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Stokoe Dismissed From Metropolitan Council  - Again

Late yesterday afternoon Bishop Matthias of Chicago announced, without warning, in an email to the Metropolitan Council and his own Diocesan Council, that he had withdrawn his blessing and dismissed Mark Stokoe, Editor of, from both bodies. The Bishop’s brief letter read:

"Dear Members of the Metropolitan Council and Diocesan Council of the Midwest,

Christ is in our midst!

It is an honor and privilege for someone to serve on the Metropolitan Council and Diocesan Council. This privilege is allowed with the blessing of the Diocesan Hierarch. After several months of following “discussions” on Mark Stokoe’s website, I have come to the conclusion that this website is not a positive force for the Church and therefore I am removing my blessing for Mark Stokoe to continue to serve on these Councils effective the date of this letter.

Mark Stokoe, serving on the Metropolitan Council and Diocesan Council, gives the impression, whether correct or not, that his bishop supports his website and I do not!

I personally hope and pray that Mark Stokoe will come to the conclusion that this website is not a healthy venue for the Church and that he take down (sic) this site.

In Christ,
Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest"

A similar, but longer letter was sent minutes earlier, also with warning, to Stokoe. It read:

"August 9, 2011
Apostle Matthias: Venerable Herman of Alaska
No. 90

Dear Mark:

Christ is in our midst!

Membership in the Metropolitan Council and the Diocesan Council are privileges and honors bestowed upon those who should be examples of faithful living and the promoting of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether we are clergy or lay people, we are to be examples of living the Orthodox way of life.

In the months that I have been administrator of the diocese and now its archpastor, I have observed the divisivness and the promoting of gossip that your website “Orthodox Christians for Accountability” provides. It is not a healthy vehicle for the Church. It has hampered Pan-Orthodox unity, and it has encouraged those who disrespect the clergy and the Church to express their distain (sic) and sometimes outright hatred for the Church, the hierarchs, the clergy and its faithful.

As the archpastor of this diocese, I can no longer tolerate the existence of this website being administered by a member of the Metropolitan Council and Diocesan Council. Your representation on these Councils leaves the impression, whether correct or not, that I approve of your website, and I do not! You once even wrote on your website when someone was criticizing you that “you had your bishop’s blessing to be on the Metropolitan Council and Diocesan Council”. At this time, I am removing that blessing. Upon the reception of this letter, you are hereby dismissed from serving on the Metropolitan Council and Diocesan Council. Alternate members will assume your positions for the remainder of your terms.

It saddens me to do this because I do see the talent and abilities that you possess that could be helpful to the Church. Unfortunately, you cannot serve two masters! You cannot serve the Church in these capacities while providing a website that is counterproductive to Church life.

The final straw that “broke the camel’s back” for me was when you printed a lengthy article promoting homosexuality, written by an anonymous author. That article was a complete distortion of the Church’s teachings and twisted the canons of the Church to justify its position. If that isn’t bad enough, the author did not have the courage to put his name on the article. It appears to me that if someone cannot reveal temnselves in the light, they they are coming from darkness.

I can only hope and pray that someday you yourself will realize the harm this website brings to the Church and you will decide to close it down. The time has come for us to work together for the glory of God and His precious Bride, the Church!

Your shepherd in Christ,
Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest

Stokoe sent the following acknowledgement to the Bishop today. It reads:

"Your Grace:

It is with regret that I received your email yesterday dismissing me from the Metropolitan Council and the Diocesan Council. It was indeed an honor and privilege to have served these past three years with the men and women of both bodies.

It is with even greater regret, however, that I read your reason for my dismissal. This is the second time that I have been removed from these Councils. The first time was by Metropolitan Theodosius and Robert Kondratick, with the acquiesence of His Eminence, the late Archbishop Job, for asking difficult questions. Now I am removed by you, not for my questions, but for simply allowing others to ask theirs. If the past few years in the OCA have taught anything, it is that denying, ignoring, delaying or dismissing those who ask questions does not work.

That being said Your Grace, I did not seek the approval of the Archbishop in beginning six years ago, nor will your personal disapproval cause me to close it now.

With all best wishes for the future of our beloved Diocese and OCA, I remain

Yours in Christ,

Mark Stokoe"

Stokoe was elected to the Metropolitan Council first in 1998, and dismissed as explained above, in 2000. He was subsequently elected again in 2008, having been asked to stand for election by the late Archbishop Job, because of, rather than despite, his work with While on the Metropolitan Council Stokoe served as Chairman of the Governance Committee. His term was to have ended in October 2011. According to the Diocesan by-laws, Stokoe should be replaced by Mr. Sam DeFantis of Cleveland, who was the the runner-up in the previous election.

- Mark Stokoe



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