Wednesday, February 20. 2008
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I cannot thank Fr. Dn. Eric enough for his courage in exposing the corruption that was/is eating away at our church from the inside. I thank him also for this letter of support to Ansonia. I too add my support for the parish in Ansonia, and pray that they have the strength to hold fast.
Finally, I want to echo the portion of Fr. Eric's letter in which he notes that only money seems to get the attention of our bishops. What a tragedy!
Every moral corruption one can imagine has taken place, and our bishop sit on their hands and lawyer-up. But literally the moment money is threatened, and our bishops jump (and bring reinforcements with them!).
My God, what kind of bishops are leading this church?
How long, O Lord? How long?
#1 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2008-02-20 09:04
Leading? Has anyone seen any leadership, save from Abp. Job?
And, thank you Fr. Dn. Eric for your courage, humility, and integrity.
#1.1 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-02-20 12:51
Thank you Fr. Deacon Eric for all your work in our Church, and your most sincere letter. More parishes should follow Ansonia's example of withholding and demanding that the truth be told.
#2 cshinn on 2008-02-20 09:11
I'd like to commend Protodeacon Wheeler for his wonderful letter. His recollections of the past brought back fond memories of my own childhood attending Three Saints parish.
I applaud Ansonia's efforts to encourage the OCA to correct itself by withholding their funds. Be steadfast, Ansonia!
#3 Nina Bilyeu on 2008-02-20 10:04
To the faithful of Ansonia
May God give you strength in your time of need, may He bring you Peace for your good works...
I read with deep conviction and understanding, the letter from Fr Dcn Eric and nearly wept.
His words ring a melancholy echo of my nearly dead parish here in Kodiak. At an ordination last week there were scarcely three parishioners there, in the past the church was filled to overflowing at such an event!
How sad is our state of affairs when a bishop will come running within hours of withholding monies, but yet he wont even comment on the scandals involving millions lost by his fellow bishops and clergy!
What good can be extolled of a bishop if he refuses to acknowledge and attempt to right the wrongdoings of other bishops who spiritually torture their spiritual children?
Stand fast good people, the Lord calls us to be counted, to proclaim our faith - even when our leaders run from His face.
May he who gains strength from the evil one be put asunder!
I see that flame of Orthodoxy still burns bright... the soul of your parish is strong, like ours... it just waits for righteousness to prevail once again!
If I could afford to attend your parish meeting I would join you all... it would be a blessing to be there, know that I am there in spirit and christian oneness of orthodoxy.
#4 Ted Panamarioff on 2008-02-20 10:17
Everyone who can should go to Ansonia this Sunday, Feb. 24th. This will be the beginning of a movement to FINALLY get the hierarchs to move on these issues.
#5 Anonymous on 2008-02-20 10:24
A strong central church is no longer necessary. Parishes should support their local dioceses and let the central church wither. In business this is called "decentralization."
A met, an apartment and a secretary and let the financial stuff be handled by a CPA firm.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-02-20 10:33
What an eloquent, touching, and even humbling outline of "the situation," from Deacon Eric's background, love of the church (I mean the OCA), and his simple heartfelt explanation of "the scandal." Need anything more be said? Can anyone question his motives? Can anyone deny his simple desire to know the truth, see the truth brought forth, and see amends be made?
As a convert, I can only "envy" (I don't mean in a sinful way), your memories as you present them here, how the church was "bred into you" in your youth, and your church-based experiences growing-up.
I can only echo what others have written in other posts: To thank the parishioners of Ansonia, and to pray for them. We are there with you in spirit, and that goes double for the faithful in Alaska as well! To both groups: We see, we do care, and you are not forgotten in your struggle.
#7 Stephen Morgan on 2008-02-20 12:03
I came across the movie "Roger & Me" today, which I haven't seen in several years, and instantly saw the parallels between that movie and our present OCA situation.
For those who haven't seen it, it's about documentary film-maker Michael Moorer (I have issues with his work since, but Roger & me is good) who's on a mission to talk face-to-face with GM chairman Roger Smith amid the complete shut-down of most/all GM operations in Flint, Michigan. (The shut down destroyed the town.) Moorer wanted Smith to go to FLint with him to see the poor, unemployed and devastated people there. Not only did Smith avoid Moorer at all costs, but he went on publicly as though life and business are all great, while the documentary shows the devastation to the people of Flint.
This situation should sound familiar to us because we have our own "Herman & Us" -- Herman doing all he can to avoid facing the issues (are the allegations true?, Nikolai, etc) and talking like all is good within the Church while it continues to be devastated. There is a particularly moving scene in it that pretty much sums up the OCA -- they show Smith giving a bright & cheery speech about how humanitarian and good they are as executives, while they also show a family being evicted from their home in Flint on Christmas Eve. That is our OCA today -- the bishops talk holy but the people be damned.
Dn. Wheeler is absolutely correct in his analysis of the synod. Most of them are completely detached from the people, and thus, the Church. They live in a fantasy world without any real knowledge of what it means to have to sustain and (with God's help) grow a parish. Many are incompetent individuals who are only there because they were one of very few unmarried priests at the time (and some perhaps for more sinister reasons). I'm not for married bishops, but c'mon, can't we do something to promote monasticism among qualified candidates?
#8 Anonymous on 2008-02-20 15:39
"I have probably been the only individual to address the issues of morality among members of our Holy Synod with our current and past Metropolitan’s – why has no action been taken to at least investigate my claims?"
A good question, indeed!
#9 Anonymous on 2008-02-20 19:44
What courage coming from the Ansonia parish. You are making a statement for all of us by withholding money from Syosset. We who are scattered in small parishes and missions which are fragile cannot impact in the same way.
This Sunday, our prayers will be with you as you meet with your bishop. Stand firm, you are speaking for many orthodox christians.
#10 Anon on 2008-02-20 19:48
Congratulations, Ansonia. I stand with you. I hope I shall be able to be with you this Sunday. This may just be the turning point!
#11 anonymous on 2008-02-20 22:28
Thank you Dn. Eric Wheeler,
Your letter is refreshing and sincere. You present no manipulation, no cover up, no agenda, no ego to protect, no power, no control. How refreshing and honest!
I guess the OCA just really had a first poor administrator (+Theodosius) that did not get our OCA off to the best start. Many good things happened, but many bad things happend too, under his watch.
Now its second administrator (+Herman) does not want to leave. In my view, he obstructed justice when key players in the first special investigation resigned due to their frustrations of being constantly blocked to investigate by +herman.
The light and dark in the drama of the OCA administration is strange, indeed.
Now we have +Nikolai who is doing strange things.
The records of our bishops' behavior is just going downhill.
To me, these bishops just were not held accountable to good administrative practices in the first place.
The OCA continues to suffer from poor adminstrative practices. We may be improving on them, but is it not a "best practice" in administrative practices to just resign or retire when your time is up?
I don't know but I am at the point where I want to see all OCA bishops with having an MBA, or being a CPA, 10 years administrative practice, or all three before they even think about being a bishop. This is ridiculous.
#12 Patty Schellbach on 2008-02-21 08:49
Thank you to everyone for your love and support. I assure you that your prayers have been heard and that we are united in our resolve to uphold truth and restore holiness to the OCA. We do not plan to discuss our decision to withhold assessments - it is a done deal. Rather we have some rather pointed questions to ask our bishop regarding the disappearance of millions of dollars, the cover ups, the dictatorial methods of leadership and the the destruction of the Alaskan flock by a tyrannical brother bishop. What emergency measures are being considered by the the Holy Synod to prevent the implosion of the OCA. We have many, many questions.
#13 A Hopeful Ansonia Parishioner on 2008-02-21 21:12
Dear Fathers, Sisters, and Brothers:
We truly acknowledge that the Holy Spirit was at work in our midst three weeks ago in our Parish Annual Meeting. Those important decisions we took then for the internal wellness and growth of our community are stepping stones toward a new direction and a new vision for parish renewal, and only the beginning of all that the Lord wishes from us. I pray we will be faithful to Him in the days and months ahead.
The action we took to withhold funds was intended to express our unwillingness to accept the paralysis of the Holy Synod and to convey our alarm to our Bishop, Diocese, and the Synod. It seemed to us our way of reaching out for a "life line" on-to-which to hold from sinking further into the quicksand which pulls down the entire Church. .
I don't know who wrote the testimony which appeared today in "Share your comments" re: Protodeacon Eric's Letter to us, but it certainly is timely and to the point. I personally am in ever-increasing shock from the crisis and scandals and the new revelations even since our Annual Meeting. We are in a dire EMERGENCY.
Nothing less than an INTERVENTION is needed.
My last hope is in our Bishop, that he will identify with us and our cry for help; that he will acknowledge the life-threathening cliff the OCA is about to fall over. Some may feel that the OCA has already fallen over that cliff and we are simply in uncontrollable downfall. I pray we can help to stop the "free fall to destruction" by our meeting with him and our Diocesan Chancellor on Sunday, and I am copying Bishop Nikon and Father Kreta on this note, assuring them of our prayers and asking for theirs.
May the Holy Spirit intervene.
Father Michael Roshak, Pastor
Three Saints Orthodox Church, Ansonia CT
#13.1 Archpriest Michael G. Roshak on 2008-02-22 10:02
Dear: Brothers in Christ:
In a courageous move, in the spirit of our patriotic Boston Tea Party forefathers, the parish of Three Saints Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of Ansonia, Connecticut, boldly and reverently voted to with hold their financial obligations to their national church. They chose to place these monies in escrow until certain terms are met regarding the existing national church crisis.
It appears that the national church office and possibly some high ranking ecclesiastics not only miss handled millions of dollars of church and charitable monies but there have been many rumors of other possible malfeasance with sexual overtones beginning circa 1995. The allegations of wrong doing have not been satisfactorily addressed in the eyes of many, nor have been admitted to and continue to create division and concern among both the church’s clergy and laity.
Three Saints is the home church of Protodeacon Eric Wheeler, former Treasurer of the OCA and the person who first brought questions regarding this central administration scandal to light. This move by Three Saints is courageous because their Bishop does not appear to be sympathetic with this cause and will visit the parish on Sunday the 24th of February to address the situation. The perception is not that the Bishop will be visiting to listen and to counsel and to support but to chastise and possibly threaten the parish.
Christians throughout Connecticut are being urged to visit Three Saints Church on Howard Avenue in Ansonia on Sunday the 24th as a show of solidarity with their fellow Christians who are exercising their Biblical ethical and communal principles. There have been rumors of a multifaceted and multi-level scandal brewing since 1995 and the national church administration crisis and scandal has been in the open for over two years with little if any resolution, even though the chancellor has been deposed. There has been no admittance of wrong doing, no public apologies, no following of church repentance requirements, on the other hand there has been a perception of an ‘old boys network protecting its own’. This has caused frustration to many from laity to an Archbishop.
Please refer to the Orthodox Christians for Accountability web site for information about the national church crisis. Please pray for Three Saints Church. Please attend Divine Liturgy on February 24th. Please stand side by side with these modern day heroes and assist them in professing their centuries old faith and the Biblical principles on which it is based.
Robert John Klancko
#13.1.1 rjklancko on 2008-02-22 13:06
The days have passed quite quickly since January 27th and we the community of Three Saints Church in Ansonia now find ourselves in the final two days leading up to the special meeting which has been called by His Grace our Bishop +Nikon.
During this time I have witnessed the full gamut of human emotions from my brother clergy, fellow parishoners, family and friends pertaining to ongoing global issue of the "'State of the OCA" today as well as the anticipation, the expectation of what will transpire in less than two days at our parish. This afternoon, I find myself wedged somewhere between two contrasting emotions.
First I have immense hope that the thoughts and prayers of my brother in Christ Father Michael (Rochak) that were expressed so eloquently earlier on this post will come to fruition; that our Bishop will come to see that the firm stand that our parish is taking becomes a first seed of many to be planted leading to a harvest of recovery for our church.
Yet I must also say that the unkindness, the lack of respect and frankly rude behavior that I witnessed most recently has lead to the emotion of disappointment which I pray is only temporary as each of us makes a conscious effort to repell the evil that wells up all too often. For regardless of how hurt, dismayed, angered, or however you refer to your sentiments as to where we are in this moment in our church's history, from my humility I beg of you that during this upcoming weekend and beyond we regain our focus as Christians as first and foremost in all things.
Let us focus on putting the name calling aside; our Hierarchs regardless of their actions/inactions or our personal perceptions still must be respected for the office they hold; anything less is just wrong. When and if it is revealed that they were indeed responsible for the endless accusations again them, we must still love them and pray for their salvation.
Let us focus on the reality of our situation, not to use the horrific position we find ourselves in as a forum to continue to do Satans work by being mean or vendictive, instead let us rise from the negativty and work for the common good.
Let us focus on meetings like the one that will be held this Sunday at our parish not as a 'media event', in confussion and contradiction to true Christian brother/sister-hood. Instea let us all use Sunday's meeting as an opportunity an example for dialogue and hope.
Let us focus on the content of such a meeting, not in the context of winning and loosing or us versus them, but rather understand that each step we take, each breath we breathe is God given not for some kind of game where score is kept, but for our salvation or if we choose condemnation.
Let us focus on understanding that the crisis in the church involves every single soul who considers themselves an Orthodox Christian within the OCA and I would go as far as to say every Christian soul period. Let us then resist the temptation to elevate or denegrate anyone because we feel that their hardship was/is more difficult or their involvement or level of impropriety has been more suspect.
Let us focus on the crying need for action; realistic, positive and meaningful action and an immediate end to all of the rhetoric. As I said in a reflection a few weeks ago, never let what we are doing today or in the future be at the expense of division that can never be repaired.
Finally, as I speak as a member of Three Saints church, I'm sure that I echo the feelings of many, perhaps all of our communicants when I say thank you to all those who are praying for us during this challenging period in our parish history; your support has been encouraging, strengthing and uplifting. Suffice to say as many of you know, my family history with regard to Three Saints dates back to the beginning of the last century; nearly to the point of the founding of the parish. I thank God that my Grandfather and Uncle served as parish Presidents, I am blessed by all of those who touched my life along the way. Thus I ask that you grant me liberty at this moment to let you know that we also pray as a community for each of you, our Christian Brothers and Sisters and that we all will be bound together as one through the true action of the Holy Spirit and we all will begin a new day, a blessed and holy day, a day of hope for the future, eradicating the darkness of the past, lead by the firm and unmistakable call for unity.
In Christ's never-ending love for all - Proto-Deacon Anthony Kruge, Three Saints Church, Ansonia, CT
#14 Proto-Deacon Anthony Kruge on 2008-02-22 14:39
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