This Just In from the GOA Metropolis of NY/NJ

In the ongoing slow-motion schism that is developing between the GOA and the other Orthodox jurisdictions, the GOA decided to kick it up a notch.

As you can see from the memorandum below, Archbishop Elpidophoros wants the churches within New Jersey (which is part of his diocese) to start experimenting with female acolytes.

As to why this is not operative in New York State as well, we can speculate that this is because the “ministry” to the parents of LGBTQ+ at St Paraskevi’s Shrine, an agenda of the Fordhamites, fell flat.  

In reporting on the earlier incident at St Paraskevi Shrine, Helleniscope opined that George Demacopoulos, one of Fordhamites was behind this.  According to Nick Stamatakis, he received significant pushback from the congregation (as unfortunately was the parish priest who was caught unawares).

As you can see from the actual memorandum below, Demacopoulos is one of the engineers of this particular resolution as well.

I wonder, will the other bishops who make up the Assembly of Canonical Bishops stand up and take notice?  Or are they cowed because of what happened to Metropolitan Joseph when he spoke out against the abuses perpetrated by Archbishop Elpidophoros?


  1. Speaking as a former Roman Catholic, the faithful of that diocese better fight like Hell (pun intended) against this.

    Alter girls were initially allowed in RC’ism under limited situations, now it’s the norm in almost every parish I was part of. What happened when alter girls were allowed? Altar boys didn’t want to do it, and you know what happened -> ordination numbers tanked as being an altar boy was thought of as being a pathway to being a seminarian.

    That exact same thing will happen here.

    This will be the only diocese in the ENTIRE Orthodox world that would be doing this on paper. Let that sink in. The hubris of this man will never cease to amaze me.

  2. Antiochene Son says

    Only ordained subdeacons should serve as acolytes.

    The ONLY reason young boys were permitted to do this is because under the Ottoman yoke it was the only way to train future priests. But that’s not necessary anymore.

    Today it’s about how cute the boys look in their vestments — often and wrongly including a subdeacon’s orarion.

    Yeah that’s an extreme reaction, but it’s correct. If the alphabet people are going to abuse the excessive economy that has already been granted, then it’s time to reel it back in. That’s how you deal with excess.

    I don’t know if Met. Saba is up to the task of fulfilling Met. Joseph’s role of checking Elpi.

    • Solidarity Priest says

      I agree with almost everything you posted EXCEPT for the fact that there are entirely too many ordained subdeacons running around in both the OCA and ROCOR. Far too many of them can’t vest a bishop, which should be one of their main functions. One bishop said he wasn’t inclined to ordain subdeacons for parishes unless they would be serving at a bishop’s cathedral. The one time he went back on his own word and did ordain a subdeacon for a parish, the latter ended up cheating on his wife and moving in with another woman. Since the subdeaconate is an ordination, this is a pretty serious offence, as it would be for a deacon or priest.
      As far as abuses go, I can think of two Bulgarian metropolitans who went overboard; one here in the USA, another in Bulgaria. The one made a four year old kid subdeacon! He probably blessed the kid with the orarion without the actual ordination, but that is still a bit much. The other metropolitan tonsured at least one woman a reader here. The metropolitan was challenged by an archimandrite as to why he did this; his alleged response was,” I am the metropolitan.”.
      Now my son is a tonsured reader in ROCOR. He has a blessing to wear the orarion, but ONLY when serving with a bishop. ROCOR requires readers and subdeacons to vest for communion, something not encountered in the OCA.
      However, the OCA new directives for clergy make it clear that subdeacons and readers may not wear clergy vests, skufiyas, belts, or riassas, unless they are also monastics. So that’s a start. I believe that they have cracked down on the few parishes where some girls were permitted to serve in the altar. Plus, the OCA directives state that NO non Orthodox clerics be allowed in the sanctuary. Now, if they could just cut off communion with the EP…

    • It’s not extreme at all. The sooner altar boys are replaced by altar MEN the better. The altar is not supposed to be byzantine day care. It also safeguards against the rare but real possibility of abuse. Another item we need not copy from the Catholics. As for doing the “involve” the girls, it isn’t about “involvement”. Everyone is there to worship. To receive the boy and blood of Christ. That’s involvement that is unique and open to everyone, including babies who can’t talk. Ignoring Fordham is a great thing for everyone to do. Poisonous.

      • I agree with you. Ideally, only ordained subdeacons (that means men who are already married) should be allowed to serve in the Altar and wear the orarion.

        I also think that they (and ordained readers) should wear their black cassocks while on parish grounds (but not in civilian life).

        • Antiochene Son says

          All minor clergy wear cassocks on parish grounds at my parish. Also, bob: well said.

          As an aside, regarding Metropolitan Saba, I found it interesting the Metropolitan alone was commemorated in the services today, not the diocesan bishop. I don’t know if that was just a slip by our clergy or the result of a directive, but it could be a sign of consolidation of the archdiocese. Which would be a mistake IMO; Met. Joseph didn’t let the bishops do much of anything, which was a real problem for administrative efficiency.

          • I can’t imagine this is something a priest would forget to do.

            If there is but one bishop commemorated in America (Met. Saba) and he’s a member of the Holy Synod in Syria, the Antiochians could avoid the clutches of Elpi because there would be no American bishops in the EP’s diaspora.

            Just saying. . .

            • Curious to note that Elpi is trying to push for the same thing in the GOA, subsume all authority under the archbishop.

              I’m sure you’ve noticed that what we are seeing with the St. Parskevi “ministry” & now this with the altar boy “girls” is all happening under the Direct Archdiocesan District which Elpi is Metropolitan over. He is pushing to have all the GOA Metropoli answer to him and have the Metropolitans downgraded to bishops with little authority.
              What he is doing in his own Metropolis now will 100% be implemented over the entire GOA should he get his way with the new charter.

              There are Ephraim monasteries directly under him, will they be forced to implement this?

              • I have heard from many people that the monasteries are not on board. How could they be? I could see where he might think what they think or do is inconsequential at this point. He’s just going to keep pushing.

                • Joseph Lipper says

                  Women’s monasteries already have female monastics serving in the altar, but I don’t think they would allow girls to do this. There is no need anyways.

                  • You are correct, Joseph.

                    There is no canonical bar to females in the Altar per se. The conditions however are explicit: in monastic churches (i.e. convents) and being post-menopausal.

                    Now I agree that the canonical conditions for men serving in the Altar are pretty explicit themselves and –let us be frank–are flagrantly abused but that’s not a reason that we can’t go back to the rigorous practices and I think we should.

                    • Canon 44 of the council of Laodicea prohibits women from the altar.
                      But the history of canon law on the subject and commentary makes it clear that the prohibition is focused on women of the age who experience menstruation rather than young girls or post-menopausal women. Thus, the prohibition is not observed for such women who clean the altar area or older nuns. And, of course, a bishop could grant an ad hoc exception if needed.

                      The real question is not, however, “can this pass canonical muster?” The question should be “why are we intent on rocking the boat?” The answer to that is usually some expression of soft or hard feminism which is incompatible with Christianity. There is nothing unseemly or wrong, and everything right, about the patriarchy.

                      It does remind me of a funny story though. In my old Greek parish, the priest’s daughters sometimes took the board for cutting antidoron or the bowl behind the deacons’ doors. They were only there briefly and it was a very cosmopolitan parish so it caused no consternation among the laity. However, we had a monk from Athos visit on a couple of occasions (he was having surgery at a hospital in the region) and we were careful to instruct the girls not to enter the deacons’ doors but to ask one of us. The priest was concerned the monk might simply walk out of the church offended.

                • I’m still perplexed as to why the monasteries choose to remain under the GOA. From the non-canonical actions of the Ep, the seemingly headlong union to Rome, the non-stop scandals of Elpi. How much longer are they going to be able to remain?

                  wonder, will the other bishops who make up the Assembly of Canonical Bishops stand up and take notice? Or are they cowed because of what happened to Metropolitan Joseph when he spoke out against the abuses perpetrated by Archbishop Elpidophoros?

                  I’m with George on this as well. It will be very telling to see how the other jurisdictions react.
                  Given that Met. Saba was enthroned this past Saturday and his close ties with the Russians (and Antioch’s close ties with Russia in general), it will be interesting to see how things play out.
                  TBH I really do wish the Russians were still on the AOB, I do not think the Greeks would be able to get much of anything done, now that the Russians are gone it’s carte blanch for Elpi

                  • I’m still perplexed as to why the monasteries choose to remain under the GOA. From the non-canonical actions of the Ep, the seemingly headlong union to Rome, the non-stop scandals of Elpi. How much longer are they going to be able to remain?

                    It all comes down to who owns the real estate of the monasteries. If the monks own the legal deeds to their monasteries, they can leave the EP/GOA for another jurisdiction. I expect there will be a lot of court battles over real estate, like the battles between the leftist Episcopal Church and various conservative dioceses (ie. ACNA in Fort Worth and South Carolina).

                    On that topic, how long before Bart an Elpi claim that they have the legal right to all the real estate of all the Orthodox churches that participate in ACOB? One can make a legal argument that by fraternizing with the EP under the auspices of ACOB, those other jurisdictions are acquiescing to the EP’s leadership. Cause you know, the EP is “first among equals” and all your diasporas are belong to them! My advice for all jurisdictions: stay as far away from the EP as you would from your mother-in-law, to quote a joke by Elder Ephraim of blessed memory, who, in all fairness, referred to staying away from sin:

                    • Welcome to the blog, Larry. You fit right in!

                    • Larry says:

                      It all comes down to who owns the real estate of the monasteries. If the monks own the legal deeds to their monasteries, they can leave the EP/GOA for another jurisdiction. I expect there will be a lot of court battles over real estate, like the battles between the leftist Episcopal Church and various conservative dioceses (ie. ACNA in Fort Worth and South Carolina).

                      Bingo! Larry has stated it succinctly. Beware! The Episcopal Church won most of its battles to retain wandering real estate on the basis of the Dennis Canon. The GOA was certainly watching while it all unfolded.

                      In 1979, the Episcopal Church amended its canons to include a provision whereby all dioceses and local churches agreed to hold their property in trust for the national church. The Dennis Canon, as it is known, was a response to a schism within the church and an attempt by the national church to preserve real property owned by local parishes. Many courts construing the effect of the Dennis Canon have found it applies even when common law trust principles would provide otherwise. (quotation from Walker Humphrey)

                      Note: 1979 was the year that the “new and improved” U.S. Book of Common Prayer was distributed and three years after the illicit priestly ordination of several women in Philadelphia. Those were two strong reasons for people and parishes to walk away, but most parishes had to leave their gorgeous church buildings behind because of the Dennis Canon.

                      Speaking of gorgeous buildings, those who have visited them will know that the monasteries established by Elder Ephraim are built by expert craftsmen from the finest construction materials. The benefactors who donated the funds for the purchases of the land and the creation of such opulence in the middle of nowhere may not take kindly to the separation of the monasteries from the GOA, should it come to that. I would say that it is all but guaranteed that, barring a miracle, there will be bitter legal battles over the title deeds to the monastic properties, especially if Mr. Elpi can pass a new archdiocesan charter that serves as a legal instrument with binding force similar to the TEC’s Dennis Canon.

                      Well, anyway, that’s just conjecture on my part. Does anyone know more about this subject than I do?

                    • Lenny Velios says

                      cf Coming Catholic Church by David Gibson. Argues Germans were used to being independently run by parish council (both in Protestant Germany and in USA) but Irish arriving after 1848 were more hierarchical in ownership. First Bishop (Carroll) also advocated autonomous home rule elected Bishop locally not from Rome. Kinda endorses CCP arguments in China. Hopko used to say when Brooklyn Greeks beat up Tikhon for claiming to be their bishop, Tikhon said “The Germans hung their Irish bishop”. But this book puts a different spin on that, that American churches were ALWAYS more independent of their hierarchies. The OCA parallels the Irish in this way, not always favorably.

                    • Larry, your sage advice reminds me of an old Greek maxim my mother used to say: ta matia sou, deka! (“Your eyes: ten!”)

                      Truth be told, I can see the EP pulling a stunt like this.

                    • Great insights!

            • Mark E. Fisus says

              Or they could just not care what LP thinks

              • Oh, I’m sure they don’t.

                • ROCOR – OCA primatial Liturgy on Memorial Day


                  This will mark the first time in the hundred years of ROCOR’s existence that the Primate of the OCA or the Russian Metropolia – as the OCA was popularly called before being granted autocephaly in 1970 – and the First Hierarch of ROCOR will have concelebrated Liturgy at a church of the OCA or Metropolia.

                  Really interesting development. This may be a further showcase of not only the Antiochians centralizing to get away from the GOA, but also the strengthening of ROCOR-OCA

                  • Petros, you are most likely correct! And, I’m very sure that Elpi is twisting and turning in his sleep because of this, too.

          • Paul Snedeker says

            Our priest informed us that “In accordance with recent instructions from His Beatitude Patriarch JOHN X, we will no longer be commemorating His Grace Bishop ALEXANDER during Liturgical Services unless he is physically present with us.”

            He later responded to my question about a rationale: : “No rationale was expressly given, though I assume this is to bring us into conformity with the other Archdioceses and reinforce the fact that Sayidna Saba is the only ruling bishop, with all others merely being Auxiliaries. If I recall correctly, there was one previous attempt to enforce this during Sayidna Philip’s time, but that didn’t wind up going through. “

            • In Met. Philip’s time (2009), he demoted enthroned, diocesan bishops to an auxiliary status. That has continue to this day. Not commemorating them is new. But I believe it’s being done to more closely tie the Archdiocese with the Patriarchate so the EP can’t claim them as part of his diaspora.

          • Papa Ieramias says

            Beloved in Christ,
            The Antiochian clergy were instructed to solely commemorate “our Father and Metropolitan SABA,” unless one of the auxiliary bishops is physically present…then he would be commemorated in addition to the Metropolitan. This is carry-over from when Met. PHILIP ‘demoted’ the diocesan bishops to auxiliaries. We will see if this changes with time.

            • Thank you for the explanation!

            • Antiochene Son says

              Thank you, Papa Ieramias.

              So are you saying that ever since Met. Philip’s “demotion” of the diocesan bishops, they were not supposed to be commemorated? Because our auxiliary bishop has been commemorated at every service for as long as I can remember, at many different parishes.

              I’ll be honest, I was disheartened to listen to Met. Saba’s enthronement speech. He says he has no agenda or program to outline, and that is very spiritual and good. But if he isn’t a man with a plan, he is going to face a lot of people pushing him to do different things, and I fear his lack of experience with American religious politics and culture wars is going to leave him open for challenges that a more savvy leader wouldn’t have to worry about. Then we have to wonder who his trusted inner circle is, who will be helping him navigate all this? We haven’t had a Metropolitan with zero American enculturation in the whole lifetime of most Antiochians.

              Since you seem to be “in the know,” or at least you may have heard rumors, does Met. Saba intend to run the Archdiocese as a one-man show, with certain priest advisors in NYC having more actual authority than the auxiliary bishop on all but the most mundane administrative matters? Because that is the only thing I can really criticize Met. Joseph for—the auxiliary bishops’ lack of authority and having to run everything through Englewood. So much so, that after Met. Joseph was retired there was actually a flurry of administrative progress on certain things I know were held up for a long time.

              Is he going to put new bishops in the vacant dioceses, or will they continue to go defunct as their auxiliary bishops retire? Where will future metropolitans come from if there are no American hierarchs? Syria?

              I don’t think that is a positive development, and Met. Saba’s assurances to the AOB that he was going to play along were rather disheartening. He may be a holy man who has suffered much in Syria and served his former flock well, but I fear he has zero knowledge or understanding of the problems facing the American church and the underhanded politics he is facing from the Fordhamite wing.

              I get the feeling that the Holy Synod put their thumb heavily on the scale in the election process. I barely heard of Met. Saba before he ended up in the top three. That is their right, but I pray they have put Met. Saba in place for the health and salvation of the American flock first and foremost, not for the sake of putting their inside man in charge. I pray he is able to keep the important work of evangelism a top priority and not turn the AOCNA into a backward-facing naval-gazing ethnic-focused jurisdiction like some.

    • Stratos Fotopoulos says

      The “subdeacon’s orarion” used by acolytes in the GOA, some metropolises in Greece, the Jerusalem and Alexandrian patriarchates comes straight down in front, not crossed in front (as the case of the subdeacon, and deacon as well (from the Lord’s prayer to communion). Interestingly, I’ve also seen oraria worn the way our acolytes do, on acolytes and choirs of at least one of the “Oriental Orthodox” (the Copts I think).

    • Actually Readers have that role too but then there are WAY too many untrained Readers running around. As one priest mentioned to me, it is like a “…prize for attendance…”. But then when you have trained Readers who refuse to put up with choose your own liturgics types of nonsense from priests the Reader gets a bad rap and the Reader is blacklisted as “difficult”. The only solution is to make a serious vocation, require training and mentorship and hold priests accountable for innovation.

      This unfortunately cuts both ways.

  3. Antiochene Son says

    “the false notion that only men are allowed in the altar”

    No, only those with business in the altar are allowed in the altar. Not even the priest can enter the altar without business there.

    • Indeed. No one has ‘rights’ in the altar.
      All some may have are duties;
      but when those are done,
      they leave…

    • Ha ha! Mr. Nick is a very smart man!

    • I’d be curious to get Nick’s take on the Turkish elections and its eventual effect on the EP. The guys over at the Duran are saying it’s looking increasingly likely that Erdogan will be re-elected in the second round. Can’t help but think that gives Erdogan several years to affiliate more with Russia and to push out the western puppet that is Bart.

      Maybe that’s what David Erhan was referring to when he said the EP was very scare do fhte Turkish government.

  4. mamma mia says

    Such a slippery slope.
    There are a couple of GOA churches in the San Diego area that have female acolytes – dressed in robes just like their male counterparts.

    What I don’t understand is that in these particular churches, there are many converts that fled Protestant denominations because they were ordaining women, a sign of the denomination’s progressiveness.

    It is clear, by the numbers, that Christian denominations that have elevated women to the clergy are not doing well and are bleeding members. Surely, this is not the greatest example to follow?

    • Colmcille says

      I attended one of those Greek parishes in San Diego. I left when the priest refused to go back to the one spoon during communion. I told him if it is truly the Body and Blood of Christ it would only harm me if I did not properly prepare and took it without humility and reverence. He disagreed. I was very close to this priest. He married my wife and I, baptized our child. But our falling out was horrible. Many parishioners left due to the communion spoons and his insistence on masks. I was told that some even went to Protestant churches. Recently, I heard he has introduced female “acolytes.” They wear vestments, do processions, but they sit in the front and do not go in the altar area. I left Protestantism for Holy Tradition not innovation. Sadly, my priest/friend and I parted ways.

    • Seems to me that this is all under the umbrella of “gravely misdirected false compassion.”

      American secular society is so good at judgmentally pointing out how “sexist” or “racist” or “transphobic” or whatever it thinks we are. So many of us don’t have the language or fortitude to resist this.

      Seems that some think they’re being compassionate by having girls serve as acolytes — “after all if I don’t, doesn’t that mean that I like my sons better than my daughters?”

      These are real conversations that happen at home. Many authority figures (in schools, etc) sensitize all of us to be hypervigilant as to how we may be victimized or marginalized or discriminated against. It’s the sea we swim in everywhere, all the time.

      Many – including priests and clergy – don’t have the language to combat this or to teach us differently. When I was a kid, saying “that’s just not how it’s done” was sufficient. No longer is this the case.

      It’s all false compassion.

      American secular society has no way to process our Orthodox language about holiness, about what the purpose of the altar is, etc. They don’t get it and aren’t interested.

      All they do is tell young Orthodox girls to be hypervigilant that they may be discriminated against, then the girls and families tell their priests/bishops that they’re being discriminated against, then the GOA capitulates. Same story for the last 50 years probably, far worse now though. Rinse and repeat. Total win for secularism.

      • All excellent points, FTS.

        The money-shot however is in your fifth paragraph, that parish priests don’t have the language or fortitude to tell some harridan or her hen-pecked husband why Missy can’t be an Altar-girl. That’s especially true of GOA priests, most of whom are hypervigilant of their salaries.

        The sad truth is that these priests are caught between a rock (their bishops) and a hard place (their well-heeled congregants). Four years ago, we published a recording of the then newly-enthroned Arb Elpidophoros and a Q&A he had with several of the GOA priests. If memory serves, there were six questioners total and all but one spoke in the defeated tones of a depleted man.

        That’s when I suspected that his tenure would be disastrous as far as stalwart Orthodoxy was concerned.

        • Solidarity Priest says

          I DO tell my people,” That’s just not how it’s done.” Fortunately, they listen. I suspect that the high standards of my predecessors are the reason. My one tonsured reader and president is on board, because he was trained properly. One adult male is my only altar server most of the time.
          In a perfect world, we would have enough responsible adult males trained as deacons or minor clerics. In a perfect world, we’d also have the emperor keeping watch over the church, the Byzantine system of checks and balances.
          If I may amplify my above answer to Antiochian Son, it IS my business as priest what goes on in the altar. That is because it isn’t “my” altar, but God’s altar, of which I am the custodian of, answerable to the bishop. Even a mitered Archpriest or Archimandrite cannot come in and pull rank on me, unless he is specifically delegated by the bishop to do so.

      • Jeff Moss says

        At my parents’ Roman Catholic parish in an East Coast university town, there are two young priests who only accept male college students as acolytes. They keep telling the congregation that they are treating service at the altar as a stepping stone to seminary, and only young men who are considering clergy vocations will be accepted as acolytes. That’s one way to keep it focused!

        • rdrjames says

          Good for your RC friend! We have a number of young guys in the altar, but more than that, mature men, including Readers and Subdeacons. One our guys was ordained to the Diaconate this weekend at St. Tikhon’s. Glory to God. We are a conservative OCA parish in WA state.

          • Jeff Moss says

            Glory to God!

            I live in eastern WA myself.

          • Mark E. Fisus says

            conservative OCA parish

            It’s disappointing that it has become necessary to add qualifiers such as “conservative” to describe parishes.

  5. Krikers! What’s next…?

  6. ROCOR Layman says

    The liberals at HCHC will use to vet traditional seminarians who will refuse to serve in the altar with females, same as how the Anglicans used shepriests as a way of vetting future clergy.

    • Sarah Karcher says

      I really hope not. This isn’t the direction I am seeing at HCHC as an alum of Hellenic College.

  7. Gen Corr says

    “Or are they cowed because of what happened to Metropolitan Joseph when he spoke out against the abuses perpetrated by Archbishop Elpidophoros?”

    What part did Elpi play in “what happened” to Met Joseph? Met Joseph was exposed as having a long private affair with a woman. I’m sure Elpi didn’t cause the affair. Are you saying Elpi had a hand in exposing it?

    I’d appreciate some clarification here.

    • With regard to Metropolitan Joseph, he vehemently denies the affair and because he wasn’t given the opportunity to have “his day in court,” so to speak, the jury is still out as far as Monomakhos is concerned.

      If this affair happened, it is very strange that it would surface 17 years after the fact right after Met. Joseph wrote a very public letter on AOCB letterhead challenging Elpi over the Belya situation. Elpi was visibly angry, as evidenced by his own response in writing.

      I was in the Antiochian jurisdiction long enough to have made some good friends who are integral to workings of the Archdiocese. They told me a lot of money changed hands when this happened and it came from multiple places.

      So to clarify, no one is blaming someone’s purported affair on Elpi!!!

      What George and I are saying is we think Met. Joseph was taken out of the equation by Elpi because Met. Joseph took the initiative, on behalf of the Assembly, to challenge his authority. Otherwise, why bring it up now? If it happened, it should have been brought up years ago.

      It’s not unusual for the Deep State to remove people from the present, using particulars in their past (real or perceived) to do it. Elpi is part of the intelligence community. He needs to unify the Assembly so Bartholomew can claim the diaspora, i.e. the entire continent.

      Antioch, we believe, is making organizational changes to strengthen their claim that the Archdiocese is not part of the diaspora. As is stands, the auxiliary bishops merely assist a bishop who is a member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate in Syria. Bartholomew can have no claim on them or their property because he has no jurisdiction over Antioch.

      At least this is what George and I think and the fact that the local bishops are no longer commemorated seems to suggest this, as well.

      • ‘ … he wasn’t given the opportunity to have “his day in court”. ‘

        Some will consider him guilty until proven innocent;
        and some will think him innocent until proven guilty.

        Which we choose speaks more about us
        than it says about Metropolitan Joseph.

      • Antioch, we believe, is making organizational changes to strengthen their claim that the Archdiocese is not part of the diaspora. As is stands, the auxiliary bishops merely assist a bishop who is a member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate in Syria. Bartholomew can have no claim on them or their property because he has no jurisdiction over Antioch.

        It would be very entertaining to see Bartholomew try and do this. I would say its insane, but, it is 100% believable given the hubris of that Patriarchate.

        I wonder if that’s why Elpi has been pushing so hard to get the Russians to rejoin the AOB:


        A) He knows the AOB is falling apart and this is his last chance to keep the EP power in America from slipping further.

        B) He knows the EP is going to make a power grab for all the diaspora in America, which, good freakin luck with that.

        Both of those would explain his plea during Met. Saba’s enthronement. But, I have to imagine that him chiding the bishops for not recognizing the OCU probably rubbed the other bishops in the AOB the real wrong way

        • Remember, too, that the EP was asking about ROCOR, where their parishes were and the names of their priests. – I’m guessing we’re going to see some drama down the road.

          • More dots are appearing on the page, aren’t they? Pretty soon we’ll be able to connect them.

          • Gail, I think that he (Elpi) was asking about ROCOR, plus the MP and OCA parishes, too. But that’s just my recollection.

            • He was indeed. It seems there has been some crossover as of late. Good priests and deacons prefer to help out with them.

          • Mark E. Fisus says

            ROCOR parishes and their priests — that’s publicly available information. The question is what GOARCH intended to accomplish by publicly signaling interest in that information.

          • That was in the Metropolis of NY/NJ as well. All of this seems to be happening in Elpi’s direct area of influence. I have a hard time believing that Met. Isaiah, Gerasimos or Alexios would go along with that. It seems Elpi’s territory is the testing grounds.

  8. LonelyDn says

    I will flat out refuse to serve with any priest/bishop allowing women/girls in the altar. Period. The GOA has gone too far already wrecking the Ukraine. They and the globalists ruling over them are simply using these poor girls as proxy warriors. These Rainbow Marxists must be defeated with love and prayer, holding fast to the Holy Tradition and our conscience.

  9. A woman I met in an Orthodox parish years ago, was on her way to an Orthodox women’s monastery to become a nun. She was a convert (like me) and told me her story. She said she had planned on becoming an Episcopal “priestess” but she met a friend who had become Orthodox. This friend shared with her something that she said “shook her to the core.” Her friend drew the symbol for Christ overcoming the world, a circle (orb) with a cross on top. When her friend inverted it showing the world over the cross, it was also the symbol for woman. She said she was mortified. She converted to Orthodoxy and felt she should join a women’s monastery. I tell this story because I believe that God’s design and order has a purpose. This can be seen in the Protestant denominations that have embraced the idea of women in roles that God has reserved for men. From the acceptance of homosexuality as part of God’s plan to the redefining of the Godhead Himself these groups are no longer “heterodox”, they are heretical.

  10. Elpi along with his cohort look-alikes are all only a recipe for going into perdition in the eternal after-life. I would just run not look back not even for a glimpse.

  11. Mark E. Fisus says

    Plot twist, these altar “girls” are really boys. Everybody breathe a sigh of relief, we can go home now. Serious.

  12. Whiskey Six says

    The Bishops don’t have to worry about getting the Joseph treatment if they aren’t sleeping around. The ones that are compromised do have something to worry about. They can stand up for what’s right. Covid pretty much revealed which ones had their eyes on this world and which ones heaven. As to Altar boys our GOA priest has told them it’s training for the priesthood. They want the boys to want to go to seminary to be priests deacons monks bishops. How is this a bad thing? The girls should stay out.

    • Mark E. Fisus says

      I converted as an adult so I never had the altar experience. Is there really a correlation between altar service and seminary matriculation? It seems these days that seminaries are just mainly converts and cradle kids don’t even attend church anymore, but of course my view is not a rigorous statistical sampling.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Boys whose parents would discourage their sons to be priests or monks should also not be allowed to serve in the altar, because what are they then training for?

      But really, it should just be subdeacons. The ancient minimum was that marriage should be a settled question for anyone entering the sacred precincts of the altar: either under the vow of marriage or celibacy.

  13. I second those who say fight this tooth and nail. The RCC let girls start serving at the altar and vocations to the priesthood collapsed, because boys don’t like serving with girls. It feminized the whole church, far more women in and serving in the RCC now than men.

    And I like that it really should be men serving, not boys. As a woman and a convert to Orthodoxy, I like the masculinity of the Orthodox Church compared to RC and want to protect and promote it. And frankly even if older women are allowed to serve, it should only be a rare necessity, not a norm.

    • All very true

      Plus the slippery slope that leads from girl altar servers to “Eucharistic Minister of Holy Communion” who are 8 times out of 10 middle-aged/old women handing out communion in their hand and standing on the altar is a very small slope to slide.

      You let 1 aberration in and then the torrent comes.

  14. Lenny Velios says

    John McGuckin had altar girls at St Gregory in NYC, but it caused a stir

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Did they actually have a consecrated altar though? I can understand this happening with mission parishes that aren’t fully developed yet, when services are being held in borrowed space, and there are a limited number of people present.

      Sometimes, in those situations, priests might have daughters but no sons to help them. Sometimes priests just have to make do with what they have. Of course the bishop should be made aware, but in those situations, I don’t think it’s worth being scandalized about.

      • Antiochene Son says

        Priests can celebrate the liturgy without servers. They are not strictly necessary, although it does take longer.

      • Solidarity Priest says

        Please, Joseph, please. Stop rationalizing and making excuses for the inexcusable. If the priest has daughters, it doesn’t matter. They stay out of the altar. If the priest has no altar servers, he makes do without them. Last Sunday, my one server wasn’t present. I served without help. One gentleman entered the side room to the left of the altar to cut up the antidoron. That was it.
        See, this rationalizing away things is what got us into this mess in the first place. If the bishops would simply say that we won’t depart from the teachings of the church, this blog might not be needed. Every bloody time someone like the Greek Archbishop does something off course, like baptizing the adopted children of a gay couple, you always seem to rush in with some sort of defense. I have said it once, I will say it a thousand times, you may be entitled to your opinion, but you are NOT entitled to your own theology. Not if you are Orthodox, that is.

        • Joseph Lipper says

          It also sounds like you have a consecrated altar, and that’s a best case scenario. In some mission parishes I have visited, though, it is a borrowed space.

          If the priest is serving Divine Liturgy in a middle school cafeteria on a Sunday morning (which I’ve seen happen), then there is not even an iconostasis. The priest just has an antimens and the blessing of his bishop to serve. Given such circumstances, a young daughter who is helping the priest is not even really in an altar.

          I only bring this up, because I suspect the reference of “altar girls at St. Gregory’s in NYC” was also at a mission setting without a consecrated altar, perhaps even without an iconostasis.

          Sure, some would still demand that if the priest doesn’t have available men or boys to help him, then he should do everything by himself. Yes, if that’s what the bishop actually demands, then of course. As for myself, I wouldn’t judge a priest for having girls help him with Divine Liturgy in a temporary setting without a consecrated altar.

          • Fr Gregory Hogg says

            I don’t see what difference the altar being consecrated has on the issue. Can you unpack this, please?

            • Fr. Gregory,

              Warm greetings from Northwest Indiana to you and Fr. John. We remember you and your lovely Khourias with gratitude and fondness for all the effort you put forth for our parish. Hope to see you all again if ever we’re near Holy Cross.

          • Antiochene Son says

            The antimens makes it an altar.

            I’ll echo Solidarity Priest that you tend to vigorously defend highly irregular acts. As we have seen with “extraordinary ministers of communion” in the Roman church, the irregular has a funny way of becoming the norm once it gets institutional support.

            People are sinners and will abuse whatever slack they can get. That’s why “we don’t do that” is an acceptable and necessary answer.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              How do you delineate the boundaries of an altar, or sanctuary, when there is no consecrated sanctuary, no iconostasis, and just an antimins? In such an irregular situation, I suppose the antimins by itself would then constitute the altar sanctuary. I suppose whomever functions as an “altar server”, in those situations, wouldn’t really be serving “within an altar”.

              Yes, it’s irregular, but sometimes irregular situations exist. In irregular situations, people can be baptized with sand, but water is always still preferable. The point here is not to be irregular, but to recognize that allowances can be made for certain irregularities.

              The goal of any Orthodox mission is to eventually have a consecrated altar, but people have to start somewhere. When I once attended an Orthodox mission like this, there was a young girl helping out her dad, the priest, getting him things during the Divine Liturgy and holding a candle at the Gospel, etc. When I enquired about this, the priest responded that they (obviously) didn’t yet have a consecrated altar. I took this to mean that if there was a consecrated altar, then there wouldn’t be a young girl serving like this.

              At any rate, let’s not create dogmas out of thin air when none exist. The normal situation in any women’s monastery is to have female altar servers at consecrated altars. Perhaps these nuns are supposed to be post-menopausal. So perhaps there are irregular circumstances where girls before the age of menstruation (and also post-menopausal women) might help serve the priest even in the altar during Divine Liturgy.

              • Solidarity Priest says

                That priest was wrong; I don’t care if he has ten doctorates in theology and is the bishop’s brother. I’m afraid that with too many people today, it’s all about feeling. The priest’s daughter doesn’t want to FEEL left out or else her father doesn’t want her to FEEL left out. But such priests make it difficult for the rest of us.
                Have I made mistakes as a priest? Absolutely. Being made a priest at the ridiculously young age of twenty four was mine. And a lot of people suffered for this mistake; my wife, my children,and my flock. But the church has suffered from those who continue to mistakenly put human feelings and emotions above what is right

              • Antiochene Son says

                But a baptism is necessary for salvation, so to permit even sand to be used in an emergency is understandable.

                A priest does not NEED a server, no one HAS to hand him things or hold a candle during the Gospel. Lack of a server is not an emergency. This sounds like gratuitous breaking of standards for excuses.

                Every mission I have been to has used portable icon stands to delineate the altar area. Just because it’s not consecrated does not mean that space isn’t BEING the altar. We still bow towards it and cross ourselves. We still don’t enter it if we don’t have business there. The space IS a church when it is blessed with holy water and used for that purpose. And even in the absence of icons (very irregular, even for a mission, and making censings odd) the place where the priest stands is the altar.

                If someone is going to dispute the general practice of the church, they have to not only justify it, but also prove how the existing standard is wrong. Just because it isnt a dogma does not mean it’s totally up to each person’s opinion. What has been received by the church in general is the standard, dogma or not, and it can’t be flouted. Even if some isolated saint or bishop agrees with it.

          • Antiochene Son says

            The same goes for evening divine liturgies, frankly, which I see have become the norm on feast days in many Antiochian parishes. Not good! At this point the laity who won’t or can’t use vacation to observe the Feasts expect them and get upset and feel excluded when they aren’t offered.

            That’s how this stuff happens. It starts small with practical “solutions” and since you caved once you’ll cave again. Today evening liturgies aren’t permitted on Saturdays or Sundays, but tomorrow? This also happened in the Latin church, where “anticipated masses” are now totally normal, even on Saturday evenings. Never get up early for church again!

            If you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything.

  15. Update from an attendee at the conference:

    “One of our correspondents who attended the recent meeting of the Metropolis of New Jersey just informed us that the measure to “develop the role of women and girls in the life of the contemporary Orthodox Church in America” was hastily withdrawn by one of the persons who were in favor of it (quite possibly because there was vocal pushback from several of the attendees).

    “In essence, the reason for withdrawing the measure given was because such a step was beyond the competency of a clergy-laity gathering and, in accordance with the Uniform Parish Regulations,* it was a canonical issue and therefore, the sole province of the episcopate. 

    “This put some of the Archons who were pushing for this (i.e. Carey J Limberakis and George E Demacopoulos, et al) on the back-foot as it were.  The fact that Archbishop Elpidophoros invited them to pursue this topic means of course that he was on board with this –as well as other liberalizing trends–in the first place.  Despite this embarrassing turn of events, His Eminence requested that “dialogue” continue in this matter.  He even mentioned that this was necessary in order to address the issue of attendance, which has dropped precipitously in that metropolis.    
    “Although this measure was immediately tabled, it is clear to many who were there that this was a trial balloon, one intended to gauge the reaction of the laity and then bring it up at the next meeting of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.”

    *Ironically, the GOA, being without a Charter, is operating on an ad hoc basis.  This means that until this issue is resolved, the Archdiocese as a whole is now legally operating under a congregational system.  Because the previous Charter stipulated that the GOA is a hierarchical Church and subject to the Canons of the Church, the Archdiocese (as well as individual parishes) are subject to legal exposure.  

    • ..was hastily withdrawn by one of the persons who were in favor of it (quite possibly because there was vocal pushback from several of the attendees).

      Thanks be to God!


      Ahh the favorite buzzword of libs. I’ve heard from people who used to be Episcopalians that “dialogue” was the big buzzword for introducing female priestesses, etc. That was essentially means “sit down, shut up, until I push my agenda through.”

      He even mentioned that this was necessary in order to address the issue of attendance, which has dropped precipitously in that metropolis.

      The attendance hasn’t dropped bc they don’t have females in the altar, it’s dropped due to the vast myriad of reasons that have been covered over the years by Helleniscope, Monomakhos and other blogs. Jay Dyer, who everyone knows has a cast reach on converts, doesn’t directly steer people away from the GOA, but he and other converts know that if there is a better Orthodox option then avoid the GOA. There’s a reason why you don’t see the GOA getting the same huge number of converts that ROCOR, Antiochians & the OCA do.

      No amount of liberalizing is going to fix that, quite the opposite, it will expedite its demise. Look at the Lutherans, Episcopalians, modern Roman Catholicism. It hasn’t worked for anyone.

      Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

      I’m no fan of Bartholomew, but even I have a hard time believing he would even go along with this. It’s coming from one problematic Metropolis of the many under the EP. Also, given how the other Metropolitans “went off” on Elpi when they were in Istanbul to discuss thenew charter, I can’t imagine they’re keen on it either.

    • What you’re seeing are modernist guerrilla tactics to introduce all kinds of abomination into the Orthodox Church. They propose then withdraw, then push some more, quietly here and there, use wealthy backers and political pressure to get their way.

      These are the same tactics used by modernists in the 1940s and 1950s in the Roman Catholic Church which ended up paving the way for Vatican II in the 1960s and the evil “Novus Ordo Missae”, vernacular masses, altar girls, clown masses, guitar masses, priests on hoverboards during the mass (yes, it’s on YouTube). My grandmother stopped going to Mass around 1971 (in the Philippines) because she was so scandalized by the changes. She stayed home and prayed the Rosary. If you aren’t hyper vigilant and fight back like a boxer in a ring, the modernists will take over your churches. Modernism is an evil invasive weed.

    • Given how altar girls are also apparently a thing under Antioch, I have to wonder if the centralization of power under Met. Saba is to reign certain abuses in?

      • Michael Bauman says

        Well, I have been in the Antiochian Archdiocese for 36 years. I have never seen any thing resembling an “Altar Girl”. in my parish right now we have a couple of young men growing their first beards after growing up in the Altar. I cannot imagine the current clergy would agree to such a thing. Of course that includes Bp. Basil, Emeritus. Nor would much of the congregation.

        How is it “a thing”?

  16. Stratos Fotopoulos says

    A certain Fr. Joseph Ratzinger a number of years ago noticed in Germany how optimistic the liberals in the Church were, and he posits three hypotheses, in his ordered rational mind that is quintessentially a German twist on the Roman mind.

    “Possibly this optimism was the method come up with by those who desire the destruction of the old Church and under the guise of reform wanted without much fuss to build a totally different Church, a Church after their own taste.”

    I think that the whole of the Woke-a-doxy is captured in this premise.

  17. Fr Nicholas Young says

    In my experience, having more than two “altar servers” is asking for disorder. One server can stand on either side of the altar and of the Gospel book during the reading. This makes for more elaborate, but orderly, ceremony. However, no one needs more than one “server” to do what needs to be done ( heat water, wash hands). I’ve been present at liturgies where someone has had to tell the servers to shut their mouth over and over again. What real good does that do anyone? As someone said, this is worship, not a babysitting service!

    • Michael Bauman says

      Fr. Nicholas,
      At my parish we have two priests and a deacon, a sub-deacon and 12 altar boys most Sundays. I have rarely seen any confusion and the boys learn a lot. When my brother was ordained about 20 years ago, my son, 12-14 at the time was able to help guide the priests through a hierarchical Divine Liturgy because he had served more than either of them had. One priest afterword was vociferous in his thanks.

      I have never known minimalism to be part of Orthodoxy

  18. LonelyDn says

    Remember, the GOA is compromised by its Archbishop as well as the faithful who go along with him and his handlers.

    The Archbishop and his handlers remain culpable in the violence against churches and parishioners in Ukraine. He promotes sodomy, abortion, other violences and general confusion there and in America, sowing discord and scandal.

    Sadly, we do too by our silence and inaction.

  19. Tod Mixson says

    What’s with this expression, “… in the altar”? As far as I’m aware, the only people who’re there in the manifestation of their relics, are Saints.

    Rather, I suppose that the persons intended are those present in flesh and blood who’re properly serving in the SANTUARY!

    Never mind that Protestants, mistakenly having used the “S” word to denote the entire area of a church building’s worship area (including its nave), have thereby taken the term from us Orthodox and other traditionalists. By non-confrontational response to those so doing let’s take it back!