AXIOS! Thoughts on the Recent Episcopal Consecration

As I wrote a few days ago, Gail and I had the pleasure of witnessing the consecration to the episcopate of Abbot Gerasim Eliel, the rector of St Seraphim’s Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas, Texas.

The proceedings started on Monday, before Vespers, in the nave of that wondrous edifice.  Seated on an elevated throne, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, surrounded by eight other bishops, read the message of Gerasim’s election by the Holy Synod. 

In attendance were His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Nikozi and Tskhinvali (Georgian Orthodox Church), His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, His Eminence Archbishop Alexander of Dallas, the South and the Bulgarian Diocese, His Eminence Archbishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest, His Grace Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa, Auxiliary to the Diocese of San Francisco and the West, His Grace Bishop James of Sonora, Second Vicar of the Western American Diocese (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia), and His Grace Bishop Andrei of Cleveland, Auxiliary to the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America.

In response, bishop-elect Gerasim delivered his Profession of Faith, which included a brief biography of his Christian journey.  (I was touched that he mentioned that Metropolitan Jonah, his godfather, was instrumental in starting him on his monastic path.)

At this point, I should add that both Metropolitan Tikhon as well as the bishop-elect stressed that this decision was on behalf of the autocephalous Orthodox Church in America.  I was also pleasantly surprised that there were two Old Calendar bishops there:  Metropolitan Isaiah (Georgia) and Bishop James (ROCOR). 

Following Vespers, V Rev Marcus Burch told us about the reception which was to be held at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, which was within walking distance of St Seraphim’s.  Highland Park had graciously extended their facilities to us since there was no way the cathedral’s parish hall could accommodate those gathered there.   We were also told the following day, the service would be live-streamed for those who had to sit in the parish hall.

Although the vesting of the metropolitan would not take place until 9:00 the next morning, I decided I would arrive there by 8:00.  It was already too late as the cathedral was packed.  At 9, His Beatitude arrived and was vested.  (I highly recommend you click on the link below to see the entire liturgy for yourself.)

Part 1

Part 2

During the Divine Liturgy, before the Little Entrance, awards were granted to numerous priests of the Diocese of the South by Metropolitan Tikhon on behalf of the Holy Synod and Archbishop Alexander. In addition to Archpriest Paul Yerger receiving the right to wear the mitre, in honor of his almost 44 years of service in the priesthood, Archpriests Thomas Moore, Stephen Freeman, and Marcus Burch were awarded the jeweled cross, Hieromonk Arkady (Migunov) was raised to the rank of Igumen, Priests John Mikita, Nikolay Miletkov, and Basil Biberdorf were raised to the rank of Archpriest, Priest John Cox was awarded the gold cross, Protodeacon Steven Kroll was awarded the right to wear the kamilavka, and Deacons Theophan Warren and Gregory Conley were raised to the rank of Protodeacon.

From start to finish, I was mightily impressed.  It showed the Orthodox Church in all its splendor.  I say this not to impress anybody because the Church does not do these things for the plaudits of the world; we do it because it is pleasing to Christ.  Still, from an aesthetic point of view, it was wondrous.

The altar-servers and the dozens of priests and deacons worked like clockwork.  Metropolitan Tikhon celebrated the liturgy in a splendid fashion.  I couldn’t see any ushers there but the throngs of people displayed an appropriate amount of decorum.  Special mention must be made of the choir, especially Nick Paraskevas, the long-term choir director who –with two choirs on each side of the solea–had his work cut out for him, which he handled splendidly.  

The liturgy was positively rapturous.  I’m sure many of us felt as did the emissaries of Grand Duke Vladimir of Kiev when they went to Hagia Sophia and witnessed the liturgy some ten centuries ago.  Upon their return to Kiev, they told their overlord “we didn’t know whether we were in heaven or on earth”.  All of the people of the cathedral who made this happen deserve an enormous amount of gratitude.

In closing, I would only add this:  speaking as a long-time member of the Diocese of the South, I am grateful to the Holy Synod, and especially to His Eminence Archbishop Alexander, for heeding our request and elevating Abbot Gerasim to the episcopal dignity.  

I am under no illusions about the challenges that we Orthodox face in America.  However, I will never again entertain any argument from critics of American Orthodoxy that we are not “mature enough” for autocephaly.  This facile criticism was laid to rest in my mind from what we saw at the consecration. 

Yes, American Orthodoxy buckled last year under the dictates of the state; our bishops listened to too many lawyers and thus, caved too easily when they mandated that our churches be closed.

Truth be told, I am somewhat disheartened to hear that there are still a few priests in the OCA who are operating under their municipalities [by now] ridiculous restrictions.

At any rate, we witnessed a divine spectacle in which –outside of two or three in the congregation–no one was in masquerade.  If I had to guess, I’d say that our bishops will be more resolute next time around.   

While we shouted lustily “AXIOS!”, I hope that we prove ourselves worthy of having a shepherd such as His Grace, the newly-elected Bishop of Ft Worth.  I also pray that the words spoken by Metropolitan Tikhon and Bishop Gerasim, when they mentioned the autocephalous nature of the OCA, will likewise be remembered.  


  1. Jane Tzilvelis says
    • Russia has great intel as I think George (?) said. They know the direction Bartholomew is moving…”wouldn’t be surprised if Bartholomew…” translates to “Bartholomew is going to Rome.”

  2. It is time! Ecclesiastes — “For everything there is a time.”

  3. Jane Tzilvelis says

    The Vatican is now a member of “inclusive” capitalism club with hundreds of “corporations.” Now we have a new “global”tax. Very shortly, a NWO religion for “Orthodox” Christians!

  4. Ronda Wintheiser says

    I and my two adult daughters have left our OCA parish. The bishop and the priest of that parish precluded my autistic daughter from worshiping with the rest of the parish because she could not mask — for the past year and a half — and now that suddenly, overnight, the restrictions have been lifted by our governor, they are pressuring (they say encouraging, but since you are told you should mask if you don’t comply) parishioners to take a Covid “vaccine”.

    Until they leave off, I don’t see it. I can’t be excited about it as much as I would like to.

    “…By the very act of choosing some doctors’ opinions over others, Orthodox clergy are effectively practicing medicine. Particularly in the case of Orthodox bishops, an endorsement gives validity to the doctors and not the other way around. Among faithful Orthodox Christians, the bishops have the authority and not doctors. In people’s minds (what the courts care about), endorsed medical opinions become semi-canonical (so to speak), as if the authority of the bishops has incorporated them into Church teachings.

    “There is also a moral dimension in addition to the legal one. Because bishops have united themselves to some doctors’ opinions, the good reputation of the Orthodox Church rides on that judgment. If the bishops, and the opinions they endorse, are grossly wrong, then the Church’s validity as a source of truth (and Truth) has been injured…”

    • Jane Tzilvelis says

      I am so sorry your daughter suffered at the hands of the church. Very sad to hear how she was treated.

    • I’m sorry to hear this. I have 3 young autistic children and it is not easy to get them to sit still in church and it would have been difficult to do the masking. Thankfully I didn’t have to to worry about that at our OCA South parish since they are under 10. This “obedience” thing was certainly taken to the extreme this past year. There was very little compassion from the armchair epidemiologists (bishops) for those who could not (because of disability) or would not (because of conscience) go along with the directives. As there has been no reflection and repentance, corporately, for how this was handled I doubt we will be able as a church to do any better next time.

  5. Gail Sheppard says

    Try posting your link again if you’d like.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      I did, Gail. It’s in a comment beneath the third post of mine. 🙂

      Look at that! I posted several times, and each time the post disappeared, so I thought it hadn’t gone through or something. I apologize! You can remove those first two !

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I went into spam and found it!

      • Gail Sheppard says

        No problem.

      • Ronda Wintheiser says

        Well, my intention was not to whine about our family situation.

        My point was that until they stop pressuring people to get the vaccine or else mask, I cannot see maturity.

        In one of my posts that was somehow lost to spam, I mentioned being a delegate at the assembly where we replaced Metropolitan Jonah with Metropolitan Tikhon. And how beautiful it all was, as George described here.

        But how hollow it seemed. Like a ring in a pig’s snout.

  6. OrthoAppalachia says

    Axios to His Grace, Bishop Gerasim! It was great to see all the photos and hear of this account. I pray His Grace will be a good shepherd to the DOS OCA.

  7. Seraphim says

    Ronda, I agree 100 percent. I’ve often wondered if our bishops took any time to listen to multiple sides when it came to all things covid. For every doctor who said masks are effective there was one who said they aren’t. For every doctor who claims the jab is perfectly safe, another demonstrates they are not. Do they know at least 6000 people have died from these things? Do they know thousands more have had severe adverse effects? Do they know many more have not been reported or misdiagnosed by doctors cause they refuse to acknowledge the source? To ignore these things, or to simply fail to adequately research it, is irresponsible.

    I find myself torn, as I have been for the last year and a half. I want to see the good, or at least the potential for it. I want to forgive the bishops their failures and move on where possible. However, it is irresponsible to be blind to what is still going on. We want to believe things are different now, that we’re coming to the end. But we’re not. I’m pretty sure this is just the beginning. The age of the Spirit-bearing elders has passed. And from what I’ve seen we are now in the last days our Saints foretold, where even our clergy would apostasise. Now it is up to us to read the Holy Father’s directly and and ask them, will humility, to guide us. “He who endures to the end will be saved.”

  8. Brian Jackson says

    “The Archbishop and the Synod, and the priest at the OCA parish my family attended since 2012 precluded my adult daughter with autism from worshiping along with the rest of the parish community for the past year and a half because she could not mask.”

    I am appalled and so very saddened to have read this.

  9. just_a_dad says

    “… a divine spectacle in which –outside of two or three in the congregation–no one was in masquerade. If I had to guess, I’d say that our bishops will be more resolute next time around….”

    I certainly hope that is the case. There is work to be done in the DoS and hopefully Abp. Gerasim will be able to influence a few parishes that need a little kick in the behind. I looked at the Divine Liturgy at our former OCA DoS parish last Sunday (7/4) – masks still required for all (except the choir and priest). Servers are still, after 15 months, wearing plastic gloves at all times. There are still yellow post-it’s on the icons reminding parishioners that it is forbidden to kiss the icons. No big shock that the priest didn’t attend Fr. Gerasim’s ordination even though he says that he takes his spiritual guidance from Gerasim on any matter he is struggling with. Clearly germophobia is not something he feels a need to struggle with, sadly.