Friday, March 7. 2008
Your comments on the Synod's actions or Bishop Nikolai's response welcomed.
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At last! Glory to God! Seeing the Holy Synod taking action, however long delayed, gives me some perhaps irrational hope that action may be forthcoming in other areas as well. It feels good to be able to say a heartfelt "Well done!" to our bishops. Don't stop, your Graces. Much remains to be done. But for tonight, I think I'm just going to be grateful for the moment.
#1 Scott Walker on 2008-03-07 19:28
Scott, please temper this enthusiasm until we see CONSISTENCY OF BEHAVIOR from the Synod and their enablers. Clergy and laity should not have to threaten insurrection in order to get them to do something. Their behavior remains morbidly dysfunctional.
#1.1 Anon. on 2008-03-08 09:22
It sounds promising.
But the investigation could also turn into a witch trial of some of the priests.
And ... who knows what Nikolai might say or do to Herman in return, or threaten to do?
Lord, have mercy, and protect your Church and all Orthodox Christians.
#2 repentant on 2008-03-07 19:33
#3 Brent Beasley on 2008-03-07 19:44
Well there is a God after all!
Seriously, let us pray for all concerned.
#4 no name on 2008-03-07 19:46
Yes, pray for all concerned. if the stacks are high, anything on either side could be considered as a *means to an end*.
Let us pray that none of the people are treated unjustly, that none are deprived of the ability as a living being to facilitate ALL the truth being exposed. The cover-up is the only thing that must come to an end; the scandal is nothing compared to it.
#4.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 09:32
In +Herman's letter of 3/7/08 to Nikolai he makes reference to the OCA policy and procedure of "investigating the character of the complainants" - you all should be aware that, in my experience, this is code for -- if the "investigator" can get the complainant to sign a release protecting the OCA from a lawsuit, then the complainant is of good character -- if not, the complainant has suspicious motives and is of poor character. Beware. Do not sign anything. Demand a proper investigation and appropriate action, if applicable.
#5 anonymous - but not for long on 2008-03-07 19:52
Herman 'Joe' Swaiko writes, "I think you know very well that the complaints about your conduct within the diocese are not about your leadership style, bad press or anything that may be published on the internet. The letters of complaint have been brought by reputable priests and laity alike."
Who is Joey kidding!? The web sites, media, and forums just continued to "fuel the fire". This is nothing but a repeat situation of Fr. Kondratick's scenario. You get enough heat put on by assesment-paying parishioners, you're bound to act in hopes of saving yourself!!
The last time I checked, "reputable priests and laity" also asked Herman to step down. Over 1000 voices and signatures fall on deaf ears to Herman, but when he sees an opportunity to take down an adversary, he and Lawyer Perry with the help of Fr. Rentel to advise carefully plot and plan in secret. Hello transparency!?
Joe Swaiko - you are a HYPOCRITE! Now that you've offered your "brotherly" support, go and ask for compassionate forgiveness in another day or two. This OCA REALLY makes me SICK to my stomach.
I'm so happy that I, along with my wife and children have left the OCA. Those of you who are concerned for the well being of your families, don't continue being misled by these Pharisees, Scribes, and Hypocrites! There ARE other options other than the OCA.
#6 A former OCA layman on 2008-03-07 19:59
What an embarrasement. Who is Herman to stand in judgement of anyone? He is a fraud. If hope no one is falling for this clever ruse to deflect people focusing on HIS actions.
I too am happy not a dime of my money goes to fund the fraud that is the OCA.
#6.1 Robert Holowach on 2008-03-08 16:43
The tough don't run they make change.
#6.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-09 14:07
I am pleased that the HS decided that Bishop Nikolai's has to take a leave of absence. I do not understand why MH is appointing Fr. Eugene Vansuch administrator. Can anyone tell me why?
#7 Baffled on 2008-03-07 20:00
Excellent! One scandal being dealt with, and only a few dozen more to go! One more and we're on a "streak".
(But I'm not holding my breath for a satisfactory outcome. Let's wait and see.)
#8 Anonymous on 2008-03-07 20:21
I can see how our bishop has long ago fueled himself for this and other battles..
It scares me... he is all about legalese... he is going to play the canons to the "T"
He even sought to challenge the assembly of the Synod via teleconference as uncanonical... yeah... I guess one could assert that when the canon was written... there weren't phones.
Does this in any way lessen the quality or orginality and canonical correctness or validity of their work?
I noticed too that he focused his words in the interview with the Kodiak Daly Mirror regarding use of ethnic languages;
He said that he thought languages should be used" in the services"
The call for help and understanding was his demoralizing statements and defiant attitude when "other" languages are used in his presence and around the seminary....
how slick to use coy statements carefully edited to make a point and produce smoke and mirrors for the masses.
Look for more of the same and worse... Satan's edict will be manifest in his works... just watch!
See how many priests and people will be torn and destroyed in his desperate pursuit to keep his pretty clothes and big bank account of the land leases and more...
#9 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-03-07 20:55
Some have already commented on the appointment of Fr. Eugene Vansuch as the administrator for the Diocese of Alaska. At this point I think that even Christ himself would be crucified by the masses that are demanding answers. I’ve known Fr. Eugene and his family for many years. Fr. Eugene is a very well- loved and well-respected man who has dedicated his life to the building up of the Church. He took on a role in the Central Administration during one of the most difficult times in OCA history and he took on that role head-on and with great hope. Although short-lived, he did a wonderful job at keeping the church a float and I think he will work just as hard and be committed to the Diocese of Alaska during its difficult time as well. It is certainly not a permanent fix by any means but I think it’s a great start. God Bless Fr. Eugene for taking on such a heavy cross.
#10 Unworthy Priest in the Midwest on 2008-03-07 20:58
Now Nikolai knows what its like to be forced out of his home like he's done to numerous people since he arrived in Alaska!
And so he goes further down the path defined by Innocent. Any one want to venture how soon the actual suspension will be? And, will Job press charges against Nikolai for cc'ing Alexei and Bartholomew. The hypocrit Nikolai accused Job of something similar, but within the same jurisdiction, we thinks that he would know better than to go Job one step further!
Now the spotting game begins, where will Nikolai next be spotted? Is he going to enact a scorched earth policy?
#11 Anonymous on 2008-03-07 21:31
Alaska clergy:Be heartened! The laity in your diocese feel compassion for your situation and we are praying for you. Your courage in coming forward is understood and appreciated, and you have protected us as a good shepherd guards his flock. When we think of the church we think of the kind men who have married our loves, baptized our babes, and buried our dead. Please don't lose that in the larger picture, what you do for us is invaluable, and you are our shepherds to Christ.
I pray also for BN, that he feel the light of the Lord's compassion, for such a man must be tormented to be so removed from human feeling.
#12 From Ak on 2008-03-07 21:31
May God have mercy on his soul...
#12.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 15:26
It is a shame that the Synod of Bishops (no need to use the pretense anymore of "holy") succumbed to "Two wrongs now make a right."
It was wrong that Nikolai led his diocese like a feudal lord.
It was wrong that Nikolai misunderstood obedience as his right to lord over his flock.
And it was wrong that Nikolai mistook the historic Russian roots of the Alaskan diocese as frozen in time at the expense of its even more historic native cultures.
However it is even more wrong for this band of petty bishops to even their sorted scores at the expense of the Canons of the Church to dispose of one their own.
The bishops total disregard for the principle of the sovereignty a diocese is final proof that once again Herman has inflicted a "cure" which is much worse then the original disease.
We are witnessing the death of the Orthodox Church in America. A slow wrenching death as we, at the very gates of the Great Fast and the Sunday of Forgiveness, shoot another of our wounded, and do it in the most sanctimonious display of false concern for another.
Nikolai is no angel but he should fight this uncanonical action not for his own sake, for who would want to stay in this abortion of a Church called the OCA? No, he should fight this action to put this madman of a Metropolitan in his place, out of office and the rest wondering how they could have been so stupid.
Priests and laity in Alaska can call for the removal of their bishop but when THOUSANDS of clergy and laity call for the removal of Herman, what do we get? MORE HERMAN.
Herman, the bait and switch artist.
Herman, the "its not me its the other guy who is bad."
Herman, the master of "the enemy of the enemy is my friend."
Herman, the keeper of all the dirt on all the bishops to keep them all in line to keep him in office.
Congratulations to all. Nikolai is gone (well not quite yet) and what do we have left? Herman in complete control calling for Vansuch to be in "direct obedience." Oh great, more obedience, but not to Christ, not to charity, not to forgiveness, but to "do as I order you to do.” Another bishop, but the same old sickness.
Bravo to the new OCA led by Herman and his witless henchmen and the rest of us who played right into his hands.
You may hate Nikolai but he was the only bishop willing to stand up to Herman. Now he is gone, only to have left those bishops green with envy to be the next to wear the white hat and those who are too old or too compromised to fight back.
#13 It's Herman, stupid! on 2008-03-07 21:37
God is sovereign, not a bishop in his diocese. And when a bishop abuses his people, he should be relieved of his duties. This post is by one who has no idea what they are talking about, and simply is a Metropolitan HERMAN hater.
#13.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 20:18
Now we can get the audits complete because we can get the lands issue resolved.
Now we can get the best practices adopted.
A lot of stuff can now move forward with regard to cleaning up Syosset because Nikolai has been rendered neutralized. It was a good move for the future of the Church not only in Alaska, but throughout the OCA as he singlely held hostage major initiatives.
#14 Anonymous on 2008-03-07 22:23
What a breath of fresh air to see the Holy Synod act decisively. Kudos to +Herman and his bishops. Now if they could just put some more steam behind a momentum to solve the other issues eating at the core of the OCA...
....and special thanks to all the clergy and laity of Alaska who boldly wrote of their sufferings.
#15 Terry C. Peet on 2008-03-07 22:26
Asking Soraich to leave Alaska only helps Soraich and the
OCA Synod in whatever legal proceeding are in progress in regards to the abuse reports and what is current with the
disnissed from St. Herman Seminary instructor and Student Dean, Paul Sidebottom state of affairs in the abuse reports.
Those considering the complaints will be the same "brother bishops" who accepted the Miami monastic group into the OCA involved in allegations of sexual abuse and connected to a murder of a woman treasurer Sister Michelle Lewis.
These same brother bishops agreed to Robert Kondratick's statement that an investigation was made where the murder in Miami occured and they saw nothing wrong. The Holy Cross school group after the horrific stabbing 90 times and rape by the younger member of their group, M. Kofel, then wanted to escape the heat of the Catholics in Miami and become Orthodox a la Sterling Rayburn and the Episcopal priest turn around, Damian Hart St. Michael's School for Boys, Picayune to Resaca, etc. All this help where nothing is seen as wrong to diminish pressing for more charges as in the case of the altar boys abused in Winter Haven and the Episcopal Church, or hidden from view as in Picayune and the St. Michael School for Boys, etc.
Isn't it something how church unity all of a sudden has reason to come together...
How about forget the lilies this year for Easter/Pascha and send your flower money to the shelters in need for abused woman.
Matushka Carol Klipa Bacha
P.O. Box 381
Christmas, Fl 32709
There was a statement overheard one day by my mother. Let me share it. "I may not be all knowing but I am all powerful." Guess who? The letter to His Beatitude shows that he is not going down without a fight, which we expected, but his total lack of comprehension of his failings leads me to believe that he needs counselling in the worst way. He apparently knows the canons of the church inside and out. How is it that he doesn't understand the teaching of Jesus Christ? I mean understand that he should live it. I am curious and beginning to get a little worried about items from all of the churches in Alaska that have been replaced during the last few years. What has happened to all of the old icons, relics, chalices, staffs, mitres, bibles, vestments, banners and books that many churches had in them before the "upgrades." I would love to start collecting information from people in Alaska who may know of missing items and if they have any old pictures of what was there before the changes. Maybe I am unnecessarily worried, I hope the items are safely tucked away in the museum in Anchorage. I have never been there so I don't know. I'll bet his grace’s residence in Anchorage is a bit of a museum in its own right. Things like these have value to some of us and many items have secretly been removed from our church. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
#17 Alaskan, looking for humility on 2008-03-08 00:20
Wow, this is huge! Thank you, Holy Synod, for discerning the grave nature of the situation and acting with courage and unity. I am heartened and relieved.
On a side note, I happened upon a new entry in the "Ask Vladyka" section of the Diocese of Alaska website. It says:
"March 4, 2008
Why did Fr. Isidore and Minadora Jacobs resign from the Metropolitan Council? Did Your Grace tell them to, or was it their own decision?
A number of people have asked why my two Metropolitan Council Representatives resigned. Some conjecture if I ‘told them to’ or compelled them to so so in one way or another when, in reality, I even tried to talk them both out of it.
Both Fr. Isidore and Mina Jacobs sent me letters in late January asking to resign and both of them had very different reasons for doing so. Fr. Isidore expressed a general dissatisfaction with the tone of the Metropolitan Council and questioned its right to exist canonically. He was also disgusted in the vindictive approach some members of the Metropolitan Council have taken with regard to the Protopresbyter Kondractick in internal Metropolitan Council correspondence. Mina Jacobs cited a need to devote her valuable time to something more positive and conducive to building up the Body of Christ, the Church. Both Fr. Isidore and Mina Jacobs clearly indicated that their time was better spent in Alaska."
I think that one of the first things that Fr. Eugene can do when he gets to Alaska is convene a Diocesan Assembly in order to elect new Metropolitan Council members from Alaska, so that the Diocese can be represented at the next MC meeting. At least one of the reps could be/should be an Alaskan Native. By the way, be sure to give the new representatives a copy of the OCA "Best Practices" document. Alaska is overdue for signing it.
Grace and peace.
#18 Jodie Captein - Oregon on 2008-03-08 00:57
How interesting that Nikolai accepts his staff rebellion against the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council, but does not accept a staff member rebelling against him.
Talk about hypocrisy.
And he wonders?
#18.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-09 14:21
I hope Bishop Nikolai repents and is able to serve as a bishop again. Not in Alaska, but somewhere. Of course, he might of done things that would disallow him ever serving again, even if he has a complete change of heart. I hope not.
#19 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 02:43
We Christians are a sappy lot sometimes. This guy lives like a tyrant, and we hope him the best. God bless you, whomever you are, but you must realize this come-what-may approach also got us into this mess (by ignoring and excusing his sins and not holding him accountable earlier), so clearly, its fruit can be suspect sometimes. We need to be tough at our love right now.
#19.1 Anon. on 2008-03-10 16:15
It's about time! Clearly, however, Vansuch is the wrong person. Fr. Oleksa should be put in place as locum tenens and this should be done AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
#20 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 06:53
We should keep in mind that appointing Fr. Oleksa as administrator at this time will just add fuel to Nikolai's fire and lead to "conspiracy theory" accusations and the like. It is a good idea to place someone there who is from the other side of the continent who has not been linked to any of the recent happenings of the diocese.
#20.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 17:16
Praise the Lord our God for he has shown mercy and compassion to the suffering faithful in Alaska!
Let us now pray fervantly that he will speak to the hearts and minds of the members of the Holy Synod as well as to those voting members of the Diocese of Alaska that they would raise up a native Alakan to be the next Bishop of Sitka, Anchorage and Alaska. That would be a positive step to foster the healing they truly need after years of abuse.
#21 Subdeacon Robert Aaron on 2008-03-08 07:18
Subdeacon Robert Aaron,
I agree that it would be ideal for a native Alaskan to be bishop there, but unfortunately, to the extent of my knowledge, I do not know if there is even one possible candidate who meets the canonical requirements to be bishop -- celibate, theological training, etc. Does anyone know if there is such a candidate up there?
#21.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 17:13
Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black. anyone cheering and thinking this is progress is a fool. What is now needed is a Federal Investigation of Syosett.
#22 anonymous on 2008-03-08 07:40
Goodness gracious! I (and others) have been called "fools" by some anonymous internet warrior! Great to be judged by somebody too frightened to use his name. I guess that puts us in our place.
#22.1 Scott Walker on 2008-03-09 13:49
If the positions taken by +Nikolai in his letter regarding the ecumenical councils and the disposition of charges against a bishop are true, then this may well be another indication that, in fact, the Synod does not know how to proceed in an manner of order that represents the traditions handed down from the times of those councils. Maybe the nut of the problem all along in all this mess that the procedures in which items of this nature are handled are being ignored.
When our church does, as it has in this instance, stumble yet again, it is personally disheartening to see comments such as, ...'I will sleep well tonight' being posted on these pages, over the failings of a fellow servant of Christ. Brethren, we need to have our souls tuned to deal with all of these matters with love and understanding. Do not post as you would if you were bashing the President on some other internet news boards. Write and constrain yourselves here so that others who may read your posts do not say to themselves, 'So, this is how these "Good Orthodox' really are! Hypocrites, not even following the mandates of the ecumenical councils they claim they so slavishly obey. And they say they are the original church, HA!' In so doing, you may harm your weaker brother. I am as guilty as the next, my words condemn myself.
#23 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 08:58
Give me a break, canons are no substitute for common sense based on the moral commands of Christ and in this case the common sense, which has so long been lacking in Syosset and the Synod, was that this guy had to go and had to go NOW. Period.
To complain about canons and procedures when you have a situation that is untenable is to ignore the plight of the faithful in Alaska and the Church as a whole. More and more, as he accused of his predecessor, he had chosen to distance himself from the Church. No man is an island, and he continued to try to make himself into a jurisdictional island shielding himself with canons being contorted into forms unrecognizable to give justification to his behavior and breaches and downright unGodly behavior.
If we maintained the canons word for word then what's the use of having bishops? We'd have a simple police committee that ensured all canons were followed even the ones that have absolutely no relevance in this day and age. We have bishops because when there's a case like this, and it's a bad one of a bad apple, the judgment of the bishops is the action necessary for keeping the good order of the Church and preserving her sacramental responsibilities.
To those that keep talking about the canonical miscues of how this has been handled, let's talk about Nikolai's canonical breaches such as cc'ing Patriarchs of other jurisdictions, or his breaching of the canons to refuse to act according to the Synod which he vowed or do, or did he just mouth the words to get through the consecration ceremony? We know that most of what he said he put by the wayside, so its fair to guess that his vows about anything weren't worth the air it was breathed out upon.
#23.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 16:21
Hopefully Fr. Vansuch will be a VERY temporary administrator. He can help the transition to a local person who really understands the needs of the Alaskan people!
#24 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 09:16
Baby steps in the long road toward healing, both in Alaska and in the lower 48...Christ God grant us all the gift of forgivenness.
While I can somewhat comprehend the issues involved in naming an Administrator for the Diocese of Alaska, I still think it is a crying shame that Fr Michael Oleksa was not so designated. He knows the land and its people, and has tirelessly and courageously stood up for them.
#25 Sdn Henry Shirley--St Herman of Alaska Chapel, West Bend, WI on 2008-03-08 10:04
I would say that the Synod and the Metropolitan acted quickly (for the Orthodox Church) and in keeping with the developing situation. Metropolitan Herman clearly stated that he did not believe Bishop Nikolai's protestations that the charges against him stemmed from either a disagreement with his "management style" or from less than credible sources.
It is time to give credit where it is due in this particular situation anyway. Furthermore, it is foolish to speculate on how the investigation into the allegations against Nikolai might become a "cover-up" or a "witch hunt" for the Bishop's critics. In fact, I would be willing to say that the way those in the Church treat this matter as it goes along will have a very real impact on the larger investigation underway. If it appears to those involved in that investigation that there is neither the patience nor the willingness to trust in this investigation, quite likely the fruits of both investigations will be less than hoped for by all concerned.
It is therefore time to exercise restraint and to prayerfully await developments. As the old Kenny Rogers song said, "There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done."
#26 Valerie Protopapas on 2008-03-08 10:58
I was baptized, raised and married in the Holy Resurrection Church in Kodiak, Alaska. Even though I have lived in the lower 48 for many years my heart and soul is with the church in Kodiak. To hear all this trouble going on within the leadership breaks my heart. My admiration for the Priests who are with my Native people. The Priest I grew up with only showed love and compassion and that has always stayed with me and has made me a better person. I wonder if the hierarchy realize they are acting like the Pharisees in Jesus day. This is so sad that they have puffed themselves up and look down on the laity. The truth shall set us free so let the light shine in and clean up the mess and get to the bottom of all the scandals in the church.
#27 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 12:02
It seems that +Nicolai is refusing to leave, even for a temporary leave of absence. Now what? Is someone going to have to physically remove him? This could get ugly and very long and drawn out. What a way to begin the Great Fast...
#28 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 14:05
The happenings in Alaska this past year bring no rejoicing for anyone. Now that a decision has been made for Bishop NIKOLAI, it brings great sadness to so many who were full of hope for him and his placement there in 2001 - following the tragedy of Bishop INNOCENT. However, a decision had to be made. God willing - the clergy and people of Alaska will be given hope again and Alaska will move forward in time. What has happened in Alaska, to Alaska, Paul Sidebottom, Father Isidore, and to Vladyka NIKOLAI is a tragedy - for all Orthodox Christians. What hurts one hurts all. I know personally all of the wonderful clergy whose letters have been posted on this site. As the founder and coordinator of Outreach Alaska, most of them were supported by the Adopt a Seminarian project during their years at St. Herman Theological Seminary. You can see for yourself the quality of their hearts and love for Orthodoxy. I am so proud of the parishes and individuals in the lower 48 and Canada who have sponsored these loving people for their priesthood to serve in America's Holy Land - Alaska. I am also pleased that Vladyka NIKOLAI never backed away from the policy of no tuition payments for the seminarians. We may not ever have had the wonderful priests you see in Father Vasily Fisher and Father Thomas Andrew - just to name a few - without this policy. Please pray for all involved.
Outreach Alaska is a program that was developed in 1999 as a charity to help our Lord's Alaska Vineyard. For more information on the projects of Outreach Alaska (Adopt a Seminarian, Sister Parish, St. Juliana Food Pantry, Alaska 2094, St. Innocent of Alaska Missionary Prayer Society, etc.) please go the website at www.outreachalaska.org.
About me - I am an Antiochian Orthodox living in Wichita, KS. Feeling called to Alaska in 1998 to follow the path of the Alaska saints and with the blessing of my bishop, His Grace BASIL, I took a 2 month sabbatical and traveled to bush Alaska the summer of 1999. I was welcomed by Bishop INNOCENT and took assignments from him for work in the diocese. I based out of Eagle River as Sayedna BASIL requested and my route took me to Kodiak (Spruce Island Pilgrimage), Sitka, Old Harbor, Bethel, Napaskiak, Kwethluk Kasigluk and areas of the Kuskokwim/Yukon. After seeing the great need of our Alaska church, I reported to Sayedna BASIL and my clergy in Wichita. At their instruction and blessing, Outreach Alaska was developed. My contact in Alaska at that time was Bishop INNOCENT. When Vladyka NIKOLAI went to Alaska in 2001, I spent 4 weeks with him and Father Isidore in Anchorage and other areas of Alaska further developing this program. When I left Alaska the project was more clearly developed. There were some changes and the program came fully to fruition in 2002. Knowing there would be no funds to pay someone to coordinat the work, I have volunteered my time, some funds, and what expertise I may have to see that Outreach Alaska meets the New Alaska Mission. None of the funds collected pass directly through the Diocese of Alaska accounts. You may contact me directly through the website. If any person or parish would want to be helpful to those in Alaska, I would be happy to connect a lower 48 parish with an Alaska parish - Sister Parish - for support and encouragement through this difficult time.
As we enter the Great Fast and prepare for Forgiveness Sunday - please increase you prayer for Alaska and all those who are impacted by this tragecy. May our Loving Lord and all of His Alaska saints give them all strength for the difficult days ahead.
Forgive me a sinner!
Mary Ann Khoury, Coordinator
#29 Mary Ann Khoury on 2008-03-08 14:06
I have heard scattered reference to outreach alaska but didnt know much about it. Thank you for the description of this wonderful ministry and for all the work you are doing.
#29.1 Ambrose Stapleton on 2008-03-12 00:38
To whomever can answer this question...
Why is the 2,000,000 number relevant? First, we all know for a fact that the oca does not have 2,000,000 members...and to think of this is absurd. I think everyone can agree with this statement.
Secondly, the number that the honesdale bank got, the 2,000,000 number, came from the book of deonominations and other sources. That number was not given by the OCA as a "member number". The bank knows full well that down the street from their offices, is 300 acres of St. Tikhons Seminary that can be used for collateral, the mebership means nothing.
I have read some of the comments recently about these numbers, 57,000, 47,000, 500,000 (some AP poll about Orthodox Christians in America ((Not implying a jurisdiction )). If the OCA had...12 members, the loan would have been approved.
Secondly, there was the number that came up "from the Metropolitan lips" in a newspaper clipping about Archbishop Kyrill's death in which the Metropolitan gave a figure of 1,000,000 to the author of the article. To think that this number came from the Metropolitan seems kind of strange doesn it? Knowing the Metropolitan personally, I would have to say that I have a hard time seeing him give this number. The funeral was attended by MANY bishops, not just in the OCA and many priests who came and offered their own prayers (a truly beautiful thing if you were there to witness it). The reporter must have asked how many Orthodox Christians there were in America, not how many members there are in the OCA. Factchecking? There was really no need as the number had no relevance to the articles main purpose.
57,000...seems like a a bit of a stretch as well. Truth be told, we as a church will never know exactly how many member the OCA has unless someone volunteers their services to go to every church and count the people over 18.
Finally...and the thing that saddens me the most....are that I know some of the people that are posting on this website, and that these people are the same ones that are on this site reading these articles and posting comments on sunday morning when they should be in Church. Some of the people that are posting and talking about "their parish health and how they love their parishes" are abandoning the very things they claim they love. They have left their parish families....abandoned what they claim to love...
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this scandal has effected us all on a very deep level, but to leave the church all together becasue you are "hurt" is absurd. All of this scandal, is politics and should not be affecting your spiritual life. Do not use this scandal as an excuse to stay away from your church. I am not trying to play "Publican and Pharassee" (spelling not right...) and say that becuase i go to Church every sunday DESPITE what is going on, that I am right...i'm just asking that you do not let what has happened effect your spirituality. At the very least, find another parish outside the OCA and go in the back pew to pray. Tomorrow is Forgiveness Sunday...will you attend and allow the members of your Parish to ask for your forgivness. Will you offer your forgivness to them?
#30 Confused and Hurt on 2008-03-08 15:11
In hopes to clarify the statistics issue for you, there are directories such as the "Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches" who send a statistics questionaire to the various jurisdictions. The jurisdiction fills in numbers (congregation size, financials, etc.) and they return it and it is published. There is no supporting documentation required, no checking-up to see if what was submitted is correct. If the church organization put it, then it is published. So whatever is listed in the book is what the OCA told them.
As to why they insist on such inflated numbers, there are various reasons. The obvious one is the supposition that they want to look more important. Another, more realistic one, is that many of the bishops want parishes to pay assessments based on every Orthodox Christian who has ever stepped foot in or is even known by each OCA parish. Every "soul", not just those who choose to be a supporting, active "member". Not only does that mindset inflate the statistics, but to base assessments on that would significantly inflate the financial income too. So again, it all comes down to money.
#30.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 17:34
confused and hurt-
Please do not lecture people like a mother hen on their church attendance. Nor do I think it is your place to call "absurd" those who cannot attend church because of personal reasons. Perhaps the only way for some to "voice" their opinions is by not coming. And then you go on to question their "love" for their faith. Please tell me you don't actually mean that. Orthodoxy is not about a "roll call". This crisis cuts to the heart of our Orthodox Faith and is not simply a matter of "politics". The guilt and shame tactic will not deter many of us from doing what is right. I do not begrudge you your feelings of confusion and hurt. However, it occurs to me that keeping tabs on others church attendance and monitoring them is not something that is a healthy pursuit at this juncture. In fact, it's quite legalistic and hurtful to those who cannot in good conscience attend.
To suggest that we not let this affect our spirituality is another example of the "orthodox leap". How can it NOT affect our spirituality. Indeed, most everything does. It don't need to site a parable or quote scripture to just ask you to let people deal with this the way they need to.
#30.2 JD on 2008-03-08 18:18
ah, but not attending church IS the heart of the matter... It is not as if i keep tabs on who is attending church and what they are doing. I am simply hurt by the people that write and claim to care about their faith and yet do not show up to attend the divine liturgy and partake in the body and blood of christ.
If one were to spend their days in their room, praying every minute to God, church would not be neccessary. We would have no need to go every Sunday and partake in communion. The people that are dealing with this they way they are, which is by not going to church in defiances of what is going on in the OCA, are only hurting themselves. I am simply urging those individuals to return to A church...not just the OCA.
You say that the only way to "voice" their opinions is by not coming...i find that statement in itself absurd. You are putting money in front of partaking in the sacraments...you were right in one statement however, this entire ordeal IS affecting your spirituality, but not because of the scandal. It is affecting your spirituality because you are trying to be defiant by staying away from the church and not partaking in these sacraments that literally feed your spirituality...
Please do not take my statements the wrong way...
I am no person to judge "personal reasons" for not going to church...in that you are correct...if you are sick, ill, have a job that requires you to work on sundays, then yes, these are personal reasons. However, in the Divine Liturgy, we pray for those who cannot be there becuase of a good reason...."I want to voice my opinion about how much i despise the OCA and its leadership..." is that good reason enough to not be with God in his house?
All material my friend...your TRUE spirituality should not be determined by anything material such as money.
I had a problem seeing past material spirituality when I was young...a monk once told me on Mt. Athos that Orthodoxy is like the ocean. On the surface, it can sometimes be violent and sometimes be calm...most Orthodox Christians are like sailors on a boat that simply ride the waves and if the ocean looks too rough, they stay away from it all together. True orthodoxy lies underneath the surface...deep inside the water and underneath all of the violence of the surface...
Don't ride the waves or choose not to take the voyage...rather emerse yourself in the faith that we all have come to know and love...
Dont' let money and scandal ruin the one thing that you can hold close to your heart..and that no one can take from you....
#30.2.1 confused and hurt on 2008-03-09 18:27
While laxity and faithlessness may be the real reasons that many or most Orthodox non-worshippers do not attend services regularly, it should be noted that St. Mary of Egypt attended church exactly once as an adult: immediately prior to her flight into the desert to save her soul. This is an extraordinary example of how a person may be saved, but should an Orthodox Christian in America wish to flee to the desert to save their souls through extreme asceticism and not regularly attend services or receive the Sacraments, then i ask them to pray for me and all Orthodox Christians in America. Of course, simply fleeing the services, not attending Sunday Liturgy and mentally/emotionally tying the efficacy of the Sacraments with the 'worthiness' of one's priest, bishop or Metropolitan is falling into serious error - let us all pray for those that feel driven to such actions that they repent and return, and let us repent of our own contribution(s) to their sin, for it is ours.
"While laxity and faithlessness may be the real reasons that many or most Orthodox non-worshippers do not attend services regularly,"
Why don't we stay away from generalizations when we ourselves are unable to look into other's hearts.
"Of course, simply fleeing the services, not attending Sunday Liturgy and mentally/emotionally tying the efficacy of the Sacraments with the 'worthiness' of one's priest, bishop or Metropolitan is falling into serious error"...
Is that truly what you think this is about for out orthodox brothers and sisters in Alaska? I think not.
#22.214.171.124 JD on 2008-03-10 19:06
I think you missed my point, which was that it is possible to be saved outside of the services though this is an out of the ordinary way requiring greater asceticism and not to be undertaken lightly. In fact, I asked such emulators of St. Mary of Egypt to pray for me and all Orthodox Christians in America. I also stated that we should all pray for such as cannot enter the Church since the sins that drove them away are our sins collectively, not just someone else's or 'theirs'.
Melanie noted, correctly, that there may be other reasons apart from Donatism (the heresy of tying the efficacy of the Sacraments to the worthiness of the clergy) that keep an Orthodox Christian from the services. I agree. One example is a podvig like St. Mary of Egypt, but many more likely simply do not attend, which is dangerous, spiritually.
I think many of the comments here and elsewhere tend to accidentally border on Donatism, and an overall lack of respect for the offices held and the grace received in the clergy.Let us simply be careful, brothers and sisters, in this time of testing. Nestorius, for example, was treated respectfully (as the Patriarch of Constantinople) up until the point he would not repent of his error before the Council of Ephesus and was rightly anathematized; the fact that St. Nicholas slapped him was sinful and scandalous to the Council and almost ended in the Saint's defrocking - let us not attempt to place ourselves in the role of St. Nicholas assuming his level of holiness and passionlessness to be ours.
Please my dear brother. I'm fairly certain that bringing up the concept of Donatism to those who are in agony will do little to alleviate their suffering. I ask you humbly to not lecture the many of us who are well versed in Orthodox history and practice. I'm concerned that we don't re-victimize those who have suffered by shaming them.
#126.96.36.199.1.1 JD on 2008-03-11 21:41
"Of course, simply fleeing the services, not attending Sunday Liturgy and mentally/emotionally tying the efficacy of the Sacraments with the 'worthiness' of one's priest, bishop or Metropolitan is falling into serious error - let us all pray for those that feel driven to such actions that they repent and return, and let us repent of our own contribution(s) to their sin, for it is ours."
Many Orthodox survivors of abuse find it impossible to walk into a Church, let alone commune. This is **not** about the theological question of whether or not the sacrament has any
efficacy. Those who have been hurt within a sacred place will
react, sometimes violently, to sensory reminders associated with
those assaults. It is a physical response -- a gag reflex, if you will.
From what I've read, the Alaskan priests have recognized that praying for abused people to return to the Church is not enough. They are speaking out and demanding an end to the behavior that drove people away! To my mind, these clergy truly understand the parable of the good samaritan.
May this worthy behavior take root and spread!
Melanie Jula Sakoda
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2008-03-10 19:27
How can you say don't let this scandal effect your spirituality? That to me is the most confusing comment that you make. How disturbing of a comment that is to me and to each of us that post and read this web site everyday week or month ect...
This effects each of us So deeply that I would say is a large part of the root of the problem.
How absurb that sounds, every bit of our existance is Jesus Christ... Not a Church building or just those praying inside of it... Its the Air that you Breath along with every living creature and thing that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, every Mountain top to Drop of rain.... Of Course it reaches into your Spirituality because that's what were made of, God in the flesh...
I really think you insulted God by that statement. It also shows me that you just don't get it... No way can you get it... Secondly before making comments about others and where they should be in Church on Sunday or Not... You can't possibly be inside of a persons mind, or know their heart, all you can do is pray and ask God to be with those who need his compassion and understanding.
Why don't you your self pick up the phone and call people, reach out and make the right choices, if you have the answers just why don't you just Listen and Share Compassion to those who you don't understand... And just try to show love instead of listening to your own inner circles. Who knows, maybe God is trying to teach you something maybe God is trying to help you to see the Cunningness that has effected you, me and each of us personally. I have Faith that God Forgives and Understands Each of His Children....
#30.3 Anonymous on 2008-03-09 16:45
i guess the differences that we have are just the ways we were brought up...we both have a different perception of spirituality and what exactly that is...Spirituality to me is not something you can hold, its not a cross, its not the holy water, its not physical....its a feeling, an emotion, a fullfillment. Its that sensation that runs down your spine when you take confession....and so many others...To me, the OCA could be billions of dollars in debt, and all of the priests are involved in the RUssian Mafia in an attempt to steal money from OCA members to rebuild the Soviet Empire....and it still would not affect me on a spiritual level. Yes, it would hurt, I would feel betrayed and sad, but would I let it affect me to the point where I don't partake in the sacraments? no...woudl it drive me from Orthodoxy completely (which it has for some people)....no....spirituality is something that can never be taken from me because its not material....and none of us should let the material problems of the OCA affect our spiritual lives...
#30.3.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-10 13:47
I'm beginning to understand you a bit more. Spirituality is not a feel good response~ if I wanted a feel good response or sensation than I would go listen to a choir that sings Praise the Lord! Loud and Clear... No pun intended. In questioning ones Spirituality, I agree its not just in a gold cross or icon that is hung on the wall.. Its how you Honor and Treat Your Icon thats hanging on your wall... Do you walk by it and kiss it, do you say prayers to the icon to God and to others, are you honorable to what it represents? do you let the dust sit on it, do you say a simple prayer of Thankfulness as you pass along throughout the day.ect. Do you change them on feast days?
I certainly can't go into your home and judge in my mind whether you have your icons there for them to be a show, or just because they were a gift from your Mother or Priest and that's why you have them hung.
I have no right to judge you or your family members on the appearance of material treasures. Do I seem a bit more clear now? You can't get on this web site and tell people hey I'm counting, your not in the back pew, you weren't in church on Sunday.
That to me is clueless, Instead of making that statement, find the compassion and pick up your phone and say hey I missed you on Sunday I miss your smiling face, or your presence was not the same without you there, that's how you get people to think and move if you allow that love to open up and shine through. And the comment of how I was brought up or not, hey you don't know me nor do you know the hearts of many others on this site that are calling out for Truth, Honesty and the Ultimate Questions of...... Are the Allegations True or False. You don't have a clue... In fact I wouldn't dare to judge others and to tell them where to go...
One point that you make is clearer to me now though, the point that you and I are brought up differently, I would say so. I was taught that thou shall not steal. As a part of the ten commandments this was a sin. It didn't matter how you took it, whether it was money, a candy bar from the store, or if you didn't pay the paper boy for the paper. If you took it you were to be held accountable.
I lived next to the police, so you were going to jail if you did something that was wrong, and guess what else you had, consequences. If you didn't face up, the fear of God was instilled in us, you trembled with the very thought of doing the wrong thing and mom or dad finding out. You were held accountable.
So yea, I guess you could say my spirituality and yours are a bit different.
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-03-10 15:18
"In questioning ones Spirituality, I agree its not just in a gold cross or icon that is hung on the wall.. Its how you Honor and Treat Your Icon thats hanging on your wall... "
A very good point. Let us not forget how we honor and treat those Icons Not Made by Hands....that is, the human beings created in the image of God. This site exists because we have not seen our hierarchs setting enough of a good example in this matter.
#220.127.116.11.1 Valentine on 2008-03-10 16:57
Dear Confused and Hurt,
It may be that people who are not in your parish on Sunday are going to services at another parish and are receiving Holy Communion. We all work with our shortfalls in different ways. It is each individuals choice to freely decide which decision to make concerning their spirituality. In our final encounter with Christ, we will all be accountable.
If you are concerned you may wish to contact those individuals. If you are confused and hurt then perhaps they,too, feel confused and hurt . We all make are way as best we can in this world, so please do not judge others.
It is one thing to know that the place you work or the school you atttend has some flaws and indulges in dishonesty. It is devastating to even "think" your church is involved in dishonest activities. It appears to me it is time for those who know what happened to the money to come forward and make restitution to the members of the OCA. It is also time to "render unto Caesar".if our laws were broken. THE CHURCH will be here as long as God deems it to be here. Courage!
May your Lenten journey bring you peace,
#18.104.22.168.2 Carpathia on 2008-03-10 17:29
It is satisfying that the Holy Synod has taken relatively quick action in the matter of the Diocese of Alaska.
Will the financial issue receive more aggressive action now, or continue to be in the shadow.
May God rescue NIKOLAI from himself, and Isidore as well, and deliver a true shepherd to Alaska!
#31 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 15:24
#32 anon on 2008-03-08 16:49
Let us remember that Fr. Soraich (aka Bp. Nicholai) was Kondratick's handpick. Nicholai knows much about this scandal, esp. the hush money that Kondratick spent in California covering up the child molestations at Holy Trinity. Soraich was Chancellor at the time. His only defense lately has been a good offense, and he is failing at that also. What goes around, comes around. It is time for him to pay the piper with the others who helped construct this monstrous situation. I see no Christianity in him at all (no fruit). God help him. This should give Orthodox Christians pause, revealing a method of unChristian behavior that can parade as bishop and priest without accountability for a long time... the message has been: just go through the motions and the peasants will not notice.
#33 Anon. on 2008-03-09 06:51
"Nicholai knows much about this scandal, esp. the hush money that Kondratick spent in California covering up the child molestations at Holy Trinity."
Bishop Nikolai was indeed the chancellor of the Diocese of the West when the HTC claims were settled. However, of the four cases, three were covered almost entirely by insurance. The OCA contributed an additional $2,000 to these settlements, and the insurance company provided a loan to cover the shortfall. I know, because my two children were among the three recipients. In neither of these three cases was there a confidentiality agreement. Free to speak out, Cappy and I have, through our work on Pokrov, tried very hard to keep the molestations from being covered up, and I believe that we have succeeded.
It is true that there was a third settlement. I don't know where the money came from in that case, and I understand that there was a confidentiality agreement. However, I think Pokrov has more than compensated for the mandated silence of this one family.
WHAT!!!! Who did what? I am an Orthodox from Y/K delta Alaska, born and raised Orthodox and to think all this is going on in our Diocese HURTS. Pray for our Priests and Laity. Quyana
#33.2 anonymous on 2008-03-09 21:43
WOW! Fr. Vansuch won't go and + Nicolai won't step down - this is getting good! Where are those big Alaskan guys to take him on a nice, long vacation in Barrow? The OCA better get a legal team up there NOW. God knows what this nut will do with the money and land!
#34 Anonymous on 2008-03-09 10:28
Perhaps I can only suppose that such events such as the OCA has gone through in the past several years was destined to be without the proper statutes, bylaws, guidleines, and financial practices in place.
The place the OCA is in right now seems to be a product of its own demise.
What a challenge. What a cross. What a suffering.
#35 Patty Schellbach on 2008-03-09 14:52
There is an eerie coorespondence between the modern bishop and the application of the rules on the one hand, and the direction water goes through the garden hose -- seems the one holding the hose never gets wet -- but is strangely thirsty.
#36 Harry Coin on 2008-03-09 19:47
I encourage all the readers to log onto oca.org and read the Lenten letter from Metropolitan Herman. The last paragraph was especially good.
#37 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-09 20:44
Once again, it is a shame that we had to reach this level of action.
Regardless of who is correct or incorrect, In any aspect of this (these) scandal(s). Let us all remember one thing.
Today, is Forgiveness Sunday.
Forgive [us] brother(s)/sister(s) for I have sinned.
"Be Merciful to [us], O God and save [us]"
#38 Andrew on 2008-03-09 21:11
This web site is sooooo negative.
Has anyone offered any suggestions on what Bishop NIKOLAI might do to rectify this situation?
It's quite obvious he has enemies that want him out of Alaska (everyone has their enemies) but his downfall may be that he refused to play the internet game. In hindsight, he should of met all of these charges head-on; rushed to the offended and made amends. But he didn't.
Now the question remains, why did this web site change from the financial issues in Syosset to removing a Bishop from Alaska?
Everyone has an agenda, and I'm sure if they start digging they can find all kinds of dirt on Mark Stokoe, the members of the Kuskokwim Deanery and Fr. Oleska. Their motives may or may not be pure, but that's not the issue. This web site has given a voice to Bishop Nikolai's worst enemies in Kodiak and elsewhere. He should never have ignored them. I don't think he realized how flammable this internet thing could be.
Bishop Nikolai is a good man. He is ambitious and energetic and struggles to improve our Diocese. At last, this past week, he has admitted that he is harsh and offensive to some (most?). But he truly cares about our Alaska Diocese and works more than anyone I've ever seen. I hope it's not too late for him.
In church today, he asked for forgiveness from everyone that he has offended, either directly or indirectly. And he really meant it. He said that he was committed to changing his ways. I hope he carries that same message all parishes directly. He shouldn't wait for them to come to him, he needs to go to them.
Will somebody please help this man? It makes me sick to read how hateful these posts are; most coming from people who don't even know Bishop Nikolai. Their only view of him comes from these negative posts.
It is his fault that he allowed these people to define him without a response. He's probably too old fashioned, and has a stupid sense of humor; but there's nothing here that can't be fixed. Why throw the baby out with the bathwater?
Must Alaska keep starting over and over again from scratch?
It will be easy to criticize my email here, I'm no great wordsmith, but rather than keep piling on, how about something positive for a change?
Will somebody please offer some constructive criticism?
#39 ethelrod on 2008-03-09 21:17
Ethelrod, the problem is he isn't good at this. At all. He got the job just like most bishops do; he passesd the physical. Once in a while this great qualification works to pick a bishop, it frequently doesn't. Being a single male takes precisely zero talent. Our bishop candidates rise to that level with distressing frequency. Like all of them, he is not/was not a "monk", never will be. Fiction #1 gone. Has zero pastoral skills, inspires hatred and fear, not love. Is dishonest. Not only does this disqualify him as a cleric, it would do so in the Episcopal Church or among the Mormons. We aren't asking him to be a saint, we're asking mere civility. He lacks it.
#39.1 anon on 2008-03-10 09:50
I am comforted to read your words especially when so many are only speaking fom their hurt and bitterness and hatred. In the past I have written and tried to convey a positive message one of forgiveness and healing. The problem that we face does not fall squarely on the Bishops shoulders, these problems existed before him and will continue to exist after him. He has already started taking steps towards healing and those who have been hurt by him also need to take the steps towards healing and seek forgiveness. It may sound backwards to say that the one who has been hurt needs to seek forgiveness, we need to look into our hearts and see its condition. To see the anger, the hurt the bitterness, the fear, the hatered, the self will and all those things that have developed. We must always remember the Cross that we wear around our necks and act accordinly. We cant sit around and grumble about the other person when we are not willing to humble ourselves and let God be in control.
We need to guard our hearts and show love to those who have rendered evil unto us.
Earlier on I said that these problems we are facing now existed before the Bishop and will continue well after he is gone. We must remember that we are in a spiritual battle and we have an enemy who is very wise and crafty and knows each one of our weeknesses, 1Peter 5 tells us:
"Be sober and self-controlled. Be watchful. Your adversary the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
It does not matter if we are Christian or not all of us are being hunted by the Devil, and he delights when he is able to cause us to panic and act out of our fear and weekness.
I see that I have written alot probably more than I should. I dont set myself up as a judge over anyone at least I try not to and yet out of my fallen human nature I have offended some of you here on this list and some of you here in Kodiak, I am left without excuses and I ask, no rather I beg your forgiveness. Please pray for me as I struggle on this path of healing and reconciliation first with my fellow man and secondly with God.
I spent most of my life harboring hatred, bitterness, resentment and fear because of the abuses sexual, physical and emotional, that I went through growing up. I was full of rage and anger, which, in the worlds eyes was justified, but in Gods eyes it was a cancer that was killing me. Over the years I learned to control the anger but it wasnt untill just before I was baptised into the Church that I asked my family for forgiveness for how I hurt them and felt towards them. They havent changed but I have and the cycle of abuse that is part of my families history has been broken and is not being visited upon my children.
I love God and His Church and I love each one of you, and thats why I speek the way I do and open myself up to you. There is alot of hurt and that is evident each day I pray that Gods will be done and that healing begins for each one of you.
Because of His Love
Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.
Proverbs 4:23 *Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
#39.2 Ambrose Stapleton on 2008-03-10 10:14
Thank you for your words of love. You seem to have a very good knowledge of scripture. Have you studied theology?
I am interested to read your previous postings. Can you please direct me to where they are on this site?
#39.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-10 14:23
And three beautiful children they are!
#39.2.2 fdr on 2008-03-10 16:50
Ok, I quite confident you're another insider doing "damage control", but I'll bite on this one.
Positive -- Nikolai must uphold his oath to the Synod and take a leave of absence.
Positive -- Nikolai must fully cooperate with the investigation and provide all requested information honestly and in good faith.
Positive -- Nikolai must admit he was wrong and admit that the clergy are right. (Not to admit that he is intimidating because his "position as bishop" is what intimidates people.)
Positive -- Nikolai must humbly ask for all the resigned/removed members of the SHS board to return, and allow them to rehire any and all dismissed faculty as they see fit.
Positive -- No more domestic partners. Nikolai must live on his own in order to "be above any suspicion" (as the canons like to say.)
Positive -- Nikolai must allow his diocese to elect a group of priests who will review any and all cases of clergy accusations, and report their recommendations for action to Nikolai so that he does not misuse this power in the future, AND this group must initially be charged with reviewing all past disciplinary cases by Nikolai to determine if they were appropriate or not.
Positive -- Nikolai must learn to bite his tongue, perhaps by participating in "sensitivity training" courses.
Positive -- Nikolai must travel to each place he has publicly humiliated or chastized any person in his diocese and publicly ask forgiveness (by name) for his action, admitting he was wrong.
Positive -- Nikolai must publicly re-affirm his oath to the synod, and to the Church.
I have more, but here's a pretty good start for you/him to consider.
#39.3 Anonymous on 2008-03-10 10:40
Some very valid points, but not all of us have been negative towards Nikolai in all commentary.
My largest complaint has been that the OCA only responds when problems get to the extreme. Bishop Nikolai should have been reprimanded several times already; make no mistake.
For kicking Lydia Black out...what decent human kicks an old lady out of her abode without a notice? I believe it is criminal for a landlord to do to a tenant in MN. If he had done it to my mother, he'd have gotten a punch square in the nose. What you have done to the least you have done to me.
For terminating Sidebottom..The OCA should ask Sidebottom to come and be the secretary... What you have done to the least you have done to me.
For other upheavals and terminations that I can't recall specifics on now..
We don't need a lot of details when people have given credible reasons to be upset with this guy.
After all of these things, I have complained that the OCA needs a different way to handle these matters and have compared Bishop Nikolai's behavior to that of a sliver that festers until the infection must be removed. Personally, I would have given Nikolai an ultimatum. Make right those things that you have allowed to go wrong and gone against the Synod and you can stay.
Booting Lydia Black.
Kicking a lady out of church for speaking over him.
Going against Best Practices.
Going after Job when he was put in an awkward position due to Isidore's bad (at a minimum) behavior.
If he wants to stand firm on his positions on all of these, then who would want him?
What you have done to the least, you have done unto me.
Perhaps the Bishop needs an occasionally absent Sunday churchgoer to update him on some basic Gospel lessons?
I'm not sure which Canon is subject to that Teaching.
#39.4 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-10 11:25
Another enabler with wife beater syndrome...lame.
Moses the Tlingit
#39.5 Anonymous on 2008-03-10 12:59
I dont think that you have a real grasp on what Battered Wife Syndrom is. I am not an accuser of the Bishop by any means and that is why I dont speak to any of the surface accustaions that are being leveled at him. I agree there are some legitamete grievences against the Bishop and those are being addressed however they arent being addressed for all to see. This problem didnt happen over night and its not going to change overnight. The advice I have given is one of trying to help encourage others who are hurt to guard their hearts and hopefully find a path towards healing, its not to excuse the accustaions or to distract from the issues. What is going to happen if the accusers of the Bishop dont get their way and he remains as Bishop? What are you going to do then, continue to bully and intimidate those who are remaining faithful to the Church despite everything thats going on around them.
What is going to happen if geting rid of the current Bishop is successful and then we get a new one who does things that you dont like or understand? Will the attacks begin again?
I am by no means advocating that we turn our backs on sin and cover it up what I have ben bold enough to say is that we need to examine our hearts and root out the sin.Because then and only then will all of our other efforts have a lasting effect because then we have done it with a pure heart and not with bitterness, hatred and anger.
#39.5.1 Ambrose Stapleton on 2008-03-10 14:52
Ambrose, when it comes to bullying and intimidating, His lamentable Grace has it all over Moses the Tlingit. His lamentable Grace has (had) real power and has shown that bullying and intimidating are right up his alley. One might even say that bullying and intimidating constitute his default setting. Now, please explain Moses can compete. Projection, anyone? It's not just for movie theaters any more.
#22.214.171.124 Scott Walker on 2008-03-10 22:01
You have no idea who you are talking to big boy! My family survived the genocidal* Protestant Boarding Schools, the massive land thefts of post-1867 Alaska, and I watch my people struggle and hemmorage socially every day, I know EXACTLY what those dysfunctional behaviors look like, smell like, and taste like. If the punk in a mitre stays in Alaska, I won't say squat to those people who choose to go back for more abuse, it simply isn't my concern; I, on the other hand, will move on and never look back. Funny you should assume I am a bully. People who know me say I am one of the most easy-going, mellow, soft-spoken people they have ever met, as a matter of fact my Tlingit name means "moving along at an easy pace". I have found that alot of ex-Protestant fundamentalists are very receptive to people like the Bishop of Alaska after they convert to Orthodoxy, as the severity is something they relate to.
Moses the Easy-Going Tlingit
*for those settler types that don't think these nightmare initiatives were genocidal, let me direct you to the writings of Raphael Lemkin who is the father of the term "Genocide" and a Jewish Nuremburg juror, I am not going to debate this, read it yourself:
#126.96.36.199 Moses on 2008-03-11 15:09
I can vouch for what Moses is saying about the Protestant boarding schools . As a young man in Fairbanks, I had a girlfriend from Ft. Yukon whose family was destroyed by the children being taken away to Sheldon Jackson and all the cultural genocide that went along with it. Unfortunately, it is something that is not easily explained to people who have no idea of the history of Alaska and its people, just as the Trail of Tears is for the Cherokee.
Fr. Daniel Swires (part Cherokee)
#188.8.131.52.1 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-03-11 19:55
Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, give us this DAY,
our daily bread, and FORGIVE us our TRESSPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TREPASS AGAINST US, and lead us not into TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE, for thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forvever and forever. Amen
Lord Jesus Christ, Have a mercy on me a sinner.
#39.5.2 Anonymous on 2008-03-10 15:11
The outpouring of messages, letters, some email and others postal mail, of Alaska priests and laity have to be taken as more than a few enemies of Bp. Nikolai seeking to harm him, as more than an internet conspiracy. In fact, given the number of clergy & laity who wrote, as well as the senior active priest there, Fr Michael Oleksa, it would appear to be there is little to investigate further--although I wonder if those ruthlessly deposed in Bp N's ecclesiastical courts like Fr Polsen, would like to join in witnessing to injustice and unChristian behavior. If so many clergy & laity have described being mistreated--something several admitted was very hard to do, given their reverence for the church and the episcopate--will it be necesssary to subject each of those who wrote to extreme interrogation to determine their "character"? As in some previous "investigations," will they be pressured to recant, to withdraw their claims?
A community of Christians has risen up to say its chief pastor failed and abused them in many ways. This has to be taken seriously by the rest of the church, most especially by the synod of bishops. That they have acted unanimously in first asking & then making his leave of absence compulsory is noteworthy in recent OCA history. That Bp N has chosen to defy them is likewise remarkable for one who numerous times attacked his brother bishop Job for rebelliousness and intrusion.
There has not been as of yet any explanations in defense of or legitimations of Bp N's actions that would convince a reasonaable person that he has acted within the boundaries of authentic episcopal behavior--unless such has no bounds, i.e. if one believes a bishop's power is so absolute that he may do virtually anything, say anything he pleases.
Fr Michael Plekon
#39.6 Anonymous on 2008-03-10 13:50
"Now the question remains, why did this web site change from the financial issues in Syosset to removing a Bishop from Alaska?"
It has not changed. It is not and has never been about 'financial issues' as such. The financial issues we are dealing with are only the occasion, but not the cause, of the ills in the OCA. The troubles with Alaska and its bishop have the same root cause as the financial issues.
Thank God the synod is doing something to deal with the troubles in Alaska now. The concern of this website and I believe many of the faithful is that our hierarchs not stop there, that they go on to deal with the root cause that allowed the financial misdeeds and the pain and suffering in Alaska-- along with, it seems likely, other wrongs that have yet to come to light. Alas for that. Yes, it certainly feels negative to have to continue to dig up these rotten underpinnings, but we have to get them out in order to get them replaced by new and positive things. The current action of the synod is a positive step. Let's all keep hoping and praying for more.
#39.7 Valentine on 2008-03-10 15:59
“Has anyone offered any suggestions on what Bishop NIKOLAI might do to rectify this situation?”
Yes, the Holy Synod has. They offered their counsel and then they told him how the situtation will be rectified. Bishop NILOLAI is to take a leave-of-absence and a Committee of the Holy Synod will investigate the situation. You said that he was in church yesterday? I thought the Holy Synod mandated that he leave Alaska four days ago. A leave-of-absence is not the same as being removed from office. If he is still in Alaska, he is willfully disobeying the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod. I can't imagine that's a good thing.
This website shouldn't be the target of your frustration. The testimonials from Alaska were sent to the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod. They seem to me to be cries for help not slander. They were posted on ocanews.org after the fact. Metropolitan HERMAN himself wrote these words to Bishop NIKOLAI: “
“I think you know very well that the complaints about your conduct within the diocese are not about your leadership style, bad press or anything that may be published on the internet. The letters of complaint have been brought by reputable priests and laity alike.”
But it seems that who the Metropolitan calls “reputable”, you say are “enemies”. “Enemies” is a pretty negative, offensive, and loaded word.
In your post you said that “(t)heir (Mark Stokoe, the members of the Kuskokwim Deanery and Fr. Oleska) motives may or may not be pure, but that's not the issue.” I respectfully disagree with you on this point. The motivation IS the issue. It is absolutely the issue. They claim their motives are pure. They have people that will attest to their character. And that's what the Holy Synod is going to investigate in Alaska. There's no conspiracy to bring the downfall of an innocent person, and it doesn't help the situation to claim that. I think that your own “constructive criticism” is wise:
“He should of met all of these charges head-on; rushed to the offended and made amends.”
“He should never have ignored them.”
“He said that he was committed to changing his ways. I hope he carries that same message all parishes directly. He shouldn't wait for them to come to him, he needs to go to them.”
I hope Bishop NIKOLAI takes to heart your suggestions, but he will have to do it during his leave-of-absence, I'm afraid.
I can tell you are a good man, Ethelrod. Peace to you.
#39.8 Jodie Captein - Oregon on 2008-03-10 17:27
in OCS, some time ago, we learned that the officer is the biggest helper, not the biggest ruler............one aims to be the best possible steward of resources, as well as the example to be followed by his men...........future leaders (helpers) are so nourished...........
#39.9 Guileless on 2008-03-10 19:26
In trying to find some good, in trying to see and feel some hope.......Bishop Nikolai's statement during his interview on Alaskan TV, "It doesn't matter if I think I was harsh. It matters that they think I was harsh and I need to apologize for that" - is a good place to start - please Bishop Nikolai, start there, build on that small step toward doing whats right, doing whats in the best interest of your flock who have suffered greatly under your leadership. Apologize formally. Step down voluntarily. Allow your flock to heal, to feel safe again....and then trust in what you teach, God's will be done, not yours.
#40 anonymous - but not for long on 2008-03-10 06:55
Andrew, have you thought that perhaps this site is negative because the situation is negative, that the accountability of the bishops needs to be addressed in all aspects not just the financial ones. Priests are understandably reluctant to speak out against their bishops, they should be. When so many do, there is a problem.
If even one instance of the bullying, cruelty and intimidation reported here is factually true, Nikolai has no business being a bishop.
His own words in his reply to Met. Herman and the Synod convict him. He is only concerned about the legalisms and his own position. That is the whole sum and substance of the genesis of the complaints, legalism run amok, authority turned into tyranny. Legalism kills the Spirit. License leads to apostasy and heresy. A bishop has to be able to 'rightly divide the word of the truth' not erring in either direction. Love of God, not love of rules must prevail.
No one should rejoice over his downfall, it is a sad and horrible event, but one that need not have happened.
#41 Michael P Bauman on 2008-03-10 11:00
What I do not understand is that Herman has been accused of much more and by many more, why is he still in office?
#42 MP on 2008-03-10 14:46
I am struck by the seeming sincerity of Ethelrod's message. Sincerity standing alone, however, does not do a lot for people when the situation calls for other skills such as critical thinking or speaking the truth in love, and especially when the situation is so far down the road as this one.
There are many, many aspects of Ethelrod's post that deserve critical thought and comment. I hesitate to really tackle the job and therefore will try to limit myself to one or two.
A general apology in the Anchorage church yesterday may have been nice to hear. It might even have been well meant. But from what I read here and elsewhere, I suspect a VERY low percentage of the people in the nave of his cathedral yesterday morning were the people who have been stumbled and scandalized by Bishop Nikolai.
So a nice, general comment addressed to those who "may" have been offended (but presumably were not there) probably does not not go very far down the road, not only because of its glittering generality and the use of the word "may," but also because the offended - MANY of whose names and exact whereabouts are VERY precisly known to the bishop - were not there to hear and be reconciled.
At the risk of re-starting the game of Bible Proof Texting just when most will have hoped that the players have gone home, or at least left the field for a break, what about Matt. 5:23-24? 'If you are offering your gift at the altar and know that your brother has something against you, leave your gift and first go be reconciled to your brother. Then return to offer the gift.'
Please let us know when and if that starts to happen with specific people in specific places. Ethelrod asks if someone will "please help this man?" I will. I hereby publicly offer to buy a ticket for Bishop Nikolai from Anchorage to Chicago (or wherever Archbishop Job may be this week) for the process to begin. I will let this site know when and if this offer is accepted.
And if the bishop really and truly "gets it" now - that he has been too harsh and tyrannical - I would expect him to lift some of the severe sanctions he has imposed on decent folks whose only real offense probably was lesse majeste, and to apologize to the people whose lives have been turned upside down. Until and unless he does, should we not assume that the bishop's position remains more or less as we have read in the record so far: "I was always right. They were ___ ( fill it in with the adjective that best fits each instance - careless, stupid, non-traditional, insufficently deferential, nutty, whatever) and had it coming to them. What this ship needs to shape it up is a tough captain to kick --- and take names."
Let's put this in more mundane terms. I if I should hear the confession of someone who claimed to be repentant over having stolen from the local store, should I take the person's repentance seriously enough to pronounce absolution if he or she refuses to return the merchandise or pay for it?
Ethelrod is probably correct that in some of the people who have been scandalized, the offenses given, or at least taken, have festered into anger and bitterness. Ethelrod seems to imply that this invlidates or diminshes the charges and augers for Bishop Nikolai's retention.
There is an alternative view: that the great importance of having bishops who are are gentle, non-contentious and do not strike others (I Tim. 3:3) is precisely because of the great likelihood of causing deep wounds, of tearing individuals and whole churches to pieces, if someone in such an august office does otherwise. So maybe the breadth and the depth in the diocese of such reactions is NOT evidence in exoneration or mitigation, or of their culpability, but rather the opposite.
#43 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-03-10 16:05
I belong to a different Orthodox church, so if I know anything it is just by hearsay. It is now Great Lent. Let us pray for harmony in the Orthodox Church. I like neither the revolutionary shouting of some who want the Bishop's head to roll even before the Synod has ascertained the truth, nor the Bishop's refusal to obey and leave, a refusal based on pharisaic quibbles and one-sided interpretations of Canonic law.
The obedience that Bishop Nikolai expects from his rational flock must be expected of him, too.
I hope that the Lord Jesus Christ will intervene soon through His Grace and Mercy and make everybody involved in this sad event find the best solution for the Church, not for the Bishop, the Archbishop, or the Synod.
Lord Have Mercy on all of us.
#44 Herman, recent convert on 2008-03-10 17:34
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