GOA to Parishes: “That’s Why We Send You Slavs and Converts”

Is foreign labor cheaper?

Is foreign labor cheaper?

So said His Eminence Savas Zembillas recently as was reported to me by an observer. The site was the GOA parish in Martin’s Ferry, OH. The occasion was the Feast-day of The Life-giving Fountain. Metropolitan Savas had been asked by one parishioner why that parish and others had no full-time priests.

Specifically, His Eminence said “When you consider the number of priests that are quitting and seminarians not being ordained, its staggering. Forget the days of having a married Greek priest here. That is why we are sending you Slavs and converts.”

I don’t believe His Eminence was being flippant or racialist. He was describing a troublesome phenomenon based on certain facts on the ground. I’m pretty sure the questioner wasn’t being discriminatory either. Still, the overall tenor of the entire exchange is troublesome. If I’m understanding it right, the problem is more pervasive than a simple dearth of candidates.

Questions abound: how pervasive (for example) is the expectation among GOA parishioners that only a Greek-American would do as priest? Also, does a GOA bishop assume that “Slavs and converts” will work for less than a Greek-American? Wouldn’t that mean that there are two sets of remunerative guidelines in the GOA: one for Greek-Americans the other for non-Greeks? If so, this doesn’t portend well for the future and may actually explain what the Episcopal Assembly of the United States is essentially a dead letter.



What Zembillas did is let the cat out of the bag (as he and other GOA bishops have been wont to do ever now and then). This “understanding” is comprehended on some instinctual level by the non-GOA bishops, which is why many have let it be known that come what may, they will never accept 79th Street hegemony. On the other hand, this portends that ethnic parishes will most likely never accept a parish priest not of their ethnicity.

Therefore, we’re stuck with a binary phenomenon: neither the majority of the bishops nor those people who are comfortable in their ethnic parishes see any reason for change from the status quo. (To say nothing of the Old World Patriarchates who are not going to let go of their American eparchies any time soon.) The non-GOA bishops see through the ruse –that the stated vision of the Episcopal Assemblies is not one of Orthodox jurisdictional unity regardless of ethnic origins but a stalking horse for Phanariote hegemony.

So why did the Antiochians come back into the Episcopal Assembly process? Has the situation in Qatar been resolved in Damascus’ favor? It’s possible. Then again, Damascus’ hand could be weaker than it looks. My guess is that there may be less here than meets the eye. In my estimation of such events, once a secession happens over a perceived injustice, it can happen again, so I wouldn’t put too much stock in their re-admittance. Think of Quebec and their endless desire for from separation from Canada. They never quite pull the trigger but they get more and more concessions from Ottawa. Maybe the Antiochians have gotten some concessions that we don’t know about. Or it’s possible that they see that the whole process is not long for this world anyway. According to all the official reports, the “Diaspora” is not going to be on the agenda of the Great and Holy Synod of 2016. (This assumes that it will happen in the first place.)

Anyway, that’s all tangential to the issue at hand. Zembillas’ remarks portend a more immediate set of problems. The primary one being a dearth of Christian vision on all sides –both among the hierarchy and among the laity. It’s clear that American Orthodoxy is still stuck in the pre-Acts-15 ethno-tribalist way of thinking. My fear is that because we can’t break out of it, God’s judgment will soon be upon us.


  1. Timothy Wearing says

    It’s been said here before, the Ep. Ass. is about the Greeks getting as many OCA priests to fill their needed spots in the next 5 years. Compound this with the GOA’s own projections that 20-30% or more of their parishes will have to close in 5-10 years. Where did their youth go? Orthodox Churches are shrinking and the continuation of ETHNIC churches can’t continue. Although the Antiochians will have a huge immigrant influx, no one else will. Pan-Orthodox Churches with a central administration of an autocephalous church in America is THE ONLY WAY! It’s past time to throw off all control by foreign bishops and for Americans to run American Churches! Otherwise, we return to the small ethnic ghettos of the 1920’s & 30’s with no real hope! The future of Orthodoxy in American isn’t in Istanbul, Moscow, Damascus or anywhere else beyond America’s shores

    • Michael Bauman says

      I for one hope there will always be distinctive but not substantive differences between the different strains of Orthodoxy in this country. We need better agreement on things such as reception of converts, marriage, etc. but that does not mean a purge of all Greekness, Arabness, Slavic, or ‘merican influences. Each has a great deal to offer that we have the opportunity to draw from.

      The work is ours, it is that simple. So far we have not done it.

  2. Salaries? says

    Where do you see in the bishop’s statement anything about the amount priests are paid by ethnicity?

  3. GOAPriest says

    The future of Orthodoxy in American (sic) isn’t in Istanbul, Moscow, Damascus or anywhere else beyond America’s shores.

    What a silly thing to say.

    The future of the Holy Orthodox Church is in no PLACE and never has been – it is in a person – Jesus Christ, who is its Head, and the Savior of all mankind. The Church lives in an unbreakable unity NOW through the Sacred Chalice – it is not something to come at a future date. The journey of salvation happens locally for each us, in our own parishes. That is where we ought to place our considerable efforts.

    Administrative unity should not become a golden calf to be worshipped.

    And as for what Met. Savvas says, who really cares? It is an irrelevancy and a distraction.

    • Unfortunately, you dismiss Jn 17:21. God’s will for the Church is unity. No, Church unity is not a “golden calf to be worshipped” but rather a directive to be followed. Jesus is the church and we must live in His will. Our shepherds, if they are truly shepherds, are in place to direct and lead us in God’s will. It is their responsibly to have an unequivocal commitment to God’s will and lead us, the Church, in that direction.

      • GOAPriest says


        I said:

        Administrative unity should not become a golden calf to be worshipped.

        not Church unity. There is a distinct difference.

        Does jurisdictionalism de facto equal strife and discord? Certainly there can be peace among the various jurisdictions in the US, and in fact, for the most part there is peace. St. John Chrysostom in quoting the passage you claim I “dismiss,” says,

        ‘What is the meaning of ‘in us’? ‘In their faith in Us.’ For, since nothing gives all men such grave offense as dissension, He BROUGHT IT ABOUT that they should all be one. ‘What is that then? Did He really accomplish this?’ you will ask. Yes, He did accomplish it very well. For, all those who believe through the Apostles are one…if they keep to the same precepts as their Teacher, those who hear will know the Master by reason of the disciples; but if they are in strife with one another, other men will deny that they are disciples of a God of peace…”

        Whatever jurisdiction you find yourself in, we share communion with one another in the Body of Christ, say the same Symbol of Faith, believe and worship in the way, according to Holy Tradition. We are already one in faith, and that is what is most important.

        • Pere LaChaise says

          Yes, GOA, unity of faith is most important, of course. But your panicked urge to cover up this painful issue with such a transcendental nostrum is disingenuous, misdirecting us away from crucial issue: the actual governance of parishes and dioceses, which everyone admits, has reached a crisis portending demographic collapse.
          Bp. Savvas, like so many other church leaders imbued of entitled superiority sneers at ‘Slavs & converts’ and offers no solution to the putative dearth of clergy. The sacred cow here is ethnophyletism, which has well-nigh killed Orthodox witness in the diaspora. Every year, more seminary grads take secular jobs because of such lack of leadership, which ought to bring priests together with parishes. Instead, both languish and the churches shrivel on the vine, and godly men’s vocations evaporate. A leader should provide a vision and direction. Savvas gives neither, only a smug cynicism. I sense that he despises even his homogeneia.

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Jn 17:21 is about jurisdictional organization?

    • Timothy Wearing says

      Dear GOAPriest:

      Your post gives you away. You cannot be in the GOA; ROCOR more likely. Any theological education?

      • GOAPriest says


        I have no idea what you are trying to say…and yes, I am in the GOA.

  4. Sigh. I wonder if someday our bishops could just pretend to be bishops. Agree to build all ethnic supper clubs not less than ten miles away from all churches so Christ can be worshipped without distraction. Some years ago I reasoned all Anglicans couldn’t ever be anything else was that they had to compromise all their beliefs. The Tudor dynasty had invented Anglicanism just that way so no dogmatic belief could ever be authoritative. How sad for them, I thought, wherever, whenever they go they have to carry along Tudor baggage. Now I see what it’s like to have even more stupid luggage.

    All Orthodox are forced to carry the garbage of the late and defunct eastern Roman empire *AND* the Ottoman empire. No bishop ever suits up without the bizarre spectacle of playing dress up like the emperor of a country gone for 500 years. Imagine how funny Episcopalians would think it was if their bishops were expected to dress like Henry (or Elizabeth!). If our bishops don’t dress like a king, they wear a hat imposed on them by the Turk. How many years will it be before they stop dressing like Muslims run our church? Grow UP. If there are aren’t any reasons to stop being an Episcopalian, that is, if our bishops are as dhimmi as the Episcopalians are dimwitted, I can’t see much reason to encourage people to convert to this.
    The only thing our clerics seem to have going for them is they understand only normal marriage is possible.

    • Johann Sebastian says

      bob says:
      May 25, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      “If our bishops don’t dress like a king, they wear a hat imposed on them by the Turk. How many years will it be before they stop dressing like Muslims run our church? Grow UP.”

      So, bob, what would you like to see? Tuxedos? T-shirts and jeans? Nehru jackets and alligator-skin boots? If that’s what you want, tune in to Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, or hop on over to the Saddleback “church.” Otherwise, quit whining.

      • Johan,
        How about a business suit and a tie or an academic gown that would reflect that the priest obtained an MDiv or a THM?

        • Pere LaChaise says

          This is an absurdly tangential line of reasoning. Real leadership is needed and we need to focus our criticism accurately.

        • Will Harrington says

          So, they should dress either like everyone else or in a western, rather than eastern medieval style? Whatever the origins, there is meaning to the vestments, after all, the Priest is standing in the place of the King of Kings. I would prefer not to adopt Calvinist style iconoclasm.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            True, but a good black vestment with a Geneva collar is a good-looking rig– on a Presbyterian parson!

            But you never see that anymore, either. Just coat and tie. Not the same thing……

            • Johann Sebastian says

              Geneva collar for choir dress. Not a bad idea, actually.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Timor Mortiss and Johann Sebastian: The Geneva GOWN is worn by many Protestant ministers and choir members. It is like a Riassa, but with accordion pleats and balloon-like sleeves and has no collar. Such ministers may wear a plain white dress shirt with necktie. The collar may be button-down or even wing-tipped. I suppose some ministers who affect the Roman collar or the Anglican dog-colllar on a black shirt with a black suit might thrown a Geneva GOWN on over that outfit, too. Yes, some, particularly English, choirs are clothed in the Geneva GOWN with a wimple-like top that surrounds the neck like an Anglican dog-collar. The Geneva gown is what is worn by most academics when they are awarded degrees symbolized by cloths of various colors. Some perhaps vain ministers like to affect black velvet topping here and there on their pleats.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  The usual garb is the gown over shirt and tie, as you say.

                  Now and then you will see the tabbed collar, or just the “Geneva tabs”, but that has been rare in modern times outside of special settings.

      • JSeb. Could you please explain to me the reasoning behind dressing bishops up in emperors clothes?
        especially since it was the early followers of Jesus who refused to bow down to various emperors and as a consequence lost their lives. Jesus probably walked around in the street clothes of his day. And He told us that a servant cannot be greater than the master. So should the servant dress in better clothes than the master?

        • Johann Sebastian says

          Read Romans 14 and Luke 17 and ask yourself where the real problems are.

        • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

          JSeb. Could you please explain to me the reasoning behind dressing bishops up in emperors clothes?
          especially since it was the early followers of Jesus who refused to bow down to various emperors and as a consequence lost their lives.

          They didn’t refuse to bow to emperors (as emperors), they refused to bow to statues of the emperors erected as gods. Big difference. Thus the pre-Nicene Fathers wrote approvingly of monarchy, saying that it was fitting that the Roman Republic died before the birth of Christ, served in the armies (see all the soldier saints), prayed for the victory of the Roman armies over the illegal immigrants, etc.


          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Not to mention our Lord’s admonition to render to Caeser what is properly Caesar’s, and to God what is His.

            The Epistles contain more than one injunction to obey the Emperor.

            But to call the Emperor divine: never.

    • Rdr. Thomas says

      Again someone who thinks that “modernizing” will fix these issues. Both “Bob” and the GOA should ask themselves why the “converts” and “Slavs” are willing to do what ethnic Greeks are apparently unwilling to do. Analyze that problem and you’re closer to REALLY finding out what’s wrong.

    • Bob, while we’re talking about baggage, how about all those silly crosses we see everywhere? Why do we continue to adorn our churches with a barbaric Roman execution tool? Can you imagine having tiny golden electric chairs hanging from chandeliers? Because it’s basically the same thing.

      And this horrible Byzantine chant, get rid of that too. We need to dump the baggage. Burn everything that’s old. Electric guitars all around, because anything that’s not modern is silly.

      There is nothing more grown-up than being a mindless revolutionary, am I right?

      Or we can do the real grown-up thing and accept what God has given to us as providential. If that means we wear the symbols of our oppression on our proverbial shirtsleeves, so be it. It wouldn’t be the first time. The cross, reliquaries, feast days, and a thousand other things are “baggage” from times of oppression. Either accept that as a hundred generations did before you, or go join a sect that will offer you pleasant feelings and spiritual candy in place of the Cross.

      • Johann Sebastian says

        Note to bob:

        The door’s always open. If you want to leave, go right ahead. If you want a Wal-Mart or Target experience in church, there are plenty of places for that. Just not in the Orthodox Church.

        • Michael Bauman says

          But is it? If salvation is through the Church then the door may be open, but where it leads is not something I would want anyone to embrace. As one who spent 40 years in the desert before coming to the Church, I know who tricky the shoals are outside even when they are accompanied by all sorts of siren songs. Even when there is the appearance of real holiness.

          The door is always open into the Church but only those who seek Jesus Christ and Him crucified are likely to stay even if their bodies are here.

          We should not be so quick to dismiss those who object or their objections. Usually, there is an unanswered question behind objections that can be found if the correct questions are asked.

          The answer to all real questions can be found in the Church if one really wants an answer and not one’s own ego and will affirmed. John’s answer was really quite good except for the middle two paragraphs.

      • GOAPriest says

        John and Johann – Perfectly stated.

  5. Engaged observer says


    Thanks for posting this, but anyone who has any experience with the GOAA will not be surprised by this news. For many Greek-Americans, being Greek is synonymous with being Orthodox, and the idea of having a non-Greek priest is as bizarre as putting Sweet-n-Low in one’s coffee (if you’re a coffee connoisseur).

    I’m half-Greek and grew up in the GOAA, but as I grew closer to my faith and hungered for a deeper spiritual life, I simply couldn’t find it in the GOAA, at least not in the parishes that I experienced. Many (or most?) GOAA parishes don’t serve Vespers, ever. Many better people before me have written about the artificial-ness of organ music in Greek parishes (my personal pet peeve). I grew tired of coffee hour being a time for Greek women trying to fix me up with their daughters (I ended up marrying a wonderful “American” girl). I couldn’t care less about the “Leadership 100” or being an “Archon of the E.P.” — who wants to go to church wearing a suit and having a silly medal hanging around one’s neck?

    I feel sad for those in the GOAA for whom Orthodoxy is synonymous with Greek-ness, since there is the potential to miss out on so much else that the Orthodox world has to offer, from Ste. Marie Skobtsova of Paris to St. Herman of Alaska to the writings of blessed Fr. Gheorghe Calciu.

    Many (but certainly not all) Greek-Americans need to broaden their horizons and need more Slavic and “convert” priests, in my opinion. Kudos to Met. Savas for providing them.

    Χριστός Ανέστη!

    • Diogenes says

      I couldn’t agree more — and I’m a “cradle” Greek Orthodox, both of whose parents were immigrants. Greek parishes here in the New York area are little more than Greek social clubs that conduct religious services. Our parishes conduct Doxologies for Greek Independence Day and October 28th (“OXI” Day) and memorial services on the anniversary of some calamitous event in modern Greek history, but never on American holidays like July 4th, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, or Memorial Day. Heaven forbid we thank God for the blessed liberty that this country has provided the Greek Orthodox to worship as they please and to commemorate those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to create and preserve their liberties. Pan-Orthodox services are unheard-of in many, if not most, of our parishes. Yes, the Greek Archdiocese parishes had better broaden their horizons in a hurry because in a generation or two they’ll have withered completely.

    • GOAPriest says

      GOAA parishes don’t serve Vespers, ever.

      Simply not true. Of the four GOA parishes in my area, three, including mine, celebrate Saturday evening Great Vespers. And organs are not present in every GOA parish. Of the four in my area, only one “plays” an organ during the Divine Liturgy.

      How many OCA parishes celebrate Matins at the appointed time? There is plenty of non-traditional practices to go around, in all of the jurisdictions.

      And if one wishes to look, he can find ethnic clubbing in all the jurisdictions. To imply it is in any way limited to Greeks suggests someone not very well traveled. Even in predominately convert parishes, one finds a sort of ethnicity.

      And no, I am not defending such attitudes. Just saying it is not merely a GOA phenomenon.

      • Engaged observer says


        Thank you for the information on Greek parishes serving vespers. But the full sentence of my comment above is: “Many (or most?) GOAA parishes don’t serve Vespers, ever.” I believe this to be true. In my years of living various places across the American continent (east coast, the south, the west coast, the northeast), I still have not encountered a GOA parish that offers regular vespers on Saturday evening as part of the weekly liturgical cycle.

        I agree, it is not merely a GOA phenomenon. Some inner-city OCA and Moscow Patriarchal parishes do not offer regular vespers (the reason I’ve been given is that parishioners no longer live near the churches and “no one would come.” But there are thousands of local non-Orthodox city-dwellers who may benefit from a vespers service and exposure to Orthodox Christianity — yet, I digress).

        In my experience — and I’d love for people to show me that I’m wrong — the “norm” in the GOA is no regular vespers on Saturday evenings, while the “norm” in many other jurisdictions is to have regular vespers on Saturday evenings. I’m aware that parishes in some of the smaller Orthodox jurisdictions do not have regular vespers, either.

        A good rule of thumb that I’ve deduced over the years is that the more a certain parish is interested in missionizing and in gaining converts, the more likely it is to have vespers and a fuller cycle of liturgical services. The converse I think is also true: the more that any given parish is interested in being an “ethnic club,” the more likely it is to be a Sunday-morning-only-service parish.

        Again, I’d love to be shown that I’m incorrect, but this is what I’ve deduced over the years.

        • GOAPriest says


          You may be correct. Growing up in the GOA, my home parish never served Great Vespers, however I have served Great Vespers for all my years as a proistamenos. And most of my clergy friends in the GOA do the same. However, it is also the case that Matins, a longer, and hymnologically richer service, is served in most GOA parishes, whereas in many other places, it is not served. If I was forced to choose, I would attend Matins – you get “more for your money”!

          Yesterday evening I served a Vigil for the Leavetaking of Pascha. How many parishes celebrated yesterday evening or today? Probably not many. If we want those services, we should encourage our priests, and ask him to serve it. Tell him you will come and bring a few other friends. You can make a difference. Many priests mistakenly do not serve services they feel will be poorly attended – they are human beings and often feel dejected by poor attendance, certainly a devil’s plot against them. As a faithful Orthodox Christian, you can help him with your words of encouragement and your own excitement for and appreciation of the services.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Our parish had the Leavetaking Vigil. Alas, it was at 11:30 pm; I should have been there but wasn’t…..

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Let me offer observations as a newly-chrismated Orthodox.

          I don’t think of myself as a “convert”, having been an active Christian believer for many decades, but the word is hard to avoid. I tell folks I’ve joined the Orthodox church, not that I’ve converted to Orthodoxy.

          But to a Protestant coming into orthodoxy, there are some strong attractions provided by a parish that has a full, or nearly full, cycle of weekly services. These are things that one didn’t actively think about over the years while one was attending liturgies now and then.

          First is just having several services available during the week, something essentially unknown in mainline Protestantism since forever; you just have a lot more opportunities for formal worship. Secondly, the Vespers services have a lot of scripture in them. Indeed, I point out to my Protestant friends that you will hear far more scripture read in an Orthodox church (including at Divine Liturgy), than you will ever hear in any Protestant church, especially if you go to Vespers regularly.

          Third, the Vespers services are short and “to the point”; an hour or less. So they are easy to fit in to the active life of fully-employed people. Eat dinner at 6; Vespers at 7 (I include all of the evening services, such as Wednesday Paraklesis– I have no idea what in strict technicality are vespers– to me it means evening services during the week.) Back home at 8.

          Fourthly, the Vespers services have great variety. Following the cycle of these weekday services adds a lot of variety which a life-long Protestant sometimes feels missing if all one goes to are Divine Liturgies.

          But a lot of evangelism is required– evangelism of the existing congregation, that is, to get them to the evening services, now that an active and dynamic priest is doing the great work of having them always on the calendar!

          I am also talking about an urban church in a mid-sized city where most members are in town or in nearby suburbs. Indeed, the priest is several miles away in the suburbs and he always makes it!

      • Dear GOA Priest,

        I have risen at 3 am while visiting a monastery to begin the Services that contain Matins. If it comes before 1st hour, and 1st hour is at 6AM, then it is a pretty early service, no? I do not think the words “appointed time” mean what you think they mean.

        Parishes, I suppose, make some accommodations for the laity that must be about their work “in the world.” It is likely that NO parish celebrates the daily cycle exactly at its traditional time. I would guess that even some monasteries would be hard pressed to do so.

        Engaged Observer relates his own experience and clearly states that. He says he hungered for a deeper spiritual life, and went looking for it.

        Your argument does not negate his experience. Further, a defense that “everyone else does it (or doesn’t do it)” is hardly a compelling recommendation. My Mother didn’t buy that excuse when I tried it, and now I see why.

        We can squabble over organs, and services, and ethnicity vs Orthodoxy all day long. But is is all but a distraction from what is needful. I believe that the day is coming when persecution of Christians will be the glue that binds together. And all this dross will be burned off.

        • GOAPriest says

          My point was simply, the trite observation that GOA parishes do not celebrate Vespers (though many in fact do, including my own and the ones near me) can be met with a similar observation about OCA parishes and Matins.

          I am well aware of the time of day matins is celebrated in monasteries – however, we are talking about parish life, not monasteries.

          I never tried to negate the experience of Engaged Observer, just that it was his experience and that there are plenty of parishes which offer what he is looking for.

          Parish life is limited by the parish you attend and the priest assigned to it. That is not news. If your parish is spiritually dead, get out as fast as possible. There are many vibrant GOA parishes, as well as many in other jurisdictions. If you want to enjoy a spiritually edifying parish life, find one and attend it. And appreciate the priest who serves it and pray for him.

  6. Tim R. Mortiss says

    Here’s my GOC parish.

    The priest is a man in his 40s with a big family. He is fluent in Greek, indeed, the Greeks say very impressively so. He is the son of Hindu immigrants, and was at least a nominal Hindu himself until he become Christian (and Orthodox) in his 20s.

    He conducts services all week long, and, and far as Vespers are concerned, Wednesday Paraklesis and Friday and Saturday vespers are the norm. (And that’s in the “off” seasons!) (Still pews here, but the organ was pulled out 25 years ago.)

    And for some of our “neo-ethnic” revisionists here, who lately have been complaining about how America stripped them of their identities, our priest, in preaching yesterday about Memorial Day, turns out to be a serious Civil War student, who has done three long trips to Gettysburg, who has sat many times at Little Round Top, and who beautifully worked the sacrifices of both sides in the Wheatfield into his sermon. It did me good to hear this after the ever dolefully-countenanced who are a subset here have been pronouncing their laments lately.

    There is a problem, though: not nearly as many of the congregation are going to those Vespers services as should. But we refugees certainly are, and are very grateful for them.

    • Very unusual-but great. Where are you located again?

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Tacoma, Washington. Father Seraphim Majmudar, born Nitant Tex Majmudar.

      • Johann Sebastian says

        What’s so terribly unusual about it? The first Christians of India were of the east Syriac rite. Although different from us, there is more “cultural compatibility” between Byzantine rite Christianity and the people of South Asia than there is with the Portuguese and English variants of Christianity that eventually supplanted the indigenous Syriac practices.

        • “He conducts services all week long, and, and far as Vespers are concerned, Wednesday Paraklesis and Friday and Saturday vespers are the norm. (And that’s in the “off” seasons!)”

          That’s unusual first off and for your second implication which I wasn’t commenting on but now that you mention it-how many Greek Orthodox Indian Priests do you know?
          I know a few, but they are of Indian churches . . . .

          • Johann Sebastian says

            Well, sorry for the misplaced comment, then.

            • Michael Bauman says

              I evidently did not make myself as clear as I needed to be. The city in which this is taking place has a diverse set of Orthodox churches and (wonder of wonders) they actually get together on a regular basis to share with one another and develop coordinated activities in the larger community as well. That includes priests serving in the altars of other jurisdictions with the host rubrics ruling of course.

            • no worries . . .

          • Pere LaChaise says

            Point of information:
            Fr. Seraphim Majmudar did not come from the GOA and his resume does not conform to GOA type. He was a lay member of the AOCNA (AEOM) parish of Ss. Peter & Paul in Ben Lomond, CA, and joined the Jerusalem Patriarchal parish of St. Lawrence that succeeded after the split in 1999. He was ordained after studying in monasteries in Palestine in the manner the JP prefers, and served at his home parish until the eparchy to which JP parishes in the US belong were taken under the Phanar. Later he was assigned to Tacoma.

            Thus his practice does not resemble that common to the GOA.
            But this is beside the point. The issue at hand is the do-nothing policy of hierarchs ethnarchs who oversee the death of phyletistic communities without raising any objection but instead smirk sarcastically.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              “His resume’ does not conform to GOA type” This is true!

              Starting with rolling on his skateboard past an Orthodox church and hearing some wonderful singing therefrom and stopping to take a look inside……..

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          I just report it as a fact; I don’t think I gave it your characterization of “unusual”. I do suspect, though that it is uncommon.

  7. Monk James says

    About thirty years ago I was invited to lead a free-ranging discussion in place of the usual adult education hour in an OCA parish I was visiting. Out of the blue, one lady asked — maybe more accurately, demanded to know — ‘Why do we have so many convert priests and seminary students?’ (Her son-in-law was/is a GOA priest, although I didn’t know that at the time, but that factoid helps us understand the context a little better.)

    That was not the sort of question I expected, so I didn’t ‘have an answer ready’. I pray that the Lord will give me the words people need to hear, especially when I’m asked to preach or otherwise speak in public, and this event was no exception. So, trusting in God, I asked her if she had a son. (We Irish are allowed to answer a question with a question, you know.)

    No, she had no son. ‘Well, if you did have a son, would you encourage him to study for the priesthood?’

    ‘Absolutely NOT!’ ‘Why not?’

    ‘We all know how badly priests are treated. Why would I expose any son of mine to such a miserable life?’

    By now, the priest of the parish was trying to make himself invisible, anticipating some sort of calamity to ensue my next remark, which turned out, again, to be a question: ‘And just who is it treating our priests so badly?’

    The bottom line, I suppose, is that seminary students who haven’t grown up in one of our parishes are blissfully unaware of the anticlerical, masonic or otherwise, attitudes of some of the laity. Historically, as young priests, some of these men have gone out (much too literally) as ‘sheep among wolves’ instead of as shepherds among sheep, but this — thank Heaven! — is changing.

    Until recently, for example, it was possible for man to convert to orthodoxy late in college, go directly to a seminary, emerge with an MDiv and a wife three years later, and be assigned to a parish — never in his life having been a financially responsible active member of a dynamic eucharistic community.

    As I understand it, the OCA (at least) seminaries now require applicants to have been parishioners for at least three years before they can be considered for admission.

    This is a good thing, but such a stipulation wouldn’t be necessary if there weren’t so many converts still applying. So, like Met. Savas, we’re making some adjustments, if not actually solving the problem, which is still in need of some definition.

    • Hyperbole says

      I don’t believe the 3 years thing is true, actually, at least not at SVS. There are quite a few people here who were not Orthodox for 3 years prior to admission- in fact, there are students who aren’t Orthodox at all.

    • So is the issue too many converts in our seminaries, or is it too many converts who haven’t been Orthodox long enough because those are two different circumstances.

      • Other other Matthew says

        The seminarians and recently-ordained I encounter most frequently are OCA, and converts. They are decent chaps, on the whole, but they don’t inspire confidence in me for the future of the church. To generalize, they are pious and serious about the faith but in a way that is, to me, disconcertingly superficial. They can quote scripture, the liturgical texts, and the church fathers like nobody’s business. They are up on church history. They are eager to get everything right. On the other hand, they are prone to too much public gossip about church politics. Do they “pray continually”? Do they lead by example? I wonder….

  8. Michael Bauman says

    I know of a GOA parish that was quite large. They built a new temple in the suburbs of the city. When it came time to move, about half of the parish did not want to move so they stayed in the older but still quite good building. They needed a priest. There was a convert parish in town who had an extra priest. They asked for the priest to come and serve. It worked out so well they decided to keep the situation. Although the priest is learning Greek, he did not know any to begin with. I am sure the full cycle of services will be served.

    • So the priest will learn Greek, not have any idea what he is saying, just to appease a group of people who themselves probably don’t understand liturgical Greek. Sounds crazy to me. Faith comes by hearing the word of God, says the apostle Paul. To hear we must understand.Hearing and listening are 2 different things. A Christian Church does not worship a language or a culture but rather Jesus. Jesus Himself said you ” cant server 2 masters because you will love one and hate the other”.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Did I say liturgical Greek? Believe me, if the parish wanted a “Greek” priest rather than an Orthodox one, it wouldn’t have happened. Although a convert, he comes from the Patriarchal Bulgarian Archdiocese.

  9. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Let me suggest a practical rule:

    If a parish goes 10 years (or 15, say) without giving the Church a new priest from its ranks, that parish will not get another pastor until it does so.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Wow, that’s a rough one. My home parish did not produce a priest for about 60 years. Even with some pretty good pastors along the way. Still only have three. Yet the Holy Spirit has seen fit to bless us with an extrodinary choir, marvellous chanters, a fine and long serving Dean(whom we would not have had by your rule) and a series of really good young priests who we raise up for others. We have an extensive charitable out reach locally and internationally, an Orthodox school and a monastery just beginning. Just not many called to the priesthood so far.

      Our congregation is made up of an amazing variety of ethnic and social types and backgrounds and we do a pretty good job of making most folks welcome–even folks with spikey hair bad clothes, questionable tattoos and a fondness for guns, knives and other implements of destruction as well as folk who are rich, accomplished and civilized. Most are more than nominal.

      By your rule, we might not exist at all.

      • Jeff Beranek says

        Would a parish get partial credit for readers, subdeacons and deacons?

        • Jim of Olym says

          My old mission in La Habra, CA produced two priests, one monk and me a reader, in only a few years before it folded as it had so few people. Oh yes, a nun also!
          One never know the fruits before they ripen!

          • Michael Bauman says

            The most dedicated people left. Maybe there ought to be a rule that anyone wanting to leave a mission parish replace themselves before they leave. They leave behind a couple of God children.

            Fact is we don’t know what God has in mind.

  10. Gregory Manning says

    If memory serves, Fr. Hopko once remarked that it was the duty of the priest to offer the services of the church so as to give the people the opportunity not to come.
    When I was living in Denver back in the late 90’s I attended a ROCOR church whose youngish priest (a convert) was at the church every week day, in the morning and evening, praying the services. I was often able to attend the morning services and, along with the deacon, were the only ones there. I once asked Father if he was discouraged by the poor attendance. He did what he always did: made excuses for everyone. But then he allowed that he just loved praying the services and would continue even if nobody ever showed up.
    I just finished re-reading Archimandrite Tikhon’s “Everyday Saints and Other Stories”. Fr. relates the story of one Fr. Archimandrite Antippus. Father Antippus loved, LOVED akathists. So much so that he carried a satchel full of them around with him everywhere (communists forbade the publishing of such texts so Fr. only had akathists that had been hand-copied by various people and given to him.) Whenever he had a chance during the day he would sit somewhere and pray/sing these akathists. Laymen at the time also loved akathists and would ask Fr. to say this one and then that one. He never tired of it. Monks assisting at the services often despaired of making it to lunch. I have heard other such anecdotes and stories and I wonder what it is about our Church and her praying tradition that produces such individuals with such zeal ! I resolved to attend the services at whatever church I could find them, but I was too late. Few do them and those that do have shortened them. At one church the Saturday Vigil is a reader’s service. If you have a priest who offers the services, go. Whether you feel like it or not.

    • Antiochian Friend says

      Mr. Manning,

      Thank you for this most edifying post. Although it should never be a substitute for attending the services, it may be worth noting that the Internet has made it possible to hear the services even if nearby churches don’t offer them. A number of parishes stream their services, and the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration (an OCA/ROEA women’s community in Ellwood City, PA) streams many of its services and then posts them to YouTube. Information on the live services can be found at . This service does require the installation of the UStream app. The monastery’s YouTube channel is .

    • Antiochian Friend says

      Mr. Manning,

      Thank you for this most edifying post. Although it should never be a substitute for attending the services, it may be worth noting that the Internet has made it possible to hear the services even if nearby churches don’t offer them. A number of parishes stream their services, and the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration (an OCA/ROEA women’s community in Ellwood City, PA) streams many of its services and then posts them to YouTube. Information on the live services can be found here. The monastery’s YouTube channel is here. May God bless them and the faithful donate to them for this good work.

  11. It facinates me that people anywhere would ask why there are “so many” convert clergy. With density like that how can light escape? It’s like the Antiochians breezily pointing out that 2/3 of their clergy are converts. This is meant to claim evangelism when it actually means they don’t raise laymen very well. If people don’t actually believe what the Church teaches why does it surprise anyone that their community doesn’t give rise to teachers of that faith? Kicking dead horses doesn’t work any better now than it ever did. Like Catholics at St Patrick’s church who are annoyed at the Vietnamese accent of the new priest, you know?

    • Michael Bauman says

      Bob, I know that the folks in my parish believe what the Church teaches. There is a great value in building a community that is stable, living, attractive and willing to follow good leadership. It is not all about the priests.

      Come visit some time: St. George, Wichita, Ks.

  12. I was always under the impression that the work of the Church is to pray. We somehow seem to forget that in our desire to be busy doing something besides praying. And I am guilty of this.

  13. I think it’s important to consider why millennials might not want to become priests. The job market doesn’t look so hot, at least in the case of the OCA. With so many parishes in decline, a legacy of major monetary (and other) scandal in recent memory, and continuing poor administration from which there appears to be no end – not to mention seriously out-of-date seminary facilities – I am not sure I would want to enter into that field regardless of my calling.

    As for the convert seminarians and priests – they may not have been around long enough to remember “what was”, or to care about how it has affected the people at large. Their sometimes foolhardy excitement and zeal to share in the faith, and share their faith with others, can be a huge driving factor for them. Love is blind!

    • Johann Sebastian says

      I don’t think the millennial crowd has such a practical mindset.

      Four advanced degrees in basketweaving don’t offer much opportunity in the way of marketable skill and gainful employment, yet given the popularity of pointless fields of study that merely delay “real life” and rack up the debt tab…

      A calling to clergy life demands a purposeful mindset, one with noble intentions yet grounded in practicality. That isn’t part of the “culture” of the present generation, by and large.

      • Student debt is rising because the cost of education is far outpacing inflation (there are a variety of reasons for this – more funds available for student loans, more “amenities” at colleges, higher demand for colleges and not much in the way of increasing supply). Undergraduate degrees remain a good investment overall in terms of lifetime earnings, and so do many MA degrees which may sound like basketweaving to you but are necessary to get certification for some jobs.

        The millennial caricature you describe is just that – a caricature. Plenty of millennials get involved in their communities, join the military, go into education, work for charities and other non-profits, etc (and no, I’m not a millennial, I’m part of Gen X). There is no Great Depression/WWII calling them to massive sacrifice like the Greatest Generation, and no major social movement like the Baby Boomers saw. But in terms of “noble intentions yet grounded in practicality” they’re pretty much average.

        • Johann Sebastian says

          Thus spake Matt:

          “Plenty of millennials get involved in their communities, join the military, go into education, work for charities and other non-profits, etc.”

          You’re right. Plenty do. But for every one that does, there are scores more that don’t and ride their high horses down Entitlement Lane while texting on their newfangled idiotphones, no less.

          And regarding your reference to the Baby Boomer generation: the mess started with their “social movements.” Now the millennials (whatever happened to Generation Y?) have resorted to inventing social causes to match every shade of the rainbow, so to speak.

  14. Karen Menounos The Stankovich Troll says

    Just a quick word about the slavs in a GOA parish, we had one in a parish i attended. It was nice, it offered us a peak at a different piety and Orthodox culture, and he loved us Greeks, and we loved him back.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      HE, not “it” was nice. He offered you a peek, not a peak or pique. Did you forget to write, “Some of my best friends are Slavs?” Do you know what it actually was that the man loved about “you Greeks?”

      • Isa Almisry says

        Your Grace forgot “pick.” As in “nitpick.” Which you did remember.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Isa, how careless! “Pick” does not rhyme with pique or peek or peak, as long as you’re examining my extremely small points and trying to emulate the process. I should have thanked “Karen”, etc., for not trawling this time, though. . M. Stankovich sure got her or his number! She or he’s the large, economy-, industrial-strength trawler here—– no doubt about it.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        No, “it” was nice to have him in the church; perfectly good construction.

        A very uncharitable mindset to read things in such a way…..

  15. M. Stankovich says

    I could not find a safe, “out of the way” place to post this, so I picked here. I have a very humble request to make of all who read this post. My dear friend and brother, David Maliniak, a faithful, gentle man of the OCA Diocese of NY/NJ is to be ordained to the Holy Diaconate this Sunday. Through no fault of his own, he complete the Late Vocations Program not once, but twice; the second time, faithfully making the journey from from mid-NJ to Philadelphia! David was a friend of Blessed Vladyka Basil (Rodzianko), accompanying him to the Holy Land for Holy Week and Pascha, and he was mentored through this long process by Fr. David Vernack who is a pastoral joy. I ask for your prayers and remembrance of David and his family on this great occasion, and if Vladyka Tikhon happens to reads this, I ask especially for his prayers and blessing. Axios!