Breaking: Has a Nominee for the Diocese of the South Been Found?

More breaking news from the DOS. Every now and then, things heat up on Monomakhos. The election of a new bishop in the Diocese of the South is one such occasion. Many issues were at stake besides the suitability of the Bishop of Baltimore’s erstwhile candidacy. All of these issues are addressed by Fr Marcus Burch, the Chancellor of the Diocese of the South in the following letter he wrote to the DOS priests.

It appears that our Deans have come to a unanimous conclusion regarding a candidate. According to this letter, they are unanimous as well in their concerns about recent events within our Diocese. We applaud Fr Marcus for his candor and leadership in this matter.

Download DOS Episcopal Search Committee Update (.pdf).

[wptabtitle]Cover Letter[/wptabtitle]

The Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America
PO Box 191109
Dallas, TX 75219-191109
(864) 299 1140

27 April 2012


Dear Brothers and Concelebrants and Faithful of the Diocese of the South,

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

I apologize that this update to the Episcopal Search Committee’s work has been so delayed in coming. This past year since becoming Chancellor of the Diocese of the South (June 1, 2011) has been a challenging one. While the life and work of the Diocese have continued and by many standards even thrived, we have also faced sadness and adversity. First, it must be noted, that on August 28, 2011, our beloved, retired hierarch, Archbishop Dmitri, fell asleep in the Lord. One of my first tasks as Chancellor had been to visit St Seraphim’s Cathedral in early June of 2011 where I met with its priest and parish council. It was also my great joy to serve at the liturgy on the Monday of the Holy Spirit where His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri was present. The impact of his death upon all of us cannot be underestimated. Shortly after this, Bishop Nikon, our locum tenens, was to undergo another major surgery as well as further treatment for cancer that would not be completed until the beginning of 2012. We had of course the 16th All-­-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America to prepare for and attend. Behind all of this was also the suspicion and uncertainty that had entered the life of our Orthodox Church in America, and also its Diocese of the South, during Great Lent of 2011.

My hope is to provide below a bit of background to our search for a new diocesan hierarch, as well as to provide the procedure which will, Lord-­-willing, lead to the nomination of a candidate whose name will be submitted to the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America who has the statutory responsibility of canonical election. This nomination will take place at a Special Assembly of the Diocese of the South to be held on Thursday, July 19, 2012, at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Miami, FL, in the context of the 2012 Diocese of the South Assembly (July 16 – 20). The importance of each assigned priest and parish delegate being at this assembly cannot be stressed enough.

Wishing you every joy of the Paschal Season, I remain


Faithfully yours in the Risen Lord,

VRev Marcus C Burch, Chancellor

VRev Marcus C Burch, Chancellor
Diocese of the South


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The Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America
PO Box 191109
Dallas, TX 75219-191109
(864) 299 1140
DOS Episcopal Search Committee Update
Background and History


In the last few years of his Episcopate, Archbishop Dmitri was searching for an auxiliary bishop who could help him administer the Diocese of the South. Perhaps more importantly, he seemed to be hoping to find the man who would at least have the inside track to succeed him as ruling bishop. Starting as early as 2005 the Diocese of the South began to ‘interview’ candidates who would attend the various Diocesan Assemblies and Clergy Conferences giving the Archbishop an opportunity to see them in person, and more importantly to see their interactions with his clergy. Finally, in the summer of 2008, not only did Archbishop Dmitri seem to be convinced that he had finally found the right man in the person of Archimandrite Jonah [Paffhausen], but the general consensus of the clergy was the same. So, in the context of the 2008 Diocesan Assembly in Dallas, TX, with the concurrence of the Diocese of the South Diocesan Council, Archbishop Dmitri put forward to the Holy Synod the name of Archimandrite Jonah to be his auxiliary in the Diocese of the South. On September 4, 2008, Archimandrite Jonah was canonically elected by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America to be Bishop of Fort Worth, and Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of the South, with his consecration date set for November 1, 2008. In addition to being his auxiliary bishop, Archbishop Dmitri also appointed Archimandrite Jonah as Chancellor of the Diocese of the South. With fewer demands on his time to directly administer the Diocese of the South, an arrangement had been made that might allow the Archbishop to continue as ruling bishop for the foreseeable future, or perhaps, to prepare to retire with some measure of assurance that an able successor had been identified. Providence showed otherwise.

Less than two weeks after being consecrated, Bishop Jonah, at the 15th All-­-American Council, was nominated and canonically elected Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America. By the end of 2008 Metropolitan Jonah was installed as the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America leaving the Diocese of the South without an auxiliary and none of Archbishop Dmitri’s burden of administering the diocese alleviated. With yet another trip to Syosset for the Spring Holy Synod meeting looming and Great Lent of 2009 reaching its midpoint on the Sunday of the Cross, Archbishop Dmitri, perhaps not surprisingly, announced to the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of the South that he had asked for retirement:


Overseeing a Diocese…is a temporary calling by nature. Thus, after fifty-­-five years in the priesthood and forty years as a bishop of the Orthodox Church in America, I have asked for retirement from the active episcopacy, effective March 31, 2009. It is not a decision I make lightly. I feel confident that with our current Synod of Bishops as well as Diocesan leaders (both clergy and laymen) already in place, that the work of the Orthodox Church in the South will continue. Together we have helped to lay the foundation which is Christ, and now it is time for others to build upon our labors (1 Corinthians 3).



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The Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America
PO Box 191109
Dallas, TX 75219-191109
(864) 299 1140

At its spring meeting on March 31, 2009, the Holy Synod ‘declare[d] the episcopal See of Dallas vacant and resolve[d] that His Beatitude, JONAH, Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, be locum tenens of the Diocese of the South.’ Shortly after this, Metropolitan Jonah, as locum tenens, appointed Archpriest Joseph Fester to be Chancellor of the Diocese of the South. In addition to appointing Father Joseph as the Chancellor, Metropolitan Jonah appointed an Episcopal Search Committee that was composed of the Deans of the Diocese of the South. At its first meeting the Chancellor and the Deans proposed several names which we might begin to consider. In this period immediately following the Archbishop’s retirement there was certainly a comfort with Metropolitan Jonah as our locum tenens; he was after all, if only for a short time, ‘one of us’, and well-­-liked in the Diocese of the South. In addition, we all knew that the right man would need to be found to succeed Archbishop Dmitri, the founding and only ruling the bishop the Diocese of the South had ever known. Thus, there was at this time no sense of urgency in the search.


At its January 2010 Pastoral Conference hosted by St Barbara’s Church in Ft Worth, TX, the deans of the Diocese of the South met with one potential candidate for the episcopate, Archimandrite Meletios [Webber], who was the keynote speaker at that conference. The deans also for the first time considered another man whom the Metropolitan had recommended, Abbot Gerasim [Eliel]. While there was strong interest in both men, it was conveyed to the deans that Father Meletios was needed at the St John the Wonderworker Monastery (where he had succeeded Metropolitan Jonah as abbot), and that Father Gerasim, who was doing theological study at St Vladimir’s Theological Seminary, would not be available in the near future.

In Atlanta, GA, at the Diocesan Council meeting held before the July 2010 Diocese of the South Assembly, Metropolitan Jonah for the first time officially (at the Diocesan Council meeting) mentioned the name of Bishop Mark [Maymon], who might possibly be received into the Orthodox Church in America from the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, as a potential candidate for bishop of the Diocese of the South. In early December 2010 Bishop Mark was canonically released to the Orthodox Church in America, and Metropolitan Jonah placed him at St Seraphim’s Cathedral in Dallas, TX, as his administrator for the Diocese of the South. At a meeting with Bishop Mark and the Deans of the Diocese of the South at the Pastoral Conference held at Holy Resurrection Church in Clinton, MS, in February of 2011, Metropolitan Jonah introduced Bishop Mark as the main candidate for bishop of the Diocese of the South. At the Diocesan Council meeting which took place in Clinton,




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The Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America
PO Box 191109
Dallas, TX 75219-191109
(864) 299 1140

His Beatitude recommended that the work of the Episcopal Search Committee be resumed in earnest, and that the committee be expanded to include the entire Diocesan Council. It was also at this Pastoral Conference that the Diocese of the South marked the transfer of Father Joseph Fester to St Nicholas Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Washington. So, almost two years after the retirement of Archbishop Dmitri it looked as though we would finally begin moving ahead with the nomination process.

Thus we looked forward to Great Lent of 2011 with both the hope, but also the uncertainty, that our new episcopal administrator represented. Still, in most ways, the ‘Diocesan leaders’ whom the Archbishop had referenced upon his retirement were still in place, and of course, there was the Archbishop himself. All of this gave confidence: the foundation that had been laid in the Diocese of the South was secure. No one could have predicted the firestorm of controversy that was to consume and divide the Orthodox Church in America beginning the Sunday of Meatfare and continuing until after Pascha 2011.


It is not the place here to look in detail of that ‘recent unpleasantness’. Perhaps it is enough to recount its outcome. At its meeting in Santa Fe, NM, the Holy Synod removed Metropolitan Jonah as locum tenens of the Diocese of the South and replaced him with Bishop Nikon [Liolin], who kept Bishop Mark as its administrator. As Great Lent progressed various challenges to Bishop Mark’s leadership at St Seraphim’s Cathedral were put forward. In the face of this adversity, but also in areas of the life of the Cathedral that were not directly related to these challenges, Bishop Mark made some very poor choices which only served to further the divisions at the Cathedral, undermine his authority, and cast doubt on his suitability to be the ruling bishop in this diocese.

At the end of Bright Week 2011 (late April/early May), in consultation with his brother bishops, Bishop Nikon removed Bishop Mark as administrator of the Diocese of the South. In order to restore some measure of peace and to heal divisions, Bishop Nikon personally visited St Seraphim’s Cathedral and other areas of the Diocese of the South, meeting with clergy and some of the faithful. Bishop Nikon, in a move that some thought controversial (though many noted it in keeping with the mercy that Archbishop Dmitri himself showed throughout his episcopate), allowed Bishop Mark to remain in the Diocese of the South as a ‘guest’ residing in South Florida.



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The Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America
PO Box 191109
Dallas, TX 75219-191109
(864) 299 1140

In late May of 2011 Bishop Nikon met with the deans of the Diocese of the South and from among them appointed Archpriest Marcus Burch as Chancellor. At this meeting it was the unified opinion of the deans and the chancellor that Bishop Mark was not the best candidate for ruling bishop of the Diocese of the South. It is important to stress that this position was not taken lightly; it was also not a punitive action against Bishop Mark. It was at a minimum the recognition that by his actions at St Seraphim’s Cathedral Bishop Mark deeply wounded the faithful of the Cathedral, brought division into a diocese that was previously remarkably united, and called into question his ability to lead the diocese as its ruling hierarch.

Hopes were high that the Episcopal Search would begin and move forward at pace. It was decided, in keeping with the original organization of the Episcopal Search Committee, that the Deans of the Diocese of the South would work to vet potential candidates, and then pass these names along to the Episcopal Search Committee as a whole. In the early period of this process access was given to those men who had already been vetted by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, several of whom had already been considered for candidacy in the other OCA dioceses which were vacant. Through this period there were also several new names that came to the attention of the deans. Eventually, one of the potential candidates was removed because he was selected by one of the vacant dioceses; another was removed from consideration because health issues called into question his ability to participate in the process; others were deemed unacceptable based on their own resumes or dropped from consideration at their own request. All the while, Bishop Mark’s presence in the Diocese of the South continued to be an irritant for some; on the other hand, he was being well accepted by many of the clergy of South Florida.

At the 16th All-­-American Council in Seattle, WA, the deans for the first time had the opportunity to interview three of the remaining candidates. Following these interviews, the deans had come full circle (back) to January of 2010. The two leading candidates for consideration were Archimandrite Meletios [Webber] and Abbot Gerasim [Eliel]. One difficulty with Father Meletios remained: he himself stated plainly and sincerely that he would not accept if he were nominated by the Diocese of the South, and — irrespective of any possible nomination by the Diocese of the South — that he would not be released by his diocesan bishop.

At the Diocese of the South Assembly that took place at the 16th All-­-American Council in Seattle, WA, a new Diocesan Council was elected. Also, in late 2011 and early 2012, two new deans were added, significantly changing the make-­-up of the Episcopal Search Committee. The first opportunity for this entire group to meet was at the Diocese of the South Pastoral Conference held at Holy Ascension Church in Mt Pleasant, SC, on February 7, 2012. At this meeting the deans presented their two potential candidates to the Episcopal Search Committee as a whole. In the process of deciding who should be considered for Bishop, there was a frank discussion of the events that unfolded at St Seraphim Cathedral. There was also discussion



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The Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America
PO Box 191109
Dallas, TX 75219-191109
(864) 299 1140

concerning the one potential candidate who had been removed from consideration because of health reasons. Representatives of the South Florida Deanery requested that Bishop Mark remain a potential candidate. It was also decided to add the one other potential candidate who had been removed from consideration for health reasons. The meeting ended with the intention of conducting interviews with each of the potential candidates: Archimandrite Meletios, Abbot Gerasim, Bishop Mark, and the one candidate who had previously been dropped from consideration out of concerns of his health.

Three of these interviews were indeed conducted during the course of Great Lent, asking the potential candidates the same list of questions. Affirming his unchanging stance, Archimandrite Meletios politely declined to be interviewed by the Episcopal Search Committee as a whole.



According to the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America it is the prerogative of a (Special) Diocesan Assembly to nominate a candidate for the diocese’s vacant episcopal see and to submit that name to the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America for canonical election. At a Special Assembly to be held on July 19, 2012, at Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Miami Lakes, FL, in conjunction with our annual 2012 Diocese of the South Assembly (July 16 – 19, 2012), we will nominate a candidate and submit his name to the Holy Synod. In order to accomplish this there is still work to be done.

Following the interviews of the potential candidates that concluded at the end of Great Lent, the Chancellor and Deans of the Diocese of the South (VRev Marcus Burch, VRev Alexander Fecanin, VRev Theodore Pisarchuk, VRev Thomas Moore, Rev Gleb McFatter, and Rev Justin Frederick, and Rev David Arnold) remain steadfast in their initial recommendation of either Archimandrite Meletios [Webber] or Abbot Gerasim [Eliel]. Given that Father Meletios continues to decline standing as a potential candidate, the strong recommendation of the Chancellor and all of the Deans is for Abbot Gerasim.

Therefore, beginning in late May (once he finishes his studies at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary), Father Gerasim will begin a series of visits to each deanery of the Diocese of the South and a few churches in each deanery in order to get to know the clergy and faithful. Bishop Mark, as a ‘guest’ in the diocese, has already visited each of the deaneries and many of the churches in the diocese. The third potential candidate (who has intentionally not been mentioned by name) is also a monastic who himself does not have the authority stand as a potential candidate, and indeed is under obedience not to. He is nonetheless considered by the committee to be a worthy potential candidate. We are, even at the last hour, attempting to get official permission to include him among the potential candidates. If this permission is obtained, there will be an effort to interview him more fully and perhaps arrange some visits for him within the diocese.



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The Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America
PO Box 191109
Dallas, TX 75219-191109
(864) 299 1140

At least thirty (30) days prior to the start of the Special Assembly the delegates from each parish and mission will have access (via the Diocese of the South website and email) to the information concerning the potential candidates. The delegates will then be able to learn more about the candidates and be able to make an informed decision in Miami, FL.

A couple of final notes: the importance of attending this Diocesan Assembly at Christ the Saviour cannot be stressed enough. In the next two weeks the website for registration for the 2012 Diocesan Assembly will be up and running, so please look for this and register in a timely manner. Also, the procedure by which the vote for the nomination of the candidate for canonical election by the Holy Synod is to take place is not explicit in the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America. This procedure is typically indicated in diocesan by-­-laws. Unfortunately, the Diocese of the South has never adopted diocesan by-­-laws. It had been decided at the 2011 Diocese of the South Assembly to begin working on a set of diocesan by-­-laws. This process is underway, but will only possibly be coming to completion at the 2012 Diocesan Assembly. Therefore, at its May 2012 meeting, the Diocesan Council will approve a procedure by which the nomination will take place based upon the recommendation of the By-­-Laws Committee. This procedure will then be included in the Diocese of the South By-­-Laws which will be presented to the Diocesan Assembly as a whole for approval.




  1. Carl Kraeff says

    The deans are definitely behind Abbot Gerasim:

    “Given that Father Meletios continues to decline standing as a potential candidate, the strong recommendation of the Chancellor and all of the Deans is for Abbot Gerasim.”

    There is really not much more to be said, except that all of us in the DOS should make a special effot to get to know the candidates as much as we can. As the attachment to Father Marcus’ letter indicates, Bishop Mark and Father Meletios are fairly well known. As for Abbot Gerasim, it looks like he will soon be making the rounds of each deanery. In the Carolinas Deanery, we will be fortunate to have Father Gerasim visit with us at three locations: Greenville, Columbia and Charleston, SC. In addition, folks can listen to an interview of him on the topic of Father Seraphim Rose at This Is Life! Revolutions Around the Cruciform Axis.

    Listen here:

    So if you happen to be in South Carolina during the week of May 21st, I am sure that the host churches would not mind you joining us in prayer and fellowship. Here is the current agenda:

    Monday, May 21
    St. John of the Ladder, Greenville (Fr Marcus Burch, Rector and Chancellor of DOS)
    6 pm Vespers and talk by Fr. Gerasim

    Tuesday, May 22
    Holy Apostles, Columbia (host: Fr. Thomas Moore, Rector and Dean of the Carolinas)
    (Meeting of Deanery clergy–Father Gerasim, Bishop Nikon and Metropolitan Jonah to participate)
    6 pm Great Vespers, talk and reception

    Wednesday, May 23
    9 AM Informal breakfast at Holy Apostles, Columbia
    6 PM Great-Vespers with Litya for the Feast of the Ascension, talks and a reception at Holy Ascension in Charleston

    Thursday, May 24
    Holy Ascension, Charleston (host: Fr. John Parker, Rector and Chair of the OCA Department of Evangelization)
    8:00 am Festal Hierarchical Liturgy. Followed by BBQ brunch.

    • Is it still possible that the OCA Synod will set aside the DOS’s nomination and appoint Maymon?

      • It is possible. A diocese only nominates. The Synod elects. Consider the elections in the past of Herman and Theodosius for Metropolitan. They were not the preferred candidates by the AAC, but each was elected by the Synod.

        Will the Synod overrule the DOS if another is nominated, if they only send up one name (Gerasim)? Let’s hope not, but that is why we are so adamant that +Mark’s name not even be put into nomination at the Diocesan Assembly since he has proven himself an unworthy candidate for nomination who is only being lobbied hard by the Miami deanery and by the DOS Treasurer. He does not have the support of the DOS Deans nor the Episcopal Search Committee. Nonetheless one can expect that there will be an effort by Miami and the Treasurer to have his name as one of the names sent to the Synod. We can only hope that those in the DOS will hold fast to their objection to +Mark and not send up his name.

        I agree with Stan that Abbot Gerasim’s relationship with Abbot Herman needs to be explained. However I would not leave it to Pokrov to be the only source of information since they tend to enjoy guilt by association without providing any facts in this matter. They also paint +Jonah with the same innuendo brush. Sadly a method the OCA enjoys employing too.

        It is up to Gerasim as he visits the DOS to fully explain that relationship in an honest and forthright manner. If his relationship was acceptable and not an impediment, then the Assembly can vote their conscience.

        What worries some is that if Gerasim is found lacking then the Synod will settle on +Mark. Better the DOS continue without a bishop than be saddled with a thief and a truly morally compromised bishop.

        +Mark is Anaxios, Anaxios, Anaxios!

        • The Holy Synod is not constrained by the names sent to them. The statue of the OCA, article 6 section 10 ( states that if the diocese does not nominate a candidate acceptable to the Synod the Synod may elect a candidate. Keeping Bishop Mark off the ballot would not prevent the Holy Synod from electing him. Certainly an evenly divided vote from the Diocesan Assembly would increase the chances but no procedure can prevent it absolutely.

  2. I do hope some due diligence is done with regard to Abbott Gerasim’s allegiance to the defrocked Abbott Herman Podmoshensky and his sojourn in uncanonical Orthodox groups (see and

    • Fair point, Stan .But we all make mistakes and the important question for now is what has Gerasim learned from this experience?
      Gerasim’s connection with Fr Seraphim Rose, who effectively reached out to “post-Christian” Americans, bodes well for genuine mission in the DOS if he is nominated and elected ( a comment which should not to be taken as approval of all of Seraphim’s views, btw).

  3. Diogenes says

    Abbott Gerasim comes from the same place as + Jonah. So, exactly what allegiances Gerasim had (has), is the very same for + Jonah. Don’t you people see? + Jonah supported all these fringe Orthodox characters and embraces them. ROCOR is filled with these types.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Diogenes–You are painting with a wide brush. The Antiochians accepted the Evangelical Orthodox Church, another gaggle of “fringe Orthodox characters.” By and large, they turned out just fine and have contributed greatly to American Orthodoxy. The HOOMS and CSB characters likewise. Remember that the ROCOR bishops who were involved are Godly men, good hierarchs. Also, please remember that the Church was not always homogenized, 100% pure Orthodox. Finally, remember that those folks, misguided as they were, were earnestly seeking God. Sure they had a few bad apples, but the bad apples also existed in canonical jurisdictions. Indeed, one of the worst apples, Metropolitan Pangatios, was originally a GOA priest.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Very well put, Carl. I would not put much stock in a man if he turned 180 degrees on a friend of his, even if the friend was not worthy of his friendship and loyalty. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Abbott Gerasim from people who have had months of interaction with him. He certainly is the soul of humility, in that he accepted Arb Dmitri’s direction that he go to SVS for one year. As an ordained priest, he didn’t have to do that but he stayed three.

    • Why, thank you, Diogenes! If Abbot Gerasim and Metropolitan Jonah come from the same place, then I’m sure Abbot Gerasim will be a great bishop, too.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        I wish we had thumbs-up and thumbs-down button. George?

        BTW, I often find these to be a generally reliable indicator of the quality of comments.

      • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

        St.John of San Francisco accepted or ordained some clerics who turned out to be really bad apples,yet I have no doubts of his sanctity.Lets also remember that of the original Twelve Apostles,only one didn’t leave Our Lord and run from the Cross!

      • jacksson says

        Good comment Helga. I don’t get this “they come from the same place”. When +Jonah was a priest, he was assigned to St Mary Magdalene Mission in Merced, CA (OCA). He then took on the responsibility of St John of Shanghai Monastery at Pt Reyes, CA and then Manton, CA (OCA). Regarding +Gerasim, he has been connected only with the Platina monastery until recently (now OCA) and Platina has never been OCA. The only connection between +Jonah and +Gerasim is one of friendship. There has, historically, been little interchange between the two groups with the only exception that I know of being the burial of Brother Baruch of Pt Reyes at Platina.

        • Metropolitan Jonah is Fr. Gerasim’s godfather. Also, if I understood correctly, Metropolitan Jonah is the one who brought Fr. Gerasim to Platina to meet with Fr. Seraphim Rose.

          • jacksson says

            Okay, I got the relationship now. Fr Gerasim must be one of the students from U. Santa Cruz who was privileged to listen to Fr. Seraphim at the university. That happened before +Jonah became a priest. I did hear about someone who was his godson and who was connected with Platina – he told me about that.

  4. Carl Kraeff says

    Stan–Thank you for being precise in your statement of concern. Far too often, folks arrive at unwarranted conclusions. I looked all over Pokrov and OCAN, and I could not find one shred of evidence of moral failings on the part of Abbot Gerasim. The only thing that stands out is his continued allegiance to Abbot Herman after he was kicked out by ROCOR. And, I will ask him about this should I have the chance to talk to him.

    • “Allegiance” is a loaded word used by sites like Pokrov and Voices from Russia who then go ahead and define it as they see fit and leave the impressions that such “allegiance” is often cultic, Hoomie-like, sordid in the absence of any evidence except what they suggest as fact, and again, guilt by association.

      I look forward to the DOS vetting process. We are not a bunch of unsophisticated country bumpkins (not that there is anything wrong with being a bumpkin from the country). Many of us went to high school and even a college or two. We have running water in our homes and them electric bulbs.

      We know now we don’t want (+Mark) the question now becomes, is the Abbot Gerasim the one we need?

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Niko, very well said. The worst that can be said about Abbott Gerasim is that he had an “allegience” to the other priest in question. This is not from his own mouth but is ascribed to him. On the other hand, we know from Bp Mark’s own mouth that he stole Fr Joe’s emails and furthermore, that he did nothing wrong.

    • James P. says

      Abbot Gerasim’s allegiance to the rightly deposed Herman Podmoshensky over allegiance to his bishop is a question that must be addressed forthrightly and convincingly. His sojourns with non-canonical charlatans must be addressed, too. Anything less than total candor would be a big red flag. I would like to think that the deans have done their due diligence in this regard and are fully aware of the history. Given what we know, the only credible answer I can think of for Abbot Gerasim would be something like:

      “In my youthful idealism, I exercised really bad judgment. I was led away by notions of “true” Orthodoxy and contention surrounding the church calendar. I eventually matured and then resolved to take St. Herman’s Monastery into canonical Orthodoxy when I became aware of ‘Archbishop’ Pangratios’ criminality and the sexual predators he surrounded himself with, like in Blanco. I was completely unaware of Abbot Herman’s gravest sins when I sided with him over my own bishop and then remained under obedience to him for many years following. For these errors, I have repented and learned much, as have several priests of this diocese who came from CSB and who now serve honorably, here. Be assured that I would tolerate absolutely no such ignoble behavior among the clergy and monastics of the DOS. I pledge to you my vigilance. This diocese must be a safe, honorable place for the faithful, especially the children. I am an older, wiser man, now, and my record in the Serbian diocese and in the OCA has been a good one. I will gladly answer any specific questions you have.”

      If my understanding of the history is flawed, I beg someone to correct me. Some details may need tweaking, but I think this is essentially right.

      Needless to say, everything looks unsettled to me at this point. I just hope the synod doesn’t elect any candidate by default. An answer of “Try again, DOS” would be far preferable to, “If not G, then M,” or vice versa.

      • M. Stankovich says

        James P.

        While others appear to allow the Abbot the respect of responding to concerns directly and in his own manner, you have taken the time and invested the effort in writing the only “credible answer” for him. It’s almost – and let me emphasize almost – as succinct as that whole “Confession of Beliefs” business conducted at the Service of the Election. Almost.

        You obviously never met the former Fr. Herman, and I presume have never read his publications or assorted writings, but at one time, he was a stalwart of Orthodox publications in the English language. Likewise, in person, he was a dynamic (though somewhat manic), and gifted teacher and preacher. Obviously, history has shown him to be a very disturbed, even criminally-accused character; I only know by the little I have read. I will, however, reframe Diogenes “insult” and say that Herman was aligned with many as respected as Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), like brothers; and even with your current Metropolitan, which cannot be described as a “youthful exercise of bad judgment.” While he obviously did not follow into schism, I do not, however, recall anyone demanding your Metropolitan submit to rigorous “diligence” as to his “allegiance.”

        Hopefully, the Abbot’s disciple does not include the internet, lest he become discouraged.

        • Michael Bauman says

          M. Stankovich, if I am reading your post correctly, we actually agree on something. Delightful.

          Your assessment of Fr. Herman is pretty accurate with what I know.

          If it were not for the his work with Fr. Seraphim Rose, there would be far fewer American converts to the Church. Of course for some here, that is reason enough to oppose Abbot Gerasim. There are already too many of those **** American converts as it is.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            All of us who take a holier-than-thou attitude regarding converts and the qualifications of some of the earlier Orthodox thinkers in America would do well to study Church history, both ante- and post-Nicene. Not all of our “saints” were saintly and not all of those who died outside the Church (such as Tertullian and Origen) were sinners. Their writings are still profitable.

            • Rdr. Benjamin says



              Though I would put a correction to one point: While Tertulian did embrace montanism, whether he ever formally entered into schism with the Church is questionable. Also, Origen was never condemned during his lifetime and anathematized. He was not anathematized until hundreds of years later, and though what he wrote (or at least we think the Fathers of the Council thought he wrote) may have contained errors, it is questionable to say that that he died outside of the Church. For these two men, like many men, only God and those united to Him in the eternal kingdom know whether they are outside of the Church or not.

              • Also Anonymous says

                The problem with that is that it was precisely those who were united to God that finally made the decision to anathematize Origen.

                Certainly, not everything said, done, or written by someone outside the canonical boundaries of the Church is to be disregarded.

                However, to go into schism from the Church is a serious matter and it’s not at all unreasonable to ask Fr. Gerasim to explain that part of his life.

      • Also Anonymous says

        I agree with James P. I have nothing but respect for Fr. Gerasim, but this is still an issue that must be addressed in an open and forthright manner. And, from what I know of Fr. Gerasim, I have no doubt that he will do so, and will answer these questions if asked.

        I think it’s important to keep in mind that asking questions doesn’t always mean taking a side, and those with concerns about this issue aren’t necessarily anti-Gerasim, or pro-Mark.

        Regardless of Fr. Gerasim’s standing, schism is still seen as an incredibly big deal in Orthodox patristic tradition.

        That having been said, I do hope that Fr. Gerasim will be the next Bishop of the South.

  5. Carl Kraeff says

    James P–I also hope that Abbot Gerasim will give such an answer. Frankly, I am more concerned about hearing “Be assured that I would tolerate absolutely no such ignoble behavior among the clergy and monastics of the DOS. I pledge to you my vigilance. This diocese must be a safe, honorable place for the faithful, especially the children.” A monastery is not a diocese and the abbot-turned-bishop may have problems with being either too directive or too forgiving. So, I am very glad that Abbot Gerasim has spent those three years away from his monastery and at SVOTS, with fellow seminarians and faculty who are more reflective of the realities of a diocese than those of a monastery.

    • George Michalopulos says

      From what I’ve heard from people I trust, I’m already a fan of Abbott Gerasim. Regardless, the fact that we are going to be able to meet with him face-to-face and engage in respectful and civil dialogue is a major victory. To my mind, it should have been done sooner, as well as meeting the other candidates, but better late than never.

      • Ryan Shelton says

        Agreed. I trust my parish priest in this and he explicitly believes Fr. Gerasim to be the man for the job.

      • Florida Dan says

        Well I’m glad to see you’ve relaxed a little 😉

      • James P. says

        The cause and fuel of non-canonicalism is almost always debauchery at the highest levels, frequently covered with a veneer of being the real(er), true(r), genuine(r) article. (This is not to say that there isn’t debauchery at the highest levels of canonical Orthodox churches, but it isn’t the cause and fuel for their inception and existence.) These groups make valid criticisms of the canonical churches to bolster their own cases. True, there are those well-meaning, innocent folks in the laity and in the clergy under those vagantes or synods who simply don’t see it for a time, if ever. I think that is the case for some who came from CSB/Vasiliopolis; but I also suspect that some saw the pervasive problems and looked the other way, or rationalized them away under the pretense of obedience or humility, or didn’t care, or maybe even participated, only moving into canonical Orthodoxy more or less by default after CSB fell apart. My hope is that Abbot Gerasim was unaware of the worst problems, and then headed to the Serbian diocese once he became aware.

        My point is that some crucial questions must be addressed thoroughly and convincingly so that they can be put to rest for ever, lest they cast a shadow over a man who would be taking on one of the hardest jobs in the world to do right. I hope the deans have done exactly this, and I hope they understand how important it is that any legitimate doubts held by the other clergy and laity be put to rest. Note well that by “put to rest” I do not mean “glossed over,” but rather “dispelled by the truth.” I, too, am encouraged that we in the DOS will be able to address these questions directly to Abbot Gerasim in a civil, respectful, candid manner.

        I have read many issues of Orthodox Word over the years going back to the late 1980s, a periodical founded by Fr. Seraphim Rose and Herman Podmoshensky. So much edifying material was to be found in there, and some of it was a bit skewed. Herman was no doubt a dynamic character and did some good things, but that’s only part of a long, troubled story, as we well know. Yes, I am a convert, and like everyone here, I want the best for the DOS. We have one shot to get it right.

        Oh, and were it not for a certain canon about the marital status requisite for a member of the episcopate, I think Fr. Justin would make a phenomenal bishop. His presence as the Dallas dean has been a blessing in these tumultuous times. I’m just saying.

  6. Gregg Gerasimon says

    I have to say, I love Abbot Gerasim’s name. As far as I know, we are no relation 🙂

    Christ is risen!

  7. Geo Michalopulos says

    I heartily concur, on all points.

    If I may add something in general. Some of us seem to be hung up on “vagantes” jurisdictions and all. I myself try to keep a non-judgmental, but skeptical eye. I have heard priests in one of the ethnic jurisdictions say to me that they gladly befriend and counselt prospective inquirers but when push comes to shove, they refrain from encouraging them to join the parish which they pastor, simply because they know that they’re going to get clobbered in time by the ethnic faction. And no, I”m not talking specifically about the GOA; this happened on a archdiocesan basis 2-3 years ago in the AOCNA when the Arab segment put the white boys in their place at Palm Desert.

    In such a situation, do you blame seekers from seeking out vagante jurisdictions?

    I would ask that those who are perhaps a little more than unduly concerned, how they feel about Arb Lazar Puhalo? This man is no doubt one of the most brilliant minds in Orthodoxy today. Having said that, his journey to the OCA has been rather interesting. I once asked a priest what exactly was the status of Puhalo, knowing all that we know. He stated flat out: “he’s a canonical bishop in the OCA.” (That’s a verbatim quote.) Though he replied in a terse fashion, and stated in such a way that made me question his enthusiasm for the archbishop, that question was settled at least as far as the OCA is concerned. Neverthless, many of Puhalo’s YouTubes do real harm to the teaching of the Church.

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t use Archbishop Lazar as an example of the redeemability of vagante bishops. It would be like holding up New Skete as a good example of Orthodox Christian monasticism.

  8. “. . . one of the most brilliant minds in Orthodoxy today.”

    George, are you serious? Then you point out the unsound Youtube broadcasts. Please explain. This is a profound disconnect for me.

    • Fair enough, Karen. One of the bad raps we Conservatives get is that we are “reactionary” or “close-minded,” etc. In reality, we are far from that. Usually, we default to tradition, custom, and good common sense. What really works, the timeless things, and so on.

      That doesn’t mean that those who are radical in their thinking are stupid or that they aren’t intelligent. Liberals and Progressives usually are intelligent. They’re just not wise. Wisdom takes into account reality. This is especially true in the area of human sexuality. Arb Lazar is a very well-read man. I respect very much a lot of his scientific writings (not that I don’t find them dogmatic, but that’s a story for another day). His YouTube videos are a case in point. They are not the wild ramblings of an unhinged ignoramus, like a lot of cliches which are spouted on TV by some Liberal/Progressive on Oprah or by some fanatic like Dan Savage saying bigoted things against Christians at some high school. He’s given a lot of thought to what he preaches on the internet. I think in retrospect however, a lot of what he says is questionable at best and outright wrong at worst. But I can tell that he’s a well-read, intelligent man who’s very knowledgable about a lot of different things. That’s all meant.

      Eventually, I’d like to write about him in order to flesh out his philosophy more. But since he’s a bishop, I want to do it respectfully if at all possible.

  9. But a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding pattern. “Treat the other man’s faith gently it is all he has to believe with.” by Athenus.

  10. Carl Kraeff says

    On the occasion of the gala 75th anniversary celebration of our local GOA Church, Holy Trinity (Columbia, SC), I would like to make a few observations:

    – Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church was the only Orthodox Church in town for most of her history. She has grown to the point where she has built a new temple–a gorgeous one–for $8 million plus. I am not aware of any daughter churches. Thus, the growth has been vertical. However, the Greek community in the state is, in the words of a dignitary, much more influential than its size would indicate. It is absolutely true that the locals, regardless of religion or ethnicity, cherish the annual Greek Festivals and are proud of the new temple, which see at There are large GOA churches elsewhere in South Carolina and I want to check and see if their growth pattern is the same as Holy Trinity’s.

    – There has been explosive growth in the number of OCA Churches in both South and North Carolina, where Archbishop Dimitri’s vision was of horizontal growth; to establish missions in as many localities as possible, rather than a few larger cities. At last Sunday’s service, my priest announced that: the existing missions at Aiken/West August and Rock Hill are doing fine, and that new missions have been established at Beaufort, SC and Ashville, NC. All four of these churches are small but have full-time priests.

  11. Audrey Gray says

    You are my breathing in, I have few blogs and sometimes run out from brand :). “No opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.” by W. H. Auden.

  12. cynthia curran says

    This what I get from Conservatives here, they usually don’t eve support the moderate types here, in fact I would say some moderates are better than Grover Norquist on e-verify and also Republicans spend time on complaining about blue states, Republicans help to create some of the blue state situation by supporting greater international immirgation So Calif comes to mind and downsizing some of the aerospace in the early 1990’s that sent Long Island which relied on the military industrical complex to the Dems since their income based changed. The book Suburban Warrors would be shocking today it wasn’t George Wallace south that led to the Republicans or conservatives coming back but suburbs with very low poverty rates in So California in the 1960’s even Texas today doesn’t have that low poverty rate like Sousthern California had in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

  13. StephenD says

    Does anyone know why Father Justin Frederick is no longer the Dean of the Dallas Deanery of the Diocese of the South? Is this a consequence for his letter?

    Appalachian Deanery
    Priest David Arnold, Dean

    Dallas Deanery
    Archpriest Basil Zebrun, Interim Dean

    Carolinas Deanery
    Archpriest Thomas Moore, Dean

    • Heracleides says

      Excellent question!

    • Connecting the dots, I would think it is on account of the letter. And more specifically, letting the letter be posted on this website. I am assuming that Fr Frederick did allow it to be posted, as it would only be common curtesy to ask for his consent.

      The information provided by Fr Burch shows Fr Frederick’s decision making–both in writing the letter and in allowing it to be posted–to be flawed. If the editor of this site had bothered to check with the DOS Chancellor or the locum tenens, much angst might have been averted. Indeed, the way the story regarding Bishop Mark and the DOS See was handled, when contrasted with the official narrative, does damage to the credibility of this site. I suggest that, going forward, a little more rigor be put into sourcing the breaking stories.



      • Dear S.A.M.
        Please, help me to connect the dots.
        First of all, why did you mention Fr. Birch here? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I did not see anybody use his name in this tread…. What information did Fr. Birch provided to you? Is that he who removed Fr. Justin from his position? If that is true, than how he can be removed if Deans in DOS are elected, not appointed?
        Second. Do you think it is right to remove a priest for simply for asking questions? Does it look like retaliation to you?
        Third. What make you think that Fr. Justin allowed his letter be posted here? How is that publishing truth affects credibility of this site?

        • Member,
          Go back and read the top of the page please. The letter above is FROM Fr. Birch. That is what S.A.M. is referring to. Fr. Birch’s letter (again, read the top of this thread, and read Fr. Birch’s letter there too) provided a much more transparent look (more transparent than we’ve seen this entire time) into the selection process. His letter alleviates some of the concerns brought up by Fr. Justin (not all of them by a long shot though).

          • Thank you, Elijah, I’ll stand corrected…
            There are so many postings here now so I did not scroll more than few posts up.

        • Hello Member!

          1.I mention Fr Burch because here because he is the Chancellor of the DOS and wrote the letter that is the main topic for this thread. This letter shows that the dire circumstances Fr Frederick mentions are not all that dire. I suspect that Bishop Nikon, as the bishop is normally the competent authority, removed Fr Frederick from the deanship. The normal practice is that deans serve at the pleasure of the bishop. They may be nominated by the deanery clergy, but the bishop appoints them. I say suspect because the DOS website appears not to list the DOS diocesan bylaws.

          2. Simply asking questions. Here we have a letter sent to the diocesan council that was posted on a website. The letter caused disorder and pain when none needed to be caused. To me it looks like a breach of good order (particularly the posting of the letter on this website) and a lapse in judgement. This is not simply asking questions. It is provocation. I think it very much within the competence of the diocesan authority to make a change in this situation.

          3. As I said in the pervious post, I assume that Fr Frederick allowed the letter to be posted here. Common curtesy dictates that consent be given when posting private correspondence. Do you not think so? And if Fr Frederick did not give permission, will Monomakhos apologize to Fr Frederick for getting him in trouble?

          As regards the credibility of this site, I think it comes down to the story of the boy who cried “Wolf!”. The thrust of the letter is the suggestion that Bishop Mark may very well be elected bishop of the DOS. Fr Burch’s letter explain why this is highly unlikely. Thus, while Fr Frederick may have written truthfully and vaguely about what happened in Dallas, it was done in an unhelpful and injudicious way.



          • Weary member of DOS says


            Looking at the addressees on Fr. Justin’s letter, here’s another scenario to consider. The Bishop/Chancellor/search committee had deserted the original published policy back in September. At the last Diocesan Council meeting, Bishop Mark is suddenly dropped into the search, in fact is added to the ballot, over the objections of the Dallas Deanery representatives and others.

            Father Justin and others write to the bishop, the Metropolitan, the chancellor, members of the Diocesan Council, the janitor and anyone else that might be able to affect this outcome.


            **crickets chirping**

            The unresponded-to letter is sent to the Deanery, and is leaked to the internet, with or without Fr. Justin’s approval.

            Firestorm ensues.

            Fr. Birch then moves, late, into damage control mode with his letter, and the secret process is derailed at least in part.

            Bishop Nikon removes Fr. Justin for his injudicious standing up for principles.

            All better now.

            Nothing to see here, just move along……..

          • Jesse Cone says

            Sam thinks that

            This letter shows that the dire circumstances Fr Frederick mentions are not all that dire.

            Really? The letter acknowledged what we all knew — +Mark made some “poor decisions”, has been a lightning-rod in the DOS, and his tenure as “guest” (an ironic phrase to be sure) is an issue of contention. Yet his name is on the ballot.

            That’s the concern — and it was here well before Fr. Justin’s letter, and even before George ran the article.

            Tell me that ain’t fishy. Tell me the DOS not abiding by its own procedures ain’t fishy. Tell me the “guest” status and stipend (approved by whom?) ain’t fishy. Tell me that the assembly being held in Miami does not give an intentional advantage to +Mark by making it easy and affordable for delegates in his base of support to vote.

            I found Fr. Marcus’ letter to be refreshing and reassuring. It claims the nomination is perfunctory and that his election is “unlikely”. But you can’t take it to the bank…

            …that is unless, later on, one wants to show the narrative that the DOS really wanted someone else and they got +Mark instead.

            Fears could have been calmed by removing +Mark from the ballot, but instead they remove Fr. Justin from the Deanery. If the goal was to get people to quit worrying and quiet down, that’s the exact wrong way to go about it.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Very well said, Jesse. Even though I had a marvelous time at St Seraphim’s last week, where everybody was so gracious to me, I can honestly say that it has still not completely healed from the misfortunes of last year. Spiritual traumas that were inflicted –no doubt unintentially and in ignorance–leave deep and lasting wounds that can only be redressed by genuine repentance –by all concerned.

            • Jesse,

              If you find Fr Burch’s letter refreshing and reassuring, then by defintion, things are less dire than you found them before. As to the fishiness, I yield to your superior knowledge of the situation. One does wonder, though, what else the OCA was supposed to do with Bishop Mark. Bishop of Baltimore is a title, not a position. Also, Fr Frederick was removed from the deanship not the deanery.

              Wishing you a pleasant evening,


              • Heracleides says

                “One does wonder, though, what else the OCA was supposed to do with Bishop Mark.”

                Gee, I don’t know… perhaps send him to Baltimore to tend “his” flock… and if none exists, why, then he might just need to establish a mission and get his hands dirty rather than “earning” $70,000 in Miami working on his tan whilst soaking up the sun.

              • Jesse Cone says

                Thanks for the correction.

                I found it reassuring because it was an official acknowledgement of certain events. Some have wished to rewrite that narrative, others ignore it, and the letter makes that hard to do. It also makes any possible path to the See of the DOS much harder for +Mark by acknowledging their reservations and the divisiveness his elections would cause.

                That doesn’t mean things weren’t dire. It signaled things getting less dire, that I can agree with.

                • Good. I love agreement, me. Hope things are well with you and yours, Jesse.

                  (maybe I can get some “thumbs up” on this post, huh? Come on everyone!)


  14. StephenD says

    I have heard from another Dean of the Diocese of the South that Archbishop Nikon did remove Father Justin..I do not know the reason nor did the Dean. The Holy Synod has been meeting this week..Was this issue discussed there?

    • lexcaritas says

      Observing the dates:

      Fr. Justin’s letter: April 5;
      Monomakhos “Breaking News” reporting it: April 26;
      Fr. Marcus’ letter, April 27.

      Could it be that Fr. Justin’s letter got things off dead center and that Fr. Marcus’ missive is, in significant part, “damage control.”? Fr. Justin’s fears would seem to have been (be?) well-founded; time will tell. Christ is risen. May He save us and make us worthy to rightly glorify Him.

      • Seraphimist says

        Lexcaritas, I believe you are correct. Two weeks ago the election of Bishop Mark was expected. Thanks to this blog people were able to express their misgivings which were many.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        In the interest of fairness, I would like to point out that there was nothing “confidential” marked on this letter. What Fr Justin did was simply make known the concerns of this Deanery to the people in order to show that the priests likewise shared many of their concerns. If anything, Fr Justin should be applauded for transparency. Indeed, the days of intense secrecy are over and should be recognized as such. Let us pick ourselves up, shake the dust from us, and agree that the cult of secrecy is not only divisive but inevitably leads to paranoia.

        Let us not forget that the equally fine letter that Fr Marcus Burch (our chancellor) wrote some days after Fr Justin’s letter reiterated many of the same points that Fr Justin did in his letter to the priests and deacons of his Deanery. Fr Marcus’ letter was very edifying and immediately put a stop to turmoil.

        Axios! to them both.

        • George,

          What needs to stop is the posting of private letters and, yes, emails. I hope that you apologize to Fr Frederick. Then again perhaps he is happier not being dean.


          • George Michalopulos says

            Sam, there was nothing “private” about a letter sent to twenty-five or so people, some of whom were laymen. Indeed, I think Fr Justin should have sent it out to the entire Deanery. We need more transparency, not less. And no, his letter contained no confidential information relating to Bp Mark, it wasn’t defamatory, or hysterical in any ways, shape, manner or form. In fact, it set the record straight. (As did Fr Marcus’ longer letter which reiterated some of the same points.)

            As a wise man once said (Jefferson? Franklin? I forget) the cure for incorrect speech is more speech, not less speech.

            • George:

              I guess we just disagree, George. But hopefully amicably. I think that when a letter is not addressed to you or is not written as an open letter, it is private. Privacy has to do with expectation not content. I shouldn’t have thought that whether the letter is addressed to clerics or layman would make one jot of difference. The expectation of privacy is the same. What anyone believes Fr Frederick should have done should not make one jot of difference either.

              As far I know, you are correct. Fr Frederick did set the record straight. That doesn’t matter here. My contention is that publishing the letter is wrong, not the content of the letter.

              I am aware that this position is not popular. The ratings of my posts are not where I would like them. But the continued posting of private correspondence–correspondence with expectations of privacy–needs to stop.

              Wishing you a pleasant evening,


              • Whether Fr. Justin was okay with the letter being published or not, it hardly seems fair for Bishop Nikon to punish him for something he had nothing to do with.

                • Hey there, Helga!

                  Fair is very dependent on the circumstances. Maybe it is not punishment? Until it all plays out, I think criticism of Vladyka should be muted. He has a reputation for even-handedness.

                  Have a pleasant weekend,


              • Weary member of DOS says


                I would question if a letter written to a advisory body in an official capacity, i.e. the Diocesan search committee/Council, is in fact a private letter.

                The other question would be, was the action of removal taken because the letter was published on the internet or because the letter was written at all?

                Whichever it was, expect it to have a chilling effect on the clergy speaking up about things that they believe should be addressed or corrected.

                • Weary,

                  I would answer your question affirmatively. To me, a letter written in an official capacity to an advisory board is private. Plain and simple. Nice bright line rule irrespective of content. What is done is done, though.

                  I suspect you are right about the chilling effect on clergy speaking–or more specifically writing–about things that should be addressed. I do think this is caused more by letters and emails being posted on the internet and not so much as asking questions. I grant you that it is hard to know since the private correspondence is posted.

                  We should all be weary of this.



                  • Sam,

                    The expectation of confidentiality unless the author puts a bright line of distinction falls upon the one receiving the letter. In this case, the author is being punished for breaking a confidentially that he never expected. Rather the reaction of Bishop Nikon is that he (and the synod) imposed their definition of confidentially on the letter and then used that definition to punish Fr. Justin.

                    Mary comments on this thread that her priest freely shared the letter during coffee hour. Hence, her priest did not conclude he was under any bond of confidentiality.

                    I think the synod simply overreacted (not the first time) and have shown themselves to be the isolated group subject to group think and got suckered by the +Mark victim play, again.

                    • Nikos,

                      I have no way of knowing why Bishop Nikon acted as he did. Perhaps Fr Frederick asked to be relieved of his deanship. This is just so much speculation. What is clear is that such a removal is Vladyka’s perogative as locum tenens. Throughout his episcopate, Vladyka has shown himself to be an even-handed man. If one was to hazard a guess as Vladyka’s, one might think that the OCA bishops are fed up with documents ending up on websites. Against that back drop, Fr Frederick’s letter might just be guilty of bad timing.

                      I have no idea who Mary is or who her priest is. I can’t help but be a bit amazed that a priest would pass such a letter around at coffee hour. If I knew that letters I sent to various boards or organizations were to be passed out at social gatherings, I might think twice about sending them. It just strikes me as odd.

                      Lastly, I would be a little less harsh in my criticism of the Holy Synod. These men have a very difficult path to walk, very difficult realities to balance. They are all very new to the episocate and have steep learning curves. We have seen their problems, but we need them and must try to be as supportive of them as we can. (I bet this gets me some dislikes!)

                      As to Bishop Mark. If he is a bad bishop, ok. The church has seen worse, lived through worse. Of course this doesn’t give a license to be stupid.



              • Geo Michalopulos says

                SAM, thank you for your kind thoughts.

            • The letter was passed around after Liturgy at Agape the Sunday after it was sent. Apparently, my Priest received it. He’s not a hierarch.

            • lexcaritas says

              I tend to agree, George. The cure for gossip is not to tell folks to stop, but to get out ahead of it with the truth. It only thives in the dark and when people are tempted to imagine what is going on.

              Christ is risen.


  15. James P. says

    Fr. Justin took a hit for the diocese and for his deanery. I’m sure he is savvy enough to know that this outcome was possible, and possibly even effective. However, when a just man is unjustly dealt with, it often backfires. We owe Fr. Justin our gratitude and certainly our prayers.

    • Monk James says

      This is true of Fr Justin and of many of our OCA priests who’ve been ground up in the mills of episcopal unrighteousness, not the least of whom is Fr Robert Kondratick.

  16. Lena Morgan says

    The secretive and hasty removal of Fr. Justin from the Dean’s position while he is on vacation immediately reminded me of the operational style of the Politburo of the USSR, and how they were precalculating just the right moment to hit and eliminate undesirable (aka honorable) people from the System.

    No possibility was given Fr. Justin to defend himself.

    The removal of Fr. Justin from the Deans is a slap in our face as Fr. Justin expressed our position in his letter. We supported and plan to continue support the request to remove candidacy of Bp. Mark from the ballot.

    This action against Fr. Justin’s clearly exposes the position of Bp. Nikon and Fr. Markus.

    It will not surprise us if the next announcement will be about Bp. Mark as the newly elected Bp of the DOS.

    I feel like I’m almost done with the DOS and its leadership. I can not follow shepherds who lead me nowhere.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Lena, in fairness to Fr Marcus, his letter to the entire DOS very specifically stated the position of the Deans as a whole regarding our preference for the named candidate (Fr Gerasim) over that of the Bishop of Baltimore who was added because of the sufference of some in the Miami Deanery.

      Let us pray for all, including our Deans who have come to a unanimous conclusion regarding the fitness of Fr Gerasim and of course for Fr Gerasim as well. Also, let us pray for Bp Mark who I believe is worthy of a position in the OCA, perhaps in some other diocese.

      As I have said many times in the past, we need more bishops, not fewer.

      • lexcaritas says

        Be consistent, George. Can’t be worthy at this time under the cirucmstances.

        The release of private emails for pubication (as opposed to their judicious use for private admonition and, perhaps, confidential action by the Holy Synod) is NOTappropriate and should not be tolerated or overlooked absent sincere, unequivocal public repentance and diligent restitution to those damaged by the torious conduct. This would be required even under the standard that a man who wrongs another should give eye for eye and more, not less, is required of us who bear the name of Christ and have enlisted in his service.

        Furthermore, a man who seeks the office of bishop must be above reproach.


        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Lex, thank you for pointing out my inconsistency. We have tended to forget (actually, myself) what actions HG took last year which were canonically egregious and possibly actionable in a civil court. The fact that HG still doesn’t see that the purloining of emails and handing them to the miscreant Stokoe, who then dropped them in Jonah’s lap right before the Holy Synod met last year (in order to do maximum damage to His Beatitude) cannot be forgotten.

          I’m curious however as to why Bp Mark hasn’t been taken into another diocese. Is it possible that the other Ordinaries would rather not have to deal with him? To what extent has he been compromised by Stokoe?

          These are serious questions.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            At issue here is the publication of private correspondence that somehow ended up in George’s hands. Somehow I doubt that Bishop Nikon would have removed Father Frederick if he was a victim of theft of his private letter (just as private as the one that Father Fester wrote to the priests of DOS). Remember that this is a hierarchical search and nomination process, which by its very nature cannot and should not be public until after the search committee finishes its work. Also, please remember that not including Bishop Mark on the ballot could have made a martyr out of him in the minds of some folks and perhaps even gained him sympathy votes in July. Besides, the deans had been unanimous in supporting Abbot Gerasim or Father Meletios (thus not in favor for Bishop Mark). In short, there was no good reason for Father Justin to have come out publicly against Bishop Mark when there was no need to do so, certainly not in his own deanery. Frankly, if I were in Bishop Nikon’s shoes, I would replaced father Justin for not having faith in the process, in his fellow deans and for jumping the gun. Father Justin’s letter was essentially a Don Quixote moment that should not have been committed by a dean.

            • lexcaritas says

              No good reason for Fr. Justin to write his letter? Any yet he did . . . and he is neither a hot-head nor a fool.


              • Carl Kraeff says

                I do not think that he is a fool or a hot-head but he exercised poor judgment, just like many die-hard anti-Bishop Mark folks here. I repeat, it is foolish to make a martyr of Bishop Mark, especially after the publication of Father Marcus’ letter. This continued worrying and sniping betrays distrust in our priests, our deans, our Bishop Nikon, and our fellow parishioners.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                If I may add another reason Lex: Fr Justin would have been derelict in his duty had he not written that letter to his Deanery.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Mr. Michalopolus,

                  I do not believe, by any stretch of the imagination, that your action of posting Fr. Justin’s letter played any role in his removal as Dean. Any bishop(s) who make such a claim is simply being manipulative and dishonest. But the louder statement is obvious: there is no “transparency,” there is no “openness,” and there is no “effort.” Nothing has changed, and, ironically, there is no Mark Stokoe to point it out.

                  What became of the lengthy apologies, pledges, and promises of Met. Jonah from the All-American Council? What were the specific recommendations of St. Luke’s for him to achieve his stated goals? Were there established “landmarks” of measuring his accomplishing his promises? To whom is he accountable for the promises he so openly made? Are his brother bishops satisfied with the progress he has or has not made? What is the state of the relationships between brother bishops following the Metropolitan’s commitment to “repair” them for the sake of the church? Did St. Luke’s recommend continuing care or follow-up? Nothing. We have heard and we know nothing.

                  Without leadership, without transparency, without the tolerance for openness and diverse opinion, quite obviously as demonstrated today, actions speak louder than words.

                  • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                    M. Stankovich is on the right track in some respects.
                    1. As Chancellor, Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick made the operations and deliberations of all entities in the OCA more transparent and more accountable than they had ever been in the history of the OCA and of its Holy Synod, its administrative headquarters and the Metropolitan Soviet.
                    2. With the hasty and arbitrary removal of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick and other persons of INTEGRITY from the OCA’s administration, the Chancery, the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan Council began to develop the ‘behind the koulisses’, star chamber, smoke and mirrors and have been descending lower and lower into an almost Potemkin Village state of transparency marked by a flood of paperwork and statements, including financial statements, etc., that do more to obscure the actual “goings on” in the leadership to a degree surpassing that which obtained during the incumbencies of Chancellors Hubiak and Pishtey and of officers like ever-memorable Alexander Bezsmertnyj (sp?”). There are n records of the behind the scene string-pulling of famous archpriests and chancellors and “operators’ of their day.

                    When a previous Chancellor/Treasurer learned that Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick was distributing detailed financial reports to not only the Metropolitan Soviet but to the Holy SYNOD, he was told “They do not need that information, they will probably ruin EVERYTHING!!” When I became a Bishop, I asked at my first visit to Syosset to be given permission to descend to the Archives in order to read the minutes of the Holy Synod, Greater Sobor of Bishops, the Lesser Synod and the Lesser Sobor of Bishops and of administrative committee and Metropolitan Soviet meetings from the earliest times until the present: i.e., what was IN the Archives. Neither Protopresbyter Rodion nor Metropolitan Theodosius had any problem with this; however, it made a sensation in other circles “What’s he want to do that for?” “What good will that do?” And so on. And the new transparency and accountability introduced by Father Rodion was opposed not only by the known control-freaks who have NEVER been interested in anything but sharing “Power’ (and now they’ve got it they’re more secretive than Father Rodion an Co. ever dreamed of being). Some hierarchs, especially Archbishop Peter resented and complained about the Holy Synod having to receive and read and HEAR financial reports in detail Archbishop Peter, who was thoroughly au courant with episcopal matters in ALL the Local Churches used to say that “NO other Synods involve themselves in these details.”
                    It is especially ironic to me, then, that using the slogan “transparency and accountability”, a group of control freaks, made up of fired chancery employees and former treasurers who claimed to know everything (while insanely complaining of no transparency or accountability) were able to not only “bump off” the main source of transparency and accountability, but to get rid of anyone who showed similar tendencies.
                    Josef Goebbels it was who said that if one repeated a lie often enough and loud enough everyone would believe it. People throughout the OCA who never CARED to interest themselves in financial and corporate administration of and in the Church now routinely are heard to express their gratitude for the “new” transparency and accountability!
                    Why, at a Diocesan Assembly of the Western diocese, a resolution was passed, believe it or not, THANKING Bishop Benjamin for having “restored Transparency to Christ’s Holy Church” through the “SIC Report!”

                    Transparency? Tell us what the status of Archdeacon Gregory Burke is and how that status was decided by the Holy Synod! What is the status of the investigation begun by Protopresbyter Rodion and Metropolitan Theodosius into the sensational iconography at the Novel Skete! How was it that the Founder of New Skete and Abbot suddenly found himself without a job?
                    Protopresbyter Rodion was NOT transparent about the moral records of a couple deceased hierarchs (one almost canonized by certain circles) and a couple serving even now in active status; about the moral records of certain leading presbyters, alive and deceased.
                    Very much is made of the Protopresbyter’s shredding of documents, and no one knows that those documents were except the Protopresbyter; nevertheless, Stokoe, Reverend Wheeler et al often insinuate that the documents established the culpability of the Protopresbyter and “his cronies.” Well, more than one can play that game! I, for example, COULD claim to know (but I don’t) that “Father Bob was just shredding the files on Archbishop Z., and Archbishop X. and Bishop Q so that whoever succeeded him wouldn’t be tempted to blab them all over the Church.”
                    Oh, and one of the protagonists in this current thread is Bishop Nikon. Now, as far as I know, Bishop Nikon is a man of courage, Father Hertel and Father Jacobse, but…..

                  • Jesse Cone says

                    Met. Jonah said he wants to work on his administrative skills and restore the “breakdown” with his brother bishops. He said he will be working with the close collaboration of the Synod.

                    This, it seems, means to you that the specific results from the assistance program he went to (St. Luke’s) should be made public! Isn’t that confidential information? As the resident psychological expert on this blog, I’m surprised you’re so cavalier about this issue.

                    But you bring up a good point about the nothing that has come out of that process.

                    I think that tells us exactly what the faithful should be worried about when it comes to Met. Jonah.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Cone,

                      My comments were intended as rhetorical, not as a demand for the release of confidential information. I believe you know that. Met. Jonah made very public promises and commitments in person, face-to-face before the assembly of the church, and by extension through multimedia to listeners and readers I am presuming internationally. It is no longer a matter of guesswork as to what he said, and what he promised to whom; there is a verifiable record. If you review this site, at the time, I strongly supported accepting Met. Jonah at his word that he would act according to his promise. As you know more than most, it is a fragile enough expectation that one can be confident of the extended vision and direction in a home parish, let alone an entire jurisdiction, but that is to what a chief heirarch is called, and that is the assurance I desire for myself and my family.

                      With the dismissal of Fr. Justin, whom I had never heard of prior to this discussion, the chaos of the situation in the DOS seems to me peripheral to the underlying fear that I am significantly less assured that vision and direction are forthcoming than before. So, it would, indeed, be caviler to demand confidential medical records, Mr. Cone, but I see nothing disrespectful in inquiring if a man bothered to keep his word.

                    • Mr. Stankovich, has anything given you reason to suspect Met. Jonah is not following through on his promises?

                      I will be happy to listen again to the podcast of his speech tomorrow. From what I remember, he promised to get evaluated at SLI, which he did. He promised to work on his administrative skills, which he has. Fr. John Jillions has even come forward to say that he has a good working relationship with the Metropolitan, and that the chancery environment has improved since he came on board.

                      So, Mr. Stankovich, please be more specific in explaining what you have concerns about.

                    • Jesse Cone says

                      M Stankovitch,

                      I am continually impressed with how you work to usher the conversation to different topics. Here, for example, you move from the issue of Fr. Justin’s removal as Dean to whether or not Met. Jonah is being held accountable to the public.

                      The problems with the OCA do not begin and end with +Jonah, unlike certain narratives suggest. Actions like this one against Fr. Justin — an action which, if not meant to be intimidating and vindictive, certainly appears to be so — further prove the point.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Cone,

                      I was there the very day the Tomos of Autocephaly was read and announced, and I know the hope and expectation of a true American Orthodox Church that accompanied that day. In one form or another, I knew, met, or observed the clergy and laity who were the founders and guides of the formation of the OCA from its inception. All of this is to say that you may drop your pretension of “special insight” when you have no sense of history. Exactly how long could your “narrative” possibly be?

                      Upon his election, Met. Jonah took it upon himself to promise real change, the first to do so in an exceptionally long time. He is the “first” and “chief” among hierarchs, providing leadership, fraternity, and guidance. He is either complicit in “an action which, if not meant to be intimidating and vindictive, certainly appears to be so,” or he is helpless to provide moral authority in preventing it.

                      Yes, Mr. Cone, I live to impress you. And I won’t even charge you for adding an extra “t” to my last name, twice.

                    • Jesse Cone says

                      Mr Stankovich,

                      I apologize for misspelling your name.

                      I’m not sure where exactly you hear a “special insight” tone of voice. I do offer some facts, but of course you are free to correct me where I am wrong.

                      I am a youngster –as Stokoe and Co. have pointed out — and so I do lack much of the first hand experience that those who see themselves as “their legacy” do. I do try to be careful in what I think, write, and read, (the “t” in your name notwithstanding) which is why I’ve been challenging your take on +Jonah’s AAC speech. You seem to assume something unlikely: that +Jonah is the problem and we all need to be his watchdog. You will recall that many at the AAC (including a respected archpriest) spoke up in a manner that made it clear they didn’t buy that assumption. Remember the question as to when the rest of the Synod was going to get evaluated?

                      One of the most telling events that happened to me during last year’s fiasco was a conversation I had with a certain well known priest who took the opportunity to lay into me for behaving impiously by criticizing the decisions of those in leadership and implying their motives weren’t pure. I then quoted what Stokoe had most recently posted about +Jonah, which was far more derogatory than anything I had said. His stance immediately changed.

                      His comments were very much in your same vein, but a little more pointed. He made it very clear that, due to my age and because I didn’t rub shoulders with his group of people, this was not my OCA and don’t even think about messing with it.

                      I had placed that phone call so that I could ask this person for his perspective, for his narrative, for him to convince me. By the end of it the narrative was simply this: you are not one of us, you are not welcome here.

                      This from the paragon of “American Orthodoxy”? This is the fruit of the Tomos? The Tomos that issued your hope, but not ours, because we are not “their” legacy?

                      I can get that T-shirt at those ethnic jurisdictions so many of us in the OCA scoff at. Shame on us. Our house is not in order.

                      This kind of OCA arrogance is a detriment at every point on the scale: from the visiting GOA member to the catechumen to the EP himself.

                      I don’t ask for people to be accountable to me or transparent to the general public in all they do. I don’t ask for a position of power or seat on a council. But I do ask for them not to lie to me. I want a bishop to be able to be a bishop (which means that the Metropolitan is not complicit in every decision another bishop makes) and I want the laity to relate to them as a bishop. I am not, or have ever been, on the “Team Jonah” that Stokoe created for his red vs. blue version of thing, but I did respond with “Team Due Process” which was something I hoped we could all get behind. This is my Church, this is our Church. There’s room here for you, me, and Stokoe.

                      So maybe what seems to you to be a pretension of special insight is just how I sound when I think others have an agenda and are disengenously pushing it. If that sounds like arrogance, or if I haven’t given you a fair hearing, I apologize.

                    • Upon his election, Met. Jonah took it upon himself to promise real change, the first to do so in an exceptionally long time. He is the “first” and “chief” among hierarchs, providing leadership, fraternity, and guidance.

                      Yes, and he’s expected to do all this while fending off episcopal “hit jobs,” having duct tape over his mouth, and with two arms tied behind his back. For his next miracle, he’ll turn Long Island Sound into wine and then walk on it.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Jesse, a bravura performance! Well said!

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Spasi, I get the joke, but the reality is that tremendous changes for the better have taken place since Jonah was elected. Here are some in no particular order:

                      1. An amazing schedule of evangelism to several different confessions,

                      2. Actually being the Archbishop of Washington,

                      3. Establishing or causing to be established monasteries,

                      4. Overall elevating the profile of Orthodoxy in America (eg, March for Life, Manhattan Declaration, etc.)

                      5. Gathering the people of the AAC to approve his reformist agenda (including eventually doing away with the hated “head tax”),

                      6. Reaffirming the autocephaly of the OCA while making sure that the OCA is part of the ACOB (a nearly impossible hat-trick if you ask me),

                      7. Normalizing the Diocese of Mexico, complete with an indigenous clergy/hierarchy,

                      8. Doing all of this while his hands were tied behind his back, being spit upon by surly underlings, and villified by miscreant bloggers.

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      You make my point for me. The chief hierarch of the OCA, called upon by position and in his person to provide leadership, direction, vision, inspiration, and fraternity among his brother bishops, is rendered impotent and is immobilized by dynamics from which he cannot extricate himself. And this is despite professional assistance which he voluntarily accepted. I have read Spasi for several days say this is the lowest point, the worst of times for the OCA. Mr Michalopulos, you offer a list of “accomplishments” that Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev) would finish before lunch. And Mr. Cone, I raised the issue of history, not to exclude you, but for the simple reason that some of us have endured decades of the disappointment you refer to as the “year of trouble,” all in hopes of an American Church.

                      Eventually, it all comes down one question: What now? Wait it out to see what happens? Wait for Amos to kick out another leak to hungry dogs? Speak out like Fr. Justin and – I don’t know what – get a reprimand letter about “obedience” and “order?” And Mr. Cone, in many ways I very much resent your introduction of the whole business of “agenda” to this discussion, and all the baggage of the “year of trouble” it carries, because it appears your feelings are hurt. Trust I had no intent to insult, and agenda is the business of someone more astute than me. My opinions are my own, and for better or worse, I am responsible. My wish, Mr. Cone, is that you need not wait as long as I have waited for “our Church.”

      • Will the new Dean appointed in Fr Justin’s place start to change the “unanimous” agreement on Abbot Gerasim?

  17. Another dopey move by the OCA synod, and yes the synod weighed in on this at their synod meeting. What makes it almost unbelievable is that the synod did not object to the content of the letter, rather Fr Justin was fired as Dallas dean because he broke confidentially because his letter was posted on the Internet. +Nikon and the synod bounce Fr Justin for lack of confidentially but this is the same group that had no problem eagerly accepting the stolen private emails of Fr Fester.

    What a sorry group of men and the victim +Mark continues to punish the DOS through his protector Bishop Nikon.

    Well done Fr Justin. You make a good case for married bishops with your integrity.

  18. StephenD says

    I am still hearing from a couple of priests and one Dean in the Diocese of the South that Bishop Mark is still being pushed as the next Archbishop of the Diocese of the South. I pray this is not true.
    The original plan was for Father Gerasim to go to Alaska.

    • Roddy Diaz says

      If true, then they haven’t learned there lesson.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Stephen–There are indeed some folks in South Florida who are fond of Bishop Mark and will end up voting for him. So what? Do you think that the deans’ unanimous support for Abbot Gerasim will not carry the day? Quit agonizing about the possibilities and concentrate on the probabilities. I will bet you lunch that Abbot Gerasim will win at least 60% of the vote–that is by a landslide. I know it is a bitter pill to swallow for some that Bishop Mark would get any vote but you will have to exact your vengeance some other way. As for the original plan, what has that got to do with the issue at hand?

      • StephenD says

        Archbishop Dmitri of Most Blessed Memory won the election too but was replaced with Met.Theodosius and we all know how that turned out!! I would love it if the process worked…Maybe I need to trust the system but it is very difficult for me to do so..I’d feel better if the Bishop of Baltimore was in Baltimore instead of swanning around the South.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          The rules are different. If a candidate for Metropolitan does not get two thirds of the AAC vote on the first round of voting, then a second round of voting takes place and the two top vote getting candidates are nominated to the Holy Synod. The Holy Synod chooses one of them. All eligible candidates are included on these rounds of voting. At the Diocesan level, the Statute explicitly says that “the Diocesan Assembly shall nominate a candidate and submit the name to the Holy Synod.” You must keep in mind that (a) there are no restrictions on who could be on the ballot except that they must be vetted by the Holy Synod. I believe that the clause that bothers everybody was put there in case a candidate had not been vetted, somebody out oif the blue and not appropriate. Thus, “If the Assembly falls to nominate a candidate acceptable to the Holy Synod, the Synod shall elect the bishop of the diocese.” In the case of Father Gerasim, he has been vetted and it would make no sense whatsoever for the Holy Synod bot to elect him should he be the one and only nominee of the special Diocesan Assembly. So, relax and trust our priests, deans and fellow parishioners whom we elected to represent us at the Diocesan Assembly.

          • StephenD says

            We will see.. as I said I need to trust the process but someone wants Bishop Mark to be the Bishop of the DOS and I fear its men on the Holy Synod

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Carl, as usual, your’s is the voice of reason. However it must be pointed out that –all rationality aside–whenever official bodies behave under a cloak of secrecy, it is very hard for the people to trust those who are making the decisions. The example of the AAC which overwhelmingly nominated Arb Dmitri only to be overrruled because of ethnic considerations will remain forever a black mark on the escutcheon of the OCA. Indeed, Orthodoxy in America lost much in the last 30+ years because of such flat-footedness (and for what?, were the pastorates of Theodosius and Herman so stellar?).

            Regardless, the impression in the minds of many in the DOS is solidified when one of its leaders is disciplined for simply trying to allay the fears of many in his Deanery.

            I believe it was Jefferson who said that “sunlight is the best disenfectant.” There is nothing illegal or nefarious going on here, therefore we should not act as if there was. We are in the process of nominating a bishop. There is nothing to be ashamed of.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              That was indeed a travesty and hurt the OCA for decades. I submit to you that what needs to be done is a simple change to the rules. The first round would remain the same. The second round would be a run-off of the top one half of those who received any votes.. If no one gets two thirds, you would then go to a third round and everybody would vote for three and not two top candidates. The selection would be by lot from the top three, thus forever eliminating the sort of ridiculous machinations that too place in 1977. An example:

              On the ballot are 20 individuals and 4 more are nominated from the floor.

              On the first ballot, Bishop X gets 50% of the vote, Bishop Y gets 10$ and Bishop Z gets 5%. Everybody else gets the remaining votes.

              On the second ballot, Bishop X gets 68% of the vote. The deal is over, he is the new Metropolitan,


              On the second ballot, Bisgop X gets 55% of the vote, and the other 11 of the top 12 get the rest.

              On the Third ballot, Bishop X, Bishop Z and Protodeacon W are the top three. Their names are put into a hat and after appropriate prayers, a young acolyte reaches in pulls the name of Protodeacon W. He is the new Metropolitan.

              PS: Just to show you I have a sense of humor (are you paying attention Your Grace?) .Protodeacon W stands for…….Protodeacon Eric Wheeler who takes the monastic name of Tikhon.

      • Roddy Diaz says

        The question is not whether they will vote for him, the question is whether it is appropriate for him to be on the ballot.

  19. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    Bishop Nikon removed a Dean because of the Dean having published a letter? Where may we read this letter? Who wrote it, and to whom was it addressed? Was there something egregious or embarrassing to someone in the body of the letter Was it a personal letter? Are the actions of a local ad hoc “diocesan search committee” now considered to be confidential per se? (Such “search committees” are not in the Statute, as far as i know. but are they in the bylaws of the Diocese of the South?) I assume that if there’s a provision in the DOS’s bylaws to keep confidential the proceedings of such a ‘search committee’, that provision must have been approved at a Diocesan Assembly? Where anywhere may one read the procedures to be followed by ANYONE in a diocese in preparing for a Diocesan Assembly called to elect/nominate a ruling bishop of that diocese? Yes, while repeating that I know of no formal authorization for such a search committee, I do know that since I’ve retired, they’ve become rather de rigeuer in OCA life; for example, in the recent election of a replacement for EVER-memorable Archbishop Job and for the recent election of a replacement for Archbishop Kyril Yonchev in Pittsburgh and then Toledo.
    I’m just catching up on this topic. Do I understand that the only place where the candidacy of Bishop Mark Maymon is popular is Miami, Bishop Mark Forsberg’s and Archdeacon Gregory Burke’s town?
    I’ve met Father Gerasim. All I remember is that I found him to be unusually pious.
    Perhaps someone will want to nominate Bishop Nikolai Soraich? He has a great resume: a record of personally establishing two now prospering Orthodox parishes while engage in outside employment. Seems to me such a candidate with such an established and IMPECCABLE missionary record would be quite suited to the Diocese of the South.
    Now, I’m going to hunker down (as Lyndon Johnson used to say: remember, George?) like a rabbit in a hailstorm!

    I participated in a few election events since becoming Orthodox in 1960 at age 28:
    1. As a student at SVS in the school year 1965-66, I participated, like other seminarians, in the Council electing a replacement for Metropolitan Leonty, as a kind of page. Bishop Vladimir Nagossky received the overwhelmingly high majority of votes, but the Hierarchs elected Archbishop ireney Bekish. (Metropolitan Vladimir Nagossky, later in life became the Archbishop of San Francisco, but was retired for moral reasons and banned by the Synod from setting foot in the diocese).
    2. As a parish priest, I participated in the Diocesan Assembly which elected Bishop Basil Rodzianko to be our nominee to the Holy Synod for Bishop of San Francisco.
    3. As a parish priest, I participated in the Diocesan Assembly which elected me to be our nominee to the Holy Synod for Bishop of San Francisco..

    Only prior to the Diocesan Assembly which elected Bishop Basil Rodzianko was a “search committee” involved. It was most definitely ad hoc, and its members were somewhat timid about doing such an unheard-of an unauthorized procedure. There were no reservations or regulations about secrecy or confidentiality, but I think that any voting or advocacy of this or that candidate was simply not bruited, although no inquiries about the deliberations were ever refused.

    There is no regulation anywhere which mandates that only nominees nominated by the Synod or by a “search commitee” or diocesan council may be placed in nomination at the Diocesan Assembly convened to elect a nominee. :Nothing prevents any delegate, lay or clerical, from raising his or her hand at the Assembly to nominate anyone fulfilling the minimum characteristics mandated by the Statute, which are, as I recall, ONLY that a nominee be single, male, adult, and an Orthodox Christian.

    Based on what I know and have experienced, I believe that any diocesan “search committee” is not limited in any way in divulging its minutes or procedures to the public.
    Due to the climate NOW obtaining in the OCA, I find it doubly surprising that ANY hierarch would arbitrarily impose a wall of secrecy over the deliberations of ANY committee, unless it involved a defense secret relating to, e.g., the mission of a Chaplain in an Afghanistan campaign behind enemy lines!

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Your Grace, by all means do not “hunker down.” We need the perspective of men who have gone through this procedure. For that we can’t thank you enough. The brief history you describe is ample reason why there needs to be more openness, not less.

  20. Margaret says

    Alex says… “The message from +Nikon is very clear shut up and SIT DOWN!
    DO NOT DISCUSS the candidates!
    DO NOT DISCUSS their history!
    DO NOT DISCUSS their actions!
    DO NOT DISCUSS their qualifications!
    YOU NEED TO just sit quitely until I tell YOU who YOU have elected.”

  21. Heracleides says

    Hablando del Diablo! I just received a couple of postcards from Maimi. Have scanned and posted them as “Gulag” & “Email” – both may be viewed here:

    • Totally crass and humorless “post cards”.

      • Heracleides says

        I admit I struggled with the slogans… almost went with “Maimi is the new Baltimore” Perhaps you could suggest something better, Antonia, as I’m certainly open to suggestions.

  22. Pardon me , Mr . Stankovich, but are you a member of an OCA parish? And how old were you in 1970?

    • M. Stankovich says


      Seriously, you fashion yourself a sharp guy who just might have landed himself a fish? Have some respect and don’t play me for a simple ass. I liked it a whole lot better when you limited your anonymous incursions to quoting the dictionary. You were a ninja; a master. I was envious. Daniel Webster was envious. Now, not so much.

  23. So do I take your defensive non- answer to mean that you are not a member of an OCA parish, but because you went to SVS, are longtime friends with some of the players that inspired and created ocanews and that you were about 18 or 19, maybe 20 in 1970 that you see your comments about Metropolitan Jonah as compromised? Please correct me if I am wrong about your biography as presented about in general terms.

    And please I have never questioned the fine work you do in our penal system. You are to be applauded.

  24. Ronda Wintheiser says
    • Geo Michalopulos says

      The ineptitude on display here by the locum tenens does not bode well for the future.