Greetings From Russia

Greetings to all. We’re having a wonderful time in Russia.

I’m still trying to process a lot of thoughts. In the meantime, please take a moment to watch this short documentary about the life and ministry of Father Alexander Men. We visited the site where Father Alexander was assassinated by an unknown assailant in 1990. As a modern-day apostle to the Soviet people, Men became a popular figure in Russia’s religious community, especially among the intelligentsia. It is worth watching.

About GShep


  1. lexcaritas says

    Marvelous. Spacebo, George. Good travels and may safe returns. Leo+ rlblxc

  2. George Michalopulos says

    This just in: Kevin Allen has fallen asleep in the Lord. May his memory be eternal.

    P.S. as time permits, we will publish a more fitting tribute to Kevin.

  3. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an announcement from today on the Orthodox Christianity website.

    Orange, California, August 7, 2018

  4. Constantinos says

    I’m the only one on this forum who speaks up for the poor. Not to brag, but when it comes to the topic of money, I am an expert. I’ve sold my various businesses to my children for a very nominal price. I have ninety million dollars in liquid assets with zero debt. My net worth is much higher because I have invested heavily in the stock market for years.
    Yet, with all this wealth, I go to work at my daughter’s GMC truck dealership five days a week, and work as a mechanic because I like to work on big trucks.
    I have been extremely hard working and frugal since I was a young boy in the seventh grade. No one gave a dime. I have zero debt. Believe me, there were times in the past I had to struggle through various recessions. The only things that saved me were hard work, ambition, and extremely frugality. I am very generous to various charities, and my local community. In fact, every year I sponsor the 4th of July parade, the concert, and the fireworks in the evening. I don’t give to my local church , but I don’t tithe because I believe it is way to much money, and is also a sin.
    I am still so frugal in my personal life that i cut my own hair in ten minutes with clippers so I don’t have to pay a barber $20 for a haircut. I noticed my cable bill jumped $15 in one month. I called the cable company and got a deal that will save me $4 a month from what I was originally paying. I buy most of my clothes from Walmart and this other place that charges $5 for a polo shirt.. The shirts don’t have the name Polo on them. I don’t waste one penny, and know the price of everything. I go grocery shopping minutes, and I always know the price of everything I purchase, and what is the best price.
    Do you know how much it pains me to see churches waste money? I want the church to be as frugal in their expenditures as I am in my personal life. For a “sick man” I have done better than all my critics on this forum combined and multiplied. I say to my many critics, ” don’t criticize someone who is better than you in every respect.” Jealousy is a terrible thing.

    • Monk James Silver says

      Surely, this is some sort of joke.

      No Christian could congratulate himself so venally and seriously believe that he’s doing the right thing.

      Perhaps this would be a good time for ‘Constantinos’ and all of us to read St John Chrysostom’s essay ‘On Wealth and Poverty’ before our minds wander too far from the truth.

      • Constantinos says

        Monk James,
        I meant to say I give to my local church, but I don’t tithe to it. You are aware that the cults like Unity School of Christianity and the Mormons stress tithing to their religious groups. Charlatans like Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar coerce their followers to tithe so they can support their lavish lifestyles.
        As far as the truth is concerned, I have studied tithing in depth; it has been weighed in the balances and found wanting.
        Why should I read what a saint from the fourth century has to say about money? Was he a successful businessmen? I don’t like excessive giving to the local church because it creates wealthy. irresponsible churches, rich, covetous, greedy priests,and poor parishioners. Our giving goes to the poor, widows, and orphans first and fore mostly. That is what pleases God.
        The churches have it so good I’m surprised the Mafia hasn’t jumped on this gravy train. Governmental oversight is desperately needed with the revocation of their tax exemptions.
        Monk James, you don’t know what you are talking about so save your obnoxious, holier than thou attitude for someone who cares about your opinions and viewpoints. I am not that man…

        • George Michalopulos says

          I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to disagree, Costa.

          • Billy Jack Sunday says

            George Michalopulos

            Agree, disagree

            I’m not sure where I’m at with the whole tithing thing either way

            I feel people should give consistently and churches should be able to function off of regular giving – but I’m not sure about exact definitions and parameters

            What I do know is Kenneth Copeland doesn’t just have his own private jet – not just a fleet of private jets

            The man has his own private airport

            And police force I hear

            Holy crap

            The man so rich Pope Francis sent him personal greetings

            And he sent back a prayer blessing message – in tongues

            Where my snakes and tambourine at?

        • Costa, since you so easily reject the writings of a 4th century Saint, I assume you also dismiss scripture because it was not written by “successful businessmen.”

        • Monk James Silver says

          ‘Constantinos’, you seem confident in writing: ‘Our giving goes to the poor, widows, and orphans first and fore mostly. That is what pleases God.’

          How do you know that, except that maybe someone told you what St John Chrysostom taught, if you didn’t read it yourself?

          You directed your screed against tithing to me, although I hadn’t mentioned it, as well as your displeasure at nameless churches. Why was that?

          Like myself, many of us here are aware of and support parishes which have not a nickel to spare, yet do amazing outreach work with the poor, pay their own bills and maintain their facilities, too.

          The fact that you disagree with me doesn’t at all mean that I don’t know what I’m talking about. And your description of my attitude as ‘obnoxious’ and ‘holier than thou’ is merely a sign that my words hit a nerve in you.

          So I urge you to repent and follow the advice which Our Lord Jesus Christ gave to the wealthy young man who was right in so many ways, but finally was held captive, enslaved by his money.

          As a wise prover says: ‘Money is like fire — it makes a better servant than a master.’

          Read Chrysostom’s ‘On Wealth and Poverty’. Follow the Gospel. Work out your salvation.

          And be kind to people, especially on the Internet!

      • Bishop Anaxios says

        Monk James Silver

        Perhaps I can interest you in a copy of my own icon

        It’s already in circulation

        Huge forehead and everything

        Very tiny body and big ears though

        I can’t remember the name of the guy who wrote it but he was stationed next to the Indian Tacos stand

        And I don’t know how to waterski . . .

    • Antiochene Son says

      You have so much, and yet you won’t give it away because nobody is worthy of it? Nobody will manage it quite as well as you do? I can think of a number of small mission parishes that struggle to make ends meet each month, and can’t afford a full-time priest, simply because they are too small.

      Constantinos probably would not attend such a parish because their meager means are beneath him?

      I have always thought it was a myth that there could be people who were obsessed with money itself, rather than the things they buy with it. But I can see that is not the case, here is one such person.

      Your money perish with you.

  5. M. Stankovich says

    I happened to be reading the OCA site reporting of the All-American council and saw a story about a special “Primatial Award” to retired OCA military chaplains “in recognition of exemplary and honorable service.” The OCA had received an anonymous donation to re-cast an original pectoral cross from 1970 to present to each retired chaplain. My immediate thought was that this was an unusually nice gesture. That was until I read the names and saw the picture of the recipients, which was notably missing Archpriest Alexander FC Webster, Chaplain (Colonel), US Army, Retired, and Dean of Holy Trinity Seminary, ROCOR, Jordonville, NY. Fr. Alexander was quite “gracious” about the whole matter, suggesting several reasons he might have been “overlooked.” I wrote Met. Tikhon (all chaplains serve under the omophhor of the Metropolitan), and I signed it.

    εὐλόγειte ὁ κύριος! Bless Master!

    I write you, Your Beatitude, to bring to your attention what I hope is simply an inadvertent oversight on the part of those who determined which of the retired Chaplains should be honoured with the distinction of the Primatial Award of the Military Pectoral Cross for their service in the United States Armed Forces. In specific, I bring to your attention my friend, at times mentor, and someone I hold in the highest esteem with respect, Archpriest Alexander FC Webster, Chaplain (Colonel), US Army, Retired, and Dean of Holy Trinity Seminary, ROCOR, Jordonville, NY.

    Archpriest Alexander was commissioned a U.S Army Reserve Chaplain 1st Lieutenant on December 20, 1985 (sworn in by Judge Popovich in McKeesport, PA), while serving as a Serbian Orthodox parish priest in Clairton, PA. Within six months he transitioned to Active Duty status until 1988, when he reverted to the Army Reserve / Army National Guard components for sixteen and a half years, while serving as parish priest of Protection of the Holy Mother of God Church (OCA-Romanian Episcopate. From June 1, 2005 until May 31, 2010 he returned to Active Duty status under the omophor of Metropolitan Herman, and then Metropolitan Jonah (since all Active Duty military chaplains in the OCA serve directly under the primate). This constitutes twenty-four and a half years of military service, including eight full years on Active Duty, with twelve 30-35 day deployments in harm’s way in Afghanistan and Iraq–not to mention side visits to assorted other countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, and Bosnia-Herzogovina – with all but two and a half years as a priest outside the OCA. It is unimaginable to me that the character of Fr. Alexander, demonstrated in his nearly quarter-century career, is anything short of criteria established to recognize exemplary and honorable service. In fact, it is his strength of character that caused the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR to select him to guide the character development of generations of clergy that are to come.

    With all humility and respect, I would ask you personally, Vladyka, to rectify this situation and honor Archpriest Alexander – a faithful and deserving son of the Church – for his years of diligence and sacrifice.

    If you feel like writing Met. Tikhon, it’s and feel free to borrow what ever facts you wish.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Well said.

    • Monk James Silver says

      Metropolitan Tikhon and the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America awarded these crosses to military chaplains who are priests of the OCA.

      Fr Alexander Webster — for all of his good qualities — is no longer a priest of the OCA, but of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia,

      In the ordinary exercise of his authority, it would be canonically out of order for any church’s primate to bestow an award on a priest of another church. The fact that the OCA’s metropolitan is the endorser for all Orthodox Christian military chaplains in the United States is a separate matter altogether.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Possibly. But an exception could be made. Couldn’t Met Tikhon consult with Met Hilarion and get his measure?

        It would be the decent thing to do, in my opinion.

        • Being familiar with some of the history between them, I imagine that there are many in the Orthodox Church in America who are quite happy that Fr Alexander Webster is no longer in their jurisdiction.

          I personally think that Fr Alexander is a wonderful man & a wonderful priest; he was a fantastic military chaplain as well. Holy Trinity Seminary/Jordanville is fortunate to have him.

          However, he does always call a spade a spade and says it like it is. Many in the OCA who felt/feel comfortable staying wrapped up in their blankets of denial did/do not like his style. Lots of conflict.

          Fr Alexander is certainly deserving of an honor for his years of military chaplaincy service. But I’d have been very surprised if the OCA included him among those military chaplains whom it honored.

      • M. Stankovich says

        It would probably have been helpful to actually read the article itself before offering commentary:

        “The Primatial Award is presented to Orthodox clergy who have served in the United States Armed Forces as military chaplains in the Active Duty, Reserve Component or National Guard Chaplaincy per specified criteria in the protocols in recognition of exemplary and honorable service,” explained Archpriest Theodore Boback, Dean and Executive Director of Orthodox Military and Veterans Administration Chaplains.”

        The article makes no further qualification whatsoever. As I noted to Metropolitan Tikhon, 22 of the 24 years of Archpriest Alexander’s chaplaincy in the United States Military (and those 22-years were consecutive) were served as a priest in the Orthodox Church in America. He transferred to ROCOR three years after his retirement from the military. Will the OCA not acknowledge and respect his service equal to, and undoubtedly exceeding, that of others who were so honoured? Mr. Michalopulos is absolutely correct, common decency would seem to require it.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I’m with you on this one. If the primate of the OCA is the “governor-general” of the American chaplaincy, then he should not have to worry about jurisdictional niceties.

          • Monk James Silver says

            Both George Michalopulos an Michael Stankovich are mistaken here.

            The canons are what they are, and the opinions of these individuals are wrong and irrelevant.

            I’m just happy to see that at least this little bit of canonical order is in effect amid the confusion of the uncanonical overlapping of ‘jurisdictions’ from which we suffer in North America.

            • ChristineFevronia says

              Dear Monk James, Dr. Stankovich, and George,

              A bit of a tangent on this topic, but relevant nonetheless…

              About a year ago I discovered a beautiful treasure of Orthodoxy, truly one of the most special places on earth. It is the St. Paisius Orthodox Monastery in Stafford, Arizona. Would you believe it, this is a holy Monastery that is under joint jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) and the Serbian Orthodox Church. Both Archbishop Kyril (ROCOR) and Bishop Maxim (Serbian) are its administrators. The nuns who live there are incredible and this holy Monastery is flourishing! They host guests, and all their services are in English (and I can highly recommend the purchase of their amazing All Night Vigil CD, found on their website at–in fact, it’s a must-have!).

              Sometimes when we choose to cross over the boundaries and we break through the divisions that separate us, how beautiful are the results!

              • George Michalopulos says

                Christine, I have also heard marvelous things about St Paissius. Hopefully, someday I’ll be fortunate enough to go.

          • M. Stankovich says

            I believe there has been a misunderstanding here, based upon my phrasing. When I said “since all Active Duty military chaplains in the OCA serve directly under the primate,” this has been interpreted to mean “all military chaplains, all inclusive.” That is incorrect to my knowledge. This was/is an award bestowed by the OCA Primate upon retired OCA Chaplains for their service to the United States Military.

            I posted – in effect cc:’d – my personal communication to Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, expressing to him my personal opinion regarding this matter. Therefore, my personal opinion is the only opinion of any relevance, period. For heaven’s sake the man was an OCA priest behind enemy lines meeting the spiritual needs of our troops in combat for 22-years.

            Mr. Michalopulos, put up a PayPal donation button to purchase the first ever “Monomakhos Chaplain’s Military Service Cross,” for which we will neither have to beg, nor be judged for “convoluting N. American jurisdictions.” Stay out of my business! Oorah!

            • Billy Jack Sunday says

              George Michalopulos

              I had almost the exact same thought – almost

              Since you can’t bestow a military service award – I would indeed create an annual Monomakhos Award

              However, the award would be for any clergyman who stands out as one rightly fighting for the faith – (with great effort, against the odds and/or popular detrimental trends – maybe even a bit ‘alone’ in a sense)

              I believe Fr. Alexander Webber would be a great nominee for this – for all his efforts to see the true Orthodox Tradition transmitted here in America

              You could announce the recipient on the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople. You could start next year, or simply announce this year’s winner late and catch up next year

              Let me know because I will announce the unfortunate – in conjunction with – yet non-officially affiliated – preemptive Annual Billy Jack Razzie Award

              • M. Stankovich says

                I believe you are thinking of the winner of last years “Orthodox Clergy BBQ Cook-Off,” Fr. Alexander Webber. Dean Webster, on the other hand, is a leaner, fitter, soldier, with a blood lipid profile to make you proud. For Fr. Webber, the re-cast was of an original Rusin grl (it only looks difficult to pronounce because it has no vowels – it is pronounced exactly like “grill,” but with a heavy guttural emphasis on the “g-r-r” aspect).

                Pertinent to this discussion, I texted Archbishop Benjamin late yesterday to ask him a question, and after a long pause, he briefly responded that he was having dinner with Met. Tikhon. wow. I I asked him to prop up my character to His Beatitude, but suggested he have someone behind him prepared to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

                • Billy Jack Sunday says

                  M. Stankovich

                  Haha yes – I saw the typo after it posted

                  Kinda funny misspelling Webster

                  “How do you spell ‘Webster’?”

                  “Look it up in the dictionary!”

                  . . .

                  “How do I know I got the right book?”

                • Al Gore wants us to eat insects because they produce less global warming flatulence than livestock. Clearly insects and reptiles are lentworthy. As to Balkan vowel depletion, it results from tooth depletion. Romanian is French without vowels. Albanian is Greek without vowels. Serbian is Russian without vowels.

              • Billy Jack Sunday says

                Oops – typo


                Nah nah nah . . . There’s two O’s in ‘Goose,’ boys

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              M. Stankovich! What do you mean by “the man was an OCA priest behind enemy lines…” and “meeting the spiritual needs of our troops in combat for 22-years?” BEHIND ENEMY LINES? Where? What chaplain served in what COMBAT for 22 years?

              • George Michalopulos says

                If I may jump in Your Grace, Fr Webster served several tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which are active theaters of operation.

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  George, what YOU write is true. But he did NOT serve in combat for 22 years, Neither did he serve behind ANY enemy lines. THIS is what M. Stankovich wrote: “For heaven’s sake the man was an OCA priest behind enemy lines meeting the spiritual needs of our troops in combat for 22-years.” See that? Behind enemy lines—with the troops IN COMBAT for 22 years. None of our chaplains has EVER served behind enemy lines, nor spent 22 years with troops in combat anywhere. That kind of exaggeration could only be acceptable to a Trumptard, who, I’m pretty sure, M.Stankovich would not wish to emulate!

                  • Billy Jack Sunday says

                    Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald)

                    I took what M. Stankovich wrote to mean that he had served for 22 years – with some of that time (obviously not all) being stationed in hostile territory (Iraq, Afghanistan)

                    No one said that for 22 years he was running point in the sh!t using holy water as hand grenades

                    That’s the exaggerated picture you are trying to paint

                    It’s sad that you want to superficially tear down a reasoned request with petty arguments

                    If it was just a concept, I wouldn’t care – but this is concerning a deserving individual – who we hope was inadvertently, not purposely, overlooked

                    Really that’s just trying to give the OCA the benefit of the doubt

                    So, what do you think about the actual issue?

                    I’d like to know – since you are quite qualified with your whole background and position to address the actual concerns with this issue here

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Vladyka Tikhon,

                    My comment was reflective of an interview that I was listening to simultaneously on CNN between Chris Cuomo & Erik Prince, the former Navy Seal & founder of Blackwater, the private “military company” that is proposing to assume a primary leadership role in Afghanistan. Mr. Prince made the point that, like the Russians previously, the US is engaged in a near quarter-century of “combat,” making even an official diplomatic visit to the capitol “behind enemy lines.” Obviously, Mr. Prince was employing rhetorical “license,” and I sought “affiliation.” In either case, it is disappointing to feel obligated to point out what should otherwise be obvious.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald says

                      “For heaven’s sake the man was an OCA priest behind enemy lines meeting the spiritual needs of our troops in combat for 22-years.”

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      It is my personal opinion that Archpriest Alexander F C Webster, Chaplain (Colonel), US Army, Retired, and Dean of Holy Trinity Seminary, ROCOR, Jordonville, NY, meets all established criteria for being honoured with the distinction of the Primatial Award of the Military Pectoral Cross for his service in the United States Armed Forces. Never would I have ever imagined that by bringing this “oversight” of the OCA to the attention of this forum, it would result in the flood of pettiness that has ensued. However you wish to interpret the terms, Afghanistan is a “war zone,” our troops engaged in “combat,” and our Chaplains ministered to “combat troops.” My intention was not to suggest “22-years in combat,” but rather pointing to his entire length of service. This is a disingenuous, petty interpretation that even Vladyka Tikon concedes I would not wish to emulate. That would be a most accurate assumption, and for the time being, I continue to allow that this was simply inadvertence on the part of the OCA.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I completely agree with you.

      • Fr Chris Moody says

        There are multiple bishops as endorsers for active duty chaplains, not just one. Metropolitan Isaiah is mine. I serve the regular Army, at ft. Sill, under Metropitan Isaiah. The intent under SCOBA, was to have a single bishop overseeing. But alas, we are divided on this issue, as well.

        • Greatly Saddened says

          Father … thank you first and foremost, for your service to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and also for your service to our country as a military chaplain. May God bless you and your family and may He grant you many years.

  6. Monk James Silver says

    Sure — but the ROCOR’s bishops would have to award the cross to Fr AW, and Met. Hilarion present it.

    • Bishop Anaxios says

      Monk James Silver

      What a paradox

      If there were no multi jurisdictions existing in the United States (a non-canonical reality) – this whole issue of not bestowing an award to Father Alexander Webster would be moot

      But since this non-canonical reality does, in fact, exist – then we cannot break yet another canon by promoting his reception of this award – because for the OCA to award him as a ROCOR priest would be non-canonical (even if ROCOR approved – and the OCA and ROCOR shouldn’t even be separate entities anyway)?


      I love how our Orthodox Church in the United States continues to be a total Grinch no matter what!

      I love it when a deserving man gets totally screwed for the sake of a broken and punitive religious institution

      Rabbi Shammai – eat your heart out!

      It’s his fault for not being at least a bishop in the first place

      No champagne wishes and caviar dreams for that guy

      Plus this will help keep him humble even more

      I love using that last reason. It sounds so spiritually helpful instead of jerkface

      • BA – are you and BJ related? You two sound a lot alike sometimes…

        • Billy Jack Sunday says


          Bishop Anaxios sounds like me?


          That’s like saying Limp Biscuit sounds like Rage Against the Machine!

          No offense to Bishop Anaxios

          But he’s like a 2x one hit wonder

          • Bishop Anaxios says

            Billy Jack Sunday

            No offense taken

            Just give me something to break

            Preferably some canons