

              My idea is even more drastic: rely on tithing all the way up. Instead of reverse engineering from the perceived needs of central organs at dioceses and OCA Central Administration, let tthe tithing principle be operative at every level:

              Individual to parish: 10% (parish keeps 90%)
              Parish to diocese: 10% (diocese keeps 90%)
              Diocese to CA: 10% (OCA keeps 90%)
              CA to selected causes: 10%.

              This way, parish growth and parishioners’ adherence to the tithing principle drives everything, instead of programmatic needs. It is a self-regulating mechanism and has the virtue of being based on Biblical principles, to say nothing about putting your trust in God (and not in princes and sons of man).

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Carl, I’m gonna extend my hand to you on this one! Perfect! Thank you for crystallizing my own rambling thoughts on this. Even though we’ve had our disagreements in the past, I gotta hand it to you on this one!

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  P.S. I especially like your phrase “perceived needs” of the CA. I’m reading Melanie Ringa’s otherwise excellent report and I see that there is indeed a “paradigm shift” that’s needed.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                I do not disagree with your assessment or your math. You are correct. I just do not believe tithing is supported by the New Testament. Call it anything you want other than tithing.


                • Jane Rachel says

                  I agree with this. Giving a percentage or as much as you can of your income back is a great idea. Just don’t make it legalistic and don’t keep track as if it’s expected of the people so they feel guilty if they can’t. But if they can give, they ought to, that’s for sure. Everything comes from God.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Peter, I’ve heard this argument in the past and I used to be torn by it because some very good people proffered it. Technically you’re correct, it’s not mentioned in the NT but neither are other holdovers from the OT mentioned. I’m sure that there was no mention of it because it was just part of Jesus’ and Paul’s culture.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    I think the main theological problem I have is that tithing was an obligation under the law. As Christians we are free of the law and live under grace and love. I have no problem giving to the church out of a spirit of love and need, but when tithing is made a pre-requisite to ones good standing as an Orthodox Christian as it is clearly stated it is under the UPR (Uniform Parish Regulations) of the GOA I have a big problem with that and I was extremely vocal on this point while I was on my local parish council.

                    Giving out of love and genuine need is one thing, but tying it in to our spiritual standing is quit another.


              • Jane Rachel says

                It is the principle of giving that is more important than the actual word, “tithing,” or any set percentage that would be required of a person. My husband and I could not have afforded giving away ten percent.( I have given away almost -actually, more than – ten percent of my years though, looking back at the work I’ve done for the Church, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox, for free….) The principle of giving has to permeate the heart. You have to want to give. My small-town parish had over $100,000 and never in their wildest dreams would they think for one second of taking as much as even one percent of it, let alone ten percent, out of the investment fund where it was earning interest, and investing it where it would count. On the other hand, the downtown Minneapolis Baptist church where I grew up gave constantly into the community, into missions, all over the place.

                • “Let us commend ourselves and each other and ALL our life unto Christ our God” Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

                  And another passage from SJC, “After discussing the requirements of God and especially of the Jews in the Old Testament, Saint John Chrysostom (4th century A.D.) makes this comment on Ephesians 2:10: “For what did not they of old do? They gave tithes, and tithes again upon tithes for orphans, widows, and strangers; whereas someone was saying to me in astonishment of another person, ‘Why, such an one gives tithes!’ What a load of disgrace does this imply, since what was not a matter of wonder with the Jews has come to be so in the case of the Christians? If there was danger then in omitting tithes, think how great it must be now!” (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume XIII, First Series, page 69).

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    Amos, your quotes are true. Hope you know I know it, too.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Amos, my reply above wasn’t supposed to be poetic. I’m not that sappy, but I do like words.

                      All that is required of any of us is that we “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).” We commend “all our life unto Christ our God” (“present as suitable for approval or acceptance”). Most of us live normal lives to the best of our ability. If we give freely of our love, money and talents beginning at home, and then reach out within our community, at our job, or at church, and are nice to people in the shopping centers, God is pleased. We might take a few days to go to say, an orphanage in Guatemala, and then we come home feeling happy about that. And every week, at church, we say, “Let us commend ourselves and each other and ALL our life unto Christ our God.” It’s enough, as long as we do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

                      There are some people who do more than that. If you feel that God wants you to leave your home and family, and give up a normal life, and if you spend your time serving others for the sake of the gospel and nothing else matters, and you hardly get any pay (if any) for it, and you have to raise your own funds, if you are lucky, you might be called a missionary. At least that what we called them where I come from. Several of my uncles, aunts, and cousins, and the woman I was named after were and are missionaries around the world. My Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Paul raised their family in Mexico while they worked for Wycliffe Bible Translators and translated the New Testament into the Chinatec language. Uncle Paul founded a company called “Bible Translations on Tape.” Here’s a link to their story. I think it might be inspiring, especially in contrast to some of the other stories we’ve been hearing, because it shows a really holy mindset. I believe the Orthodox call it phronema.

                      The woman I was named after (she was my mom’s best friend in Bible College in the forties) lived in India most of her life and translated the Gospels into Kurku She also wrote a Kurku-Hindi dictionary. You could google her and find lots of info about her contribution to language, and also a book on that’s been published about her life, too but I don’t want anyone to know my first name.

                      That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

                      Live for God. But be careful of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  I should correct the statement made about my former parish.I’m not sure how much they did give, but I don’t think it was from that investment. So, they did give away some money. It was explained to me that their Russian ancestors who settled there were very poor and therefore survival was paramount. It might be time to think about a change in that attitude now that the people are not so poor any more.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    Well, just wait as the economy tanks we are all going to get poorer again.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Yeah. Hopefully not so poor as they were.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      tithing should be literal. One could always give more if they don’t want to be “legalistic.”

                      No new mission should open unless the people starting it are committed to tithing (and that includes the clergy).

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    I agree with everybody on this sub-thread on tithing. The main problem seems to be at the parishioner level. It would indeed be wrong to impose tithing on a parish where a rigid application of the principle would cause folks to just quit coming to church. On the other hand, requiring missions to operate from the tithing principle from the very beginning is most sensible. At all levels above parishioner, I think that tithing should be absolutely mandatory.

                    In management terms, what we are looking at is a transformative change, a paradigm shift. Like all such changes, you are going to have early adopters,a whole lot of undecided folks, and finally a small group of folks who will simply resist the change. So, it seems to me that the ideal way to proceed would be to proceed in phases. Implement the principle everywhere bu do not require it of parishioners for a certain length of time–say a decade or two.

                    I do not see anything coercive in saying that a member is expected to tithe of his monies, time and talent; attend in church regularly; participate in church services and activities as much as his time and abilities allow–that is, we expect folks to be true Church family members rather than distant relatives. What I am saying is nothing new to folks who listen to the the Gospel and Epistle readings. The problem seems to be our leaders’ resignation to “reality,” accommodating the world–perhaps because of burn out, which makes the church to become much too worldly. And, when that happens, the reason for being in church becomes different, much less compelling, more like a choice: should I go to church tonight or go to the movies/attend Friends of the Library meeting/etc…

  9. Maybe you may want to get a twitter button to your site. Just bookmarked this site, although I must do it by hand. Just my suggestion.

    My blog:
    rachat de credit

  10. Heracleides says

    Needing a break from Carl’s usual spin, I decided to work on another satirical image. This one is my take on the 16th AAC Logo. It is called “Harbinger” and may be viewed here:

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Herc, you’ve outdone yourself this time! It took me about a minute to get it. But boy is it biting.

  11. Carl,

    Stan may be a crank, as he loves to say, but he is not always wrong. We know the antecedents of his hate for the OCA and the particular people who he hauls out to beat with his literary pen on a consistent and regular basis (sorry Stan you have become very predictable.) However Stan has known Kishkovsky for a long time, and, correct me if I am wrong, a person you, Carl, have never met nor worked with.

    Fr Leonid is barely tolerated by the Greeks, disliked by the Russians, and as his report to the MC/Synod clearly indicates openly contemptuous of Jonah. That does not win us any friends oversees. The external affairs of the OCA since 2006, entirely while Kishkovsky has been its head, without help, has gone from cordial and close, if not always in agreement with Constantinople to estranged. With Moscow, a sister Church and a historic familial bond, to embarrassed but tolerated because of Constantinople. To blame all this on one speech in Dallas as Kishkovsky has done is simplistic. To say that talk of maximal autonomy was showing others our “hold card” or giving up a state secret is ridiculous. It did not weaken the OCA, Jonah simply stated the obvious as a possible way to the greater goal of a unified Church in the USA. One should ask the question, does Kishkovsky really want this? If it happened his role in a united Church would be small if any role at all.

    Our relations with Constantinople and Moscow took a turn for the worse and have not recovered since the day that Kondratrick was sacked. And it was under the expert and experienced watch of Kishkovsky who was charged with dealing with that reality (a post Kondratick OCA in external affairs) and its fallout, which Kishkovsky has failed and done nothing to advance or improve those relations. Folks may not like to hear this, but Kondratick was the brains behind our OCA external affairs not Kishkovsky.

    Nothing personal here. Really. It is strictly business and Kishkovsky has failed the OCA in his external affairs role since 2006. Just look at the cold hard facts pre-2006 and post 2006, with Kondratick and after Kondratick, and you will see a decline in the OCA’s standing with those two pivotal Churches.

    Oh yeah, and blah, blah, blah, about Kondratick stealing money and sending it to Russia or wherever. You can beat that horse until it is glue, but when times were tough in Russia, the OCA, the daughter Church of our Mother Church, responded and helped either with our own funds or raising funds from others, like ADM. Russia does not forget those who helped her in their hour of need. Now, Russia doesn’t need our money, they have more than enough and we have decided that helping other Churches is not important and have isolated ourselves from the rest of the Orthodox world. Isolationism never works and especially when it comes to inter-Orthodox relations and we are tasting of the bitter fruit of that policy since 2006.

    To your point about arrogance, it was the arrogant policy posited by Stokoe and Wheeler, that the OCA model of how they define conciliarity, should be exported to Russia, the Greeks so all those poor folks who are under the yoke of a hierarchical Church leadership of the old world can be enlightened by what we are doing in the OCA. Just read some of Stokoe’s remarks in his combox about Jillions, and you can see his arrogance. Well, I think since 2006 and the correlative decline in our relations with other Churches proves that the OCA model is not one they are interested in, especially when they can see for themselves that we are killing ourselves with a new and improved internal structure, with ample checks and balances, but no soul, no love, no compassion and we are ready to throw another Metropolitan under the bus.

    Like the MC, Kishkovsky wants us to continue to pay his way so he can keep doing what he is doing. Personally, I say, he has not earned that privilege and he should be thanked for his years of service and retired. If the Church says yes to the $50 assessment, then, in effect our external affairs department, the only exclusive department of the Office of the Metropolitan, will have to do the necessary re-prioritizing. It will cause us to retool and rethink and look to the advise of others in this area.

    In closing, Kishkovsky has lost perspective, as others on the Metropolitan’s staff. He is in an advisory role, but acts as if he is the final say in the OCA’s external affairs. His recent report openly shows his “superior intellect” and shows a horrible example from a senior cleric of the Church. I heard someone once say that whenever a priest of the Church views his position in a proprietary manner, it is time for a change. I think it is time for a change.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      You may be correct that Fr Kishovsky needs to move on. I am not competent to suggest otherwise; he is the current Director of External Relations and we have a slew of folks who are over him and I am simply going to defer to them. At the same time, based on the evidence that we all have and my life experience, I think I am correct to think that +Jonah also needs to move on.

      I have only one point of disagreement with your post that I must comment on. You said: “…it was the arrogant policy posited by Stokoe and Wheeler, that the OCA model of how they define conciliarity, should be exported to Russia, the Greeks so all those poor folks who are under the yoke of a hierarchical Church leadership of the old world can be enlightened by what we are doing in the OCA. Just read some of Stokoe’s remarks in his combox about Jillions, and you can see his arrogance. Well, I think since 2006 and the correlative decline in our relations with other Churches proves that the OCA model is not one they are interested in, especially when they can see for themselves that we are killing ourselves with a new and improved internal structure, with ample checks and balances, but no soul, no love, no compassion and we are ready to throw another Metropolitan under the bus.”

      I am not familiar with any effort, by any one, to export the OCA model. Please enlighten us (a) how that exporting was done and (b) why it was done. For the life of me, I only see an effort to preserve our conciliar model; we are too small to export or impose our model on any other Church. Regarding new and improved procedures, checks and balances, etc…, they need not result in “no soul, no love, no compassion.” Indeed, I think the Holy Synod showed plenty of compassion in its Santa Fe decision, or the decision it made in the case of Bishop Nikolai. I think that plenty of compassion has been shown on Mr Kondratick. Methinks that the false dichotomy that is presented here is merely a ploy to excuse wrong doings and incompetence. Let’s start thinking in terms of “both” rather than “either/or.”

      • Carl,

        At this point Carl, it would be up to you to re-read Stokoe’s comboxes in light of what has been written. But, I need you to flesh out for me what compassion toward Kondratick? And Nikolai? Carl, you still think Santa Fe it was a brotherly “intervention” for Jonah by the bishops? Really?

        I need to take a swig from Stan’s jug! 😉

        • Jane Rachel says

          “I need to take a swig from Stan’s jug! ;)” Amos, I needed a smile. Thank you.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          This is the first time that I have anyone talk about exporting the OCA model to resistant Russians and Greeks. As the author of this new theory, you should be the one who explains it, don’t you think?

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        I doubt that Carl Kraeff knows Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick or Bishop Nikolai Soraich at all. The Metropolia/OCA, like every other jurisdiction in America and every other Orthodox Local Church in the world has what the swamis and pundits here call ‘Strong Chancellor” administration at the center. Metropolitan Theophilus, Metropolitan Leonty, Metropolitan Ireney, Metropolitan Theodosius all had strong chancellors. It was Metropolitan Herman who showed the first signs of jealousy towards his own Chancellor. He expressed his dissatisfaction with Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick’s competence at his very first meeting as Metropolitan with the Holy Synod in his hotel suite at the AAC where he was elected. We all waited for “the other shoe” to drop. The “Other Shoe” would be for the Metropolitan to name his own preference for his right-hand man. Metropolitan Herman, it seems, lacked what was needed to drop that shoe. Perhaps his previous military experience in the US Army as a Company Clerk in the Orderly Room sapped him of the requisite “manliness,” who’s to say? Instead, the Metropolitan turned to others who had issues or fears relative to the Chancellor. There was one Bishop who knew that the Chancellor knew ALL the Bishop’s (his own) deviate and alcoholic blackout ridden history in his original diocese. That Bishop went on to see that a pal who had been Bishop of an ethnic Diocese would succeed to his own high-salaried former diocese. Those two Bishop cooperated with two highly disgruntled former salaried members of the Chancery, a Treasurer and a former Youth Director (who agreed to leave his position on condition the real reason for it would not come out.) Metropolitan Herman knew, like the Chancellor, of the skeletons in those several closets. What a combination! When the Chancellor began to remonstrate with a former familiar of the Bishop with a Past about his stubborn attempts to gain influence in Russian government and church circles through control of charity, e.g., Breslan funds, the whole cohort came down on the Chancellor. The personal lawyer of the Bishop’s familiar (a man who himself had tried many times to succeed as a “Biznissmen” and failed) even sent a letter to the Chancellor, “If you touch Z., I will destroy you.” The disgruntled former
        Treasurer, relying on his many contacts and loyal supporters on the faculty and among the alumni protective assn. of SVS, opened the formal campaign to do what the Metropolitan just couldn’t get up the gumption to attempt himself, by drawing up a letter full of scurrilous half-baked and ill-founded accusations against the
        Chancellor. The letter was indecently and in totally disorderly fashion NOT sent first to the former
        Treasurer’s own Bishop, Metropolitan Herman; rather, like an Ecumenical or other Patriarch addressed his letter to each OCA Bishop individually, charging the Chancellor and Metropolitan Theodosius with, partly jointly, carrying out high crimes and misdemeanors. With that, the team of the alcoholic and deviant hierarch with the hierarch he had helped to a higher salary, began furnishing the former Youth director with immediate reports of every action taken and/or minuted by the Holy Synod, for raw display, accompanied by absolutely immoral and lying commentary. Metropolitan Herman, bypassing the Metropolitan Soviet, engaged a downtown Manhattan firm of Criminal Defense Lawyers to follow the old dictum, ”The best defense is a strong offense.” They met with the Chancellor, but when they refused to allow their meeting to begin with prayer, the Chancellor left the meeting. They decided to suddenly and without warning lock the Chancellor out of the Chancery (he had complained that the chancery files had been pronounced insecure by an outside IT firm). The following day, the files were opened to anyone who had a grudge against the Chancellor and many files just disappeared. The disturbances and disorder begun then are not over. Around that time, the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters wrote to the Holy Synod that the ONLY solution was to have a Molieben to Saint Herman by an entire All American Council! This was the same Dalai Lama Protopresbyter who recently wrote “urbi et orbi” an Epistle the day after Forgiveness Sunday, telling the entire membership of the OCA, (presumably ALL of them enrolled as his own Spiritual Children) to put no trust in the utterances of a brother Priest, Joseph
        Fester, and to heed the wisdom issuing forth from Mrs. Steve Brown, that paragon of morality and sobornost’. Not a word, sadly, advocating trust in the Lord…
        While in a traditional trial spiritual court in the Orthodox Church, the Court already exists, having been appointed long ago by the Diocesan Bishop to try various ecclesiastical mattter such as bigamy, and so forth, and, when a PRIEST is to be tried for ANYTHING, the official Accuser in the Court proceedings is the PRIEST’s Bishop, Metropolitan Herman and those with him decided to appoint a laywoman, an attorney, as the Priest’s official Accuser. Metropolitan Herman, who was the Chancellor’s own Bishop, AGAIN abdicated (probably for the same reason, criminal lack of gravitas or “bottom” as the English would say) his God given responsibility, like a “God-Anointed Tsar” abdicating his oath and throne, and appointed an Archbishop about whose private life the Metropolitan was totally au courant, to “run” the court. A Court Reporter and Minutes were forbidden by this Star-Chamber appointed Kangaroo Court. The charges of the former Treasurer at this farcical court were “justified by Faith.” The Holy Synod ratified the proceedings as only the present Holy Synod knows how.
        The Chancellor appeared for his trial, but his lawyer, like any honestly American attorney, appalled at the ban on minutes, advised the Chancellor not to participate. If the Archbishop had only permitted minutes to be tsken by, e..g., a court recorder, the Chancellor could have been examined and cross-examined and been given a chance to face his accusers in court. But, sadly, unconscionably, even, the former
        Treasure and his episcopal ENABLERS achieve their end: the Chancellor was barred from testifying.
        The same tactic had been adopted when, at a regular meeting of the Holy Synod, the Chancellor’s appearance before the Synod had been agreed on, he was in the immediate vicinity of the Chancery, Protopresbyter Rodion S Kondratick had agreed to appear, testify, and answer ANY questions, but the Hierarch who had left his original diocese where his alcoholic blackouts were on record and where he had a reputation for liking to smear shaving cream over the naked torso of this or that young Priest’s son, in order to occupy a much more important throne in his old hometown, together with the ruling Bishop of Canada and the Bishop with two diocese’s salaries, telephoned Metropolitan Herman and “persuaded” him to tell the Chancellor NOT to appear.
        Metropolitan Herman at one point appointed a businessman Protodeacon and a businessman Deacon as “experts” to advise the Holy Synod on central administration matters. Those two men eagerly assumed the mantle of experts. Even though, for example, Bishop Nikolai, a member of the Holy Synod, held a couple degrees “MBA” himself,The experts, when asked by me what chancellors usually do, i.e., at universities, in government and, for example (one of the “experts” was an alumnus of the GOA)in the GOA, could not answer the question..IN fact, the oca administration lacked nothing to form a model administration. The “span of control” to be exercised by the Chancellor, as well as its unity, could not be criticized.
        The FACT IS AND WAS THIS. PROTOPRESBYTER RODION S. KONDRATICK MUST GO AND WHATEVER MEASURES ARE INDICATED TO ACCOMPLISH THAT MUST BE TAKEN. The problem was NOT that the Chancellor was too powerful: the problem was that Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick had the job.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Amos, you bring up a good point, namely that Kishkovsky took over in 2006. +Jonah was elected in Nov 2008. I started following things in the OCA when I joined back in 2002/3 and the more I knew about Greco-OCA relations the more I knew that things would never be good between them. Kishkovsky never did anything to turn around that perception. +Jonah however has been invited to speak at GOA parishes and has excellent relations with GOA and other overseas churches.

      • Actually George, the OCA relations with the GOA up until 2006 were close and the OCA’s relations with the EP were open and communication was frequent. The OCA knew that the EP would never recognize its autocephaly, but that did not stop the OCA from reaching out to the EP nor the EP talking to the OCA. it was only 10 years ago when Pat. Bartholomew, newly elected, was hosted by the OCA at a luncheon in his honor. The last time the EP was here in the USA, the OCA was in no position to present itself in any meaningful manner. Why? Because we were too busy with our own internal “ethnic cleaning.”

        What has changed since then is that the OCA has been on this internal jihad, a term you like to use, of any vestige of the Kondratick/Herman era. In the meantime, our relations with “sister” Churches has suffered by lack of cultivation coupled with our simply childish internal behavior toward each other. Bishops vs. Bishops, clergy vs. clergy, laity vs. laity. Everyone is an “expert” and I include myself in that judgement. The OCA has become so polarized since the advent of OCAN, I honestly don’t know if it can recover, or we can find common ground.

        When the agenda of OCAN continues to be the elimination of Jonah, we do nothing to advance the OCA to anyone except the small Inner Circle of anti-Jonah staffers and bishops who can’t figure out how to lead the OCA so they blame Jonah.

        When Moscow had to send Hilarion here to try and stop the insanity going on, to me, that was the clear signal that Moscow has lost faith in our ability to run our own affairs. Unless we can figure out how to allow the strengths of each other, and this is where Carl is right, that we have to start thinking less about either/or but both, unless we start working together and not be threatened by each other, ie. Bishop Mark Maymon being paranoid about Fester and Benjamin on his jihad to rid the OCA of all things Kondratick, including Fester, the OCA is going to just keep killing itself. And this also goes to the Jillions job offer. It exposes the bias that one side is winning over the other. Jillions might be a good choice, but he has no business being the Chancellor anymore than Fester does. They are both part of the OCA’s past, directly or indirectly.

        Seattle/Bellevue will change the direction of the OCA, but like the Titanic, it might be too late to avoid the iceberg dead ahead!

        • Amos, my assessment of Greco-OCA relations was based not on the macro view but on the reality on the street level, specifically on inter-parish relations. Some of this knowledge was based on my own personal experience but a lot more came from friends and acquaintances. I’m talking here mostly on the layman-up-to-the-priest level. Thank you though for fleshing out more completely the broader historical narrative, esp. in the pre-2006 era.

  12. Hey! Someone needs to tell the Crisis Management Committee they forgot to put the report in their report.

    I guess that means someone’s working on Plan B.

    • Yeah, what exactly has “Crisis Management” been doing for three years? Sitting around drinking lemon water? ANAXIOI! Fire them all!

  13. Our pal Spartion Geometrias is back with another disdainful diatribe against us “conspiracy theorists”.

    I suppose someone should explain to Sparty that nobody’s saying that the entire Synod is against Metropolitan Jonah. One or two have gone out of their way to antagonize him, a few more have been less than friendly, but nobody has ever accused Bishops Michael or Matthias of acting against Metropolitan Jonah in any way. As I recall, we so-called conspiracy theorists celebrated these two bishops’ encyclicals on sexuality, and especially the castrating letter that Bishop Matthias wrote to Mark Stokoe. I even thought at the time that Bishop Matthias was a little harsh in the execution, but I was as happy as anybody that Stokoe’s time on the MC had blessedly come to an end.

  14. Helga, thank you for directing us to it. It’s very sloppy, in just one quick reading, I was able to eviscerate his syllogism. Here goes:

    1. No one ever said that it was the ENTIRE Holy Synod which was against +Jonah,

    2. No one ever drew their arguments for this entire discussion from the direction of The Fabulous Four,

    3. No one ever said this was about the normalization of homosexuality in and of itself but about the continued accommodation to the Spirit of the Age,

    4. No one ever criticized +Matthias as being part of the anti-+Jonah cabal, indeed we have gone out of our way to praise him.

    I could go on but his house of cards tumbles after his first assertion. It only gets messier after that.

  15. Carl,

    What would you say about the veracity of a spiritual court in which there were no minutes or recording of the proceedings?

    • Carl Kraeff says

      I do not care for such lack of proper procedures. Yet, the Holy Synod has spoken and Mr Kondratick has not.

      • Let me put it to you another way. Would you be comfortable with a proceeding with no minutes or recording of the proceedings if you were on trial? And if there was such an open and shut case against Kondratick, why no record of the proceedings. One would think that the spiritual court would go to great lengths to have a paper trail so the entire world could see how guilty Kondratick was.

        • Amos, I don’t want to pretend I can say anything one way or the other on Kondratick’s actual guilt or innocence, but that proceeding sounds like a star chamber to me.

          Didn’t Fr. Zacchaeus Wood present the OCA with evidence against Kondratick?

          • What Fr Zacchaeus presented was a tape proven to be edited and pieced together to look incriminating. This ‘evidence’ was examined and determined to be doctored by an expert in such matters.

            • Do the current suspicious proceedings against Fr. Zacchaeus have any relation to his involvement in the Kondratick situation?

              • No clue. I have nothing to do with anything on either side of those matters. But I can’t imagine they’re related.

          • Helga, I think you have figured out that something was rotten in Denmark with Kondratick case. With the settlement, there is a gag order on anyone talking about the case. Of course the settlement of $250K is part of the public record so that is not subject to non-disclosure.

            Don’t you find it interesting that Fr Zacchaeus was taken care of by the Synod, with Jonah trying to stay the hand of Nathaniel and Benjamin? Zacchaeus produced his secret tape. One can always ask the question if that tape had been altered, maybe many times and if that evidence was ever part of the record? But, again, there being no record, such a hypothetical question is rather moot, if you get my drift.

            The Kondratick case is the ticking time-bomb under the OCA and its expeditious handling has poisoned the OCA’s relations with Moscow and Constantinople.

            If the Synod was sincerely interested in improving our relations with sister Churches, they would raise the deposition of Kondratick, without comment and then release him to Moscow or Constantinople with the proviso that Moscow or Constantinople then retire Kondratick. Kondratick will never talk because of the settlement but the Synod, with Nathaniel and Benjamin on it would rather sink the OCA in the eyes of sister Churches than admit their mistakes, in my opinion.

            But think about it, no record of the entire proceedings. Spiritual courts are suppose to be confidential, but such confidentiality does not extend to there being no minutes nor recording of the proceedings. And you may ask, why did Kondratick and his lawyer walk of the spiritual court ? They left when Nathaniel pronounced that there would be no record of the proceedings.

            This was the silent hand of Stokoe and Wheeler behind the scenes making sure that Kondratick would go away as well as Skordinski’s lawyer making sure there was no record nor the lawyer for the MC and the Synod making sure there was no record.

            Also, don’t forget that Herman was being pressured by Job with no funds from the Midwest during the same time that Kondratick tried to appeal the Synod’s decision, December 2007. One only need to go back and read what Stokoe was writing back then to see him ginning up the bishops and the MC to make sure no serious consideration of Kondratick’s appeal would take place.

            It was no coincidence that at the December 2007 Synod meeting that the Kondratick appeal was rejected and Job released the withheld Midwest assessment funds to Syosset. Herman bought himself another few months that day, but Job would not stop in his pursuit of ousting Herman. And what we now have is well, the toxic remnants of all that double-dealing and enough dirt on the hands of Synod members to effectively render them useless if not dangerous.

            As Yoda might say, “Toxic is the OCA” But again, what I say is pure speculation, so it is of no consequence. Thanks for humoring me.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              It will be a fun AAC for you guys. Enjoy.


              • Jane Rachel says

                It’s been a fun read. Then there’s the loan for $250,000 to the OCA by the Kondraticks. I’ve thought it likely the settlement was the Kondraticks getting their loan back without interest.

                • Monk James says

                  The settlement and the loan are completely unrelated.

                  The $250K settlement figure is only coincidentally the same as the loan plus about 15 years’ interest capped at $250K by the Metropolitan Council’s Executive Committee and agreed to by the Kondraticks — but the OCA never repaid the Kondraticks.

                  By all rights, they should redress this injustice (just one among many others) they have done to this good priest and his family.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Isn’t interesting also that no one looked into the demise of the late Bishop fo Chicago?

              • Jane Rachel says

                I don’t know if that is interesting, is it important? What is tragic is that no one talks about what is really true about Archbishop Job, and I do not mean (not this time) his private life, but his role in what happened, and whether what he did and how he acted as bishop was right, moral, fair, honest, canonical, and orderly. I do not believe there can be healing until some truth is brought to light about how closely Archbishop Job was tied into or helped cause the insanity that destroyed so many lives.

            • Well, it’s hard to say. If I know anything about Stokoe, I know he’d love nothing more than to be able to write us all off as conspirators with Kondratick.

              I figure that if Stokoe was able to paint all of Metropolitan Jonah’s supporters as Kondratick shills, he would use that to discredit Metropolitan Jonah. Look what he did just because Metropolitan Jonah was friendly with Fr. Joseph Fester: he manufactured a link between the Metropolitan and Bishop Nikolai, Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald), and Kondratick himself. Never mind that Metropolitan Jonah’s communication with these people has been minimal to nothing since his election as Metropolitan, and the emails that Stokoe stole and published prove there is no conspiracy involving the Metropolitan and any of those people. Bishop Nikolai complains several times in the stolen communications that Metropolitan Jonah ignored him. Fr. Fester was friendly to and working with Bishop Nikolai, but that’s it. Yet Sparty and many other Stokovites continue to accept the “conspiracy” as fact.

              On the other hand, Kondratick deserved a fair trial and it appears to me he didn’t get one. What you said about the circumstances of his appeal is more than enough to warrant allowing a do-over. Stokoe may see this and whine about how much money it would ‘waste’, but there is no such thing as spending too much in the interest of truth and fairness.

              As for Fr. Zacchaeus, I don’t really know what to think. I know what they did to him with the OCA website is not SOP for priests under discipline, unless they work at the chancery itself. I don’t know why he’d turn over a doctored videotape as evidence against Kondratick unless his own hands were dirty. On the other hand, Metropolitan Jonah sticking his neck out for him is not something I look at lightly.

              All I know is that Stokoe has invested a lot in portraying the current situation with Metropolitan Jonah as basically a rehash of the Kondratick scandal, with Metropolitan Jonah playing the part of Enabling Hierarch Who Must Be Canned, and of course, himself reprising his role as Noble Hero on Big Stallion.

  16. Peter,

    I will be front and center and all ears. It should be a dandy!

  17. OK Folks,

    This line of comments is entitled “From 105 to 50 in a New York Minute – Part I: How We Got Here”

    Part I.

    I would think that we are all ready for Part II. I know I am.

    George, when you are ready, so are we!

    • I’m also ready for Part II – whenever you’re ready, George!

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        All, it should be up later this afternoon. Thanks for being so patient. I promise not to use Herc’s latest graphic though!

  18. Heracleides says

    Like many, I’ve been expecting an “October Surprise” to be launched by Mrs. Stokoe-Brown… and I have not been disappointed. It can be viewed here:

    • Now there’s an image I won’t be able to get out of my head!! No matter how hard I try! 🙂

      Maybe you can make a playbill for another production called “Springtime in Syosset: The OCANewsical”.

    • Jane Rachel says

      <gasp…. help… tears are running out of my eyes, coffee has been spilt, computer keyboard is safe for now, cats are wondering what's up…. oh, thank you.

  19. Ah, the “October Surprise.” What might it be? Outside of Stokoe coming up with some sort of bombshell against Jonah, I don’t think Stokoe has any more bullets in his gun.

    He can’t seriously (and with what street cred he has left) advocate for the $105 assessment. He and Job were the chief architects of the withholding of OCA assessment in 2006/7 to bring down Herman. That illegal action was wrong. The Church, in conciliar fashion, going about reducing the assessment by means of an AAC, that is the correct conciliar process.

    Will such a move pass? Will a compromise be offered, not $105 but not $50? The Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spriit, yes the Holy Spirit will be present in Seattle, unlike Him being absent in Pittsburgh when Jonah was elected, according to the esteemed Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, the Church will decide. Not by a Job-like and his minions hijacking the OCA and in large part putting us on the path we are presently navigating. No, the Church will gather and decide. And even if the $105 “wins” it will be because the Church decides, openly.

    I have to agree with Bishop TIkhon of the West, if Herman would have stood up and held on to the role he was elected to hold, we might not be in the pickle we find ourselves in today. But, that is hindsight being 20/20 vision, and we are faced with the realities we have, I repeat we have created.

    It would be the greatest mistake to oust Jonah. No, he is not perfect. Neither were any OCA Metropolitan or any bishop who ever was. But, they are also called upon to be free in Christ, like all of us. Sometimes they make the right choices, sometimes they don’t. But none of Jonah’s choices rise to the level of being ousted, unless, of course, you are hell-bent on influencing the directing of the OCA and turning into the image you (Stokoe and Wheeler) lust after.

    In the present consideration, Jonah has made NO decisions that are uncanonical. He has made some real bonehead mistakes, to be sure, but if Stokoe, Wheeler, Benjamin, Melchesedek and Nathaniel get their way, the OCA and what little credibility it has, and that matters folks, don’t let Stokoe tell you it doesn’t, it does matter. If Jonah goes down, we are on our own, a small Orthodox sect swimming alone.

    Maybe the OCA must go away, maybe that is why the OCA was first created, to disappear, but if that is the case, it should be as a result of a positive action not a negative one.

    So, an October surprise? If Stokoe launches one, I have a good feeling that there are other voices out there now who will look very carefully at every word and motive of his “surprise” and respond to it accordingly.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Amos, in Part II, I’ll show that even with the present $105 per capita, the central administration is not long for this world. Whether the OCA is, is another matter. Maybe the best case scenario is that things continue to muddle along as they are presently. With +Jonah at the helm, an elegant transfer of the OCA into something better is at least conceivable. Without him it will be chaos and schism and the EP will be left to pick up whatever pieces remain. I guess what I’m saying is the dissolution of the OCA can be pretty or it can be ugly. It’s up to us to see which way it’s gonna be.

      I’m not sure his critics are that smart. In fact, I’d wager they’re pretty stupid. They don’t realize that everything they’ve done so far has been against their own best interests. Part of the reason is because they’re wedded to an uncanonical, outmoded way of ecclesiastical governance. The other reason is that like apparatchicks everywhere all they care about is their jobs. Either way, Syosset’s days are numbered. It’ll be either +Jonah or whoever is his successor who’s gonna wind up selling the property there.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Yes, what will be after the upcoming Halloween Council is anybody’s guess. There will be the usual row of pumpkins on the dais, but aside from that? Perhaps we should be worried: after all, the old saying was “A man goes to New York City to get ahead: he goes to Seattle to fail.”

      No need to wonder what Mrs. Steve Brown’s up to. What’s on his brain is on Carl’s lips.

      • Heracleides says

        “No need to wonder what Mrs. Steve Brown’s up to. What’s on his brain is on Carl’s lips.”

        You nailed it Bishop. When parsing our friend Carl, one must always keep in mind the fount from whence he draws inspiration. In his own words, Carl earlier this year stated:

        “I am also a fan of Mark Stokoe and the OCANEWS.ORG. I have yet to meet Mark in person but I feel that I know him already from his numerous postings: he is a gentleman and a true Orthodox Christian.”

        ( Source: )

  20. Carl Kraeff says

    I am going to address this once again and then take a break.

    In response to my allegation that +Jonah reneged on his agreement on the leave of absence, Helga said, October 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm: “Carl, there is no “verbal agreement” that Metropolitan Jonah reneged upon. He said he would take a break from his usual duties, and that is exactly what he did. If you have anything else to say, tell it to a spiritual court. Otherwise, shut your mouth and stop falsely accusing Metropolitan Jonah of lying.”

    My reply consists of evidence that is in the public record.

    Public Record No. 1 (my emphasis in bold)


    Wednesday, February 23, 2011, SESSION IV

    The Holy Synod’s Concern for the Health of His Beatitude, Jonah

    HEARD: The Holy Synod discussed matters affecting the primatial service of His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH. Holy Synod members affirmed their love and obedience to the Metropolitan and reminded him that love and obedience are also reciprocal between the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod. There must be mutual obedience.
    Metropolitan JONAH was asked to absent himself from the meeting.

    Discussion followed.

    Metropolitan JONAH returned to the meeting.


    The Holy Synod took the following actions and reviewed them with His Beatitude:

    1. The Holy Synod accepted Archpriest Alexander Garklavs’ resignation as Chancellor effective immediately.

    2. The Holy Synod expressed concern for the Metropolitan’s health. Once again they affirmed their love and concern for him and their earnest desire to see him succeed. After further discussion, the Holy Synod determined that a sixty day Leave of Absence for His Beatitude would be beneficial. Metropolitan Jonah accepted to do so. The Synod asked him to request to do so, as it would be better seen that he acknowledged the need for this. Metropolitan JONAH then requested a Leave Of Absence for not less than 60 days during which time he would see a physician and devote himself to his own spiritual and physical health without concern for the burdens of the primatial office. This could include a time of retreat at a monastery. His Grace Bishop Benjamin asked if he was ready to make this decision or if he needed additional time and the Metropolitan said he did not need more time to make the decision.

    3. The Holy Synod appointed Archbishop NATHANIEL as Administrator of the OCA for the length of His Beatitude’s leave.

    4. The Holy Synod appointed Bishop MELCHISEDEK as interim Chancellor.

    5. The Holy Synod relieved His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH from his responsibilities as Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South and appointed Bishop NIKON Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South with Bishop MARK continuing as administrator.

    6. The Holy Synod relieved His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH from his responsibilities as Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Midwest and appointed Bishop TIKHON as Locum Tenens of the diocese of the Midwest with Archimandrite MATTHIAS continuing as administrator

    HEARD: Bishop BENJAMIN conveyed to His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH, the above decisions of the Holy Synod. He noted that these decisions were made out of love for His Beatitude and out of concern for the spiritual and physical health of the Primate.

    The members of the Holy Synod emphasized that it was their desire for His Beatitude to sincerely take this time to address issues of his well‐being so that he could most effectively fulfill his responsibilities as Primate of the hurch.
    Metropolitan JONAH thanked the brothers for their concern and acknowledged that a leave of absence would be beneficial and noted that he had not had much time off since his election as Primate. Bishop TIKHON asked His Beatitude if he needed any time to reflect upon these matters. Metropolitan JONAH declined and confirmed that he would abide by the counsel of his brothers.


    A. The Holy Synod accepted the request of Metropolitan JONAH for a leave of absence for 60 days.

    B. Bishop MICHAEL will meet with Archpriest Alexander Garklavs on Friday to convey to him that the Holy Synod accepts his resignation. He will also meet with the other members of the staff and inform them of the above developments and appointments.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011, SESSION V

    Final Review

    HEARD: The Holy Synod reviewed the decisions from the minutes from the previous days. Bishop TIKHON presented a draft of the Press Release. Metropolitan JONAH inquired about several upcoming events which he had been scheduled to participate in. The Holy Synod recommended that it would be best for His Beatitude to begin his leave of absence immediately and allow the Administrator, the Interim Chancellor and the members of the Holy Synod to assume the responsibility for those events. Metropolitan JONAH agreed to this recommendation.”

    Public Record No. 2.

    Metropolitan Jonah’s prepared text on Sunday, February 27th read from the amvon of St. Nicholas’ cathedral during the English Divine Liturgy. (my emphasis in bold)

    “Dearly Beloved in Christ,

    I greet you with the feast of the Last Judgment as we prepare ourselves for the Great and Holy Lenten Fast.

    It is with sadness today that I address you, not because of the content of what I have to say, but because of the manner in which it needs to be said. As many of you know, in line with the longstanding tradition in the church of an intensified prayer life during Lent, I as a diocesan bishop, requested from my brothers on the Holy Synod to set aside a period of time for myself during the Great Fast to spend in personal reflection and renewal. Due to the complexity of my work and travel schedule since my becoming Metropolitan, this will be the first extended period of rest that I have taken in quite some time. I am extremely grateful to my brothers for granting me this request, and for taking on the burden of added responsibility to their already busy schedules: Bishop Tikhon is now the locum tenens of the Diocese of the Midwest, and Bishop Nikon is now the locum tenens of the Diocese of the South.

    I had intended, and still plan on doing so, to rest as much as possible during the Great Fast, spending time with loved ones and celebrating and attending the Divine Services at my Primatial Cathedral of St Nicholas in Washington.

    However, due to inaccurate reporting on the Internet stating that I had been deposed, that I had resigned, that I am on a leave of absence, rumors that have spread worldwide and have caused great concern among many. I owe you the faithful of this diocese clarification of the facts.

    I am still your Metropolitan. I am still your diocesan bishop. I am still the active primate of the Orthodox Church in America. The reports are not true. I am merely taking a retreat, a time for reflection.

    I have requested a time of rest. In line with the Holy Canons, the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, and the good order of the church, no major decisions will be made without my knowledge and consent. His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel will be assisting the officers of the church in day-to-day operations. His Grace, Bishop Melchisadek has been kind enough to offer his support in the role of interim Chancellor of the OCA. In line with the statute of the OCA, I am postponing the official spring meetings of the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council until the period of time after Pascha. The members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America have been informed of this postponement.

    As the Lord said in the midst of His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you… Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” I love you, I thank you for your continued support and prayers, and look forward to celebrating the Great and Holy Fast with you as we make the journey to the Pascha of Our Lord. Now, let us forget about what lies behind and push forward to lies ahead.”

    Of course, +Jonah proceeded from the premise that there was no leave of rest but a period of rest that would be defined as he saw fit. The only point that I am making is that +Jonah agreed to a leave of absence, requested it, affirmed it repeatedly and, after the retreat, renounced it. He did not say that he made a mistake in agreeing to a leave of absence; he said that there was no such thing. In other words, he reneged.

    • Heracleides says

      “Requested it” my ass – just like those thousands of Orthodox bishops and priests “requested” a little rest & relaxation time at one of those comfy Soviet gulags. Nobody’s drinking the swill you call Kool-Aid, so get a clue Carl.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        You have a point. I am merely relying on a document produced in the name of the Holy Synod. It may well be that the document is wrong. However, as far as I know no one has come out and said that the document does not accurately reflect what had happened. Look, there are only three possibilities;

        1. The Minutes are not correct but represent best recollection, in which case, +Jonah’s recollection may indeed be different. Let him come out with the appropriate correction and propose it to the Holy Synod for retroactive correction of the record.

        2. The Minutes are not correct because they were falsified, in which case, +Jonah would be correct and should initiate appropriate disciplinary actions against the perpetrator.

        3. The Minutes accurately reflect the verbal agreement that +Jonah reneged on.

        • At least took minutes!!! But the difference between public and private minutes is often like night and day.

        • Sorry, these minutes were published before Met. Jonah ever even saw them. I don’t wonder why he reacted as he did.

          But you just go ahead and sockpuppet for Mark, Carl.

      • I share your skepticism, Herc. Metropolitan Jonah was putting on a brave face, but his tears at the end are a dead giveaway. Accusing Metropolitan Jonah of lying for saying what he was told to say is just too much. I can’t believe people like Carl here have the nerve to call him a liar for that.

        I may catch some flak for this, and I want to make it clear that I’m not accusing him of any wrongdoing, but I think Metropolitan Jonah’s total lack of skill in prevaricating is on full display in the part where he’s putting a respectable facade on the other bishops’ actions. There’s a palpable difference between that part, and the part where Carl accuses him of lying, which is exactly like the part where he says the undisputed truth that he’s still their Metropolitan and diocesan bishop.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          So, he was forced to agree and that makes his word, given under duress, null and void. Is that about right?

          Incidentally, I have never said that +Jonah lied; what I said is that he reneged on his verbal agreement. IIt may be that, in his own mind, he believed that reneging was the right thing to do, to right a wrong. I have no idea. The point is that grown men mean what they say, remember what they have said, and keep their word.

          • Carl, he DID keep his word. He said he’d take a break and he did. If you want to keep accusing him, take it to court.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Since you are so close to him that you saw tears running down his cheeks, I have no reason to doubt you when tou testify to us that he had said that he was going to take a break. Is it not the least bit possible that he also said he would take a leave of absence? That the minutes’ error is in fact that they omit what you testify to be true rather than lying about the instances when he agreed to a leave of absence. In other words, I am more than willing to trust your testimony; why don’t you also trust the testimony of the Holy Synod?

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Another thing that jumped out at me as I reread your fascinating post. You said “Accusing Metropolitan Jonah of lying for saying what he was told to say is just too much.” So, are you insinuating that

            a. He was given a choice, such as agree to a leave of absence for a limited time or we’ll put you on a leave of absence indefinitely; or

            b. He has no backbone, no ability to stand up for himself.

            Tell me close-to-the-Metropolitan Helga (the one who saw tears running down his cheeks): When is a grown up excused from taking responsibility for his actions? Does your hero love the office so much that he will agree to anything to keep it? Is he apt to agree when cornered, just to extricate himself from the disagreeable situation? He reminds me of the airman in my survival school POW Camp who could not cope with his (very temporary) hardships and wore the guard’s uniform and carried a weapon to keep his former compatriots imprisoned. Needless to say, he was discharged. It may be time for +Jonah to do the right thing for once and discharge himself from his position as Metropolitan.

            • Welcome back Carl. Sounds like you got an injection of B12!

              Jonah may not Be the super hero strong man you want and he certainly, IMHO could have told Benjamin and Melchesedek to “stick it” but I really don’t think that people like you will be happy with any Metropolitan. For someone like you, you have written him off, so unless you can come up with anything new, no point in repeating the obvious to yourself cuz you ain’t gonna convince me and I won’t convince you.

              Jonah is the Metropolitan and he will continue to be the Metropiltan. If you can’t accept that, then you have two choices, deal with it or move on.

              • Mark from the DOS says

                Yes, of course. If Met. Jonah had told Bishops Benjamin and Melchisedek to “stick it”, people like Carl would attack him for not being conciliar and being unable to work with the Synod. They’ll report that Bishop Nikon yelled at the Metropolitan as a virtue of Bishop Nikon and a flaw of the Metropolitan. If the reverse had happened, HB would be painted as unstable, given to fits of anger, and unable to control himself.

                I am sure, based on Carl’s last post then, he is fine with Met. Jonah refusing to check into a rehab center as Bishop Benjamin had ordered.

                I am just tired of the entirely disingenuous nature of the debate. The motives are so transparent; the offenses so trifling; and level of indignation so overblown. If I’ve read Stokoe wailing about potential legal disaster once, I’ve read it 100 times. Yet, how many of these suits resulted from offenses occurring on Jonah’s watch? I believe the answer is zero.

                • I doubt if Metropolitan Jonah would have met ASAM criteria for admittance into a ‘rehab” program so the OCA health insurance would not have paid for it…

                  • All, to show you how slick and dishonest this whole debate is about +Jonah “submitting” himself to the Holy Synod and checking into a Rehab center even though he’s completely sane, do any of these people understand the concept of “insurance fraud”?

                    Speaking as somebody in the healthcare field, I can tell you that we have a very dim view of fraud, especially if it involved third parties (i.e. insurance companies). If we participate, even if we’re the ones defrauded, we get fined, audited, and can have our licenses suspended.

                    Maybe the Stokovites think it’s all rather cute to play these gaymes, whatever it takes to get rid of the problem du jour, and dragoon venerable archpriests such as Hopko to make the necessary diagnosis, but I can assure you that the authorities take a very dim view of such shenanigans. And honest health professionals do as well. (And not because we’re necessarily scared of the policing agencies, but because getting engaged in these types of activities drain precious time and resources from an already bloated work schedule.)

                    • o Hamartolos says

                      You bring up a point that should have been pointed out the day Fr. Thomas Hopko decided to publicly give us his diagnosis of our Metropolitan. What qualifications does Fr. Thomas have for telling us all that the metropolitan was “gravely disturbed”? I will grant that he is a venerable presbyter, theologian, professor, and preacher, but I don’t recall at all him being trained in mental health. Like any counselor, psychologist, and psychiatrist knows all too well, practicing beyond one’s competence is dangerous, unwise, and downright unethical. Fr. Thomas has no training, and I would venture to say, a less than working knowledge of mental health, thus making him unqualified to inform any of us of Metropolitan Jonah’s mental health or state. For him to so boldly say such things is unwise, dangerous, and down right unethical.

                    • I dug up Fr. Thomas Hopko’s CV, and I see no credentials whatsoever in psychology or psychiatry.

                      But let’s stop playing along with the charade, and call Fr. Hopko’s letter what it is: a purely political maneuver designed to discredit and humiliate Metropolitan Jonah. The letter is designed to give people an uneasy feeling about Metropolitan Jonah’s mental stability, without veering into a specific diagnosis that a real doctor could refute.

                      The most disturbing part of this to me is the pretense of sadness and caring for the Metropolitan’s health. Fr. Thomas and Metropolitan Jonah have known each other for thirty years. One might think from that that the senior protopresbyter might have his former student’s number. But I think that possibility is undermined by Fr. Hopko’s endorsement of OCA News and Mark Stokoe. There are some legitimate issues with Metropolitan Jonah’s administration, as we have all acknowledged from day one, but anyone who sees Stokoe’s obscene and hateful behavior against the Metropolitan, and endorses it without qualification, has no credibility.

                      Fr. Hopko has absolutely no excuse for what he did. Some might say that Stokoe hadn’t fully shown his nastiness (keeping up the attacks for several months, publishing stolen emails) back in March, but Stokoe’s contempt for the Metropolitan had already been on display for quite some time, as Stokoe himself admitted. Instead of repenting, however, after a few weeks of further hatred and damage caused by his letter, he issued a fake apology that only served to rub salt in the wound.

                      Fr. Hopko should be ashamed of what he has done. He should withdraw both letters and firmly repudiate Stokoe and OCA News, and then offer a real personal apology to Metropolitan Jonah (and Fr. Fester, of course). Will this ever happen? I expect there will be a cold day in hell first. But there is always hope.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Helga, agreed. The question is: “why doesn’t he do so?” A few possible answers: Because Stokoe and Hopko are entrenched within the same dysfunctional Old Boys Club and Hopko sees stars everytime Stokoe writes something, or Stokoe has knowledge of something in Hopko’s past that he threatened him with exposure.

                      Either way, Stokoe’s pathology coupled with his three-decade long tenure gives him vast leverage over the others. He calls the tune, they dance.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      So if I follow the logic, Fr. Hopko is gratuitous in his “diagnosis” because he lacks qualification, yet you are not gratuitous in your opinion that no “diagnosis” exists? It seems to me that both sides of this “debate” violate a basic tenet of medical diagnostics: direct examination. This is not simply extraordinarily foolish, it is both dangerous and ultimately consequential. I personally have no knowledge of how Fr. Thomas reached the conclusion that he did, and it strikes me as pretentious and unfair to speculate. But I would ask how many of you have conducted a direct examination of the Metropolitan before reaching your conclusion?

                      Likewise, this speaks to the supercilious fashion in which Fr. Thomas is spoken of by people who truly do not him or his heart. With his God-provided talents and accomplishments, his earned respect and accumulated wisdom which “brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance” (Ecc. 8:1), you would somehow ignorantly portray him as “dancing” like the daughter of Herodias’ wife for a website administrator, or motivated by a contrived “pathology” born of pure and shameless psychobabble? “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” (Rom. 13:7)

                      I suspect that not one of you has the courage to do what he called for this past weekend: speak to him directly.

                    • Stanky, your argument falls flat because we are not declaring Met. Jonah sane by our own understanding, but by the determination of an actual licensed psychologist.

                      Fr. Thomas Hopko, on the other hand, has no such credentials.

                      Of course, there’s also the distinct lack of mental disturbance shown in the homilies Met. Jonah delivered at his cathedral during the weeks of Lent.

                      By the way, Herod is the man, Herodias is the woman.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      M. Stankovich (“M”?), I am afraid you have unraveled yourself.

                      Second, I am unable to listen to Father Hopko’s talks and I would not be able to speak to him directly. What did he call for? Church-wide fasting and repentance? Healing of the wounds we have suffered at the hands of our gay bishops and their priests? Did he set the bar for humility amongst the leaders by apologizing to Metropolitan Jonah and Father Joseph Fester for what he said about them publicly? And to the people for what he told us to do that fateful afternoon last Forgiveness Sunday? That day was fateful because that day, I and many others lost respect for him. Now, a real apology and admittance of his part in THAT insanity would take courage.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      M, or Mr. Stankovich, I have read your articles and comments on your web site. I undestand what you are saying and understand the pain part of it. I’m torn up about the reality of homosexuality. However, I don’t believe that Father Arida, Father Jillions, you and others are on the right track in wanting the world-wide Orthodox Church to accept and commune active homosexuals. If I’m incorrect in assuming this is what you want, please correct me. I know some priests already commune active homosexuals and feel it is wrong for them to take that decision upon themselves without permission from the entire Church to do so. After all, we are ONE, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Is the Creed supposed to change?

                      Truly, I would like to listen to Fr. Thom’s lectures, but we have very slow internet connection here. I’ll try to listen later today if it’s possible. What did he say?

                      Also, it’s unnecessary to accuse those who write here of lacking courage, or to compare our courage to his.

                    • Fr. Jillions, too? The new chancellor?

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Here is a link to Mr. Stankovich’s web site: Maybe Father Jillions would be willing to let us know where he stands.

                      If homosexuality is to be accepted in the Orthodox Church, wouldn’t it also be acceptable for our bishops and priests to be homosexuals, and if so, would they be required to be celibate or “allowed” to be active? In that case, wouldn’t it be likely to have “married” homosexual priests? With children? Certainly not “married” homosexual bishops! The logic in the thinking of these educated, erudite men is deafeningly odd.

                    • Just keep in mind that as chancellor, this Fr. Jillions will have a huge amount of control over how pastoral issues are handled in the OCA. He’ll have control over which seminarians get ordained, for example.

                      I don’t want anyone to think I’m exaggerating for effect when I say that Fr. Jillions’ chancellorship should be opposed and protested by every means available at the next AAC.

                    • I didn’t see anything on that website that had anything to do with Fr. Jillions. Maybe I missed it. Connect the dots for me.

                  • Stephen, are you seeing the problem now? They didn’t want to send the Metropolitan to rehab for his health, they did it to discredit and humiliate him. What kind of people would do such a thing?

                    • Pretty nasty people…this entire thing is becoming beyond sad…

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Hi StephenD. It’s pretty sad but it’s not beyond sad because light is shining in the dark, icky corners. Glory to God! It was very sad for a long time, and it is still tragic, but we have hope! That is a joyful thing, having hope. Just today, more good happened. We are coming out and saying for anyone to read, and I say it firmly along with Helga and others; “Fr. Hopko should be ashamed of what he has done. He should withdraw both letters and firmly repudiate Stokoe and OCA News, and then offer a real personal apology to Metropolitan Jonah (and Fr. Fester, of course).”

                      And I add: “…to the people.” We were hurt, too. We trusted Father Thom.

                      Five years ago, no one would dream of calling Fr. Thom Hopko to account for anything. Now we are disappointed in him, and also, ready to forgive him. I am still shocked. Not “shocked! shocked!” but just… what’s up with that??!? But he has to stop being so dumb. Honestly.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      I lost my internet (DSL) connection for four days during which I’ve had to descend into the nethermost regions, the very bowels of ATT technical assistance and maintenance before emerging with communications restored. I’ve a lot of catching up to do.

                      Re. Right Reverend Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko. Sometimes a person suffering (or fearful that he is suffering) from this or that pathology is quick to see it in others and escapes addressing his fears about himself by raising the alarm about those others. One might ask, for example, the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters how much any disturbances he was personally undergoing influenced his quickness in directing attention away from himself and towards other likely targets.

                      Thus a “greatly disturbed’ person might be quick to identify “great disturbances” in others, partIcularly if the others need targetting for other, personal reasons.

                      And Chicken Little, a nervous sort, was quick to point out that the sky was falling to justify his agitation, panic, etc. “It’s not me, it’s the SKY!” “It’s not me, it’s the METROPOLITAN!”.

                      In earlier days, that is, in my experience, Holy Synod minutes were reviewed during the sessions of the Holy Synod; for example, the opening session’s minutes might be ready for reviewing by the time of the third session, when they would be read out loud and all would have a chance to comment and make corrections. The process continued throughout the meeting time of the Synod. Customarily, the formal close of business took place on the last morning. The main business of that last session was PURELY to review the last section of minutes and set the time of the next meeting, after which there was lunch and then departures.

                      It was only in the dark days of my last year on the Synod that any “monkeying around with the process” was experienced. Archbishop Seraphim sometimes was unable to complete the minutes in time, lacking sometimes two full sessions. Then, we’d get the minutes in the mail. They didn’t always gibe with the memories of the participants, and email and telephone calls and “he told me” and ‘I told him” was often heard around the country as attempts to correct or improve the minutes were exerted, sometimes unsuccessfully. I came very close to believing that this was purposeful.

                      Shamefully, between the ever-memorable Archbishop of Chicago and the Bishop of the Albanians, Mrs. Brown sometimes reported on the proceedings of the Holy Synod before the hierarchs received copies of the Minutes in the U.S. Mail!

                      The problem is with the process itself. NO other LOCAL CHURCH’s Holy Synod produces minutes like ours. The most detailed protocols are those of the Russian Holy Synod. They follow this strict format: “HEARD” “DECIDED.” The “expert” MBA types revered as Sacred Cows by the Metropolitan Soviet would have none of that; neither would Mrs. Brown. “Who said what to whom and when” is what they demanded. Those appalling “minutes” of a Retreat in Santa Fe represent a kind of apotheosis of the “Who said what to whom and when” process. Nothing pejorative coming from a mouth of a First Hierarch could equal the effect of a document, such as the one those geniuses produced in Santa Fe, on the “outside world” of the other Local Churches! The hierarchs, God be with them, now on the Holy Synod who were hierarchs before I retired are responsible for that. They have some, no matter how flawed, “institutional memory”, but they were able to ignore it in order to further their agenda. The others, including Metropolitan Jonah, just had to take their word for what “has been done.”

                      I have personal experience of the use of that phrase, “how it was done in the past.” by one of those hierarchs. He used it twice in correspondence to me for his own purposes. In both instances he lied and I have the proof of it. Falsehoods are falsehoods. But falsehoods with a purpose are called (and are) lies.

                      With Metropolitan Jonah, many deliberately tripped him and he sometimes fell. Then he was condemned for the fall. The OCA is in danger of becoming a kind of ‘sandbox” among the Local Churches. The sand is called “conciliarity” The kids are sitting in the sand, building little piles of “consensus” which soon is blown about. Anything but following the Old World Churches or The Ethnic Churches because they are all sunk in Tradtion and not open to Creative Tradition–the ultimate oxymoron! Mrs. Brown and those with her, legions actually, to be scriptural, are trapped in their own rhetoric and failure, but they won’t ask for help. They can’t.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Your Grace, it’s great to have you back! We very much appreciate your insights and historical perspectives.

                      To all, I should have Part III up tonight. The essay in its entirety is growing beyond the original three parts that I was going to post because I’m getting more information.

                      Thanks for the patience.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      They didn’t always gibe with the memories of the participants, and email and telephone calls and “he told me” and ‘I told him” was often heard around the country as attempts to correct or improve the minutes were exerted, sometimes unsuccessfully.

                      The image that comes immediately to mind is Cookie Monster in about 1988 (Reagan’s era), when Cookie Monster was interviewed on “Sesame Street” by Robert McNeill,who asked him if he took the missing cookies:

                      Cookie Monster: “Me no recall. Me fuzzy on that one.”

                      Cookie Monster: Me not *take* cookies, me *eat* the cookies.
                      Robert McNeill: What’s the difference?
                      Cookie Monster: Eat begin with an E and take… Begin with a T.

                      Welcome back, Your Grace.

            • Carl, you are putting the Metropolitan into an impossible catch-22, in that he must either be disobedient or not have a backbone. He said what he was told to say and did what he was told to do. How could anyone ask for more than that? He shows more strength and heroism in that humble obedience than if he’d told them off in some faux-hero style and stormed out of the room.

              I was not present when he gave that address at St. Nicholas, but anyone can hear the quaver in his voice, and where he had to pause to collect himself. Out of respect, I did not think it right to dwell on that too much. I only brought it up because it shows the underlying emotion.

              As for whether my “hero” loves the office so much he would do anything to keep it, I think that if you read that draft speech, you’d know he does not love the office, but he bears the cross given to him by God. He also knows good and well where all this strife and hardship has been coming from, and that it must be resisted and exorcised.

            • He reminds me of the airman in my survival school POW Camp who could not cope with his (very temporary) hardships and wore the guard’s uniform and carried a weapon to keep his former compatriots imprisoned.

              Kraeff, you are an offensive character. I’ve smelled it for a long time; that stench of betrayal behind all your smooth words counseling moderation.

              You can’t help yourself, can you? You’ve got that irrational hatred at the core of you thinking just like Stokoe does. Nothing abates it, no evidence, reason, persuasion — nothing.

              I don’t think you are homosexual. Reason can’t tame that passion once a person decides the behavior is not sinful. That at least makes Stokoe’s hatred comprehensible.

              But what explains yours? What’s the prison that you imagine +Jonah is keeping you in?

              • “As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned…”
                — from St. Paul’s Letter to Titus 3

                • Convicting words, Nikos! Thanks.

                  One can be fractious, though, Ian, ISTM, without being motivated by hatred (at least in the *emotionally* passionate sense). I could, of course, be wrong, but Carl’s posts haven’t seemed to me to be the words of a hater (in this sense at least). He seems, rather, to be very married to an opinion he has been persuaded by others (who, perhaps, are not as trustworthy as he has chosen to consider them?) is the truly “reasonable” one (regardless of its actual connection to reality?). Carl just seems stuck in the rut, therefore, of trying to find a way to reconcile new information to that tired, old, largely discredited, yet seemingly to him eminently “reasonable” imaginative construction first proffered by OCA News.

                  In our age, enamored as we seem to be with human powers of rationality, this is not unusual. It just proves we are children of our times and susceptible to propaganda. But perhaps this is an argument for why this kind of fractiousness is even more destructive and dangerous in the Church than passionate hatred, which ISTM can be more readily identified as evil and rejected as counter to God’s will and purpose.

                  • Karen, you are more charitable than I am and that is a good thing. Still, the words Kraeff used to describe +Jonah are so offensive, filled with such rank disdain for a man who has done nothing to deserve even the suggestion that they might be true, that it leads me to conclude that anything he writes is untrustworthy.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Karen, I’m with Ian on this one. Such irrational negativity towards a person can’t help but be motivated by anything other than hatred. And for those who think I hate Stokoe –you’re wrong. i don’t hate him, just what he’s doing to this Church and an innocent man. I’ve pointed out numerous times when he’s incorrect, biased or both. My disdain Stokoe and his acolytes is based on reasoned analysis of what’s going on behind the scenes. If he went away and/or repented, I think we should welcome back into the bosom of the Church.

                      Unfortunately, +Jonah’s critics wont be happy unless he’s confined to a rubber room fighting over scraps of food with rats. Even if this precipitated the decline of the OCA any further, they’d still be content. They’re very much like the “Progressives” of today who having had an ultra-leftist as President and an even more leftist Congress for 2 years, they’re reduced to sputtering that “we didn’t spend enough,” or “we didn’t nationalize all the industries that we should have,” etc.

                    • More likely not more charitable, just less discerning, Ian! 🙂

            • Carl, from what you all say, I’m wondering if is you, Hopko, and Stoke who are the ones who are really “gravely disturbed” rather than our Metropolitan?

              • Carl Kraeff says

                I must be “gravely disturbed” to have tried to persuade the unwilling, to enlighten the blind, and to inject some sense of truth and common sense amongst those who nothing of either. God bless you all.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Dear Helga & Carl:

          This is off topic, but in looking over my posts and responses to you, as well as to Carl, I believe I was very rude and inappropriate to you and Carl. Sometimes debtes and discussions get heated, but I seem to have crossed a line that I personally do not like to cross.

          Therefore, please accept my apology and my sincere request for forgiveness. I am sorry I was rude. Maybe others do not see it, but I do. I apologize for my behavior and words, and hope you will forgive me.

          I will make a sincere effort in the future to be more controlled and kind towards you and others.

          Mea Culpa.

          Peter A. Papoutsis

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Dear Peter–God forgives and I forgive. I am much more guilty than you in crossing the line into anger and overheated words. Please forgive me. Carl

          • It’s fine, Peter, don’t worry about it.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              I do worry about it because if cannot live as much as possible by the Gospel I have no business calling myself a Christian and trying to raise my kids as Christians. I thank you for your understanding and forgiveness. God bless and have a good night.


    • Carl, I have explained those minutes to you until I was blue in the face. I’m not doing it again. You know damn well what he was saying, and he did not lie.

      If you think you can or have proven otherwise, call Metropolitan Jonah to face your accusations in a spiritual court. If you are so confident in your allegations’ veracity, you have nothing to worry about. But I think you are simply afraid that if you did challenge him in spiritual court, you’ll be definitively proven wrong and excommunicated for making false accusations. So you just hurl them from behind the cover of George’s blog in order to portray Metropolitan Jonah as a liar and further the undermining of his leadership.

    • Carl, what you’re looking at is indeed public information. But it’s not what you think. It’s propoganda. The Holy Synod made sure that these notes were published with the wording they wanted to convey. It may or may not have been what actually happened. How many Holy Synod meetings have such detailed public notes published, complete with who said what and when they said it and how the other responded? Answer: Zero. This was published to put a pretty face on a very ugly situation for gullible people like you.

      However, what you don’t know is that their little plan failed, because what they wanted to do was have the Spring Holy Synod meeting without Met Jonah. Someone had given them bad information (oops!) – but Jonah was on task and realized what they were up to. He stopped them from having that meeting in his absence, because he knew he would be gone permanently if that meeting had taken place. Canon lawyers got involved from SVS and they confirmed that Jonah was within his canonical rights to postpone that meeting.

      So what you’re looking at might be able to ‘prove’ whatever pathetic point you’re trying to make. But what it really is is the evidence of a failed attempted coup.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        You may be right but you must realize that you are making very serious allegations against the bishops of the Holy Synod, don’t you? You and Helga and others are in fact are saying that there are two sides to this: On one side is +Jonah and on the other side is the Holy Synod. And, one side (not +Jonah) is lying.

        You know, what I am doing here arguing with y’all would indeed be pathetic if you are correct. But, it is also pathetic because you are so dismissive of any evidence that is presented against +Jonah.

        Have a great weekend, Carl

        • George Michalopulos says

          Carl, you’re a reasonable man. Yes, these are serious allegations. But what about the horrendous allegations made against +Jonah?

          • Carl Kraeff says

            They are all horrendous accusations George. If they are true, as long as there is repentance on the part of the persons who have/are falling short, I am ready to move on. And, I am ready to take the word of whoever has oversight.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Carl, you’re right. Repentance is what it is all about. Without it it doesn’t matter who wears the white klobuk. We won’t be the Bride of Christ without it. So why do I think +Jonah is the man who should wear the white klobuk? Because he’s repentant. The fact that he doesn’t want to wear it proves that to me.

  21. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Mr. Stankovich writes:

    So if I follow the logic, Fr. Hopko is gratuitous in his “diagnosis” because he lacks qualification, yet you are not gratuitous in your opinion that no “diagnosis” exists? It seems to me that both sides of this “debate” violate a basic tenet of medical diagnostics: direct examination. This is not simply extraordinarily foolish, it is both dangerous and ultimately consequential. I personally have no knowledge of how Fr. Thomas reached the conclusion that he did, and it strikes me as pretentious and unfair to speculate. But I would ask how many of you have conducted a direct examination of the Metropolitan before reaching your conclusion?

    Likewise, this speaks to the supercilious fashion in which Fr. Thomas is spoken of by people who truly do not him or his heart. With his God-provided talents and accomplishments, his earned respect and accumulated wisdom which “brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance” (Ecc. 8:1), you would somehow ignorantly portray him as “dancing” like the daughter of Herodias’ wife for a website administrator, or motivated by a contrived “pathology” born of pure and shameless psychobabble? “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” (Rom. 13:7)

    I suspect that not one of you has the courage to do what he called for this past weekend: speak to him directly.

    Time does not permit me to respond to your comments or to the so-called scientific evidence you present on your website in hopes that the Orthodox Church will accept the Homosexual lifestyle. However, rest assured that I will be responding and in a very lengthy response that I will submit to George and if he so chooses he can post on his site.

    You have gone from being slightly amusing to downright dangerous for the life of the Church and your position needs a lengthy and articulate response. I require two weeks, and at the end of that time you will have a response.
    You may not like it, but your comments have made it necessary. See you in two weeks.

    Peter A. Papoutsis

    • OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, are you kidding me. Arida, Vinogradov, Wheeler and Stankovich now have a website called “We are their Legacy” They hijack Fr Alexander and present a justification for homosexuality?

      If this is our OCA legacy, you can keep it. No wonder the OCA is in such bad shape. That is what you will get from a sectarian Orthodox Church doing its own thing. Yeah, right, there is no gay cabal in the OCA.

      Please, last one out, please turn out the lights on the experiment called the OCA.

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        “We are their legacy”? More like “We are their embarrassment.”

        Here’s Stanky on the “science” of sexual orientation:

        For our pur­pose, then, I define homo­sex­u­al­ity as same-sex-attraction (SSA). While this will be expanded as we progress, I am emphatic in mak­ing an absolute dis­tinc­tion from same-gender sex­ual activ­ity. They are mutu­ally exclu­sive, dis­tinct and sep­a­rate, and I believe it is a grave error to mis­use or con­fuse the terms, or to pre­sume them as “inter-changeable.”

        First off, this is not science; this is philosophy — and very bad philosophy at that. After all, when does “same-gender sexual activity” occur without “same-sex attraction” on somebody’s part? So much for the two being “mutually exclusive, distinct and separate.” So much for the distinction being “absolute.” (The emphasis in the quote is all his.)

        The truth is that the activity is an expression of the attraction, but Stanky’s obviously not interested in the truth.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Fr. Deacon,

          For the record, I did not introduce my personal writings on alternate sites to Mr. Michalopulos’ blog. You are responsible for this. I find this rude and insulting to Mr. Michalopulos, and I apologize to him as a continuously gracious host.

          I believe I have repeatedly invited correction of any inaccuracy in what I present as scientific data, openly acknowledging it to be only as “true” as the research upon which I rely. This is how I was trained, and this is how I understand the practice of medical research. I would further emphasize that, first, despite my intention to be scrupulous and contemporaneous, I am not above misinterpretation of the research, and second, I make no claim to expertise. If there exists a manner of “transparency” beyond what I have expressed, it alludes me.

          In that you have not offered anything resembling credible correction of the science as I have presented it, I am reasonably concluding that you are incompetent and lack authority, and I am accurate in my presentation of the data. In any case, I stand by my integrity. I would only ask that if you intend to continue to speak about me, that you do so on another site.

          • Michael Bauman says

            M, you repeatedly invite correction of the ‘facts’ yet you repeatedly deny any criticism of the assumptions that govern the selection, ordering and interpretation of those facts.

            Modern science is intrinsically material in its thought (although there are exceptions). To address a question of spiritual anthropology from a material point of view is inherently false. While one can draw some helpful information from modern science, it is simply not the tool to use to construct a viable spiritual anthropology–especially within the Orthodox Church which already has a deep understanding of such embedded in Holy Tradition and the sacramental life.

            The ‘fact’ is that the selection, ordering and interpretation of ‘facts’ is far more crucial and important than any ‘fact’ used to construct, explore or communicate a specific thought. Facts are like cells. The assumptions that govern their use is like DNA.

            The more you insist on a ‘factual’ discussion of the issue at hand, the more I distrust your motives and your goals.

            Your final appeal to the ‘authority’ of the high-holy-priesthood of science:

            “In that you have not offered anything resembling credible correction of the science as I have presented it, I am reasonably concluding that you are incompetent and lack authority, and I am accurate in my presentation of the data.”

            is sickenly arrogant and reveals your existential bias against the life of the Church and therefore renders anything you have to say about the life of the Church moot. The only reason to ‘listen’ to anything you have to say is to point out the falsness of what you say in the hopes that fewer people will be infected by your perfidy.

          • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

            Stanky, NO HONEST MAN would deny the connection between same-sex attraction and same-sex sexual activity, yet you do so emphatically, for the obvious purpose of conning people into thinking that SSA is natural, normal, and harmless for some people even if SSSA is prohibited by the Church, no doubt for the further purpose of eventually overthrowing the prohibition. You are up to no good and deserve the condemnation and derision you receive here.

            • Well, so much fo my attempt to get us back on topic. Nice weather today, eh?

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                What was the topic? Oh, the Finlandization of the OCA — becoming a tiny rogue church subservient to the Zeitgeist.

                • No, it was the $50 Assessment for the OCA. But I think your topic is very important given that it looks like that is what the OCA has become.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Mr Stankovich, thank you for the compliment. Even though I find myself unable to support the program of normalization of SSA, I do beleive that we need to realize that we are all aflicted with sin. My concern is that there is an active program (which is based on compassion for the afflicted) to override the common mind of the Church. I’m not accusing you of being a witting proponent of this program, nevertheless, I find that I must resist it as much (and as civilly) as possible.

            • Michael Bauman says

              George, Mr. M is either a useful idiot or he is, in fact a witting proponent of the program to override the teaching of the Church.

              If he is not a witting proponent, why would he spend so much time and effort in his propaganda war against the moral teaching of the Church and the spiritual anthropology which underlies that teaching? He has gone far beyond being merely an interested commentator with freaky ideas.

              Either way, he will use your civility to continue to propagate the false teachings in the name of ‘science’ and the superiority of the material mind over the revealed truth of the Church; the chiliastic belief in evolutionary progress over the constancy of Holy Tradition. His is a position that denies the reality of the Church and her eschatological vision, i.e, denies the person of Jesus Christ as the Church has always taught Him and the saints have always known Him and in fact even minimally faithful lay folks like myself experience while participating in the sacramental life of the Church.

              Mr M’s quite, mannered approach that is oh soooooooo precise and factual is monstrous in its beliefs and assumptions. If he is a person who suffers from homosexual temptation, he is lying to himself about himself attempting to justify his own sinful inclination. He is most certainly lying about the faith, about Jesus Christ and about our interrelationship with our Creator.

              What is civility when faced with such lies and seduction, not just once but again and again and again: ever read C.S. Lewis space trilogy, especially Perelandra?

              It is one thing to allow relatively unfettered dialog on matters of church governance and administration, quite another to be a vehicle for false teachings don’t you think?

              Personally, I would not allow his posts on the subject or links to his site anymore than I would to porn sites.

              “Sex is the mysticism of materialism and the only possible religion in a materialistic society.” Malcolm Muggeridge

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        The following is taken directly off of “We are their Legacy” website, and was written by Mr. Stankovich”

        Nevertheless, I am very con­fi­dent in stat­ing that research evi­dence clearly indi­cates a sig­nif­i­cant genetic her­i­tabil­ity for Same-Sex-Attraction. And the answer is the error in the premise of the “refutation.”

        This is the predicate upon which the modern Heresy, which I and others have dubbed “THE ROT,” is based upon, and has now entered into the Orthodox Church. This is why I and others need to respond.

        God help us.

        Peter A. Papoutsis

        • Thank you Peter. Yes you and our Theologians need to speak up. Our Greek scholars, our Canon Lawyers, our Church Historians who have studied areas such as penances to show our practices throughout our 2000 year history. I believe there are more people within the Orthodox world that have a contribution to make to the teachings of our Church than we have heard. Now is the time to speak up, although a real defence can not be quickly composed for our modern world.
          It is unfortunate that people are invovled. Wouldn’t it be nice to talk theoreticaly about such teachings of the Church without involving anyone you knew? The problem is, we all know someone in the Church who is struggling with SSA or who buys into the homosexual identity and practice, which makes us hesitant to speak up at all, or hesitate to be labeled so we don’t speak up. Professionals risk their careers to do so. The fact remains, we as Orthodox Christians have had no other practice, other than celebacy. A woman is for a man and a man for a woman. Any other practice is outside of Orthodoxy and if there is no repentence there is broken communion.
          While we wait for Science and the softer sciences to conduct studies and experiments trying to find answers about ourselves, I believe we already have the answer in our midst and in our practices (not that enough Priests practice what the Church actually teaches). We are being confussed with “niceness” and who knows what Science will prove. Wouldn’t it be a shame if after all is said and done, we change the Church and her teaching and then in 50 years or so we find out it absolutely is not genetic, or one is not “born that way” . . . so we’ve given it all up caused all this confussion, division and wrong teaching in Church, just to turn around and say-dang, we had it right in the first place. To change anything to do with Anthropoly in the Church at this point is foolish. We simply have too much work to do before Ever thinking of Changing the Churches practices.
          Finally, it is interesting to me after listening to Fr. Thomas Hopkos Lecture on Homosexuality, that he had essentially nothing new to say, at least nothing I don’t already know and feel. (Well, I had already read his book, the Bible many Fathers, so I was a bit disappointed and not sure about some unfinished comments he made . . .?? ) Anyway, I have never met an Orthodox Christian that was not loving and concerned for someone who practices same sex. There is no judgement, just concern that every being have something true and good and not a false impression of the truth. We do not need to be told the basics. We need meat not fluff. We need to gather ourselves and speak as a collective voice, to stand firm, clear and in love to our Traditions and practices, that already exist even if we are hated. There is no need to fear, but rather a real need to get busy, put forth books and scholarship, relentlessly!

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Well its NOT the OCA. The OCA is a canonical Orthodox Church. There is a segment in the OCA that are “allegedly” attempting to push a heretical moral and theological agenda. So the OCA is perfectly fine and canonical so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

      Having said that, if Metropolitan Jonah is removed or his authority lessened in anyway following the AAC, and IF the Homosexual Cabal’s agenda starts to spread without any Bihsop checking it, as Bishop Matthaias did check it and supported the Orthodox position here in the Midwest, then the OCA will fall into heresy and then, AND ONLY THEN become heretical.

      Even then, the other hierarchs of the Orthodox Church, Greek, Carpatho-Russian, Serbian, MP Russian, ROCOR, etc., will first step in an attempt a correction and “cleansing” if you will before any pronouncement of heresy or uncanonical status.

      If this Homosexual acceptance agenda continues in the OCA and does reach critical mass the OCA will NOT just be cut loose, but a behind the scene and maybe not-so-behind the scene correction with first take place. However, if the OCA or this segment of the OCA persists then schism or partial schism with the affected members will occur and when that happens then the cut off sections basically withers and dies. It may exist, but it will become non-relevant and forgotten at that point.

      BUT AGAIN, we are nowhere near that point with the OCA or a segment of the OCA and any such speculation must be cooled down for now. People should respond, as I will, but any talk of heresy or division is way, way, premature. Too many good clergy and laity still exist in the OCA for people to loose hope in the OCA.

      Let’s just wait, respond firmly, but with Love, and pray that our hierarchs continue to proclaim the voice and mind of the Church as they have recently done.

      God Bless

      Peter A. Papoutsis

      • Peter, I look forward to your response. But in the meantime, I would ask the question to Bishop Nikon, Arida’s bishop and the Bishop Michael, Vinogradov and Wheeler’s bishop, did they get a blessing from their respective bishops to start this website with such a arrogant and blatant agenda? I mean, really, their website mission statement is to be a place “for listeners.” What, they expound and we listen?

        Would someone please inform these bishops that they have goof balls in their clerical ranks.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          “Goof balls” is right. Get a load of the hair on Stanky and Arida. Only their enemies would make them wear such rugs.

          • Deacon Patrick, I thought this was a cheap shot until I looked at that website and saw what you were referring to. Nothing is cheaper than those hairpieces.

        • Actually, I think I will answer my own question about these goofs asking for a blessing from their bishop to start such a website. I could just about bet the farm that these superior intellects didn’t ever consider asking their respective bishops for such a blessing. They being so superior as to consider such an inferior position to be beneath them.

          Ya ever wonder why Wheeler was really fired from Syosset? Such a site should pull back the curtain on his arrogance. The sites admonition that “We have a fun­da­men­tal intol­er­ance for dis­re­spect” is simply hypocrisy when you read Wheeler’s disrespect toward a bishop of the Church.

          Dn Eric says:
          October 1, 2011 at 8:41 pm
          You, my dear, Bishop Tikhon are a very sick man. You know the truth and yet you twist the truth for your own sick delight. My wife wrote you in 1999 and recommended that you seek medical help. Your response back to me was to never contact you ever again unless I had an illness for which you had the only medicine for the cure. And all this because I called you on the carpet for the disastrous manner in which you pastorally bungled one of the first public sexual molestation cases in the OCA. Boy, do you hold a grudge! BTW, I’ve been attending church regularly for about 10 years — took a hiatus shortly after I got fired and was a little disillusioned with the church but soon recognized that our faith was much greater than the petty squabbles of church administration.

          That is the arrogance of Eric Wheeler. That is the legacy he has inflicted on the OCA along with Stokoe. Now he will have a beach head in Syosset again through his brother-in-law, John Jillions. (Taps for the OCA playing in the background)

          Hello. Anyone out there getting any of this?

          • Jane Rachel says

            Mark Stokoe stated back in about late 2005 or early 2006 that he didn’t get Archbishop Job’s blessing to start ocanews. At the time, I thought, “WHAT??? You influence the entire OCA, and your bishop and you are hand in hand, and he didn’t give his blessing on your web site?!?” It made no sense.

        • Well, this website puts to rest any idea that Met. Jonah’s detractors aren’t focused on normalizing homosexuality. They sure are defiant. They are reprimanded for wanting to overturn the moral prohibition against homosexual behavior and respond by doubling down.

          They argue that a defense of the moral tradition represents a failure to “dialogue,” but to them dialogue means that you must first view the moral prohibitions as non-prohibitive. No thanks.

          Maybe we should call them what they are becoming, or at least what they want the Church to become: Neo-Episcopalian (Neo-E’s?). Why don’t they join the Episcopalian Church instead? Lots of inclusivity there.

          The Neo-E’s are tone-deaf too. Right before the AAC, they show their colors. You’d think that the people who want to lead the Church down the Episcopalian road would have better political smarts. It’s not a mistake the Episcopalian activists would have made, especially with a funding proposal on the table.

          One other thing. Lay off the Greek words on the website. They mean exactly the same thing in English. It doesn’t make you look smarter, it merely exposes your pretensions.

          • One other thing. Lay off the Greek words on the website. They mean exactly the same thing in English. It doesn’t make you look smarter, it merely exposes your pretensions.

            Thank you for saying that, Fr. Hans. They would also do well to stop italicising every other word. Talk about pretensions!

          • M. Stankovich says

            Mr. Bauman,

            While the Deacon chooses to entertain himself with configurations of my name and petty name-calling – which I reasonably conclude is compensation for a lack of substance germane to the issue – you have crossed a line that I find especially disconcerting, astonishingly repugnant, and which saddens me terribly. You would refer to me as “monstorous,” denying the “person of Jesus Christ” and the “eschatological teachings of the Church,” and analogize my writings with “pornography?”

            I have said this to you before and I will repeat myself: if your loved one were experiencing symptoms of a cardiac or cerebral event, you would implicitly and unabashedly rely, depend, and I am sure demand a physician’s evidenced-based training, knowledge, and God-given skill to intervene. And I further would expect you to demand the physician’s “sooooo precise and factual” attention to detail to save your loved one’s life as an ultimate “consumer” in every sense of the word. And so you should be. Unfortunately, you cannot pick and choose the data that serves your purpose and dismiss what does not, if only because it is all derived of the same evidence-based methodology, and is equally “truth” to the best of our knowledge and understanding. You will not lecture me on the inherent limitations and appropriate application of medical science as if I were schooled on Wikipedia and Google.

            In a matter of a handful of posts on a blog you liken to a pornography site, you boldly accede to a “special insight” into my very thoughts, motivations, and heart, attempting to establish standing in the language of what Met. Anthony (Bloom) referred to as, “churchianity” ; hearing the music but missing the lyrics. I am greatly hurt by your lack of restraint and simple charity, and your attribution to me of things you could not possible know. I urge you to re-evaluate your boundaries.

            Finally, Mr. Bauman, I am angry that you would deliver your comments about me here on the blog of Mr. Michalopulos. I find it disrespectful and impertinent. Take your comments where they belong. I have apologized to Mr. Michalopulos and I do so again because it disturbs me tremendously.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Well, Mr. Stankovich I guess we are equally replused by each other. Once again, however, you are unable to even address the assumptions underlying your cavelier use of facts.

              A cardiac event is quite a bit different than an ontological one. Your arrogation of clincal psychology to the level of factual clarity that is sometimes attained in limited areas of physical medicine is just another example of your intellectual dishonesty and unwillingness to address the fundamental rebellion against God and the Church that your position entails.

              Even in the specific area of cardiac medicine to which you allude it is not unusual for the same set of facts to be interpreted quite differenly by two different physcians. A case in point: My boss recently had extensive cardia evaluations in which blockage was discovered in his caridac arteries. The examining physcian explained the level of blockage to my boss and told him, essentially, that without by-pass surgery a heart attack was immenent. My boss sought a second opinion from another doctor in another town. That doctor did some more tests and also discovered a blockage to exist. At the same time the second doctor took a look at the tests the first doctor had run. Result one: the blockage, while real and ‘factual’ was not as serious (in the second doctor’s opinion) as the first doctor opined. Result two: the second doctor felt that the first doctor had evaluated the factual evidence too aggressively. No surgery was needed as long as my boss would take meds, change his diet and exercise. He has done all three with quite remarkable results.

              Once again I say: facts alone are essentially meaningless, at best they can only point in the direction of truth. What is important is the selection of facts, the ordering of those facts and the interpretation of those facts.

              You, sir, choose to order and interpret facts (which are not even proven facts) in a manner that is outside the norm of the teaching of the Church and is in fact in direct opposition to the teaching of the Church. I will always deem that monstrous as it endangers not only your own soul, but the soul of everyone who listens to you, just as viewing ponography does. Because your position endorses the spirit of the world, it becomes more difficult for anyone struggling with sexual tempation who has been exposed to your diseased imagination.

              You, sir, are a tempter: smooth, intelligent and educated no doubt, but a tempter nonetheless.

              May God have mercy on you and on all who listen to your ‘facts’.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Fr. Johannes,

            I have acquired a great respect for you and your writings and it disturbs me tremendously when you make such leaps of thought and assertion that are both uncharacteristic and unfounded.

            For the record, I am not a member of the OCA, nor do I have any particular interest in the OCA. Further, apart from choirs, I have never participated in the proceedings of a parish or diocese council or assembly, and while I undoubtedly could have accessed “insider information” – if only because of my student associations – it did not interest me in the least. If I am not “politically astute,” it is because I am not a politician. I knew Met. Jonah when we were students at SVS, and while I cannot say we were “friends,” we certainly shared conversations on campus; I found him to be a warm and sincere individual, and if anyone experiences or describes him as open, pastoral, and temperate, I can take no issue with that description. And while I have my opinions about Orthodox bishops in America in general – and you made the statement, “lacking moral courage” – I do not know Met. Jonah as a bishop well enough to say he is “more or less” anything. All of this is to say that any assertion that I am associated, in any fashion or form, with anyone interested in maligning, disrespecting, or discrediting Met. Jonah is fantasy and wildly inaccurate.

            Secondly, at your level of scholarship, it is unimaginable to me that you could have carefully read and considered what I have written and reached the conclusion that you did, if only because I have presented little more than an introduction. It would seem to me that out of respect for the process of scholarship, and as a matter of Christian charity, you would allow me to complete the thesis before you presume “motivations” and intentions. Neo-E’s? Seriously?

            Finally, you have written very eloquently & astutely, in my opinion, on the “power of a word.” When I studied the Greek language of the New Testament, I was astonished at the “power” of the specific words and constructions utilized by the inspired writers of the Scripture – and later, at discovering the near-exact precision & replication in Church Slavonic. For this reason alone, I have believed it is essential to refer to those specific constructions in order to convey the power of words & phrases. Pretension presumes a “device” of deception, and I am comfortable with allowing my scholarship to speak for itself.

            To Helga, I would note that I am markedly dyslexic, and it takes considerable time and effort for me to accurately transfer my thoughts to text. I have, of necessity, been taught to employ various “techniques” along the way, one being italicization, to draw my attention. Talk about pretension, indeed.

            • M. Stankovich,

              While the world careens towards a moral collapse that both threatens the Church and presents her with the greatest missionary challenge perhaps since Constantine,* you and other activists expect us to spend our time fighting a homosexual lobby inside the Church that demands that homosexual behavior be normalized. Are you serious?

              I recognize a dead end when I see one. Look at what acquiescence to the homosexual lobby did to the Episcopalians. There is absolutely no reason that the Orthodox should travel that road.

              Don’t try to take us down it. I will resist it and so will others. I’ve seen too much destruction from the sexual revolution that flooded the culture like a tsunami leaving nothing but wreckage as it recedes. We’ve created a horrible mess for ourselves. Don’t tell me it doesn’t affect the Orthodox either. It does.

              Your essay (protected by two priests for personal reasons of their own, sympathetic or not) that argues that homosexual behavior should be normalized is clearly more of the same confusion. And no, it’s not unfair to make this charge so early in the game. Your premise has a predictable trajectory: if the moral prohibition is lifted, then homosexual attraction must, and will, be seen as part of God’s anthropological design. From there it’s a short step to assert that homosexual behavior is normative.

              Nor do I buy that a clear defense of the tradition is somehow discriminatory to “homosexuals.” The term “homosexual” is merely short-hand for someone who defines himself by his behavior. I might use the term “alcoholic” to define someone who has a chemical addiction, but people are more than their sins and the alcoholic never demands that I treat his chemical orientation as an ontological category.

              If I am not faithful to the moral tradition, if my teaching is unclear, if I compromise it in some way, then the man who is struggling with same-sex desire — who recognizes that homosexual behavior is unnatural and who seeks a life of greater interior integration, even if it means that the integration is achieved in a struggle against the desire — is robbed of the hope that integration is even possible.

              This is anathema to the members of the Facebook group and other activists. Sure, they give it lip service but they cannot really countenance it if they believe that same-sex behavior is as natural as opposite-sex behavior. The moral relativist is always the greatest absolutist in the room and the movement to normalize behavior is no different outside the Church than within her. The movement must, in order to succeed, silence voices like Met. Jonah’s or anyone else who refuses to conform to its agenda.

              I really wish the activists in the Church had not forced this. Everyone knows that dealing with homosexual desire is a struggle, and before the activists turned the tables and demanded compliance with the homosexual agenda, an accommodation of sorts was possible, not perfect perhaps but workable. That’s not possible anymore. As long as they force a challenge to the prohibition, this conflict will continue.

              How to resolve this conflict that the activists have created? Frankly, I see no reason to transform the Church into mainstream irrelevance — the only possible outcome if the Church lifts the prohibition and shifts her self-understanding. Why not save us the grief and join a mainstream church instead?

              *With the Rise of Militant Secularism, Rome and Moscow Make Common Cause

              • Jane Rachel says

                Father Hans, I would very much like to read Father Robert Arida’s answers to your comments and wish he would reply. If Mr. Stankovich is not particularly interested in the OCA,and yet posts about changing Orthodoxy, he must not be particularly interested or care about the Orthodox Church. And yet two priests and one protodeacon, the brother-in-law of our new chancellor and closely associated with Stokoe, are contributors to his site. This makes things more clear. We should be talking directly to Fr Robert Arida of the OCA Boston Cathedral, since he is in the OCA and belongs to the Orthodox Church. Have you had any discussion with him?

                • Jane, I’m not in the OCA and don’t know who most of the people mentioned here even are. I don’t really keep tabs on the internal politics either. I am interested in the larger cultural questions however, and that’s why I write about them. No, I have never talked to Fr. Arida. I never even heard of him until George posted his letter several months back.

            • Jane Rachel says

              Mr. Stankovich, are you an Orthodox Christian?

            • Michael, do you consider drunkenness to a podvig? Drunkenness runs in families too, and unlike homosexuality, we do know that there is a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. However, the “I was born this way” defense has yet to get a single drunk driver off the hook to date.

              Do you consider homosexual sex to be inherently sinful, as saith the Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church, or not?

              • M. Stankovich says

                Fr. John,

                I am not aware of you having read my other post or writings, but you raise questions that speak to the fundamentals of human genetics – acknowledging all the inherent limitations of medical science and its appropriate application – that I am here and elsewhere attempting to address. By this, I am saying that I have been precise, singular, and consistent in my response.

                I believe that certain terms and language are fundamentally inappropriate to the discussion of human genetics; you will never find a genetic scientist defending “you were born that way” to describe behaviour. To my knowledge, no court of significance has ever given standing to such an argument (cf.). To say one has inherited a genetic vulnerability (measured in the form of calculated statistical risk) is not the same as saying one is “predestined” or “made” by genetic factors alone.

                That a vulnerability for alcoholism & other drug dependencies is a heritable trait is well known. I certainly believe that the a “ruthless struggle” – in the words of Met. Anthony (Bloom) – with all chemical dependencies is a “podvig” (and I would further note that Met. Anthony made some astonishingly praiseworthy comments in regard to AA as far back as 1959). To imagine that the matter would be “settled” by simply not taking a drink or drug is terribly shortsighted.

                As to your final question, I begin to resent this tone – and I certainly do not mean this as a personal slight – because it suggests I have not been forthright, but rather have been inconsistent, “cagy,” or less than clear in regard to motivation and agenda. For the record, Fr. John, I have consistently stated I do not believe that SSA, in and of itself, is sinful; tempered by, and appreciating the fact that, like all traits and conditions in our fallen humanity, in our broken creation, it is the consequence of sin.

                Secondly, I have consistently and unwaveringly held that sexual activity, in any form, outside the God-created and God-provided sacrament of holy marriage is in direct opposition to the Scripture, Patristical teachings of the Fathers, and the fundamental Tradition of the Church.

                • Just to be clear then, do you also agree that homosexual marriage is inherently contrary to the Tradition of the Church and absolutely unacceptable… or are you suggesting that homosexual sex would not be sinful if it was within the bounds of marriage?

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Fr. John,

                    Let’s be “crystal,” shall we: I do not believe, nor have I ever suggested, hinted, intimated, or implied, that it is possible to “sanctify” same-gender relationships akin, likened to, or analogous to the sacrament of marriage. I would have thought this obvious, but apparently I was wrong. I say again, I being to resent this tone of questioning as somehow suggesting there will come an “Aha! J’accuse!” moment. There will not be, and I stand by my integrity. I do, however, appreciate your questioning me directly.

                    • People hide behind studied ambiguity all the time. It sounds as if your not doing so, and I sincerely hope that this is the case, but I wonder why you have not answered my questions more directly, but have restated the question differently, and then answered it. Is it correct that you are saying that homosexual sex is inherently sinful? Yes… or no? Christ said, Let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay, and St. Paul said that homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God, and so unambiguous answers are important.

                      You share a blog with a couple of authors who have been ambiguous on this question, and that is the reason why I would like a direct answer.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Fr. John,

                      Yes, I believe it is sinful, in no uncertain terms. And my point is, and has always been, to solely articulate a clear distinction between same-sex attraction, which is not sinful, and same-gender sexual activity which is always sinful. I am not an apologist for homosexuality, but I likewise make no apology for my position on SSA.

                      Dn. Mitchell berates me as “denying” a connection between attraction and activity in a ridiculous dissonance: I work in a maximum-security prison(s), where men and women frequently engage in same-sex activity that is not motivated by SSA; statistically, they are highly unlikely to ever engage in same-gender sexual activity outside prison; and if questioned, would vehemently deny they are homosexual. And most obviously, there are those who have SSA, yet within the context of the Church as a refuge and fountain of “healing,” undertake a “ruthless struggle” to maintain a life of whole-mindedness and chastity.

                      I believe it is a grave error to confuse or speak of SSA as necessarily associated with same-gender sexual activity, or to use the terms interchangeably.

                    • I appreciate your answer. It is clear. And since I would agree that any temptation to sin that we might experience is not itself a sin on our part until and unless we begin to give into it, I do not disagree with the idea that an inclination towards homosexuality is not necessary sinful.

                      My only other question for you on your blog post is do you find a basis for viewing the struggle against specific sins such as homosexuality, pedophilia, drunkenness, or fornication as ascetic labors (podvigs) in the Fathers of the Church? In other words, is your insight original to you, or do you find it clearly in the Tradition. If it is original, then you should question it on that basis alone. However, if it is expressed by the Fathers, then you should lay out that case on a patristic basis. Obviously, repentance is part of our ascetic struggle, but usual in my reading, the ascetic struggle is spoken of in terms of what we do to overcome sin and facilitate spiritual growth… and that is distinct from whatever personal sins we may be struggling against.

                • Still pretending there’s no connection between SSA and SSSA.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Go get ’em, Peter. This nonsense has got to stop.

      M Stankovich: I’m not a theologian but the idea of homosexuality as a “podvig” doesn’t set well w/ me. To my knowledge, ascetics such as St John Maximovitch voluntarily took on podvigs, they weren’t thrust upon them, and the podvig in question wasn’t immoral in and of itself.

      I would appreciate the correction if I am wrong.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Mr. Michalopulos,

        I agree with Bp. Tikhon’s definition of “podvig” as a “struggle against.” But I would extend the point by adding the description provided by Met. Anthony (Bloom) “[It is a] ruthless struggle against everything which will prevent God from conquering, pervading us, being the dynamic power and force within us.” Indeed, one makes the choice to “takes this on” – and I would use Shakespeare’s 12th Night as an analogy: “others have greatness thrust upon them” – but ultimately, be it Blessed John Maximovitch or a “goof ball” such as myself, it is a choice to struggle. I would further argue that the very words of the Lord obligate us to “voluntarily” struggle: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” (Matt. 16:24) “and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:38). I would emphasize that Met. Anthony indicates the struggle is against “everything,” known or unknown, that would prevent God’s “dynamic force” within us.

        I am presuming that your reference to “the podvig in question” is homosexuality, which you describe as “immoral in and of itself.” I am again emphatic is stating that what is “immoral in and of itself” is same-gender sexual actions – and for that matter, any sexual actions outside the sacrament of marriage – and not homosexuality. These are mutually exclusive terms. I cannot imagine that it requires a law degree to appreciate this simple logic: one may have same-sex-attraction and be engaged in a “ruthless struggle” (podvig) to maintain a “lifestyle” of “whole-mindedness and chastity,” to which we are all called.

        • M.

          I think if we strip away the intellectual back and forth on this issue, the core that is exposed is the issue of practicing homosexuals. This issue came to light here because of the communing of open and practicing homsexuals, openly advocating for their same sex union at the coffee hour and using the Holy Eucharist as their battleground. There is no podvig going on in this example. The deacon at this parish brought the issue to the attention of the clergy, including his bishop, and nothing was done, thus giving tacit consent to the blessing of this couple without any sense of podvig, but rather open rebellion against what the Church teaches.

          This issue was complicated in this particular parish because one of the clergy there is himself a homosexual, living for many years with his Dr. partner. No podvig here either.

          Then you have the case of Mark and Steve. Long-time partners, living together and considered as a committed couple by Mark’s family as published in the obit of Mark’s mother. No podvig there either.

          So, in principle, if a person has a homosexual thought, logosmoi, and does not act on it, your point is well taken for a thought only becomes a sin if it is acted upon or in some way distorts the way that person acts in relation to what God has taught.

          Homosexuals who believe that they were created this way by God see no need for podvig. They are perfectly happy with the way God created them. In the above mentioned cases, this is the thinking of those involved. They have struck their deal with their God and live openly and proudly. Where there is no desire for podvig, there can be little discussion.

          May I suggest that you have a website of your own, in which you expect people to visit it and listen to what you all have to teach, since your site is for “listeners.” Thus you talk, we listen. Make you case there.

          This site and the topic of the day is about the OCA assessment proposal by NY/NJ to reduce it to $50. If and when the topic of homosexuality comes back up on the radar screen here, I think you know that George won’t censor your comments, unlike you old pal Mark Stokoe who manipulates his website to his own advantage in making his “lets create a new OCA” website.

          Good luck to you all at “We Are Their Legacy.” Your biggest critic just took a shot across your collective bows.

        • He’s laying the groundwork for homosexual marriage in order to normalize homosexual behavior. Step one is convincing the Church that “sexual orientation” is an ontological category. Call it the Episcopalian plan. Didn’t work out too well for them as it turns out.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          Stanky, your “absolute distinction” between sinful same-sex sex and supposedly unsinful same-sex attraction relies heavily on a rather Western definition of sin as a deliberate act. The Fathers, you should know, define sin more broadly, and Our Lord Himself warns that even our thoughts can condemn us.

          To make more sense of things, consider this:

          1. There is same-sex attraction, which is a psychological disorder, a sickness caused by a combination of factors that are always largely experiential. (There is no gay gene.)

          2. There is homosexual sex, which is a grave sin, a deliberate, wrongful choice of the will that very easily becomes an addiction.

          3. There is the gay identity, often based on the self-justifying lie that “God made me that way,” which is where your own arguments tend — toward the lie that SSA is natural, normal, and harmless.

          Now, one can suffer from 1, resist 2, reject 3, and be an Orthodox Christian — but a Christian who is greatly weakened by a serious disorder that should disqualify him or her from some roles in the Church, especially in this day when there is so much pressure on people to believe that same-sex attraction is perfectly normal.

          Or one can suffer from 1, commit 2 on occasion, reject 3, and be an Orthodox Christian, but a Christian whose weakness is so extreme that even greater limitations must be place on them.

          But one cannot suffer from 1, commit 2 regularly, embrace 3, and still be an Orthodox Christian. That is outright rebellion, and there is plenty of evidence to show that people who reach that point fall off the deep end into extreme unreason and dishonesty.

          I’ve said some of this before, but it’s worth repeating.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Very well, put Fr.

          • Father
            Why do you have to call him “Stanky”..Has he ever disrespected you? Are we not all brothers and sisters in Christ?

            • Because he doesn’t use his first name, Michael, in his posts, because his nickname has been “Stanky” for some time, and because his intellectual dishonesty in the service of sodomy raises serious doubts about whether he really is “in Christ.”

              If you think my disrespect inappropriate, read more of the Fathers. Their standards of courtesy were not our own. They were quite frank, blunt, and even bitter when condemning heretics and driving out demons.

              • M. Stankovich says

                “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (I Cor. 13:11)

                • Your name is Michael. If you use it, I will. What’s wrong with it, after all? Why this pretentious “M. Stankovich”?

                  But really, your complaint about names is just a diversion, so you can avoid dealing with the dishonesty of your “absolute distinction” between SSA and sodomy.

        • M,
          So what you’re saying is that homosexual action is a sin, but homosexuality is just a freak of nature?

  22. DM,

    Jillions is Wheeler’s brother-in-law. On Jillions’ website under his Interests, he notes the following

    He is a classmate and contemporary of all those who now post on the website We Are Their Legacy.

    This is the type of intellectualism that drives searching people away from the Orthodox Church and not to it.

    And Jillions, at the behest of Wheeler and Stokoe, is the potential new OCA Chancellor?

    Enough dots to connect?

    • Like a leopard with measles.

      • Jane Rachel says

        DM, Fr. Jillions’ photo is on the web site, and so is Fr. Arida’s and Fr. Vinogradov’s, wait, I thought Fr. Jillions’ photo was there when I read it a few weeks ago, or maybe they took it down? Eh? I thought it was…. anyhoo, maybe not, but the dots are connected for you. Protodeacon Eric Wheeler is there, too, and Toto too! How can these fellows expect us to be straight-faced and respectful of their intellectual prowess? What, do they think better than the Prophet Moses?

        • The photo of Pdn Wheeler shows him in a suit and tie rather than cassock/riassa. I wonder why?

          • The good Protodeacon only wears a cassock when he serves, otherwise he is a well-dressed gentleman showing all other clergy that wearing a cassock is “soooooo yesterday.” j/k

  23. My dear and most worshipful, pious and righteous Reverend Deacon Father Brian Patrick Mitchell,

    With all due respect, may I commend the following words for your consideration? Perhaps they may be of some assistance, as you grope about in the gross darkness of a particularly ludicrous moral cretinism. I hope they may assist you in uncovering the identity of the real Sodomites — and quite close to home they are, too! After all, haunting Washington, DC as you do, surely the Prophetic Word must bring even to your less than dazzling mind some of those denizens of the Capitol with whom you must rub elbows on a regular basis? Political fellow travelers with most of you bizarre, petty little hypocrites, who swallow camels and strain out gnats. Shallow mediocrities, to be generous. What a howl you little whores of empire are! God knows how often in Orthodox history bizarre phyletists such as y’all have bent over backward to exceed your fellows in passionate bootlicking of the thugs, mass murderers and world-historical thieves you dare to bless, implicitly or otherwise, while pointing your bony, gaunt little fingers at this or that convenient scapegoat du jour. But you lot are propelling this ancient and time-dishonored tradition to a new zenith of nauseating rottenness. Well done, thou good and faithful servants! Enjoy its fruit.

    A number of times, the prophets were moved to say that the sins of Jerusalem were as the sins of Sodom, or worse. Does that then mean that the special sin of Jerusalem was homosexual activity?

    Isaiah 3.8,9 “For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory. The show of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.”

    Jeremiah 23.14 “I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.”

    Ezekiel 16.46 – 48 “And thine elder sister is Samara, she and her daughters that dwell at they left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelled at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters. Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou was corrupted more than they in all their ways. As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.”

    (Although many suggest that abomination refers particularly to same-gender sexual activity, I believe that abomination simply refers to practices that are abhorrent to the Lord. Please see my essay, “What Is an Abomination to God?” Any practice out of harmony with God’s character of love is an abomination to Him, and he hates such behavior. Looking up references to things God hates brings up pride much more frequently than any sexual sins.)

    After telling the Israelites that their sins were greater than those of Sodom, the prophet was moved to specify the special sins of Sodom, and same-gender sexual practices are not specifically listed:

    Eze. 16.49, 50 “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.”

    And in the following texts, Sodom is listed as a “sister” of Israel, indicating the similarities of their sins. Thus, if same-gender sexual practices were the special sins of Sodom, there should be some evidence that they were the sins of Israel as well. Yet the Bible leaves no such record.

    Eze. 16.51 – 56 “Neither hath Samara committed half of thy sins; but thou has multiplied thine abominations more than they, and has justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou has done. Thou also, which has judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou has committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou has justified thy sisters. When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them: That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them. When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate. For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride.”

    Jesus gives some indication that the people of Sodom were less hardened than the people of Capernaum:

    Matt. 11.23 “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”

    Jesus also makes a comparison between the times of Noah, the times of Sodom, and the end times. Yet the interpretation that the special sins of Sodom were homosexual practices is read into the Scriptures. It is not inherent in the text itself. In fact, only heterosexual sexual activity is implied.

    Luke 17.26 – 29 “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.”

    Peter refers to Sodom and Gomorrah as examples for those that live ungodly. This would seem to cover a wide variety of sins, unless readers are willing to argue that the only ungodly practices are homosexual ones.

    2 Peter 2.6 – 8 “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.)”

    Jude seems to associate the sins of Sodom with fleshly sins which may point particularly to sexual sins, but these are not specified:

    Jude 1.4, 7, 8 “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.”

    And that’s the Bible record of the sins of Sodom. Unfortunately people have a long-standing habit to read into Scriptures what is not there, thus justifying their own sins and their spirit of judgmentalism.

    Saying that the last recorded acts of the Sodomites — the demands for same-gender sex — are proof that they were destroyed for homosexuality is like saying that a condemned man cursing his guards on the way to his execution is being executed for cursing the guards. Sodom was judged worthy of destruction before the incident with Lot and the angels. And we have examined the complete Bible record of Sodom’s sins above.

    Fundamentalists who like to see issues in black-and-white terms generally like to see Sodom’s destruction as a judgment on homosexuality. I believe that this does not accord with the Bible record. Gay theologians, on the other hand, commit the same error of over-simplification by seeing Sodom’s destruction as a judgment on inhospitality. And the Bible record does not support that conclusion either. Real life is usually more complex, and the great “Judge of all the earth” sees all there is to our lives.

    I believe that if we examine the Bible record with an open mind, we are forced to conclude that Sodom was destroyed for sins that are not uncommon in today’s affluent society — sins that are rooted in self-sufficiency and flaunted in rebellion. Sexual sins were part of the problem, no doubt, but it is unworthy of Christians and misrepresentative of the Lord to wrest Scriptures in order to make someone else’s sins appear as greater than our own more common sins of pride, hypocrisy, gossip, and a judgmental spirit. One of my favorite authors had this to say on the subject: “The Redeemer of the world declares that there are greater sins than that for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. . . . And still greater sin is theirs who profess to know God and to keep His commandments, yet who deny Christ in their character and their daily life.” (Ellen White in Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 165)

    We would do well to handle the Word of God with due reverence for its import and its revelation of the character of God and to avoid the sins of Sodom in our own lives by recognizing our continuing dependence on God both for our physical life and our spiritual salvation.”

    • George Michalopulos says

      John, pretty words. A couple of quibbles however.

      First, are you accusing the good Deacon of being a “phyletist”? Second, did you not notice that in your exegesis on the prophetic corpus of the Old Testament you understand that the word “Sodom” was used as the be-all and end-all reference to horrible sin by the Israelites and how they exceeded it? Or are you somehow insinuating that sodomy itself is alright if the people of God engage in sins which exceed sodomy, such as “pride, hypocrisy, gossip, and a judgmental spirit”?

      • Spare me your tired act, George. You reactionary clowns are all alike, around the world and throughout time. Some things never change. Can you even read?

        “Sodomy”? What’s that? The attempted gang rape of celestial beings by the massed population of a polis stuffed with degraded thugs? That would be closer to the mark, morons. Perhaps you could trouble yourself to take into account what Moses and the Prophets had to say on the relevant issues in question. I strongly advise you comical modern-day Pharisees to do so.

        You wingnutter, “religious,” oh-so-pious hypocrites really should at least make an indecent attempt to hide your disgusting eagerness to compromise with and ignore and even bless the crimes of a kakistocracy of gigathieves and mass murderers — but no, you shamelessly commit crimes of the spirit on a cosmic scale. You’re proud of it, too. You’d call it “patriotism” no doubt. Fascinating!

        Is there anything real about you, anything genuine at all? Such pseuds you are. Your spiritual treasons doom you to an endless search for scapegoats to deflect attention from yourselves and from your dereliction of your duty to God’s Kingdom — and your continuous mockery of His Son and His Blood and the blood of the Saints murdered through the Ages. And for what? So you can get yourselves invited to the dinner parties of those who would use you, in Georgetown and the Hamptons? You make us laugh. Pathetic, no doubt highly useful idiots.

        You moral cretins would implicate the Son of God in that? I do not envy you your interview with your Maker.

        As for you “holy” slimeballs who hide behind your collars, who think that throwing rotted red meat to the degraded mob of resentiment-ridden haters is your ticket to power — a little warning. Don’t be too surprised when your creatures turn on you. The way it works is like this, very simple, tried and true: the pit you dig for others is the one you’ll fall in yourself. Count on it.

        • John, if you are really interested in getting at the truth of what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, then I would recommend you read Robert Gagnon’s book: The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics.

          You will find a link to Amazon’s listing of the book, as well as a video in which Robert Gagnon hits some of the highlights of his book here:

          He deals with the question of Sodom and Gomorrah extensively, and examines pretty much every Biblical reference to them to lay out what the Bible says and does not say about the sins of Sodom.

          He also lays out what the actual science is on the question of homosexuality, with copious references to the relevant studies.

          • Incredible. The Rev. Father cites Gagnon — the guy who asserts that same sex sexual activity is significantly more pathological and sinful than mother / son incest! I think the “scholar” even means it, amazingly enough. Do you mean to imply that you agree with his “analysis”, Father Whiteford? If you do not agree with him, I’m wondering why you’d recommend him as your go to “authority” on “what the Bible says about homosexuality” and the “question of Sodom and Gomorrah.” Appeals to authority are logically fallacious in any case, a bad rhetorical practice even when the authority is truly authoritative, but really, Father . . . Gagnon is one of the more ludicrous poster boys of an off-the-charts moral cretinism.

            This fascinates me. Do you sincerely think there are many sane people who would agree that mother/son incest is relatively more respectable morally and less sinful than homoerotic activity? If this is the sort of “moral reasoning” you pseuds endorse, you’ll crash and burn soon enough.

            You hypocrites are your own worst enemies, of course, and it’s amusing in one sense to watch as you increasingly marginalize yourselves, limiting your appeal more and more to the most fundamentally deranged and ignorant constituencies of haters and ressentimenti. But this is a tired old story, played out in many times and places — religious hypocrites who prostitute themselves to the powers that be, winking at their monstrous crimes while scapegoating piker sinners, this or that unpopular minority and worst of all, the developmentally disabled. Horrifying hypocrisy that cries out to the heavens — if anything does.

            Anyway, best of luck in that looming Interview with your Maker, you wingnut frauds. I almost pity you.

            • George,

              It appears that “John” a rather angry person working out some sort of karma here, refuses to follow your advice and move it to another thread.

              Personally, I would like to object to his tone on the blog. It is not my call, but he appears to be testing the boundaries of civility on this site and might need a “time out” to calm down his rhetoric. I mean, I have done my share of going toe-to-toe with people here, but “John” appears to be a bit too angry and the verge of going “postal.”

              M. Maybe you can talk him down on the other thread. He gives me the willies!

              • Yeah, George, Jacob is a Serious Person focused on the important things: $50 vs. $105 a head. Elemental issues of basic justice, incredible hypocrisies, clerical scapegoating, shameless whoredoms of the spirit, etc. are mere trivia to the Righteous and Respectable Saints — matters stressed only by “com-symps.”

                Y’all are a sick joke. You do know that, right?

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Jacob, I love to let the commie-libs rant. That’s all they got. The more they do so, then the easier it is for us to go on believing what the Holy Spirit has always taught. It’s always easier to believe the truth than convuluted contingencies. (At my age, the truth is easier to remember, I don’t have the smarts to remember what I said to who.)

                But for the sake of further fun, I’ll go ahead and take the bait: John, I guess you think that mother/son incest is pretty horrible. Why? You’re sounding awful judgmental here.

                • Hey George, your correspondent priest brought up this “scholar” Gagnon as a source of wisdom on “sodomists,” a diversion that you first injected into this thread. And since Rev. Frs. Jacobse and Whiteford and Fr. Deacon Mitchell were so breathlessly keen to pile on to the rumble you initiated, I’d prefer to respond to any of their replies to my crystal clear question — rather than to your witless cracks. If you don’t mind. They at least are somewhat capable of coherent argument.

                  Are you actually considered thougthful and intelligent there in Oklahoma, incidentally? I suppose I could see how that might be, relatively . . .

              • M. Stankovich says

                “John” is a classic troll whose payoff is hanging meat before what he perceives to be “hungry dogs.” Tipoff? The more “reasonable” you become, the more provocative he becomes. He has no real issue to resolve here; his “reward” is your reaction and patient effort to “sway” him. Savor your catch, “John,” and move on.

                • Well, I suppose it’s fair enough to suspect this. It is admittedly tricky to take such camel swallowers and gnat strainers seriously. Satire stimuli are most abundant in this venue.

                  But it is incorrect to claim that I have no issue to resolve here. The truth is I’d hardly know where to begin. And I am far from alone in this perplexity, incidentally, with respect to the embarrassment of “riches” here and elsewhere, among a certain subset of the “faithful.”

                  Let’s start with this: I am most sincerely, genuinely, clinically fascinated by the fact that an intelligent man of the cloth such as Fr. Whiteford would cite Robert Gagnon as a respected authority on Scriptural hermeneutics. With a presumably straight face(?). It is reasonable to infer that Rev. Fr. Whiteford would in addition award his imprimatur to the man’s competence in moral reasoning. Believe me, I am sincerely eager to resolve that one. I have not read the book he cited, but I have read some of Dr. G.’s work. On that basis I shall decline the Rev. Father’s invitation. Life is too short.

                  Unfortunately I cannot locate the article wherein Professor Gagnon made his now notorious, and, to many, utterly mischievous and egregious “argument.” I must confess my surprise that Fr. Whiteford is unacquainted with it, given his endorsement. If he is. (His language could be thought somewhat cagey, and he introduced a red herring into the discussion. The Corinthian text here is multivocal and somewhat ambiguous, as Paul’s Greek text so often is, and therefore subject to variant readings: disagreement exists among competent scholars as to whether the Corinthian scandal involved biological mother/son incest. But this is entirely peripheral to that specimen of Prof. Gagnon’s moral reasoning to which I referred.)

                  I am beginning to suspect that Prof. G. has worked diligently to scrub it from the net — one could hardly blame him, if so. So, before I engage the good father (en garde, btw), I will have to turn up the smoking gun.

                  • John, I have read his definitive work on the subject, and apparently you have not. Gagnon examines the biblical texts, as well as the relevant historical and cultural evidence on the subject. He does not spend as much time as I would on what the Fathers have to say, but he does address them, and as a matter of fact, the Fathers universally support his conclusions.

                    He lays out a compelling case, and if John is seriously interested in the Truth, he would want to engage him on the substance… but that does not seem to be the case.

                    Why are you afraid to give your full name, and own your words like a man, and where are you coming from theologically?

                    • My full name is none of your business. Your imputation about my manhood is rich, priest.

                      I wouldn’t trust some of you intellectually dishonest charlatans any further than I could throw you. Quite frankly, I’d be embarrassed for anyone to know I engage you. My interest here is mainly clinical. You people are dangerous, delusional and cruel. But I will enjoy watching as you’re marginalized more and more.

                      Where I’m “coming from theologically” is somewhere I doubt seriously you’d grok. I will say that my God isn’t a cruel and petty martinet who winks at world-historical criminality, like you risible lot and your “god” evidently do. God help you.

                    • Well, your Father among the Saints Chrystostom was certainly very confused on the gravity of homoerotic sins. In one homily he claims that no sin is more noxious while in another he claims that 10,000 sins are worse. So which is it? But of course it’s old news how confused and contradictory the Fathers are on many matters, both among themselves and even within themselves.

                      We know of course that it was de rigueur for many of these gentlemen to malnourish and in many cases starve themselves to early deaths (a false, gnostic asceticism warned against by Paul, incidentally), which appears to have rather severely damaged their reasoning skills along the way. (This morbid fanatacism and “holy” self-abuse causes the gradual destruction of the body, leading to severe damage of the digestive system and its ability to absorb the meager nutrients still available to ascetics abandoned to such mortifications, and even to serious brain damage over time.) Chrysostom was also a rabid Judeophobe, as is well known. But that’s just more old news. He had his good points, too.

                    • Please grasp that we are talking about two different things. You, this book you’re plugging, and me his “scholarly” articles. The latter I have some acquaintance with, and these don’t commend his work or his intellectual conscience, in the least. IMHO.

                      I must say, Father, that given some of your hobby horses (anti-climate science, gaybaiting, Dubya fanboyhood, etc. etc.), one is less than enthused about your endorsements and judgement in general. With all due respect.

                    • “John”, you are familiar with scholarly articles… that you just cannot put your finger on at the moment.

                      George, it’s obvious that “John” is just a cowardly troll, and so if you have the ability to block him, I would suggest the time has come.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      John, please take this entire febrile diatribe up on the other thread that it is germane to. This one is only for discussion of the $105 assessment. We know you’re a troll for the Stokovites and your anti-Patristic rantings serve a useful purpose for thsoe who are trying to derail The New York Plan. If you continue to comment on this thread you will solidify my suspicion and I will ban you from this blog.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    John, what was going on in Corinth was not “mother/son incest.” It was a man sleeping with his step-mother. And yes, it is egregious but it is not incest. Stop comparing apples to oranges and stop fantasizing about “swallowing camels.” (Unless you think the Church should normalize bestiality as well.)

                    • Fr John and George,

                      May I suggest, listen to M. John is a troll. He only lives to be fed by others comments. IGNORE is the best thing for his spiritual welfare. I know you like them on, but we all have bigger fish to fry.

                      May I suggest, Fr. John that you and “John” make contact off blog. I think you can dialogue with him to calm him down. Better you than me, cuz I would just give him a slap upside his head!

                    • Hey George, take up your objection to the swallowing camels trope with its source, OK buddy? Clue for ya: it was a metaphor for hypocrites with no sense of moral proportion.

                    • OK, George, if you say so. You unwittingly make my point, that biological mother/son incest is almost unthinkable. And yet, Professor Gagnon, cited approvingly by the good Father, has argued in all seriousness, evidently, that this was morally preferable and less pathological than homoerotic sexual activity. I realize it can be difficult for you to keep things straight in your mind or to discern the grossest distinctions, but make an effort. KK?

                • For once, Monsieur Stankovich and I are in agreement.

            • John, have you actually read Gagnon’s book? I have, and it extremely thorough.

              I don’t recall him making a comparison of the merits between mother/son incest (and in the case in Corinthians, it was step-mother, son… just to be clear). His comparison was only that in both cases, Christ did not specifically address them in the Gospels… but that is no reason why we should think that there is no Christian position on either question.

              Aside from that, do you have a counter argument?

              Do believe in God? Do you believe in the God of the Bible?

        • George,

          This thread has nothing to do with the homosexual issue, but rather the OCA Assessment proposal.

          I am beginning to think that M. and John and others are posting on this thread to distract us from what we can be discussing here.

          Can you move all this homo talk to the other thread and keep this one on topic? Maybe monitor comments before posting not to censor but to make sure they are in the right thread?

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            good idea Jacob. To all: please confine this discussion to the thread written by Fr Hans.. thank you

            • M. Stankovich says

              Mr. Michalopulos,

              You should note that mine was the 2nd comment to this thread, and it was entirely on topic. You were the one to introduce homosexuality into this discussion – “It’s part of homosexual pathology” – to which I strongly objected as inappropriate and total irrelevant to the topic. I sincerely hope that Jacob’s statement regarding “this homo talk” was an intentional “goad” to draw attention; otherwise, let it serve to demonstrate my point regarding lewd hypocrisy.

              • M.

                Get a big glass of water and insert one big chill pill in your mouth and swallow. You have got to stop taking all this so personally because you are really doing more to hurt your case than make it. It was just short hand with nothing intended. So get off your high horse and move it to another thread. Please.

                If you want to take it up with me anymore, do it on the “Homosexual Agenda” thread. 🙂

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          One thing I always liked about Com-symps like you John is that you’re so tolerant and non-judgmental. Since you’re painting with an ignorant brush yourself (since you know nothing about me), I’ll return the favor: Spare me your high-mindedness. Just be honest, you don’t believe in the Bible or its moral tradition. Neither do the Unitarians, go join them. Cheerio!

    • Dear John and adherents
      (adherent |adˈhi(ə)rənt; -ˈher-| ;noun; someone who supports a particular party, person, or set of ideas)

      Proof-texting is the use of out-of-context quotes to support an argument. Most often, proof-texting is used in the quoting of religious texts, although scholarly texts are often used. The technique is somewhat related to and is often combined with sophistry, which uses garbled logic to support an illogical claim. Proof-texting is generally disdained by experts as an attempt to deceive a gullible audience

      (From Google search for “proof texting.”)

  24. cynthia curran says

    I don’t agree with George on every issue but I think John is over the top considering George. George has a certain political view but his religious views on Orthodoxy are not always related to his political ones. George never stated one had to have a conservative political view to be Orthodox or even a Christian in general.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Thank you Cynthia, I appreciate that you understand the distinctions. My political views were arrived at almost completely independently of the religious ones.