So, Where Are We? “Philippa” Comments on Auditor’s Report

oca-burningAs part of the healing process, yours truly asked readers for their input. One layman gave his take on the psychological dynamics that cause our bishops to make missteps. That fine essay was concentrated on the past –how we got here so to speak.

Today, we publish “Philippa’s” assessment about the present. Philippa as you may know, is one of our more prolific correspondents. She has chosen to examine Syosset’s latest financial report. We thank her for doing so as my own financial acumen is lacking. (Give me a ledger to read and I’ll be sawing logs in 5 minutes.) We present it to you unedited and of course welcome any comments. As always, the policy here at Monomakhos is to publish other such contributions from our readers. We ask only that they be lucid, readable, and intelligent.

The OCA’s first quarter financials have been released. While I am no financial wiz, nor accountant, they raise more questions in my mind than anything else. Granted, it is only the first quarter and the remaining year may see the numbers more balanced. Nonetheless, what’s going on? I’d love to have a sit-down with His Beatitude, Met. Tikhon to discuss his take on the matter; however, knowing him as I do it is doubtful he’d have more to say than “Ummm…” accompanied by a smile. May God guide him and grant him many years.

Exhibit A, page 2 shows comparable assessments (Accounts Receivable: Assessments Receivable) down by $49,087 from Q1-2012. That is significant. Why?

Exhibit B-1, page 1 shows 2013 budgeted assessments and contributions are down by a total of $41,292. Exhibit B-2, page 1 shows a comparable difference of actual dollars of over a quarter million dollars ($276,095) between 2012 & 2013 of Diocesan Assessments and Contributions! That is very significant! Why?

The concern of 1,000 members less (to the tune of $95,000 worth of assessments) is even more concerning. While some of the 1,000 can be due to those who reposed in the Lord, (May their memory be eternal!), that surely doesn’t account for the whole 1,000.

Why hasn’t the “on-going case of Susan vs. ROEA” been settled after 10+/- years? April 16, 2013 the Appellate Court of Illinois filed the following statement (here). The court cannot interfere with Church law and authority. Archbishop Nathaniel made the decision he did under the proper authority given him by the OCA Canon Law. End of discussion. Reassign Fr. Susan to a parish and be done with it! Just in the first quarter of 2013 this case cost $29,000. What has it cost the OCA (we who support the central church) over the past 10 years?!? Not to mention the spiritual cost which is much higher than any dollar figure.

Lastly, the Chancellor’s witch hunt (essay author’s words) has gone over budget by a whopping $7,883! Wassup with that?!
What was not provided an explanation in Ms. Ringa’s preface/letter is the overage in expenditures of the following items: Administration: $48,000; and Holy Synod $3,500. While she does cite “Administrative Travel Expenses” of $10,000 that does not explain the remaining $38,000 in the specific line item.

These latter few questions are minor compared to the concern of 1,000 less souls in the Orthodox Church. That concern is not due to what they could financially contribute to the running of the Church, but more so what they could, and did, contribute spiritually to the Church by their prayers and talents. What caused their departure? Was their faith harmed? That loss above all else, makes me sadder than anything the financial statement shows.

The overall spiritual condition of the Orthodox Church in America is not good. The financial picture is not good. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive – though I am in no way promoting a Gospel of prosperity! Conversations I have had with hierarchs, priests and Orthodox Christian faithful (I assure you the latter is little in number) gives rock solid evidence (at least to me) that the Church has been deeply infiltrated by wolves in sheep clothing. Many have stated on George’s blog and elsewhere that society (humanity) has picked up its pace down the slippery slope of secularism.

The microcosm of the Orthodox Church in America is right there too. Only strong, decisive, faithful, prayerful, humble leadership can change that in the OCA. Those whom I know that fit that bill in my poor, spiritually uneducated eyes are few and far between. It is those I hope God guides and grants wisdom to them in the hope that He will re-establish them in positions of leadership to right the ship.


  1. Stan Poulos says

    Many assertions made here that are just bogus! Reduction of funds into the OCA can be attributed to several temporary factors which have been corrected. The “dues paying” members of the OCA remains stable as it has for the last 5 years or so at approx. 20,000 members. This does not include approx. 5,000 non-dues paying members if not more. The OCA needs to be more aggressive in collecting membership dues and raising monies. The problem is that the RSK/Theodosius money scandal along with the Tikhon/Herman scandal has made people leery regarding giving to the OCA as they have in the past. Compound this with attrition and here we are. HOWEVER, these temporary financial issues have nothing to do with the “SPIRITUAL HEALTH” of the OCA. The strength of the OCA lies with its growing number of parishes, evangelization and abundance of well-educated clergy throughout North America. Pointing at certain bishops that had to be replaced, beginning with BT and Soriach, is not totally reflective of the spiritual health of the OCA. Although ROCOR members here would like people to believe (falsely) that the OCA is on it’s last legs, I refer to Mark Twain’s famous quote: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

    • Mark from the DOS says

      The sad state of the OCA’s spiritual health is on bold display in the number of vacant sees. Dallas, Alaska, Chicago, Pennsylvania. If, as a church, we can’t even bring up four men with the qualities to be bishops, we area miserable failure spiritually. And remember, some of our more recent bishops came from other jurisdictions. We are not well.

      • Stan Poulos says

        Mark from the DOS,

        You equate spiritual health with lack of bishops. One does not equal the other. In fact, you’ll find that most of the failed bishops of the OCA came from without. Johnstown for one. Looking for Orthodox bishops should not be an exercise in turning over every rock to find a celibate and then force them to take monastic vows. Looking at all the Orthodox bishops in North America, few are real monastics. As stated here previously, the Tradition of the Orthodox Church is to have both celibate and married bishops. We need to return to this model. Bishops no longer own the property of a diocese and they can’t pass the property down to their progeny. Therefore, no reason not to have married bishops again. The chancellors of each diocese are de facto bishops and most are married priests. We don’t need more phony monasteries making phony bishop candidates. We need to look for “good men” who can be good bishops. Again, take a trip and visit many OCA parishes throughout the U.S. You’ll find great spiritual depth and growing parishes with well-educated priests overall. The rhetoric here consistently trying to degrade the OCA is just disinformation and falsehoods.

        • PLEAESE! dont blame it on Johnstown.
          Blame it on the FACT that the OCA has NOT asked for ANY references/information FROM JOHNSTOWN–i.e. the OCA takes who they want to take (Matthias/Michael) without due diligence.

        • Guy Westover says

          Mark from DOS, I am with you on the issue of restoring the married episcopate.
          Better to have a married priest of the caliber of St John of Krondstadt than a monastic in name only like (fill in the name of any disgraced OCA bishop here)

      • Michael Bauman says

        Mark from the DOS. Yes. It makes me wonder if the vacant sees will not be, at least de facto, folded into other jurisdictions and/or small missions and parishes in those sees combined with other parishes so that they can actually be under a bishop.

        There was an interesting happening in Northeast Tennessee recently: a small Antiochian parish that has been around for years and a nearby GOA parish were merged under the omiphoron of the Greek bishop in Atlanta. He and +Antoun met and put the plan into action. The Antiochian priest will remain “on loan” to the GOA, the Antiochian Temple will be the building but using the GOA name. The various committees will be merged with folks from both congregations. The various local practices will also be merged somehow.

        Judging by the announcement on their web-site. It caught everybody by surprise. God Bless them all.

        • pere LaChaise says

          This topic deserves its own page. What is going on here that Metr. Philip would cede a church to the GOA? Passing strange.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Is it strange? Near as I can tell the two parishes are not far apart, the Antiochian parish has  the building, the priest, is more centrally located to the population center of the area while the GOA has the money.

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          A trial balloon for the eventual administrative merger of the jurisdictions in the United States?

          • Michael Bauman says

            The interesting part to me is that the two bishops presented the parishes and the priest with a fait acompli . They were not brought into the conversation until it was already decided.

            One other instance that is heartening to me: in Indianapolis the large GOA parish there decided to build a new church. When time came to move however, about half the parish didn’t want to move. The petitioned the bishop and were allowed to stay but they needed a priest. There was a young priest in my brother’s church (Patriarchal Bulgarian) who did not have an assignment. The Greeks knew of him because of the very high level of communication and working together that the Orthodox have in Indy. They asked for him. He is “on loan” even though he is a relatively young American convert who knows no Greek (learning it). Last report all is going well.

            Indy is a great blue-print for inter-Orthodox cooperation and unity: there are two Greek, two patriarchal Bulgarian, a Serb, an OCA, a couple of Antiochian churches and I think some others. They have a priests council that meets once a month to share ideas, set up sharing of services and programs.

            • Fr. George Washburn says

              I think Mr. Bauman is perhaps being a little hasty, and even going beyond the scope of his actual knowledge, in telling us that neither congregation nor the Antiochian priest were “brought into the conversation until it was already decided.” One curse of all the ill-supported and incessant internet innuendo is that it inures us to the inadvisability of accepting blanket factual statements about others, even from people as nice and sincere as Mr.Bauman, without the slightest indication of the grounds for making such a pronouncement. If he has spoken to the two bishops about it, and that is what they told him, well and good. Tell us. Or the priest or the janitors or Sunday School superintendents or whoever, although they presumably are situated to know less than the bishops about what was decided when, and on what basis. But surely we get to – and ought to – learn to politely ask “How do you know?” when the maker of a pronouncement omits to tell us in the first place.

              I am NOT saying he is wrong in his conclusion, either, or saying that it would be wise for bishops to take such an action without taking into account the views of all, but the absence of coffee-hour referenda or public majority voting should not shock us either in an hierarchical Church.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Father, I said that based on what the priest said in his announcement, no one was brought into the conversation. Not only the tone of his letter but his words expressed surprise and that he thought everyone else would be surprised too.

                I don’t really think it is anything more than two small parishes close together who needed something the others had.

                I think that it is a good thing personally. I hope that all goes well with the merger and there is not too many ruffled feathers.

                • Fr. George Washburn says

                  Thanks, Michael. I gave your reply the second thumbs up. I have not read the priest’s letter, but I would be shocked if he really believed the bishops had taken no account at all of his wishes and those of the two groups of parishioners in reaching their conclusions. And just as shocked if there was evidence that the bishops waited to decide until all the members had been consulted and given their approval.

                  Not an easy equation to solve, I am sure, but one in which “not brought into the conversation” is probably too simple a statement for the doubtless very nuanced process of taking the pulse of one’s own parish and parish priest, pondering the opportunity, and then consulting with a colleague about how two smaller parishes might be combined into one bigger and healthier one.

    • Poor Stan,

      He might wish to look at Ms. Ringa’s report to the Metropolitan Council last year in which she stated very clearly that if the OCA keeps losing members at the rate it has been, it will not be a viable entity in 10 years. Not my words Stan, Ms. Ringa, the OCA Treasurer.

      There is little Syosset can do to stem the downward slide in a positive way, however it has certainly done so in a negative way, the last straw being the treatment of +Jonah.

      Stan, you can still keep living in dreamland, and I am glad your parish is healthy, thanks be to God, but the OCA as an entity is not sustainable. The numbers don’t lie.

      • George Michalopulos says

        In my broadsides against Syosset, one person who should not be tarred by the broad brush I use is Melanie Ringa. I’ve never met her or talked to her but people who do know her tell me she’s a standup kinda lady. (I hope my praise is not the kiss of death for her.)

      • Stan Poulos says

        You people have no real understanding of what is being said, Every Christian denomination’s numbers are down. Those who proclaimed the OCA as having 100,000 paying members were lying. In fact, the numbers of the GOA and Antiochians are also WAY inflated. ROCOR has less than 5,000 paying members. Get real people! You keep on attacking the OCA and it is doing fine on the parish level. Yes, it could use more money, but it hasn’t been aggressive in improving this. Met Jonah has been a disaster! The OCA will recover nicely and the scandals within the ROC are typical of ROCOR. 18th century Russian Orthodoxy that has nothing to do with Orthodoxy in America. Istanbul pushes it’s Greek nationalism and the Antiochians are in shock with Syria and Lebanon. The ONLY hope for the future of Orthodoxy in America is with the OCA.

    • nit picker says

      “Mr.” Stan “Poulos”

      Welcome back! I was concerned when you didn’t post here for so long or update VfR. I was afraid that you were sick or had a spat with your dear Nicky. I’m glad to see that you’ve got your baby back from the geeks and are raring to go.

      Ciao “chicca” !! :p

      • Thomas Mathes says


        You obviously haven’t read enough on Drezhlo’s site. It sees the OCA as dying, and it regards ROC as the future. No kind words for the OCA. No criticism of the Moscow Patriarch. Stan Poulos doesn’t sound like Drezhlo.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Thomas, generally you’re right, however from what little I’ve read of Drezhlo, he seems to have some hatred for ROCOR as well (accusing them of being American stooges of the CIA, etc.)

        • nit picker says

          Hello Mr. Mathes,

          I agree. Barring all other evidence, your conclusion is logical, sound and reasonable. If you were from Vulcan you would be held in the highest regard by your pointy eared, green-blooded peers for your unparalleled logic.

          I will ask you to contemplate the following coincidences and then re-evaluate who “Mr.” Stan “Poulos” claims to be:

          – Stan Drezhlo who refers to himself as BMD has the website VfR did not post any updates from 27 May 2013 to 11 June 2013. There was plenty to post about. The trip of Patriarch Kyril of Moscow to Greece, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem to Moscow, the announcement of the amicable (albeit sad – the end of a relationship is always sad) of Vladimir Putin and his wife, never mind the usual “ahem” stuff that tends to come out of that website.

          Interestingly enough, you can see that Stan Poulos was strangely and eerily silent during the same time period and then becomes active again precisely when Stan Drezhlo received his machine back from the geeks. Isn’t that amazing?

          Stan = BMD?

          was kind enough to make the following observations:

          “Barbara Drezhlo (BMD)”, 5/26 on Voices from Russia re: +Jonah:
          “If he goes to the Antiochians, he’ll put his neck in the noose… so much for his love of Russian praxis. What a [expletive deleted] phoney!”

          “Stan Poulos”, 5/28 on Monomakhos:
          “Well, you know the old saying, “Give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself.” We’ll see how long this takes!” and 5/30: “What a phony!”

          Live long and prosper Mr. Mathes.

  2. This was a nice analysis. Its interesting to note that if you use these figures and project the loss to the end of the year, you will note that the OCA is going to be bleeding red big time. This is absolutely unsustainable and I’m sure Melanie Ringa is quite aware of this. I wonder if anyone else is.

    Once again, the honeymoon is over with OCA treasurers. I wonder how much longer she will stay on now that the checkbook floodgate has been broken once again. If history is any indication, the OCA administration has never found it easy to say no to spending money. With the loss of 1,000 people or $95,000, that means that the budget needs to be cut immediately. It’s not like these lost faithful are going to suddenly reappear in the second or third quarters.

    The prior reflection was on the dysfunctional episcopacy, but there is also dysfunctional financial management. There is a complete denial of the fact that the human failings of the past are having a direct effect on the finances today How can they not? Here’s an analysis I’d like to see: how much of the current budget is taken up from the sins of the past? Obviously there are legal fees associated with Fr. Susan, Metropolitan Jonah, Fr. Garklavs, Archbishop Seraphim, Mr. Kondratick, other sexual misconduct cases that haven’t hit the press, etc. There is now the cost of the sexual misconduct committee. There is now the payment of a salary to Metropolitan Jonah in addition to the current salary for Metropolitan Tikhon. There are the additional travel expenses related to the sexual misconduct committee, meeting with Metropolitan Jonah, meeting with attorneys etal. And we’re just getting started. Let’s not forget that Fr. Garklavs got or is still getting a severance package. Is there any wonder that the OCA is in the red?

    My prediction is that the OCA will end the year $250,000 in the hole. Why? Because nobody has the strength to stop the legal juggernaut. There is no legal restraint to speak of, and if history is any indication, a new crisis will arise by the end of the year. I’m not trying to slam the OCA episcopacy or administration but facts are facts.

    Not that anyone cares, but if I was in charge here’s what I’d do:

    1. Fire the lawyers including the chief counsel. The OCA still has quite a bit of legal talent that would be willing to help their church pro bono.
    2. Settle the lawsuits.
    3. Close most of Syosset. By New York law, the OCA needs to keep an office. Like most small companies, the CEO is the COO and the secretary is also the treasurer. Combine positions. They should almost be in name only or on a volunteer basis. Chancellor – assign him as attached to a seminary. He can still work as chancellor and travel around if necessary.
    4. Decentralize almost everything. Statistics – each diocese is responsible. Insurance – Each church/diocese is responsible. If you need stats, call the diocesan office. Archives – move them to St. Tikhons. If someone wants to sue, call the diocesan bishop and diocesan council. Let them keep their own legal affairs and insurance policies. The address in Syosset should be a one room office with a desk and a telephone. The actual work of the administration could be done at St. Tikhon’s. Buy another house in Scranton, PA for the metropolitan and move on.

    Why the OCA is in its current morass is because of a failed dream to centralize all of the responsibilities in the hands of a few in Syosset, NY. This has been a total failure. It’s time to stop the $100,000 plus administrative salaries and hire competent people at half the cost in Pennsylvania or Texas. It’s time to make each diocese responsible for their own success or failure. One shining example of the absolute stupidity that is occurring is the combined insurance policy. Under the guise that the OCA is getting a “rebate” or “discount” on it insurance, the central administration tries to hunt down each parish and make sure that they have paid for their premiums, signed the appropriate documents, etc. Why? It is an enormous waste of time and energy for the central administration to have to try and track down all of the churches in the OCA for their insurance. And for what? A twenty percent discount? And how about the dog and pony show of all dog and pony shows, the All American Council. How is it that St. Tikhon’s can pull off a Memorial Day weekend every year but the OCA needs to spend time and money every year, planning and researching and meeting for a new ever-better All American Council. As soon as one is done, Fr. Tosi etal are off planning the next one. It’s government work at its finest. Here’s an idea folks: hold it every three years at St. Tikhon’s. Use local hotels and meet at the monastery. These are just a few examples of making up work just for the sake or working It’s absolutely ridiculous

    Just saying ….

    • Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says

      Nick Katich?

      All of your suggestions are, in fact, excellent ideas, but here’s the rub: Metropolitan Jonah has already suggested essentially all of them to Syosset & the Synod, and after they shot his ideas down they shot him down. Decentralization is clearly not on the agenda. My father is fond of sarcastically saying: “Don’t try to confuse me with the facts. I’ve already got my mind made up.” I think this is the Syosset/Synod motto.

      As George has bluntly stated: “You can’t fix stupid.”

      I hope I don’t sound like a fatalist, but this egg has already been scrambled, so if we’re talking about a solution then we’re talking about a miracle of the Holy Spirit. Holding Syosset & the Synod accountable is only half of the equation…prayer, fasting, vigil & faith are the other half.

      What say ye?

      • geo michalopulos says

        Seraphim, I’m glad you caught all the irony here. I would only add that we need more dioceses and more bishops and that no diocese can be vacant for more than 90 days. As for the Primatial See (I disagree, the Metropolitan’s residence should be in DC) the various dioceses can send an archpriest to live there (at their expense) as a liaison between their diocese and the Metropolitan. Said archpriests would be attached to the primatial cathedral.

      • Seraphim,

        I agree with you completely about Metropolitan Jonah. He, indeed, wanted to dismantle the Syosset administration and was thwarted by Frs. Garklavs and Tosi. Could they have been against it because they would have lost their $100,000 per year jobs? How many other priests in the OCA are making that kind of money?

        Yes, prayer and fasting are greatly needed, but so is looking in the mirror. Jesus said to the paralytic, “Do you wish to be healed?” The OCA episcopacy and metropolitan council needs to ask itself the same question. So far the answer to the question has been a resounding, “no.”

        As I mentioned in my last post, it would only be a matter of time before the OCA steps in another pile of legal #$@#$. Well, now that the Archbishop Seraphim trial is now moving along, I can say it only took 24 hours. After reading about the priest who testified, any reasonable person is going to conclude that this is not going to turn out well for the archbishop or the OCA. And not to keep bringing up the ugly past, but this scandal was brought to the attention of the Holy Synod at the time of Metropolitan Jonah’s election and not one of the bishops moved forward to have an investigation. At the time, it was deemed that there was no evidence. I guess they didn’t know that this priest existed? Baloney.

        On a personal note, I hope that the OCA loses every dollar in its coffers over this. The episcopacy blatantly did absolutely nothing to investigate this despite quite a number of people coming forward and urging that a full investigation take place. And if you think I’m making it up, then why didn’t Archbishop Seraphim allow himself to be considered for metropolitan at the Pittsburgh AAC? Every bishop and the chancellor knew that there were charges pending against the archbishop and they did nothing for years. What a tragedy.

        Let’s pray for the victims of abuse and that our Lord will help them to heal.

        • As time passes and the dust settles, it will become very clear that the main thing Metropolitan Jonah was guilty of was trying to dismantle the failing bureaucracy of Syosset, give more power to the Dioceses and have Syosset’s focus be more on spiritual direction than doing things the Dioceses should be doing themselves.

          But as stated above, that would have meant powerful people losing money, and the Synod giving up control. They would have none of that, so Metropolitan Jonah had to go. A coup can make anyone look incompetent in order to push them out, and that is what they did.

          Don’t kid yourselves, Metropolitan Jonah is a good man and with support from the bureaucracy could have been just the leader we needed at this time. Without their support, not just him, but ANYONE who was Metropolitan would fail. An entrenched bureaucracy that decides to hold onto it’s power will do so as long as it can to the bitter end. People may come and go, but bureaucracies take on a life of their own.

          By allowing this to happen, the OCA ultimately is getting and will get what it deserves. It is very sad.

          • Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says

            George, yes, Metropolitan Jonah got a lot of resistance from Syosset & the Synod when he suggested moving the metropolitan see from NY to DC (which I thought was a great idea) in order to comply with canonical norms, save money & help bring Orthodoxy into the public square.

            Nick, I agree, the Synod was either asleep at the wheel or just plain derelict on that one, but isn’t that exactly what happened in the case of Metropolitan Herman as well…only Archbishop Job of blessed memory had the courage & stamina to swim upstream on that one (much to his credit). If you think that the other bishops weren’t aware that there was something fishy in the air then you’re incredibly naive.

            Silouan, Well put. Corrupt culture eats solid leaders for breakfast every morning. Tragic!

    • M. Stankovich says

      Directly, unequivocally, undeniably, witnessed by hundreds, heard live by perhaps thousands (and later read & listened to by countless others) are the words of the former Metropolitan himself at the 16th All-American Council”

      These last three years have been the three most difficult years of my life. I have been under a relentless barrage of criticism for most of this time from every forum I am meant to oversee: the Chancery officers and staff, the Metropolitan Council, and — most troubling to me — the Holy Synod of Bishops. I admit that I have very little experience in administration, and it was a risk for the 2008 Council to elect me, the newest and most inexperienced of bishops. I have worked very hard to fulfill your expectations. But this is not an excuse. These three years have been an administrative disaster, and I need to accept full responsibility for that.

      And if I may direct you AGAIN to Fr. Alexey Karlgut’s exposition regarding Authority in the church, Accountability, and Responsibility, to affirm that it was most certainly was Jonah’s responsibility.

      The recommendation to utilize St. Luke’s Institute did not source from the Synod of Bishops, and it came with the full support of SVS as an “employee-assistance model” of intervention aimed at leaders in the Church. Obviously, no empty-headed critics took the time to explore the dynamics of the “Leadership” and pastoral-assistance program at SLI – while it includes psychiatric assessment, it is not a psychiatric program. It was understood that the dysfunction was “systemic” and the “problem” was not singularly the Metropolitan, and the “solution” was not singularly “fixing” Jonah. You are obviously not aware of the battle that was waged, particularly by SVS, to win this stipulation that for change to occur, the Synod, in its entirety, must participate.

      This raises the question, was Jonah coerced into participating at SLI? Most certainly. Is this devious, disrespectful, or treachery? Absolutely not. People do not enter treatment because they believe they are in need of help; they enter treatment because there is no other viable alternative. In an employee assistance model, behaviour is documented and an option is given: accept help or resign. Is this coercive? Absolutely. Is this charitable? Your behaviour justifies your removal, but we offer you – and us – a chance. Most importantly, the expectation becomes: you are responsible, and there are consequences. So, what happened? The Holy Synod did not follow through on imposing the established consequences when Jonah chose to ignore the recommendations of SLI – a predictably fatal error – and the opportunity was lost.

      While many may huff & puff over injustices and “slander” (you might check the actual definition), transforming and re-transforming a man into a surreal exaggeration for four years of work even he defines as “disaster,” I would point out that the intervention that was attempted is unprecedented in religious organizations, and the description of which, despite its outcome, should be archived as a significant achievement. It was an honest, heroic attempt to address years of dysfunction “in the light,” rather than shadow, and systematically rather than individually. That it failed is a true tragedy.

      • MS,

        Your theory would be much more credible were it not for the email shared by Bp Fitzgerald, which outlined the Rozianko method of eliminating Jonah, by setting him up as mentally unstable. This was undertaken by MC members and clergy, and the letter provides the ‘smoking gun’ evidence that this intervention had nothing to do with the health or wellbeing of Met. Jonah. Talk about double minded.

        While Fr. Chad and others at the AAC did call for an intervention for the entire Synod, it is well understood in recovery circles that, in a dysfunctional organization, an intervention on a single individual will have little chance of success if the rest of the organization continues in its merry dysfunctional way. The OCA leadership continued with the pattern of scapegoating, with +Jonah as the target du jour. NO intervention took place on the organization, save the financial intervention now being administered by the faithful.

        It was an honest, heroic attempt to address years of dysfunction “in the light,” rather than shadow, and systematically rather than individually. That it failed is a true tragedy.

        Years of whose dysfunction? Did +Jonah take the helm of an OCA that was growing, healthy, free of scandal? For that matter, how often is someone elevated to the highest position in a church after 11 days as bishop?

        Sorry, it was not honest, nor heroic, nor “in the light.”

        I can, however, agree that it was systematic and a tragedy.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I’m with Sue on this one. Your entire, elegant, and loquacious argument about Jonah’s supposed instability, deficits, and admittance of same only makes sense if we forget the entire context of what led to that speech. It did not rise de novo out of the ether but was the culmination (at that point) of a ferocious, illicit, wide-ranging, and vituperative conspiracy against His Beatitude. The fact that he lasted as long as he did is the wonder.

          We now know that the long knives were out for Jonah from the start. Everything else is window-dressing. Begging your forgiveness but your eloquent summation is moot in light of what we now know. I will agree with you on this point: Jonah’s kenotic acceptance of all blame was not “heroic.” What he should have said is “Back off! Or the files I have on you hit the internet!”

          • Michael Bauman says

            George really?

            Jonah’s kenotic acceptance of all blame was not “heroic.” What he should have said is “Back off! Or the files I have on you hit the internet!”

            That is not what the Holy Scripture teaches us:

            Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Mt 5:25

            I hold out the hope that Met. Jonah’s response will actually bear more fruit than the method you suggest. We will see.

        • M. Stankovich says


          Back in the day, Denise Melligon (now Jillions) and I traveled by invitation to various OCA parishes in the East conducting workshops on chemical dependency and chemical dependency’s impact on the family. In fact, we were the only experts available, and we constituted the “recovery circle.” I held the state and national credential for chemical dependency counseling for more than twenty years. I have facilitated, trained, and supervized enough planned family interventions and employee assistance program confrontations that my head spins. I am well aware of the dynamics, the goals, and limitations of the process. Secondly, I have made it abundantly clear that I do not theorize, speculate, conjecture, guess, or gossip in regard to such matters, and I certainly have not begun now. Obviously we differ, and my only response to you and Mr. Michalopulos is, knock yourselves out.

          I have resigned myself to the fact that the “truth” will never be known here because equally reasonable, equally “naive” individuals have presented me with polar opposite interpretations. And in most cases, the only person who can actually resolve this dissonance is the former Metropolitan, and he has chosen silence. Some say this is a “pious,” kenotic, humble, and monastic choice, while I say it is in defiance of the directive of St. Paul, “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man,” (2 Cor 8:21) and St. Chrysostom, “The truly excellent Bishop ought neither to think lightly of these, but to clear himself with all men of the charges which they bring against him, with great forbearance and meekness.” (On the Priesthood, Book VI, 9) To allow this chaos to circle around him when he possess the power to end it is unconscionable. Obviously, you will believe as you wish, and I maintain that such a lost opportunity is to be mourned.

          • Pompous Arse says

            In fact, we were the only experts available, and we constituted the “recovery circle.”

            This folks is what Stankovich and the Syosset really believe. There is no one else out there but them. All it proves is that then and now, Syosset can’t see beyond the Hudson River.

            Thanks Stankovich, you have proved what we all thought but now believe.

            • M. Stankovich says

              If you are aware of individuals in the Orthodox Church in America in the mid to late 1980’s more courageous, more persistent, more dedicated, and more committed to bringing the message of hope and recovery to individuals and families affected by chemical dependency than Denni Jillions – and I only was a adjunct to her lead – I challenge you to identify them. She was a pioneer who battled ignorance, disinterest, indifference, and Syosset. We were never promoted by the OCA, compensated by the OCA, reimbursed for photocopies or materials by the OCA, or even thanked by the OCA. And invariably, at each and every parish we visited, once our presentation was finished, we spent as much time engaged with individuals who awkwardly began, “Do you have a minute to answer a question?” concerned about a loved one, about whom they literally had never felt safe enough to speak before.

              The Orthodox Church in America is in debt to Denni Jillions who was a true visionary years before anyone brought the message of hope and recovery forward. Your comment is ignorant, disrespectful, and mean-spirited. You would have done well to investigate the history behind my comment before embarrassing yourself.

              • Pompous Arse says

                Yes, I am very aware of the people in the so-called OCA at the time. The truth be told you and Ms. Jillions “stood out” at the time because you were on the East Coast and Syosset at the time didn’t look for anyone with expertise beyond the Tri-state area and certainly not much past the personalities at the seminary of St. Vladimir.

                To think after all these years you really believe that you and Ms. Jillions were so valuable. Rather pathetic.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  While I am genuinely touched by your cowardice, “Syosset” did nothing to encourage nor support us. Likewise, neither Denni nor myself were associated with SVS at the time, and they had absolutely nothing to do with our work. It was 100% Denni Jillions. While our “value” can only be measured by those who actually attended, our satisfaction was in the private discussions that occurred after our presentation. Then, as now, I truly believe that God protects “helping professionals” from experiencing the fullness of “positive outcomes,” lest they actually believe themselves “so valuable.” And so it goes…

                  The irony of you finding this “pathetic” on the Great Feast of Pentecost, when the Spirit is poured out and all gifts are given, is not lost on me. Perhaps you might reconsider history, mission, and utilizing one’s gifts as God so graciously distributes them. Some among us are “old dogs,” friend, and beyond the point of needing cheap “ego boosts” by unjustified claims, ascription to Forrest Gump, and face-switching into the holy icons. If only this could save us… Today is a day of great joy – certainly not pathos – for “all gifts have been given.” Open your heart, champ! I’m nobody to you.

                • I have known Metropolitan Jonah for over 3 years now. He is my spiritual father and someone I know to be a man of great integrity, decency, and kindness. I don’t agree with much that Dr Stankovich posts here, but as someone originally from NY who does NOT at all restrict my view to the east side of the Hudson or above the Mason-Dixon line, and knowing that most New Yorkers aren’t so narrow-minded, I have to say, “Pompous Arse”, you come off as mean-spirited and just unpleasant.

                  Given our very different opinions on Metropolitan Jonah, I’m not one to usually agree with Dr. Stankovich here, but his last two sentences strike me as dead-on. Who are you to say that the work which he and Ms Jillions undertook did not make a difference in any number of people’s lives? Were you a fly on the wall? You have no idea about what their conversations with parishioners entailed, so you presume greatly. Without having any idea of what actually went on, your comments disparaged the work of a woman whom you do not know and whom you seem to resent for no reason other than where she lives, who she knows abd her apparent association with Dr Stankovich here.

                  • Dear Ryan,

                    I am from the west coast and it is a different world out there. People think and act differently. I believe some of those differences are what turned people off in Syoset to +Jonah. There is a cultural difference and there is and certainly was a favoratism to those from the east coast. They knew them of course. I can think of east coasters who visited or migrated to the west that really stood out to my mind– I don’t think Pompass is so far off here . . .

                    • George Michalopulos says


                      Did anybody in Washington attend the Oriental Lumen Conference? I’d like to publish something about it.

                    • nit picker says

                      Dear Ryan and colette,

                      It is also a generational issue. I don’t know your age precisely colette, but certainly you and definitely I am much older than Ryan. Ryan’s view points would be considered “conservative” by most of the peers in his age group (peers at university), although probably not in his social network (friends from church). I think pomp arse is making too much out nothing. As I pointed out there were quite a few Orthodox clergy that were involved in counseling, the real pity is that we were not and to the best of my knowledge still do not share resources but remain isolated ethnic identities. The devil is having a field day thanks to our egos.

                    • Ryan Hunter says

                      Hi Colette,

                      I’m not disputing that there’s a cultural difference – I know there is – but what so disturbed me was the venomous, flat-out mean speech “Pompous” used. There’s no excuse for such venom. It was in very poor.

            • LOL.

              Michael and Denise the only experts. Too funny. The only experts in the OCA? No other Orthodox doing the same thing at the time? The OCA insular mindset has deep roots.

              • M. Stankovich says

                If you are aware of individuals in the Orthodox Church in America in the mid to late 1980′s more courageous, more persistent, more dedicated, and more committed to bringing the message of hope and recovery to individuals and families affected by chemical dependency than Denni Jillions – and I only was a adjunct to her lead – I challenge you to identify them.

                Wake me when you’ve finished. I was up all night.

                • nit picker says

                  Well, they weren’t in the OCA, but they are Orthodox. They were members of the clergy at the time. They were providing counseling to families and parishioners affected by chemical dependency. So while you and Matushka Jillions may be the only ones that you were aware of, the two of you certainly were not the only ones in the NY Metro Area providing such an invaluable service. It is a testimony to how divided the churches were along ethnic lines that 30+ years later that we are only starting to discover what the others had going on in the same area. A true pity. I can’t make their names public without their consent, sorry.

      • nit picker says

        Dr. Stankovich,

        I admit, you’ve got me scratching my head and thinking:

        the battle that was waged, particularly by SVS, to win this stipulation that for change to occur, the Synod, in its entirety, must participate.

        This raises the question, was Jonah coerced into participating at SLI? Most certainly. Is this devious, disrespectful, or treachery? Absolutely not. People do not enter treatment because they believe they are in need of help; they enter treatment because there is no other viable alternative. In an employee assistance model, behaviour is documented and an option is given: accept help or resign. Is this coercive? Absolutely. Is this charitable? Your behaviour justifies your removal,

        It appears then, that since many on this forum and else where have pointed out that the church is conciliar in nature, and as you rightly point out “the Synod in it’s entirety must participate” then both your and Metropolitan Jonah’s assertion that it was “solely” his fault is incorrect. Metropolitan Jonah says it because he is humble and demonstrates self-emptying (kenotic) love. Others say it because they like to place blame. My second point is that by your reasoning, the entire synod AND Metropolitan Jonah had to attend SLI TOGETHER for treatment since they are in Synod TOGETHER that is supposed to function TOGETHER. Likewise, if they all couldn’t “get it together” then they all should have resigned, including and especially Fr. Jillions.

        • M. Stankovich says

          “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying,..” (Lk. 10:25) Don’t go there, my friend. You understand my point and you need not posture.

          I could lecture you on the psycho-dynamics of sabotage and the fear of change but it would be theoretical at best; Google is your friend. Certainly you recall the Theotokion of Tone One of the Resurrection Octoechos? No? “Courage! Courage! O people of God! For Christ will destroy our enemies, since He is all powerful!” But the caveat? In His time. You are impatient & I am impatient, and apparently we are being humbled and shown that we seek a justice that is not ours to demand? I am not your adversary. Courage, my friend, courage. “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33). I mourn the lost possibility, lower my eyes, and move on.

          • nit picker says

            I am not your adversary.

            I never wrote that you were 🙂

            Lk 10:29 “But he [a certain social worker] wanted to justify himself….”

            There is no posturing, I hope you understand my point also.

            BTW, I gave you a thumbs up on that comment because it was a very interesting argument, clearly and respectfully written. You really did make me think. I honestly do enjoy when you challenge my preconceived notions on certain topics, it still doesn’t mean that your conclusion was correct. Just different than mine.

            Plus, as sue pointed out, there is the smoking gun of the email provided by Bp. Tikhon Fitzgerald. You can’t expect us to turn a blind eye to a credible source. It proves, hands down, a conscientious conspiracy to derail Metropolitan Jonah.

            Your theory needs revising.


            • John Jones says

              Nit Picker,

              BT a credible source? Are you off your rocker? Since the 1980’s, his earliest participation on a number of forums (AOL), etc, he has fabricated and slandered a number of priests, bishops and laymen. He is not a credible source, but a totally unstable personality.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Yes, I believe Bp Tikhon Fitzgerald to be a completely credible source. But even if he wasn’t, the original Conspiratorial email put out by Mark Stokoe to his minions activating the conspiracy against Metropolitan Jonah is probative in and of itself. He didn’t make it up or cut-and-paste it, he just leaked it.

                We can’t ever forget that. End of story.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Mr. Michalopulos,

                  Let me repeat myself:

                  witnessed by hundreds, heard live by perhaps thousands (and later read & listened to by countless others) are the words of the former Metropolitan himself

                  You are rapidly running low on explanations – and I might add, former supporters of the “suffering servant” defense – for the man owning his own deficits. And his own words. He had the entire Oxford English Dictionary at his disposal, and he selected the word “disaster.” This was not “kenotic,” or a supreme act of humility, for heaven’s sake! It was a reflection of the truth: it was a disaster. You, Mr. Michalopulos, praised Fr. Alexey Kargut on this very site for his commentary:

                  The Metropolitan has to accept full responsibility to maintain the unity of the whole, the Holy Synod of Bishops locally, and in relationship with Synods of other Orthodox Churches world-wide. The Metropolitan must be accountable to the Holy Synod of Bishops for his stewardship of the office entrusted to his care.

                  What were Jonah’s words? “I have very little experience.” “It was a risk to elect me,” “I need to regain the confidence of my brother bishops and of many others in leadership positions in our Church.” In effect, the “disaster” was that he was incapable of “maintaining the unity of the whole”: “Obviously there is something very broken.” In hindsite, he should have resigned at that moment. Instead, he continued:

                  How to get to the root of this breakdown in trust and repair it, if possible, is the real challenge for me and I am willing to do whatever is necessary, working in close collaboration with the Holy Synod. As a first step I have agreed to begin a process of discernment that will include a complete evaluation in a program that specializes in assisting clergy, starting the week of November 14th. I have chosen to do this out of love for you, the people of the Church, and for my brother bishops.

                  I say again, SLI’s Leadership Program is not a psychiatric program but is – as he accurately described – a Clergy Leadership assistance program, and there was an already established commitment of “working in close collaboration with the Holy Synod.” The goals and intentions of the leadership and clergy assistance program are established, structured, tested, successful, and seemingly appropriate based on the identified needs. And buried in the Synod’s letter addressing Jonah’s resignation:

                  We knew already from past experience with Metropolitan Jonah that something had to change; we had hoped that change would come about as the result of Metropolitan Jonah fulfilling his promise to comply with the recommendation given him by the medical facility to which he was admitted for evaluation and treatment last November, as he assured us he would do at our last All-American Council in Seattle.

                  Metropolitan Jonah’s [refused] to comply with the recommendations of the treatment facility.

                  I am hardly promoting the fairy tale that this would have all turned out differently, and to be quite honest, I doubt it. But my original point was to stress that what happened – this attempt to finally address this historical dysfunction – is profound and unprecedented. It was an attempt to address dysfunction in a long-term strategy of retaining the Metropolitan, not removing him. There are an infinite number of psychiatric facilities to “label” him had they so wished – they could have picked anywhere in the country. Why SLI? It is unique and there was a hope. I say again, it is a sadly lost opportunity, but I sincerely hope the attempt is not lost on the OCA or other Orthodox jurisdictions as an alternate compassionate direction in the future.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Dr S, repeat yourself all you want. Those words were indeed spoken by His Beatitude. But what about the email that activated the conspiracy against His Beatitude one year earlier? That was also a fact.

                    The speech by Jonah can be viewed benignly, the conspiracy against him, not.

                    We can quibble all we want about Jonah’s Seattle speech, whether it was given in good faith, foisted upon him, or whatnot. We can’t quibble about the conspiracy or the Stinkbomb (which was proven to be false), can we?

                    Is this perhaps why you spend so much ink on the Seattle speech?

                    • Knows the Score says

                      Stankovich spends all the time on the Seattle speech because it is all he has left. He was the appointed apologist for the “+Jonah is unstable narrative” unleashed by Stokoe after the Sante Fe speech. Stokoe got dumped by Kishkosky when he became a liability but Stankovich marches on!

                      Remember that Stankovich came out of the gate braying “We Are the Legacy” with Jillions and Wheeler. Jillions and Wheeler pulled out as soon as they saw that they underestimated the resistance against the coup and didn’t want to be publicly identified with it. (Talking about who really bears the “legacy” of Schmemann is a big topic for these guys.)

                      Stankovich leaves all these association in the dark. Always the the hero of his own stories, the MAN OF STEEL who endures threats that no ordinary human would ever face, marches on. He hammers the St. Luke’s angle to keep the Soviet Scenario (he’s not a bad man, he’s just crazy!) alive. It gets him noticed by Jillions, Wheeler, and other overlords who he hopes to please.

                      He never, ever, says anything about the STINKBOMB letter, that work of slander that revealed the bad intentions of the Synod-Syosset axis once and for all. That tells you he is smarter than the overlords he hopes to please. All he can say without the whole Soviet Scenario falling apart is that the letter must be true. He knows it is not so he remains silent.

                    • The “I take blame for everything” paragraph in +Jonah’s Seattle speech was foisted upon him. They were not his words. Under duress he was told to mouth them. The good Dr. can twist and contort all he wants and maybe even +Jonah “confessed” to his “crimes” like an obedient Soviet comrade in a Stalin show trial believing that his words would further the cause of the OCA like those poor comrades did before they were shot. But the good Dr. cannot overcome the truth that that paragraph was written for him and under threat of being put on an LOA an sent to SLI, he had to read those words. He did. He thought to make the best of a bad situation. Be humble, take responsibility and move on. But those who wanted their pound of flesh didn’t move on, did they Dr? Dr. Your friends were exposed (Stokoe, Kishovsky, Benjamin) as the conspirators.

                      Give it a rest you look silly.

                  • nit picker says

                    Dr. S,

                    Until you address the email that was leaked by Bp. Tikhon, everything else that you argue is pointless. That email proves that there was a conspiracy.

                    I’m willing to entertain the possibility that there may have been administrative difficulties, nobody is perfect, especially not me.

                    If you and others wish to maintain the argument that the intervention (your term not mine) at SLI was required and was a direct result of Metropolitan Jonah’s administrative style (that the OCA he received wasn’t broke when he received it) you and others have a requirement to prove how his administration was a concrete disaster. First you must define what equals success, then you must define what equals disaster and give concrete examples from his administrative decisions or lack thereof that fit these administrative criteria or skills that he should have demonstrated but failed to. Are these criteria unique to Metropolitan Jonah’s position, or would someone who is, let’s say a CEO, be expected to demonstrate similar administrative skills, organizational planning and interpersonal networking skills?

                    Currently there are only two things being offered: Metropolitan Jonah’s Seattle speech, and the email leaked by Bp. Tikhon.

                    I am of the opinion that if you are surrounded by a gaggle of individuals who are making it their life’s mission to make your life a living hell, eventually you are going to start believing that you are to blame for everything. I believe that is what Metropolitan Jonah’s speech in Seattle reflects. They were making his life a living hell because they were conspiring against him.

                    If you would like to convince me and others that the conspiracy email has no bearing you have to do better. The only time that repeating oneself is effective is when doing the Jesus Prayer and sit-ups. because otherwise just repeating yourself and hoping to get a different result only impies that you may be insane.

                  • Michael Stankovich claims, “It was an attempt to address dysfunction in a long-term strategy of retaining the Metropolitan, not removing him.”

                    Except that the Stokoe email clearly states the goal of the conspiracy was to remove Metropolitan Jonah, not retain him. Four bishops (Nikon, Tikhon, Benjamin, and Melchisedek) are explicitly said to want Metropolitan Jonah removed. Stokoe expressed the same intention of his own in his confession to writing the email. The email also states that the “leave of absence” business was simply to buy some time because they did not want to create a vacancy in the Metropolitan See at that time and thus trigger the statute’s requirement to hold an election within 90 days.

                    Shame on you, Michael Stankovich, for trying to rewrite history to support your propaganda. Those bishops and Mark Stokoe had no intention of supporting Metropolitan Jonah’s metropolitanate or his health. They wanted him gone, and did not care what torture they had to put him or his family through in order to get what they wanted.

                    • Helga,

                      When history and the facts don’t support your position then one has to rewrite history. It is a page taken right out of Joseph Stalin to find enemies where there are none and then becoming the writer of history. +Jonah was never the enemy of the OCA or Orthodoxy but an enemy was needed to justify the OCA’s actions.

                      I feel sorry for the good Dr. who has thrown in his lot with his long-time friends and thus must avert his eyes to the all to obvious. The Stokoe email speaks for itself and there is no amount of gymnastics proffered by the OCA and its minions can change what is, in point of fact, the powers that exerted their influence to remove +Jonah.

                      As time goes by +Jonah, certainly not perfect, will be vindicated and the cost to the OCA will be serious.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      We rapidly race toward a full year since the exaggeration and impossibility that is the former Metropolitan tendered his voluntary resignation – which in my mind is all that needs to be said. Poignant end of chapter and story. And while I am certainly amused with your prose, scuttle, and accusations about and against my discussion, I maintain that my intention, at its heart, is to champion a model of intervention that is unprecedented in religious organizations. That it was sabotaged and ultimately succumbed to catastrophic failure is, in my mind, irrelevant. It was courageous.

                      As to the matter of my re-writing history, who would have imagined that the bête noire of Orthodoxy – and apparently my dearest friend – would become the primary witness for the prosecution, yet none can conceive that a gun could smoke for reasons other than being fired? One hides behind a ridiculous false name and the other, a muroid, brings a smile to the face of Sartre’s Garcin: “Ah! quelle plaisanterie. Pas besoin de gril : l’enfer, c’est les Autres.” Don’t I know it…

                      Propaganda, you say. Averting my eyes to the obvious, you say. “And the winner is…” Nobody, pal. Absolutely nobody. This is the dead end and “tell-tale” to just how relentlessly dumb you are. Vindication? And the cost will be serious? Get on the train, pal. In all your time here, you have not one single positive, helpful, hopeful, inspiring, supportive, nurturing, or pious thing to offer. Not one. Within the past days you said you said you are so disgusted, you can’t even call the OCA a church. You need to man up and leave.

              • ChristineFevronia says

                His Grace, Bishop Tikhon, is beloved by many Orthodox faithful! And you write that he is an unstable personality, and that he is not credible? This is FAR from the case. He writes from his heart. He has given his blood, sweat, and tears to this country in his military service, and he has given his life to the Orthodox faith in North America.

                He is absolutely forgiven for any words spoken on online forums, here or elsewhere, where umbrage might have been taken for his dedicated effort to tell things like they truly are.

                He once wrote on Monomakhos that the problem with the OCA is not all these various and sundry scandals… He wrote that the problem is our lack of FAITH. He was right!

                I would take Bishop Tikhon’s play-by-play analysis of events any day, versus Syosset’s Schmaltz.

                (Your Grace, if you are reading this, please know that we love and miss you very much.)

                • Guy Westover says

                  ChristineFevronia, I don’t always agree with how His Grace says things, but have discovered that he usually states the facts as he knows them, and that he is motivated by his love for the Church he has striven so hard to serve.

                  One never needs to wonder where Bishop Tikhon stands on an issue. I respect that more than some of the wishy-washy uhms, ers and half truths that come out of the synod and Syosset.

              • nit picker says

                Mr. John Jones,

                I am not going to get into debates about the history or credibility of Bp. Tikhon Fitzgerald. The email that Bp. Tikhon leaked was verified as authentic.

                Please, Mr. Jones, this is a troll free zone. If you are looking for a bridge to squat under, you need to find some where else. No one will toss you red herrings to feast on here.

  3. hard to understand says

    One problem I see is that a lot of the line items are not detailed. Nor are they compared with previous years. What was the membership of the OCA is the last years of Metropolitan Theodosiu? Of Herman? Was there a difference in membership after Metropolitan Herman’s town meetings? Is there a difference in per capita giving? What is the percentage of children of OCA / Metropolia members retaining Orthodoxy in young adulthood? Does this differ form other jurisdictions? Has there been a dropoff in membership of families with children?

    Last week, I couldn’t find a single parking space at or near my local Greek Orthodox church so I gave up and drove to an OCA church that was having a later liturgy. I doubt there were forty total present and the parking lot was mostly empty. But I don’t know if this is typical.

  4. Time of Reckoning says

    While it’s undeniable that the membership decline in the OCA has been going on for decades, what’s notable here is that as the overall numbers get smaller, the decline becomes more pronounced. Stan Poulos is wrong when he speaks about the strength of the OCA because there is no growing number of parishes or grand evangelization plan. For instance, note that in the “Pastoral Changes” documents over the past few years, the number of missions opened follows closely with the number of parishes and missions closed. What’s more notable about Stan Poulos’s defense of the OCA is that it doesn’t align with the OCA’s budget. The amount of time, energy, focus and money put into the “witch hunt” of sexual misconduct (thanks Philippa for that accurate term!) and various associated legal fees shows the true focus of the OCA, when compared to the comparatively minuscule line items for evangelization, church growth, and mission planting. The OCA philosphy, so tiredly repeated by the Chancellor in his “Diary,” has become her albatross.

    • Dear Time,

      Misplaced priorities by Jillions on his very selective sexcapades obsession does nothing to promote the OCA brand. The man is clueless when it comes to being a chancellor. And, his daily diary is an exercise in self promotion as if he is trying to prove to us that he is important.

      I might feel better about him if I knew less about his singing in choirs, attending graduations and fishing in Alaska. Who the hell cares and why does he think for a second that us little people give a hoot?

      He just across as another out-of-touch Syosset apparacik.

  5. So, who underwrites the OCA deficit?
    For OCA folk it is surely pertinent to know to whom one owes one’s worldly existence & good name.

    Btw, Nick’s recommendations seem eminently reasonable to me.
    Who in the world knows or cares about the Syosset property?
    St Tikhon’s is the obvious spiritual “HQ”, so to speak, of the OCA, just as Jordanville serves the same function in the ROCOR. It’s about time we let go of the pretensions connected with having expensive to maintain chanceries in metropolitan New York.

    • A take on the property in question:

      What’s it worth? Hmm, a private fifteen acres with privacy hedges

      What’s the cost of maintaining the property? What’s the cost of transportation to and from this house?

      Would it help to relocate? What would the cost be of relocating the archives to, say, St. Tikhon’s, which already has an librarian?

      Locate the OCA headquarters at an already existing cathedral as close as possible to the center of the country and a large, cheap, transportation hub.

  6. nit picker says

    Archbishop Lazar Puhalo of the Orthodox Church in America, who has a background in neurobiology and physics, offered another critique at the conference.
    “A lot of this stuff can’t be done,” he said.
    If it can be done, that’s not necessarily a good thing either, the robed and bearded patriarch believes.
    “I’m not too fond of the idea of immortality, because I think it will be deathly boring,” he said, with a twinkle in his eyes. Giving up our bodies could also be problematic, he said.
    “There’s a lot of stuff in them that makes us human. I’m not sure they can be built into machines,” Puhalo said.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      So . . . how did he become a patriarch?

      • Lola, of course +Lazar is not a Patriarch; this is yet another example of how the MSM often imprecisely and inaccurately discusses and covers religious topics. I imagine the author had something along the lines of Gandalf or Dumbledore in mind when used the word ‘patriarch’, as +Lazar is a delightful, scholarly man with a kind demeanor.

  7. Michael Stankovich asserts the following….

    M. Stankovich says:
    June 18, 2013 at 3:46 pm
    We rapidly race toward a full year since the exaggeration and impossibility that is the former Metropolitan tendered his voluntary resignation – which in my mind is all that needs to be said. Poignant end of chapter and story. And while I am certainly amused with your prose, scuttle, and accusations about and against my discussion, I maintain that my intention, at its heart, is to champion a model of intervention that is unprecedented in religious organizations. That it was sabotaged and ultimately succumbed to catastrophic failure is, in my mind, irrelevant. It was courageous.

    As to the matter of my re-writing history, who would have imagined that the bête noire of Orthodoxy – and apparently my dearest friend – would become the primary witness for the prosecution, yet none can conceive that a gun could smoke for reasons other than being fired? One hides behind a ridiculous false name and the other, a muroid, brings a smile to the face of Sartre’s Garcin: “Ah! quelle plaisanterie. Pas besoin de gril : l’enfer, c’est les Autres.” Don’t I know it…

    Propaganda, you say. Averting my eyes to the obvious, you say. “And the winner is…” Nobody, pal. Absolutely nobody. This is the dead end and “tell-tale” to just how relentlessly dumb you are. Vindication? And the cost will be serious? Get on the train, pal. In all your time here, you have not one single positive, helpful, hopeful, inspiring, supportive, nurturing, or pious thing to offer. Not one. Within the past days you said you said you are so disgusted, you can’t even call the OCA a church. You need to man up and leave.

    I agree with you Michael that from your vantage point the +Jonah issue is over. Yes, he is now but a short chapter in the sad history of the OCA and even you, with your insights cannot predict the ultimate outcome of how the actions of the synod will unfold going forward.

    You and I will agree to disagree as to the motives of the synod. You call it a courageous “intervention” while I see it as an abdication of their responsibility to create a space for their young, untested new Primate to use his God-given talents, those talents which spoke to the growing makeup of the OCA which saw in +Jonah a model of what the Church should become in this land: speaking out against certain voices who would maintain the status quo, ignore pressing issues, like the unhealthy example of leadership of a former bishop who lives with his long-time Archdeacon partner, and that said Archdeacon continues to serve the Church even though he deposed himself by his actions in marrying another man. I will continue to content that +Jonah was doomed from the start because he would not play by the status quo rules enshrined by people like Fr. Kishkovsky who didn’t want anyone, even the Metropolitan, to upset his little fiefdom. Kishkovsky’s record his clear, a good pastor but a shameless self-promoter who will do anything to keep his position safe.

    As I have said before, +Jonah was not ready to assume the duties of Primate which he freely admitted in his “resignation” but it was the synod that elected him and swore to support him but alas tired of their duty and set him aside and in doing so, did so in a most uncharitable manner. I assert that he was never given the necessary support by the synod or the staffers in Syosset to succeed. He was never afforded a synod or Syosset staff willing to humble themselves and as St. Basil the Great says, “make the evil be good by Thy Goodness.” Rather they accused him of harboring a rapist priest. A lie. Listened to people who thought he was a drunk and should go into rehab. A lie. Listened to a high-ranking protopresbyter who said he was “gravely troubled.” Another lie. I can only imagine what icon of the priestly vocations will now be set; “be quiet, don’t speak up, don’t do things that can get you in hot water with your parishioners, your bishop, the synod.” Such a chilling effect could become a breeding ground for a complacent leadership, as a Monk James has asserted, “a brotherhood of mutual embarrassment.”

    I freely admit and to that extent agree with you, Michael that +Jonah was not ready to become the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America. He did not have the necessary experience as a diocesan bishop to lead the OCA. He needed time to take on and learn what being a chief shepherd of souls entails. Alas, he will never have that opportunity again since his only option given to him by his brothers was retirement. If the clock could be turned back, it would have been better for him and the OCA to not elect him in Pittsburgh, to allow him to be the diocesan bishop in the South. Maybe in time he would have gained the needed wisdom and experience. What is shameful to me is that the synod “threw the baby out with the bathwater” and refused to give him one of the many vacant sees in the OCA. It appears that such a move would have been too much of a bother for them. He would have been welcomed back in the South but the synod continued to ridicule him and poison the well in the South by charing him with crimes that were false. As listed above, these are the ones we know from the synod, but I would not be surprised if there were more false accusations about +Jonah that have not been inspected by the light of truth.

    We can already see how the OCA has become an embarrassment with other Orthodox Churches. It plays no role any longer in discussions about Orthodox unity. It is merely tolerated in the Assembly of Bishops and beyond “photo-ops” has no serious dealings with other Orthodox Churches. Of course all of this can change and be healed but it has to come from the ones who caused the initial wound.

    +Jonah may be a chapter closed in this book, but the book is still being written and I will continue to question how viable that jurisdiction can be if it is built upon such a shameful and faulty foundation. The keys are still available to them to admit their overreaction and their unChristian handling of +Jonah. I still contend that the faithful are looking for a humble example from their leaders. An example that confesses that they could have done a better job, set a better icon of care and compassion. If they can “man up” as you say, dear Michael, something good can come out of this saga, but if they don’t, the wounds will be deep and will not heal themselves by ignoring their role.

    I can only conclude that like voices in the past, you are now satisfied that the OCA, clergy and faithful, should just move along and forget things. Some things can’t be forgotten. Forgiven, always, forgotten, never, for an unresolved injustice can’t be forgotten or it will be doomed to happen again.

    If for no other reason, being vigilant to hold ourselves and others accountable for their actions is one lesson that will not be forgotten in the OCA and a painful lesson learned from the brief tenure of Metropolitan Jonah.

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