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A Brief Note From

Dear Friends:

After a brief, but unavoidable hiatus, with this posting completes its fourth year of publication, and enters its fifth.

One year ago I wrote the following:

“(In 2008) we began the year by noting that there was light visible at the end of the long tunnel of scandal through which the OCA has been passing. This year, with the uprising in Alaska and the forced resignation of Bishop Nikolai, the publication of the SIC Report and the forced resignation of Metropolitan Herman, as well as the continuing restitution of diverted funds, we are clearly much closer to that light than ever before...

After so long in the dark, the growing light may indeed seem bright - but hope is not the same as fact, and desire is not the same as reality. We are still in the tunnel of scandal, friends, even if we are on the path towards the light.

• As Fr. Michael Tassos suggested in his recent posting of the OCA’s finances, there is much about them that remains confusing and unknown. Questions remain, such as what has happened to all the bequests left to the OCA over the past two decades? Does anybody really know? Is anybody really asking the question? Or will such questions, as in the past, just be swept under the rug?

• There is still an ongoing investigation into the finances and questionable practices of St. Tikhon’s monastery and bookstore....One can only hope that the current diocesan investigation will conclude with a public report that answers many of the outstanding questions from St. Tikhon’s: Who owns what? How much of this patrimony of the OCA has been mortgaged? By whom? And where has all the borrowed money gone? Or will such questions, as in the past, just be swept under the rug?

• Even a cursory reading of the year’s past headlines shows we are still in the long tunnel we have been excavating for ourselves these past twenty years. The Koumentakos case remains unsettled. Why?

• Audits were called for in regards to the former Diocese of New York- New Jersey, where more than a hundred thousand dollars “disappeared”, even as the former Metropolitan told compliant clergy not to ask any further questions. Will diocesan clergy now ask where their parishoner’s hard-earned assessment monies went - and will any answers be reported back to the faithful? Or will such questions, as in the past just be swept under the rug?

...We dare not forget these questions, or the others that exist but have yet to make the headlines. We dare not cease requiring answers from those who have now promised transparency and accountability. Otherwise, only the names will have changed this past year - but little else.”

None of these issues have been settled, resolved, or even dealt with in some instances, a full year later. If this is to be the pattern for our Synod, led by the new Metropolitan, truly we are going to need bigger and bigger rugs in the OCA.

Sadly, the effort to bear the burden of spiritual authenticity is not sustainable by the many, nor long sustainable by the few. When the necessity for change is not admitted and the future threatens to be little more than a long senescence content on rehearsing past mistakes, the spiritual contradictions inherent in the task can become overwhelming. Many do not believe a Church burdened by 2,000 years of tradition can be transparent, accountable, open and conciliar. Others have no wish for it to be so, being more concerned with the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of prestige and the preservation of assets than anything else.

It would be so easy to become discouraged.

And yet, amid the burden of these days, hope renews when one reflects on the depths of character, integrity, faith and wisdom that so many clergy and laity have shown through the turbulence of the past four years. I can think of no better evidence that such still exists than the following statement. I did not write it. Fr. Ted Bobosh did. But I wish had.

Fr. Ted writes:

“Tradition is not the anchor, but the sail in the ship of salvation. It is the sail of the ship which catches the breath/wind of God – His Holy Spirit. We have to stop treating Tradition as an anchor tethering us to the past - and realize its dynamic nature as it propels us into the future. For it is when we use Tradition to catch God’s breath/wind that the Church is launched on its great spiritual sojourn. As St. Paul’s wrote: “Brothers and Sisters, … one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14).”

Straining forward, we must continue the struggle to free the OCA from the Potemkin Village pseudo-existence of its recent past, and away from those who would return us to the dead hands, and dead ends, of such captivity.

Mark Stokoe






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