April 18, 2014

A Priest Needs Our Help

Fr. John Peck

Fr. John Peck was unceremoniously thrown out of his parish some months back for no justifiable reason. This is a blight in our Orthodox Church and happens more often than many people realize. Sooner or later this problem must be addressed. Priests with families should not have to suffer this kind of arbitrary abuse.

It causes considerable hardship on the priest and his family especially if no severance or other help is offered (Fr. John received no severance). Keep in mind that a priest not only loses his income, but also insurance and any other benefit that goes along with the salary.

In order to make ends meet, Fr. John designs websites for Logos Web Services (we are partners), writes books and articles, serves as a substitute when openings are available, and other jobs. Presently he is between assignments and has no reliable income. Most people don’t realize that the Church does not offer any help to priests in this predicament.

Currently business is slow. Also, his truck just broke down ($1500 to repair it). His cash reserves are near empty and he needs some temporary help. I did not ask Fr. John’s permission to post this appeal because he would have told me not to do it. But he is a valued friend and if I had the money he needed I would give it. But I don’t have it. Hence this appeal.

Please help if you can. You can make your donation directly to Fr. John through my PayPal account below. I will make sure he gets your donation and ask him to acknowledge it by email so that you can be assured that he received it. Unfortunately the donations are not tax-deductible.

Or you can send a check directly to Fr. John Peck at: 3825 W Anthem Way #1148, Anthem, AZ 85086.





Comments

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    David Lindblom says:

    It might be helpful to give some info concerning the loss of his parish.

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      Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says:

      Agreed! Father John Peck is an impressive person – intellectually & practically. Many, including myself, would likely contribute financially if some context were provided that illuminated the circumstances of his “unceremonious” removal.

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    Brian Van Sickle says:

    Given the ruthlessness that usually surrounds such things, something tells me Fr. Peck would be better served if this question were left unanswered.

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    Chuck says:

    I don’t fully understand… There are many parishes in the OCA that need a priest. I can think of a good parish in Tempe Arizona that would love to have and support a full-time priest. Sometimes we need to go where the Holy Spirit sends us. It may not be the place we would want to go but sometimes it is to learn something. The “Orthodox Way” is often not the way we would want but what the Holy Spirit directs.

    Father John is an intelligent and wonderful man. I cannot see why parishes would not be knocking on his door. I know things may not look so bright right now but I just know in my heart that there is another step along his journey that will take him to a good place. My prayers are with Father John, his journey is not ended, it just began.

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      Juliana says:

      Fr Johannes,
      Can parishes come knock on a priest’s door? I thought the bishop assigns the priest to the parish. I was under the impression that the diocese decides the priest’s salary and supplements it if the parish doesn’t have enough funds. Is that true or does that depend upon the archdiocese?

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Juliana, the bishop assigns the priest, but it is a bit more complicated than just sending a priest here and there. Priests have their gifts, personalities, shortcomings and so forth, and so do parishes. One priest might do well in one parish but not another. Some parishes are very hard to serve and so they have difficulty finding priests because no priest will go there.

        So, when a priest is looking for a parish the bishop may consider where he best fits. Sometimes a parish needs a priest, and the bishop may ask a viable priest if he wants to move. The decision in those cases is the priest’s. Sometimes parishes know of a priest who would be a good fit, do some back channel questioning, and then approach the bishop with the request. The bishop might agree and accede to the request.

        The diocese has guidelines for the salaries, but ultimately the parish decides. And no, if the parish does not meet the guidelines, the priest’s salary is not subsidized by the diocese.

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    macedonianreader says:

    If we want answers we need to look up.

    And also we need to come to the current terms in Orthodoxy in general. The Orthodox Church suffers from the lack of capable Bishops.

    There is complete administrative unaccountability and lack of compassion. This isn’t just the OCA. It’s the entire Church.

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    James the Thickheaded says:

    Ah… and if the premise hold that only the worthy are granted mercy… then I don’t know about you guys, but I’m in deep trouble. And FWIW there’s even something wonderful in an unworthy priest… I think there’s even something said at the altar about this every Sunday… though perhaps we don’t hear it or listen… or more likely, think it might actually apply.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    No, no details. It will only open up a Pandora’s box of speculation and there is no profit in that. The man is blameless though. What I will say is that Fr. John is not the first. I know other priests who were unceremoniously thrown out.

    And James the Thickheaded is right too. I’ve helped priests who had some culpability in their removal but they were still in need. When it looks like a man can’t pay the rent, buy gas or food for his kids (yup, there was a priest who was forced into this position too; he did nothing except anger a few controlling people in his parish), you help him out as he gets himself back on his feet. That is all there is to it.

    Chuck, what you say is true but it is also abstract. Forced removal is a tremendous upheaval emotionally, financially, and spiritually, especially when the reasons are weak or contrived. Children have to switch schools, the expenses of moving can run into hundreds of dollars minimum (truck rental, phone connection charges, etc.), landlords and leases come into play, and so forth. It can take years to recover, and sometimes what is lost is often lost for good (stability, friendships, and so forth). The scripture says “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” but unfortunately given the way we sometimes treat our priests confusion is the only result, especially for the priest’s family.

    And as far as going to another parish, a lot depends on what they are willing to pay. Some parishes pay a good amount less that what an average parishioner makes. Parishes might be open, but if they are unwilling to pony up the funds necessary to pay their priest a standard middle class salary, then they can’t really afford a priest. Some priests might accept the underpayment. Others won’t, but there is no dishonor in saying no especially when the cost to the family is taken into consideration.

    Another problem is that there is no court of appeal. There is no real way the decision for removal can be examined and adjudicated properly.

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      Chuck says:

      Giving is down throughout all the Orthodox Churches. The priesthood is a sacrament and not a business however I do understand that is necessary for a priest to take care of his family first. The priest that do pick up a side job to supplement their income seem divided between their job and their spiritual calling. I won’t judge Father for looking into those needs but in the mean time I hope he is able to practice his priesthood even if it is only with his family. It is a true calling on his life and a priest without liturgy is like a fish out of water.

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    macedonianreader says:

    Fr. Johannes all this paints a pretty frightening picture. Especially the part priest’s being potentially ‘banished’ by people in his parish. As a result I see Priest’s minding their P & Q’s and not speaking up on important issues (especially when time calls to) out of fear of being kicked to the curb with their families.

    Again, at least for me, this brings up the character of our Bishops.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      In Fr. John’s case it was not the people. They loved him. I have seen though where a handful of people can force a priest out, all too often unfortunately.

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    macedonianreader says:

    I think it helps that each parish should already have a bought/paid off home for a priest that a priest and a family could live free of charge. Then the priest should be given a choice depending on his or his family’s financial strength to live there until retirement or until he is able to save up enough for a healthy loan or at least to save up enough for a healthy emergency fund.

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      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      Parish homes are doubled-edged sword. Usually a portion is deducted from the priest’s pay for the home so it amounts to a kind of forced rental. Also, he doesn’t have the benefit of appreciation of his investment. When he leaves he is left with nothing. This is not as important as it used to be since the collapse of the housing market of course, but I still think the priest should have the option of choosing where he wants to live.

      Also, there is a privacy issue. If the parish owns the house, people in the parish feel they have a claim to it. They “bought” it after all, not the priest. It lends to all sorts of problems, especially when repairs have to be made that are off budget.

      Overall it is better that the salary be enough so that the priest can take care of his own housing.

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