Wednesday, April 9. 2008
Your comments to the letters from Frs. Askoar, Lowe, Matushka Vernak and Mr. Calvert are welcome.
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re: Archpriest Timothy's letter:
At the risk of outing myself, it is dementors that suck men's souls, not Death Eaters.
But the analogy is perfect.
#1 Magdalene on 2008-04-09 15:27
Although, the dementors did work for the death eaters, so it sort of makes sense. But you're right, and I was tempted to point this out as well.
At the risk of not only outing myself but also never being taken seriously again, I'll offer a couple of other Potter analogies.
The character whose mistakes we should be paying the most attention to at this moment is Cornelius Fudge. His denial of what was really happening and desperately maintained efforts to go on as if nothing was wrong were disastrous. Eventually we do need to go on with the proper and ordinary life of the Church, but we can only do so once we've fully confronted the truth and dealt with the consequences. A false normal based on denial and obfuscation will be destructive and untenable.
Another thought from the Potter-verse -- the books start 10 years after the evil Voldemort has been defeated, when life has returned to normal and no one anymore considers the possibility of the dark days returning. The dark lord's second rise is aided by people's belief that it can't happen again. Those who urge 'constant vigilance' are marginalized as cranks. Cornelius Fudge feels secure enough in the ordinariness of life that he thinks the dementors can work under ministry control.
We've by no means yet won our initial fight against the forces that have distorted the life of the OCA, although we're moving more in that direction than it seemed a month ago. But if we do get to a moment when we have confronted and overcome the darkness, we will still need to make sure that the darkness cannot return. That will be very hard work, with no obvious solutions, and after the efforts and battles of these three miserable years it will be tempting to just say, "Okay, that's enough for now, let's just get on with normal life."
#1.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-04-10 02:56
Great post. As for not being taken seriously by some folks, I would not worry too much as those who do not take you seriously would be unable to grasp the points that you are making not matter how you present them.
#1.1.1 Carl on 2008-04-10 13:54
In a previous post I commented on the Russian web site I found called "Voices From Russia" that included additional info on this whole Alaska scandal. I came across another site that is loaded with additional info at www.orthodoxchristianity.net. Once on, just do a search for Bishop Nikolai. Again, it has tons of info.
Thanks, Mark, for the good work you are doing in providing this forum.
#2 anonymous on 2008-04-09 15:45
I think that of all the individual pieces written to date that I like Matushka V's the best. Well done!
When people like this speak out-
well, it really drives home the point on how much is lost thanks to this, hahahahaha, bishops.
#3 no name on 2008-04-09 16:00
I agree with Miriam, but I do feel that the synod of bishops is really lacking any integrity or ethical standards. They allow the metropolitan to lead them down his path rather than that of prayer, fasting and repentence. We are in the period of the fast when I believe we should be working very hard at preparing for the feast of feasts. Instead, the metropolitan picks this time to tear apart Alaska and the many souls that have been ravaged by his actions. We the faithful have no confidence in his words and can no longer support his actions. Since his election to the Office of Metropolitan there has been a steady decline in membership. Why? He has never been a leader - he never really moved into the role - he has no respect for us, so how can we respect him? He constantly uses people to get what he wants and then discards them. The only possible hope for the OCA is that our Mother Church allow thoses parishes who desire to do so, go back. Go back to a prayerful like in Christ. This turmoil has gone on for too long. Herman will never retire or resign. He is incapable of fulfilling the duties of the office he has been elected to. It's unfortunate, but he and the synod of bishops who allow him to contine are responsible for the spiritual murder of thousands. They have to live with this, they have to be accountable for their decisions and the consequences that will follow for decades to come.
(Editor's note: Nothing is stopping you from attending the parish of your choice. Rather than suffer "spiritual murder" as you rather dramatically phrase it, I suggest you flee and save yourself. The rest of us, who are not quite so overwrought, albeit very concerned, will continue to fight the good fight in the OCA. I have every confidence the Metropolitan will do his duty, as he sees it, and resolve our issues before the next AAC. If not, well, I imagine you will be joined by many in seeking a new spiritual home, this one having been made desolate.)
#3.1 MP on 2008-04-10 06:56
My goodness, quite a change of tone here from you...."I have every confidence the Metropolitan will do his duty, as he sees it, and resolve our issues before the next AAC."
How do you define "will do his duty?" Did you trip to Syosset sweeten you on Ol Man Joe?
(Editor's note: Given the events of the past two years and his life-long profession of concern and care for the Church, his duty, it seems to me, would be to retire in the coming months so as to allow a fresh start for the Church he has served so long. In so doing he would provide a witness and legacy that could never be gainsaid. I do not expect him to retire because I or other might wish it; I expect him to do it because it is the right, noble, pastoral, and authentic thing to do. It is, I believe, his duty.
I doubt the above makes me "sweet" on Ol' Joe. The past three years has never been about personalities, no matter how much the former Chancellor wanted to reduce everything to that. It has been about truth, accountability and transparency. The Metropolitan speaks about truth; I take him at his word to now do it. He expects others to be accountable to him: I expect him to be accountable for his actions ( or inactions) as well; he declares all is transparent at Syosset now; I expect him to operate that way himself. Perhaps I am mistaken in my hope that he will do his duty by next November. It would be not be the first time the OCA has been so disappointed by its officers failing to do their duty. I would have hoped those days would be behind us.)
#3.1.1 Say It Ain't So! on 2008-04-10 07:58
I FEEL, THE MET COULD NEVER STEP DOWN OR SHOULD HE! WHY? THERE WOULD BE A SPLT IN THE CHURCH! 94 % WOULD FOLLOW METROPOLITAN HERMAN! I KNOW STOKOE, WOULD LIKE TO SEE HIS "BUDDY" BISHOP JOB BECOME THE NEXT MET, RIGHT STOKOE? PLEASE TELL ME ITS NOT SO, STOKOE! YOU DO GET ALL THE GOSSIP FROM THE HORSES MOUTH?
(Editor's note: First, the Metropolitan could easily follow the example of the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in submitting their resignation to the Synod at age 75 as a matter of course. The Synod then accepts, or asks them to stay for a few more years, in exceptional circumstances. Secondly, if you think 94% of the OCA would follow the Metropolitan you are simply delusional. But the point is not a democratic vote. It is about duty and responsibility. The Metropolitan needs to accept responsibility and do his duty and retire with honor. Third, Archbishop Job has stated on numerous ocassions he does not wish to be the next Metropolitan, but to retire as he puts it, in 3 years, 2 months and 21 days - or wherever his own personal clock is now. The next Metropolitan should be the choice of the next Council. Period. Finally, I do not discuss my sources, so feel free to speculate. You say +Job, today the retired +Tikhon said it was +Nikon. although, it should be pointed out that it was the retired +Tikhon who announced to the world first that Thaddeus Wojcik Esq. had been nominated as OCA legal counsel. It was not OCANews.org that violated the Metropolitan Council's rules: it was the Bishop. So go to it, All Caps Guy. Pick on him for a while.....)
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2008-04-10 17:27
No body wanted or wants + Herman as Metropolitan. At the last AAC, + Seraphim received the most votes for Met. + Herman pulled a fast one with the other bishops & RSK and was able to jockey himself into the position. When his "appointment" was announced to all those assembled at the AAC, there was a unanimous reply of, "OH NO!" And, his leadership has proven to be the disaster everyone thought it would be. The next Metropolitan should be who it originally should have been, + Seraphim. That is, if the OCA doesn't merge with the Antiochians which would be the BEST outcome of this on going mess!
#22.214.171.124.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 05:24
Get your facts straight before you write something you know NOTHING about. It was Metropolitan Theodosius who pushed and lobbied for Herman, who one the support of the other Holy Synod members BY ONE VOTE.
If you want to blame anyone, blame Theodosius not Kondratick who personally was in favor of Seraphim over Herman, but he did not have a vote.
#126.96.36.199.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 10:47
Well of course + Theodosius wanted + Herman in as Met. + Herman knew of the entire financial thievery. I am sure + Theodosius made a pact with + Herman that he would support him for Met. if he (+Herman) would put the kabosh on any investigation and save + Theodosius' name - for the good of the church. + Herman was in on the cover-up from the beginning and RSK became the "fall guy" to protect both of them. All three are guilty and criminal charges should have been presented on all three years ago!
#188.8.131.52.1.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-12 09:22
Kondratick....Theodosius....either one, it still stinks of cover-up.
#184.108.40.206.1.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-13 19:32
I hope you are speaking figuratively here. There was not a cry of "Oh No" at the AAC at +Herman's election; if there were some expressions of dismay, it certainly was not unanimous.
For the record, and lest someone think I'm saying more here than I am, I was there and did not vote for His Beatitude on either ballot, myself.
#220.127.116.11.1.2 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-04-11 17:57
I was at the last AAC also. Everyone thought they would announce + Seraphim as Metropolitan. As we all stood and waited, the announcement came - + Herman was the new Metropolitan. I heard EVERYONE gasp and say, "OH NO!" I don't know where you were standing, but the majority of the people and clergy felt as if they were all betrayed. They were!
#18.104.22.168.1.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-12 09:26
The video of the announcement of the election is posted on oca.org. When Vladyka Kyrill announces Herman's name, you very clearly hear a loud and noticable "Ohhhhhhhhhh" from the crowd.
#22.214.171.124.1.2.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-13 19:41
Very well put all caps guy , the church would be better off without people like stokoe. He killed the church with this site and his nutty buddy wheeler.
#126.96.36.199.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 05:27
If standing up for Truth and Accountability "killed" the OCA, then it was no church.
A true church, with Christ as the head, will always stand for Truth. Jesus Christ is the Truth.
Anything less than Truth is a lie.
#188.8.131.52.2.1 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-04-12 07:52
I quote from Fr. John Reeves:
“But it will only be changed at the top once we have begun those changes from the bottom up. Demanding holiness of ourselves first, let our work begin in earnest.
These are perilous times, indeed.”
I believe Fr. John is speaking to all of us and this kind of healing comes about through “prayer and fasting” (from last Sunday’s Gospel reading)
#184.108.40.206.2.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-12 13:50
No Stokoe and Co., you are not right! I think all caps guy has a valid point. I do have a degree in Sociology and yes I have visited about 250 parishes in the last 3 years. I can assure you that there definitely would be a split in the church and from my calculations of cross polling the vast majority will be with the Holy Synod. I can comfort you with the fact that the Holy Spirit works for unity and in her own time she will guide the Holy Synod to the right and perfect decision. One thing for sure it has become more evident that you and your crew through their postings (the same old names) have an agenda and that is to create an American Orthodox Church according to some agenda I suppose started by academia from St. Vladimir's with yes men on the Synod chosen by you.
Let’s not forget that Christ chose his disciples and there was a reason for that. In case you have forgotten about the story that involved Christ and the answer given by that wonderful man named Gamaliel. If it is of God and you try to destroy it, you will only end up destroying yourself.
And remember this fact; Fr. Schmeman chose to be buried on the holy grounds of St. Tikhon’s. I say this because many of your posters are referring to his name and accusing him of dictating to the Holy Synod. I knew him fairly well and participated in some of his workshops. He would have never chosen St. Tikhon’s if he did not agree with its practices. I know without a doubt that they have great respect for not only the Holy Synod but especially for Metropolitan Herman.
I say do have a nice day,
#220.127.116.11.3 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 05:58
Hmm...the majority of the Orthodox Christians in the OCA would side with the powerful against the powerless? If you are correct then we are in deeper spiritual trouble than I thought. I guess Jesus wanted us to side with the powerful? I guess I have been reading the wrong Gospels all these years? Do you have a version that the rest of us don't have? IF what you say is true, I, for one, want nothing to do with it.
Moses the Tlingit
#18.104.22.168.3.1 Moses on 2008-04-11 09:34
My poor buddy Moses. What does Christ teach us? He teaches us that we have to be believing, and not unbelieving. What can we do without the Gospel? Unless you were reading the protestant bible, than you have a problem. How many times a year do we hear Christ teaching us how we have to be believing. We do become like the doubting Thomas who was an Apostle. So I think it would be better off if we keep our mouths shut if we will not gain anything about it. I am sure this one will not be put up for I will look for it, because it is important and it will help us for we do need to be reminded. Once again, Pride can be destroyed and it was mentioned. Only have to be grateful and our Bishop had taught us. We too become too soiled like our children now adays. What can we do? We can repent and find our Salvation. There is no perfect person here on this earth. Please pray for me for God knows who I am. No matter what we do, if WE hurt our family we are like crucifying Christ. Pray for the next two weeks for I am going to Continue more, not with Pride, but with gratefulness Heart.
Love and Prayers.
#22.214.171.124.3.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-14 01:37
Uh, anonymous, the Gospel in a "Protestant Bible" is the same as the Gospel in an "Orthodox Bible". The differences between Orthodox/Catholic and Protestant canons are in the acceptance of the Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. The New Testament is the same collection of books in all Christian traditions. Do you think you could maybe make your point without taking an unfounded cheap shot at those wicked Protestants?
#126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Scott Walker on 2008-04-14 10:40
Oh, smart scott. Thank you for I see your posted messages. Your and I should stop right here. Forgive me.
#184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-15 17:52
First, Fr, Schmemann never "dictated" to the SOB's. He did offer advice and direction which was ALL positive and constructive. One of the areas he pushed for was that ALL priests and certainly ALL bishops have an Orthodox theological degree. Since + Tikhon (retired) and others didn't and wanted to ordain priests with no degree, they didn't like this very much. Furthermore, please note, Fr. Meyendorff is not buried at St. Tikhon's. Fr. Schmemann was ONLY buried at St. Tikhon's because that's where the history of the OCA is buried. It wasn't his first choice. Fr. Meyendorff's choice was much wiser. And the way it looks, the entire OCA just MAY be buried due to the fruits from St. Tikhon's.
#18.104.22.168.3.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 11:06
Dear Anonymous: I suppose I am one of Stokoe's "gang" since I post here fairly often. Unlike you, however, I have the courage to leave my real name.
That said, if Mr. Stokoe's "agenda" is a Church that actually lives by the Gospels and the Commandments, then I stand shoulder to shoulder with him.
#22.214.171.124.3.3 Michael Strelka on 2008-04-11 14:51
I would urge you to read Fr. Reeves' reflection and then let us know whether you feel that the OCA is in great shape based upon the prevailing regime in Syosett. And BTW, we all plan the celebrate two feasts, 1) the Resurrection of Christ and 2) the raising of the OCA from the dead - when we have a new Synod that is HOLY in reality, not in name only.
#126.96.36.199.3.4 Rich on 2008-04-11 15:07
So, you claim to have been in two hundred fifty parishes over the past three years. Let's do the math, shall we? There are fifty two weeks in a year. That means there are fifty two Sundays in a year. If we multiply fifty two Sundays by three years, we arrive at one hundred fifty six Sundays in three years. Therefore you have been in ninety four more parishes than there are Sundays in three years. Apparently you have not only a degree in Sociology, but you also have some major frequent flier miles and a time machine. I'm also interested in your polling techniques. How did you control for selection bias? How did you control for interviewer bias, or did you eliminate that issue by distributing questionnaires? If so, where? How large was your sample? Who did your interviewing? Was it the same outfit that sold you your time machine?
#188.8.131.52.3.5 Scott Walker on 2008-04-14 10:51
Happy Friday morning to you, too, All Caps Anonymous Guy! Today I feel your pain. It must have been brutal for you a few days ago...surfing around on the net, maybe checking out the baseball scores, maybe playing something from YouTube, all the while knowing that some weird force of twisted gravity was going to pull you here, to this GOSSIP WEBSITE that you so despise. Oh, I know you fought it. Alas, twisted gravity won out. You clicked your bookmarks (I know you have this GOSSIP WEBSITE bookmarked) and, to your utter horror, discovered that our host, whom polite people generally refer to as "Mr. Stokoe" or "Mark", was part of the planning meeting for the next All American Council! What??!! Your blood ran cold. You could not take it in. You were so startled you even momentarily hit the caps lock key and rediscovered the entire lower case of your keyboard. Days later, it still rankles, doesn't it? How was it that the host of a GOSSIP WEBSITE was at the Preconciliar Commission while the "Met's" most devoted anonymous keyboard warrior was sitting at home, dazed and confused by this shocking news? Like I said, brutal. So, out of sympathy, today I write no admonition to at least try being courteous, to quit yelling at us, to maybe grow a little empathy and compassion for the thousands of faithful who are dismayed by wretched acts committed by those in whom we should have confidence, none of that. No, today I just extend an electronic Kleenex in silent commiseration. This one's for you, Mr. All Caps Anonymous Guy, today's real man of genius.
#184.108.40.206.4 Scott Walker on 2008-04-11 08:28
From all reports in the Archdiocese of Canada, Archbishop Seraphim would've been no more effective in dealing with this situation than the Metropolitan has been. Warm and cuddly doesn't make an effective hierarch any more than cruel and tyrannical does.
#220.127.116.11.5 Blame Canada on 2008-04-11 12:59
Interesting, Warm and cuddly vs. cruel and tyrannical - Gee, which one would I chose as bishop material?
#18.104.22.168.5.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-12 05:47
You think a hierarch has the luxury of being "warm and cuddly"? I can't defend the actions of the leadership of the OCA. Nonetheless, leadership does not mean "making everybody happy." Again, by all reports, Archbishop Seraphim assiduously avoids conflict, which is the root of our current problem in many ways.
#22.214.171.124.5.1.1 Blame Canada on 2008-04-13 06:08
MP, by "Mother Church" do you mean the Russian Orthodox Church Inside Russia (Where It Belongs)? That may be your Mother Church, but that isn't the case for most of the people in my OCA parish, and it's certainly not true for me. We've got people here who came to this country from Palestine and from Greece, and people (like me) whose ancestors came to this country England and Scotland. We've got people of Italian descent, and Danish, and African, and, yes, Russian.
As for me, I don't know whether you'd say my "Mother Church" is the Presbyterian Church, where I was baptized as an infant, or the Antiochian Archdiocese, where I became Orthodox. Whatever it is, or might be, it's not Russian.
My priest and spiritual father told me when I became Orthodox that there is one Orthodox Church. It doesn't matter whether it's Russian, Romanian, French, Japanese, Greek, Arab, or American.
Why should I look to Russia to find the Church? Or to Greece, or Turkey, or anywhere else? If you need to go home to Russia to work out your salvation, then do as you must. But understand that the Holy Spirit is not limited by national or ethnic borders, and Russia is not my home.
#3.1.2 josephine on 2008-04-10 09:36
Yes, I AM in my "Mother Church." If it were not so, I'd not have left the church of my childhood. My Mother is sick and distressed; what a terrible time to abandon her just because she's a bit unattractive at the moment! God forgive us for even thinking such a thing! Most Holy Theotokos, save us!
#126.96.36.199 Rdr. John (Tracey) on 2008-04-10 14:20
I would like to say that the content of this site is becoming increasingly - not this it wasn't before - alarming in its urgency: The Matushkas are speaking out! Glory be to God! If the Synod listens to no one else from this point on, at least give an ear to the increasing voice of our beloved Matushkas.
Concerned in the WEST
#4 ANON in the WEST on 2008-04-09 19:02
Dear Anonymous in the West:
I have been speaking out since the beginning of this site and I am a matushka. My husband and I, somehow, somehow, endured the closing of All Saints of America OCA mission in West Jordan, UT without +Tikhon ever visiting us once there. He presented no options, that I am aware of, for the Greek or Antiochian archdiocese to perhaps take it over; the whole iconostasis was dismantled with hate calls coming to my husband only following the bishop's orders to close it.
We endured then going to St. George Orthodox Church in Hesperia, CA, with the previous priest stealing funds and an audit in progress which was never was completed. Again, +Tikhon never visited us or the parishoners at the church there, even when the most of St. George (uncanonically and my husband had a difficult time to stop it) "voted" +Tikhon out. He did not drive the two hours from LA after this to visit with his flock let alone the priest and his wife. We visited him! But not much was solved when the parish wanted him out.
We endured having to liquidate our small retirement nest egg to make ends meet during most of this.
Endurance and suffering I understand. But should this be coming from our own OCA administration? I don't think so and I don't think that this is how priests and their wives are supposed to function.
My husband was serving as a chaplain in Iraq during 04-05 and some very strong-willed parishoners wanted the choire to stop singing English and sing Greek when it had been well established by the administration to sing English. After being psychologically "tarred and feathered" about this issue, I resigned as the choir director while my husband was in Iraq. Not one call of support after this resignation. This is quite a mystery to me this day! I guess the OCA has had a difficult time recognizing that matushkas are human beings, let alone persons.
However, when all of St. George waited and waited for guidance on the language issue, it only came six whole months later. Then they said that "they did not believe" my email from the administration that we were supposed to sing English.
I wrote at least 34 the Metropolitan Council members during this time to try to inspire them to support struggling OCA churches. I recieved a pitance of replies, with a husband in Iraq. However, my priest husband would be scolded at the Toronto AAC that "how dare" his wife write the MC.
Support, love, and concern sound more like the Christian attitude we should all strive for; this was hard to find back then even within our administration.
Things must change. They must. Or there will be few clergy who will want to serve and put up with such a dysfunctional administration: Alaska case in point.
I wholeheartedly support all the matushki, as well as concerned clergy and faithful in their valient effort to have a better OCA.
It sounds as if the town hall meetings should bear some good fruit! Great ideas. We forge ahead.
Patty and Fr. Paul Schellbach
#4.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-10 12:12
Another Matushka Hits the Nail on the Head.
I guess St. Innocent's (Tarzana, CA) was not the only parish in the West that +Tikhon (retired, thanks be to God!) ignored and abandoned, while the Synod, the MC, and the OCA administration kept their silence and attacked the messengers who dared speak up. With so many enablers, no wonder the crying sheep did not stand a chance.
Here's some of what I wrote in an email back on January 28. 2002 in response to the personal attacks by many enablers who admonished for daring to ask for help, guidance, and support from the OCA leadership and administration:
"But then I'm sadly beginning to realize that the OCA administrative body, with only a few rare exceptions, has stopped representing and caring for the needs of many Orthodox Christian men and women, has stopped dealing courageously with real issues and concerns in parish life, and is more worried about the letter of the law, about administrative protocols, about reputation, appearances, and - lest we forget - about money.
I did not ask you to do anything but forward my message to His Grace Metropolitan Theodosius; and only because I did not find a direct email address for him. It was a plea and a desperate attempt to contact His Grace to see whether he can understand, sympathize, and maybe help us. I asked you for help, instead I got back reprimand. I knocked on your door for shelter, but I was shoved out in the rain. I sought assistance and counsel, but I got back a lecture instead. I looked for truth, wisdom, and justice, and I was told it doesn't matter.
Father, you state that you did not read the attached documentation. I believe that is shameful; you are hiding from the truth claiming that reality does not exist, and attacking the messenger who is only asking that you forward the message to someone else. At least if you choose to admonish me, do take the time to first educate yourself about the facts and truth of our situation, and then draw an educated and informed opinion. But obviously some representatives of the OCA care more about protocol, rules, chain of command, and everything else under the sun, than finding out facts, ascertaining truth, and helping Orthodox Christians who are asking for more pastoral care, more love, more education, and more time from their priest.
Ignorance of the truth is not Orthodox. Ignorance of valid and desperate pleas for pastoral help is not Christian, let alone Orthodox. Simply ignoring reality and truth, and then admonishing me for daring to speak it, is NOT Orthodox. Attacking the messenger and ignoring the message is usually a secular tactic used by radial liberals and communists. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to see such a cold and secular response from a "religious" man, who is also a priest, who is also Orthodox, and who is also supposed to emulate Christ. But then again what else should I expect? This seems to be the pervasive attitude lately at all levels in the OCA in this day and age. [...]
How can anyone with any shred of decency remain silent in the face of such un-Christian, un-loving, and disturbing behavior and language from a leader of our community and our church? Had I not tried one last time to draw attention and ask for help, I would be guilty of dereliction of duty as an Orthodox Christian. I will be accountable for my actions before Christ, and I am ready to face any consequences for my behavior. I have absolutely no problem with what I have said and done.
I cannot see and experience reality and ignore it. I cannot see and experience injustice and keep silent. I cannot and will not see pain, suffering, countless tears, and disappointment in friends, family, and beloved members of our community and simply walk away. I will do and try ANYTHING to draw attention, and get help for our bereaved community. Even, you Father's own condemning and dismissive words will not deter me from asking for help, asking for assistance, and asking for "bread".
And as explained above, I and others HAVE tried to follow "protocol", HAVE made repeated appeals, and HAVE waited patiently for over 12 months, while our community was and is being torn apart, and our spiritual and sacramental needs were and are being ignored. How much longer should I have waited? How much more suffering should we have endured? How much more ignorance, carelessness, and apathy should we have tolerated?"
Thank you, Chris, for sharing your own struggle and sorrow about our OCA administration. I have also followed your comments from the beinning.
We knew only a bit what was going on in Tarzana while we were in Hesperia, CA. We had a handful in Hesperia as it was.
I believe the whole mess was just ripe to be exposed and Dn Eric Wheeler and Mark Stokoe have done a tremendous job in helping expose such a mess.
I hope the town hall meetings and what ever other steps the OCA takes in the next several years will stop such uncaring actions, ignoring any hurting flock, where ever they are, in the future.
I believe we are all watching closely how Alaska will be dealt with.
#188.8.131.52 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-11 09:58
Below is a copy of the text of a letter that eight parents from Holy Trinity in San Franicsoc sent to Met. Theodosius in 1991. We included addresses, email and fax numbers for the convienence of the Metropolitan.
We are still waiting for a response! It's been 17 years!
Catherine Larson spoke to Fr. Robert Kondratick last week about the spiritual crisis at Holy Trinity in San Francisco.
Our children were molested (in the church) by a three time convicted child molester. These horrible events have sent families with children fleeing the Church. The crisis has divided the Parish and also raised other spiritual issues which have plagued the parish for years.
We feel our pleas for help have been ignored. People are hurting! The children need help. The ship is sinking, and we hope and pray that you can come out to help us.
Please respond soon -- this situation has been going on for months. You may write or fax to us."
Clearly, much suffering has been left untouched, under the stones, so to speak. Thank you for your response, another testament, to all of our disfunction.
Orthodoxy may be America's best kept secret, as someone once said, yet it may be a problem that some have prided themselves in belonging to something other than "organized" religion. This is the most disorganized religion on the planet - or it would seem to many on the inside, but to those on the outside: no duh it is a "secret"!
#4.1.2 ANON in the WEST on 2008-04-10 20:58
I find your story to be chilling, despite being oversaturated with the harrowing stories of a lack of compassion in the Church for the last three years.
The Web site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Moscow Patriarchate invites readers to ask questions of the editors. One immigrant living in Las Vegas asked if it was permissible to participate in the sacraments of the OCA parish in Las Vegas since some world Orthodox churches do not recognize the OCA's canonicity. The editor corrected her, saying that it is our autocephaly that is not recognized, not our canonicity. But his next statement was the most interesting. he encouraged her to receive the sacraments in the OCA parish, which is the Church of the great twentieth century theologians, Fathers John Meyendorff and Alexander Schmemann (this is a summary, not a direct quote). Perhaps this is his personal view, but I find it fascinating that our legitimacy is rooted in the reputation of these two fathers of blessed memory.
If only they knew - and perhaps they do - that many have utterly rejected the vision these fathers articulated for the OCA. Our situation reminds me of a theme frequently elaborated by Fr. Schmeman in his writings, his critique of the exaltation of "religion" in American society. In our current situation, pure Christianity is rejected in favor of "religion."
We need to recover the ecclesiological vision articulated by these venerable fathers because the canons will not save us.
#4.1.3 N. Denysenko on 2008-04-11 05:50
Another clear proof of a failed governance.
A failed ecclesiology.
So many examples of people with so many varieties of problems and a church that simply does not correctly address any of them.
#4.1.4 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-13 20:33
I hope someone walking into that Synod meeting next week remembers to print out copies of the "letters" posted in the "Ask Vladyka" section of the Alaska Website. Talk about agenda...
#5 Lynn on 2008-04-09 20:59
This is a brilliant and deeply touching letter from Fr Peter Askoar. We hierarchs, everyone of us, should copy it and read it from time to time, with prayer.
Archbishop Lazar Puhalo.
Bravo Archbishop! Bravo for having something to say...... which is more than I can say about......
#6.1 no name on 2008-04-10 08:44
The all caps comment to Mark was disrespectful and uncalled for. This site has done more to enlighten people of all jurisdictions to a major problem currently in Orthodoxy in this country. I firmly believe that the outcome will be positive and might well be in the end , a source of making us all more unified .
#7 Gregory on 2008-04-10 19:30
DEAR GREG; THIS "GOSSIP WEBSITE" has no power no facts! just HURTFUL COMMENTS TOWARDS THE CHURCH AND ITS LEADERS! MARK MY WORDS " BECAUSE OF THIS WEBSITE IT HAS SCARED THE CHURCH" IT WILL TAKE A LONG TIME IN ORDER FOR THE CHURCH TO HEAL! ANYONE WHO WAS THINKING OF BECOMING ORTHODOX, AFTER READING COMMENTS POSTED BY THE AUTHOR AND HIS COMRADS, WOULD THINK TWICE ABOUT BECOMING AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN! AND I DONT BLAME THEM! I BLAME STOKOE!
(Editor's Note: Well for once we agree. I do agree that I have "scared" the Church. But I think you meant "scarred". Once again, you blame the messenger, not the one who did the scarring.....)
#7.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 09:38
All Caps Anonymous Guy, no more mister nice guy: if any inquirer into Orthodoxy ran across your ignorant, rude and shouting tirades, he or she could not be blamed if they chose Buddhism instead. At least Buddhist yokels generally have the grace to keep their mouths shut. There is never a word about Christ, never a word about compassion, never a word about mercy and never a word about love from you. It's all about power. You are one sick puppy, All Caps Anonymous Guy....
#7.1.1 Scott Walker on 2008-04-11 16:45
GEE I'M GLAD I BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOU! YOU MUST BE RELATED TO STOKOE! RIGHT ? BUT I WONT STUP TO YOUR LEVEL! REMEMBER YOU AND STOKOE ARE NOT MY FRIENDS! AND WILL NEVER BE! SORRY! I STILL STAND BEHIND MY COMMENTS! THIS WEBSITE IS A "GOSSIP WEBSITE" NO POWER! NO FACTS! AND MAKE SURE THE SO CALLED AUTHOR TWIST THE TRUTH! IF YOU THINK MY COMMMENT ARE HURTFUL, SO BEIT! I BLAME STOKOE THE SO CALLED "MESSENGER" AGAIN NO FRIEND OF MINE! FOR ADDING TO THE MESS IN OUR CHURCH!
(Editor's note: Which only confirms the wisdom of the saying that "Where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be wise." )
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-04-14 09:41
the only ignorant person is you! and your Gossip website! now i know what Christ felt like when he was betrayed! its a shame you sent tricky dick to do your dirty work at mc meeting ! by the way I dont speculate! im very accurate! in law school they teach one thing " when your loosing your case attack the persons character! and FACT IS the metropolitan you feel is your enemy! deny! deny! BUT ITS THE TRUTH! MAYBE THE PEOPLE ON THIS WEBSITE DONT SEE YOUR AGENDA! I SEE IT PERFECTLY "DESTROY METROPOLITAN HERMANS CHARACTER" AND DONT FORGET TO BASH ST TIKHONS SEMINARY AT THE SAME TIME! IS THIS WHAT THEY TEACH YOU AT ST VLADS? I PRAY YOU GROW UP! BUT I DONT EXPECT YOU WILL SOON!
#220.127.116.11.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-14 20:21
No, All Caps Anonymous Guy, what they teach you in law school is, "If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the facts are against you, argue the law. If both the law and the facts are against you, pound on the table." That is one lesson that you, All Caps Anonymous Guy, have mastered. Although in your case, you have modified it to "Pound on the keyboard."
#18.104.22.168.1.1 Scott Walker on 2008-04-16 14:12
Suggestion for a parish fundraiser:
Selling t-shirts at the AAC with the logo--"NOT THE ALL-CAPS GUY"
One question, though. Do we know it's a guy?
#7.1.2 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-04-12 17:53
I believe, Father, that I am the proud inventor of the "All Caps Anonymous Guy" handle. I chose the word "guy" because the overwhelming majority of women have better sense than to waste their time by shouting at strangers on the Internet. Such behavior seems to be mostly a Y chromosome phenomenon, as can be easily demonstrated by walking into any neighborhood watering hole any night of the week. The shouting, ignorant and belligerent present are almost always male. There are female boors, but in my experience they are rare.
#22.214.171.124 Scott Walker on 2008-04-14 11:02
This was an excerpt from a previous comment from Stonewall on a closed thread.
"All of your talk about going to the MC after the wrongful termination of Wheeler is all fine and dandy, but you have to have an MC that you can trust and that is accountable and that takes their responsibilities seriously. People that can be removed for performance reasons. At that time we had an MC that was signing off on bogus auditor reports! You, SERIOUSLY, think he would have had a chance? Daniel, I got a bridge in Brooklyn I’m carrying the deed to, can I sell it to ya?"
A number of other people didn't like my devil's advocate (what a pun) approach on the Nikolai matters. I'll stand by them until forever.
First of all, rules and procedures are the ONLY thing that will prevent another bad administration from behaving badly.
Under a good system, Nikolai would have gotten many notices already about bad behavior which is my only point on Nikolai. My point isn't to save Nikolai. My point is to establish good rules that benefit all parties, even the Nikolais of the world. Bishops are human and humans err and the Pope ain't imfallible. Perhaps if Nikolai had gotten a couple of warnings, he might have acted differently. How many warnings did he get? Did he get a warning after the Lydia Black error?
If Wheeler had gone to the MC without the MC listening to him, that would imply an MC that was fully corrupt, a corrupt Bishop, etc. One reason our courts are so solid is for corruption to take place in the courtroom, you have to have collusion between many parties.
I don't know that Wheeler considered the MC an option because of its makeup. More objectively, because RSK had people that would have colluded with him to not listen to Wheeler? Like Metropolitan Herman? He was only one member.
Facts is facts. Deacon Wheeler didn't know what to do because the highest authority in the church didn't listen to him and he assumed that was it.
Our governance system needs to recognize this as a future possibility and put a system in place that recognizes this fact. That would be a complaint against a standing Metropolitan to the Metropolitan Council must be heard and the Metropolitan cannot listen or vote or participate, for example.
If the scandal occurs with only the terminations of RSK, and a few incompetant accountants, and Herman and Nikolai resigning, we didn't get much for our millions.
The problem with you Stonewall isn't your offensive remarks about a bridge in New York you want to sell me. The problem is your shortsightedness in thinking a resignation or two fixes everything.
To be more objective, if you think the MC was corrupt, why don't you name the corrupt members. Better yet, why doesn't Deacon Wheeler name the corrupt MC members?
And one more thing, a compilation is not a 'bogus' audit report. It is not an audit. It is a compilation of information management has prepared, and the only auditing would be making sure cash could be balanced to the numbers on the bank account and I've seen some accountants not even do that. The Synod of Bishops basically didn't allow audits after the 1999 resolutions they passed so everybody should have expected no audits.
Deacon Wheeler probably felt he had nowhere to turn because the Metropolitan is seated on the MC. Perhaps you have landed on a good governance change in your attack on me.
There have been hundreds of corrupt Christian clerics and Bishops. Think all the rest we/our children get will be perfect?
#8 Anonymous on 2008-04-10 19:45
"First of all, rules and procedures are the ONLY thing that will prevent another bad administration from behaving badly."
You mean like they had in the Soviet Union? Uh-huh...How about faith, morals and integrity? I'll go with that over "Rules & Procedures" any day. Re Nikolai's "bad behavior"? There was at least one bishop and many Orthodox dignitaries from the States present at Holy Resurrection Church in Kodiak on St. Herman's Seminary graduation day three years ago when +Nikolai verbally beat and publicly humiliated a woman who was repeating +NS's talk after liturgy to her hard-of-hearing brother. Within a half hour, the priest at HRC was minimizing and rationalizing +Nikolai's inexcusable behavior. As we saw that NOT ONE of the dignitaries was going to do a thing about +Nikolai's cruel and unchristian action, we knew we were in for hell for a good deal longer. "All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Let the people be abused, let the parish be destroyed, but don't "offend" a bishop by confronting his absolute lack of Christianity.
#8.1 K. Carlsen on 2008-04-11 11:03
No rules and procedures is what we had in 2005 before someone hit the dusty fan.
#8.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-16 05:14
Dear Mat. Patty:
Yours is another sad and tragic story of suffering by a good and decent Matuska and her husband. I am glad folks are finally speaking out, because the years of cover ups and sweeping things under the rug just wont work any longer. Neither will the Gestapo tactics to silence opposition. We need to think of all the wonderful Saints of North America and our children, before throwing in the towel. Thank God you and other brave souls have continued to fight the good against all odds, when the OCA hierarchy seems at times hell bent on destroying its own faithful and Godly servants. I respectfully disagree with Bishop Lazar's confidence in the Synod.
#9 Rich on 2008-04-10 20:28
Thank you, Rich,
Your support is very much appreciated.
In the spirt of the recent comments of K. Carlsen about +Nikolai berating a woman in public for doing sign language, it is this type of gross lack of caring and compassion that should have had the HS make sure +Nikolai took a leave of absence. Abuse of another human being is wrong. That woman could possibly open her own law suit for not being able to explain +Nikolai's sermon to her hard of hearing brother due to the American Disabilities Act (ADA).
When such atrocious acts such as berating in public are done there has to be mentoring and correction.
When non-acts are done, such as not showing up at the church that just voted the bishop out, such as happened to us, there has to be mentoring and correction.
If there is not, there if further disintegration of love and trust. We know. We have been there.
I got tarred and feathered. I resigned. I went to a different Orthodox Church and my new father confessor told me at least 4 times in the next year, with my husband in Iraq, not to return to St. George OCA church because there are mean and nasty Greeks out there. How about a mean and nasty OCA administration? There had been an initial offering of sympathy that day from one DOW administrative person that day by email. But I resigned two days later because I did not feel safe in that group of people. And I did not recieve one call or email from the DOW administration about my resignation as choir director. As I said, it mysifies me to this day. I guess I am not human and I guess I don't have feelings and I guess it didn't matter what happened to my husband, me, or the church at that point. To wait 6 months to respond to a crisis? Such expediency, care, and love! I just can't stand all that love and care!
The DOW administration showed up, not 6 days later, not 6 weeks later, but over 6 months later and I had a priest-husband in Iraq and I was told not to go back to St. George with my father confessor's directives.
I did not recieve any calls or emails even after the DOW came six months later.
Is there any wonder why our church has been in a mess?
But this is precisely what the bishops are able to avoid: Mentoring and correction.
This is abuse of power and authority. This must stop. We must have the mechanisms in place that allow the church to stop abuse and not get it challenged from square one.
The faithful, caring clergy, and MC must push as hard to correct and find solutions as some of the bishops are pushing who seem to be making a mess of the church.
We will hear more about Alaska in a brief while from the special meeting of the HS and hope for genuine love, care, and concern.
#9.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-13 19:04
Patty, you said, "That woman could possibly open her own law suit for not being able to explain +Nikolai's sermon to her hard of hearing brother due to the American Disabilities Act (ADA)."
She would not be able to, because churches are specifically exempt from the ADA.
Of course, we're subject to the requirements of the Gospel, not the requirements of the civil law. And the Gospel requirement is made clear in our Lord's parable in which the Master of the Feast commands his servants to go into the highways and hedges, and to find the halt, the maimed, and the blind, and to compel them to come in.
One might expect, based on our Lord's words, that we would go beyond the bare requirements of the civil law, and that we would do everything in our power to make our churches accessible to and welcoming of people with disabilities.
Unfortunately, that is not what one would find.
#9.1.1 josephine on 2008-04-14 10:58
Thank you Jsopehine,
I enjoyed your comments. Your reliance on the Gospel is heartening. I hope the bishops may hear what the Gospel says, as you did, too!
#126.96.36.199 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-14 16:40
Rebecca Matovic, who I automatically respect for using her name, and who sends us worthwhile posts in this forum, expresses the opinion "...we will still need to make sure that the darkness cannot return..."
This is a nice and well-intentioned idea. It is in keeping with prevailing sentiments in our society, where so many politicians, media, bureaucrats, do-gooders and religious leaders encourage us to resubscribe to their "leadership" (and part with our money so that it can be used by them to further at least one aspect of their agendas - their continuation in office) by promoting some new or retooled crusade or other to stop or prevent or correct this or that evil. Wars on alcohol, drugs, poverty, terrorists, etc. have come and gone to what effect? If you ask me, to this effect: the institutionalization of both the evil and the counter-measures. We like the idea of Big Prevention, but not the idea of the kind of Big Costs (in sheer dollars as well as truncated liberty) incurred in the (always vain?) effort to assure ourselves "that the darkness cannot return." (I grant you the common exception - we don't mind paying for these things in deficit spending and government bonds which will saddle the next _ generations with paying for our illusions.)
So my apologies if I am taking Rebecca's words too literally and she really means "take reasonable measures to avoid the return or spread of darkness so long as people are fairly vigilant." I have nothing to say against that at all. To the extent that the more literal desire to do something that will actually prevent "the return of darkness" was really what she had in mind, I don't believe such prevention is possible, and certainly not through the kind of measures that people could imagine or try to take. I tend to think that would be a kind of puritanism or perfectionism that would automatically distort the shape of the Gospel and the Church just as surely as any other single-issue effort to "make sure" to cause or prevent something. We would have a church centered in "money misuse prevention" or "abusive leadership prevention" in which the purported "cure" initially might not be as bad as the disease itself, but with time plus hue and cry methods would be pretty sure to turn into a warping, a disease of the opposite kind.
A church in which episcopal authority rules in harmony with lesser clergy and laity and there are some moderate preventive measures augmented by reasonable vigilance - yes!!! A church in which our anger, shame, guilt, disillusionment, whatever over past problems becomes a problem in itself by going too far in the opposite direction out of a desire to prevent _, no thank you!
#10 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-04-10 22:44
Fr. George --
Sorry for my sloppy use of language. Indeed, something close to take reasonable measures to avoid the return or spread of darkness so long as people are fairly vigilant," is what I intended. And I think it is going to be a very difficult thing to get right in part because the issues you identify in this post.
In fact, this is as good a place as any to share a half-formed idea that's been bumping around in my head. In some psychological literature there's the idea of the "good enough" mother. It's a powerful thought -- that being a parent isn't about perfection or all the exercises in quality this-or-that that parenting gurus demand, but that what we need to do is simply be good enough in providing for some basic physical and emotional needs. By analogy, I think that what we need in the Church are "good enough" bishops. The sad reality is that many parents can't manage "good enough" because their own problems and limitations lead them to cause harm in one way or another to their children, and that has been our reality in the OCA with our bishops.
#10.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-04-11 10:30
So, when the top Bishop of the church says to a whistleblower, "Take it like a man", we chalk it up to a bad Bishop and live with it? And take no action and allow it to fester for years and millions?
Or do we recognize that Bishops should be accountable to the church and establish that in our governance? Isn't the church after all the body of Christ? Did Christ in appointing the Apostles not expect a bad Apostle or two? Did he expect them to have power even when they were bad?
In the effort to prevent this type of abuse, should we not change something? Or would it be bad to redefine how Bishops are allowed their stay? Looking back to the time of Christ, a bad Apostle would not have gotten far. What would be so terrible about a Diocesan Assembly made up of 2/3rds or more of its priests and one or two people from each diocese voting out a standing Bishop in an assembly?
Do you really believe that the entire body of priests and laity would have fallen away from the path of Christ that far that a single man would be wiser than the rest of that body? Do any of us accept or believe that notion? Scratch the laity from the picture. Do any priests or Bishops believe that a body of priests is less wise than its head Bishop? If there is one that reads my post, let me hear him.
My prediction is that we will be blamers and credit the whole thing to a few bad men and women when in fact, our church has proven its governance structures are garbage. And if that means the ecclesiology has failed, so be it.
A standing Bishop should be able to be returned to the Synod and become a Bishop at large or inactive if his Diocese rejects him. I'm not sure what mechanism would allow or trigger this action, perhaps a vote of the Metropolitan Council, perhaps every time an assembly meets, its clergy take the vote.
#10.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-13 06:41
Gentlemen, why don't you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die.
- Abraham Lincoln
#11 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 05:13
I am at a total loss regarding describing my feelings over this whole thing. I have posted comments in the past and I coninue to read as much about this thing as I can from Mark the OCA page, the Alaskan page and other sources.
We are dealing with facts, financial figures and real persons. The TRUTH is what it is and I dare say eventually we will learn the truth about these facts, financial figures and real persons.
In the meantime, I am totally stunned by the attitudes of so many people posting comments. It has come down to such a "hate" issue and attacks on one another. I don't understand how any of that is giong to uncover the truth. I keep reading about people referring back to Great Lent and Holy Pascha. Why? Certainly one is not adhering to these holy seasons when trying to do a "one upmanship" on someone's comment.
I know some don't like to keep it simple, but, hey, it is simple. There is only one example we need to follow - the example of Christ! I don't care about canons, traditions, etc. I only care whether what I do or what I say reflects His Image. The Orthodox Church, the clergy and the bishops are my examples and my tools to imitate Him. If they can't or won't do that, then I must move on because my salvation depends on it. I don't think the Great Judge is going to allow me to whine that I did nothing because my bishops weren't doing anything! I don't think I'm going to be able to pass the buck on that Day! Whining, complaining, tearing others down is not going to cut it - unless of course you can find an example Christ whining, complaining and tearing down others.
The Orthodox Church, the clergy and the bishops have not made me a Christian. Christ has made me a Christian! I surely want the truth eventually revealed but I surely am not going to turn my life over to all this bitterness and the like in the meantime.
I intend to rejoice in the Resurrection!
#12 at a total loss on 2008-04-11 09:56
After reading the Alaskan Website on the "ask the Vladaka" section in regards to Dr. Lydia Black he states:
"As for the librarian, you must be referring to Dr. Lydia Black. She was not
terminated at this time nor was she evicted from the apartment the Seminary
had provided her for several years while she used our archives to do
research for her writings."
Love and Blessings,
Does anyone know when Dr. Lydia Black was evicted? If not mistaken she had like 48 hrs. to leave..
#13 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 11:06
from Dr. Black's own letter to ocanews.org:
"At approximately 10:00 p.m., someone pounded on the door - it was +Nikolai, and when I opened the door, +Nikolai proceeded to enter while yelling at me. He made a variety of statements, including “How dare you?” in reference to my begging off from making a bed, something about my living “off the charity of the Church” and then told me that I had until 8:00 a.m. the next morning to remove myself from Seminary premises.
"In other words, he evicted me with approximately 10 hours’ notice, and the bulk of those hours constitute the middle of the night. Needless to say, I left many belongings behind, including all of my materials on professional commitments such as the Bicentennial of St. Innocent (1996 - two years before I retired from the University) documents which were exclusively mine but given the short notice I had and the size of the quarters which were available on less-than-24-hours’ notice, I could not take with me. As it was, I spent approximately $2,000 to pay professional movers to remove what I had time to remove and a considerable sum to house my two cats at the veterinarian’s office.
"I was lucky to find a small apartment into which I could move on Saturday. I spent Friday at a friend’s house.
"I recently had a request from Russia which required my St. Innocent’s papers to answer quickly, and when I requested their return, I was told that they belonged to the archive and that I needed Bishop Nikolai’s permission to obtain them. I have asked a lawyer to make this request, but so far, there has been no response (literally)."
#13.1 Michael Strelka on 2008-04-11 15:03
Glory to God,
Life in remote rural Alaksa is very difficult. Unemployment at 90%, fuel cost's more than $7 a gal., not to mention the extreme cold and remoteness of living here. And so here it was that Orthodoxy in America started and thrived. For over 2 centuries, it has thrived and grown in Alaska through many challenges. One person does not make a church, it's all the people who can make or ignore the church. Since Father Herman first brought Christianity to the Greatland, there has been may people jealous of the Russian Orthodox Church and their missionaires try to take people away from the church. They always argued that their chuch is better, but they have had in the past limited success. The Priests in rural Alaska follow the footsteps of the older Priest before them. Who traveled throughout rural Alaska by dogteam in the middle of the extreme, dark cold winters to minister the Teachings of Christ to the faithful. The only reward would be some dry fish to feed their dog teams. Because the people did not have much, and would be consider poor by modern standards. But they never consider themselves poor, they had God through the Russian Orthodox Church in their own native tongue.
Now comes a new Bishop telling everyone that their ways are wrong. Two centuires of customs must be changed or be ex communicated. Our children can not put on Christ, if their legal names are no to Nicolai's liking. He Tonsures sex offenders against the Metropolitan wishes and it causes everyone embarrassment. Like we're Catholics that are always in the news.
Alcohol is a very serious issue in rural ALaska, leading to many deaths and countless hardships. So we look to our church leaders for leadership. Only to find the people who are suppose to be our role models are having trouble themselves. Which tells the people it is ok to continue to drink.
We see Bishop Nicolai and Isidore on tv telling Alaskans that the issue is not them, but it's money. That the OCA want the lands up here. Which is kinds interesting, because there is no value in the property our churches are on. And people attack our Priests because they have to work or fish to survive in our villages. Putting out false impressions that our churches are closed all summer, which is not true.
Bishop Nicolai returns to Alaska stating he feel like he's like Jesus being Crusified on the Cross. And then on the next note, he takes revenge on his Priests and nun by having them removed from their legal elected positions.
And so, how are we to feel. More and more people are going to the local missionaries for church on Sunday than coming to the Orthodox Chruch. Priests have come to the conclusion that it's better to move on and pick up the cross somewhere else. The Church in Alaska that has stood for over 200 years is now in a time of change. If the OCA does not wish to listen to the people of Alaska. Then the Alaska Russian Orthodox Church will change to a new without Bishop Nicolai either way. Bishop Nicolai states he owns the churchs up here. But I seriously doubt he and Father Isidore will be able to come into the villages and take control of the churches against the Naitve Village Councils wishes. These churches are in sovereign tribes and everyone who goes to these villages have to respect the wishes of the local councils.
We want to continue our memebership with OCA. And therefore, we pray that the synod will make the right descision. Thank you for your time from someone who is not worthy.
#14 Alexie on 2008-04-11 12:44
Some of the suffering in rural Alaska is just plain economic and possibly a statewide or nationwide fund drive would help like we are involved in annually in the Catholic Church of Alaska. It is a fund drive started decades ago called Project Advance, and re-established after it was dropped for some years. It is now called, One Bread, One Body!
#14.1 Judy T. Fulp on 2008-04-11 15:02
Thank you for your support, N. Denysenko.
It is greatly appreciated.
A small story while Fr. Paul and I were serving All-Saints of America OCA mission in West Jordan, UT.
We arranged the icons so that we were able to put up a specially made icon of St. Herman of Alaska. I had made this way back in the summer of 1976 after my first trip to St. Tikhon's after the short July conference there. Those popular thin books were passed out to all of us. One can still find them in parishes today and I have seen a few.
I made a decoupage icon of St. Herman from the print that is more brown and tan in colors. This was a special icon and it will always be a special icon to me.
It had followed me many many places.
Eventually I wrote one of the places in Alaska that one could write to, to be mailed soil from his grave on Spruce Island.
With having the soil, I eventually asked a handiman at a YMCA summer camp I had worked at (Silver Bay, NY) if he could bevel out a cylinder so that I could put the soil in a container within the icon. He did this, and I was able to find a small clear cylinder to be able to embed the soild in the bottom. I will always be grateful to the handiman who helped finish this icon.
It was special to me to serve an OCA mission named after All-Saints of America and I donated my personal icon of St. Herman to our little OCA mission.
Then, +Tikhon closed the mission. I decided the icon belonged to the church and most of the stuff was to be moved to a struggling OCA mission in Reno. The priest came down, Fr. Hillarion, and helped Fr. Paul pack up the remnants of the mission -- iconostasis and all.
I don't know where that icon is now. But it is still very special to me and I gave it to the church -- to a mission that closed -- that ended up in another mission that eventually closed ---
Does the OCA know what it is doing?
I like to think, however, that St. Herman has been listening to our prayers, sorrows and cries.
I remember when our little mission closed and I remember knowing I had donated aspecial icon to the church because it was that special. Perhaps I could take it back. Perhaps... Perhaps...
But in the act of donating it, I was praying that St. Herman would continue to look over our OCA.
I think the present crises had to come to cleanse our OCA of all that St. Herman does not want it to be!
I think he continues to hear our love and respect for him and is helping in our present crises.
#15 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-11 23:26
Back in the 1990's, the Kodiak Seminary had a brochure for seminary students. And in it was a quote on drug use and alcohol use why a student at the seminary. It states that if a student was to be found using drigs and/or alcohol. They would be deemed not morally fit to serve in the church as a cleric and would be released. I do know that corporations and jobs up in Alaska have strict no drug/alcohol policeys. That any one found using these substances, will be terminated. Why is it that Father Ididore, who is head of the Seminary was allowed to keep his position after his alcohol problem was brought forth> When the quidelines for the students is straight and yet. The boss can do as he pleases. Set a bad tone to everyone when this happens. Especially in Alaska where alcohol/drug abuse has affected everyone with death and misery. Evil is itself. And yet, Isidore is allowed to amintain his position and Bishop Nicolai approves of it. This does not set well with people in Alaska. Why people are leaving the churches in Alaska. Because we look to our Leaders for quidance. Not to be made fools of.
#16 Alexie on 2008-04-12 08:38
I join with Alexie in what he says.
We are not a confrontational people. We have all lived close to the Land. In the Land is the Hand of God. It has protected us and nurtured us. Many of us can even communicate by just sitting together, quietly. A look, a movement, can say volumes. But comes the time when even that is denied us, we say 'Enough is Enough!
All this noise about doing this and doing that...he should, they should....Enough! Just remove this bishop who has brought all this misery. There is a priest who had to sell his home, his land, sell his boat so he could not subsist fish to support his family, and had to move to another town (which could hardly afford to pay his salary), just so he would not be in Nikolai's line of vision. So many priests, Matushki, children, and parishioners have suffered.
Stop talking and just remove Nikolai and Isadore and let the Faithful in Alaska get on with the guardianship of Orthodoxy as they have for the past 200+ years. And they have done a miraculous job, until Syosset nudged itself into the order of things.
Nikolai never gave any notice to many of those he kicked out of the Church, down to the petty complaints like the length of chain I wore my St. Herman's Cross on, to the student wives wearing slacks under their skirts in winter, having to walk to church in the cold; windchill factor sometimes below zero. Not all, or I should say, none of them has the warm cashmere coat Nikolai has to keep him warm, plus a chauffeur to drive him to Church. Give us permission to remove him and we will do it, along with his monstrous cathedra, of which many of us have almost broken our necks or backs over, and remove his staff, the which of none of our other bishops had need of, to stand on the ambon sparkling, whether he is here or not, like the gold Nikolai is so fond of. His intent to threat; it is like an evil eye, to remind us he controls even in his absence.
Enough is Enough! The time for talk is over. It is time now to do.
Please forgive my brazeness, and I am sorry if I offend anyone. But it needed to be said.
May God forgive us all.
#16.1 Raisa B. on 2008-04-13 18:56
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