From 105 to 50 in a New York Minute — Part IV. Back to the Future: A History of the Diocese of the South

Introduction: In the three previous posts, Monomakhos published analyses of the Treasurer’s Report submitted to the 16th All-American Council. Particular emphasis was directed to what the present Central Administration model (which is headquartered in Syosset) represents –a harkening back to the ethnic model of the OCA when it was still an eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. In other words, the present model is little different from what obtains in other other eparchial, ethnic jurisdictions. We believe this represents a startling lack of evangelistic and philanthropic vision.

Emphasis was also directed to the parlous numbers which sustain the present financial regime. Shockingly, this decline was only mentioned in passing in the Treasurer’s report. However, events have forced Syosset’s hand ever since the Diocese of New York and New Jersey has brought forth a resolution that will strengthen the hands of the Dioceses and may turn back the OCA’s present trajectory of failure.

This plan has caught fire within the OCA, even in some Dioceses outside of New York/New Jersey. In the spirit of showing how a decentralization can actually help the national Church, we direct your attention to the following reports from the Diocese of the South.

Part IV. Back to the Future: A History of the Diocese of the South

Is the Diocese of the South a Model for the Future OCA?

The experience of the Diocese of the South spans a short time as the Church reckons time, a blink of an eye in the long history of the Orthodox Church. The diocese was founded in 1978, and began with about 12 churches and missions, and now exceeds 70, with more in the planning stages. Certainly the South stands at a crossroads, having recently buried Archbishop +Dmitri of blessed memory, the founding hierarch of the Diocese of the South. But, the OCA stands at a crossroads as well, and as we prepare for the All American Council, the OCA might profit from taking a look at the map that the DOS has followed.

That map is a little rumpled. It has chicory coffee stains, and is worn from many road trips. It shows evidence of a detour or two. But the direction traveled, toward the wide distribution of Christ’s Good News to cradle and convert alike, is evident. Specifically, a financial road-map has enabled Orthodoxy to travel and thrive where a strong ethnic base did not always exist.

Beneath it all is the tithe.


The South does have the advantage of some cultural basis for tithing, coming largely from the Baptist and Evangelical norms commonplace in the South. But the South’s explosion as a relocation point has brought many “Yankees” down to Southern cities, which were not raised in this tradition. Nor were many of the Orthodox settling in the South taught this in their Orthodox cradles.

The story of individuals coming to the understanding that “It is all His, anyway!” regarding the tithe is a post of its own for another time. The real story of the DOS is how the fledgling diocese used the 10 percent tithe from the parishes as a point of focus, as a way to develop, grow, and support the parishes and missions.

Examine the assessment system currently in place in the OCA. At a snapshot in time, say in November of any given year, a headcount report is taken, multiplied by the assessment number, and divided by 12, to come up with the dollar figure that the OCA budgets as income from each parish, paid through its diocese. That is the amount owed, and Syosset does not look at the parishes again in any systematic manner until the following year’s headcount report.

Tithing Indicates How Parishes Are Doing

Contrast this with the experience sitting in the dumpy Diocese of the South chancery office in Dallas. The diocesan treasurer, Milos Konjevich, opens an envelope containing the monthly tithe and deposits (more on this later) sent by each parish. He might smile about how well that new mission is doing, or he may note that this parish had a rough month. This is because the amount of the check is a comparatively real-time monthly “pulse” of how each parish is doing. He might get on the phone and call the priest, just to see how things are going. Or he might go to visit, or suggest the chancellor Fr Marcus do so. But the feedback causes him to think about each parish and each mission as the envelopes come in. The focus is on the well-being of the parishes. Perhaps those doing well might need a little encouragement in order to take steps to get their building plan off the ground. The knowledge that the diocese “has got your back” has sparked more than one property purchase or building campaign in the DOS.

And the focus also occurs because the DOS budget is directly linked to the success of the churches it supports. When the parish tithe is generous, this is reflected in the 10 percent passed along to the diocese. When the summer giving is lighter due to vacations and whatnot, the diocese sees the impact as well. The parishes and missions in the DOS need not starve their programs or their priests in order to pay the head tax to the Diocese. The parishes are well aware that with this proportionate giving, we all eat at the same table, and one group does not go hungry in order that the higher level can dine sumptuously.

A few years ago, the DOS decided to hold the OCA assessment liability at the Diocese level – preaching the tithe while expecting payment of the head tax too got in the way of the shepherding relationship between the Diocese and the parishes. Although considered at the time a risky move, the DOS treasurer’s June 2011 message explains that initial deficits have been offset by increases in parish deposits and general tithe growth, and that the deficit impact of the transition will disappear by 2012.

Dollars are Allocated Differently

There is another critical, more empirical marker of the DOS focus on the mission of spreading the Gospel and bringing people to Christ. It appears in the very first paragraph of the June 2011 DOS Treasurer’s message. See if you can spot it!

The funding base of the Diocese continued to show good growth through the first six months of 2011. Funding from all sources totaled $717,473, with Tithe income of $298,159, loan payments received from our churches of $150,163, and church deposits growth of $140,955 being most prominent. Funding was utilized as follows: Missions & Parish Development outlays $430,304 (60%); OCA Expense $155,342 (22%); Payroll, Travel, Occupancy Expense, Administrative Costs $118,128 (16%); and additions to cash reserves $13,608 (2%).

Did you find it? Did you notice that Administrative Costs utilized only 16 percent of the funds contributed? Or that 60 percent of the diocese funds are spent on Mission and Parish development?

How can this be?

One Parish Helps the Other

Milos Konjevich, the DOS treasurer, has written an extremely meaty, dense report explaining some of the strategies that the DOS has employed to increase the velocity of the Diocese funds he stewards. Milos brings his career experience as a regional director with the FDIC, and couples it with 20+ years growing as a churchman and using his financial gifts to bring bricks and mortar reality to the vision he shared with Archbishop +Dmitri. You will find this message at the bottom of this post, and you should read it, even (or especially) if you never read financial reports.

But here are some of the highlights. (But really, go read the Treasurers message anyway.)

1) Many of the parishes keep savings with the diocese in the Church Deposit program. These funds can be used by the diocese to help other missions/parishes, and the rate of return is often more attractive than can be found in banks who must make a return for their investors. Rather than investing in the stock market, these funds are invested in our church and its mission.

2) Church friendly loans of close to $1M exist in the DOS, providing cash flow cushion and funds that provide flexibility and room to maneuver as new missions are established and parishes strike out to undertake building programs.

3) The Managed Debt Program provides means for churches to acquire funding, but also to keep the debt from inhibiting growth activities, while it is being repaid.

The primary purpose of the Managed Debt Program is to reduce church monthly mortgage payments in order to free up cash for ongoing obligations and emerging developmental needs.

The Diocese provides expert coaching in negotiating loans with the banks, thus using the bank processes to assist in bringing fiscal discipline to the purchase and/or building process. Then by following through with the parish, the DOS assists in the management of the loan in order that it not beggar the parish or priest serving it.

Moving Money at a Higher Velocity

The third paragraph of this report explains how leverage can allow the church to use her funds for the growth of the church, rather than allow that profit to be taken by the banks. Keeping the money moving at high velocity is how banks make their margins, but for the church, that strategy multiplies the impact of the tithes collected to the benefit of the parish and the faithful.

So using a number of strategies, the DOS stands as a shepherd to the missions and parishes under its watch.

The underlying assumption is that the work of the church is done close to the people. The parishes and the missions must come together as the Body of Christ, as loving communities, and reach out to others hungry for the unadulterated faith. The future of the Orthodox Church in America lies with the gathering of immigrant Orthodox to a limited extent – but significant growth will be in the area of converts. For both these groups, keeping the children engaged in the community of faith as they mature is what will reverse the trend of shrinking membership. After all, the children of the converts are uniquely American cradle Orthodox!

DOS Growth Exceeds 10% Each Year

If the DOS trends continue until year end, this year’s tithe income will be 14 percent greater than 2010. The average annual growth over the past 15 years has been 12 percent. Contrast this with the report of OCA treasurer Melanie Ringa to the 16th AAC:

Diocesan assessments have actually declined from 2006 to 2011 ($2.673 million in 2006 vs. $2.4 million in 2010, and projected $2.3 million in 2011),

• Fellowship of Orthodox Steward contributions have gone from $142,672 in 2006 to $135,704 in 2009 and only $7,971 was received through the first six months of 2011,

• The sum of Charities, Ministries, Seminaries, Theological Education and General Contributions has gone from $344,895 in 2006 to $306,063 in 2007 to $100,298 in 2010 and only $9,399 through the first six months of 2011.

• Total annual revenues have fallen from $3.295 million in 2006 to $2.573 million in 2010.

• The financial collapse in the stock markets in 2008 resulted in losses in our endowed investments of almost $700,000.

The DOS treasurer’s message concludes with these thoughts – ones relevant for those attending the 16th AAC, or even those concerned about the future of the OCA.

Milos Konjevich’s Message

There is a longstanding incongruity within the financial workings of the Orthodox Church in America that suggests a lack of discernment of, and a lack of thought about, how our autocephaly should be used to grow the Church. One would suppose that the methodology is self evident – that the work of the church is carried out in the local community, – that the primary focus within our hierarchal structure is the health and well-being of existing churches – to establish churches where the Orthodox witness is sparse or altogether lacking. But, as the saying goes, “follow the money” if you want to know what’s really happening.

The Income Statements of most Dioceses show the OCA Membership Assessment obligation as the predominant expense category. In many instances a Diocese’s ability to cover basic operating costs is marginal, with direct financial support of parishes and missions being meager or nonexistent. The membership assessment dollars collected by the dioceses for the OCA are used exclusively to support Central Administration functions. Thus, the financial statements of both the Dioceses and Central Administration reflect an organizational survival posture; the response of the churches, having been left to fend for themselves, is to do likewise, and their survival posture is revealed in the steadily declining census numbers of the OCA.

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

Respectfully submitted,

Milos Konjevic

Read Milos Konjevic’s entire message.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” –Albert Einstein


  1. The wisdom of Milos Konjevich is providential, a wisdom that sadly is sorely lacking in other parts of the OCA. May God grant him many years.

  2. This AAC may be the last chance for the OCA to stop kicking the financial can down the road. I believe it is now or never if the OCA is going to survive into the future and thrive. The DOS model is tested and proven. To ignore this by Syosset and work against the $50 assessment as the means to proportional giving will only prove a startling lack of faith and vision in Syosset. We know the present approach is broken. How many more decades of a dysfunctional funding system do we need to suffer through in the OCA? The lastest Strategic Plan gives little hope that Syosset gets it right now.

    Next week in Seattle the OCA will either finally turn the corner on giving feeble lip service to proportional giving and do the right thing or leave Seattle an even more divided Church into haves and have nots and a central Church committed to its own survival further alienating it from its parishes or dioceses.

    It is now or never for the OCA.

  3. Carl Kraeff says

    Of course, the reason for the DOS success is not merely tithing but what tithing represents. DOS is a missionary church above all else, rooted in solid and uncompromising Orthodox belief and praxis. We’ve been blessed by a wonderful leader, Archbishop Dimitri of thrice blessed memory, and many outstanding priests, deacons and lay leaders and ministers who have put Christ first. I am particularly familiar with the Carolinas Deanery, where one church has produced 13 clergy men in the past 10 years, there is a women’s monastery, and which is supplying a Chancellor to the Diocese and chair of the OCA Department of Evangelization, among other ministries. I am sure that other deaneries are just as exemplary. Glory be to God!

    • Indeed. Very well said.

    • You know Carl what baffles me is that the DOS and the DOW to a lesser degree, are the only dioceses that are growing and because of this you would think that other dioceses would be beating a path to these diocesan models to find out what they are doing right and what the other dioceses are doing wrong. I am not judging the sincerity of faithful clergy and laity in the other dioceses of the OCA, but it is just amazing to me that others just don’t get it.

      I think another area that the DOS has shown leadership is fighting against the Church just being a Sunday-only experience, as, sadly it has generally de-evolved in the northeast and midwest. The idea of having Wednesday vespers, for example, is almost universal in the DOS. I have heard that this only works in the south because of the evangelical/protestant culture. However, I have never quite understood how we make such a big deal about Presanctified Liturgies on the Wednesday (and Friday) of the Great Fast, then, as soon as Lent is over, we just forget about it and go back to our “normal” patters. What is normal is a daily cycle of worship. Would it not make more sense to reclaim that midweek service, as we do in Lent, and keep it going the rest of the year?

      The last time I checked, in any part of the USA, you will find evangelical churches conducting Wednesday night services. Heck, they got that from us, we who have a daily cycle of worship. Duh.

      Again, look at the lip service of the OCA Strategic Plan about liturgical renewal. If we would just serve more services because that is who we are as Orthodox, we learn about God in worship, logic would dictate that seekers who see a Church that gathers more than just on Sunday might conclude that the folks who populate that parish demostrate a greater willingness to order their lives around the worship cycle of the Church. By building out the days of the week with worship and attach educational opportunities, meetings, youth group gatherings, whatever to those days, the parish becomes a greater center in the faithful’s lives. This is not theory. This works.

      If you have a product you believe in, wouldn’t you want the public to have as many chances as possible to interface with it? To purchase it? To be committed salespeople of that product?

      The DOS has the right financial model and the right worship model and the latter informs the former. That is the basis for any Strategic Plan because it is the only one given by Christ, “when two or three are gathered together in My Name, there I will be also.” But, for that to happen, YOU FIRST HAVE TO GATHER! Let’s give people more opportunities to gather.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Amen, Amos. I can’t tell you how important Wed night vespers are. Because of my work schedule, I can’t make it regularly and when I do miss it, I am out of sorts, I feel that there is something “missing.”

        • Monk James says

          It pains me just a little to acknowledge that the Protestants have something right here, that Christians benefit from a midweek recharging.

          Nobody is 100% wrong, not the roman pope and not even the Protestants — even if they’ve forgotten what they’re protesting.

          The very fact that we assign the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts to at least on Wednesdays and Fridays during the Great Fast in parish practice alerts us to our need to participate in Holy Communion more frequently.

          In monastic practice, the DLPG is served every day during the Great Fast, if possible. There are ancient rules telling us how to do this even on Holy Friday.

          It would be good for us to have an Evening Service every Wednesday night. Ideally, this service precedes supper.

          Again, ideally, this service might be followed by a community meal which follows our best tradition of abstaining from meat, fish, and dairy products on all Wednesdays and Fridays.

          A ‘potluck supper’ at church completely in accordance with our practice would be not only accessible to all the orthodox, but would be a ‘teaching moment’ for people who want to fine-tune their own observance.

          This would be no different during the Great Fast than it would be on any Wednesday, unless a great feast occurred on that day.

          • Just an observation here about being mission minded. I am 49, served 20 years in the US Navy, traveled around the world 3 times, have touched every continent but one (Africa, though I did sweep Egypt off the deck of the ship after going through the Suez during a sandstorm), I’ve been to nearly every state in these United States; and I have yet to (knowingly) meet an Orthodox Christian face to face. I thank God for Fr John Peck’s “Journey to Orthodoxy” and other sites, and Ancient Faith Radio, or I wouldn’t know a thing about it.

            What got me looking for an alternative to the Protestant wasteland was when I could not recommend a church to some family I helped leave a judaising cult. My search led me to the Orthodox Church. I am still learning, not yet ready to take the plunge. Orthodoxy in America needs to come of age, not just as a refuge for disaffected Anglicans, but as the Truth. Carry on.

          • another one says

            You know, this plan sound remarkably like what my DOS parish already does on Wednesdays. We have vespers, a fasting meal, and usually split between continuing education for the parish membership attending as well as an instructional class for inquirers.

            And I shlep 25 miles each way to attend….. the multiple activities make it worth it….

        • While I love the idea of midweek vespers, I, like many in my parish, live too far to be able to make it to church frequently on a week night. I am glad, however, that our parish has potlucks after services and, most of all, I am thankful for congregational singing!

      • The last time I checked, in any part of the USA, you will find evangelical churches conducting Wednesday night services. Heck, they got that from us, we who have a daily cycle of worship. Duh.


        “The mid-week meeting had its beginnings in prayer meetings that were occasionally mentioned before 1800 but became popular through the efforts of Charles Finney and D. L. Moody in the 1800’s…”

        The Origin of Sunday and Wednesday Evening Services

      • There are parishes, both Antiochian & OCA, outside of the DOS that have Wednesday Vespers. From what I have observed, these are parishes with a large proportion of converts or a young(er) priest (cradle OR convert) who is on the more “traditional” side.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Marie reports, “There are parishes, both Antiochian & OCA, outside of the DOS that have Wednesday Vespers.”

          All Saints in Chicago is among them.

          There are three practical principles to which an Orthodox pastor must adhere if he entertains the slightest notion of attracting American Evangelical Christians to the Orthodox Church:

          First, he must provide a Wednesday evening service. This may be Vespers, but we have other lovely Orthodox services which may be more practical in some settings.

          Second, he must preach a meaty biblical sermon at every service, including Vespers. A worship service without a sermon is unthinkable among American Evangelicals (as it would have been for Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Ambrose of Milan, and Gregory Palamas).

          Third, most of the singing must be congregational.

          If any one of these three points are neglected, it won’t make any difference how many times an Orthodox pastor attends a Missions and Evangelism workshop. He simply will not attract large numbers of Evangelicals, who are the backbone of American religious life.

          The Orthodox pastor who adheres to these principles, on the other hand, will have a bulging nave and—in the parish budget—receive roughly $1200 of annual giving for every single person in the parish, counting the infants. The treasure will follow the heart.

          • As usual Fr, you are correct.

          • Fr. Patrick, I appreciate your words and wisdom, but I have to disagree with the suggestion to have a sermon at every service. I liked Orthodoxy because of the pithy homiletics. 😉

            • Lola J. Lee Beno says

              Some priests are just terrible at giving sermons. I won’t name names, but some of them do need to work a bit harder on their sermons and maybe brush up on their public speaking skills and adapt these to what feels most natural for them.

              • And some are very, very good – as is Fr. Reardon. I have never seen him in person but his excellent sermons are podcast on Ancient Faith Radio and I have listened to many. I believe his advise to be sound if the preacher and sermon are up to his level. If not, less may actually be more. I have been at a Divine Liturgy where I swear we have gotten three sermons, although the second two were after thoughts at the conclusion of the service. I do not recommend that practice, but I was secretly amused by the exasperated look on my wife’s face!

          • I don’t object to some teaching or a devotional in conjunction also with prayer services. On the other hand, when I was Evangelical, I was glutted with a wealth of biblical information I did not have the prayer life to absorb or sustain in practice, and I was starving and thirsting to death for being where I could really experience consistently the Presence of God. I’m grateful to just be able to really pray for once. I need the Lord, not more sermons. I’m glad to receive biblical exhortation, but I appreciate it most when it is simply that and not something that is really more academically interesting or verbally clever than truly spiritually nourishing! To be the latter, it seems to me the preacher must be very well steeped in the life of the Church and know from experience what he is talking about. I’ve been around a few who seemed much more to be preaching because they loved to have a captive audience and they loved the sound of their own voice–not because they cared about the flock and had experienced the truth they wanted to share (thankfully, mostly this was not in the Orthodox Church). The prayer of the Church, on the other hand, is always spiritually nourishing.

      • That is why I like living close to a monastery. I was actually able a few years ago to attend 40 straight daily Divine Liturgies except one (by obedience). When I was ten years younger and living 1/2 mile from the monastery, I attended all of the vigils, vespers services, almost the entire Lenten cycle. That is what Orthodoxy is all about, that is why I am Orthodox, to participate in all of the activities of the Church. I agree regarding the Protestants; when I was a Protestant, I attended every service they had every time the doors were open and I was not the only one. If the Protestants can attract that kind of attendance with what they have to offer, how much more we Orthodox should be doing even more than they do because we have a lot more to offer.

        I heard a GOA priest tell the story of one time when he was a seminarian and in Greece with a group from Holy Cross, they were sent out to a local church to participate in the Divine Liturgy on a week day. The seminarians were up front with a microphone in front of them (chanting I guess) and the priest felt that it was overkill, it was a small church and they were plenty loud enough. So, he moved the mike away and a lady moved it back. This went on for a while and he finally gave up moving it. He had to leave before the service was over and walked out the front door of the church and discovered the microphone was hooked up to an amplifier outside the church and he saw that the local farmers in their fields and on their tractors, etc. were participating, crossing themselves, stopping at times and getting off their tractors. Understanding swooped into his consciousness and he felt chastened. But, he learned a lesson and I heard him ‘jokingly’ tell a Greek friend of mine that he was going to put a speaker down at the local car wash because my friend would drop his wife off at church and take the car to the car wash and returning to church just before the Gospel reading. He might not have been joking, knowing him.

        • Jim of Olym says

          when we moved to Washington, my wife and I attended ALL the services of our parish, even though it took an hour to get there. That included the rare weekday services (which I could attend since I was retired, even if my wife wasn’t. that was a watershed for us. since that time we have attended less, but I encourage everyone to attend as many services as they can, since all those Matins and Vespers add up in our understanding (even if ‘under the table’) of theology and praxis.
          And if you have even minimal books, you can pray most of them at home, which is a real blessing.

  4. It occurs to me that if the AAC ends up in an ugly stalemate, an option that should be considered to move the OCA in a positive direction is for Metropolitan Jonah to step down and let someone else take the helm at Syosset (someone that has the full and unconditional support of the HS) —
    only on the guaranteed condition that these occur when and if the Holy Synod:

    1. allows the Diocese of Washington DC and the Diocese of the South to merge;
    2. the newly merged Diocese elects and installs Metropolitan Jonah as its Archbishop;

    Jonah, the HS or the DOS and DOW may not be open to this, but is this kind of solution possible?
    If so, how would it be proposed?
    Any opinions from you other DOS’ers?

    • The “unconditional support” of Syosset is not worth a whole lot. The Syosset/MC axis has led us to the precipice of failure. What makes you think throwing more good money after bad will turn the OCA as it’s presently constituted around? If anything, a stalemate will cause the ethnic dioceses to go back home to mama. I realize that won’t hurt anything financially since they give a pittance but the psychological impact would be devastating.

      The only way the OCA even has a chance of survival would be for two things to happen simultaneously: +Jonah remains as Primate and The New York Plan go into effect immediately. There simply is no other option. The ludicrous “rotating Metropolitan plan” put forward by some Stokovites is a non-starter as the older bishops of the OCA are either too old or infirm or don’t have the moral authority to pull it off. As for the Syosset Set, they’re just time-servers who’ve marinated for too long in the liberalist/ecumenist juices of the East Coast and Academia.

      • “As for the Syosset Set, they’re just time-servers who’ve marinated for too long in the liberalist/ecumenist juices of the East Coast and Academia.”

        I’ll second that.

      • As for the Syosset Set, they’re just time-servers who’ve marinated for too long in the liberalist/ecumenist juices of the East Coast and Academia.

        Boy, did you ever nail that one on the head, George!

        You’re going to Seattle, right? Keep banging the drum: “No more throwing good money after bad”. No more honoring liars, thieves, and bullies, while running the OCA into the ground.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        “Rotating Metropolitan” plan? Please don’t make me laugh. Seriously. That’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard. This will just cause the others listed on the diptych to take OCA more seriously. Not.

        • Heracleides says

          Sort of like the OCA’s version of ‘duck, duck, goose’ only in this instance ‘bishop, bishop, metropolitan.’ 😛

          • Yes, the rotating Metropolitan thing is an ecclesiological joke. It would be the death-knell for the Nouvelle OCA in the eyes of canonical churches.

            Herc, did you know that “oca” is the Spanish, Italian, and Catalan word for goose? I think it’s rather fitting. “La OCA”.

    • Priest Justin Frederick says

      A good precedent for some of what you propose is to be found in the Life of St. Athanasius of Constantinople, whose feast was today. See his life in the Prologue from Okhrid.

    • If Metropolitan Jonah leaves, that would pretty well finish the OCA off. Many of those who are left in the OCA are carefully watching the events and Metropolitan Jonah is their man. If I was still in the OCA, I would be doing the same.

      If he steps down, then Stokoe and the Syosset gang wins, the OCA could then install Stokoe as Metropolitan.

    • J-TAC, that’s an interesting thought, but I could only see ceding that much ground if this were a simple administrative dispute with large faults on both sides. From the amount of rot that has been exposed, though, I think we can see that this is spiritual warfare, and this is not a battle we can afford to lose.

      Yes, Metropolitan Jonah is in danger of being coerced into resigning or otherwise removed from office unjustly. “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But even if this happens, it won’t be the end, not for Metropolitan Jonah, and not for us, either. We must fight and pray for the church administration to be cleaned out, and fight for Orthodoxy in America.

      • Helga, I pretty much have to agree with Jacksson on this one. Being in the DOS, I never realized how extensive and deep the institutional rot in the OCA is, particularly on the East Coast. The backstabbing in Syosset and on the MC is but a sympton of a very grave disease. We can call it liberalism, ecumenism, worldliness, or whatever, but we can’t call it canonical Orthodoxy. Certainly, the verbal excrement that they threw at +Jonah at the MC meetings (and the fact that nobody there took them to task for it) shows that they don’t think anything is wrong with this type of over-the-top white-trash behavior. When an organization gets to this point, it’s pretty much over with. For whatever reason, they feel the status quo demands anything and everything, even vituperation, theft, extortion, pettiness like not standing up in his presence, and any other type of immoral behavior. That’s one reason why I believe Syosset has be to be closed and sold lock, stock and barrel.

        It’s kind of like Constantine the Great. The Empire had a capital and it was still considered the Queen City of the World, but he looked around and saw that the pagan antecedents were too well-ingrained and as a Christian city it could never make a clean break with the past. That’s why he chose a small ancient Greek traditing post on the Bosporus as the new capital. He even mandated that no pagan rites could ever be performed there. EVER. Even after Rome became the primatial diocese of Christendom, pagans were still allowed freedom of worship. Now from a humanitarian point of view, I’d of done the same thing, but as long as paganism survived, Rome would never be the Christian capital that was needed for a Christian empire. It took centuries for it to extirpate its past. Nova Roma (Constantinople) didn’t have this as a burden.

        I guess using this analogy we can see that this is why Istanbul could never again be the primatial see of a Christian world. It was Christian for 1,000 years but it’s been resolutely Muslim for 500 years now. Thinking aloud, I see now the wisdom of Theophilus of Pskov’s prophecy that Moscow would be the “Third Rome, and there would be no other.”

        • George, don’t underestimate the power of lay people. I can tell you, people are *disgusted* at the overspending and backbiting coming out of Syosset. They are not all buying Stokoe’s story, or the blather in the official reports. If anything happens to Metropolitan Jonah, it’s not going to be the end, but the beginning. As long as Metropolitan Jonah is alive and healthy, he can be restored to office. (Who would dare to doubt the Holy Spirit in his election if that happened?) Many saints were deposed and exiled multiple times.

          The bottom line is that you and all of us have to keep reaching people with the truth. Tell them how the Metropolitan Council commended Stokoe for lying about the Metropolitan, publishing stolen emails, and abusing his position on that very council. Remind them that Metropolitan Jonah is our first Metropolitan in thirty years who isn’t an alcoholic or a pervert, and that he is a kindly and prayerful monk, not the crazy idiot they have been trying to portray him as. Most importantly, show them the bias in the official reports that is obviously intended to sway delegates against the New York plan and against moving the chancery.

          I desperately wish I could be there in Seattle. You and everyone here who is going have to speak for us and let them know we’re not going to let them run the OCA into the ground no matter what they try to do to Met. Jonah. Met. Jonah is just an incidental target because he truly is a bishop of Christ’s church and a successor to the apostles. This battle is bigger than just Met. Jonah individually, it’s about Christ and His Church, His Gospel, which are the real victims being attacked here.

          • I hear you Helga. And I do think that the people are speaking. They’re votiing with their feet. 22,000 is not a number to be trifled with. Metropolitan Council, Syosset, and assorted Stokovites: keep up your shenagans and that number will dwindle even further. Then you’ll be forced into bankruptcy. Better sell the property in Syosset while you still got some wind at your back than when the creditors come knocking on the door.

            • Yes, George. Tell them that at the council.

              And we have to let Metropolitan Jonah know we are behind him, no matter what they do to him.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      The problem with this proposal is, he will still have to deal with potshots being taken at him. The goal is . . . stop those potshots and let him do his work!

      • Lola, the problem with dealing with the potshots is that a lot of this is covered by the confidentiality of the SMPAC memorandum. I think back to Dr. Skordinski’s leaked email where she complained that they didn’t even know what the charges were in order to go full-charge against Metropolitan Jonah, due to the confidentiality of the report. Likewise, Metropolitan Jonah cannot defend himself in those matters without betraying the privacy of the alleged victims and alleged perpetrators.


    It simply doesn’t. Ask anyone who knows anything about Orthodoxy.

    After spending a long time in the south and in the west, I find myself now back in the Northeast. I love my church here now, but for a variety of reasons it does not have vespers on Saturday night. THAT IS NOT RIGHT. And it’s not even a northeastern GOA or Antiochian parish where you wouldn’t even expect there to be vespers. It’s an OCA parish.

    EVERY ORTHODOX PARISH SHOULD HAVE VESPERS AND AT LEAST ONE WEEKNIGHT VESPERS. It doesn’t matter if there are only 3 parishioners there, or if us as parishioners can only make it once or twice a month.

    The fact of the matter is we need these divine services. We need them. We are worshipping beings. We are created to worship God, just as we are created to love and to eat and to breathe.

    To not offer these services is simply a huge disservice to the faithful and to our humanity.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      LV writes: ” And it’s not even a northeastern GOA or Antiochian parish where you wouldn’t even expect there to be vespers.”

      Respectfully, unless I am seriously mistaken, Saturday Vespers is de rigeur in the Antiochian parishes, as is Sunday Orthros.

      Metropolitan PHILIP insists on the point, but most of us would do it anyway.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Is Father Patrick not referring to token selections (Top Two or Three) from Orthros, sometimes reduced to only the Great Doxology, rather than anything resembling a full Orthros service with, e.g., Hexapsalmos, Great Litany, Theos Kyrios, Resurrection Gospel, Psalm 50 Canon, Praises?

        • Your Grace, my experience in Greek/Antiochian churches has been that they do all of the things you mention as part of Sunday Orthros. They only do the odes of the canon, but that keeps the time down to about an hour.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Here are the schedules of some Antiochian parishes. These may not be representative but they are laudatory nonetheless;

          Saint Andrew’s in Riverside, CA (under Bishop Joseph):
          Saturday: Great Vespers 5:30 pm
          Sunday: Orthros 9:00 am, Divine Liturgy 10:00 am
          Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: Vespers 5:00 pm
          Wednesday: Paraklesis and Family Night 6:00 pm

          St John the Forerunner in Cedar Park, TX (under Bishop Basil):
          Sunday: Orthros 8:00 am, Divine Liturgy 10:00 am
          Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: Daily Orthros 5:30 AM, Daily Vespers 5:00 PM
          Saturday: Orthodox instruction 5:00 PM, Ninth hour prayers 5:45 PM, Great Vespers (includes added Jesus Prayer service on the 2nd Saturday of each month) 6:00 PM, Sacrament of Confession 7:00 PM

          It may be that parishes (OCA or Antiochian) west of the Mississippi and the South have more weekday services than elsewhere. This may be due to a large percentage of converts (both clergy and laity) or other factors, such as being blessed by outstanding leaders and perhaps being somewhat isolated from “traditionalist” Orthodox who may question such Protestant innovations. 😉

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      I.V. is on to something vital. In the Apostolic Church, what we call “the office” constituted the main c0mmunal prayer/worship life of the Faithful. The Eucharist, however, stands completely outside the office, because it is outside of TIME or any temporal cycles. The Eucharist was not “the ordinary, basic obligation of the good Orthodox Christian”–it was always EXTRAORDINARY.
      Sadly, it’s become routine, and to attend Sunday Liturgy regularly, to make participation in it routine, is the goal of many leaders.
      I once had a “behind the woodshed” discussion with an experienced Priest who wouldn’t agree to serve Vespers every Saturday night and on the eves of all Feasts because the Parish Council refused to allow it, saying, “that was never OUR custom.” When i thought i had persuaded him to stand up to the Council (it always called itself The Board), he dashed my hopes by adding, “Your Grace, I have trouble enough teaching them who Jesus Christ is. When they’ve learned that, THEN we can start talking about your Vespers and so on.” The poor man apparently found nothing deficient in serving the Divine Liturgy and communing people whose knowledge of Jesus Christ was problematic!!!

      • The poor man apparently found nothing deficient in serving the Divine Liturgy and communing people whose knowledge of Jesus Christ was problematic!!!

        Your Grace, do you refuse communion to infants, or to people with mental disabilities? The priest was trying to teach them according to their abilities. You’d have a point if they were refusing to learn, though.

        • Priest Justin Frederick says

          Helga, they were refusing to learn by refusing to have Vespers, let alone Vigil. That is where so much of the Church’s teaching is conveyed and is really essential preparation for Liturgy and the Eucharist. If they’d had Vespers and Matins all along, they’d know who Jesus Christ is. How did that priest expect to teach them without using one of the Church’s primary tools?

          • Fr. Justin, I have found that some older parishes can tend towards a very council-heavy governance. If things don’t go their way, they up and stop paying the priest, or do any number of other passive-aggressive things to control him. (Gee, doesn’t that sound familiar?) I don’t know if that’s the case at this particular parish, but it explains why some priests take a light touch with their parish council.

            I absolutely agree that Vespers is essential preparation for Liturgy. It sounded to me like the priest His Grace mentioned was working towards incorporating Vespers into the liturgical life of his parish, but had to work slowly in order to avoid alienating the prominent members of the parish. I agree that it’s an essential teaching tool, but they can’t be taught if they don’t know why they should come.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          The ;point, Helga, is ironic. How may a Priest who gives the Faithful’s not knowing who Jesus is as a reason for not serving Vespers possibly justify to himself serving the Divine Liturgy for the same?

          • Because in some parishes the problems that hinder the hearing of the Gospel won’t be resolved merely by scheduling more services. Nonetheless, the faithful still cling to a (probably infinitesimal) measure of faith that keeps them coming back on Sunday. That leaves Sunday for the liturgical work..

            Yes, the Gospel is heard through the services. It is also heard through private teaching, through counsel, in crisis (often this is when it is first heard), demonstrated in sound decisions, and so forth. If barriers exist to that hearing, and if those barriers are part of the sociology of a dysfunctional parish, increasing the services won’t change anything. In fact, most often the attempt to increase services is swallowed up into the dysfunction, which was probably happening in the parish of the priest that you scolded. In actual fact, a different therapy was required.

          • Because in some parishes the problems that hinder the hearing of the Gospel won’t be resolved merely by scheduling more services. Nonetheless, the faithful still cling to a (probably infinitesimal) measure of faith that keeps them coming back on Sunday. That leaves Sunday for the liturgical work..

            Yes, the Gospel is heard through the services. It is also heard through private teaching, through counsel, in crisis (often this is when it is first heard), demonstrated in sound decisions, and so forth. If barriers exist to that hearing, and if those barriers are part of the sociology of a dysfunctional parish, increasing the services won’t change anything. In fact, most often the attempt to increase services is swallowed up into the dysfunction, which was probably happening in the parish of the priest that you scolded. A different therapy was required.

        • M. Stankovich says

          I distinctly recall “back in the day” when, as students, now Protodeacon Eric Wheeler & myself traveled to his old and established home parish to serve as subdeacons for Archbishop Dimitri (then Bishop of New England), who was coming to serve the “first ever” Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. The (longsuffering) Rector of this parish had apparently referred to St. Gregory as “Pope of Rome” rather than “Diologos,” providing the already contentious council set to prevent “innovation,” fuel for the argument “now he wants to serve Catholic services.” Vladyka Dimitri came specifically to serve, support, and give a talk on the history and tradition of this liturgy.

          I would note that this parish is a glorious structure with ceiling to floor iconography in the finest of “Old Believer style” Russian iconography, and affords “world-class” acoustics for the singing voice. While the council could not “prevent” the service, they did prevent heat and all but the minimum in electricity. The brave souls who chose to attend – apparently knowing they were being “documented” by council members – were bundled in winter coats, scarves, gloves, and hats, patiently following along in service books illuminated by candle. The “choir” was led by Vladyka Dimitri’s rich bass, and myself and now Fr. Deacon covering melody and tenor. It was a “transcendent” event that, in retrospect, seems sadly “Soviet.” Vladyka Dimitri provided an historical explanation at the meal following, and patiently, coffee cup in hand, answered all questions.

          From what I am reading, “travail” is apparently no longer associated with your choice of “what” and “when” to avail yourself and your parish of liturgy, the “spoken” theology of the Church – such that every dogmatic teaching of the Church is available, parsed, detailed, and explained for any who would listen; causing Fr. Schmemann to say: “If we do not sing it, it is not Orthodox.” Nevertheless, I do not read much gratitude for those who “earned” your right to do as you see fit. God will only bless my old friend who, attempting to comfort his crying wife, both sat in the front pew astonished that not one person came to the Liturgy of Holy Saturday; or another who, having accommodated the Greek tradition of serving Holy Unction, when asked by the Slavs if he was “amenable” to continuing the Matins of Holy Thursday, immediately turned and invited everyone – Greeks & Slavs alike – to stay as we sang the Matins in its entirety. These are not the “rigorous zealots” or the proud and self-righteous, but rather are several who have simply “been faithful over a few things.” (Matt. 25:23)

          I want to believe that there are bishops who would so humbly and patiently support their priests in what is proper and what is good – enough with the chastisement and scolding – and priests who would weep, but remain unaffected in their persistence, and “pastors” who know their flock so well, that they serve as a “guide” and not a hindrance.

      • Priest Justin Frederick says

        Since when does a priest need a council’s permission to serve a service? That is crazy.

        I have to agree with Bp. Tikhon. Liturgy without the Office, fulfillment without preparation, is not healthy or normal. It is our own form of what the Roman Catholics have done in reducing their liturgical life to the Mass only. The AAC schedule next week fits right in: one Vespers, one Molieben, one Akathist, and how many Liturgies? A priest isn’t to serve Liturgy without serving (or at least privately reading) Vespers and Matins.

      • Your Grace, why didn’t you stand up to the Council? All that resulted was that you put the priest in the middle — hammered by the Council and hammered by you.

        I have a great deal of sympathy for the priest you described. I’ve served parishes with the same problems. Most of the obscurantism is due to an incomprehension of the Gospel but holding more services won’t correct that. More elementary and sometimes intractable road blocks exist that often reach back several generations and render the priest powerless to change the dysfunction.

        That’s where the bishop comes in. But if you don’t speak to the people, or if you speak but don’t bring the Gospel, than the dysfunction can’t be penetrated.

        I don’t know the parish you are referencing of course, but my hunch is nothing changed. I know priests who believe it is better to do the little good they can than take on the obscurantists and have their heads delivered on a platter. I agree with them.

        • Jane Rachel says

          Every Saturday whether there are people or not, Vespers is served in a parish I know where the people may or may not “know who Jesus is,” and I think many of them do based on their lives, although they may not correctly recite John 3:16. Sometimes a lot of people are there, but usually about 5 or 6. If he were there alone, he would serve Vespers. The priest never thought about whether the people knew Jesus or not. You listen to the words at Vespers, there is no better witness, along with all the other services. If the Council had tried to keep Vespers from being served, the priest would have said no, Vespers are going to be served, and explain why to them. No need for the bishop to step in at all.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          First: “Why didn’t you stand up to the Council?” That, Father Hans, is known as a “double” or “complex” question in traditional logic. On what basis do you insinuate that I “didn’t stand up to the Council?'”
          Second, I apologize for being inaccurate. The Priest did not say to me, “Your Grace”, because, as I now recall, I was not a Bishop at the time, but the Dean of the Pacific Southwest Deanery.
          You, Father Hans have no basis to speak of my hammering the Priest. or of MY putting him in the middle.
          You allude to speaking to the people but not bringing the Gospel to them. Why? Are you implying that I have done that? If so, on what basis? Or was that just a kind of compulsive moralizing on your part?
          And how does one “penetrate” dysfunction, may I ask? Is that bad for dysfunction?
          I’m glad you are standing firmly by your “hunch”. I’ve never had that much confidence in my own hunches.
          I find your last two sentences to be egregious in the extreme. Perhaps they weren’t carefully considered.
          After I became the Bishop, a LOT changed in that parish. It took three Priests in succession to do it, but it’s not at all the place it was. Ask anyone. As Archbishop John lay dying, he asked me to lean over and he whispered, “i was never able to do anything with X parish. They are controlled by the forces of darkness. Do something about them if you can with God’s help!”
          At that time, the ancient bylaws of the parish forbade anyone at all, including a Bishop, Priest or Deacon to speak or address the people within the walls of our Church without the permission of “this council.” Further, they opened all mail, including any personal letters addressed to the Priest at the Church.
          “head on a platter?” That’s WAY over the top. I guess there are Priests never met by me who are fragile and self-dramatizing creatures. I’ll pray for them.
          Thanks for letting me know “where the bishop comes in.” How could I know unless an enlightened Priest like Father Hans had told me first?

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            I should add that the most important ***single**** (but not only) factor in turning that Parish around was not me, but the extremely devout and competent Chancellor I had: (at that time) Father Nicholas (Soraich). As himself an experienced government executive with two MBAs he was able to cow the “oh these priests never had to meet a payroll” types and PERSUADE them to change their ways.

            • Jane Rachel says

              but the extremely devout and competent Chancellor I had: (at that time) Father Nicholas (Soraich)

              Pardon me for speaking out again, but I want to bring attention to this sentence written by Bishop Tikhon. I find it impossible NOT to believe you, Vladyka, when you write this about Bishop Nikolai. I simply cannot see how it can’t be true. You continue to stay true to your words, every time, without fail. You are reasonable and clear, and have spoken out in his defense time and time again over many years. Honestly, what is going on? Since when shouldn’t we ask to know the truth? And whenever you speak out yet again that Bishop Nikolai is not the man he is accused of being, but is a good man, people ignore it. I can’t figure it out but things are not right as long as the truth is being hidden. Broken record, broken record.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              Your Grace. Sorry for the late reply.

              If you were only the Dean, they you weren’t in a position to change anything anyway, which is why nothing changed. The parish could only change once a Bishop became involved directly, which happened through the Chancellor as you indicated, and which confirms what I originally said.

              Additionally, even the simple example you supplied of the priest’s personal mail being opened tells me that the parish functioned by humiliating the priest and indicates that an internal dynamic of humiliation was operating among the parishioners as well. This dynamic does not have to be universal in the parish of course but certainly exists among the handful who have the parish in its dysfunctional grip. There is often an underlying pathology when this occurs, often alcoholism.

              I am glad to hear that you misspoke when you said you were the Bishop over this problem parish. It confirms however, that the priest had a better understanding of his parish than you did at the time. Merely holding more services would not have been able to effect the necessary changes (again, changes that began only when the Chancellor stepped in), the point that started our exchange.

              One more thing: one penetrates dysfunction by speaking the truth, taking the hits that result once the truth is spoken, and the acting decisively within the matrix of that truth. That’s the only way that the dependencies that create the dysfunction can be broken and the dysfunction healed.

              As for the dependents who introduce the dysfunction into a parish and hold it in a bondage contrary to the Gospel, they must either repent (change their way of thinking) or leave. That’s the only way healing can occur.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                Oh, so if I penetrate something I’m being somehow therapeutic? Are there any other pathologies which are healed by penetration? Perhaps my dictionaries and knowledge of colloquial American English are deficient because I don’t see how penetrating anything by anybody is therapeutic except, perhaps when one penetrates a collapsed coal mine to rescue miners.
                You’re partly right about the rector: as he told me, all he wanted to do was last out two more years until retirement with pension. And, no, Reverend Deacon, the rector did NOT have a better understanding of his parish than I did, despite your arbitrary declaration that he did. YOU knew neither the parish nor the priest, but you sit in your diaconal armchair and make your lofty deductions and assessments which follow from nothing I’ve written whatsoever.

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                  You’ve got to cool it a little bit Your Grace. This isn’t a personal attack. My response was made to your statement that increasing the services could heal the problems in the parish you described. I indicated that the problems could not be healed by increasing services but only by the intervention of a Bishop, a point you confirmed when you explained that things turned around only when the Chancellor intervened.

                  Secondly, as you indicated, you misspoke when you initially said that you were the Bishop over the parish when the problems were occurring. The reason I asked you why you didn’t confront the Parish Council instead of pushing the priest to do so was based on your statement that you were the ruling Bishop. Once you offered the correction that you were only the Dean, it became clear why your advice didn’t work although my point that a Bishop’s intervention was required still stands given the success following the Chancellor’s intervention. I presume that if you had been Bishop, then you would have intervened in the necessary and proper ways and taken care of the problem as well.

                  As for dysfunctions that can exist in parishes, it’s not rocket science. They have to be handled sensitively and with discretion of course because real people are involved. But the pathologies are often the same and, if I can use the term, rather mundane — a lot like most sin actually. Proper intervention penetrates the false thinking that informs the dysfunction and the actors perpetrating the dysfunction have to be confronted. That’s the “speaking the truth” part. And didn’t you say that it took some time to “persuade” them of the proper operations of the parish? That’s the “making decisive actions within the matrix of that truth” part.

                  Anyway, that’s about all I have to say without repeating myself.

  6. As much as I would like to believe that something good and inspiring will come out of this AAC in Seattle I do not have a good feeling.

    I would not put it past those who are still out to get Metropolitan Jonah to pull a stunt at the AAC. What type of stunt? An impassioned plea by a senior Protopresbyter from the floor of the Council asking for Jonah to resign? Of course for this to happen a senior Protopresbyter would need to be credentialed by the AAC as a delegate. But since such a priest does not have a parish he would need to be credentialed by a back room procedure, such as being credentialed as the “chaplain of the Metropolitan Council.” He might be their “chaplain” the first ever in the history of the OCA all previous “chaplains” being the Metropolitan, but he is not mine nor that of the AAC!

    Now, I know, please you can call me crazy (there was man on the grassy knoll), that is fine, and I hope I am and all I am writing is the result of having a bad meal last night. But if it is not a dream, if such a manuever is being planned, then this AAC it will go down in history as its last and not a new beginning and certainly not inspiring.

    If such a Protopresbyter also speaks at the DOS assembly in Seattle on Monday, my question would be why? What could this man have to say except that he apologizes for making statements against the Metropolitan. For saying that the Holy Spirit was not present in Pittsburgh. For saying that the Metropolitan is “gravely troubled.”

    That is all he needs to say to me and to the Church, but of course, maybe this is all a bad nightmare. I hope it is.

    • Amos, I would hope the assembly would protest such a speech. When accused of uncanonical behavior, Stokoe likes to quip that the canons are not suicide pacts. Well, Robert’s Rules of Order is not a suicide pact, either.

      It also opens the floor for Metropolitan Jonah or anybody with the credentials to speak to rebuke that senior protopresbyter for his complicity with Stokoe.

      Come on, people. Read the Matins canon for Holy Saturday. There is plenty of reason to have hope. They cannot take that away from us.

      Also, read today’s epistle reading: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.” (Luke 8:16-21)

      • Amen and amen! I would hope that the good people of the Church assembled in Seattle would stand up and call a “Point of Order” and not allow an Assembly that opens with the prayer, “The Grace of the Holy Spirit, today has assembled us” to be hijacked by one who didn’t think the Holy Spirit was present at the last one.

        • Amos, well said. But I actually hope Fr. Thomas Hopko does get up and speak. If he believes his statement, let him say it all to Metropolitan Jonah’s face instead of behind his back.

      • *facepalm* That quotation is the epistle reading for today, but I wrote the citation for today’s Gospel reading by mistake. It should read that it’s from 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. Sorry! Bad Helga!

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Do not have any good expectations from a man who would add a supporting codicil to his attack on Archpriest Joseph Fester and his spiritual endorsement of Mrs. Steve Brown and call the codicil an apology! During Metropolitan Theodosius’s incumbency as First Hierarch, the same man published a long essay on the duties of bishops toward the seminary and its professors. Bishops are duty bound to support the members of the faculty and ”
      THEIR teaching.” The Metropolitan did nothing about it. He was made Metropolitan for that very purpose.
      The first ballot at the Montreal AAC showed these figures for the top three vote-getters::
      Bishop Dmitri 279 votes
      Archbishop Kiprian 57 votes
      Bishop Theodosius 33 votes

      The second ballot showed:
      Bishop Dmitri 348 votes
      Bishop Theodosius 179
      Archbishop Kiprian 99

      The names of Bishop Dmitri and Bishop Theodosius were presented to the Holy Synod and the episcopate went into the Altar. Following its determination, Bishop Gregory came out of the Altar through the Holy Doors and announced the election of Bishop Theodosius. The Dean of SVS was in the Altar with the hierarchs and conversed with some of them individually while their voting took place.
      Had Bishop Dmitri been elected, no “Duties of the Bishops toward the Seminary” would have been published without repercussions. That’s the sort of thing that made the election of Bishop Theodosius so vital.

      • Your Grace, did you see the resolution SVS is sponsoring for this AAC? I don’t think the current administration at SVS would dare to issue a list of demands to the hierarchs like the one you mentioned.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          Helga, the only resolution from SVS I’ve seen is the one resolving that every parish contribute one percent of its income to the seminaries.
          I think it should be left up to each seminary individually to ASK for money when they are in need of it and not as a routine and “morale boosting” commitment to send them money whether they need it or not in an amount that has no relationship to any predicted budget shortfall. Why not single out some of the charities that are ALWAYS in need of money for such regular unsolicited donations? I’m thinking of the Martha and Mary House in California, and of, in particulare, the wonderful I.O.C.C. Why not resolve that the I.O.C.C/ be funded by official assessment, rather than the seminaries?
          I attended SVS for one year in the period when SVS was far-famed for the high quality of its teaching and spiritual life and for its financial POVERTY. There was no Hopko on the faculty then. It was Frs. A. Schmeman and J. Meyendorff (whom Professor Verkhovskoy often impatiently referred to as “The Archpriests”), there was Professor Verhovskoy himself, Professor N. Arseniev, fading away but still an occasional lecturer, the brilliant Christian and professor of New Testament Veselin Kesich, V.N. Litvinovidh, and also Fr. Schneirla, Alex Doumouras and David Drillock. Later, however, as today, the situation turned around: an only adequate faculty and great financial prosperity. SVS now operates on a financial basis superior to that of the OCA for some decades now.
          That seminary shone when it was a tenant on the grounds of Union, or was it General, while the faculty starved. Now the seminary is rich in plant and finances, but relatively poor in faculty. If there are any other SVS or STS resolutions, please, let me know.
          I’ve retained a copy of the printed essay of Protopresbyter T. Hopko on the duties of the bishops toward the seminary. I’ll attach a copy of it to anyone who cares to email me at “”

          • Your Grace, have you read those financial statements that SVS puts out? They are NOT well-off. They are surviving, but they are far from wealthy or comfortable.

      • Again, Your Grace, that election was a travesty of the first order. The late +Dmitri of thrice-blessed memory would have never allowed such conditions to be saddled around his neck. At the very least, the proto-Stokovites would have known they had a fight on their hands.

  7. cynthia curran says

    Well, to me the Russian Empire was very different in some ways from the Eastern Roman Empire, so Russia was never really a third Rome neither was the Holy Roman Empire in the west a Roman Empire. Constantinople still had enough governmental features to be a Roman Empire,however as the centuries past it resembled the Roman Empire in the middle ages. Granted, Russia was heavily influence by the Eastern Empire and of course the Russians use the title of Caesar the Czar while the Eastern in the early years prefer Augustus as the senior emperor and sometimes there was a Junior Emperor was known as Caesar. Diocletian had brought this about. And in the early 7th Basileos was use more than Augustus or Caesar.. The closest to Rome is not Russia in the modern sense but the United States mainly because of military power but also because of the government since the founders of the US borrowed from the better features of the Roman Republic and have a more balance government which prevents the dictatorships from happening here so far.

  8. cynthia curran says

    Actually, Constantine was still tolerant of other religions compared to later emperors. He did ban sacrifices to pagan temples and in his later years encouraged the church over the Pagan Roman State Religion which had several deities including dead emperors.. However, in his earlier years he still use some pagan symbols on his coinage since a lot of folks in the east were still pagan. George is right that Rome particularly among the upper classes in the 4th century was still pagan. Most of the problems of the West had nothing to do with religion since Western Emperors like the East were Christian but many of them didn’t have control of their own governments which probably lead to the downfall of the Western Empire. Actually, the division after a fairly strong emperor like Theodosius the First and his two sons Acadius and Honorius both tended to be weak and ruled by their advisers. This trend was the death of the west which became official in 476 but even during the Goth ruled in the late 5th and 6th Rome and Italy did had a lot of Roman features like a Senate, even a consul and even chariot races and theater.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Neither the Readers Digest nor Our Sunday Visitor nor the World Book Encyclopedia, children’s version, could do a better job of simplifying history. Cynthia’s capsule condensations bring to mind that great comical book, “1066 And All That”, which I highly recommend.
      I would have liked a reference to the Russian Empire being so much more and so much more consistently Orthodox than the Empire of New Rome ever had been. My goodness! Was there ever a heresy that was not adopted by this or that Archbishop of Constantinople, the New Rome or Basileos, or both? What heresy ever became official in the Russian Empire? Why, it took a pagan, Julian the Apostate, to finally remove long after St. Constantine’s passing the current Aryan Patriarch and install a Nicene one at last. And who can forget that it took the conquest of Constantinople by a Muslim Sultan to cause the departure of the Uniate Patriarch Gregory and forcibly install Gennadios Scholarios, an Orthodox, to the Ecumenical (and All-Ottoman)Throne, reducing the other Patriarchs to servant status re: the appointed head of the Christian community (millet).
      Perhaps Russians instinctively rejected the term “Augustus” for the more Biblical Caesar (LL pronunciation Tsezar). Even though a decree may have gone out from the famous Augustus that “the whole world”(actually only territories controlled by him) should be taxed, St. Paul, a Roman citizen, still wrote, “Render unto Caesar…” and not “Render unto Augustus.”

  9. cynthia curran says

    Well, also Byzantium was much closer to the wealth of the East and since the later Roman Empire was agricultural based it was closer to some of the wealthier markets in Asia minor and Egypt. and it was easier to defend the new Constantinople since it was near the sea of Marmara and you could placed a lot of land walls and sea walls there. Rome was only the capitol of the Senate in its last days up until the end of the Goth-Byzantine war in the 6th century. In the 4th Century the emperor was in Milan and in the 5th century in Ravenna. Ravenna was also the capital of the Goths in the 6th century and the Byzantines capital after the reconquest in Italy was Ravenna.

  10. cynthia curran says

    Well maybe the Russians were much better Orthodox than the Eastern Roman Empire-Byzantines were. If they are more Roman I doubt that since the Russian Empire developed in the middle ages and early modern times rather than at the end of the ancient world and the middle ages. In the first century the term Caesar was use more, it was still use in the 6th century along with Augustus. But a ruler could appoint a Caesar like Justin II did for Tiberius while Justin II the emperor was known as Augustus and Tiberius was his heir and was sort of a Jr Emperor. This is a practice from the late 3rd century to probably the late 6th century. In the first century Caesar was use more often as the title of the emperor. I’m not a classicist but read an article by a classical professor Brian Croke that refers to this .

  11. cynthia curran says

    This is a question I have. The last Byzantines including the last Constantine sought union with Rome to protect their city from falling to the Turks in 1453. Now, the western powers with the exception of a small group of hired soldiers from Genoa and Venice didn’t want to helped Constantinople anyways and thought probably it was a losing caused. Why didn’t the Russians help Constantinople during that time period since I admit to not being an expert on what was going on in Russia at the time why didn’t they helped their fellow Orthodox against the Turks. Maybe, Russia thought it would be too difficult to get into conflict with the Ottoman Turks at that time.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      The last Byzantines did not “seek” union with Rome. They ACCEPTED it. They ACCEPTED the union. The last Liturgy celebrated in Agia Sophia was a Uniate Liturgy, with the filioque chanted in the Creed as usual for Constantinople at that time. The last Patriarch, Gregory, fled when the city fell to the Sultan: he fled to Italy where he finished his last days as a cardinal. The Byzantines had confined the Orthodox Gennadios Scholarios to an island monastery where he couldn’t interfere in church affairs. The Russians considered Constantinople to have fallen into heresy (again) and treated the Turkish conquest as God’s righteous punishment. It was their Greek, Constantinople-appointed Metropolitan of Kiev, isidore, who signed the unia of Florence: they drove him out of Russia and elected (and the Great Prince appointed), the first ethnic Russian to be First Hierarch of the Russian Church. It took stiff-necked Constantinople a long time to cave in and grant the Russian Church its autocephaly. It was the fall into heresy of the New Rome that resulted in the Russians to consider themselves the heirs of Orthodox Empire. Moreover the Great Prince married an Orthodox princess of the Byzantine royal family.
      How the Archbishops of Constantinople managed to keep calling themselves bishops of New Rome when there was no God-crowned Caesar OR Basileos in their diocese at all is one of the greatest con-jobs of all time. They were Archbishops of the Muslim Empire. Now they are Archbishops of Turkey, with satellites abroad..

      • M. Stankovich says

        If you contend that they did not “seek” union, or for that matter anything Rome might have offered in lieu of the Turks at the gate, you had best re-read Steven Runciman’s The Fall of Constainople 1453 on the topic.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          Your initial sentence reads: “If you contend that they did not “seek” union, or for that matter ANYTHING Rome might have offered in lieu (sic) of the Turks at the gate..” I repeat, the Byzantines were not seeking union with Rome at the time of the Turkish conquest, because they already had it.

          But Stankovich!: When or where have I ever hinted or stated that the Byzantines sought nothing from Rome? I merely pointed out that at the time of the Conquest of Constantinople, Union with Rome was a long and firmly established fait accompli. Of course the Byzantines in their already semi-vassal state to the Turks sought military help from Rome and the West. What dummy would claim otherwise? Not I.
          As for Runciman’s old romanticized and Byzantinophile slant on the conquest of the city, who has not read it? But, Stankovich, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since he published that sentimental. romanticized thriller with the Emperor fighting to the end on the walls and so forth? His “The Fall of Constantinople” has a kind of curio status among historians by now. Perhaps I will read it again, after all these decades.
          One does not seek what one already has. We’re not seeking independence from England, are we?

          • M. Stankovich says

            As Runciman notes, I believe you would be hard pressed to argue that, among many others, St. Mark of Ephesus or Patriarch Gennadios (who originally supported the Union, and only became convinced of his error by St. Mark) “accepted” union as a “firmly established fait accompli.” Emperor John Paleologos “usurped” the authority of the church to himself lead his delegation in actively “seeking” Union. Fr. Meyendorff indicates that, as Rome refused any theological concession (e.g. filioque), their choices became defend the Faith, or face the Invaders alone. That St. Mark – whom the Church specifically identifies as a Defender of the Orthodox Faith – was the only delegate to refuse the Union, speaks to the credibility of the delegation and their purpose. And the fact that the delegates renounced their signatures upon returning to Constantinople would seem to contradict Union as a forgone conclusion. Constantine – though never “proclaiming “union” – actively pursued any “union”( the original of which the Pope had since rejected as “insincere”) and assistance until the bitter end. Fr. Meyendorff notes that the first act of Gennadios, after being overrun by the Turks, was to renounce the Council of Florence.(and Gennadios is said to be solely responsible for securing the continued safety of the Greeks who remain to this day),

            It seems to me you miss Runciman’s meticulous dichotomy of the moral collapse of the Empire – in the persons of John Paleologos & the last Constantine – and the theological “renaissance” (best detailed by Runciman here) in the persons of St. Mark & Patriarch Gennadios. While both Runciman and Fr. Meyendorff acknowledge “affection for Rome” on the part of John Paleologos and several members of the delegation, ultimately, this was a moral battle won by the perseverance and trust of the faithful of the city of Constantinople, the Church. Obviously the empire was lost, but they successfully defended the Orthodox Faith. There is a lesson here somewhere…

            While I grant that Runciman could “romanticize” – and I believe it is also true of Fr. Meyendorff – I would attribute this to both “poetic license” and a genuine love of history; but certainly no reason to dismiss his scholarship as anything but accurate.

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              The incumbent Patriarch in Constantinople FLED from the city when the Turks conquered it. He FLED to Southern Italy where he ended his days as Cardinal of the Church of Rome. Scholarios, who had been exiled to an island monastery, was summoned by the Sultan appointed as the new Patriarch, thus offfically ending the Union of the Constantinopolitan Church (of which St. Mark of Ephesus was not a member, Ephesus being in the Anttiochene sphere). I have never seen nor may one find anywhere any documentation of anyone renouncing his signature after returning from Florence. Perhaps I have confused the names Gregorios and Gennadios. Whichever Patriarch had the family name “Scholarios” is the Patriarch appointed by the Sultan to replace the Union-supporting Patriarch who fled to Italy. Runciman has become more of a figure of speech than an authority. Neither the Emperor at the time of the conquest nor the Patriarch at the time of the conquest nor the Synod of
              Constantinople at the time of the conquest had not renounced at any time the Union with the Roman Church. It is important to proponents of a certain ideology to come very close to lying when they speak of how the Laos preserved the Church from the filioque, rising up in indignation and rejecting the hierarchs than returned from Florence. That falsehood is continued in the Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs. It was one command by the Islamic Sultan which finally killed the union in Constantinople.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                Furthermore, Scholarios was not even a Deacon, let alone Priest or Bishop, when Sultan Mehmet conquered Constantinople. Since the incumbent Patriarch at that time had fled to Italy to end his days as a cardinal, someone had to replace him. The Sultan picked the most anti-western figure he could find: Scholarios and named him Patriarch. THEN he was made in succession, Deacon, Priest and Bishop. He was installed as Archbishop of Constantinople by the Sultan who handed him his Staff. That custom continued throughout the sojourn of the Church in Imperial Turkey. The Sultan it was, NOT Scholarios, who was responsible for the privileges granted to the Greeks of the Patriarchate, which privileges they kept as long as the Turkish government was Islamic. When they became secular, rather than Islamic, is when all the disasters befell the Greeks (AND the Armenians).

              • M. Stankovich says

                “I have never seen nor may one find anywhere any documentation of anyone renouncing his signature after returning from Florence.”

                As soon as they returned home the Greek delegates for the most part repudiated their signature, when confronted by the general disapproval of the people.

                Meyendorff, The Orthodox Church: Its Past and Its Role in the World Today, p. 52.

                The chronicler Ducas, pro-union in sentiment, portrays the [Greek] prelates, when they were disembarking from the ships on the quays of the capital, as confessing with great bitterness of heart: “We have sold our faith.”

                J. Gill, S.J., The Council of Florence, Cambridge University Press, 1959. p.349.

                “Neither the Emperor at the time of the conquest nor the Patriarch at the time of the conquest nor the Synod of Constantinople at the time of the conquest had not renounced at any time the Union with the Roman Church.”

                Some time early in 1441 a group of those who had signed the decree of Florence issued a manifesto repudiating the union and refusing to commemorate the Pope in the liturgy as long as the Latins retained what had originally caused the schism.

                J. Gill, S.J., p.353.

                [The Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, at the call of Arsenius of Casarea in Cappadocia] are said to have met in Jerusalem in 1443 and condemned the Council of Florence, and at the same time to have addressed a stern letter of admonition to the Emperor.

                J. Gill, P.353-54.

                “It is important to proponents of a certain ideology to come very close to lying when they speak of how the Laos preserved the Church from the filioque, rising up in indignation and rejecting the hierarchs than returned from Florence.”

                John [VIII, Paleologos] discovered, as so many Emperors had discovered before him, the limitations of Imperial power. When he returned to Constantinople he found public opinion so passionately opposed to the Union that not only was it impossible for him to implement it, but many of the bishops who had been known to favour it were shunned by their congregations and migrated to Italy. It was only in the winter of 1452, when the Sultan’s armies were gathering for the final assault on the Christian capital, that John’s brother, Constantine XI, was able at last to have the Union formally proclaimed in Saint Sophia, by a Cardinal who had brought with him a handful of troops to encourage the desperate citizens.

                Runciman, Byzantine Theocracy, p. 160.

                Once again the people of Constantinople, led by many of the bishops and all the lower clergy, refused to accept it. The government was powerless to enforce it: though eventually the Union decree was read out in Saint Sophia in the winter of 1452 [13 years after the Council of Florence concluded], at a ceremony almost entirely boycotted by the Greeks. Little was gained from it.

                Runciman, The Last Byzantine Renaissance, p. 43-44.

                There is no doubt that from the very beginning the mass of the population of Constantinople was hostile to the union of Florence.

                J. Gill, S.J., p.350.
                “It was one command by the Islamic Sultan which finally killed the union in Constantinople.”

                The following year, 1453, the Ottoman Turkish ruler Mohammed II entered the New Rome as a conqueror, and the Byzantine Empire ceased to exist. The first task on the new Patriarch, Gennadios Scholarios, was to repudiate the Union of Florence officially.

                Meyendorff, p.52.

                “The Sultan it was, NOT Scholarios, who was responsible for the privileges granted to the Greeks of the Patriarchate,”

                it was Scholarius’s finest achievement that as the Patriarch Gennadius he worked out with the conquering Sultan a constitution which, for all its oppressive clauses, did preserve the entity of the Greek people and of their Church

                Runciman, The Last Byzantine Renaissance. p. 84

                “The Sultan picked the most anti-western figure he could find: Scholarios and named him Patriarch.

                Scholarius had been born in 1405. He studied for a while under Eugenicus, but was trained as a lawyer and became a Judge-General, in charge of the University. He learnt Latin very thoroughly and became an ardent admirer of Thomas Aquinas. This admiration and his general interest in Latin scholarship affected all his thinking and his methodology.

                Runciman, The Last Byzantine Renaissance. p. 82.

                George Scholarios is an intellectual enigma awaiting modern scholarly investigation. Mark of Ephesus on his deathbed entrusted him with the leadership of the Orthodox party. He accepted, assumed the monastic garb under the name of Gennadios, and was affirmed patriarch by Mohammed II in 1453, after the fall of Constantinople. It is quite possible that men like Scholarios — if Byzantine theology had not died a violent death in 1453 — would have been able to prepare the dialogue in depth, which failed in Florence but which alone could have led to true union.

                Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology. Fordham University Press. 1987. p. 112.

  12. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Question . . . who is going to be blogging on the AAC16 proceeds? OCANEWS will likely be posting news but I don’t trust that site. Any others that are reliable and objective?

    • Well, the first plenary session is tonight, with speeches from a number of people, including His Beatitude. Ancient Faith Radio will be podcasting a lot of these, so that would be a good place to start.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        Podcasts are useless for me since I wear hearing aids. That’s why I was asking if anyone is blogging. A friend of mine is there as observer but she’ll likely be quite busy. And yeah, I had a hand in forming the Deaf Outreach Resolution.

  13. cynthia curran says

    You make a good point that they accepted since they needed helped but didn’t get the help they needed. I’m been critical of the Byzantines here several times.

  14. cynthia curran says

    Well, I agree that Runciman made the last Constantine a romantic figure but by that time few emperors actually ffought in the battles, so the last Constantine had to have some guts since he could have just escaped earlier to the west probably to Italy which some of the upper classes in Constantinople already had.

  15. cynthia curran says

    I mean’t earlier Arcadius and Honorius, sons of Theodosius the First which lead to the permanent division and a factor in the fall of the Western Roman Empire.


    Well, the fix was in from the start. Foiled in Santa Fe but not to be deterred, they got Jonah in Seattle.

    He takes full “responsibility” for all the chaos in the OCA the last three years. He will enter a Pastoral Care Program at St. Luke’s on Nov. 14.

    But what was not announced is that Jonah will be retired as of a decision of a special session of the Synod (nothing holy about it) at the end of November, or first of December.

    The deal was struck last night and this morning.

    And so ends the OCA.

  17. cynthia curran says

    Thanks Bishop Tikhon for more history on the latter Byzantines.

  18. cynthia curran says

    Thanks MR Stankovich on more information on the empeor’s view and other figures in the time period regarding the union with Rome. Also, I forgot to mention that the empress in the Byzantine Empire was known as Augusta which goes back to Augustus’s wife Livia. Powerful Augusta’s are Irene and Zoe who married several times and Sophia who was Theodora’s niece married to Justin II and Sophia influence Justin II on the budget and his fits of insanity he had a mental breakdown explains her influence as well.