A False Witness

It goes without saying that we are living in tumultuous times. As bad as the political situation is, we should remember that there is a spiritual element to all this, as well. Simply put, the closing of our churches, the cessation of our divine services, and the prevention of the people of God to meet together in praise and worship has failed to launch an assault on the evil being unleashed throughout the world.

We Orthodox in America bear further blame because we have failed to address our own ecclesiastical burriers.

Fr Josiah Trenham, whose podcasts are growing in popularity (and justifiably so), recently produced a short video about how the Church in America is failing in its witness.  According to Fr Josiah, our jurisdictional irregularities are turning people away from the Church. Especially now, when they need it the most. It is nothing less than a scandal and an affront to our Lord and Savior.

In my opinion, we are like that faithless servant who was given one talent and chose to bury it in the ground.

Alas, I fear he is right. The question –the scandal–is how can we American Orthodox come together when many of our bishops are in thrall to the modernist paradigm? In other words, is unity even possible, especially when we cannot agree on some of the basic things? As for myself, I have my own misgivings, which makes me guilty of falling down in this regard. The title of this post is as much an indictment of myself as it is of our bishops. Lord have mercy.

Please take the time to view it. (Gail and I will discuss Fr Josiah’s analysis soon.)




  1. Christopher McAvoy says

    I am Orthodox first, nothing else is relevant. If the majority of clergy and faithful people accept that the canons of the ecumenical councils say “one bishop per see” than they will choose to come together according to the canons when the need is most pronounced. It is an action to take, to create unity by voluntary situation, to leave family and friends to follow Christ. More and more should do this. Despite the shortcomings, I would say the Moscow Patriarchate is the source of unity in the Church at this time, a convenient source of unity in my opinion, everyone come over to us and we will greet you. If it ceased to be the source of unity I would go wherever that was, even to the Pope of Rome, Constantinople or Alexandria if the faith were there! Our strength is together, may God have mercy on our sins to bring us the grace to teach the words of Christ to all lands, and to more and more live them, as did the Holy Apostles.

    • Yes, perhaps Fr. Josiah Trenham should ask himself why he is in the Antiochian Archdiocese and not in the Russian Church.  Does he want to be part of the problem or be part of the solution?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        If Fr. Josiah switched from Antioch to Russia how would that solve the problem of disunity?

        • The Antiochian Archdiocese has it’s origins in the Russian Church.  It’s origins come from St. Raphael Hawaweeny, who was a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church.  He was not a bishop of Antioch. 
          The natural course of healing this jurisdictional division in America is for the Antiochian Archdiocese to return to the Russian Church here in America.  As Christopher McAvoy points out, “the Moscow Patriarchate is the source of unity in the Church at this time.”  If the Antiochian bishops won’t act, then perhaps this return will have to be done one person at a time.

          • The Patriarchate of Antioch was established by the Holy Apostle Saint Peter. The Church and eventually Patriarchate of Moscow came many centuries later. St. Raphael may have functioned under the Russian Church, but let’s not forget that the “disciples were called ‘Christians’ first  in Antioch” (Acs 11:26).

            • “The Patriarchate of Antioch was established by the Holy Apostle Saint Peter. The Church and eventually Patriarchate of Moscow came many centuries later. St. Raphael may have functioned under the Russian Church, but let’s not forget that the ‘disciples were called ‘Christians’ first in Antioch’ (Acs 11:26).”

              Not relevant, doesn’t justify the ethnic schism inside the USA away from ROCOR of the Antiochians.  Also, utterly meangingless on the global level, if Antioch doesn’t ultimately choose Orthodoxy over First Without Equals.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Steve, forgive me, but it seems toe that you are declaring “my way or the highway” unity.  That does not work.  You do know that the ROC had its own problems for a significant portion of the time that made them an unattractive and unworkable option for many don’t you?
        Both the impetus and the cure for disunity lie in the division in our hearts that no external change will impact in the slightest.

        • Michael, the root cause is a division of the heart, and its manifestation is the jurisdictional divide.  St Raphael once famously said: “I am an Arab by birth, a Greek by primary education, an American by residence, a Russian at heart, and a Slav in soul.”  Indeed, his words suggest a prophetic blueprint for the Antiochian Archdiocese. 

          Through repentance of the heart, perhaps once again the Antiochian Archdiocese can regain its “Russian heart and Slavic soul.”   It would be a welcome witness of a united Orthodox Christianity here in America, a witness that as Fr. Josiah Trenham points out is sorely lacking.

          • Hi Steve,
            There is talk coming from the schismatic OCU that the Antiochian Church will soon be recognizing Bartholomew’s schismatic abomination. If this is true, then I would hope that Fr. Josiah would be running to the Russian Church along with many other clergy.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              That seems contrary to their best interests in that it is Russia who helped them rid Syria of terrorists so Christians could come home and rebuild and it is Russia that made a commitment to rebuild their churches. Who can believe what comes out of their mouths, anyway? It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Bartholomew is spreading this news to buy himself some credibility for his actions.

              • I would concur, Gail. There is so much Russian influence in Syria, and Moscow has been rebuilding churches and infrastructure that it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever for Antioch to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics. None. Smart people know not to bite the hand that feeds you. (The schismatic OCU was boasting well over a year ago that Romania would very soon be recognizing them. That never happened.)

              • I agree with you, Gail. However, during the entire Constantinople/OCU tragedy….every time a statement like this was leaked….it became reality!  Bartholomew and his minions do not leak such statements unless they are relatively certain that it will become a reality. It happened with the Tomos…it happened with the CoG recognition…it happened with the Alexandrian recognition…and it happened with the various Athonite recognitions, etc.  I pray that this is just an OCU pipe dream. But if the Antiochian Church recognizes these schismatic laymen, I will be disappointed beyond words.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Yeah, I hear you and you know me, I’m always trying to connect the dots.

                  I’ve heard rumors that the Efraim monasteries are looking into their options. Though they are ecessiasically tied to the GOA, they own all they have with the caveat that they don’t move or sell their buildings. Interesting agreement. See articles 14 & 15 on page 23. https://www.goarch.org/documents/32058/3058354/2005-monasteryregulations.pdf/3d5f18fa-997a-424a-8f27-103bf68e8918

                  If they insist on going, I could see them moving under Antioch, while continuing to give a the GOA a little somethin’ somethin’ to move forward. Bartholomew would also expect something in return; like requiring Antioch to accept the OCU.

                  All speculation, of course. No one can accuse me of having no imagination.

                  • I think the Antiochians would be a bit too liberal (overall) for the monasteries. I was thinking that they might find a way to be under the omophorian of ROCOR since Elder Ephraim was with them until the Greeks panicked and gave him the green light for the monasteries.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Many Antiochians are liberal, but Metropolitan Joseph is not. Not when it comes to the Church. (I don’t know anything about his politics.)

                      Back in the day, Metropolitan Philip forbad us from visiting the monasteries without the express approval of our bishops. Our then, Bishop Joseph, had to have known we were going, as did he. He never intervened to stop us nor did he hide from us the fact that he was going, too.

                      He once said to my parish he had a “monastic mindest,” and from what I could tell, this is true. I remember him visiting one of my favorite monasteries, St. Paisius, in Safford, AZ.

                    • The Antiochians being liberal is new to me and I’m Antiochian. Outside of the formerly EOC parishes my experience with Antiochians is that they are decidedly not liberal

                    • I would not say that Metropolitan Joseph is “liberal”. However, he towed the lined when it came to the COVID craziness.  He shut Churches down and then mandated the horrific restrictions of masks and iconoclasm that many of the other hierarchs instituted.  Then he justified it by using the tired old canard of the teaching of St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite.  And the people who did not agree with the choking restrictions, he implied were guilty of violating the sixth commandment!!! He is accusing Orthodox Christians of murder!  He is now speaking for St. Nikodemos! This was unacceptable to me and I lost much respect for him.
                      “I believe St. Nikodemos would agree that those who gather in these times with reckless disregard of the advice of so many Orthodox Christian healthcare professionals could certainly fall under the condemnation of the Sixth Commandment.”
                      (Met. Joseph)

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      To his credit, there was a pandemic going on but he was one of the first to break ranks and verbally tell his priests to lighten up to get people back into Church. If I’m wrong about this, please let me know. I have never heard that he implied that people who did not agree with the choking restrictions were guilty of murder. Would love to see proof of that.

                      The government was putting pressure on churches to implement the precise guidelines we saw in our parishes. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/faith-based.html

                      And of course this happened in March which scared everyone to death. It wasn’t really a church choir, but it was close enough to give one pause. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919e6.htm

                      And then they had to have been worried that most public liability policies exclude pandemics as a covered risk. https://churchexecutive.com/archives/preparing-to-reopen-ministries-in-america

                      I am sure they were all strongly encouraged to walk in lock step in an attempt to circle the wagons, so to speak. None of them could risk standing out and having someone get sick. It would take only one Orthodox lawsuit to sour everyone on the Church. https://www.insuranceboard.org/covid-19-resources-legislation/

                      They couldn’t risk anything like this. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/a-monastery-in-ukraine-once-scoffed-at-coronavirus-measures-now-it-is-a-hot-spot/2020/04/16/265eef7e-7fdd-11ea-84c2-0792d8591911_story.html

                      So while I understand what they did and why, I am discouraged they are not being more proactive with respect to getting us back into Church. They should at least keep better in touch with us about it.

                  • Yes. I see from article 14 that the Monastery retains the prerogative of “owning and managing” its own ecclesiastical property. So as long as they don’t move or sell their buildings, they could decide to go under the omophorion of another jurisdiction…and Bartholomew (and the GOA) would not be able to do diddly squat about it. Am I interpreting that correctly? In other words, they could go under Antioch, Serbia, ROCOR, etc…and Bart/Elpi would have no say about the matter. Correct?

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      That’s the way I read it, but I could be wrong.

                    • Dear Gail,
                      You can find your proof of the Metropolitan accusing people of violating the sixth commandment in the latest edition of “The Word” Magazine. That is where I pulled the quote. Read it for yourself.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Wow. I don’t have to pull it. I believe you.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Although I believed you, I just couldn’t let it go because it didn’t line up with my understanding of Metropolitan Joseph.

                      So I looked at every single copy of The Word from January forward. Metropolitan Joseph said nothing like you reported. I suspect someone told you it was there, when it wasn’t, and I wanted to correct your understanding, too, so neither of us would diparage him in the future.

                    • Dear Gail,
                      I was able to find it by googling the quote in Mikhail’s comment. It is in the September edition of The Word. https://antiochianprodsa.blob.core.windows.net/websiteattachments/SEPTEMBER%202020%20WORD%20for%20ARCHDIOCESE%20%281%29.pdf
                      See page 5.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Thank you, John. I appreciate the link.

                      Mikhail was right to bring this to our attention because it’s important for us to know what our bishops are thinking.

                      Metropolitan Joseph, The Word, September 2020

                      “One example I’d like to share with you is found in the wisdom of St. Nikodemos of Mount Athos. In his
                      manual on confession called The Exomologetarion, he lists the ways in which one might violate the Sixth
                      Commandment – “Thou shalt not kill.” He writes, “those who in time of plague, knowing they are infected, associate with others and thus infect them” and in another place he speaks of “all those who are reckless.” One of the challenges in the current situation, which differs from that of the past, has been that the spread of the virus has been caused by those with few or no symptoms. Thus, we have justifiably been asked by the civil authorities to act with caution when we gather. I believe St. Nikodemos would agree that those who gather in these times with reckless disregard of the advice of so many Orthodox Christian healthcare professionals could certainly fall under the condemnation of the Sixth Commandment. This grave moral responsibility is one that has weighed heavily on me throughout these days.”


            • Oh, I dont know how it looks from the more expensive seats, but from out here it looks like there are two poles forming, one Constantinople and one Moscow.  The Greek churches (Greece, Cyprus, Alexandria) seem to be lining up with Constantinople.  A number of others seem to be lining up around Moscow.  The issue is the “OCU” and it is perfectly suited to divide the papists from the conciliarists.  Only an assertion of papal like power could found a local church led by clergy who have never received consecration on the territory of another local church.  Nothing in the canons allows any such thing.  Must be an exercise of papal charisma.  
              So the line couldn’t be clearer, it just remains for the uncommitted churches to choose sides before Constantinople leads the little caravan into the loving arms of Rome for the 1700th anniversary of Nicea.
              I mean, am I missing something?  It’s not rocket science.

            • The Patriarchate of Antioch is in survival mode.  Survival is their main concern.  Given the recent realignments in the Middle East, Antioch is probably seeing that siding with Israel and the U.S. might give them the best chance for survival. Hey, that explosion in Beirut was plenty scary.  It’s possible now that even Lebanon might make peace with Israel. In that case, recognition of the OCU might simply be to show Antioch’s support for the U.S. and Israeli peace.  It’s certainly interesting how politics changes everything. Misha is probably right that the other Greek churches, like Jerusalem and Cyprus, will eventually join in recognizing the OCU also.

            • I haven’t if this news. If this comes to pass I will be leaving the Antiochian Archdiocese 

            • George Michalopulos says

              Mikhail, is there a link for this info?

              Like Gail and others, I just can’t see what would be in it for Antioch, especially since Russia literally saved their bacon in Syria. (While Bart was blessing the Turkish tanks to go in.)

            • Where did you hear this?

              • https://spzh.news/en/news/74489-ijerarkh-pcu-zajavil-o-skorom-priznanii-pcu-antiohijskoj-cerkovyju
                I think is just propaganda talk by  Phanar schismatics, they also claim some time ago that Romanian and Georgian Church would recognize them soon, now is Antioch Church…

                • Yes, exactly. No Romanian nor Georgian recognition. I’d only believe this stuff if seeing it on a legitimate news website.

                • Agreed. I can’t imagine Met Joseph recognizing these guys. Why would he? He is extremely clear with clergy how Elpidophoros’ actions are deceitful and manipulative, to put it mildly.
                  On a side note, as much as I’d like to see the Elder’s monasteries under Antioch – think of the bishops we might have! – I haven’t heard anything about these monasteries coming under Antioch.
                  But who knows? 

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    No one has, to my knowledge. It’s just our imaginings at this point.

                    • My next guess after Antioch would be that the monasteries would move under the Serbians. Up here in Alaska the two monasteries on Kodiak moved under the Serbians from the OCA (?). It’s plausible the same thing could happen with the Ephraim monasteries since the Serbians could be seen as a “neutral” party

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      It’s certainly possible. St. Paisius Orthodox Monastery in Safford, AZ moved from the Serbs under ROCOR so I know they (monasteries) do move around.

                  • It would not be Metropolitan Joseph who would recognize them…it would be Patriarch John. It is my prayer that this goes the way of Romania and Georgia and not CoG and Alexandria. For the record, I am still not convinced that Romania will not cave.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Steve, except for the Greeks, in my experience we are quite united.  We all have Russian roots.  Except for the Greeks. My brother is a priest in the Patriarchal Bulgarian, I have monastic friends who are under Serbia, ROCOR has always been attractive to me although no direct experience. I have many dear friends in the OCA.  When God brought me to the Church Antioch was the only option.  By the Grace of God,  I survived a seriously defective priest and a less than coherent congregation. My late wife did not.  
            The point is there will always be reasons to leave or not come. Reasons in abundance.  There is only one reason to be Orthodox.  The Church does not fit well in any modern marketing plan. She is what she is. That is often messy and unattractive.

            The problem is we seem to want to always do a make over of the Church in our own image.   All that is required is to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  

            Within the Church there are many avenues and opportunities and practices and prayers and people, angels and saints to help us do that. There are also people and demons and our own sin to draw us away.  One of those sins is, IMO, perfectionism.  

            As a matter of historical fact the Church has always been messy and full of many lukewarm to hostile members.  Duh. God’s mercy still prevails and one’s own responsibility to repent and allow the Holy Spirit to transform and transfigure us.  

            The divisions in the Church reflect the divisions in my own heart.  No external rearrangement of the deck chairs will change that.
            God is merciful. 

          • Antiochian Priest says

            Given the current metropolitan of the Antiochian Archdiocese, any idea that the Antiochians will go back to their Russian roots in America is crazy talk.  Metropolitan Joseph is an Arab by birth, an Arab by education, an Arab in soul, and happens to reside in America. Sadly, we are much farther apart as Orthodox Christians than at any other time in history — especially in America.

    • Joseph Gilman says


  2. The face of Christianity today in America is Donald Trump.  Even for unbelievers and for many people outside of the Church, they can see that Donald Trump represents Christians and the principles that Christians stand for in America.  Perhaps the various Orthodox jurisdictions in America can at least unite behind their support for Donald Trump this election.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Interesting thought there, Steve. I’m gonna have to cogitate on that one.

      In any event, I believe the issue is moot as far as Orthodox unity is concerned. Think of American Orthodox unity as a man who’s hanging off a cliff, desperately grasping a blade of grass to stop from plunging to his death. That blade of grass (in my opinion) was Arb Demetrios Trakatellis of the GOA. (I know: anytime you’re talking about a post-Iakovos Coucouzis primate of the GOA is slim pickings but you get my point.)

      Under the present cultural regime that obtains in the US, there is no way that the present synod(s) of bishops have the moral courage to stop the rot. Just go back and re-read the SCOBA encyclical on gay marriage in 2003. There is no way that the ECUSA would put anything like that out there at all. The OCA to its credit did put out something fairly strong in the aftermath of Obergefell (and I’m glad that they did) but it was nowhere near as strong as the 2003 encyclical.

    • Johann Sebastian says

      I’m voting for Trump, but he’s hardly an appropriate candidate for “face of Christianity in America.” 
      What passes for Christianity in America isn’t exactly Christian. It’s Christianistic, yes, but not Christian.

      • +10000

      • Think about it.  Who is the most prominent and powerful person who represents conservative American Christianity today?  There is no one else.  It’s not the Pope.  Its Donald Trump.  Donald Trump supports conservative Christian American family values.   He is the current face of conservative American Christianity, and the defender and protector of American Christians. Four more years!

        • Johann Sebastian says

          Steve, I agree that he’s the best choice we have and is far better than any neocon Republican we’ve been offered over the years.

          But let’s get real and see him for who he is. Someone on here said he’s done deals with the enemy and wasted a golden opportunity. Those are very true and very accurate statements. Personally, I think he’s stuck behind a rock and a hard place and can’t do what he promised/wants to do, but I also think there’s a fair amount of ignorance (and arrogance) mixed in with that.
          In a lot of ways he’s turning out to be a garden-variety RINO despite what comes out of his mouth. He does have potential, but that’s too little, too late. The rot is worldwide and endemic to at least two generations (Millennials and now Zs), with very substantial proportions of Xers and Boomers having succumbed to it as well.

          Four more years…if it only delays the collapse that’s inevitable.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Interesting distinction.

    • I wish that were true, Steve.  But too many folks these days call themselves “Christian” and loathe the man and his followers because their idea of Christianity is really secular social justice religion with a very pleasant and tolerant figment of their imagination as “Christ.”  These exist within the ranks of the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations as well as Unitarianism, etc.   Their hatred of us is also profound and revealing.  They find it difficult to tolerate our different understanding of Christianity.  Difficult to separate the style and personality of Trump from his accomplishments for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, protection under the law for all, and pro-life throughout the life span. And because they don’t understand the Eastern Orthodox fronema (just as PB and AE do not) and operate from a western mindset, they do believe in their own secular idea of Christianity.

      That is why to my mind, we Orthodox must steep ourselves in the Holy Fathers and those who revere them to develop it within our parishes and within ourselves.  But most folks don’t know what they don’t know.  I hope all who read this blog will do so via Fr Seraphim Rose’s old Orthodox Survival Course, or Orthodox Ethos types of study.  Yes, academic and western mindset priests and hierarchs who may be lovely well-intentions people will denigrate us verbally, but we pray they will “get it” someday. Otherwise we are missing Eastern Orthodoxy ourselves and the westernized won’t have cause to go deeper unless we present our case without anger or fear of disapproval.

       Vladika Dmitri used to say it takes years of being Orthodox (and reading Commentaries by the Fathers Of Holy Scripture such as he authored) to begin to absorb the Eastern Orthodox fronema.  And until then, we are still blinded by our Western rationalist education (brainwashing).  I surely have experienced what he meant.  My greatest sorrow now is dealing with folks who stopped reading after Chrismation and/or did not have wise teachers in the fronema of the Holy Fathers in Catechism or Sunday School. May all turn to those beautiful sources available to us all now ~  contemporary elders and teachers who revere the Holy Fathers as well as the original writings of the Holy Fathers.  And as Michael Kinsey said I believe, do it in the manner of the Beatitudes. Well I’m not there yet but beginning to try.

  3. Most of Orthodoxy’s converts come from Protestantism (as did I). Protestantism has THOUSANDS of divisions/sects which vary in practice and doctrine. Orthodoxy has UNITY of practice and doctrine across the churches of various countries. It is hypocritical for a Protestant to point a finger at Orthodoxy for disunity, and it is a great sin for an Orthodox to accept that spurious charge. Sure we have our little spats about territories, and we have our little differences in hymns, tones, and most revered saints–this is part of the richness of our faith and its ability to equally encompass people of all nations. America is an amalgamation of races and nations which is reflected in the variety of national churches that exist here. Calling this a great sin is overreach, and ungrateful in the extreme. God brought Orthodoxy to the Americas and maintains it through these ancient Patriarchates. Through this diversity, God has provided Americans with choice, and He puts a check on any one Patriarchate becoming the dictator–great blessings in this age of false ecumenism.
    I would also add that He gives proud Americans (myself worst of all) an exercise in learning humility–to experience something that has existed for almost 2000 years before our “indispensable” country came into existence.  Cease whining, cease trying to change everything, cease expecting that everything be easy-peasy and predictable.  Cease resisting what God has brought to us and start appreciating the depth of faith and wisdom in the world of Orthodoxy right here in easy driving distance.  Taste and see that the Lord is good!

    • Johann Sebastian says

      We agree on the things that are important.
      We disagree on everything that’s not important.
      Fair weather enemies, friends during the storm.

    • Dear Isadora:
      Totally Can agree with you about the unity of the Patristic Tradition and those who are formed by it and seek to stay within it.  However the fault lines of heretical challenge are clear to see and have always been present within the life of the Church, causing great pain and suffering from within as well as without to  the Faithful Church as it defends the Patristic Tradition and Eastern Orthodox fronema of the Church.  Always a struggle, not the easy and assured harmony I personally would prefer! 

    • Cease resisting what God has brought to us and start appreciating the depth of faith and wisdom in the world of Orthodoxy right here in easy driving distance.
      Orthodox ecclesiology is very simple. Every single orthodox Church in large city or remote village is full Church and its unity is in its Bishop who is icon of Christ on Liturgical gathering. Also required is that Bishop has a proper apostolic faith and this is fulfilled if he is in communion with other Bishops in his autocephalous Church. There is no need for additional Bishops in Phanar or Rome for our church to exist. So, if the Church in Boston has a Bishop that is from Romania and Church across the street has a Bishop from Georgia this is not tragedy at all or God forbid heresy. That we ended in America with this mess of multiple Bishops in one city was may be necessary process but we can definitely not apply canons from Byzantine times, we have to find a solution for this historical situation. Idea of Episcopal Council is not bad provided that EP does not use this body for neopapal heresy which is currently the case. Even if this idea is dead we still have Churches where we can glorify God in true faith.

  4. You can’t have all you want for Orthodoxy without a strong, free, constitutionally sound, capitalist America. Everyone ought to pay attention to this election. When you see what the “wokç” states and their kommisar governors have done to kill off the religious community during Covid 19, you can get a taste of what might be coming–with or without Fr.Josiah.

  5. Well said, Fr.  Josiah. Well said. I almost wish that the video was longer, as I always enjoy hearing him speak.

  6. It grieves me deeply to witness “the new normal” in the parishes.  To see so many of our Churches continue to deform their services due to COVID is an utter travesty. My family an I refuse to attend parishes or monasteries where the mask mandates and Iconoclasm are still in effect. Thank God there is still the occasional oasis where one can find an Orthodox Church that has not succumbed to this madness! I watched a group of Orthodox nuns online the other day celebrating the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. The beautiful Icon was front and center. At the end of the Liturgy, they bowed to the Icon, then they bowed to each other, and then they walked away without kissing the Icon. It breaks my heart. Lord have mercy!

    • I don’t agree with the statement that it is most horrible sin to have multiple bishops in one city. It is not ideal, but it is a bigger problem with nuns non celebrating icons properly, abandoning tradition and compromising with the mammon than having multiple bishops in one city. This, with number of bishops in one city, is in essence neopapist line that Phanar is pulling out to impose new eastern pope. In fact, if it is not for national churches in US, Canada and South America we would not have churches to begin with. In 70’s Russians made a mistake and granted autocephaly to OCA and in less than decade when bishops that were raised in the west took over we have serious problems in OCA because that decision was premature, those Bishops start wearing shoes that are huge for them and fall. If we have to unite and have one bishop in the city with churches with multiple spoons that is not the solution to this problem. 

      • George Michalopulos says

        Arb Dmitri Royster of Dallas filled the episcopal shoes rather nicely imho.

      • “In 70’s Russians made a mistake and granted autocephaly to OCA and in less than decade when bishops that were raised in the west took over we have serious problems in OCA because that decision was premature”

        It was like the emanicaption of a minor that has rebelled against you and set himself up in an apartment paid for with an income somehow.  After the Russian Revolution, the Russian church in America split three ways, loyal to Moscow, ROCOR (loyalists in resistance to Communism), and the Metropolia (this is our chance to do our own thing) the future OCA.

        • “… and set himself up in an apartment..”
          Now OCA Bishops being broke and uncapable sell quickly what was given in faith and to keep and flourish. With vague story they want Church prime to be in the capital. But what about rest of America, why is important to be close to the White House?

          • George Michalopulos says

            Canonically it makes sense. At least while there is still an America, the Archbishop of the capital city should always be the primate of the local Church.

            • Nothing to do with canonical order. In 70s idea was to make American Church for the whole continent not the US Church on  Capitol Hill.
              Take a look at Episcopal Council there is no Bishop from Canada or Mexico.

      • The responsibility for the OCA’s autocephaly, for better or worse, lies with those who sought it.  The MP was under Soviet domination and could only do what it was told.  The ROC received the Church of Japan, the Metropolia became the OCA and everyone walked away happy.

    • Breaks my heart too, Mikhail.  Thank God I have found one Traditional parish in the area.   Some parishioners wear masks and do not venerate (as they choose) but we are allowed to worship according to our belief in the Divine Energies as I was taught, and I thank God for that beautiful privilege and for the ROCOR priests and jurisdiction which allows it!  Glory to God! 

      • Hi Nicole,
        I too am blessed beyond belief. Nothing has changed in my parish. No one wears masks. Everyone venerates and receives as usual. We still have coffee hour afterwards. COVID did not touch this parish. It’s an absolute miracle. However, I grieve deeply for the thousands who are forced to jump through the circus hoops.

  7. Just a few comments to this one:1) While I enjoy Fr Josiah’s material from time to time, I would hardly put him forth as the dominant voice for the Orthodox in the US. I remember just a few years ago when Fr Josiah pushed the mantra that the RC Fatima apparition was speaking about when Russia would become Orthodox & how Orthodox faithful can/could commemorate Fatima! I totally disagree with his assessment that US lack of administrative unity really does drive people, whether converts or faithful, away. There are many reasons why converts decide against Orthodoxy & there are many reasons why faithful leave. I personally have never met anyone that refuses to become/stay Orthodox due to administrative unity. Nor have I personally ever met anyone who has ever met anyone that refuses to become/stay Orthodox due to this reason.2) The “dream” of administrative unity, & by extension autocephaly, for the Orthodox in the US is exactly that for now & in the near future. Many push administrative unity as if it will be some sort of panacea cure-all for all of the ills & ails of US Orthodoxy. I seem to hear this most frequently from either the newly-received or those in the OCA. Neither GOARCH nor the EP wants to grant autocephaly to the US & without autocephaly, administrative unity is of little benefit. I would go so far as to say that without autocephaly, administrative unity is actually a disadvantage.Frankly, pushing/forcing administrative unity at this time, with 1/2-2/3 of all US Orthodox being Greek & under GOARCH, would be literally jumping from the frying pan into the proverbial fire as it would just hand the US to the direct control of EP Bartholomew; you know, that guy who recognizes & is in communion with schismatics in the Ukraine, is pushing false reunion with Rome in order to bolster his standing among his own Orthodox Church & who has yet to refute/refuse the phrase “first without equals” put forth by the US GOARCH Archbishop Elpidophorous.
    3) Many also push the mantra that the US lack of administrative unity is somehow unique both in history as well as around the world. It’s not historically & there are many regions around the world that have multiple jurisdictions just like the US does. Such negotiations & cooperation need to be worked out at echelons well above those railing for it while those doing the railing need to be careful for what they ask. 

    • While I enjoy Fr Josiah’s material from time to time, I would hardly put him forth as the dominant voice for the Orthodox in the US.
      Well, in my opinion, he certainly deserves to be.
      In addition, if you really do “enjoy” what Father Josiah has to say, maybe you don’t understand him.

    • That is a very clear and (I think) accurate analysis Rhonda,
      which applies to the UK as much as the US.
      On a world-wide basis, it seems Jerusalem aims for unity within Orthodoxy
      whereas Constantinople aims for unity with Rome – heterodoxy.

  8. Forget about the overlapping jurisdictions with multiple bishops. We are beyond that. The American Orthodox bishops have demonstrated that they are cowards and betrayers of the faith. COVID has exposed them to be charlatans.  What we need now is one bishop to come forward and proclaim the patristic phronema so that all the patristically-minded clergy and laity in this country can rally around him. It has come to a point where we are waiting for God to send us another St. Mark of Ephesus.

    • Blessedly there are at least two of that calibre on the planet ~ Met. Athanasios of Limassol and Met. Onouphry of Ukraine.


      1. Check out the youtube channel Orthodox Teachings of the Elders for many beautifully in tune Elders!  ZB: Elder Sophrony: https://youtu.be/mvZARLkQmLk

      2. Fr Peter Heers’ new online classes October 6: https://www.patreon.com/posts/41632096. 

      I hope others here sign up!  It would be most heartening to know there is a community of Orthodox reviewing our beautiful Patristic Tradition or learning about it for the first time.  I’m signing up for Fr Seraphim Rose’s Orthodox Survival Course part 2 (Wednesdays 8 to 10 pm Central) and On the Divine Liturgy: A spiritual and Ecclesiological Look at Heaven on Earth.  (Thursdays 8 to 10 pm Central).  One may view afterwards of course!    There is a third class for the newly interested or newly enlightened Tuesday night.

  9. Michael Bauman says

    Mr. McAvoy, there is the rub. We each have our preference. It is almost like kids bragging to each other “My Dad’s bigger and smarter than your Dad.”
    In my relatively small town we have one Bishop but that does not seem to help as we have four parishes: one Greek, three Antiochian. The Greeks exist in their world, one of the Antiochian parishes is “Western Rite” and is in their own world while the other two were on opposite sides in the Antiochian schism. The consequences of that still lingers. Plus, the priest at one is under discipline.  
    We do nothing together despite the fact that everybody (except the one priest) loves and honors the bishop.  
    The Greek parish will eventually fade away.   
    The crazy priest went to the Greek Seminary and was malformed there. The priest at the “Western Rite” parish went to an Episcopal seminary, the Greek parish has no priest.  I do believe Met Philip punished the parish that was not on the “correct” side of the schism by sending them a series of questionable priests.  
    We do not ever get together and COVID has nothing to do with it
    There is something in our national character I think that promotes such separation: fear and mistrust of “the other” combined with the frontier mentality still persisting as well as the revolutionary nature of our founding.  No one wants to submit to authority. 
    No easy fixes. 

  10. Regrettably I have to disagree with the good father.  I sympathize, but I know what evil is and lacking the information to pray for a deceased elder is among the least significant evils, though it is unfortunate.
    As Christ remarked, some matters of the law are weightier than others.  Fr. Josiah seems to be concerned about jurisdictional disunity primarily from the effect on potential converts.  However, does it do anyone any favors to bring them into Byzantine Episcopalianism?  Actually, I believe it does them harm rather than good.  Active harm.  That sounds harsh, but if you’re convincing people that Orthodoxy is no different than cafeteria Catholicism, you are a fraud.  They are led to embrace a false icon of Christ. 
    Let me be clear about this, no matter how much of a travesty jurisdictional disunity is in the United States, a far, far greater travesty would be watering down (despoiling really) the fullness of Orthodoxy in those jurisdictions where it exists simply to erase jurisdictional lines between bishops in cities.  Right now you have jurisdiction shopping to avoid the canonical discipline of some of the more rigorous jurisdictions in order to achieve results clearly at odds with the intent of the Fathers. 
    For example, I know a young man who was in the OCA, fell in love with a divorced woman and married, and then felt the call to the priesthood.  He decided to change jurisdictions and so ended up in the Antiochian church.  I recall hearing him speaking about the notorious sin of “rebaptizing” converts baptized by the heterodox.  This conflicted with his pre-Orthodox, Protestant sensibilities.  Deny it though you will, traditionalists and modernists simply do not share the same phronema.
    Normalizing this mess would be the sin, not maintaining walls to minimize it where it does not exist.  It is sad to say that the canonically more exacting Orthodox need protect the integrity of their churches from their errant, wayward brethren.  But that is the cold hard truth of the matter and nothing can change that but repentance on the part of the modernists.  The traditionalists will not and should not horse trade the faith.  We are already compromised and somewhat alienated from the Old Calendar Greeks due to our intercommunion with those like Fr. Josiah who reject the Church Calendar.  It would be a sin against God for us to go further and join in a false unity based on the ecumenist lies of the twentieth century.
    So one is welcome to pound sand.  And I agree, God is watching. 
    However, physician, heal thyself.  
    If we truly shared the same faith, I do not believe this would be such a hurdle.  But I am absolutely certain that Patriarch Bartholomew and I do not share the same faith.  And, in fact, that is true of the entire body of modernists within the Church as opposed to traditionalists.  One group judges Tradition by the criteria of modernity.  The other group judges modernity by the criteria of Tradition.  And those perspectives, unfortunately, are mutually exclusive and, in the long term, irreconcilable.  
    Nothing will change until the dead weight repents or falls way entirely.  While it lingers, poisoning the vine, all we can do is focus on our local parishes and dioceses and keep the peace as well as we can.  I am not proud to say any of this.  And I am the worst of all sinners.  But the truth is the truth and I get no honor or merit from bringing the awful situation into the light of day.
    This all stems from lack of eucharistic discipline.  If the traditional Orthodox churches gathered and simply stated that using the New Julian Calendar and other innovations were no long acceptable and that they were no longer in communion with any such dioceses, unity could be achieved fairly quickly among those who wish to maintain the fullness of Orthodoxy.  But the traditional bishops do not have the courage to do this and, out of a painfully gracious sense of economia, we linger in a pool of uncanonical anomalies.
    This is the least of our worries.  Feed the poor, clothe the naked, house the homeless, reopen your churches and thank God we have it so good.


    This was the response of ROCOR to the unity proposal of the Phanar emanating from the Episcopal Assembly. It is still relevant. What has changed is that we have seen the Robber Council of Crete and the establishment of an uncanonical pseudo-church by Constantinople on the territory of the Church of Russia. This, of course, has caused the MP/ROCOR to sever communion with Constantinople.

    We have better things to discuss at this juncture.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Well, the clip was only a few minutes long and was seemingly designed to say, “Let’s not forget matters that are of importance to the Church by getting sidetracked with worldly matters. We have a problem here and it’s impacting our ability to witness for Christ so it’s kind of a big deal.”

      At least that was my take on it. It wasn’t meant to be a dissertation on evil or anything.

      • George Michalopulos says


        While I treasure all of the commentary (both pro and con) about Fr Josiah’s excellent sermon, I think we are missing the deeper point: and that is the lack of love that exists. And I mean, up and down the line, across the board; we’re talking patriarchates, bishops, priests, and laity.

        While I am (frankly speaking) terrified of any forced unity under a modernist patriarchate (and you know whom I’m talking about) simply for the sake of canonical norms and administrative sense, I must admit that these latter things are not bad things in and of themselves. Rather, they are excellent things. It’s just that many of us have come to the conclusion that the spirit of Ligonier was all but destroyed because of –and let me be charitable here–the spirit of Byzantine nostalgia.

        Having said that, I think most of us can agree that Misha (and others) have verbalized the extreme distaste that unity under the present circumstances would entail. Let’s be honest, the high point of American Orthodoxy was Ligonier; since then the Church has been withering on the vine.

        That in my opinion is the scandal: not only the modernism of the GOA and the dithering of the OCA, but the inability of some of us (myself, most of all), to feel love under the present circumstances.

        I beg you all to re-listen to Fr Josiah’s podcast again through the prism of what I just wrote.

        I’ve long come to the conclusion that the only hope for Orthodoxy in America is persecution. That is to say the winnowing of the wheat from the chaff. COVID may have been the “beta test” for such persecution.

        • “I’ve long come to the conclusion that the only hope for Orthodoxy in America is persecution. ”
          You have hit the nail on the head here, George. Persecution, (and dare I say martydom), is the only path to purification. For seventy plus years, we witnessed the soil of Russia drenched with the blood of the martyrs. And now we see the result in Russia. I think it may be our turn. 

          • Mikhail, our God-ordained country has always been destined to be like a shining city upon a hill.  If God calls us to martyrdom,  then may our martyrdoms be an illumination to the rest of the world.  Perhaps even our good president will one day be called to martyrdom for the sake of American Christianity.  

            • I agree. May we have the courage to face a holy martyrdom with peace and faith…if it is God’s will.

              • Amen!  And may God give us the courage to witness as the early Christian martyrs did so that hopefully some In the dark will be converted and enjoy the Light we are blessed to have.  

      • Oh, I agree it’s a problem.  And I don’t want to be too hard on the priest or anyone who feels it is.  I agree.  The way dioceses are organized in Ameeica is a scandal.  Full stop.
        I just dont agree that it should be at the top of our lists.

        Confront ecumenism if you want to cure disunity.

    • What would be even better to see is to have the Russian Church normalize the Greek Old Calendarists and have them join ROCOR. There are between 1.8 – 2 million Old Calendarists in Greece and several thousand more in the diaspora (~150K in America). Bringing them back into the fold of canonical Orthodoxy would go a long way in fixing the problem IMHO. 
      Also, we cannot discount the long-term effects of the “Ortho Bro” movement. This is mostly being led by Jay Dyer and a few others and tends to draw in the more “orthodox” and traditional crowd. Jay oversees an Orthodox discord that has around 3,100 people who are inquiring into Orthodoxy. Some of these guys will go on to become seminarians and this will no doubt have an effect on the traditional Orthodoxy phronema in America. 
      The Antiochian Archdiocese/Met. Joseph has also said that they intend to start monasteries in the Antiochian Archdiocese. Between this and ones that have been started in the Serbian Archdiocese (along with the established ones in GOARCH) will help in the renewal of Orthodoxy. 
      Those parishes who adhere to liberalism or have the ethnic ghetto mindset are going to die out, and are likely already on life support. But, those that are mission-minded are going to flourish. I’m thinking of the OCA Diocese of the South, ROCOR, Serbian Archdiocese, most of the Antiochians (minus the old EOC parishes), and some of the Metropoli of the Greek Archdiocese are going to be the ones who grow the most. 
      Overall I do agree with you, we desperately need to be rid of ecumanism and I think this will be spearheaded worldwide by the Russian Church 

      • Jay Dyer, for all his qualities, has some very erroneous opinions. For one, he teaches that certain immoral practices are okay.

  11. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Y’all might want to take a look at this property for sale. (And enjoy the annoying music as you look through the pictures)


    And then find out what are the future plans here. 



    • Gail Sheppard says

      Wow! Never saw the inside before. 17 bedrooms!

      • Wow for sure!  “House Beautiful” for sure!  What I expected from the GOA or the Vatican, but not from my Orthodox jurisdiction of the not wealthy, as most of my catechizing parishioners are far from wealthy or even secure, and as our missions struggled to be birthed.   I keep thinking of Elder Pavel on the city bus or St. Seraphim in the forest or Vladika Dmitri as he lived and entertained.  What a contrast.   Helps me understand alot.  

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          To be sure, it was a gift that was made with the condition that the chancery be located there – this would have been during the 1960s or 1970s – certainly before my time. Or it was left in the will of the deceased owner, with strings attached. The predecessor of what is now OCA was not in a condition to turn this big gift down – things were different back then. Whoever accepted this gift could not have foreseen what caused OCA to be in such a situation that they are now in. Cut them some slack – hindsight is hindsight – I’m not recalling this saying correctly but you all know what I mean, I’m sure. 
          Now … I’m sure Metropolitan Jonah is owned a big apology by a few folks, doesn’t he?

          • Gail Sheppard says
          • Interesting to read that the Metropolitan should be located in the nation’s capitol! I understand that Met. Jonah has been incorporated into ROCOR, but the fact that he has previously moved to D.C. and taking into consideration his considerable Orthodox catechesis on YouTube — plus the Discord group with 3.5k followers — I am beginning to wonder if the grace of such a role can be reversed by men?
            I obviously do not understand the distinctions between jurisdictions, and agree with both Fr. Josiah and Misha.

      • And which bishop’s child or children are the inhabitants of the child’s bedroom?  

        • Gail Sheppard says

          When they sell a property like that, they stage it to make it more appealing to a potential buyer. A buyer of a house that size could be a large family. That room was probably staged.

          • I understand the staging.  There’s also a very good chance the room was used as a large closet and was cleaned and staged for the photo shoot.  However, considering that the rest of the building is obviously set up with what is already there, the random kids’ bedroom there comes off as being kind of creepy, especially considering that probably half the population of the US won’t know the difference between Orthodox and Roman Catholic. 

          • MomofToddler says

            I don’t see a child’s bedroom in the listing now…Maybe it was removed, or I can’t tell that it is a child’s bedroom?  I don’t see a room with any toys, etc.?  They all look like guest bedrooms to me.

        • Actually this is probably a room geared towards children of visitors.  I spent a week at the chancery over spring break in the 90’s and saw various people coming and staying on Church business.  Having lots of spaces and many bedrooms saves the church on hotel bills and it’s a much nicer environment.   Before you judge the fact the chancery is a mansion think about the logistics of coordinating a national Church.  It’s not something you do out of an office or a 3 bedroom bungalo.

    • Beautiful house (the airy blue — and so much gorgeous light), though I was somewhat scandalized by the restrooms. Bishops do not poop, and metropolitans — well, they do not even go #1.
      Seriously, though, it makes sense for the OCA HQ to move to DC. As for the archives, wouldn’t St. Vladimir’s be an obvious choice? They have to have expertise in that area there.

      • It is sad they are selling. Our Bishops are not capable to keep this property in order and their story about canonical angle is funny. We, all, who are in OCA were given this property for our prime to proudly advance in faith and glorify our Lord and make our Church shine. But our Bishops failed in  tasks given to them since they received autocephaly and now they are somehow selling this property for half its value.

  12. I agree with Misha. Until the Orthodox share the same patristic faith ( not the watered down ecumenist imaginings of the Forhamites and others like them), nothing else will fall into place.

  13. Antiochene Son says

    Abbot Tryphon had an excellent homily on September 13 about all the judgments that continue to befall America.
    We won’t be woken up and return to Christ. How much worse does it have to get? 

  14. anonsayswhat says

    Father Efraim’s monasteries (and other monasteries) will help guide the faithful to unite. They weren’t built to be temporary. Our Panagia has her plans in motion.

    • Agree we need their Mt Athos Patristic understanding of and  guidance in the Orthodox fronema and whoever follows will be the True Orthodox Church.  From my reading of the Prologue, the Fathers and Church history, in Eastern Orthodoxy we are not about numbers.  

      • MomofToddler says

        “in Eastern Orthodoxy we are not about numbers.”  Yes, perhaps many jurisdictions will unite, and perhaps they will all use multiple spoons or clean the communion spoon with alcohol and not kiss icons and say unity is better than anything.  I’d rather be part of the remnant however small.  Honestly, I have trouble reading anything about BLM/Antifa with regards to Orthodoxy or anything just political (though I know its important too.)  As long as iconoclasm and this communion blasphemy is going on, and people aren’t really speaking out about it anymore, because nothing seems to be changing ( I guess DOS OCA can kiss icons now) discussing anything else is hard for me.  We have an Ark of Salvation in the Orthodox Church and many people who think they are in the Church are jumping into dingy’s with holes and asking others to come.  I’m not criticizing people who are discussing these things…I think its great that so many people have fellowship on this site discussing these topics – fellowship is important and the topics are important.  I just can’t go there now personally.  In my sadness/anger this morning, I told my husband that the Orthodox Church of America in the modern world had become a clown show.  Arch Epli gave a prayer at the Democratic Convention.  Where were the letters of disappointment from clergy, monks, bishops?     I’m glad we have Fr. Zechariah Lynch, Archpriest Peter Heers and a few others but have little hope of hearing Truth spoken in America by Orthodox people in authority anymore.

  15. Unity is very easy. All of the orthodox churches need to come under the GOA which is the largest. But there’s not a Bishop that wants unity unless it’s under his crown. Unity would require humility. And while they’re all running around in crowns there’s no humility to be found. The GOA is not going to bend its knee to a lesser group. None of the people crying for orthodox unity want to be under the GOA. The other issue we have is an issue of honesty. No Orthodox Group is being honest with how many adherence they actually have. There are protestant churches take saddleback for instance in Southern California that have more people come on a weekend in one building then all of the Antiochian churches in the US combined. That’s reality. The best way to achieve unity is 100 year plan When none of the people alive today will see it. The bishops should agree that whatever Orthodox Church is the largest in 100 years all bishops at that point in time will fall under it. Make it a binding agreement. The jurisdiction that works the hardest in the next 100 years to bring people into the church will be the winner. It would be a rather healthy competition.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      It is Bartholomew that stands between us and unity in this country. – It is also the GOA. They need to get over the “Greek” (cultural) thing and identify with America where they can still be Greek and be proud.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Gail that is the problem there is no suchthinh as “American” in any real sense. There is no American identity in language, culture or religion. It has substance. It is only an idea. 
        It could be easily said that the current condition of the Church is perfectly American. Real unity would destroy that.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          All that you say is true, BUT there is such a thing as the Church here in America. Orthodoxy is a great equalizer.

      • Gail, 
        The GOA is at least 5x the size of the Antiochian jurisdiction why would they want to unite on Antiochian terms? I have spent the last 11 years in a GOA church not once did anyone mention unity. When you are as big as they are you don’t need to unite. I think unity is being pushed by some out of jealousy more than anything. The Bishops could unite under the GOA tomorrow if they thought unity was so important. 
        Another thought who wants to be united after this pandemic? The Bishops handled this so badly. Down here in Houston the Greeks are the only ones operating as mostly normal. We got yelled at when we visited the Antiochian church for not social distancing as a family. Could not attend another AOC church because we did not have a reservation. Back in Irvine at my old GOA parish they had their first service in 6 months outside a week ago. Some other parishes in the area have been holding service inside for months.  I will take freedom and choice over unity.

    • Jacob, Gail,
      with all respect,
      where do we read in the bible or the history of the first church,
      that there was an “World” Bishop or Patriarch. Please consider the following:

      Canon 28 of the 4th Ec.Synod stipulated that the Bishop of Cple (residing near the Emperor) was a kind of central coordinator (solely for geographical/political reasons) to simply assist the remote bishops when they wanted to see the Emperor and get specific help. Period. All Bishops were equal brethren in Christ.
      After the Fall of 1453 the young shrewd Sultan thought of a very clever method to control all the Orthodox people in his Ottoman Empire: The Sultan simply controlled ONE MAN, the Patriarch of Cple and the Patriarch had in turn total power on the Orthodox masses whether laity or even brethren Bishops! Now then, do we want to still follow this shrewd OTTOMAN method? Bartholomew loves it, and so does the Pope.
      If we REALLY want to follow the paradigm of the First Church, and be ABSOLUTELY honest with ourselves, there is no room for ego and honor-seeking: Each area has its own Bishop: The bishop in the capital (e.g. Washington D.C.) would be a simple coordinator to escort/assist who want to speak to the POTUS about some problem. Just like it was done in Cple say 1000 years ago.
      Why in the world (or in the Bible) should the equal Bishops in America get any permission from Cple or Antioch or Moscow?
      Let ALL the clergy and the PEOPLE of an area decide who they want as their Bishop. If the area is in Spanish speaking Texas let them elect (if they prefer) a Bishop who can speak Spanish as well. But certainly no “yes-man” from Fanar or Moscow, Jerusalem, etc. And let any individual parish elect their priest(s) likewise. Period.
      We (clergy and laity) can very easily say “thy will be done” but practice rather “MY will be done”.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I do see your point.

      • Correction:
        “…The bishop in the capital (e.g. Washington D.C.) would be a simple coordinator to escort/assist remote bishops who want to speak to the POTUS about some problem…”

  16. Another honest question what would unity do? I worked for FOCUS For 7 years and we would have never gotten off the ground in Orange County under unity. Bishop now Met. Joseph forbid his Churches from working with us. We got started and worked with AOC parishes despite him.  The Greeks led the charge. I worked in and around all the jurisdictions and can say not being united help us unite to serve the poor. So many on this site dislike a strong federal government telling us what to do. A united Orthodox Church in America would be no different than the federal government. How about we serve the poor grow our parishes and missions and work at the community level to make the Orthodox Church the gem of all Churches in America. Why don’t we have a mega Orthodox Church like a saddleback or Lakewood or 2nd Baptist? It would be hard work and require vision, leadership, a desire to bring people to Christ and His Church. Unity won’t bring any of that. It will make one bishop and his circle of priests more powerful.

  17. It’s a matter of returning to the roots of the American mission as envisioned by Saint Tikhon. Unfortunately, about 100 years ago, the Orthodox mission in this country changed – for a myriad of historical reasons, mostly related to the Bolshevik revolution – from one North American archdiocese with the mission of evangelization, to multiple ethnic chaplaincies dedicated to their own ethnicities. We lost the vision of evangelism to the continent.

    Most of the current jurisdictions have minimal interest in American evangelization and are simply trying to survive. If some Americans want to become Orthodox and attend these jurisdictions, that’s fine, but they often feel as guests.

    I see the issue of growing close to Christ as distinct from the shame at our American Orthodox jurisdictional mess. Most Orthodox parishes of whatever jurisdiction (except possibly the Uniate-leaning ones, like the GOA) offer everything one needs to grow in Christ and to live in His love.

    If, however, we’re primarily concerned about how we appear to others, then yes, it’s a shameful mess.

    Missionizing in America is doubly a mess since our faith is so countercultural, and we do not have any deep Orthodox roots to grow on. The Russians at least had centuries of deep Orthodox spirituality to grow on when they began rebuilding their Christian society in the 1990s, post-Communism.

    All we got is some good stuff here and there and God’s grace, which is enough, but it’s a hard road. Only the most committed American Orthodox Christians will do it. To be a faithful Christian in the era of Antifa and crazy secularism is damn hard – but it’s doable, and Christ’s love makes it worthwhile.

    The ROCOR and the OCA are the only jurisdictions, in my opinion, that are poised to lead American Orthodoxy back to unity and to the vision of St Tikhon. ROCOR, because of its maximal autonomy as codified in the 2007 reunification with Moscow and being headquartered in New York City, is eminently free and is growing month by month as the foremost Orthodox missionary arm to the English-speaking and Latin American worlds.

    The OCA, in my opinion, is too hampered by a leftist espiscopate that shares little in common with most of its faithful flock. As others have said on these pages, tragically I also can see the OCA splintering in years to come, with its leftist faction joining the Greeks as the newest Uniates, and the faithful Orthodox of the OCA rejoining ROCOR, as they were before the 1946 final split.

    ROCOR is no longer encumbered by the Greek Old Calendarists (thank God!) and their over-judgmental form of Orthodoxy, as it was in the 1960s-1970s.

    It’s funny, so many of the leftist OCA leadership and episcopate were up in arms 10 years ago when then-Metropolitan Jonah suggested selling the Syosset money pit mansion to move to live in his diocese in Washington DC. And now, 10 years later, here it is on the market for $6.5 mil and Met. Tikhon is doing just that. Hopefully they will at least acknowledge Met. Jonah’s prescience. It was a classic case of the OCA movers & shakers at the time saying “it’s not what you’re suggesting, but we don’t like who’s suggesting it!” How puerile.

    Keep the faith, love Christ, and move toward Orthodox unity and recovering the vision of St Tikhon. The smaller jurisdictions (Serbs, Romanians, even Antioch) are too wedded to their old country patriarchates to ever be super committed to American unity and mission. And the C’ple jurisdictions (GOA, ACROD, UOCofUSA) are just a stone’s throw from Uniatism unless they get out soon. Sad.

  18. By their works and fruits, you shall know them. Authentic Christians have the attitudes of the beatitudes , those with just the image of God, do not. The statement by the Christ is the fullness of the Truth. No other consideration is rightfully applied along with this Word of God. Especially denominations. As spiritual corruption in high places has manifested itself in all 10 kings of antichrist. Trust ye no man, The Christ meant what He said…

  19. Let me share my little secret with you. I’m an American-Greek, who loves his heritage-the history, language, food, music-the whole nine yards. But I left the GOA for ROCOR decades ago because of the fear that the leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church were hell-bent on uniting with the Roman Catholics by watering down the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Christ taught us that Christians are those who love their neighbors. I seek to love my neighbors, but at the same I hold on to my salvific Orthodox faith. I want to get to heaven.I can do both. And by living a life in Christ,  I can lead my neighbors to Christ’s saving Church. Getting back to my little secret, I secretly hope that the Orthodox jurisdictional problem remains unresolved for fear that in an united Church, my bishops could turn out to be promiscuous ecumenists. Kurie Eleison me!

    • You are wise with much insight, Peter.

    • Peter, 

      There are many of us like you – full Americans who have some Greek blood but no Russian blood, though our souls are 100% Russian.  I love my Russian Orthodox spirituality so much and the total life in Christ that it brings – I cannot imagine life without it.  

      It’s the spirit of the saintly reposed Archimandrite Nicholas Pekatoros ( 1996), the former pastor of St John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Washington DC.  His story – a Greek whose soul was full of Russian spirituality – is inspiring.  His gravesite in the ROCOR section of the Rock Creek cemetery in Washington D.C. is worth a visit. 

  20. I agree with Michael above saying that America is an idea, not completely a culture (though we have culture that focuses upon individualism and wants [rights]). Unity will never come by any political solution but only by repentance.
    I am reminded of a conversation I had years ago (before the current situation) with a friend from Montenegro. She lamented the corruption in her country and explained that God was punishing the Montenegrans for their sins. She said that only by her repentance and her people will God bless Montenegro again. 
    I believe that we are in a similar situation in America. I need to repent of modernism, political solutions, pride, and envy. Everyday we must lift up this country in our prayers and at Liturgy. I have the hope of Nineveh that this pagan place may become Orthodox for another solution will just bring us further from God and increase the spirit of the antichrist. We must become a people, an American people, and not an idea invented by men sympathetic to Masonism. Only God can save us.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      You and George think alike. I think he’s going to be writing something to this effect.

    • Michael Bauman says

      The Masonic influence on the construction of this country is significant.  The first seven Presidents were Masons or Masonically influenced.  Most of the founders too  

      • Michael Bauman says

        FACT CHECK.  A friend corrected me.  John Quincy Adams and his father were not Masons.  

        • George Michalopulos says

          Neither was Jefferson I believe. However almost all great thinkers of that time were at least influenced by Freemasonry.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Forgive me, I was wrong. Just on of those incorrect factoids that I picked up along time ago that I never bothered to verify.  
            Of such is most of our thinking I fear. All of our assumptions should be verified.  Otherwise we become like sounding brass and clanging symbols

        • Yes, the Adams were Unitarians. And all the Founders were church members. But regardless our ideas of separation of church and state as well as freedom of religion are based upon Masonic ideas of ecumenism that all faiths are equal. Heresy then does not exist. 
          Now some of the colonies had official religions but by the time of the Revolutionary War the American civil religion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this world was more important than salvation in the next.
          Personally I am having a hard time squaring being a ‘good’ American and promoting American values while being an Orthodox Christian. I think America is different from other countries because we are not a people united by human elements (family, ethnicity, blood or crown) but only by an idea and faith in the Constitution. America is a religion, not a race.
          I am only in my 30s and need the wisdom of the more experienced like Michael, George, and Fr. Pat. I am a traditionalist who had to live abroad to see what tradition real is. I believe that to become a more traditional American will just make me a more traditional Mason. How can you be an American and Orthodox when the values are in many ways opposite?
          I look forward to reading more from George and Gail. 

          • George Michalopulos says

            Quincy was a Trinitarian Christian.  Washington and Jefferson were officially Anglicans.  I believe Madison and Monroe were as well.

            • Thank you for your corrections George. Quincy was a good man but apparently a terrible president ( much like Carter). I am just now learning about the American Founders and reading their writings. American history only became interesting once I started to teach it.
              I still wonder what to think of ‘freedom of religion’ and what it means in a societal context. If we had a ‘freedom of religion’ in our parish, what would that look like? Would it look like an Orthodox Liturgy, U.U. service, or a Quaker service? Which outcome would bring us closer God?
              One can ‘officially’ believe anything, but we both know that actions are what truly matter. Freedom of religion looks like Ecumenism to me, but I am probably wrong and biased as my conclusions are based on anger and frustration.
              As I mentioned, I am still working out how Enlightenment ideas square with Orthodoxy (and if the can be squared at all). And of course I am approaching this in an Enlightenment way because rationalism is all that I know. The Spirit of God is elusive for me.
              I hope that someday this blog could host a Zoom discussion. It would be great to put a face to names and really talk. Well, as much as one can on Zoom.

  21. How about a simpler approach – a call for Akathists and litanies to be prayed for the church at given times and frequencies. I’m just a simple African who still thinks prayer solves everything. The reality is that most of us have nothing to offer, except to be an example to our neighbor, and to pray for our church leadership.
    May God have mercy on me.

    • Many of us have been praying daily and consistently. If things continue to deteriorate, it’s because God has other plans.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      There is nothing “simple” about your belief that prayer solves everything.  It requires considerable faith and maybe God has allowed this terrible scourge to remind us how important it is.One of our priests has suggested that because we are not in Church, the evil one is not being restrained by our prayers. 

      • George Michalopulos says

        Even secular sages such as Ben Franklin believed in the efficacy of religion believe it or not. He admonished Thomas Paine who detested organized religion thusly: “If you think that religious men do evil in spite of it, think of how much worse off we would be if they weren’t religious at all (a paraphrase).”

        Yes, I do believe that because we folded our tents so quickly upon the recommendation of the State, our lack of corporate prayer has unleashed a great evil upon the world.

        • cynthia curran says

          Ben Franklin the Cicero of his day. Cicero though the same thing about religion it might not be true but held a society together.

        • As CS Lewis argued in Mere Christianity,
          the point is not that Christians are perfect.
          It is that they would be worse if they were not Christian.