Open letter to the Bishops
and the faithful of the OCA
Your Beatitude, Your Eminences, Your Graces,
There was hope.
In spite of the discouragement, the disillusionment and the growing mistrust of most of the faithful of the OCA, there suddenly was a glimpse of hope.
There was hope that the Holy Synod, spurred by
the urgency of the Alaskan tragedy, would
exercise their high calling and lead our Church
out of the storm of crisis and into a safe harbor
of stability. For a moment it seemed as if the
Alaskan crisis would be handled in a way that
could be broadly affirmed and, even, praised.
The OCA was waiting. Prayers were offered.
Moliebens were served in front of St Herman’s
relics. All were tensely waiting for
Friday. There was hope that the wise decision to
request +Nikolai’s leave of absenceonly a leave
of absence, not an accusationallowing time for
an objective investigation, would be confirmed.
Bishop Nikolai was restored to power.
Father Alexander Garklavs’ report was never presented.
Was the request for a temporary leave of absence a “mistake”?
Was the appointment of a temporary administrator a “mistake”?
Or are we witnessing a submission to personal threats?
There was hope for a renewed conciliarity between the Bishops and the faithful.
But again, a wall is built.
Accusations areflying, dismissals, secrecy, contradictions, more secrecy, reversals of promises.
There was hope that our Bishops would realize
that the faithful are ready and praying to start
restoring trust and rebuilding our wounded OCA.
There was hope that the vision of the Orthodox
Church in America could be recaptured, that there
was a crack in the wall separating the faithful from their Bishops.
After the Friday meeting, this hope is shattered.
Our Orthodox Church in America is shattered, broken up.
Irretrievably? I refuse to believe it.
We appeal to you, our Bishops.
We are a hierarchical church.
We have a Holy Synod, the Bishops are the leaders.
Therefore, we are at your mercy and we appeal to your mercy.
Have mercy on the Orthodox Church in America, on
the faithful who built our church, who loved it, who hoped for a united church in America, led by
the Cross planted firmly in Alaska.
We know that among the Bishops there are those
who do not condone decisions followed by repeated
reversals, contradictions, assignments followed
by cancellations, investigations launched then
swiftly curtailed. There are some among you who
care more for the injured flock and for justice
rather than for a “due process” at the expense of
hundreds of irretrievably injured faithful.
Would you agree to be witnesses, martyrs, helping
each other with courage, strength and tenacity in
seeking the truth in spite of threats and outcries?
What a sigh of relief and renewed hope would be
felt by the church if a few of the Bishops could
take a firm and courageous stand towards truth
and transparency. When questioned on how to
proceed on an issue, Father Alexander Schmemann,
my late husband, would reply with a smile, “Try the truth!”
The joy of Pascha approaches and will be
celebrated by our faithful parish priests, all of
them trying to continue feeding and nurturing
their flocks in peace and love. Our monasteries will serve and pray.
But where is the missionary spirit of the united
OCA, where is the beautiful vision of ORTHODOXY in America?
Let us pray for a miracle.
Christ is Risen!
Asking for your archpastoral prayers and
blessings, I remain your faithful servant,
Matushka Juliana Schmemann