Wednesday, August 13. 2008
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Thank you for such candidness, Fr. Stephen. I think that took alot of courage and determination to believe in doing what is right (not political).
You wrote, among other things:
"At the AAC in St Louis years ago I spoke against a fellow priest (someone I respected) who had wronged two of his parishioners (they were excommunicated because of a monetary dispute with the priest)..." who apparently were eventually reinstated (some 10 years later?) by the efforts of former Fr. Bob Kondratick (who spoke over a bishop, +Peter). Amazing and incredible.
I just have to ask: Huh?
It sounds as if the OCA's administrative leadership has been a scary place for a long, long time. That was an excommunication about a dispute, not even stealing or theft or embezzlement, about money.
Fr. Stephen Mack has been a martyr to put up with such an abuse of power and control.
The showdown about the whole climate of abuse of power and control must be at the joint Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council meeting in early September, with the release of the SIC report to them. If the SIC report is found to be misleading or enabling of bad behavior, I cannot see how the MC will just sit there this time.
(I don't think +JOB will just sit there either, but I am not sure about the rest of the HS. It may take a very strong, determined, and assertive MC and at least one bishop, +JOB, to really dissemble the old status quo).
The release of this SIC, to us faithful, will also be part of the showdown about the abuse of power and control within the OCA administration.
I believe the September meeting with the release of the SIC report will be a great historic event in the life of the OCA. I think, too, the OCA will finally find the gumption to get us to higher ground.
I believe that many many many people will act with greater decisiveness after that SIC report is out to put the OCA on a higher ground of ethics, morality, and integrity.
I hope the release of the SIC and the September meeting will allow a retirement or resignation of +Herman before the November AAC (if not right there at the September meeting).
There is too much unholy nonsense of the recent (I guess far, too) past which is not of the Gospel for me to believe otherwise.
#1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-08-13 07:54
Regarding Fr. Andrew Moore's piece... WOW! Amen! Amen! Amen!
Yet, another true and courageous shepherd speaks out and speaks with moral conviction and in the Spirit of Truth and Christ.
He puts to shame so many other cradle Orthodox that are still silent or staying away from doing the heavy lifting and needed work to challenge and expose the evil and corruption decimating our Church and scattering the flock.
God bless you Fr. Andrew for the Christian love for all us and all the hierarchs (especially +Herman) and truly Orthodox discernment you have evidenced through your words and actions. My heart is comforted and spirit reassured that the Holy Spirit is working through His people.
Fr. Peter Dubinin's reflection is the best thing I've read to date.
Thank you Fr. Peter, pray for us cowards!
#3 no name on 2008-08-13 11:25
Fr. Moore writes:
Here is just a little of the Holy Scripture that has so lead us in not having confidence in Metropolitan Herman’s leadership:
See Ezekiel 34:1-10; Jer 23:9-11:
"Since a Bishop is entrusted with God’s Work, he must be blameless-not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it" Titus 1:7ff
I must say, that I laughed after reading this. Not a proper reaction, is it.
Where is ___THIS___bishop?
I'd love to meet him.
(Editor's note: I have, several times. The late Archbishop Paul of Finland was such a man; as was the late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. Both Irinei of Crete - the retired Metropolitan of Kissamou, Irineos "The Elder" whose people kidnapped him to insure he would stay with them as their Bishop - and the reigning Archbishop of Crete, Irineos "The Younger" to name a few. There are many others. So while we may be disappointed in the actions, or rather inaction, of a few, or rather many, of our OCA bishops, let us not tar all Bishops with that brush. )
#4 no name on 2008-08-13 11:31
Having just finished Fr.Moore's reflection, all I can say is-
You know, Mark, can you compile a list of the priests that have stuck their necks on the line?
Lets us all make it our business to pray for each of them, every Friday at 9 PM. These guys need our prayers, they must be protected.
(Editor's note: Just go down the list of reflections and articles. Thanks be to God, the list is growing as God calls up more and more of his priests to witness to the truth of our situation openly...)
#5 no name on 2008-08-13 11:36
You make two HUGE assumptions.
First you assume that the Synod will meet as scheduled in early September. More than one meeting has been rescheduled for a host of reasons ( no pun intended ).
Second is assuming that the SIC will be released to the church at large at that time. If either of these events don't occur as scheduled, many will talk with their wallets and the rest will let their feet do the walking. We are anticipating both events to occur and the administration is no doubt wondering what their next move is. If only the "few malcontents" would just disappear, things could return to normal. We have been "appeased" with Town Hall meetings. Why can't we just go away already?
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The names are new but the operation is intact. All they have to do is get their stories straight. You couldn't make up a TV series this bizarre.
Let us pray that the meeting takes place and that the SIC report is released.
The situation we find ourselves in is more than disheartening at this point. As Mark has said many, many times ....."The long defeat continues"........
#6 Anonymous on 2008-08-13 12:44
Dear Father Andrew,
Your bold and courageous letter is so powerful, it says it all.
Here are some of your words that have a great effect on many of us in the South:
“I disagree vigorously with the vote that the Bishops took regarding confidence in Herman’s leadership. It is insulting to the many souls across America that have promoted genuine Orthodoxy in their words and work.” … “Many of us are discerning that the current Metropolitan has chosen repeatedly and without remorse (Godly Sorrow) to publicly lie, slander, defame, condemn and cover-up. This is not iconic of Christ. This is an impediment to the work that we are called to do for a short time, in North America, in the early days of the 21st century. Metropolitan Herman has made our work in this time and place much harder.”
In the Diocese of the South, we are struggling with everything we have, to build churches and grow Orthodoxy where Orthodoxy is scarce. Bishop DMITRI, stand up for us, stand with your Brother +JOB for truth and accountability! Share the vision we have for Orthodoxy in the South instead of working against us! Stand with us, or stand with M Herman, it’s that simple. What will it be?
#7 Anne Marie on 2008-08-13 13:16
I read Fr. Moore's reflection and at least a priest is cutting to the chase about losing potential converts to Orthodoxy. There really ought to be a roster, because I know of a couple in Wisconsin as well.
I agree with Fr. Moore, but Fr. Moore misses the root cause of the issue.
All the Synod, except perhaps those elevated recently have been complicit in these problems, either via incompetancy or by turning a cheek.
Given that reality, who would be Metropolitanm, if not the ambiter.
#8 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-13 13:56
Fr. Peter's reflection is the type of material that keeps me coming back to this site. So many have given in to bitterness, anger, despair. Fr. Peter offers a word of light, balance, challenge with gentleness and love and yet very firm and uncompromising.
Thank you, Father, for the reminder that the way of the world is not the way of the Spirit. We must endure this crisis through to it's od-appointed end, and pray it yields a godly result.
#9 Rdr. T. John on 2008-08-13 14:23
I read the comments of Fr. Mack and he did a very good job of writing that article, as did the others. My concern is that he is still not quite convinced that total change needs to take place.
WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT!?!
His church is on the verge of total implosion and he is still not convinced? He holds hope out that Met. Herman may have a 180 degree change? The time for his repentance has come and gone. Even if he does repent he still needs to GO. He needed to go years ago. Duh.
Fr. Mack is sending his parish and the OCA the wrong message. The message that there is still hope for Met. Herman, if he repents. After all he said in that article he cannot come to the final conclusion that the corrupt need to GO -even if they repent? Who in their right mind, or Orthodox mind, would trust in Herman even if he repented? Does Repentance means there are no consequences in Orthodoxy?
Fr. Mack does not seem to be able to come to a hard conclusion on based upon the hard facts of what really has been going on. What does Scripture say to do? What is the conclusion of Scripture about people like Met. Herman and the Synod of Bishops? Ravenous wolves in sheep clothing is what I see, and the wolves do not want to leave. Wolves don't repent. They only keep telling you they are not wolves. They do that so that they can keep eating sheep. That's what wolves do.
Can it be more clear?
#10 Anonymous on 2008-08-13 14:39
Of all the blogs I've read since this whole thing began with the Synod and Alaska I must say your blog is the most touching, realistic and genuinely from the heart.
Like you, I entered the OCA from another tradition. Unlike you that tradition was the Roman Catholic Church. I can say in one word what the problem is with both these traditions -- TRADITION.
From the time they start putting crowns on their heads and wearing "liturgical" garments patterned after the garments worn at court and by the wealhy, from the time people started bowing and kneeling before them and kissing their hands, from the time they were controlling the minds of people (much like cults do), from the time they intimidated people into submission (usually by telling them they could excommunicate them and they wouldn't go to heaven) these pompous groups of men have thought themselves above the rest! This is indeed a very, very long standing TRADITION in the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
Other "younger" traditions were usually born out of objecting to this apparent unlimited power and the abuse that followed. Keep in mind too, there's the historic political tradition within these churches when kings, popes and patriarchs vied for power and control over people. Keep in mind that a lot of this sprang out of the fact that often times clergymen were the only "educated" who could read and write. Kings and princes had to rely on them.
I know I am oversimplifying here. I have mentioned only a few of the blatant problem areas. It would really take time and study into the history of THE CHURCH as founded by GOD, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church to understand and appreciate how this TRADITION came to be and continues to be. Some of the funniest articles are those written by Roman Catholics criticizing the Orthodox for leaving the "true Church" and those written by the Orhtodox criticizing the Roman Catholics for leaving the "true Church". In truth, probably none of the writers had a real understanding of the TRUE CHURCH.
The Roman Catholic Church went through it's sex scandal but their TRADITION remains intact. They found "a few" to blame and that TRADITION of power continues. A good example is the overt arrogance and pomp of the current pope. The OCA has not yet gone through it's scandal but when/if it does, it will also find "a few" to blame and the TRADITION of power will continue. To date the Synod has done just that and they will continue to find ways to preserve this TRADITION. It's all they know. It's all they are about. It still "kills" me to hear Orthodox bishops refer to themselves as living icons of Christ - much like Roman Catholic bishops like to say they act in the person of Christ. Pretty much sounds like the same thing in both churches, doesn't it!
That's how and why so many other denominations came into being. Historically the only choice available was to break away and start other religions.
One has to remember one immovable principle - religion does not equal faith. They are not the same thing. Religion is merely one's external response to and expression of belief / one's faith = one's believe in THE ONE GOD, THREE PERSONS! A believer in GOD has a desire to express and celebrate that belief and turns to a religion to find a means to do that. Patriarchs, popes, metropolitans and even politicians cannot take away FAITH. They may test it, but they can't take it away.
#11 anon on 2008-08-13 15:36
Thank you for both your skepticism and yet cautious optimism both in one response.
I want to get past skepticism and try for a more positive optimism when it comes to September's meeting. I just checked our oca.org site and I see on this site that there are many vacancies listed there. In fact, Archimandrite Isidore (long gone to Australia) is still listed there.
I still believe the September meeting will be the catalyst the entire church needs to see some continued dramatic changes take place within the OCA.
Let us hope and pray for all those involved in September's meeting that it can produce the lasting change we need. That means that I do believe there will be people there who will be bold for doing what is right.
#12 Patty Schellbach on 2008-08-13 17:45
Fr Andrew - I kiss your hand and your feet. Fr John Hennies
#13 Fr John Hennies on 2008-08-13 18:56
The "dream" of Fr. Schmemann has been a consistent comment. Has anyone considered that we are experiencing his dream? And, should we not consider that that dream was flawed with a European elitism that cannot survive an open culture? I for one have always valued Fr. Schmemann's writings, but always found them weak when it comes to governance. He was truly a European aristocrat through and through. The structure that became the OCA reflects that. Perhaps we should stop talking about other's dreams and ask what God wills.
#14 Anon. on 2008-08-13 18:57
As an American, I find the behavior of the OCA, as well as the Orthodox Church, and its/their demand for unthinking obedience to one's spiritual leaders/superiors to be antithetical and opposed to this country's freedoms and foundational beliefs.
One cannot be an American and be an obedient Orthodox Christian.
I left the OCA/Orthodox Church because I realized I could not reconcile the two. The worst thing that could happen would be for the Orthodox Church to gain more power and presence in America. The OCA scandal only highlights this fact.
(Editor's note: The scandal in the OCA concerns personal wrong-doing and abuse of office in regards to covering-up that wrong-doing. It is not the result of structures of the Church.
As for being American and Orthodox, I would disagree that the two are antithetical. In fact, I would argue the opposite: they are made for each other. America holds forth the dream of maximal physical freedom - political, intellectual, religious, economic, etc. Orthodoxy holds forth the possibility of maximal spiritual freedom. Both are predicated on change, and a belief that things can change and improve. In this country, in the OCA, we have the possibility to manifest this. That we fail so miserably is our sin, not a structure of the Church. That we often fail in certain instances to politically manifest the dream of America has not stop our march towards freedom these past 225+ years. That we have failed as a Church to do the same spiritually the past 2,000+ years has not stopped us either. But in the OCA we have the opportunity to manifest an open Church in an open society; a body wherein men and women can freely choose God and worship him in the fullness of existence - spiritually as well as physically. So, while you may have good reason to abandon Orthodoxy because of the failings of its members, it is not because one cannot be American and Orthodox. We shall never have what Russians or Greeks have - for our culture, history and values predate the Church. They have their pasts in a way we never shall. But we Orthodox in America share that most American and most Orthodox of things - hope in the future. )
#15 Giveme Liberty on 2008-08-13 21:25
I agree, Fr. Peters is the best article written here! Please continue to pray for us and Christ's Holy Church, and for those that continue to stir up trouble in the church. Thank you and God Bless.
#16 action Jackson on 2008-08-14 05:56
Needless to say, I agree with your analysis, which was also expressed in my reflection, some time ago, on Apostolic Autocracy. I would point out that this was not the model for the first three hundred years of Christian witness--before the Church was "married" to the State. Nor has it always been the model followed by individual bishops--the ones truly seeking to follow Christ as opposed to the ones wanting to "lord it" over their brethren.
Therefore I strongly insist that Apostolic Autocracy is not part of our real Tradition, but rather a flawed tradition that needs to be now abandoned. This is not to say that everything that happened in the past is corrupt or evil or even necessarily inappropriate to the times. But with the perspective of history we can now see where it (Apostolic Autocracy born of the marriage of Church and State) has led and grow in the Spirit with the times.
To conclude, the bishops are indeed icons of Christ--but then so are we all--or so I was taught. And because of their position and responsibility, they usually have a bit more "tarnish" on their veneer than the rest of us. This should be an occasion for concern, humility and repentance--not an excuse for a celebratory orgy of power and control over the rest of us.
#17 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-14 06:00
"Fr. Schmemann's Dream"? Sorry, not Fr. Schmemann's dream, but the logical progression of any church which originates in a territory and grows. In fact, the idea of the OCA originated with SCOBA (all the canonical Orthodox bishops in America) in 1961. SCOBA wanted a unified Orthodox church in North America and even designated the name to be the OCA. All the ethnic churches in North America united in a synod of bishops as an autocephalous church guiding their own destiny. This was the dream of ALL the churches and bishops. Anyone thinking that going back under the thumb of foreign bishops is just ridiculous. Look at Russia and look at Georgia. The ROC is a police state arm of the Russian government. They have nothing to offer free Americans. The Greeks, well, they're just totally wrapped up in being Greek. The Antiochians are the "luke warm" of the bunch, not committing to anything.
Not Fr. Schmemann's dream, but the dream of ALL Orthodox in North America. Too bad the bishops who started SCOBA reneged on becoming members ogf the OCA. Ultimately, their loss!
#18 Anonymous on 2008-08-14 06:11
I second Fr. John Hennies' response. God bless you.
#19 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-08-14 06:36
A self correction. Lost a convert to the OCA to another jurisdiction, not Orthodoxy.
#20 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-14 07:14
There are so many good and wonderful parts to the teaching and spirituality of Fr. Schmemann. The emphasis of joy and thanksgiving, for instance. But could that emphasis have been distorted in future generations because there was no balance in learning and practising righteousness, no exhortation to righteousness?
The teaching in righteousness that should have been done by our joyful leaders was not; instead we were given teaching by their example of living it up and enjoying the fruits of lies and thefts. We cannot be joyful and thankful in Christ while lving unrighteously, denying the fullness of truth. That kid of denial has resulted in the most horrible lie possible, the most horrible hypocrisy. Have we been taught a lie (by example) that we do not need to grow up in righteousness?
#21 Anon. on 2008-08-14 07:27
These three priestly reflections give me joy and hope for our Church. First of all, Fr Andrew Moore hits the nail right on the head: his analysis of +Herman is like a lifelong video clip. I was a choir director in Old Forge, PA, almost 25 years ago, when (then-only-Bishop) Herman was at St Tikhon's. Nothing we see now was missing then: same arrogance, same lack of love for God and His Church, same pompous, boistrous feather-preening and strutting about, same rotten temper, same method of operation (intimidations, gag orders, etc.). Most Orthodox who believe in God and actually try to repent show some spiritual growth over the years! I guess none of that applies to Herman at all! As our Lord said, "You will know them by their fruits!" Enough said on that!!!
I was also impressed with Fr Stephen Mack's reflection, aptly titled, "Putting Your Life on the Line". Too bad more clergy (and laity!) don't do that! Too bad more of the postings on this site don't come from people as courageous as Fr Mack, who puts himself on the line by courageously signing his work, instead of using kindergarten-like titles such as "Anonymous", "No Name", "Frustrated in (pick your town or state)", etc. People who rant, rave, and get nasty while claiming to make a point, and then refusing to acknowledge themselves, discredit whatever message they intended to deliver! Courageous priests like Frs Mack, Moore, Dubinin, Shimchik, Kapadnadze, etc., are still alive, still active in their parishes, and, unlike the "Anonymouses" among us, can still hold their heads high and look anyone in the eye, because they have had the courage to be totally honest, not only in their message, but in their identification of themselves in signing their posts!!! I hope and pray that people will not shrink from speaking the truth at the upcoming AAC because they will no longer be "anonymous"!!
Finally, I concur with what Fr Moore alluded to, and what Dr Paul Meyendorff proposed: a total cleaning-of-house regarding our hierarchy!!! With the exception of +Archbishop Job, the rest of the members of this pontifical preschool have shown themselves lacking not only in spiritual courage, but also totally lacking in the skills needed to be functional leaders in the episcopacy!! They have plenty of "courage" when it comes to stomping on courageous, outspoken priests or parish communities courageous enough to withhold their national assessments, but don't have the spiritual cajones to rightly depose loons like +Nikolai and +Herman!! Yes, +Herman should not be retired: he should be DEPOSED!!! He and his cronies have stolen enough from this beloved OCA: they don't deserve to steal any more, even through something as innocent as a retirement fund!! He should be deposed, and then lashed to a post near his icons in the woods that he blackmailed the Diocese of Eastern PA into paying, while receiving the forty lashes-less-one that he deserves!! This may lead future hierarchs to think twice before engaging in these (as Fr Moore so aptly put it) *UN-*Christlike behaviors!!!
#22 David Barrett on 2008-08-14 07:35
Your editor's note is FANTASTIC. I knew you learned something at SVS. Schmemann would be proud!
#23 Anonymous on 2008-08-14 07:36
There's nothing wrong with being an European aristocrat and possibly even his governance model--properly understood.
I would agree, from our current standpoint, Fr. Schmemann was overly concerned with the excesses of anti-clericalism as opposed to the growing clericalism that warps the OCA today. I would also concede that the current OCA governance document leaves ultimate authority to the bishops. As others have pointedly said, there is a disconnect between the supposed responsibility and authority granted to lay and clerical organs of the Church and the ultimate authority wheeled by the bishops.
This disconnect results from a clear abuse of authority--rooted in pride and arrogance. It may come as a surprise to many, but, to use a secular analogy, the power of the British monarch is similarly absolute. Any Act of Parliament, theoretically, requires the Royal Assent, while Parliament itself can be dissolved by order of the Monarch. The British Armed Forces take a personal oath of allegiance to their Sovereign, not the Ministers of State. This "power" is rarely, if ever, exercised in the modern era. Imagine if it were--except in a dire emergency!
Having established lay and clerical bodies to govern the OCA, the bishops had, and have, an absolute responsibility to let them work unhindered, except in exceptional circumstances. To conscientiously, with malice aforethought, work to subvert, marginalize and ultimately destroy them is contemptible and duplicitous.
In the final analysis, the OCA should not be a secular democracy, nor an absolute monarchy of bishops. Conciliarity can mean different things to different people, but at least the basic concept needs to be embraced.
#24 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-14 07:59
I am replying to a very small portion of Fr. Stephen's letter. This "small portion", however, contains an enormous shocker.
If I understand Fr. Stephen accurately, he is refusing to let a man convert to the Holy Orthodox Christian faith on the grounds that the OCA scandal, something created and continued by sinful human beings, justifies barring a person from being joined to the salvation available in the Holy Church of Jesus Christ. A priest denies life-giving sacraments, available only in the Orthodox Church, to one who seeks them.
Is this correct understanding of the letter? Please reassure me that I have misunderstood.
If not, then I pray that this catechumen race as fast as he can to another Orthodox Christian parish, no matter whether OCA or in some other jurisdiction, and convert there. Such a judgment call by a priest is not valid. I'm combing every corner of my mind and understanding to find a way to understand why and how this COULD be valid.
No can do.
Mrs. Antonia Colias
Diocese of the South
#25 Antonia Colias on 2008-08-14 08:52
Well, Action, we are finally in agreement. I'm especially glad to see that you join me in praying for those stirring up trouble in the Church. Metropolitan Herman and his enablers on the Holy Synod certainly need our prayers. If they were to begin actually behaving like bishops, as St. Paul decreed and as Fr. Andrew described in his post, much of the trouble in the Church would indeed fade away. I have great hope that our Bishop Benjamin will join with Archbishop Job and shine some much-needed light into some very dark corners, and that the truth will, finally, triumph over those in positions of trust and authority whose actions have been stirring up trouble in the Church. Good to see that we're on the same team, Action.
#26 Scott Walker on 2008-08-14 09:36
Could we not dispense with the facile judgement of other Orthodox jurisdictions? You sound, anonymous, exactly like the Conservative Baptist preachers of my youth, glorying in the superiority of their brand of Baptist over every other brand of Baptist. Try a little humility. It's good for what ails you.
#27 Scott Walker on 2008-08-14 09:47
"One cannot be an American and an obedient Orthodox Christian." That's a blast from the past! It reminds me of various Protestant talking heads warning that electing John F. Kennedy would place the Republic in thrall to the wicked machinations of Rome. News flash, Sparky: one is an American by virtue of being born here, or by virtue of becoming a naturalized citizen. Religious affiliation or lack of same has nothing to do with it. ...
#28 Scott Walker on 2008-08-14 09:55
In my experience priests fairly often will encourage people to delay their membership in the Orthodox Church out of pastoral concern and wisdom. Certainly in the situation to which Fr. Stephen referred, the candidate already had been scandalized by the Alaskan controversy. It is better that people be settled and able to commit knowing the full reality of what might happen, than to do so, and then have a strong reaction to the seeming failure of what they thought was the true and unshakeable Church. Certainly many, including myself, have had to struggle with serious questions about the Orthodox Church when it hits directly as in this scandal. Such is different than reading about all the problems in Church History, which can remain theoretical. So I believe that Fr. Stephen was saying that it would be better for his "convert", already shaken by one scandal in the OCA, to wait, rather than feeling that the refuge to which he has fled, is falling apart around him. While I have better hopes in the long run for the Orthodox Church in North America, there are churches which no longer exist, and we are not guaranteed that any specific parish or national church will survive indefinitely and that one of the warnings to the churches in the Book of Revelation is that the risen Lord can remove their candlestick. So I believe Fr. Stephen wants his inquirer to wait until some of the turmoil in the OCA at this point reaches some final crisis or begins to be corrected, to avoid a later reaction and rejection of the Orthodox Church altogether. I have certainly witnessed devastating situations in the faith of people when they rush to join the Orthodox Church and then find things which they are not able to handle, rejecting not only the Orthodox Church, but Christian faith altogether.
Certainly my priest cautioned me not to join at the time I wanted, due to the potential for serious breach in Christian unity between my wife and I, but was also prepared to go ahead on my insistence of participation in the Eucharist. However, he said he needed to give a last strong caution regarding ethnicity in the Orthodox Church, which I might find very difficult to handle in reality, though I was well aware of it in theory. In fact it has at times caused me considerable spiritual struggle in relation to the Orthodox Church.
There are many pastoral reasons for delaying membership in the Orthodox Church and some major Church Fathers delayed their own baptism due to the importance of baptism as a non-repeatable, and most significant and awesome mystery.
You seem to agree that your "take" on this specific matter stood out in an otherwise very mature and thoughtful statement by Fr. Stephen. I hope that I have represented him correctly, and have helped diminish your concern somewhat.
Sincerely in Christ,
(editor's note: Dr. Estabrooks is the Director of the Saint Arseny Orthodox Christian Theological Institute in Winnipeg, Canada. )
#29 Anonymous on 2008-08-14 10:13
I am not sure you can "teach" someone how to be a good bishop...or Christian for that matter.
It is humanly impossible to be an icon of Christ, to be all the things Bishops are called to be. It is only if they know Christ in their hearts and have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that they can even begin to be what they (and we) we are called to be in Christ.
We are not seeing it.
And that is a very sorry state of affairs.
Christ said, "If you love me you will keep my comandments."
And "By this they will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
He also said if a branch is not bearing fruit it will cut if off. I am truly afraid that the OCA is about to be pruned.
Soon I will again be worried about being asked at the "dread judgment seat of Christ", why I stayed in the OCA. I believe the SIC report and this AAC will be a deciding point. After all of this if we cannot get rid of this "brood of vipers"....it's not going to happen.
#30 Linda Weir on 2008-08-14 10:51
This is in response to #15 Mrs. Colias. I don't really know the full reason why a Fr. Steve is not yet receiving this gentlemen into the faith. However, I do know that if a person is "running away" from his former Roman Catholic faith (or any other faith) for the "wrong" reasons the seeker is not ready to embrace Orthodoxy. I have personally known people who came into Orthodoxy without really knowing the teachings and beliefs of the faith and then to leave when something comes up (a teaching, belief, doctrine or unchristian behavior of priest, bishop, deacon, lay person) and they march out the door.
Our Orthodox Church (regardless of jurisdiction) is not without some scandal or problem. I personally want the full truth of the scandal to be reveal and the guilty persons to take the consequences of their actions. I personally don't trust the OCA central administration nor the Synod of Bishops to lead the OCA as of this time. I hope and pray that the Synod of Bishops will reverse their decision of Full Confidence in Metropolitan Herman. I hope that more clergy will speak out and not fear losing their priesthood. I think Fr. Steve is wrong in that he is glad his elderly parishioners do not know what the central administration has done. They should know. But then again, it was only in the diocese of the Midwest, under Archbishop JOB that his clergy and laity could speak out openly at parish coffee hour and gatherings about the financial abuse, etc. The Orthodox Church in America is the only jurisdiction in America where people from other backgrounds are welcome without having to acknowledge another cultural heritage in order to be Orthodox Christians. English is the norm in our liturgical services. I was surprised that is not the case in the Diocese of NY, NJ and WA. (from the NJ townhall meeting). We have a lot to offer to our American neighbors--the true faith.
#31 cshinn on 2008-08-14 11:53
I would like to thank Dr. Estabrooks for his response. Yes, I was responding solely to one embedded element of Fr. Stephen's letter, and not responding at all to the remaining portions. (the remaining portions being the "meat" of his letter)
I do not know Fr. Stephen, so had no information beyond the specific written letter. Of course, had I the pleasure of knowing him in person, I would have a greater -- and undoubtedly more accurate -- context for evaluating his text.
Of course there are good reasons for delaying someone's baptism until a later date. Another respondent pointed out -- correctly, I dare to believe -- that one does not convert genuinely when he is merely "running away" from another Christian group. It does seem that if one is, instead, "running toward Christ in His Holy Church" one is far more cognizant of what one is doing.
Reiterating, then, that I had solely the given letter to go on, what I observed was not a remark that the catechumen was being advised to wait until he was more solid in his conviction for conversion. Rather, I observed a personal opinion cited as the reason to wait -- specifically, the personal opinion of a priest that, because the OCA suffers from a "whole current mess", the catechumen should wait. Perhaps there are other reasons and this "aside" within a larger letter is incomplete.
I genuinely do not believe that a priest's personal opinion about a secular [because money abuses are not religious], church politics-and-personnel scandal should influence decisions about a catechumen's entry into the faith.
As a similar example, I think of any individual who cannot separate his or her nation of origin from his or her Orthodox faith. One is Greek AND one is an Orthodox Christian. One is Russian AND one is an Orthodox Christian. One is an American AND one is an Orthodox Christian.
When I entered the faith, I did not turn into "a GOARCH", but into an Orthodox Christian. Now that I attend an OCA parish, I am not "an OCA"; I am an Orthodox Christian. The jurisdiction is not my religion.
That disregarded distinction, then, is what leapt out at me from Fr. Stephen's letter. It just may be a distinction not important to other people.
Respectfully to all
(especially to Fr. Stephen),
#32 Antonia Colias on 2008-08-14 15:25
I'm sure that staying or leaving the OCA will be the least of our worries on Judgement Day. Really, do you foresee the the Lord Jesus Christ asking the question, "Why did you stay in the OCA?"
And your answer is either:
A) "I stayed in the OCA because the full SIC report finally came out and Metropolitan Herman and the Synod of Bishops resigned..."
B)"I left the OCA because the full SIC report was withheld from me and Metropolitan Herman and the Synod of Bishops stayed on..."
and then the Lord responding with, "Well done good and faithful servant" or "Out of my sight, I never knew you"?
No, the judgement will be about whether I kept the commandments of the Gospel or whether I loved my neighbor.
You and others on this board give the OCA too much credit or too much blame for the state of your own souls.
(Editor's note: Among the questions we will be asked at the judgement, according to Scripture, is whether we fed the hungry, clothed the naked, protect the widows and orphans, etc. Since I tried to do this through contributions to the OCA for the past twenty years, I will have to confess that I failed, since most of the money was diverted to feeding others less than hungry, clothing those less than naked, and protecting others than widows or orphans. Perhaps God will count my intention. If that is the case, though, how will he judge my intention if my attitude to the OCA is to just " move on" without dealing with the cause of the fraud? Or my intention if I do not attempt to correct the situation fully? While the OCA is not the beginning or end of my spiritual life, it is a major part of it, as it is for many, and as the Church should be. I could no more overlook its woes than I could abandon my mother in need - nor should you. )
#33 Anonymous on 2008-08-14 15:41
There have been priests talking about this for some time. It was the angle I took a long while back when I wrote a letter to Archbishop JOB. There are many, I believe, who see this as a problem. In some cases, it has meant looking at another jurisdiction. In some cases, it has meant ending any consideration of Orthodoxy at all. Seriously. To some outside the Church, this scandal is that much of a red flag. Then again, it ought to be. What was a dream of Schmemann has become a delusion.
#34 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2008-08-14 17:59
You are correct re: the relationship of priest to the people. The wrong prepositions are being used about the authority of the clergy in the ruling of the Church. The authority is not that the priest/Bishop is "above" but that he is "with" the people. Christ is God "with" us and not primarily (according) to his incarnation, God "above" us.
The priest/Bishop is authoritative because he comes to a community as one who is "under or beneath" the people. He comes to them as a servant or slave of all. The authority of a Bishop is real and cannot be dismissed but it is born of relationship of service to a community. That community in turn has something Godlike to respond to. The Godly response of a community toward the Christ-like servant, is to kiss his hand, ask his blessing, treat him as if he were Christ himself, pray for him, and elevate his name in liturgy and daily prayer. It is impossible to have one without the other. Servant-hood of the office of priest/Bishop and elevation of that office in response by the people is what God has intended for the Holy Church! Where there is self love by either priest/Bishop or people this breaks down.
It is the servant hood of the priest/Bishop that is the first principle or rather the instigator of that relationship of people to priest. It is then servanthood that causes others to act towards the priestly/Episcopal office as something "god-like". He can only be elevated in servanthood. We have not a few priests/Bishop that want elevation without servanthood! With Christ this is impossible!!
When do we see Christ during his earthly ministry acting as imperial majesty? In a manger, on a donkey, on a cross, with sinners, or as a washer of feet? We see God best it seems as a servant of all.
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who being the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross, therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and game Him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:5-11)."
#35 fr Andrew on 2008-08-15 05:55
In just a few weeks the metropolitan council and the holy synod will have the opportunity to meet together once again. I wonder if the MC members have given any thought to how to bring back the resolution to ask Metr. Herman to resign. It would seem that now is the time to prepare for this, not three weeks from now. The resolutions could be circulated now.
Here is my proposal.
1. Metr. Herman steps down effective immediately.
2. Archbishop Dmitri takes over as locum tenens.
3. Metr. Herman is indemnified and he is given the house at St. Tikhons to live in for the rest of his life.
4. He is given health insurance for the rest of his life.
If Metr. Herman doesn't accept this, then motion 2.
1. A motion of complete no competence in the Metropolitan
2. Move forward with a civil lawsuit against the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan for failing to use a modicum of common sense regarding their fiduciary responsibilities to the church and sue for restitution of all missing money, including the ADM money.
3. Move the Metropolitan out of the residence that he doesn't own at St. Tikhon's
4. Cut off all income to the Metropolitan and benefits.
Finally, if this motion doesn't go through, all MC members walk out of the Metropolitan Council.
#36 Anonymous on 2008-08-15 06:25
For those bishops hoping for respect and love from the Faithful, be assured it shall flow forth in abundance if the servant model of leadership, i.e. the Lord's, is followed.
#37 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-15 07:06
It's also a blast from our Orthodox past. Some thought St. Alexis Toth and his Carpatho-Rusyns should help fulfill Russia's settlement of Siberia at the time. That is, since they were really Carpatho-"Russians" and part of the Slavic peoples, then to Morther Russia they should go. Toth rightly believed a Carpatho-Rusyn could be Orthodox here in America. Mark is correct. One may be both. However, being Orthodox and American is not without its tensions.
#38 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2008-08-15 09:39
The only thing we agree on is Fr. Peter's reflection. We are all entitled to an opinion and I can say that I do not agree with your past expressions, assumtpions of ideas that you have posted on here in the past (but it your opinion as I have just given mine and I am sure you do not agree with men either...isn't America great!). Opinion are just that, but the truth shall prevail!
So PAL the only team we can be associated with is that of being Orthodox and being part of the OCA. sometimes I wonder if you really are part of the OCA. I think by indicating that +Herman and the HS are the ones stirring up trouble is not what I meant...look in the mirror PAL. So enjoy the Feast as I am...good luck and GOD Bless.
AJ...an supporter and enabler of +Herman and ALL of Holy Synod.
#39 Action Jackson on 2008-08-15 09:48
I certainly would hope so at this point that the MC is considering to remove Mt. Herman, where have you been? please read all of the past reflections on the proposal's that many priests have stuck their necks out into the line of fire to ask for just this action to be taken. I for one certainly think that the easy road is to retire him and not hold him responsible for the scandal.
Mt. Herman and Fr. Kondratic certainly did not act alone in all of these affairs, I was again reminded of this by several people the other evening, so many are deeply rooted into this intertwined mess that it will take an investigation into weeding out the perpertrators.
Why do you think its taken this long? Its called blameshifting, stonewalling, denial, and stalling tactics to not bring the truth forth.
You know for a fact that if we each are accountable for our own actions that we have a conscience that forces us to bring forth our mistakes and admit them, by word or deed and ask for forgiveness, ( this has not even taken place as of today.)
I certainly would not give my children money or a house to live comfortable in if they blew all of my savings on drugs, or a lavish lifestyle, let alone stealing from widows, and children. I don't agree with your proposals.
I certainly will pray for those who are my brothers and sisters if they have wronged me and others, but they first have to be removed and forced to begin the due process. I wish you a blessed evening.
#40 Marjorie on 2008-08-15 13:14
Powerful words from Fr. Moore.
What we must all recognize and we have failed to do this is that there is no concern for the Church by the Metropolitan and the Synod. It is there to serve them and protect them. They are men of inexpressable weakness who are guided not by the words of the Gospels and Scripture, but rather by their own fears and their own condemnations of their acts. Guilty consciences on display for all the world to see, all the world to mock, all the world to shake their heads at. Our bishops are a disgrace to put it mildly. Being a Christian is the toughest job there is, being in a position of leadership of Christians, magnitudes more difficult. It is disappointing that these men made it to their position, but not surprising. In a real Church, in a Church where men of faith and God were keeping watch and watching for the good order of the Church, these men would never have been chosen. We must realize that what we have here, the vote of confidence, the failure to call Herman on his actions, are because Herman, Kondratick and the entire cabal stacked the deck and chose the weakest amongst us. They did not call people of the level of Fr. Moore, or Fr. Reeves, they chose men of the likes of Fr. Mollard, and Fr. Liolin, and Fr. Benjamin. Men, who were chosen, not because they would go into the den of Lions and profess their faith and come out untouched, no, these men were chosen because they were weak, easy to be influenced, and malleable. They are men who need nurturing because of their weaknesses, not to be put into a position where they are the ones to nurture the spiritually needy.
Fr. Moore is dead on right, but its harder than he imagines. Its not that these men have to live up to their jobs, these men have to make themselves worthy of these jobs before they can come to the state where they can perform them effectively. It is the opinion of many that each member of the Synod either has had a hand in the malfeasance or has other skeletons in their closet that they can be intimidated and made to play the roles Herman requires. None, save one, has the spiritual confidence, spiritual maturity, to say “this is wrong, I will not be a party to it!” Simple words, powerful words, but, at this point in time, unutterable words from the mouths of our bishops. These are men who’s own insecurities are soothed by the role of honor and majesty that the malcontents put them into. Insecurities about one’s self are always soothed when people will bow down to you and ask your blessing and venerate your hand just because you are a bishop – something that people do as a matter of course, not because the respect has been earned.
There is a balance here between what the job requires and the emotional capacity of those that are in those jobs. We must realize that because these men do not follow the word of scripture, statutes, basic morality, and the word of God in a way that makes them upstanding members of the Church and society as a whole, they are guided by more base motivations. Embarrassment beyond our imaginations, jail, loss of all they have accumulated, disgrace, and removal from the only profession where they could find the emotional comfort they need to function. Each of these a spiritual abyss. A refusal to own up to what they have done and what they are. In other words, they never matured spiritually to the point where they were qualified, spiritually, for the role of a bishop. A maturity that as this scandal grows and spreads out to a fourth year, has shown them as deer caught in the spiritual headlights with no idea of what to do with the oncoming car that is this ever growing scandal. It’s a spiritual immaturity at its most basic level. This is the core of the problem that Fr. Moore is really addressing.
We must feel sorry for the likes of Nikon, Tikon, Benjamin, and the rest. The Metropolitan now and the one past, the Chancellor, and his minions, played these men like a piano because they knew their weaknesses, and it provided them with the cover to commit the acts they have committed. Still yet, and in a manner so blatant as to amaze us, these men are still yet being manipulated to play the Herman/Kondratick Concerto in nearly perfect harmony never missing a note. While they are not worthy of the jobs, it doesn’t make them bad men, they were inept and incompetent for what this job required, they don’t have the faith on a level necessary of a bishop. That doesn’t mean that they will not come around, but the prognosis doesn’t look good. Unfortunately for us, the immaturity they possess, the fears, insecurities, and self condemnations they suffer, will not allow them to come to the point where they can do what’s right. The emotional paralysis stunts the spiritual growth. It’s sad, but the realization we need to come to is that these men will never be part of the solution, but always part of and symbolic of the problems we have. They are not part of the solution as long as they do not mature spiritually – a maturation process we have dearly little time to wait upon. A maturation that should have been present before they were consecrated.
Last year, someone said “God, save us from our Bishops!”. Over a year later this has become more and more apparent as we meander through this scandal with a spiritually bankrupt Synod.
#41 Anonymous on 2008-08-15 14:23
The time for #1 is LONG past, the only option is #2. He's had every chance to do what's right, now he's got to face the consequences of his actions.
#42 Anonymous on 2008-08-15 14:25
I'm sure Scott is stunned and bewildered by your post.
Perhaps Inaction Jackson or Stonewall Jackson would be a better handle?
#43 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-15 14:31
There are two major concepts missing from this otherwise perceptive agenda.
First, there is no mention of Met. Herman's being held accountable to the Church, certainly, and to the IRS and the FBI, if necessary, for his personal financial affairs, much of which are of direct interest to the OCA.
Then there is the undeniable fact that Met. Herman is a VERY wealthy man. He needs absolutely nothing from the church he's pillaged for the last thirty or so years. Not a house, not insurance, not a thing.
But for his own salvation, and for the peace of the OCA, he needs to be held accountable.
#44 Monk James on 2008-08-15 18:01
Premise: Kingdom Living is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
Question: What is heresy?
Answer: Teaching a lie that spilts (dvides) the Body of Christ
Question: What is the most potent form of teaching?
Answer: Discipleship (teaching by exampe)
Question: What is hypocrisy?
Answer: Talking and presenting oneself in a certain way and living another way (splittng and dividing the person)
Question: What then is the greatest heresy?
Answer: Teaching by example a life of hypocrisy
Question: Who in the Church are the teachers?
Answer: the Shepherds
Question: What element of the Christian life has been emphasized in the OCA?
Answer: The essential element of the Christian life is joy and thanksgiving
Question: What has been taught by example in the OCA?
Answer: Living it up in a worldly manner as the expression of joy and thangsgiving, distorting the truth
Question: What is the fullness of Truth?
Answer: Righteous, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
Question: What is the result of living in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit?
Answer: Abundant living in Christ, the true witness to the world
Question: What is to be done when the teaching of Christ has been distorted?
Answer: Repent and find peace in righteous and joyful living in the Holy Spirit
The Lord said: My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, give I you, but my peace I give to you......., and the world will hate you (when you have this peace) , but fear not for I have overcome the world.
#45 Ever and anon. on 2008-08-16 07:38
"Sometimes I wonder if you really are part of the OCA." Let me set your mind at rest, Action. I'm a member of the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, Milwaukie, Oregon, where I serve on the Hospitality Committee and teach Jr. High Sunday School. Fr. Matthew Tate has the unenviable task of being my spiritual father. St. Seraphim of Sarov is my heavenly patron. I post with my real name. I'll be busy working the grill at our parish picnic tomorrow after Liturgy. (Y'all are welcome!) And now everybody here knows more about me than we know about you. Say, are YOU really a part of the OCA? Want to post some bio information like I just did? Or is it easier to be a bold enabler and supporter of His lamentable Beatitude as you continue hiding behind a pen name?
#46 Scott Walker on 2008-08-16 10:41
1. A motion of complete no competence in the Metropolitan.
--Best typo ever.
#47 Christopher on 2008-08-17 05:57
WERE YOU TALKING ABOUT THE 10% TROUBLE MAKERS? OR THIS "GOSSIP " WEBSITE THAT PUTS A NEGATIVE TWIST ON EVERYTHING? AND STOKOE AND JOB THINK THIS EVIL WEBSITE IS DOING THE WORK OF THE LORD? THESE PEOPLE ARE SICK!
#48 Anonymous on 2008-08-17 06:38
He and Kondratick will both be held accountable.
If Kondratick would just tell us what he knows about Herman it would make the process all the more easier. We weep at his complete lack of concern and help in this, our time of need, especially because we know of his unbounded love and work for the Church that he did before his dismissal in 2006 and his tireless work to resurrect the parish in Venice, FL. Because he does not care to help, maybe because he uses all his time in Venice parish, we have to go a long circuitous route to get to the point that you want us to get with Herman. It's going to take time, going to take time if we are so hobbled without Kondratick's help, but that's the situation he's left us in and we have to make due with his cooperation to this point. In order for us to vindicate Kondratick, who knows so much, he's making us work, but we want to vindicate him.
Unfortunately with just teases like the IRS and FBI need to be involved and that he’s very wealthy, we just don’t have any information that Herman has committed any crimes, although you say so. While we’re at it, let’s say we need to bring in the ATF and the DEA for good measure. Maybe there’s a reason for the INS and Homeland Security. Maybe the CIA needs to be involved. The authorities are not going to go enthusiastically to investigate alleged, unsubstantiated crimes, because Mr. James Silver conjures them up. We need evidence, we need proof, we need a lot more than sour grapes from a discredited non-monk who says he’s a monk. It’s about credibility and proof. Last we looked up our law books, wealth was not a crime. Like, ya know?
#49 Anonymous on 2008-08-18 09:13
One may not learn how to be a good bishop, but the very fact that they are a bishop means they are not supposed to fall in the evil corruption that our gang has fallen into. This is because they have been chosen by the Church to protect and guide her, to shield her from the evils that are all too willing to befall her. Because they are bishops they have been recognized as having a level of spirituality that is a notch above us, a notch which we should strive for. It shouldn’t be the other way around.
Time and again, we have not presented these guys with tough decisions in terms of what is right and moral. For most people, even the most non interested, but church going member, these decisions would have been cut and dry because the vast majority people are good and know the difference between right and wrong and know that the side we should be on is that of good and right and Godloving. There’s no gray, there’s no nuances, there’s no justifications for doing otherwise. Its not even something that requires special facets of Orthodoxy that others that are not Orthodox would not be able to know what the right decision in. In fact, our Roman Catholic brethren almost every week set an example for us in turning in embezzlers. How many times do people who write here and elsewhere put down our Roman brethren because of their theology? People, in the end, however, they know what is right, what is bad, and the proper decision on which way they need to go. Why have we not evolved to that simple level? I feel personal embarrassment for those that make statements against our Roman brethren over their theologies and then lie silent or support their own bishops who can’t do the right thing even if a great multitude spell it out to them. I truly feel embarrassed.
The law laid down from God via Moses and that by Christ Himself are not tough laws to understand. They are few in number, worded simply. They are not the canons for which there are canonical experts, many of whom contribute here and elsewhere. The laws are simple, for instance, thou shalt not steal. It makes us wonder what part of “Not” our Synod does not understand in that commandment. Our Synod not only doesn't act upon these acts of theft with even an initial "That was wrong, a fundamental law of our Church was broken", but they become complicit in it and cover it up and deny anything happened. No, it doesn’t take the most wise of men to be bishops to do what is right in that case. Why, a little child can tell you that to steal is wrong. Imagine that, a bishop of 40 years cannot come to the same cut and dry conclusion that a little kid approaching his first confession easily comes to. To say its tough to be a good bishop is allowing a cop out that these guys will too easily use. No, we’re not looking for even good bishops, we’re looking for bishops that can understand and act under the minimal Christian law. It’s THAT simple and they cannot do it. It’s a REAL TRAGEDY. And they put themselves out there, shamelessly, for all the world to see. Its’a real tragedy.
So, its not difficult, it requires selflessness, it requires integrity, it requires character, it requires putting something greater than yourself above yourself. That last one, my friends, is difficult to master. Failure to do be able to do the MINIMAL requirements for a good Christian life is tragic, but our bishops are examples of it and continue to ride the low road come hell or high water. It leaves us thinking that the only reason they cannot bring themselves to these simple Christian decisions is because they are very much a part of what went on and fear not God, but fear accountability here on earth. There is no other reason to explain their behaviors.
#50 Anonymous on 2008-08-18 16:57
First of all, thank you to all who commented, especially all those brave enough to put their names to their words. Some clarifications:
The catechumen converting - mutual decision. He's ready to be Orthodox, not necessarily ready to be OCA.
I do speak of the scandal in sermons, bulletins and open forums, so my parishioners are aware of it. What many of them are not aware of is the vitriol in many anonymous comments.
Metropolitan Herman's resignation: you have to understand what Fr, then Bishop-Elect, then Bishop Herman meant to St. Tikhon's in the early 1970's. I remember the night it was announced he had been elected bishop - all the students and staff lined up to receive his blessing - a moment filled with what I honestly thought was humble pride. I have disagreed with Met Herman for 35 years, but I've also loved him for 35 years. As a spiritual father he's disappointed me at times; as a spiritual son I'm sure I've disappointed him at times. All that being said, his apparently needful (and probably deserved) resignation is most likely approaching. In my heart and in my deepest irrational thoughts, I pray that fate can be avoided; I just don't believe it will without a major change of heart and direction from him.
BECAUSE YOU TALK GOSSIP WITH NO FACTS! WHY DONT YOU WORRY MORE ABOUT YOU OWN CHURCH! OR IS IT ALSO A FAILURE? DO YOU TELL YOUR PEOPLE IN CHURCH TO READ YOUR SERMON ON THE WEBSITE? I CAN SEE YOUR CHURCH "IS STOKOE GOSSIP WEBSITE"! I DONT THINK I WOULD TELL ANYONE YOUR A PRIEST! YOU MAKE THE OTHER GOOD PRIEST LOOK BAD!
#52 Anonymous on 2008-08-19 17:26
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