An Open Letter
to the Orthodox Faithful
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Glory Be to God.
The Diocese (and State) of Alaska have suffered through several natural and man-caused disasters in the last 100 years: the 1912 Eruption of Mt. Novoerupta, the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, the 1964 Great Alaskan Earthquake and Tsunami, the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, and on March 27th of this year (on the 44th anniversary of the 1964 Tsunami), the OCA Synod of Bishops restoration +Nikolai to power in Orthodox Alaska.
We recovered from the natural disasters, but the extent of SPIRITUAL damage from the Synod’s action of planting +Nikolai back in our midst raises serious doubts as to our ability to recover as a Diocese. Clergy and laity alike across our diocese as well as staff and students of St. Herman’s Seminary last week extended themselves with courage and faith in offering testimonies to OCA Chancellor, Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs, whose integrity and genuine concern they recognized, only to have relief set at bay by the Synod’s bizarre, regressive action last Thursday. Many of the forty-one priests present for the March 25 clergy meeting in Anchorage had gathered airfare at financial sacrifice to their families and parishes, to share their urgent concerns for the life of their parishes to Father Garklavs on the reassurance given by Metropolitan Herman to Archpriest Michael Oleksa that “Everything will be okay”. The Synod’s reversal of +Nikolai’s mandatory order for leave of absence, restoring him to Alaska following such expressed pleas for change, has and could only have resulted in feelings of BETRAYAL and complete ABANDONMENT of support. Now, it’s “SAY IT AGAIN”, if we can afford it, financially and emotionally. Reminiscent of the Romans throwing Christians into the Arena.
Alaska, the Cradle of Orthodoxy in America, has been a humble, reverent, shining star for 214 years. It can continue to hold that status ONLY if its bullying, intimidating bishop, Nikolai, is permanently REMOVED from among us. We did not really choose him, even though he was voted in once he was foisted on the Alaskan Faithful, and the shining star of devout faith and humility over the Cradle has since been smeared and dimmed. The truth is the trust of the clergy and laity has been irrevocably broken and cannot be restored. This is not a lack of faith, but an admission of reality.
Our Synod, by its past and present actions of bowing to +Nikolai, has shown itself to be both spineless and incapable of governing itself. The Bishops’ state of both paralysis of action and reversing themselves might indeed force the Alaskan Clergy to seek refuge elsewhere under the Omophorion of another jurisdiction. Critical situations sometimes require bold action. Petitioning to be admitted into another jurisdiction could well be the ONLY recourse open to saving Orthodoxy in this Diocese.
On behalf of myself as a son of Alaskan Native–Russian mother, Mary Metrochin, (Alutiiq/Sun’Aq of Kodiak Island), and as a sixth generation descendant of the original Russian colonizers of Alaska, along with other like minded Alaskan Orthodox Faithful, I ask you, the American and Canadian Orthodox Faithful, to please implore your own bishop(s) to stand with us, the Alaskan Clergy and Faithful, to effect remedy and justice in this situation, so that we can remain united with all of you.
Thank you, and May God be with you, now and forever. Amen.
Baptized 85 years ago as Vladimir (Roy) Madsen, I remain your Brother in Christ,
(Editor's note: Roy Madsen, one of the most prominent Orthodox laymen in Alaska, is a retired Alaskan Superior Court Judge, a former member of the Alaska State Human Rights Commission, a former regent of the University of Alaska, a former board member of St. Herman's Seminary, and Altuiiq elder.)