Tuesday, April 8. 2008
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I like Matushka Juliana Schmemann statement,
" Was the request for a temporary leave of absence a “mistake”?".
In what frame of mind did you, the Synod, make that decision?
If it was by prayer and asking the Holy Spirit it was not a "mistake". Why do you go against It now, don't you trust that the lord will shelter you in his wings if you are righteous.
If it was out of empathy for the suffering in the letters, why did you not at least listen to the report. Couldn't Father Glarkavs at least act as co-accuser or as a Synod commission information report? I can understand your unsuspending as an act of mercy and to do the investigation "proper" but what about the suffering that moved you to act in the first place.
If it was to cover your basis, why are you a bishop and not a politician? Why do you go against the scriptures and take power when you desire it.
If it was out of malice for +Nikoli, apologize to him for it and say that you will do your hardest to be impartial. But at least hear the report.
Hoping that the Spirit of God will reign this church and love will again rule. May they see us and our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.. May lay leadership, and a position of lay eldership rise up in the OCA. Let this happen so that priests and Bishops our never in the position to abuse money and power. May our Bishops shepherd with the Holy Spirit as their comforter and guide.
By the way, its not episcosy that has failed but that we the lay never entered our calling, giving our priests and bishops to much control because none of us want to do it. If you don't want a priest embezzling, have someone else do it, preferably a group. If there are lay "spiritual fathers and mothers"in a church to guide people then priest may not get to the point where he rules it like a monarchy.
#1 Reader Michael on 2008-04-08 20:46
Thank you so much everyone! We love you!
#2 Alaskan family on 2008-04-08 20:56
I wanted to be the first to wish His Grace NIKOLAI, Bishop of Sitka, Anchorage and Alaska a Happy Birthday Today April 9.May God Grant You Many Years, Oh Master !
#3 Anonymous on 4-9-08 on 2008-04-08 21:16
Wow, full circle. Seems like this is the first ever mention of ocanews.org on oca.org. Either +MH hasn't seen the page to delete it, or he has had a change of heart@@!!! For Stokoe to be invited and Eric Wheeler is a milestone in my book. There is still hope for peace and true resolution in this mess. Praise be to God!
Wonderful words by Matushka Schmemann! Interesting that over the centuries, when the church has gotten herself into serious problems, it's always been the women who have came to the church's aid and saved her. From the Myrrh Bearing Women through all the women martyrs and holy women of Russia. I guess it holds true; when the men screw things up so bad, it's the women who stand up and put things back in order!
#5 Anonymous on 2008-04-09 05:24
I am so thankful for these statements of unity, admonition, and calls to action. My hope is renewed. My prayers answered. Persevere! Persevere! Persevere!
#6 Gerianne Coats on 2008-04-09 06:48
I am an Orthodox Christian, but do not belong to the OCA. I also do not know, or have never met bishop +Nikolai. However, I have closely been following the crisis in your church involving the Diocese of Alaska.
I am sorry to say that reading the comments posted on this web page gives me little hope in the state of Orthodox Christian values in North America.
So much anger, rage, and intolerance I have not seen at one place in a long time.
The administrator must be publishing articles and comments in a very biased fashion, or an atmosphere of lynch has been created in your Church. This is really disappointing. And very un-Orthodox.
#7 Ivan, Toronto, Canada on 2008-04-09 06:56
You are always in our thoughts and hearts.
#8 no name on 2008-04-09 07:36
What saddens me is how bad things have to get before the people who should have seen this coming and whose opinion is relied upon (and who were warned a decade or more ago) finally wake up and say something.
Folks, the whole OCA has been sleeping. I fear these bishops are more a reflection of what is sitting in the pews (or standing as the case may be) than we want to believe. Now that responsible people are finally awakening, please don't fall back asleep as soon as there is a lull in the action. The OCA has been fundamentally broken almost since autocephaly. The sooner this can be acknowledged, the sooner the real work can begin. The OCA has been living one big fantasy; going through the motions without the power thereof. Somewhere I read this as "prelest".
#9 Anon. on 2008-04-09 07:47
You have obviously not read the Church Fathers, for sarcasm, anger and vitriol were not absent from their lives and writings. Jesus cursed a fig tree - a simple plant! - even though it wasn't the season for figs, and the tree withered. Anger and rage are not antithetical to Orthodoxy.
#10 lordhavemercy on 2008-04-09 07:48
You've been made aware of a problem only recently. The problems began years ago, and what you are seeing now is the frustration arising from lack of leadership in addressing the problems. Patience departed around 2 years ago. This is the lancing of a very large boil. The question now is: can the course of the disease be reversed with the lancing, or is it too late, meaning the patient will die? Note that the patient will die a slow death without this radical treatment.
#11 Anonymous on 2008-04-09 10:06
Yes, but it takes both men AND women working together.
Beware the woman who has authority and works alone; she is subject to vanity and fallibility; so too the man alone.
Remember Eve???? She , working under the influence: *WUI*) then influenced Adam to do the wrong thing!!!
#12 Karen Jermyn on 2008-04-09 10:20
In reflection to what you say about the OCA being broken since 1970, not true. A lot of great and good work has been done over the last 38 years. However, consider this, it was around 1974-75. Fr. Schmemann always attended the SOB's to offer guidance and theological perspective to how the church was being run. He also was a visible force giving "checks and balances" to what the bishops would or would not do. The bishops decided to dismiss Fr. Schmemann from their meetings. The man was crushed. He had worked so hard for autocephaly, achieved it, gave it to the bishops on a platter and they couldn't wait to get rid of him. Virtually the same happened later with Fr. Meyendorff. WHY? Because the bishops wanted to make their own rules, do whatever they wanted without "checks or balances." This is why the OCA is where it is today - PURE HUBRIS!
(editor's note: No one has ever said nothing was accomplished in the last 38 years, or no good was done. The sad reality is that way too much of that that has been compromised, tainted, overshadowed or destroyed by the misdeeds. And you are absolutely correct that it was hubris that assumed when one is made a Bishop one is not only responsible for the Church, but the only one responsible for the Church. No man could bear such a burden; and we see the results. A more healthy, sustainable and effective system would be to encourage the Bishops to seek counsel and advice at all times from the officers and appointees of the Church - including during synodal meetings.
#13 Anonymous on 2008-04-09 10:25
There is a time under Heaven for every purpose, including anger, even rage. There is especially a time for intolerance; we can not tolerate evil, and we can not but call evil evil.
If the evildoer is a bishop, and if his brother bishops do not correct him and step in to protect the sheep---whom he is not only not protecting, but victimizing---then the sheep, as victims of spiritual abuse, are bound to bleat in anger and voice intolerance. They are not merely justified in doing so, they are fulfilling their Christian obligation.
Try reading the Scriptures with your perspective; there, you will find much anger, rage and intolerance penned by those whom you, as an Orthodox Christian, venerate as Saint. What would you do, then? Remove those portions from the Canon?
Your pyramid is on its point, Ivan.
#14 Anonymous on 2008-04-09 11:26
Thank you Matushka Juliana and to the faithful who have given so much to our beloved St. Herman's Seminary and our Diocese for your letters. You are loved!
#15 Marilyn Kreta on 2008-04-09 12:13
"lynch"? Is that what Jesus did to the merchants who defiled the Temple?
#16 herman on 2008-04-09 12:55
What you describe is exactly part of the problem. The bishops ' behavior is a symptom, not the cause, I believe. As well meaning as Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorff were, God rest their souls, an effective organization cannot be constructed around an academic model. Academia is too autocratic. The whole structure was destined to fail from the beginning because it was establish on the premise of the professor correcting and directing the students. The students never grew up. They got too used to not thinking for themselves and being told what to do. Probably a more helpful analogy is that the good Fathers gave the people fish when they should have been teaching them to fish. The result now is Churches full of people who only know how to eat fish, not catch them.
Feed them fish, and they will eat for a day.
Teach them to fish, and they will eat for a lifetime.
#17 Anon. on 2008-04-09 16:58
You are sooo wrong. One of the beauties of America is the ability to speaks one's mind and to pursue truth. Its called liberty and it was the most essential virtue upon which America was founded. I will tell you what is "unOrthodox" - the dictatorial and fascist methods of the dear bishop of the North Star.
#18 Rich on 2008-04-09 19:44
Thank you all for your comments.
I wanted to respond to some of them but feel silly replying to "anonymous", "anonymous", or "lordhavemercy".
If authors of some comments posted here which, rather than being contemplative in nature, represent very direct and concrete accusations of an individual (bishop), believe that their words and actions are based on the Scrtiptures, as a few of you have suggested, why not sign them with your full name? Fear of +Nikolai? I doubt it - what could he do? Excommunicate you, if you belong to his Diocese? Well, if he is really as evil as it sounds, that would only come as a reward.
Surely you must be able to stand up and publicly defend your opinion/accusations.
#19 Ivan, Toronto, Canada on 2008-04-09 22:02
Perhaps the Synod simply came to the conclusion that nothing would be completely settled without due process. The appointment of hierarchs to investigate a hierarch is very much in order. Perhaps Fr. Garklav's report should be added to the file that the two hierarchs will no doubt submit, but there does have to be due process in order for their to be a complete conclusion. Our Holy Synod is under enormous pressure, makes some errors, as humans are wont to do, but there is little doubt that they are trying very hard to work through all the problems that beset the OCA today. I do have faith in them and believe that they are sincere and believing men who care very deeply about their flocks. Lets back off for a little and allow due process to be worked through so that a final conclusion can be reached, rather than something stop-gap.
In Christ, Vladiko Lazar.
Please if your are not a member of the OCA keep silent.
Jesus turned over the tables at the temple because He found it wanting. JESUS would understand our frustation with the OCA bishops . Our options are limited so we speak out because of our frustations. You signed your name Ivan. but you failed to tell us what jurisdiction your church is under. Can you say there has never been a problem with your church.
Pray for us in these difficult times.
Love in Christ
#21 Lillian Blome on 2008-04-10 06:12
Bishop Nikolai kicked Lydia Black out of her home at seminary without notice. This is actually a criminal act in some states.
Bishop Nikolai tonsured a sex offender. Personally, I think this is a minor infraction against the balance of other things. A touchy subject, people need to be forgiven. He perhaps could have been a reader without tonsuring?
Bishop Nikolai fired Paul Sidebottom, who blew the whistle on the bad behavior of Chancellor Isadore, who by the way went to alcohol treatment at the time of the Sidebottom termination. This action alone is worthy of suspending Nikolai based on the churches adoption of new Best Practices.
On more subjective matters, Bishop Nikolai is rumored to have kicked a lady out of church for speaking while he was.. He did so without understanding her reasons. A forgiveable act if he apologizes more publicly than the original act.
Or forbidding subsistent priests from taking summer fishing work.
Or disagreeing with the church following Best Practices for nonprofits in its accounting.
Or not signing onto whistleblower protections with the rest of the Synod.
Or having a grandious closet of garb that would make John Chrysostom vomit from what I've heard.
Many other things would be better elaborated on by a priest of that Diocese and some of these are heresay, but the important ones are not.
Objective enough for you?
#22 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-10 08:55
I agree with you that perhaps the Seminary has failed in some way to produce leaders by its autocratic (your words)method, and I agree with Mark that one man cannot assume the burden for the whole church: one bishop having the burden or one priest having the burden.
There is much wisdom in counsel.
Was one priest assuming the burden in the early years?
In the early Church, the deacon was the one who had the responsibility to help the bishop by being his eyes, ears, heart, mind, etc. It seems it might have been a priest in the case of the OCA? Maybe that's where the problems started?
I think it would be good to reinstate the diaconal duty and responsibility to advise the bishops, as well as having other priestly counsel from time to time.
#23 Karen Jermyn on 2008-04-10 11:28
Recognizing and accepting that the governance system failed without the pressures of OCANEWS.ORG is the first step to correcting it.
Resignations are only a baby step to that goal if the leaders can't take that step.
Firing people today isn't the answer either, RSKs long term stay proves that fact.
#24 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-10 15:28
You mean like using the name "Ivan" from Toronto?
Seriously, what do you care if a real name or fake name or no name is used?
Speak to the content, if you are able. The identity of an author has no relationship AT ALL to the accuracy or truthfulness of the content of the author's words.
Speak to the substance of the words, "Ivan."
#25 Anonymous on 2008-04-10 15:39
Anonymous, I am sorry that you have missed the point of my post.
My comments are general and contemplative in nature. I have not accused anyone in particular. Ivan, my true name, suffices.
My point, anonymous, and all you other "brave" anonymouses is the following: if you are angry enough to post accusations against any partcular person on the internet, let alone a bishop, then show character and put you name behind those accusations. Or remain silent.
Daniel E. Hall, I appreciate your response. Thank you.
#26 Ivan, Toronto, Canada on 2008-04-10 21:06
Yes, this mess that was setup to get everyone tempted to attack any respecting Orthodox member. I bet you mark. your will not post this one because I sent a few and I don't see them. Now don't make excuses that it was not a good one. Seems like all you post are the ones that are negative and the positive ones you don't post, becasue they don't fit you. I am sorry for judging you, but please forgive me, I forgive you.
(Editor's note: You lose. I do not censor opinions. If you were not posted earlier it was because you stated an error of fact of which I am personally aware, or were totally inappropriate in your expression of that opinion. The above is not, and gets posted.)
#27 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 12:08
Yes Karen, I believe we were seeing a rigidly hierarchical "Russian" model of "do what I tell you" at work. I put "Russian" in quotes because this isn't confined to Russians, but few would argue that Russia today is more strong-man oriented than America. Russian culture seems to prefer strongmen more than American culture. So, were Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorff simply feeding the flock the fish they wanted to eat? This mentality has grown increasingly out of synch. In addition, if leaders who think for themselves are not nurtured, as seems to have been the case over the last two decades, then the current leadership deficit is understandable, and lamentable. We need to become the fishers of men that we are called to be.
#28 Anon. on 2008-04-11 17:06
Yes, the strongman mentality has certainly been rampant and readily facilitated by an older generation that wanted a papa to rule and have total responsibility. It has fostered cover-up, denial and slavish following of whoever the strongman was at the moment, while individual talents bestowed by the Holy Spirit and potential leaders who could think for themselves were both summarily squashed.
But, the times they are achangin'; and God has set before us the challenge to grow up!
#29 KarenJermyn on 2008-04-12 08:57
What would your "best practices" say about the personal "relationships" and morality of bishops?
#30 Anonymous on 2008-04-13 18:49
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