July 23, 2014

The “Myth” of Unity: A Response to a 2009 Address Given at St Vladimir’s Seminary

George Michalopulos, prolific contributor to the Orthodox blog, essayist, and keen critic of Orthodox culture and politics wrote an essay challenging some of the conclusions offered by Matthew Namee at the Symposium on Orthodox Unity held at St. Vladimir Seminary on June, 20, 2009. Read his abstract below. The full article can be found on Orthodoxy Today. Read it, then return here for discussion.

By George Michalopulos

ABSTRACT: Last year, a symposium entitled The Council and the Tomos: 20th Century Landmarks Towards a 21st Century Church, was held at St Vladimir’s Seminary (Crestwood, June 18-20, 2009). One of the speakers, Matthew Namee, presented an expanded version of a paper he delivered the previous year at the Orthodox Theological Society in America. His paper was titled, “The Myth of Unity and the Origins of Jurisdictional Pluralism in North America.” Namee expanded an earlier thesis to argue that the story of the Russian Mission and the implicit unity it fostered in the early years of the Orthodox presence in America was largely mythical. Rather, the history is one of jurisdictional rivalry and division from which we can draw little or no guidance for our present situation or the future. Namee implicitly issued a challenge: Which historical narrative that describes the Orthodoxy presence in America is correct? Is it the Russian Mission narrative which prescribes a Church guided by the Orthodox missionary imperative? Or is it the narrative of ethnic protection that has little interest in engaging American society and culture? The resolution of this question will impact the future of Orthodoxy in America. Will American Orthodoxy become a local church in the canonical tradition of mission-minded Orthodoxy, or will it remain divided by ethnic interests, essentially a Balkanized entity subject to overseas leadership and political interests? What follows is my response.

Read the entire essay on OrthodoxyToday.org.

Comments

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    Fr. Andrew says:

    Namee’s thesis is that there was never a “golden age” of administrative unity and thus the primatial claims of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) — which is the direct descendant of the original Russian missionary diocese — are invalid.

    This is a complete misreading of Matthew’s thesis, starting with “and thus.”

    George seems to want everything to be about what “ought” to be and what “ought” to have been, who had the “right” and who can make the “claims,” but that’s not what the paper (which at SVS was limited to a 45-minute slot and will be later published in a much fuller form, by the way) was about at all. Matthew was simply describing what the situation actually on the ground was. He did not make any claims from that about who was right, wrong, etc., or who should be in charge today, etc.

    The paper is not about current ecclesiastical politics, the OCA and its autocephaly, etc. It’s about who the actual Orthodox of that period in America actually acknowledged as their authority. Whether they were right or wrong is another matter.

    I think one of my favorite sayings here bears some repeating: When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

    I mean no offense at all to George, but if this is also an attempt to sell more copies of his own book, readers may find this review of some note. I pretty much agree with that review, especially regarding the book’s choices and handling of sources.

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    Scott Pennington says:

    “The book is not wholly devoid of any positive traits. It does discuss many of the key events in American Orthodox history, and generally, its basic facts are sound . . . I offer this book review to encourage readers to keep in mind that Mr. Michalopulos has consistently written about these issues in a manner that reflects no first hand familiarity with primary sources, and reflects what seems to be an ideological motivation to promote the OCA myth.”

    -from the review at Ochlophobist mentioned by Fr. Andrew above

    First, Bravo, George! There are always minor points to quibble about in any such serious endeavor as you have undertaken; however, you have provided an invaluable collection of facts and commentary on context for anyone interested in this subject.

    As to the review of Ochlophobist, his problem does not seem to be with your facts (you yourself state that, by and large, the facts are not in dispute). He is concerned with your support of the OCA claims regarding its inheritance of the authority of the earlier Russian Archdiocese and, apparently, for some reason, with the fact that you primarily rely on secondary sources (whose “basic facts are sound”). Describing the OCA’s claims as the “OCA myth” might convey a sense of the level of dispassion with which he evaluates your work.

    I am very glad that there are those who are taking up the challenge to refute the emerging “unity myth” myth. I’m sure you are right that how one views the degree of unity in pre-Bolshevik Revolution North America mostly stems from the prism through which one chooses to look. However, as you state emphatically and repeatedly, the choice of prism has consequences for church governance today.

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    Fr. Andrew says:

    As an addendum—

    This topic was in essence addressed nearly a year ago on the OrthodoxHistory.org site in this piece: Debates on unity: three issues. This is important in that it outlines what exactly is under discussion. The paper that George is (not really) responding to is about #1. George’s response is about #2 and #3, which are not the same as #1.

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    Isa Almisry says:

    Well, “thus” might be misleading in suggesting that Namee is arguing his case for the Phanar. He’s not, says he’s not, disclaims that he is not. That being said, as the English say, “In for a penny, in for a pound,” and the Germans “Who says A, must say B.” Namee’s thesis that there wasn’t a golden age of administrative unity does have consequences, if true. I think George hit that nail on its head:

    The quarrel therefore is not with the facts, but with the interpretation of these facts. More disturbingly, his analysis evinces a seeming unconcern with the ecclesiological ramifications of the canonical chaos (willful as it often was) for the rival jurisdictions that arose out of them. It is my contention that the original thesis, that is to say, the primacy of the Russian Mission and its internal administrative unity still stands. Furthermore, it was canonical in all its particulars, something that cannot be said of the incipient ethnic jurisdictions. Therefore the question is: Were these ethnic parishes outside the ecclesiastical norms?

    Now to ask about the canonicity of these ethnic parishes may fall under the rubric “to want everything to be about what “ought” to be and what “ought” to have been, who had the “right” and who can make the “claims,” but that desire constitutes “the situation on the ground.” The fact that Honcharenko arrived in America with neither canonical release (nor it seems ordination as a priest) and, after meandering among the ethnic communities-not-yet parishes (a status Holy Trinity of New Orleans did not yet achieve: the Church i.e. bishops make parishes in the Orthodox Church, not layman, even consuls, and it was not even incorporated it seems untl the 20th century. It does, however count as an Orthodox community, and HT can in reality state it dates back to the 1860′s), came to demand an antimens (without which, I am sure you know Father, no parish can exist, no DL celebrated) from the Russian Cathedral of SF only reinforces the primacy of the internal administrative unity of the Russian mission and undermines the undue recognition to chaos. We are not Protestants, and the Orthodox Church is not congregationalist.

    Case in point: NYC. Clear across the continent from AK, and even SF. And yet Russia opens up a chapel (which, as a recent post on orthodoxhisotry.org says
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2010/06/the-mysterious-roots-of-orthodoxy-in-canada/
    may have been instrumental in the introduction of Orthodox (with its canonical order) in Canada. It was not placed under the bishop of AK (btw, whose status was upgraded to a full diocese, bearing the American, not the Russian, name of the territory), whose predecessor, the auxhiary bishop to Kamchatka of Novoarkhangelsk/Sitka, nonetheless consecrated it on his way back to Russia. There may be a variety of reasons for that, including the suggestion of its former primate/then Met. Moscow and member of the Holy Governing Synod St. Innocent, that the mission be placed under the Baltic episcopacy, given that Alaska was now detached from Russia and would be no longer attached to the bishops of Siberia. There was also the issue of the relations with the Episcopalians, and the chapel may have been intended as a metochia, as the Episopalians looked with alarm at the arrival of the Russian bishop in San Francisco
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/11/the-new-york-plan-of-1866/
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/11/episcopalians-orthodox-claims-in-america-1862/
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/11/the-extent-of-the-russian-diocese-in-the-19th-century/
    and had the correspondance between the Episcopalian Church-USA and the Orthodox Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and the Holy Governing Synods of Russia (and IIRC Greece) are reported 1870-3 (the importance of that date in a minute), where the activity of the Russian Mission, and more importantly its bishop, in North America are discussed. Be that as it may, since union was never achieved, the chapel never became a metochion. But it did establish, by default, Russian jurisdiction, a jurisdiction, as Namee himself has discovered, (see links above, and
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/10/three-bishops-for-america-in-1870/
    was planned even before the sale of Alaska to include all North America with sees in NYC, New Orleans and SF in addition to AK. It would seem that they intended to stay, as New York state deputised the Russian ambassador and consul as trustees of all Orthodox Churches/parishes incorporated in the state in 1871
    http://books.google.com/books?id=QRuxAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA14&dq=Laws+of+the+state+of+New+York+Passed+January+31,+1871&lr=#v=onepage&q=Laws%20of%20the%20state%20of%20New%20York%20Passed%20January%2031%2C%201871&f=false
    Clearly New York State saw no jurisdictional disunity. As I posted in message 6 of the “three-bishops-for-america-in-1870″ link above, Fr. Bjerring’s activities on the Eastern Seaboard were well known to both the Greek and Ottomona diplomatic core, having married the Greek ambassador in his chapale in 1870 (with the attendance of Demtrios Botassi,Greek consul and son-in-law of Nicholas Benachi, and with him fellow founder of HT Church in New Orleans) and aiding the Ottoman commmissioners to the American Centennial in getting a funding request to Pres. Grant. It would seem the state and ecclesiastical authorities of Athens and Constantinople knew of him. That didn’t change when the chapel was closed in 1883 and Fr. Bjerring apostacized: the Holy Governing Synod had erected a see in AK after only 2 years of the mission, a see that its only bishop never occupied, and waited 12 years to close it, only to erect another 29 years later which exists to this day and went on to become the primate of North America. Within 12 years of the closing of Bejerring’s chapel, the Russian bishop had consecrated both St. Nicholas cathedrals at NYC, one which became the primates cathedral a few years later, and the other which served as the cathedral of the Syrian mission, i.e. the Arab Diocese, the origin on the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

    Which brings me to the central date of this question of jurisdiction of North America:March 13, 1904. On that date the Russian Holy Governing Synod exercised its right and jurisdiction in North America per canon VIII of Ephesus to consecrate St. Raphael Hawaweeny, the first Orthodox consecration in the New World, retaining jurisdiction of a territory they had ruled peacebly, as per canon XVII of Chalcedon. As Namee points out, the Greeks at the time realized the implications, as the contemporary sources on the situation on the ground shows:
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/07/st-raphaels-consecration/

    Now, ignoring the existence of an Archdiocese which one knows to be functioning in a territory might be costrued as a protest, but it can hardly count as pleading a cause, and by 1904 the Greek Church had know of the Russian episcopacy in North America over thiry years (the statute-or canon-of limitations), as the correspondence between the Greek Church, American Episcopalians and Russians (in Russia and North America) of the 1860s and 1870′s shows. As it was, the Greek episcopate didn’t take canonical notice of North America it seems until 1907, the planning synod of what ended up in the issuance of the infamous Tomos of 1908, where Constantinople committed acts it anathematized in its Synod of 1872, giving Churches it neither owned nor founded to the Church of Greece, which was, given the situation on the ground, in no position to oversee them. And that situation on the ground was that the congregations which refused to acknowledge the authority of the Russian Bishop did not acknowledge any authority but their own (meaning the trusttees): Meletios and Alexander (both deposed at the time) found that out as they tried to organize the Greeks of North America, a task not accomplished until the 1930 under Archb. Athenagoras of blessed memory. Hence why after St. Raphael’s consecration what became the Cathedra of the Exarch of Constantinople incorporated itself as “The The Hellenic Eastern Orthodox Church of New York,” a church in no Orthodox diptych, to legally (and officially) distinguish it from not only the Church of Russia, but also the Church of Greece.
    http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA2120&dq=%22constantine%20g.%20vlachos%22&id=vymxAAAAIAAJ&as_brr=1&output=text
    (btw, the incorporation was void on its face as unconstitutional). As I’ve pointed out, the situation on the ground was and is that
    We have not such thing in the Orthodox Church as free lance parishes: parishes only exist in Dioceses, Dioceses only exist with a bishop, bishops exist only in synods, synods only exist with primates who are commemorated by their co-equals in the dipytchs. Seeking legal recourse to the secular authority (something strictly forbidden by canons IV and VI of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea I and XII of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, stating that a bishop must be deposed for mere attempt ) to take Holy Trinity out of administration of the Orthdoox Church, makes a nice Protestant parish, but not an Orthodox one.
    http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,22981.msg374475/topicseen.html#msg374475
    But to get back to the original objection to George’s focus on “current ecclesiastical politics, the OCA and its autocephaly”: they are not without relevance, as Namee admits in his treatment of the New Smyrna Colony and the GOA tooting of it as “our Plymouth Rock,” and posted as the root on the GOA’s website:

    …to say that this place is a landmark for American Orthodox history is misleading. The New Smyrnans did not have an Orthodox priest. They didn’t start an Orthodox parish. Their descendants didn’t go on to make a mark on the later history of Orthodoxy (or Hellenism) in America. The colony is an interesting story, and when that story is told well, it can be riveting. But as far as American Orthodox history goes, it’s largely irrelevant. It can’t be even remotely compared with the Russian fur traders in Alaska, since those traders kept their Orthodox faith, converted native Alaskans, and directly laid the groundwork for future Alaskan Orthodoxy. The New Smyrna Greeks didn’t lay the groundwork for Orthodoxy in America. They are people who happened to be Orthodox.
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/12/greeks-in-florida-1768/#comments
    As my posted comment and source shows, they weren’t (except for a Demetrios Fundulakis) even that. As Namee sums up “I say that New Smyrna means next to nothing for American Orthodox history…New Smyrna, while interesting, is not a significant landmark in American Orthodox history” (adding “I don’t mean to disparage Greek Americans, the Greek Archdiocese, or the St. Photios Shrine, which I would love to visit one day.” I’ve been, btw, twice to New Smyrna and St. Augustine and recommend the trip). The independent parishes on which Namee is basing his narrative led to nowhere but results that the Russian Archdiocese, the Metropolia, OCA, Chief Secretary Elpidophoros and Chambesy (and Ligonier) are unanimous in decrying. Simply put, the Russian Mission had what Chambesy calls for, internal administrative unity canonical in all its particulars. If that is achieved in North America, it will come from the ongoing and continous influence of that Russian Mission, as the heritage of oxymoronic Orthodox congregationalists is a burden which, as Met. Philip warned, if we do “not bury [such] burdens of the past between certain autocephalous churches, such burdens will bury us, and Orthodoxy in this country and throughout the world will become an insignificant dot on the margin of history.”

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    Scott Pennington says:

    The way to refute what George is saying, if one is interested in doing that, is to argue regarding the accuracy of the facts he asserts as to issue #1 in the Debates on Unity. I will be looking forward to that and I assume there will be those who take issue with the facts he presents.

    What should have been and what should be today are questions of canon law that depend on what actually was. What actually will happen in the near future, we may all trust, will have little to do with any of the above.

    George actually does respond to #1 in a fashion. He takes issue with those facts omitted or glossed over in the original piece and asks why. So the way to counter what George is saying is to address the facts he presents. Did they occur? Is he misrepresenting them or their significance?

    I have no doubt that George is an apologist for the OCA’s claims. I have no doubt that he is not a dispassionate evaluator of the facts. But that does not mean that he is inaccurate in what he states the facts to be.

    What would lead me to believe that George is right in both his facts and his evaluation of them (with some exceptions which aren’t really material) is if the “Myth of Unity” proponents criticized him on some basis other than factual accuracy or widely accepted canonical norms. If a critic believes that George did not examine enough of the primary sources, then the way to persuasively refute what he says is to state explicitly how the primary sources differ in their factual witness from what he asserts. To say he doesn’t include enough primary sources does not, in itself, demonstrate anything. To suggest that he carries water for the OCA is obvious. He believes in the OCA’s asserted version of events, or at least substantially so. That is not a negative reflection on him at all.

    Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Everyone is not entitled to their own facts.

    What has annoyed me somewhat in the past about the “Myth of Unity” proponents is that they create a straw man. There may be those writers out there who have asserted that there was complete jurisdictional unity in North America without exception before the Bolshevik Revolution, or 1908, or whatever date. I have never read such an assertion though. What I have seen are generalizations not seeking to be utterly precise. One can argue against the propriety of making such statements but it would be hard to write history without doing so.

    The facts seem to be that there was considerable jurisdictional unity under the Church of Russia with occasional fractures and repairs (which are utterly normal in Orthodoxy) with the exception of the Greeks who, to a greater or lesser extent, sometimes acknowledged Russian jurisdiction and sometimes behaved in a chaotic, xenophobic and/or congregationalist manner.

    If the above protrait is accurate, and really I haven’t heard anything on either side of the debate to substantially refute it, then the whole question, though admittedly subjective, can be seen quite plausibly as George states. In fact, his may be the most rational way of looking at the facts.

    In the end, however, the debate is mostly academic. The question of the Church’s status in North America will be decided along the lines of power politics. Debates on the historical background will only serve as canon fodder in the public propaganda conflict. If it was a question of persuading the faithful here who would vote on the result, then it might be highly significant. However, I doubt the historical question will have much impact on the final result as decided by the bishops. Maybe it should but, looking at the recent record of Orthodox activity in North America, “should” has very little to do with it.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Fr. Andrew, here is point #1:

    The Historical Question: What was (it like?)

    Some, including myself and Fr Oliver Herbel, have made the argument that early American Orthodoxy was not administratively united. This is simply an expression of the reality on the ground, so to speak. The once-common (but increasingly rare) claim that all Orthodox in America were members of the Russian Mission prior to the foundation of the Greek Archdiocese in 1921 is simply untrue. Rather, all the evidence points to a chaotic, confusing administrative situation well before that.

    I should also note that the only way to answer this question is to delve into the sources. One must engage historical evidence to be able to answer the question, “What was it like?”

    It seems to me that this is precisely what George Michalopulos is doing. Granted, Michalopulos’ paper is written as a response to the Matthew Namee presentation, just as your citing of the Ochlophobist review is a response to Michalopulos. Michalopulos started the discussion with his book, Namee (and SOCHA) respond, Michalopulos responds again, and so forth. Both authors are reasonably familiar with the sources, and thus the discussion of historiography (the narrative in which the data is coherently assembled) begins. That is how history is done and we continue until we are reasonably clear about which reading of history is the most accurate.

    To put it more simply, the assertion “Rather, all the evidence points to a chaotic, confusing administrative situation well before that” still needs to be proved. I have no problem with Namee (and SOCHA) making it, but is it true? Namee says yes, Michalopulos says no. It’s an important question because narrative shapes self-identity, and self-identity shapes the future.

    One other point. In the three point post you cited, Namee wrote:

    Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it is only somewhat “historical.” More significant are the canonical presuppositions that underlie the argument. Is it in fact true that the first Church to “plant its flag” on a piece of land “gets” that entire land, from a canonical standpoint? Or is it true that the Ecumenical Patriarch has authority over all “new territories”?

    I’m not a canonist, but for what it’s worth, my own answer is, “Neither.” I would argue that America presents an entirely new situation for Orthodoxy, and one for which there is very little guidance in the canons. Our corpus of canon law was mostly set down in the Byzantine era, a time when the world was smaller and the Church was very closely aligned with the State. It doesn’t seem to me that church leaders in the fourth or the fourteenth centuries were thinking about an entirely undiscovered hemisphere and how it would be governed. Because America presents a new problem for Orthodoxy, I believe we need to come to a new consensus, and possibly produce new canons to ensure that Orthodox ecclesiology is preserved in this unusual situation. The recent meetings in Chambesy are an extremely positive step in this regard.

    In any event, this is a matter less for historians than for canon lawyers.

    Not really accurate I think. If the American situation was so unique that the established norms could not address it, a point Michalopulos also made in reference to St. Tikhon’s administration (different context but same idea):

    Is it possible that Tikhon’s putative ethnic diocesan model was so novel that it could not be squared with traditional Orthodox ecclesiology?

    …then it doesn’t follow that the question should fall to canon lawyers since canon law was also shaped by the same Byzantine ethos. (I’m not arguing that the Byzantine tradition should be jettisoned, only that the logic doesn’t work.) Rather, when law is incapable of providing redress, you go back to the basics, in all cases narrative, and in this particular case the historical narrative. History occupies an exalted position, just one level below literature. It seems that in this discussion we are finding our way back to that foundational precept and I welcome it.

    (My point about narrative is also confirmed by Constantinople. The rewriting of Canon 28, the universalizing of the Phanoriot policy into an apologetic of global Hellenism that absorbs both classical and Byzantine history, the mythology of Mother Church, etc. is also an attempt to posit a historical narrative, in this case one that seeks to explain and thus incorporate the American future. That’s where we are today: In a period of tremendous opportunity that may unleash unseen levels pf creativity but also fraught with some danger. The next decade of Orthodoxy in America is critical in my opinion, and will shape the half-century that follows it.)

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      Fr. Andrew says:

      What’s fundamentally wrong with the latest piece from GM published is that it responds to something that isn’t being said in the original piece. Nowhere does Matthew Namee ever even hint that “the primatial claims of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) — which is the direct descendant of the original Russian missionary diocese — are invalid.” If someone can show me where such a thing was actually asserted, I’ll gladly concede this point. (Even aside from that, I’m having a hard time finding where, exactly, the OCA is even making such “primatial claims” any more.)

      The problem here is a fundamental unwillingness actually to listen or read what is being said, the assumption that everything must be political, that showing what the known facts actually show must necessarily mean taking a particular side in modern ecclesiastical politics. That’s just rubbish.

      All of this strikes me as being borne out of a fear that the tidy, mythological reading of American Orthodox history is finally coming to an end, and that perhaps those who see that won’t any time soon be cashing in all their chips and just handing them to the myth-makers.

      If we’re going to have any sort of unity which takes our history into account, wouldn’t it be better if we actually talked about the truth, rather than what we’d prefer the truth to have been? Even just practically speaking, is anyone under the delusion that the vast majority of the Orthodox Christians in America and their leadership are going to wake up one day and say, “By golly! That GM is right! We’ve been uncanonical all along! Sign over all our parishes to the descendant of the Russian archdiocese immediately!” (Followed immediately by: “Wait… which of the three descendants should we pick?”)

      Really, now. All this jingoistic cheering for one’s favorite jurisdiction gets tiresome after a while. From what seems to be coming with the Episcopal Assembly, I suspect that even our leaders have given up on it, too, in favor of looking one another in the eye, seeing Orthodoxy, and then getting on with the business of figuring out how we live with each other.

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        Isa Almisry says:

        Even just practically speaking, is anyone under the delusion that the vast majority of the Orthodox Christians in America and their leadership are going to wake up one day and say, “By golly! That GM is right! We’ve been uncanonical all along! Sign over all our parishes to the descendant of the Russian archdiocese immediately!” (Followed immediately by: “Wait… which of the three descendants should we pick?”)

        Strickly speaking, if one wanted to argue it, there are at least 4 descendants, or more.

        But I’m afraid Father that you have tipped your hand on this: since the issuance of the Tomos of 1970 and the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion, that’s not an issue: the OCA gets exclusive claims to the mantle of St. Tikhon.

        The jurisdictional disunity in the Mother Churches (and each and every one had it 1794 well into the 20th century. Some, including Constantinople and the Church of Greece, have it today) did not invalidate their integrity as a local Autocephalous Church. There is no reason why that principle should apply to North America as well.

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          Fr. Andrew says:

          But I’m afraid Father that you have tipped your hand on this: since the issuance of the Tomos of 1970 and the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion, that’s not an issue: the OCA gets exclusive claims to the mantle of St. Tikhon.

          Says who? The ROCOR? The MP? If so, I’m missing the part where all the parishes have been signed over.

          Anyway, as for my “hand” being tipped, let me go ahead and show you all my cards: I want a united, locally independent Orthodox church for the United States. I don’t think there is any way it can be formed by pressing “claims” from any party. Even if that were the “right” way to go (and I remain entirely unconvinced that it is), I don’t believe that such a path will actually result in a united church.

          I also believe that the EA may well be the way to get where we need to go, and that what emerges will not be based on any “claims” other than the mutual claim of all the bishops present, being local pastors, to be the Orthodox Church of America. I have no idea how long this process will take. I hope it takes a long time, so that it will be stable and settled.

          I also can see a potentially dark outcome: a united, independent (or temporarily semi-independent) church formed from the gradual processes of the EA and including the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in America, paralleled by a highly ideological, small, schismatic body insisting on being the “American Orthodox Church” and built instead upon claims of “rights,” etc.

          To be honest, though, even the OCA doesn’t seem to be choosing the latter option at the moment, so I’m not sure where the ideologues would get bishops to lead them. (Maybe someone interesting could be brought out of “retirement.”)

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            Isa Almisry says:

            But I’m afraid Father that you have tipped your hand on this: since the issuance of the Tomos of 1970 and the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion, that’s not an issue: the OCA gets exclusive claims to the mantle of St. Tikhon.

            Says who? The ROCOR? The MP? If so, I’m missing the part where all the parishes have been signed over.

            I missed where Patriarch Kyril claimed to depose Met. Jonah over parishes/dioceses in the latter’s country, as EP Bartholomew did (or claimed to do) a few years back to the Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos. ROCOR is a global concern, and doesn’t limit herself to North America, tracing its history to Karlovsky, not the All American Sobor of Mayfield. If Met. Hilarion is claiming to succeed St. Tikhon in North America, I’ve never seen the claim. Pat. Kyril does succeed St. Tikhon, but as Patriarch of Moscow, not Archbishop of North America, and Archb. Justinian is prevented by the Tomos to so claim. That leaves Met. Jonah.

            It would be nice if the united autocephalous/autonomous/dependent Church of America would come about without the pressing of claims and politics, but that would be a first in two thousand years of Orthodoxy. What Constantinople says about Moscow now, Old Rome said about Constantinople way back when at Chalcedon. Jerusalem, which didn’t need, or shouldn’t have needed claims and politics to be elevated to a patriarchate, did: Pat. Juvenaly of Jerusalem could teach Met./Archb/EP/Pope Meletius a thing or two about williness. Such is the situation on the ground.

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      Fr. Andrew says:

      Both authors are reasonably familiar with the sources…

      Father, to be honest, I really am not convinced that GM is actually familiar with the sources. There’s no evidence in his writing that he’s plowed through archives, newspapers, etc., to see what there really is to see. Indeed, most of it seems to be things he’s read in secondary and tertiary sources on the Internet. (There was one point last year where he even claimed that encyclopedias were better than primary sources!) The sheer number of webpage URLs in the bibliography of his book is pretty staggering.

      No, it seems to me that the most basic expectations of historical integrity have not even been met.

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        Scott Pennington says:

        “No, it seems to me that the most basic expectations of historical integrity have not even been met.”

        Then it should be fairly easy to go through his latest piece and demonstrate where he is factually inaccurate. I mean, factual accuracy is the purpose of meeting the “expectations of historical integrity”, isn’t it?

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    Michael Bauman says:

    I have studied history my entire life. I love it, much to the irritation of many who love me. The Holy Spirit used my study of history as a tool to bring me to the Church. Despite that, I can say with confidence that most use of history is destructive and wrong.

    The “MYTH” here is that history is something that is fixed, like a rock in the field, and only needs to be discovered for all to be clear. Not true. Neither is history an exercise in linear logic.

    History is always a subjective creative endeavor dependent upon the bias, intelligence and communicative skill of the historian, the selected evidence (either self-selected or time-selected) and the current milleau. The value of primary sources is that there is less bias to to get in the way. Primary sources are not intrinsically more ‘true’. They can be far less true, revelatory only of the passions of the moment. Even more unfortunately, access to those sources is spotty and lack of access can be used as a polemical club to deny the validity of opposing interpretations. Not a good tactic.

    Handling sources is mostly a matter of fighting one’s own bias and including sources which conflict with that bias and treating them as judiciously as possible. Good history is often revealed by its ability to produce negative reactions from differing ideological camps.

    At times history can be a statement of a culture’s digestion of its own past, an agreement that expresses not so much the ‘truth’ of what occured, but of the corporate acceptance of a certain interpretation. History then becomes a cultural narrative that provides a foundation for that culture to thrive and grow. In that sense, history is always a sort of mythology. If done really well, an icon.

    It seems that Matthew Namee is merely saying we need to re-evaluate the narrative, the mythos of the Church in this country. What emerges from the dialog may or may not be more ‘factual’ but it will, by the grace of God, be more true. Perhaps both.

    History does not prove anything (even factually inaccurate history can reveal more truth than history that has its facts impeccable). History is never past, it is always present–a mirror of our own consciousness. Truth can be revealed in the study of history, despite its intendent weaknesses, but only if we are seeking the Truth and the Cross. God, is the God of the living.

    Whatever we seek in the study of history will be revealed to us.

    It matters not what the ‘reality’ of the time was, we can’t ever know that. It matters how we respond to that reality now. If we allow our re-creation of past events to divide us and harden our hearts, all of us loose. If we allow the sorrow and pain of history to soften our hearts and lead us to forgiveness, repentance and brotherhood, then we have done well.

    Here is the history as I see it: We are called to unity by God. The Holy Scriptures, the canons, the lives of the saints and our own experience all testify to that call. Being human, we always find ways to violate and/or ignore that call because we are venal, stupid, ignorant and weak. We tend to put the created thing in front of the Creator.

    If our understaning of ‘history’ is a block to unity, then our understanding is wrong, it is just another idol. If we use our undestanding of history to build bridges and face the challenges to unity we are facing now, then our understanding is a valuable tool.

    May the mercy and blessing of God be with us all.

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    Isa Almisry says:

    Well, “thus” might be misleading in suggesting that Namee is arguing his case for the Phanar. He’s not, says he’s not, disclaims that he is not. That being said, as the English say, “In for a penny, in for a pound,” and the Germans “Who says A, must say B.” Namee’s thesis that there wasn’t a golden age of administrative unity does have consequences, if true. I think George hit that nail on its head:

    The quarrel therefore is not with the facts, but with the interpretation of these facts. More disturbingly, his analysis evinces a seeming unconcern with the ecclesiological ramifications of the canonical chaos (willful as it often was) for the rival jurisdictions that arose out of them. It is my contention that the original thesis, that is to say, the primacy of the Russian Mission and its internal administrative unity still stands. Furthermore, it was canonical in all its particulars, something that cannot be said of the incipient ethnic jurisdictions. Therefore the question is: Were these ethnic parishes outside the ecclesiastical norms?

    Now to ask about the canonicity of these ethnic parishes may fall under the rubric “to want everything to be about what “ought” to be and what “ought” to have been, who had the “right” and who can make the “claims,” but that desire constitutes “the situation on the ground.” The fact that Honcharenko arrived in America with neither canonical release (nor it seems ordination as a priest) and, after meandering among the ethnic communities-not-yet parishes (a status Holy Trinity of New Orleans did not yet achieve: the Church i.e. bishops make parishes in the Orthodox Church, not layman, even consuls, and it was not even incorporated it seems untl the 20th century. It does, however count as an Orthodox community, and HT can in reality state it dates back to the 1860′s), came to demand an antimens (without which, I am sure you know Father, no parish can exist, no DL celebrated) from the Russian Cathedral of SF only reinforces the primacy of the internal administrative unity of the Russian mission and undermines the undue recognition to chaos. We are not Protestants, and the Orthodox Church is not congregationalist.
    Case in point: NYC. Clear across the continent from AK, and even SF. And yet Russia opens up a chapel (which, as a recent post on orthodoxhisotry.org says
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2010/06/the-mysterious-roots-of-orthodoxy-in-canada/
    may have been instrumental in the introduction of Orthodox (with its canonical order) in Canada. It was not placed under the bishop of AK (btw, whose status was upgraded to a full diocese, bearing the American, not the Russian, name of the territory), whose predecessor, the auxhiary bishop to Kamchatka of Novoarkhangelsk/Sitka, nonetheless consecrated it on his way back to Russia. There may be a variety of reasons for that, including the suggestion of its former primate/then Met. Moscow and member of the Holy Governing Synod St. Innocent, that the mission be placed under the Baltic episcopacy, given that Alaska was now detached from Russia and would be no longer attached to the bishops of Siberia. There was also the issue of the relations with the Episcopalians, and the chapel may have been intended as a metochia, as the Episopalians looked with alarm at the arrival of the Russian bishop in San Francisco
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/11/the-new-york-plan-of-1866/
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/11/episcopalians-orthodox-claims-in-america-1862/
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/11/the-extent-of-the-russian-diocese-in-the-19th-century/
    and had the correspondance between the Episcopalian Church-USA and the Orthodox Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and the Holy Governing Synods of Russia (and IIRC Greece) are reported 1870-3 (the importance of that date in a minute), where the activity of the Russian Mission, and more importantly its bishop, in North America are discussed. Be that as it may, since union was never achieved, the chapel never became a metochion. But it did establish, by default, Russian jurisdiction, a jurisdiction, as Namee himself has discovered, (see links above, and
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/10/three-bishops-for-america-in-1870/
    was planned even before the sale of Alaska to include all North America with sees in NYC, New Orleans and SF in addition to AK. It would seem that they intended to stay, as New York state deputised the Russian ambassador and consul as trustees of all Orthodox Churches/parishes incorporated in the state in 1871
    http://books.google.com/books?id=QRuxAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA14&dq=Laws+of+the+state+of+New+York+Passed+January+31,+1871&lr=#v=onepage&q=Laws%20of%20the%20state%20of%20New%20York%20Passed%20January%2031%2C%201871&f=false
    Clearly New York State saw no jurisdictional disunity. As I posted in message 6 of the “three-bishops-for-america-in-1870″ link above, Fr. Bjerring’s activities on the Eastern Seaboard were well known to both the Greek and Ottomona diplomatic core, having married the Greek ambassador in his chapale in 1870 (with the attendance of Demtrios Botassi,Greek consul and son-in-law of Nicholas Benachi, and with him fellow founder of HT Church in New Orleans) and aiding the Ottoman commmissioners to the American Centennial in getting a funding request to Pres. Grant. It would seem the state and ecclesiastical authorities of Athens and Constantinople knew of him. That didn’t change when the chapel was closed in 1883 and Fr. Bjerring apostacized: the Holy Governing Synod had erected a see in AK after only 2 years of the mission, a see that its only bishop never occupied, and waited 12 years to close it, only to erect another 29 years later which exists to this day and went on to become the primate of North America. Within 12 years of the closing of Bejerring’s chapel, the Russian bishop had consecrated both St. Nicholas cathedrals at NYC, one which became the primates cathedral a few years later, and the other which served as the cathedral of the Syrian mission, i.e. the Arab Diocese, the origin on the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
    Which brings me to the central date of this question of jurisdiction of North America:March 13, 1904. On that date the Russian Holy Governing Synod exercised its right and jurisdiction in North America per canon VIII of Ephesus to consecrate St. Raphael Hawaweeny, the first Orthodox consecration in the New World, retaining jurisdiction of a territory they had ruled peacebly, as per canon XVII of Chalcedon. As Namee points out, the Greeks at the time realized the implications, as the contemporary sources on the situation on the ground shows:
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/07/st-raphaels-consecration/
    Now, ignoring the existence of an Archdiocese which one knows to be functioning in a territory might be costrued as a protest, but it can hardly count as pleading a cause, and by 1904 the Greek Church had know of the Russian episcopacy in North America over thiry years (the statute-or canon-of limitations), as the correspondence between the Greek Church, American Episcopalians and Russians (in Russia and North America) of the 1860s and 1870′s shows. As it was, the Greek episcopate didn’t take canonical notice of North America it seems until 1907, the planning synod of what ended up in the issuance of the infamous Tomos of 1908, where Constantinople committed acts it anathematized in its Synod of 1872, giving Churches it neither owned nor founded to the Church of Greece, which was, given the situation on the ground, in no position to oversee them. And that situation on the ground was that the congregations which refused to acknowledge the authority of the Russian Bishop did not acknowledge any authority but their own (meaning the trusttees): Meletios and Alexander (both deposed at the time) found that out as they tried to organize the Greeks of North America, a task not accomplished until the 1930 under Archb. Athenagoras of blessed memory. Hence why after St. Raphael’s consecration what became the Cathedra of the Exarch of Constantinople incorporated itself as “The The Hellenic Eastern Orthodox Church of New York,” a church in no Orthodox diptych, to legally (and officially) distinguish it from not only the Church of Russia, but also the Church of Greece.
    http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA2120&dq=%22constantine%20g.%20vlachos%22&id=vymxAAAAIAAJ&as_brr=1&output=text
    (btw, the incorporation was void on its face as unconstitutional). As I’ve pointed out, the situation on the ground was and is that
    We have not such thing in the Orthodox Church as free lance parishes: parishes only exist in Dioceses, Dioceses only exist with a bishop, bishops exist only in synods, synods only exist with primates who are commemorated by their co-equals in the dipytchs. Seeking legal recourse to the secular authority (something strictly forbidden by canons IV and VI of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea I and XII of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, stating that a bishop must be deposed for mere attempt ) to take Holy Trinity out of administration of the Orthdoox Church, makes a nice Protestant parish, but not an Orthodox one.
    http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,22981.msg374475/topicseen.html#msg374475
    But to get back to the original objection to George’s focus on “current ecclesiastical politics, the OCA and its autocephaly”: they are not without relevance, as Namee admits in his treatment of the New Smyrna Colony and the GOA tooting of it as “our Plymouth Rock,” and posted as the root on the GOA’s website:

    …to say that this place is a landmark for American Orthodox history is misleading. The New Smyrnans did not have an Orthodox priest. They didn’t start an Orthodox parish. Their descendants didn’t go on to make a mark on the later history of Orthodoxy (or Hellenism) in America. The colony is an interesting story, and when that story is told well, it can be riveting. But as far as American Orthodox history goes, it’s largely irrelevant. It can’t be even remotely compared with the Russian fur traders in Alaska, since those traders kept their Orthodox faith, converted native Alaskans, and directly laid the groundwork for future Alaskan Orthodoxy. The New Smyrna Greeks didn’t lay the groundwork for Orthodoxy in America. They are people who happened to be Orthodox.
    http://orthodoxhistory.org/2009/12/greeks-in-florida-1768/#comments
    As my posted comment and source shows, they weren’t (except for a Demetrios Fundulakis) even that. As Namee sums up “I say that New Smyrna means next to nothing for American Orthodox history…New Smyrna, while interesting, is not a significant landmark in American Orthodox history” (adding “I don’t mean to disparage Greek Americans, the Greek Archdiocese, or the St. Photios Shrine, which I would love to visit one day.” I’ve been, btw, twice to New Smyrna and St. Augustine and recommend the trip). The independent parishes on which Namee is basing his narrative led to nowhere but results that the Russian Archdiocese, the Metropolia, OCA, Chief Secretary Elpidophoros and Chambesy (and Ligonier) are unanimous in decrying. Simply put, the Russian Mission had what Chambesy calls for, internal administrative unity canonical in all its particulars. If that is achieved in North America, it will come from the ongoing and continous influence of that Russian Mission, as the heritage of oxymoronic Orthodox congregationalists is a burden which, as Met. Philip warned, if we do “not bury [such] burdens of the past between certain autocephalous churches, such burdens will bury us, and Orthodoxy in this country and throughout the world will become an insignificant dot on the margin of history.”

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    Scott Pennington says:

    “The once-common (but increasingly rare) claim that all Orthodox in America were members of the Russian Mission prior to the foundation of the Greek Archdiocese in 1921 is simply untrue.”

    “If I may, the reason why 1921 is mentioned so often on this site is not because we necessarily regard that as a watershed date in the history of Orthodoxy in America. Rather, it is because it is the watershed date of the “common wisdom,” when a pristine American Orthodox unity was supposedly shattered.”

    “By contrast, much of our work here has been to show that there was no such pristine unity existing before that date.”

    “To those who claim that there was once a united American Orthodox Church under Russian jurisdiction, which encompassed all the various ethnic groups, I have responded that this was not so.”

    - quotes from OrthodoxHistory

    What I would really be interested in seeing from Mr. Namee, or Fr. Andrew, or Fr. Herbel, is a list of quotations from those proponents of the “myth” of unity who assert “unity without exception”, “pristine” unity, etc. for the Church in North America before 1917, 1921, 1908, or whenever.

    I’ve actually never seen anyone make that claim and it seems to be the claim that they are seeking to refute. I have seen generalizations made. There may well be absolute assertions out there. I assume that the gentleman I mentioned above have a list of such absolute assertions which inspired them to look into the matter and, having found “chaos”, led them to attempt to refute this “myth” of “pristine unity”.

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      Fr. Andrew says:

      Sure thing. Some of these are more explicit than others, but all are essentially stating exactly the refuted claim, that all Orthodox Christians in America were under the Russians prior to 1917, 1918, or 1921 (take your pick).

      “Before the First World War the Orthodox of America, whatever their nationality, looked to the Russian Archbishop for leadership and pastoral care. […] After 1917, when relations with the Church of Russia became confused, each national group formed itself into a separate organization and the present multiplicity of jurisdictions arose.” (Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church, pp. 187-88)

      “[U]nity did exist, was a reality, [...] the first ‘epiphany’ of Orthodoxy here was not as a jungle of ethnic ecclesiastical colonies, serving primarily if not exclusively the interests of their various ‘nationalisms’ and ‘mother-churches,’ but precisely as a local Church meant to transcend all ‘natural’ divisions and to share all spiritual values; [...] this unity was broken and then arbitrarily replaced with the unheard-of principle of ‘jurisdictional multiplicity’ which denies and transgresses every single norm of Orthodox Tradition; [...] the situation which exists today is thus truly a sin and a tragedy.” (Schmemann, Fr. Alexander. “To Love Is to Remember,” in Constance J. Tarasar, gen. ed., Orthodox America: 1794-1976 (Syosset, NY: OCA Dept. of History & Archives, 1975), 12.)

      “From 1794, the year of the arrival of the first missionaries from Russia, until 1921, the year marking the beginning of pluralism in church jurisdiction, the Orthodox Church in North America united all of the Orthodox in America under its hierarchical authority, without regard for national background. This was recognized by all the Local Churches, including the Holy Church of Constantinople presently headed by Your Holiness. […] However, this order, adequate to church canons and practice, was violated in 1921, when, without the knowledge and canonical
      approval of the Russian Orthodox Church, a Greek Archdiocese was founded in America.” (Patr. Alexei I to Patriarch Athenagoras (March 17, 1970), in Autocephaly: The Orthodox Church in America (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1971), 59-60.)

      “[T]he unalterable fact remains that, until the arbitrary establishment by the throne of Constantinople of its own archdiocese in North America in 1921 […] strict canonical order was followed on this continent under the hierarchical leadership of the Church of Russia. This order was challenged by no one, and was recognized by all the Local Orthodox Churches, including the Church of Constantinople.” (Patr. Pimen to to Patriarch Athenagoras (August 11, 1970) in ibid., 78.)

      “Up until the Russian Revolution the North American Church was a single administrative whole. […] In order to understand this development of plurality of national jurisdictions within a single territory, we must understand the changes which occurred after 1917. At that time the principle of nationalism (ethnicity) entered American Orthodox Church Life, and eventually became a pretext for any national group to form its own parallel jurisdiction in America.” (Afonsky, Bp. Gregory. The Orthodox Church in America: 1917-1934, p. 7)

      “The Church in America was a united Church in the early 1900’s under the Russian Diocese of America. It was only after the Russian Revolution, which cut off support of the American Church, that the various ethnic jurisdictions began to spring up in America.” (Popp, Abp. Nathaniel, quoted by Dean Calvert. http://www.antiochian.org/node/17232 )

      “While the 19th century saw great immigration of Orthodox people from different countries, nevertheless the normal canonical order embracing all Orthodox of all ethnic backgrounds was observed in America, up to the 1920s, under the supervision of the Russian Mission. There was a united Synod with a single archbishop, and several bishops with missionary outreach and ministries to the various ethnic communities. […] The division of the Orthodox Mission in America began in 1922 with the collapse of Russian Imperial support of the Mission following the Bolshevik coup, and the formation of parallel hierarchies, beginning with the Greek Archdiocese under Constantinople.” (Paffhausen, Abbot Jonah. “Episcopacy Primacy, and the Mother Churches: A Monastic Perspective,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly (2008), 8.)

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        Scott Pennington says:

        “By contrast, much of our work here has been to show that there was no such pristine unity existing before that date.”

        I’ll take these one at a time, I’ll admit there is some inaccuracy regarding 1921 or the Bolshevik Revolution as being the dividing line regarding other claims of jurisdiction(an official jurisdictional claim by Constantinople could date back as far as 1908), but I don’t see anything here that states that there were no dissenters and that the unity was perfect:

        As far as Bp. Kallistos’ quote, Greek acknowledgement of Russian jurisdiction was not continuous but it occured from time to time. Again, he did not say “pristine”, “perfect”, “complete” or “without exception”. This is what I was referring to above regarding generalizations.

        Fr. Schmemman’s quote is pretty accurate. He refers to the “first epiphany” here. That would be the Russian mission in Alaska. It is also true that jurisdictional disunity came much later.

        Patriarch Alexi’s quote is admittedly inaccurate regarding “all Orthodox” in the mathematical meaning of the word. But this too is a generalization. What I’m looking for is something that states that there were no Orthodox outside of Russian jurisdiction. If he meant that Orthodox of all ethnicities were represented in the Russian Archdiocese, then he was correct. If he meant that all congregations were under Russia, he was obviously incorrect.

        Patriarch Pimen’s quote actually could fit the bill, “challenged by no one”, if taken to mean no individual or congregation, as opposed to no other jurisdiction, would be erroneous. After 1908, it may be erroneous even with respect to jurisdictional challenge.

        Bishop Gregory’s quote would be accurate if he listed 1908 instead of 1917. There was no other administrative structure then other than the Russian Archdiocese.

        Broadly speaking, Bp. Nathaniel’s quote is accurate.

        Metropolitan Jonah’s quote is accurate regarding the general situation under Moscow. As to the situation of the Greeks, there was no stable organization.

        Fr. Andrew,

        I have seen several of the above quotes. What I was actually looking for was some type of statement by the proponents of past unity that there were no exceptions, that each and every congregation was part of the Russian Archdiocese – - something that justifies the adjective “pristine”. Normal people, when making a rhetorical point in a letter or speech, don’t address anomalies in detail. If you have quotes where proponents of the “myth of unity” stated that all Greek congregations (for example) were under Russian jurisdiction before 1921, 1917, etc., and could show that this was a widely held opinion rather than something erroneously asserted by one person, then “pristine” may be justified.

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        George Michalopulos says:

        Fr Andrew, I mean no offense and as I’ve written y’all at SOCHA do excellent work. If I may, I never said that there was a “pristine” unity. Honestly, nothing in the Church is ever “pristine,” it can’t be because it’s got sinners in it (of whom I am chief).

        Having said that, the question that animated my response can be distilled to this: why is it necessary to extoll uncanonical/schismatic/irregular behavior by some immigrants in order to discount the canonicity and primacy of the Russian Mission?

        Having been in the mission field myself, I can honestly say that the full bore of canonical pressure was impressed upon me and my friends. I literally had no idea how complicated, burdensome, and acrimonious even it was to set up a mission. And for good reason, the Orthodox Church does things in a dilatory fashion because it doesn’t want to open and close missions based on the whims of this or that disgruntled group of people. Why? I’d like to think because we’re dealing with people’s eternal salvation.

        How scandalous would it be to all involved if a mission were created by XYZ jurisdiction only to fail 4 years later? How many people would leave the Faith outright because of this failure? What about the priest and his family? They could be reduced to penury. The bishop who set it up would be ostracized by his brother bishops in the other jurisdictions, etc. This is in fact a pretty good picture of what happened in the years 1890-1910 among some of the immigrant parishes (not only between them and the Russian Mission, but within their respective groups –schisms, schisms, and more schisms).

        When all is said and done, I’m sure that you as a priest would not want to be treated like those hireling-priests were, and all things being equal, I’m sure you’d want your bishop to be close by, and probably a man of your nationality, not 4,000 miles overseas and who has no idea about what you as an American priest have to wrestly with.

        I realize of course your answer will be that you are concerned with “how things were, not how they should have been.” OK, I grant you that. But “how things should have been” was actually occuring in North America –in the confines of the Russian Mission! The case therefore of willful schism becomes even stonger. It’s not like the RM didn’t care about the non-Russian immigrants: they most certainly did! Why any priest in his right mind would want to throw himslf at the mercy of an extra-canonical (at best) situation is beyond me, especially when a canonical situation already existed.

        Anyway, keep up the good work!

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Again, the question remains–what do we do about it? Does it really matter which angel danced on which pinhead? Isn’t this really about moving the furniture around to accomodate an asethetic feeling?

    It would seem to be particularly irrelevant in the light of Met. Jonah’s and other’s statements on the kenotic quality of the Tomos of Authocephally. In other words, when a greater unity is recognized, the OCA will join in it.

    Does anyone disagree that canonical unity must prevail?

    Given the competing jurisdictional claims and the incessant re-interpretation of canons from an ideological perspective from many of the competing claimants, does anyone disagree that attempting to unite under any of the ‘mother’ churches is impossible?

    Give those assumptions, does it not follow that only a U.S./North American Church under the governance of a U.S./North American Synod, no matter how it is comprised is the only solution?

    Unless I’m missing something, St. Tikhon provided the only comprehensive vision that was not founded exclusively on ethinc prejudice. It may not be complete or fully adequate, but does it not provide a working blue print?

    Unity need not be monolithic or hegemonic in quality, but there must be a unified, functioning local synod which answers only to God and the Church as a whole, i.e, not controled or directed by a foreign synod.

    Five possible ways to unity, and one to absolute damnation:

    1. Do absolutely nothing. Then we will all be united in the dust and held to account by the Lord for our failure to follow Him (the “I-Don’t-give-a-damn-now-but-I-will-someday” approach)

    2. Wait until all of the current bishops have reposed and the ‘mother’ churches, except Russia, have disappeared (The entropy approach)

    3. Support the OCA as the defacto North American, local church and consider everyone else a schismatic (the “everyone-else-is-schismatic-except-me approach #1″)

    4. Support the GOA or the MP as the canonical head and demand that all other jurisdictions recognize the EP or MP as the chief bishop(the “everyone-else-is-schismatic-except-me approach #2″)

    5. Recognize that we are all de-facto schismatics, actually repent of all of the attitudes and actions that promote disunity and division, then work with diligence, patience and love to over come that disunity and division so that we can govern ourselves whether the ‘mother’ churches want us to or not; whether the inertia in our own hearts and the heart of our jurisdiction approves or not; whether we have had unity in the past or not (the “change-the-narrative-and-grow-up” approach)

    The absolute damnation approach: only I know what the true Church is, and in fact, I’m going to make sure that it is formed as the one-and-only-genuine-imitation-church-of-fancy-dressed protestants (aside) ’cause its only you and me, and I’m not so sure about you.

    “Let us suppose ourselves to be caddis flies who live but one day. Shall we then bemoan the unhygenic conditions of our worm cases?”

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Michael, history is fascinating, I totally agree with you. But my concern (and probably your’s) is “so what?” What are we going to do about it?

      In some ways, the regionsal EAs are probably an encapsulation of our respective histories. Although we cannot predict the future accurately we can make some pretty good judgments based on our histories. Allow me to do so:

      1. The EA of South America is probably going nowehere. Why?

      2. The EAs in the other regions are going to be mickey-moused away. Why?

      3. The EA in North America however seems to be taking on a life of its own (or at least I hope). Why?

      My short answer: 1) because America has a deep and committed Evangelical ethos (albeit from a Reformed/Protestant tradition), and 2) because North America had been a canonical and regular mission field of the ROC from the time the first 8 monks landed in Sitka.

      In other words, there’s a remembrance among all of us that in some halcyon, mythic past, North America was a real archdiocese made up of North Americans, whether they be natives or immigrants. That has tremendous explanatory power (I like that phrase).

      No, I can’t say that the EA in North America will ultimately succeed, it’s just that based on my own assessment of the EAs worldwide, it seems like we appear to be more serious about unification and canonical regularity than Oceania, Benelux, Iberia, etc. (If I’m wrong about these other regions, I’d be happy to set the record straight.)

      Thanks for your insights. I’m gratified that your bishop is up there as an officer. That bespeaks a seriousness and gives me hope for the future.

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    Scott Pennington says:

    Michael,

    Apparently all the jurisdictions beside the OCA agree that for the present moment, canonical unity must not prevail. The Phanar most likely believes that unity under it is the only acceptable solution.

    There is no need for hysteria regarding any “schismatic status” resulting from the disunity. This is one reason I tend to reject the notion that the council of 1872 is really an accurate statement of Orthodox ecclesiology: If it were to be taken literally then the gates of hell would have already prevailed against the Church. All of the canonical Orthodox are at least in communion with those who maintain jurisdictions based on ethnicity. Thus, under the council of 1872, we are all schismatics and/or heretics. This, of course, is absurd.

    It would be better if everyone would focus on orthopraxis and theosis rather than how canon law is (mis)applied vis a vis our jurisdictional mess.

    I agree with you that the historical battles really are academic. George may be right in his thesis that choosing to see through one prism leads to unity under a foreign Patriarch and choosing to see through another leads to autocephaly. I just don’t believe the decision will be made on a historical basis, regardless of what the facts show or do not show.

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    Scott Pennington says:

    The reason it seems to me it is relevant that the proponents of the “unity myth” created the notion of a “myth of pristine unity”; i.e., complete, all-inclusive unity, is that they also claim to be dispassionately inquiring into objective history.

    Anyone who claims to be heroically popping a utopian bubble has an agenda.

    George, I believe, indirectly asserted this when he brought up facts that the proponents of the “unity myth” either habitually omit or downplay.

    I, for one, welcome whatever factual insight that Fr. Andrew, Fr. Herbel and Matthew Namee, George Michalopoulos, etc. have on the subject, regardless of their motives or that of anyone else who is interested enough to research the subject.

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      Fr. Andrew says:

      If you do happen to find an agenda that we’re pushing other than simply trying to read the sources and come to reasonable conclusions, please let us know, because we’re scratching our heads over here as to what our agenda is.

      Anyway, if you’re interesting in the many thousands of words on these subjects that have been written by members of the Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas (SOCHA), they’re readily available online. I suggest taking a look at these two links, which are categorical collections on the OrthodoxHistory.org website:

      http://orthodoxhistory.org/category/pre-1921-unity/

      http://orthodoxhistory.org/tag/early-unity/

      No need to suspect or guess. You can read for yourself. In the roughly one year of the site’s existence, well over 200 posts have been published on the history of Orthodoxy in America, referencing many hundreds of primary sources. Serious work is being done by people doing the real legwork needed to make it happen. No one’s claiming anything “heroic.”

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        Otsukafan says:

        Father Andrew,

        With your blessing and great respect for you and your office, may I humbly ask a question of you?

        I think at the heart of these 2 narratives, Mr. Namme’s and Mr. Michalopulos’, come to 2 differing conclusions. Either the OCA is the canonical autocephalous Church in America or it is not. I will also note that I do not think Mr. Michalopulos discounts any other jurisdiction in America as non-canonical, but rather the situation. I invite him to clarify for himself if I have misrepresented him.

        That said and I do not intend to be argumentative, but purely in hope that I can better understand as a laymen. My question is this:

        Is the OCA a canonical autocephalous Church? If not, what is it?

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          Fr. Andrew says:

          I think at the heart of these 2 narratives, Mr. Namme’s and Mr. Michalopulos’, come to 2 differing conclusions. Either the OCA is the canonical autocephalous Church in America or it is not.

          Honestly, I don’t think one has to come to either conclusion, because Orthodox Christian history in America is not simply the story of the OCA. One could just as easily say: “I think at the heart of these 2 narratives, Mr. Namee’s and Mr. Michalopulos’, come to 2 differing conclusions. Either the GOA is the canonical Church in America or it is not.” You could counter that the history of Orthodoxy in America isn’t solely about the GOA, and you’d be right.

          George is interested in the OCA and its legitimacy. The folks at SOCHA (including Matthew) are interested in a much bigger picture. Legitimacy is not really what we’re working on.

          Is the OCA a canonical autocephalous Church? If not, what is it?

          I really have no idea, and making that determination is not my responsibility. My bishop is in communion with their bishops, and that is enough for what I need.

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            Isa Almisry says:

            Not exactly.

            The GOA exists as an exarchate of Constantinople. Whether Constantinople has the canonical right to have an exarchate here doesn’t affect its standing as an Autocephalous Orthodox Church any more than it does when it fought with Rome over the jurisdiction of Bulgaria. I don’t recall that the decision being in Rome’s favor affected the status of those Constantinople had sent to Bulgaria, except that they were now on someone else’s territory, and they could be an issue between Rome and Constantinople. Similarly, at most the GOA would be an issue between Constantinople and the canonical Church of America. But if there is no such thing, they could not be, as it takes two to make a canonical contention.

            If the OCA is not what she claims to be, she basically isn’t, and has no existence to Orthodox Ecclesiology.

            Either the OCA, from the Russian Mission to Alaska to 1794 to at least November 20, 1920 (Patriarch St. Tikhon’s Ukaze 362), was “canonical in all its particulars,” or it doesn’t exist, at least not as an Orthodox Church. Of course, that leaves a century of Orthodox history in North America to explain away or ignore, not to mention explaining not only the Antiochian Archdiocese and Serbian Archdiocese (which both started in the Russian Archdiocese/OCA), the Albanians, Romanians and Bulgarians in North America (who threw their lot in with the Russian Archdiocese/OCA), and not only the Orthodox Church of Albania (birthed by the Mother Church of Boston, the OCA’s Cathedral), but also the GOA itself, whose history, aside from the New Orleans parish, reveals its roots as either growing out of the Russian Mission (e.g. SF, Seattle, and one would argue Chicago) or in opposition to it. The problem with the latter, is that they acknowledged no episcopal authority whatsoever, as the contemporary sources amply demonstrate and the GOA’s founding in the Tomos of 1908, Meletios’ mission and his charter of 1922 up through Chief Secretary Elpidophoros’ denouncing of such congregationalism at HCS last year, decry.

            So while one can right a history (albeit deficit) of Orthodoxy in North America and its relationship with the Orhtodox World, without the GOA, no comprehensible history can be written on the subject without the OCA narrative. If that narrative is correct, that pretty much settles the issue of canonicity in America. If that narrative is wrong, then the jurisdictional pluralism and disunity is no different than any other juridictional dispute between local Chruches, of which examples can be multiplied in the “Mother Churches” almost at will.

            Only if Orthodox ecclesiology allows for Congregational Churchs in communion with, but not centered on, bishops can we pay attention to the goings on of the trustee parishes as to jurisdiction. But that would be a history of the Episcopal church, just in Greek and with a Byzantine rite, not of the Orthodox Church.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Scott, thanks for your constructive comments and criticisms. I like the way your mind works. My only quibble is that I don’t consider myself to be an “apologist” for the OCA. I am a member of the OCA but only for this reason: when it came time to set up a mission where I live, only the OCA was willing to do it (that of course raises signficant questions in its own right).

      To be fair to ROCOR, I’m sure that a case could just as easily be made that it is the true successor the the Russian Mission. However, as somebody else pointed out already, the Tomos of Autocephaly was given to the Metropolia, not ROCOR (again, I realize that there were underlying issues).

      I’ve got great sympathy for ROCOR and have attended and communed in a ROCOR parish. Why didn’t we go to ROCOR to start the mission where we live? Because there already was a ROCOR mission nearby and more importantly, at the time, the healing of the schism between ROCOR and the MP hadn’be been in effect. Otherwise, I would have seen no impediment.

      Again, I don’t consider myself to be an apologist, just somebody who looked at the history. And as I said at least once in the body, history ain’t pretty, but when all is said and done, there was one canonical jurisdiction and a smattering of schismatic, extra-canonical parishes. One church was doing things right, other groups were doing as best they can. (And I don’t necessarily blame them btw, had I been a Greek/Bulgarian/Serbian/whatever immigrant in the time period 1890-1920, I probably would have wanted to worship in my own language with people of my own kind, that’s not evil, just non-canonical).

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        Isa Almisry says:

        The problem with claiming that ROCOR is the successor to the Russian Missionary Archdiocese is that ROCOR doesn’t make the claim: hard core ROCOR types claim to be part of the “Historical Russian Church” rather than the Patriarchate of Moscow (the former Church seems to be in communion with the “invisible Church”), or the Church of Russian in Exile. Others claim it as the Russian Church Outside of Russia (which I’ve found rather odd, a Church which by its own self definition outside its own canonical boundaries). But I’ve never seen ROCOR claim to be the successor to the RMA. As I said, they trace their history to the Synod of Karlovsky, not the All America Sobor of Mayfield. Now they DO claim that the Russian Missionary Archdiocese, and its successor the Metropolia, were under the Karlovsky Synod, but that’s something else from claiming to be the continuation of the Russian Missionary Archdiocese. The idead of ROCOR was orginally that when the Bolsheviks fell, they would all go back to running Russia: their interest in North America was only in running it from Moscow, not New York.

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          Scott Pennington says:

          Isa,

          Actually, I think it’s deeper than that. What ROCOR claimed was that since the MP was under communist domination, the Russian Church outside Russia had to govern itself autonomously. Later, when they had the ability to do so, they even established underground “free Russian parishes” in Russia. I also don’t find anything strange about the name “Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia”. In Russian, the words used actually mean, “beyond the border/frontier”, which is why it is often also called the “Russian Orthodox Church Abroad”. It’s not prohibited to expand into territory not belonging to any other church – - in fact you could say it’s a duty. As a practical matter, what the Metropolia actually claimed to be was the Russian Orthodox Church in America (which is, of course, outside of Russia).

          ROCOR claims that the Metropolia was part of ROCOR and there was some intrigue associated with the events from 1917-1934. There were two Metropolia bishops, Met. Platon and Archbp. Alexander, present at the Karlovstsy synod. From ROCOR’s perspective, the Russian Church in America was part of the wider free Church of Russia (ROCOR) at that point. Later, Met. Platon forged a letter from Pat. Tikhon declaring him the head of the Church in America (a position he already held by virtue of appointment by ROCOR). One thing led to another and Platon decided he wanted to break the Metropolia away from both Moscow and ROCOR. Which he managed to do for about 9 years. Then, in 1935, the Metropolia officially rejoined ROCOR. This declaration was made to the Metropolia faithful by their hierarchs:

          “With great joy, we inform you, beloved, that at our Bishop’s Sobor in Pittsburgh, the ‘Temporary Statue of the Russian Church Abroad,’ worked out in November 1935 by our Hierarchs at the conference held under the presidency of His Holiness Patriarch of Serbia, Kyr Varnava, was unanimously accepted by all of us…. All of our Archpastors [the Metropolia bishops], headed by our Metropolitan [Theophilus], enter into the make-up of the Bishops’ Council [in Karlovci] of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which is the highest ecclesiastical organ for our whole Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and which remains, at the same time, an inseparable part of the All-Russian Church [in the homeland]” This lasted until 1946 at which time their was a schism.

          St. John Maximovitch apparently considered that the Metropolia had been part of ROCOR. This makes sense if you consider for a moment ROCOR’s own self understanding – - they saw themselves as the free Church of Russia or, to put it another way, they saw themselves to be the “successor” to the Church of Russia itself, not just the RMA. In that sense, I concede the point. Their view was less limited than that of the Metropolia. Nonetheless, hopefully, it doesn’t matter. Up until May of 2007, the history may have had some practical implications. However, in reuniting with the MP, ROCOR has probably at least implicitly acknowledged the MP’s position toward the OCA and thus will eventually unite with it.

          The thing to bear in mind is that today we think of ROCOR as an American Orthodox jurisdiction. However, its own self understanding was that it was the continuation of the Church of Russia, necessary since the Church in Russia had fallen into collaboration with the communist government there. Thus, while the Metropolia was a local entity, ROCOR was not.

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        Scott Pennington says:

        George,

        I apologize for the way I characterized your involvement in the issue. I tried to make it clear that I was not being perjorative in any sense since, by and large, I agree with you. Just as you are correct in pointing out that Namee’s position, whether intended or not, supports Constantinople’s narrative, it is also true that your position supports the OCA’s narrative. I should have been more careful though in the way I referred to you since some of what I wrote could be taken to mean that I think your view of the facts is guided by your allegiance to the OCA. Rather, I think you looked at the facts and formed an opinion of them that happens to coincide more or less with the OCA’s claims and thus furthers their purpose. Again, I don’t think there’s anything whatsoever wrong with that.

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          George Michalopulos says:

          Scott, I understood your critique I just wanted to further refine my bona fides, i.e. that I’m not an agent of the OCA. BTW, I very much appreciate your perspective on the matter.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Hi everyone,

    First of all, congratulations George on an impressive piece of work. Your passion for the subject is obvious, and I applaud you for investing the time in making the case….this is truly in the Orthodox tradition of informed, educated laymen, intimately engaged in the affairs of the Church…AXIOS!!!

    Let me just remind you, George, that you also run the risk of being accused of indulging in “Smug “Christian” atheism, Ethno-loathing partisanship, Self-appointed psychoanalysis and semi-prophetic pronouncement, Information-vacuum commentatorship, Trivial, conspiracy theory manufacture, Paranoid, all-encompassing hatred,” by the same person who would now pretend to dispassionately refute your comments. Changes with the weather doesn’t it…LOL

    Nonsense aside, let me just add something from a personal point of view. Having grown up in the GOA, and not knowing ANYTHING about the Russian Mission, I was fascinated when I was first told about the Russian Mission by a visiting professor from St. Tikhon’s. That St. Tikhon had written to the ecumenical patriarch in the early 1900′s opened up a vista that I simply had not known existed. I would guess the same is true for most Greeks in this country to this day.

    So, speaking only for myself, the issue of jurisdictional unity pre-1917 was not an issue of primacy on the continent – it was simply fascinating that unity existed (in some form) during the period preceding the incorporation of the GOA. The fact that a Russian bishop (St. Tikhon) had a vision for America in which each ethnic group had it’s own bishop – well, to me, that was just incredible, and represented such an obvious solution to the current problem that it needed no explanation.

    I’ve read George’s work, and heard Matthew Namee’s presentation at St. Vlad’s last year when St. Andrew House webcast it.

    One thing I have not seen anywhere are the numbers. Can anyone answer these questions:

    1.) What were the total number of parishes under the Russian Mission in Alaska in 1908?
    2.) what were the total number of parishes under the Russian Mission in the lower 48 in 1908?
    3.) What were the total number of Bishops under the Russian Mission in 1908?
    4.) What were the total number of Greek parishes in the Lower 48 in 1908?
    5.) What were the total number of Greek bishops in the Lower 48 in 1908?

    One thing that I’ve become convinced of is this – someone, I think George, made the point that the parishes cannot exist outside the diocese, and the diocese does not exist without a bishop. If there were scores of Greek parishes in existence without bishops, then they were not really Orthodox, despite what they may have called themselves. The one letter from Barbara MacGahanin is particularly illuminating.

    And, if the only parishes on the continent under a bishop, were under a Russian bishop, then it would seem we did have unity among the Orthodox parishes…since the rest were not Orthodox by definition.

    Finally, I think it might do everyone some good to decouple the “primacy” issue from the actual question of unity (or not). The coupling of those two issues, which I remain unconvinced is relevant at all, seems only to confuse the issue.

    But in any case, I’d really like to see the numbers if they are available.

    Best Regards,
    Dean

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      Isa Almisry says:

      To start, the “Catholic Encyclopedia”
      http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06772a.htm
      gives, with some inaccuracies but none so glaring, the following contempoary figures for 1909:

      In 1902 a fine Russian cathedral (St. Nicholas) was built in New York City, and Russian churches have begun to spring up everywhere in the Atlantic States, particularly in Pennsylvania. Numerous priests and lower clergy were brought from Russia, a theological seminary opened in Minneapolis, a monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, the rites of the Greek Church were celebrated with a magnificence and splendour before unknown in America, and the Church itself put on a solid basis. In 1908 the whole United States and Canada were divided into five great blagochinnia, or deaneries: New York, Pennsylvania, Pittsburg, the Western States, and Canada, each one having from ten to twenty churches, and there was besides the Diocese of Alaska. In March, 1909, the Russian Church adopted an elaborate Constitution (Normalny Ustav) of sixty-four paragraphs, defining the rights of clergy, laity, and parishes, thus creating a local canon law for the United States, subject to the Holy Synod in Russia. This is the more remarkable when there are but few Russians (from Russia) in the United States. The latest figures (1909) for the Russian Orthodox Church in America are: Russians, 7974; Galician Ruthenians, 11,045; Hungarian Ruthenians, 5820; Bukovinians, 4180; making a total of 29,019. Besides these there are in Alaska: Indians, 1891; Aleutians, 2149; Eskimo, 3666. The Orthodox Russian clergy (1909) consist of one archbishop, one bishop, 2 archimandrites, 2 protopriests, 2 hegumens, 15 monastic priests, 70 secular priests, 2 deacons, and 40 cantors. Three of these are in Canada, and fifteen in Alaska. They have 60 churches in the United States 10 in Canada, and 17 churches and chapels in Alaska. They have a large church society very much like the Ruthenian ones, the “Pravoslavnoe Obshchestvo Vzaimopomoshchi” (Orthodox Mutual Aid Society), with 133 brotherhoods and 3950 members. Two church journals are published, “Amerikansky Pravoslavny Viestnik” (American Orthodox Messenger), in Great Russian, and “Svit” (Light), in Ruthenian.

      The last had articles in Ukrainian, interesting because its use was banned in Russia itself (both publications had to pass the Czar’s censors, though distributed in the US).

      Greek immigration was confined to the hundreds until 1890; the immigration figures for 1905-08 are: Greece, 77,607; Turkey, 19,032. The first Greek church (Holy Trinity) was opened in New York City in 1891 by Rev. P Ferentinos from Greece. Subsequently the new church on East 72nd Street was acquired, in which they have erected one of the finest Greek interiors — the altar, iconostasis and throne being of Pentelic marble. The Greeks have begun to build fine churches. There are (1909) about 130,000 Greeks in the United States chiefly in the Eastern and Middle States, and they publish eighteen newspapers, including two dailies. They have 32 churches in the United States and 2 in Canada, some — like Holy Trinity of Lowell, Massachusetts, and Holy Trinity of New York City — of considerable importance. Their clergy consist of 7 archimandrites, 3 monks, and 25 secular priests, but the churches are in the main governed by the lay trustees and particularly by the president of the board. Of these Greek clergy, 15 are subject to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and 20 to the Holy Synod of Athens. This circumstance and the fact that a part of the Greeks come from the Turkish Empire and the other part from the Kingdom of Greece have given rise to many dissensions and prevented the nomination of a Greek bishop for the United States, neither the patriarch nor the Synod wishing to cede such an appointment to the other. On the other hand, they both decline to admit or recognize the authority of the Russian bishops here.

      The Greeks were nearly alone in that last point, as the article continues to show.

      The Russians have greatly assisted them in building churches and establishing missions here, and their bishop, Raphael of Brooklyn, is a Syrian educated in Russia. The first Syro-Arabian church (St. Nicholas) was built in Brooklyn in 1902, and has since become their cathedral church. Their clergy consist of the Syro-Arabian bishop and twelve priests, of whom three are monks. They have (1909) churches in the following localities: Brooklyn and Glens Falls, New York; Boston, Worcester, and Lawrence, Massachusetts; Pittsburg, Johnstown, and Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Kearney, Nebraska; Beaumont, Texas. There are said to be about 50,000 Orthodox Syrians in the United States but they are quite scattered. They have frequent dissensions with their fellow-Syrians, the Melchites and Maronites, who are Uniats. They publish two Arabic newspapers in the interest of the Orthodox Church, and have a number of societies in New York and elsewhere.

      The Servians are mainly in Pennsylvania and the West, and the first church was built by the Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovitch in Jackson, Cal. (1894). The Servian Orthodox Church is closely affiliated to the Russian Church in this country, except that some of their churches do not recognize the jurisdiction or authority of the Russian archbishop. There are about 70,000 or 80,000 Servians in the United States from Pennsylvania to California, Wyoming, and Washington. Their clergy consist of one archimandrite, five monks, and four secular priests, and they have churches in Chicago, Illinois; Pittsburg, McKeesport, Wilmerding, Steelton, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Kansas City, Kansas; Denver, Colorado; Jackson and Los Angeles, California; Butte, Montana; St. Louis, Missouri. They also publish three Servian papers, and have several church societies, the chief one “Srbobrar”.

      Not quite sure about what he means by “some churches.” The Serbs did request, and obtained, canonical release to Belgrad but it never materialized into anything and they returned to the Russian Archdiocese.

      Albanian immigration to America has been quite recent, but there are now some 15,000 here, mostly settled in the vicinity of New York City and in New England. Although they use the Greek language in their liturgy and have attended the Hellenic Orthodox Church, they have no love for the Greeks. In February, 1908, the Russian Archbishop of Aleutia and North America ordained the Rev. F. S. Noli, a young Albanian, in New York City as an Orthodox priest and established him as missionary for his people in the United States. The Russian Holy Synod has taken steps on his initiative towards translating the Greek Liturgy into Albanian. They have a small chapel in Brooklyn and missions in New England, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. Endeavours have been made by them to attract the Italo-Greeks from their Uniat rite, on the ground of their being also of the Albanian race in America.

      About half the Orthodox Rumanians in the United States come from Rumania and half from Transylvania in Hungary. Their immigration has been all within the past decade, both in the United States and in Canada. They are also under divided jurisdiction, those from Rumania being under the Holy Synod of Rumania and those from Transylvania under the Metropolitan of Hermannstadt. There are about 30,000 Orthodox Rumanians at the present time (1909) in America, including Canada. Their first church was St. Mary’s, built in 1907 at Cleveland, Ohio. They have, besides several missionary stations, five churches situated at the following places: Indiana Harbor, Illinois; Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio; Sawyer, North Dakota; Regina, Canada. Of their clergy — one archimandrite and four secular priests — three are from Transylvania and two from Rumania. It is a noticeable fact that these two branches of the Greek Rite, Catholic and Orthodox, have harmonious relations and attend all Rumanian celebrations together, where matters of their race and language are concerned.

      Bulgarian immigration into the United States has only recently been in any considerable numbers. While the majority come from the Kingdom of Bulgaria, a great many are also from Macedonia, in Turkey. They dislike the Greeks very much, and while the Turkish contingent of them is nominally under the Patriarch of Constantinople, they recognize only the Exarch of Bulgaria. Neither will they affiliate with the Russian Church authorities here. While there are considerable numbers in New York City, yet they have settled chiefly in Illinois and Missouri, and are scattered also farther westward. The first Bulgarian Church (Sts. Cyril and Methodius) was built in 1908 by the Bulgarian monk Theophylact at Granite City, Illinois. There is also another one near St. Louis, Missouri, and one is being built at Madison, Illinois, while there are several mission stations. There are about 20,000 Bulgarians and three priests in this country. They publish two papers in their language and have several church societies, but have no national organization.

      I think I have something from a religious census from around that date, and an Episcopal report on the Orthodox from around the same time. I’ll see if I can pull them up.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Dean, (Everybody really) thanks for the lauds! If you don’t mind, I’d like to respond as best I can, which unfortunately will be choppy. (Right now I’m on the road and won’t be able to really digest things until the weekend, so I beg forgiveness).

      Isa, thanks for answering Dean’s questions 1 thru 4 for me. You did me a solid.

      Dean, question #5: “Greek bishops in North America.” Answer: none. (And Serbian, Albanian, Bulgarian, etc.)

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      Isa Almisry says:

      A primary source: Religious bodies, 1906 By United States. Bureau of the Census, William Chamberlin Hunt, pp. 258ff.
      http://books.google.com/books?id=5zsTAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA436&dq=Churches+Greek+Church+1897&lr=#v=onepage&q=Churches%20Greek%20Church%201897&f=false

      After recounting the autocephalous Churches of the time (not identical to today’s diptychs, btw) it states “Of these churches, 4 are represented in the United States by regular church organizations. These are the Russian Orthodox, the Greek Orthodox, the Servian Orthodox and the Syrian Orthodox. Only I of these has a definite and inclusive ecclesiastical organization, and that is the Russian Orthodox Church. The Greek Orthodox churches are looking forward to such an organization, but it is not as yet completed. The Servian and Syrian Orthodox churches are under the general supervision of the Russian Orthodox Church, although reported separatedly.”

      On the Greeks it notes “application has been made by the communities to the ecclesiastical authorities of their own sections, and priests have been sent to this country, sometimes by the Holy Synod of Greece and sometimes by the Patriarchate of Constantinople…As in the case of the early Russian churches [?], there had been no central organization, each priest holding his ecclesiastical relation with the synod or patriarchate which sent him to this country. Arrangements are being perfected for a general organization of the Greek speaking communities representing both the Holy Synod of Greece and the Patriarchate of Constantinople…In doctrine the Greek churhces are in entire accord with other Eastern Orthodox Churches. Their polity and worship, however while in principle the same, vary somewhat in form to meet the peculiar needs. With a more complete organization these divergencies will either disappear or be defintely established…The entire organization of the Greek churches is practically on a home missionary basis.” It also records that in 1890 the Greeks had 1 organization with 100 communicants.

      For the Syrians it states “The churches of this body represent the immigration into the Unites States of communities from Syria connected with the Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch or Jerusalem. They all have priests of their own, but as a body they are under the general supervision of a coadjutor bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church. In doctrine and polity they are in harmony with the Russian Orthodox Church….”

      As for the “Servians” [sic] they “are under the general supervision of the archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States, but have a special administrator an archimandrite of that church. In doctrine and polity they are in harmony with the Russian Orthodox Church…”

      It has a lot of interesting data on the state of the Chruches at the time, finanaces, etc. It makes the comment that “…After the change of political rule, accompanying the sale of Alaska to the United States…as a result there was a loss of interest in the country on the part of the people of Russia, and an attendant loss of the means for carrying on the missionary work…Nevetheless, the Russian Church did not give up is work in the country, but continued to do whatever was within its means. In 1872 the see was removed from Sitka to San Francisco, where there was alaready quite a number of Russians, Servians and Greeks…at present almost the only strictly missionary work is that carried on by the clergy of Alaska among the Indians and Eskimos, and each year sees about 200 converts brough into the Russian Church.” This, every half a century after the sale of Alaska.

      It also includes some info. on Canada.

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        Dean Calvert says:

        Isa,

        Thanks for this…fascinating stuff.

        If you look thru the data, it tells quite a story.

        Since it will not publish here in readable form, I’m publishing it at http://www.standrewhouse.com/1906data.htm in tabular form. All data comes from the link in Isa’s post above.

        Reviewing the data shows a huge disparity between the number of communicants (70% Greeks vs 30% all other) and the number of edifices (34% Greek and 66% all other). This is further reinforced by the number of priests (32% Greek, 68% all other) and the number of seats in the edifices.

        On the surface, the data describes two completely different groups – one, under the Russians, with significant assets and organization, vs the Greeks, with lots of people but very few edifices or priests. It is even described as “home missionary” on page 266. Add to this the complete lack of hierarchical structure above the Greeks and the picture gets very interesting.

        One is left with the impression of an organized Orthodox Church, comprising the Russians, Serbs, and Syrians, whose organization is being literally “swamped” by thousands of Greeks washing up on American shores.

        What do the other sources say? Are they as clear cut as this one appears to be?

        Great stuff…very illuminating.

        Best Regards,
        Dean

        PS be sure to go and review the data – http://www.standrewhouse.com/1906data.htm – …they REALLY tell a story

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          George Michalopulos says:

          Dean, you have painted a very clear picture of what we are dealing with: an established church with material resources and canonical rigor on the one hand and a hodge-podge of immigrants doing the best they can on their own. BTW, I don’d view them as being at fault, just not knowning any better.

          The implications of this picture, that canonical order doesn’t matter (which Fr Andrew still hasn’t addressed) are dire indeed. Going back to your picture, the number of Greek immigrants is 300,000. That’s the same number of people in the GOA today (give or take 100,000). We’re talking ninety years ago, at least three generations. The attrition is simply horrible.

          As bad as that is, that’s not the main concern of my essay. It is simply this: what is going to prevent at some future time another demographic wave from swamping American Orthodoxy and creating a new jurisdiction? If it was good enough for the Greek and other jurisdictions to use their numbers to bolster their claims to independence, then what is going to prevent the ROC from doing the same thing when its numbers likewise overwhelm the GOA? Or the Guatemalans? Or the Ortho-Cubans, whatever?

          The present EA arrangment may do so in theory but history is dynamic. If it becomes apparent that the EA is just as feckless as SCOBA, then it will be hard to deny the claims of a rival Orthodox jurisdiction from arising.

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            Dean Calvert says:

            Hi George,

            I’m just trying to get some facts right now. We can all argue about what they mean later. If the rest of the data is as damning as the stuff Isa sent me in that link…then this whole “myth” is a myth.

            Read what that 1906 census data says…there are four sections – one for Russians, Serbians (Servians), Syrians and Greeks.

            It says that the three (Russian, Serbian, Syrian) were all under the jurisdiction of the Russians.

            That’s why i’m looking for the other sources to see what they say, because that one was pretty black and white.

            Best Regards,
            Dean

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      orrologion says:

      if the only parishes on the continent under a bishop, were under a Russian bishop, then it would seem we did have unity among the Orthodox parishes…since the rest were not Orthodox by definition.

      One nuance we must be aware of here is the fact that a bishop need not be present on this continent to maintain jurisdiction over that portion of his diocese. For instance, Alaska did not always have a bishop in North America, but was sometimes simply a part of a diocese across the Bering Strait in Eastern Asia (Russia). If the parishes not a part of the Russian diocese had been established by, had valid antimens from and were under the omophorion of a bishop overseas, then those parishes would still be, by definition, Orthodox.

      However, it does not seem that this fact has been established, as of yet. So far, it seems, all we know is that laity around what became the ‘lower 48′ formed religious communities that they called parishes – it is unclear whether or when they received valid antimens or were under episcopal oversight. That is, they may simply have been personal or communal chapels constructed by Orthodox Christians, but having no canonical connection as ‘parishes’, ‘missions’, ‘metochia’ or ‘chapels’ with the Orthodox Church as Church.

      Should episcopal oversight and valid antimens be established in the non-Russian Diocese parisehs, the next questions would be whether that ruling bishop’s Synod agreed to establish parishes/missions overseas and whether that bishop and Synod knew of the existence there already of an Orthodox diocese with a bishop present, and whether they dissented from Moscow’s opinion of what ‘ought’ to happen, canonically and jurisdictionally, when evangelizing outside of the otherwise established boundaries of the autocephalous churches.

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        Dean Calvert says:

        Dear orrologion,

        However, it does not seem that this fact has been established, as of yet. So far, it seems, all we know is that laity around what became the ‘lower 48′ formed religious communities that they called parishes – it is unclear whether or when they received valid antimens or were under episcopal oversight. That is, they may simply have been personal or communal chapels constructed by Orthodox Christians, but having no canonical connection as ‘parishes’, ‘missions’, ‘metochia’ or ‘chapels’ with the Orthodox Church as Church.

        I guess this is a good example of why the “primacy” issue should be decoupled from the historical issue.

        It’s interesting to me to begin to understand that there might have been two Orthodox groups operating on the continent in the early 1900′s. If the Russian Mission, which I understand also included certain Serb, Greek and Arab parishes, was under the supervision of a bishop and operating in good canonical order, while the various Greek parishes which seem to have sprung up were acting in an essentially congregationalist mode (ie not really part of an operating diocese), then perhaps the “myth” of jurisdictional unity is not such a myth after all…the “Orthodox” parishes really were united under one jurisdiction. This also seems to underline GM’s point that the interpretation of the information is key…of course that is normally the case with history. A good grip on “context” is generally an imperative.

        I guess the data will help to answer that question.

        Once again, it appears that if we set aside the “primacy” issue, which I consider to be irrelevant (the OCA is not going away, no matter how much the EP and their sycophants might want it to), perhaps we can get to the truth of the matter.

        Best Regards,
        Dean

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          orrologion says:

          …perhaps the “myth” of jurisdictional unity is not such a myth after all…the “Orthodox” parishes really were united under one jurisdiction.

          This misses a key fact, though: we do not know yet whether these parishes were or were not under the omophorion of an Orthodox bishop. If they were, then they are fully and unquestionably Orthodox. If they were not, they were at best personal, private chapels. These facts do not require interpretation and has nothing to do with what “ought” to have been, it has simply yet to be established that the non-Russian Diocese parishes were something other than communal icon corners.

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            Otsukafan says:

            There is a beautiful old parish in a almost non-existent town of Hartshorne, OK. The town’s only real contribution to the world is that it was producing quite a bit of coal in the late 19th century.

            The parish still exist today, though sparsely attended, it has a very quaint little parish hall. In this hall is a wealth of history, a kind of mini-museum of the former life of the parish. On the wall, hanging with pictures and artifacts, is a certificate signed by the Bishop in Chicago that basically certifies them as a legitimate parish. Also there is a deed there for 200 acre’s of land purchased by the Russian Orthodox Church, from the Indian Nation.

            What I find odd, is that these poor, but hard working Carpatho-Russian immigrant coal miners knew that if they wanted to start a parish, they had to send someone to the nearest Bishop and get his blessing and have him send a legitimate priest. They also knew that it would be the Church that would own the property and facilities.

            How could these folk know this, yet some moderate wealthy Greek shipping merchants in the Big Easy not? Or anywhere else for that matter.

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            George Michalopulos says:

            Orrologion, the fact that your own words state “we do not know whether these parishes were or were not under the omorphorion of an Orthodox bishop” is precisely my point. At the very least you describe a canonical nightmare.

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          Fr. Andrew says:

          If the Russian Mission, which I understand also included certain Serb, Greek and Arab parishes, was under the supervision of a bishop and operating in good canonical order, while the various Greek parishes which seem to have sprung up were acting in an essentially congregationalist mode (ie not really part of an operating diocese), then perhaps the “myth” of jurisdictional unity is not such a myth after all…the “Orthodox” parishes really were united under one jurisdiction.

          This is an interesting line of thought, but I wonder what one is to make of the logical outcomes of it.

          Supposing that only the parishes under the Russian-American archdiocese were truly Orthodox, then that means that the rest are not. At what later point did they become Orthodox? Are they really not yet so?

          And does this mean that the Antiochian parishes released by Metr. Platon in 1933 ceased to be Orthodox at that time?

          And what happened when there was a union with (some might read it as “going under”) the ROCOR 1921-1926 and 1935-46? Did they cease being Orthodox for a time, or did they grant Orthodoxy to the ROCOR by means of osmosis?

          Given all this, how can the OCA remain in communion with anyone else in America?

          I honestly don’t think this is a game worth playing. Fortunately, it seems that the OCA isn’t interested in it, either.

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            orrologion says:

            This seems to be a question of what “ought” to have been or what “ought” to be rather than what the facts were on the ground at the time…

            I think the distinction you and Matthew have made in this regard is extremely helpful in navigating these matters, but GM and the pre-1917 unity crowd are not the only ones to blur the lines and to address different questions all at once, in rapid succession or separately.

            I, too, agree that the question of primacy in North America, what should have happened then or what should happen in the future is a different question that what was really going on in North America, jurisdictionally. What those facts are may or may not affect the situation today since so much water has gone under the bridge since then and the jurisdictional landscape is different now. The EA structure seems to acknowledge this difficulty. Historical claims aren’t going to solve this issue, but the Universal Church (through the EAs and a Pan-Orthodox Council) can.

            Still, historically, the primary question seems to have become whether those parishes not under Moscow were under bishops or not. If not, they were not true ‘churches’ in the full, Orthodox sense and cannot be used as a basis for argument in the “ought” questions – which they have been. If they were, that opens up a series of other ramifications for the “ought” questions. But, the basic facts seem not to have been established, yet, as to whether these parishes were or were not under episcopal oversight of any kind at all.

            SOCHA has done a good job of fleshing out the situation during the years when it was assumed that ‘most’ Orthodox were under Moscow while some others (especially Greeks) were not. The unity under Moscow was far more fractious than had been widely known (e.g., the Serbs requesting a Serbian bishop from Serbia apart from Moscow) and there were far more non-Russian Diocese parishes and believers at that time than had been widely assumed. I have also found interesting to see the timing of these parishes’ founding and how this related to the expansion of the US across the continent (i.e., there was no ‘lower 48′ at that time and the first Orthodox parish in what was then a US State was in San Francisco under Moscow followed in New Orleans not under Moscow); the opening and closing of chapels in New York is also important in that it might point to Moscow’s ‘abandonment’ of the eastern US states or its view that this was ‘international territory’ for any Orthodox church to establish mission chapels to serve immigrants, seafarers, merchants, embassy staff, etc.

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            Isa Almisry says:

            With all due respect, Father, you speak as if this question has only played itself out in North America.

            Did Greek Orthodoxy vanish from Greece in 1832 to reappear in 1850? Did it vanish from Bulgaria/Northern Greece/Macedonia in 1872 to be restored in 1945? Where’s the Orthodoxy of the Church of Macedonia? Did Belgrad cease to be Orthodox in 1920 when it united with the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches of Karlovci and Montengro , which, being out of reach of the Sultans, refused to pass out of existence when the Porte and Phanar abolished the St. Sava’s Patriarchate of Pec in 1766? Did the parishes the EP sold to the new Patriarchate of Belgrad cease to be Othodox thereby? Did Constantinople and the Church of Greece leave Orthodoxy when they commemorated and were in communion with the “Living Church” of Russia, which Pat. St. Tikhon had anathematized? When did Poland become autocephalous 1924 or 1948? Was Czechoslovakia ever a Church in 1951, or did that status only come to the Czech and Slovakia in 1998? Is the Church of Georgia of today the same one abolished in 1811? Was it resurrected in 1917, 1943 or 1990? Or had it continued to exist undre the Russian Holy Governing Synod, on which its exarch sat? Did the Russian Church leave Orthodoxy when it refused to follow Constantinople into schism at Florence in 1448, to be restored to Orthodoxy by being elevated as Patriarchate in 1589? Did the Church of Sibiu/Transylvania leave Orthodoxy when its primate submitted to the Vatican but the Faithful did not and smuggled in Orthodox clergy, or when it paid lip service to a Calvinist Ober-Procurator but kept to the Traditions of Orthodoxy? Did they remain Orthodox by osmosis from the Metropolitan of Bucharest, or did they bring the latter into heresy when the autocephalous Metropolitan of Sibiu and All Transylvania united with the Church of Romania and became the Patriarch of Bucharest? And I’m only mentioning what I can think of off the top of my head….

            How can anyone Orthodox anywhere remain in communion with anyone?

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            Fr. Andrew says:

            Isa:

            You’ve made my point quite precisely, i.e., that it’s silly to try to lay down some sort of single, technical criterion of “Orthodoxy” and from that attempt to extrapolate “primatial claims” for some jurisdiction or other.

            Anyway, answer me this, from a practical standpoint: Do you think a united Orthodox Church for America will be achieved by mutual cooperation, or by everyone submitting to some one party’s “claims”? Some other method?

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            Dean Calvert says:

            Dear Fr Andrew,

            As usual, you miss my point completely, and jump to conclusions and conjured up objections, (i.e. “how can the OCA remain in communion with anyone else in America?”) that I have not raised.

            To be honest, I would suggest that you are the only one playing games here.

            I’ve raised some very simple questions, which have to do with what the situation “on the ground” was in the early 1900′s. As I’ve stated above, probably 6 or 7 times now, I could care less about the “primacy” issues, frankly because I consider them to be idiotic. I’ll let you worry about who the OCA should be in communion with etc – that’s not my question.

            If you’d like to answer the questions, great. If not, please feel free to just ignore my posts, and let others provide the information I’ve requested.

            One would think that a co-sponsor of a site named Orthodoxhistory would be interested in furthering the discussion of that history. However it’s apparent to me that the only discussion you are interested in is your version of that history, which I am not currently willing to accept as true.

            Thank you,

            Dean Calvert

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            Fr. Andrew says:

            The sad irony, Dean, is that I feel just about exactly the same way regarding your own comments.

            Anyway, it’s clear that some people very much do care about “primacy” issues, since “primatial claims” is precisely the phrase that appears prominently at the beginning of GM’s piece. Forgive me for assuming that you and he saw eye-to-eye on this.

            Actually, a significant difference between your views has indeed emerged: George’s comments over the past several days have displayed a certain hopeful expectation about our future prospects. I’m glad to see this change in tone from his previous remarks, which mainly were quite cynical about the whole thing. I hope that you’ll also have a similar change of heart.

            I must say, though, that I suspect you’ll continue to characterize our hierarchs as the mafia.

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      S. Danckaert says:

      One thing that I’ve become convinced of is this – someone, I think George, made the point that the parishes cannot exist outside the diocese, and the diocese does not exist without a bishop.

      According to this line of thinking, none of the earliest missionary activity in Moravia or Pannonia was “Orthodox,” nor was the earliest Russian activity in the lower 48 here.

      For example, in the early 1860s, the Bishop of Sitka was a mere auxilliary of the Kamchatka diocese, which had no official jurisdiction in the United States — not even San Francisco. His vicariate was essential to the Russian American Company, overseeing 800 Russians, about 2,000 creoles (mixed-bloods, with some Russian in them, who therefore had superior legal rights), and about 10,000 native converts spread out in various villages throughout Alaska. After the sale of Alaska in 1867, Sitka was totally devastated. Almost all of the Russians fled back to Russia, many of the Creoles did as well, and the city was soon down to something like a meager 400 people, rife with brawling, prostitution, no jobs, etc. It had gone from Russian Imperial outpost to a ramshackle. For the details, see B. D. Lain. The Decline of Russian America’s Colonial Society. The Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Apr., 1976), pp. 143-153.

      Faced with this situation, Bishop Paul, the administrator of the vicariate of Alaska, gladly responded to the request of some Russians in San Francisco and sent Fr. Kovrigin on a mission trip to test the waters outside of troubled Alaska. Fr. Kovrigin celebrated the Liturgy for a few months in 1868 and then left California.

      In other words, a group of compatriots in a far off place sent a request to a Bishop to send a missionary priest to them. The bishop naturally complied, even though this priest would be serving outside of his (the Bishop’s) official jurisdiction. There was pastoral work to be done! One couldn’t wait to form dioceses and appoint Bishops to them, etc.

      That’s how the Russians did it, just like everyone else, for decades. In fact, although the Most Holy Governing Synod in Russia allowed Bishop John to relocate his headquarters from the ramshackle of Sitka to San Francisco in 1872, it wouldn’t establish its Bishops as anything other than “Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska” until 1900, when St. Tikhon finally became “Bishop of the Aleutians and North America.”

      That’s sort of SOCHA’s point, as far as I understand it. Most people, by casually connecting (an idealized understanding of) the 18th or 19th century Russian presence in Alaska to the time of St. Tikhon’s ministry in the United States, miss the reality of the situation in the 1860s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

      Even when the Russian hierarchy relocated its offices out of no-longer-Russian Alaska, its presence in the United States was so minimal that it didn’t even require a change in diocesan structure. The Bishop who lived in San Francisco was the Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska, not San Francisco. He lived outside his official jurisdiction, and the holders of this See rightly spent most of their time (and effort) on matters in their diocese, i.e. Alaska. As far as I know, very little (perhaps nothing?) was done by the Bishop of Alaska himself in terms of forming parishes elsewhere in the lower 48 in the period before 1890. Excepting those in his diocese of Alaska, he apparently had only one parish in the entire United States (San Francisco). For six whole years in the 1880s, the See of Alaska was entirely vacant, and, starting in 1890, other parishes not affiliated with the Bishop of Alaska began to pop up all over the United States, started much like San Francisco had in 1868.

      That’s why Matthew Namee wrote:

      * American Orthodoxy didn’t really exist prior to 1890. There was Alaskan Orthodoxy, and there were parishes in San Francisco and New Orleans, but the United States proper just didn’t have a significant Orthodox presence until after 1890.
      * As soon as Orthodox parishes started popping up in the US after 1890, there was jurisdictional pluralism.

      Orthodox missionary activity, since the time of Sts. Cyril & Methodius, has been done by lay people or priests sent into unorganized lands, without an official “diocese” or episcopal presence. In the case of Sts. Cyril & Methodius, they went into areas that were already under a Bishop, with whom they were in communion, and set up competing churches against his wishes. At the time, they were lay people. Later, once St. Methodius was made a bishop, he established and fought for a full-fledged overlapping jurisdiction. There have been other periods and places in which the Church has had overlapping jurisdictions. Eventually, over time, things get straightened out. In that sense, the history of Orthodox missions here is not unusual at all.

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        Dean Calvert says:

        Dear S.

        Re: According to this line of thinking, none of the earliest missionary activity in Moravia or Pannonia was “Orthodox,”

        Moravia was without a bishop for 8 years, 862 until 870, when Methodios was elevated to the episcopacy. After that time, the mission was under the direct supervision of Methodios, who was later elevated to archbishop, who in turn was working under the auspices of the Pope.

        So your point would be what exactly?

        And, as far as Sts Cyril and Methodios going to Moravia as “lay people”….excuse me but that does not at all put the situation in the proper context. The brothers, one a layman and the other a monk, were sent by the emperor AND patriarch Photios, with letters to Rastislav from the Byzantine emperor. hardly just a couple of laymen showing up to do evangelism as you seem to imply. Furthermore, the work, which St. Cyril (Constantine) completed (the alphabet) had been going on for about 30 years in the monasteries in Asia Minor.

        There is absolutely NO comparison between the setup of Orthodoxy in America, as you describe it, and what happened in Moravia. For anyone familiar with the history, the Moravian project can only be compared to the modern day Apollo project…it was momentous, completely charged with national enthusiasm, would possibly change the course of history, and the Byzantines knew it.

        Best Regards,
        dean

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          Fr. Andrew says:

          Dean,

          It’s important to read carefully. Mr. Danckaert was responding precisely to this comment: “One thing that I’ve become convinced of is this – someone, I think George, made the point that the parishes cannot exist outside the diocese, and the diocese does not exist without a bishop” (emphasis added).

          As such, his response was precisely in those terms, i.e., that defining a parish as a non-parish if it exists outside the boundaries of a diocese would thus invalidate a great deal of missionary work, including that done in Moravia, which was for years conducted outside the boundaries of any diocese.

          How one reads is crucial. You misread his remarks. Whether you did it deliberately or not, I’m really not sure.

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            Isa Almisry says:

            Actually I’m the one who said, and I got the idea from something John Sandipolous said on his blog “Mystagogy” from a different viewpoint. His contention was that since priest exist only as extensions of their bishop, then since “Fr.” Agapius Honcharenko served at New Orleans he must have had been there representing the Chruch of Greece (which is still a problem, giving the mythology that the Tomos of 1908, and hence the EP’s jurisdiction, depends on), creating a fact out of a theory. The fact that we have the documenation of Agapij coming to SF demanding antimens and vestments, and that he was not ordained beyond deacon makes mincemeat of that theory.

            Parishes, at least Orthodox parishes, exist only with an antimens, which requires a bishop, who must sit on a synod whose primate is in the diptychs of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Since the first instance of the term “Catholic Church” (St. Ignatius of Antioch) it has always meant the same thing, a bishop shepherding his flock, whether surrounding him in his Cathedral, a parish created by his antimens, or missions dependent on his oversight. This fact doesn’t invalidate any legitimate Orthodox mission. Otherwise, why not let anyone go up and celebrate Divine Liturgy? I’ve been at Church when illness or other circumstances deprived us of a priest. We didn’t celebrate DL, we had a Typikon/reader service instead.

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            Harry Coin says:

            The EP has plenty of ‘diocese without bishops’ he also has diocese without people. In fact a fellow who presently is the bishop of somewhere in Asia Minor with neither churches or people is commemorated in parishes around Chicago for the GOA.

            We’ve all heard of ‘widowed diocese’ than operated for a great long while with only ‘Deans’– mostly because the ordained young never married set couldn’t bring themselves to do right and properly call ‘bishp’ a married priest who actually defacto was doing the job.

            So canonical minutae are presumed to be of importance when it suits, and if otherwise, then not so much.

            Watching all of this more carefully over the last 20 years leaves me convinced that those who make reference to the canons do little more than participate as subjects in an ecclesiastiacal Rorsach test.

            I’ve seen canons used as a little more than a prop. On more than one occasion I’ve heard, both from canonists, parties present during the conversation and others– some hierarch or minion thereof would approach a canonist to commission research in order to get an opinion on this or that canonical subject. The canonist, noting the canon that defacto moots all the others in this or that case depending on the discernment of the bishop, asked how the person doing the commissioning wanted the result to turn out. He got his marching orders then proceeded to construct the argument that threaded the canonical needle to generate the preferred result.

            Anyhow folk wave the canons around in their preferred fashion to solidify the political support of their fellow travellers or political camp, to create a ‘them’ out of whoever it is that isn’t on board with their agenda. That’s a big part of the message of ‘the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life’.

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            orrologion says:

            According to this line of thinking, none of the earliest missionary activity in Moravia or Pannonia was “Orthodox,”…

            …parishes cannot exist outside the diocese, and the diocese does not exist without a bishop

            the Orthodoxy of a parish (or even a large set of parishes) in a new land does not always depend on its relationship to a local diocese ruled by a local bishop

            Parishes require a bishop. A diocese is nothing more nor less than the area a bishop is responsible for. There is some nuanced disagreement about how new areas “ought” to be evangelized and what episcopal jurisdiction looks like. But the Orthodoxy of a parish (or parishes) depends on their having a bishop, period – a local bishop with a normal, defined diocesan structure is not required. There is no church without a bishop, in some form or another, near or far. St. Cyril and Methodius were sent by bishops and thus were under the omophorion of a bishop. This is enough.

            Back to North America, it is not clear the non-Russian Diocese parishes were under the omophorion of any bishop anywhere in any fashion. These cannot be used as the basis for arguing ‘longevity’ of parishes – they can be used to note longevity of believers as these parishes seem to be public, communal icon corners.

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          S. Danckaert says:

          And, as far as Sts Cyril and Methodios going to Moravia as “lay people”….excuse me but that does not at all put the situation in the proper context. The brothers, one a layman and the other a monk, were sent by the emperor AND patriarch Photios, with letters to Rastislav from the Byzantine emperor. hardly just a couple of laymen showing up to do evangelism as you seem to imply.

          Everyone knows that, Dean, so I’m not sure why you think that is a rebuttal to an analogy. The point is that, theory aside, the historical reality shows that the Orthodoxy of a parish (or even a large set of parishes) in a new land does not always depend on its relationship to a local diocese ruled by a local bishop, as some here have purported. Of course, there has always been some kind of relationship to *a* bishop, but not always a local one, and certainly not the local diocesan one (since such didn’t exist in the situations under review).

          I had typed something up, but scrapped it, because I doubt it’s even worth discussing with you. You don’t seem interested in discussion, and you don’t seem to have paid attention to anything but hagiographies of the missions in Moravia or Pannonia.

          At any rate, that’s just an aside to the present discussion, so I’ll let it continue. I am more interested to learn about the Bishop of Alaska’s activities from 1872-1891, if anyone has the sources.

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          Fr. Andrew says:

          Christopher:

          “Public icon corners” is somewhat amusing, but all indications of these “icon corners” is that they looked remarkably like Orthodox church buildings with priests serving services and commemorating various bishops—before 1918, in the Greek parishes, one could hear commemorated the EP, the archbishop of Athens, or the diocesan bishop from the priest’s home town. So, by and large, at least the clergy understood themselves as belonging to a bishop.

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            orrologion says:

            Yes, but did these bishops know they were being commemorated, did they give antimens or did the priests simply have them ‘in their possession’, did the bishops and their Synods know there was already a bishop in that country with parishes in or near that city or did they assume the priest was going off to a land with no other Orthodox? These are pertinent questions, and I don’t think they have been answered. I’ve read stories of Orthodox communities that built ‘churches’ where they served reader services, etc., but these did not become true parishes/missions/chapels, etc. until they were received as such by the local bishop. Of course, should a circuit priest stop in that would be the natural place to hold services, but that doesn’t make it a parish/mission/chapel because we are not a ‘presbyter’ian church we are an ‘episcopal’ church. The fact that we know of examples of so-called priests acting and being received as priests is an important aspect insofar as the longevity of parishes is often used as proof for ‘jurisdiction’ in that city or region. The dissent to this reading of the material is coalescing around the lack of bishops, and perhaps also the lack of episcopal oversight in general.

            We cannot get to the “oughts” without knowing the facts, and SOCHA has been very good at continuing to uncover yet further, complicating factors in the early history of the Church in North America.

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        Isa Almisry says:

        You leave out a number of significant details, only a few of which I have time to give:

        The early missionaries in Pannonia and Moravia were sent by EP St. Photios and received permission from Popes of Rome, who consecrated St. Methodius bishop of Greater Moravia, Pannonia and Serbia and ordained his disciples.

        The Russian American Charters had made the rights in the New World contingent to support of the Church and its work. The same Charters required Naval officers to serve as administrators of the charter, and the Russian Imperial Navy served as chaplains to the Russian American Company and its jurisdiction. Those adminstrators included Peter S. Kostromitinov and Alexander Rotchev, who administered Fort Ross and the Russian colony in CA, north and west of SF, who welcomed St. Innocent of Alaska when he served there, under the jurisdiction of Irkutsk, under which Kamchatka came until St. Innocent was elevated as its suffragan bishop of Kamchatka. Some of those creoles in Sitka, his see, were Kashaya Pomo and Miwok, the native tribes to the Fort Ross colony. Rotchev sold Fort Ross to Sutter, and Kostromitrinov, now Russian Company Agent and Russia Vice-Concul in SF, patented a gold panning device for Mr. Sutter’s gold rush. Still in SF, he welcomed the Naval chaplains as he had in Fort Ross, and on ship Pascha 1864 he formed the resident Orthodox into The Russian-Greek-Slavonian Church and Philanthropic Society, which the Russian and Greek consuls incorporated three years later, with the aid of the last Russian Governor of Alaska, into what is now Holy Trinity Cathedral, and sent to AK for a priest. Many Russians left Alaska and came there, and they had been for decades before the AK Cession, such that the Episcopalians became alarmed and raised the issue of a Russian bishop on what they thought their canonical terriotry (Namee has uncovered much of this info on OH.org), such that the Russians refrained from naming the bishop bishop of SF even when he was translated there, and set up their chapel in NYC as a sort of metochion. The name didn’t change until the Episcopalians names their own bishop of AK, which they called “the first bishop of AK”(?)(!).

        Bishop Paul wasn’t the administrator of the Alaska vicate. He was the last suffragan bishop of Novoangelsk to Kamtchatka who consecrated the NYC chapel on his way back to Russian. Per the Cession Treaty a native American citizen, he celebrated Thanksgiving (in the American sense of hte word) DL in the new chapel before leaving. His replacement was a full bishop, names to Alaska, the American, not Russian, name to the territory.

        SOCHA has threads on the Russian plans for NYC before the AK Cession (and I’ve posted the New York law of 1871, which deputized the Russian Consul and Embassador to incorporate Orthodox Churches in the State, a plan in 1870 to have bishops in SF, NYC and New Orleans with the AK bishop, the visit of the Russian bishops in the 1880′s to Chicago and the raising of the Orthodox Church there.

        So the bishop of AK was in SF? The Holy Governing Synod of the Patriarchate of Russia was in St. Petersburg and the Patriarch of Antioch lives in Damascus. As for the number of parishes, yes they were small in 1890, and took off thereafter. But some were formed under episcopal supervision as Orthodox ecclesiology requires, and some were formed under not only no episcopal authority but in defiance of it, it whcih case they were less than communal icon corners.

        St. Nina, a woman, evangelized Georgia. But she sent for bishops from the Roman empire. Lay people can represent a jurisdiciton: the officers of the Russian American Company did. But they did so with authority from that jurisdiction, a far cry from lay people acting on their own with no authority but what they made up for themselves.

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    Vladimir De Beer says:

    Many thanks for an excellent essay, George! Informative, well-reasoned and balanced. You have certainly set the record straight over and against the revisionists with their questionable agendas. Godspeed!

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Vladimir, you are most kind.

      All: I gotta get to work so I probably won’t be able to respond in more detail until this weekend (on the road and email is spotty at best). Again, thanks for taking the time to read it and of course offer your insightful comments.

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    Greg says:

    It seems to me that all the talk about who-was-here-first, what is the meaning of Canon 28, how should the Mother Churchs relate to the American Orthodox, etc. is secondary to the question as to whether the Orthodox here really do want to be “one.” (I know, I know… the Orthodox are one. It is just administrative unity that is lacking.)

    Has there ever been any polling of the laity and hierarchy to find out what percentage of American Orthodox even want to be united? And what they would be willing to give up to be a family?

    What would happen if +Jonah, +Demetrios, and +Philip got together and insisted that the other person be in charge? Whould it not be a shock to the system if +Philip called on all Antiocheans to follow +Jonah, or if +Demetrios called on all Greeks to follow +Philip, or if +Jonah called on all the OCA to follow +Demetrios.

    Now THAT would be demonstration that unity does prevail and that American Orthodoxy really is a family, instead of just a bunch of distant cousins who really don’t care much about each other.

    Greg
    (Not Orthodox, but I’m interested in the discussion.)

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    Frank Dancer says:

    I was here first! No I was! Why does this seem like silly school yard bickering to me under the guise of eloquent historical discussion?

    Am I missing something here?

    What does it matter? Shouldn’t unity should be achieved despite who was here first?… with the mindset of love and humility?

    The Church in America should not be Russian, Antiochian, or Greek, it should be American… and then not even American.. it should be Christian.

    Can someone please help me understand?

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      And me too … Can someone please help me understand?

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Frank, it seems like school yard bickering because it is: “…so’s yer ol’ man!.”

      It is simple, we’d rather rule in hell than serve in heaven.

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        Isa Almisry says:

        It is simple, we’d rather rule in hell than serve in heaven

        Some things never change: Matthew 18:1, Mark 9:34, Luke 9:46.

        There is, however, something deadly serious about this debate, which is lurking in the competing historical narratives. One sees the Church on a mission, the other sees it confined to grandma’s attic.

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          Michael Bauman says:

          Isa, IMO all of the extant narratives leave the Church in the attic precisely because we are bickering instead of just being the Church and allowing the form to follow. People are afraid that ANY change will lead to dissolution and/or the dread ‘Americans’ destroying the Church, the crazy Greeks, the worldly Antiochians, the morose Russians, and what ever form of the ethno-legalism objections you care to call up. There is even the ‘native’ version which wishes to exclude all ‘non-American’ influence. How stupid is that one.

          St. Tihkon’s vision is simple, workable and a good place to start. There will be a ton of problems to work out, but the bishops (at least some) already have a list of pastoral issues that need to be addressed and regularized. We will have to accomodate and celebrate a diverse set of practices at least at first, both calendars, lee-way in the liturgical schedule, etc.

          If we have a functioning local synod–all of that can be dealt with effectively. If not, everything becomes a problem.

          Proclaim the Gospel; form people spiritually so that we are constantly directed and supported in living a life of prayer, fasting, repentance and alms giving; allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the way to work together for the glory of God.

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            Isa Almisry says:

            Isa, IMO all of the extant narratives leave the Church in the attic precisely because we are bickering instead of just being the Church and allowing the form to follow.

            Easier said then done. The EA could implement St. Tikhon’s vision now: it was, after all, a much looser center control than Russia was used to, a fact he points out. The problem is that the EA itself has an autocephalous primate, an autonomous ones, two self ruled ones, three who have no ties to their mother Churches but are appendages to a primate who is defined basically as the Phanar’s colonial administrator, and a primate who is treated as their diocese is just a little west of back home (and who, ironically, has stated for the record that unity won’t come until his generation dies off), and an embassador bishop. As long as the Phanar’s exarch ex officio runs the show, offically nothing is going to move in that direction. Although it seems that the present chairman is doing what he can to move it in the right direction, we only need the Phanar to act like it did with Iakovos, including a successor like Spyridon, or the Met. of Canada who alone refused the canonical call to come to the Assembly, to bring it to nought.

            To change things, it is going to take a Ligonier, because even if Met. Jonah and the rest of the EA were willing to acknowledge the present Chair as autocephalous primate and submit to him-something I have no problem Met. Jonah doing-I can’t imagine the Phanar giving Arch. Demetrios his independence. I do support the EA, if they meet as regularly as promised, in that that critical mass meeting regular is going to set off in time a chain reaction that cannot be stopped, because the Spirit will be as with it as He was in the Upper Room on Pentacost.

            Btw, I’m listening to Fr. Arey right now explaining the EA. Far less strident.
            http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/features/unravelling_the_episcopal_assembly

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        George Michalopulos says:

        Michael, thanks for distilling it to its essence. Although I have a sarcastic streak in me, I’m rather pleased by the EA as it has arisen in North America. Unlike the other EAs, I think this one has a fighting chance.

        If you would allow me to use this post to make a few more general points, I would be most grateful. Here they are:

        1. The EA’s as constituted by Chambesy are ingenious but ultimately unworkable. Or I should say that they are workable and can lead to unity provided the people located therein desire it. That’s why I think the North American EA has a fighting chance. I think the demographic reality is such that the vast majority of Orthodox Americans and their priests view themselves as Americans. Probably a majority of our bishops do as well (GOA included). I think that we are actually a mature church.

        2. The idea that a grand “deal” between Istanbul, Damascus, and Moscow has been worked out is ludicrous. The contours of that deal being South America is for Damascus, North America for Istanbul, and Europe for Russia is nonsense. For proof, all one has to do is go to the actual Chambesy report and read its own words. The question of jurisdiction in these “regions” is settled: no one patriarchate has jurisdiction because all bishops located therein are canonical. That means that in order to “order” these gatherings of bishops, chairmanship shall be based on dyptichs. This is a huge concession that Istanbul made because there are probably regions where there is no Constantinopolitan exarch (at least there could be in theory). You could say all patriarchates have jurisdiction, which logically means nobody does.

        3. Even if we suppose that a deal had been worked out, there is no way that Russia or Damascus can be “left out” of North America (because that’s really what we’re talking about here). Why? Go to Chambesy again: Because they each have chairmen on the presidium. It’s mandatory that they are involved. In other words, they cannot “abandon” North America because they are mandated to be here.

        4. Now let’s consider Russia (because that’s the real issue): The MP by rights has two eparchies in North America. (Three, if you count the OCA, but you can’t because it’s autocephalous.)

        5. All jurisdictions retain their integrity until the future date when they may join into jurisdictional unity. That’s not necessarily a pretty picture; for one thing, it means that the Serbian and Greek jurisdictions will continue to hire unaccountable bishops and allow foreign meddling. Missteps along the line of the Iakovos removal will continue to erupt from time to time. The Nikita Turkish citizenship issue is an example of this. That’s too bad, but that’s not AOCNA’s and OCA’s problem.

        6. The OCA’s autocephaly is accepted at least as a fait accompli. The EP will probably never recognize it but the Phanar doesn’t have the testicular fortitude to take up this issue with Moscow. Hence custom will prevail. A prediction: The GOA and other jurisdictions will not press the matter either (publicly they may do so but I doubt it). Why? Because the autocephaly of the OCA is a trump card, a golden parachute if you will. The foreign-controlled jurisdictions will use it to leverage more independence from their foreign overlords.

        Conclusion: As I said in an earlier reply, the reason that I ultimately believe that the North American EA has a fighting chance is because North America had a united, multi-ethnic, missionary, local church for the first 100 years of its existence. This is very much like the American experience. Americans did not create the Declaration of Independence out of thin air. English common law existed within the ethnic memory of the Anglo-Saxon colonists. The roots of this common law went all the way back to the primite Saxon concept of “freeholding” and all warriors being peers. They exercised their power in primitive parliaments, in moots and all things, etc. Tacitus described these gatherings in his comments on the Germanic tribes that he observed. Out of this grew common law and one could say, the Magna Carta, which codified these inherent rights that all Englishmen believed they had. These rights were carried over into America. The Declaration was simply a reaffirmation of these rights.

        Sorry for the tendentious history lesson, but the story of the Russian Mission is very much analogous to the American experience (as I stated in my postscript). Thanks for letting me develop it further. That’s why I can’t see the Balkanized ghetto dreams of Lambrianides working here. It’s illusory and would be the death-knell of Orthodoxy.

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      orrologion says:

      There is one important aspect of this that has nothing to do with ethnicity, power, autocephaly or autonomy, etc. The primary issues is the canonical requirement that there be ‘one bishop, one city’. Even the EP’s deunciation of ethnophyletism is really only a further enunciation of ‘one bishop, one city’. Overlapping jurisdictions – ethnic, national, political or otherwise – is un-Orthodox. In fact, setting up parallel episcopates for a territory is generally related to a break in communion – which is why those in and outside of the Church tend to assume we are not in communion with each, not really.

      The issue is that neither we nor our hierarchs want to be Orthodox, not on this point. Economia might rightly see the loss of adherents if ‘their’ churches were not under their ‘Mother Church’, but this is simple proof that we and our hierarchs are not willing to be Orthodox, not fully, not on this point.

      We refuse the ‘word’ from Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex, the Russian-born, Athonite archimandrite of a truly pan-Orthodox monastery under the EP:

      We celebrate the Liturgy together. But we must pay what this costs: each one must be concerned for the salvation of all. Our life is an endless martyrdom.

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    American Housewife says:

    Fr. Andrew, I think that one of the biggest problems people have with your writing is that you are not being honest with the reader. The “tracks” you have laid, lead the “train” straight into the Constantinople Depot. Just be honest about your point of view. People respect honesty. That is one of the reasons why you will constantly be under fire for what you write.

    I enjoy history too and I find this rather familiar to our early American history. A “small” English colony finally had enough of a King who didn’t know or care about them. They knew that they were no longer “English” but residents of a new place. The famous quote “the shot heard around the world” was so powerful because at that time it was so unbelievable to the European Powers that anyone, let alone a small group of farmers, businessmen and backwoodsmen, would dare to challenge the mighty English Empire. But the Colonists prevailed and started the greatest country in the world.

    The American Church is now doing the same thing. Ligonier was the “shot heard around the world” and we too shall prevail. We will have an American church, governed by Americans, for Americans and no American money going overseas except as a willing gift from the loving and generous American people. Fr. Andrew, you, Namee and others who agree with this historical rendition, are just on the side of the Redcoats. And that’s okay, no one will tar and feather you. You can honestly believe that foreign rule is still needed, just like the long-ago British Sympathizers. But for crying out loud , be honest about it. This is America and we have a history of independence and independence will come.

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      Fr. Andrew says:

      Dear Madam Housewife,

      I think it is incorrect to believe that reading American Orthodox history and trying to figure out what the sources actually show necessarily plays into any particular “hand.” My own interpretation of this history is that there is no jurisdiction which comes out with a clear “win” when the history is read honestly.

      You are of course free to suspect that we’re not being honest, that we’re secret agents for the Phanar. (If so, I’d like to receive some sort of cheque from them! Maybe I could buy a house for my wife and two little kids and stop renting.) But since you desire honesty, let’s be honest: You have absolutely no evidence for this assertion. And what could the main writers for SOCHA (consisting of an Antiochian layman, an Antiochian priest, and an OCA priest) possibly have to gain?

      Anyway, I also think it betrays a certain lack of imagination or perhaps the donning of politically-colored sunglasses to believe that everything must be politics, in the end. That is a sort of Nietzschean point of view, in which the will to power is all that really matters.

      American Orthodox history is canonically a mess. Canonical order (which, yes, George, matters very much) has not been followed. Even if the Russians had only ever been the only game in town, canonical order was not always followed (as, for instance, when numerous parishes existed outside the diocesan borders, or when the bishop himself lived outside those borders, or when the primate released parishes on his own territory to another jurisdiction). There is no clear narrative here which makes things obvious to everyone as to where we “should” have gone.

      Even if there were, the various jurisdictions are never going to just close up shop and “submit” to one of the existing ones. There will need to be some creativity in order to solve our current problems, and appeals to “primatial claims” (whether for the OCA, the EP, the MP, or anyone else) are never going to get us there.

      It does not surprise me that people have become upset to learn that there was never a golden age of administrative unity in America. Disillusionment is often painful. It is necessary, though, because we cannot proceed under illusions. We have to face our real history head-on and then ask where we go from here.

      I believe there are some who will never accept disillusionment, but prefer illusion and the accompanying delusion. They will remain angry and defensive whenever evidence is brought forward which questions their preferred mythology. But it is characteristic of them that they will probably not go and do the archival sifting and real hours and weeks and months and years of research into the primary sources, either, most likely because they fear what they will find there.

      Meanwhile, I believe that the Orthodox of America, with the leadership of their hierarchs, are now really moving forward with how we work out unity, and they are not proceeding on the basis of any of these sorts of myths. Even the OCA itself, the favorite jurisdiction of the mythologists, is no longer proceeding on this basis. So the partisans and sectarians now find themselves as armchair cynics who will remain on the sidelines while the actual work is being done. I urge them to give it up, because the OCA already has. The OCA bishops are busily voting unanimously on the Episcopal Assembly. We might want to consider following the leadership of all our bishops and essentially do the same.

      One does not have to be an OCA partisan in order to be authentically American and Orthodox. Nor does one have to believe in the OCA’s now-discarded myth of origins.

      I am not the official spokesman for SOCHA, but I can tell you that, although it is by no means our “party line,” all those involved are very much in favor of a united, autocephalous Orthodox Church for the United States. None of us believes that being beholden to a hierarchy across the seas is our best destiny. None of us is a partisan for some particular jurisdiction. More and more, that position is being revealed as silly and, quite frankly, sinful.

      Is Christ divided?

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        orrologion says:

        Madam Housewife, I, too, feel you went overboard on your reading of Fr. Andrew’s statements and the work of SOCHA. Revolution and self-government are also not specifically Orthodox ideals, so they are best left at the door.

        I would put forward to points that show SOCHA is not playing to an EP tune. They have thoroughly discredited the “myth” that the Greeks of New Smyrna, FL represent the real, ‘first Orthodox’ presence in the New World. In fact, they were most likely Catholics and had a Greek Catholic priest with them. Their work laying bare the fractures between the Russian Church and their Serbian and Syrian contingents plays as much against the EP and its ‘universal’ claims as they do against Moscow and its ‘we were here first’ claims. That is, neither the Russians, Syrians or Serbs expressed any knowledge of the EP’s claims to have jurisdiction overall all Orthodox in the “so-called diaspora” or the “so-called barbarian lands”. This is obviously little more than a local tradition of Constantinople and its satellites having no part in the tradition of the universal Church, cf. the same universal claims by Old Rome based on an equally local tradition.

        I would suggest that an important area of inquiry is also the pre-1921 episcopal status of the non-Russian Diocese (mainly Greek) parishes and clergy in North America. Whether they were under episcopal oversight at all is an important question, one that is likely to be felt as hurtful in the GOA as has been some of SOCHA’s information has been to the OCA and other pro-Ligonieries

        That being said, I think Fr. Andrew does himself and SOCHA a disservive by regularly being baited into writing about issues beyond “what happened”, even hypothetically, even with a caveat that it is his opinion alone. This muddies the waters regarding the work SOCHA is doing, and which needs to be done so as to expose the various founding myths all parties in North America have been laboring under.

        He is right that the EA has essentially bypassed the weight these arguments once needed to carry in that the conciliar, Universal Church has decided how we are to proceed – via an EA rather than through their local precursors and inspiration, e.g., SCOBA. The EA represents the realpolitik of dealing with the uncanonical, jurisdictional issue as it is – not as it “ought” to have been, not as any given party believes it “ought” to be. SOCHA’s work uncovering the jurisdictional chaos in North America, on all sides, will be important in the hierarch’s understanding of how we got here, the causes of certain habits in and within the jurisdictions, the roots of distrust and hurt. This understanding will be essential in addressing those issues that stand in our way from becoming one.

        I will leave you all with pertinent words concerning Patriarch Pavel’s healing of the North American schism in his own church:

        Perhaps Patriarch Pavle’s greatest service for the Serbian Orthodox faithful outside of the former Yugoslavia was his activity in healing the schism in the Church outside of Yugoslavia in 1992. [Note: In 1963, Bishop Dionisije of America and Canada created the 'Free Serbian Orthodox Church' in opposition to the Patriarchal Church in Belgrade, which he saw as Communist controlled.] …on the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in 1992 eucharistic communion was reestablished at a Liturgy served by Patriarch Pavle, Metropolitan Christopher (representing the patriarchal churches in America), and Metropolitan Irinej, at the Belgrade Cathedral. On that occasion Patriarch Pavle said in part:

        Today, and tomorrow, and in the future, that which was – was, and is past. Let it remain behind us. Leave it to God and to His wisdom to judge that which was, and reward everyone according to righteousness. And before our spiritual eyes, let there be unity and evangelical love, that we may offer mutual forgiveness, guarding this as the apple of our eye.

        If anyone maliciously asks us, ‘Who is the vanquisher and who the vanquished?’ we should peacefully and clearly know how to respond, for both ourselves and them: Here brothers, who have been and remain such, have encountered each other, neither as vanquisher nor as vanquished. One alone is the vanquisher – the God of peace, unity and love. And with God and in God, the vanquisher is St. Sava, he who reconciled his brothers and who, in the service of peace, went to his enemies bringing peace to them and to his people. And one is the vanquished – the demon of division, discord and turbulence, who always pits brother against brother.

        - From “A Spiritual Giant Goes to God: Patriarch Pavle of Serbia, 1914-2009″, The Orthodox Word, vol. 45, no. 6 (269), November-December 2009, pp. 271-2.

        http://orrologion.blogspot.com/2010/05/on-oca-rocor-reconciliation.html

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Am. Housewife, while I don’t agree with many of the positions Fr. Andrew seems to take, I think you are a little overboard here. He has stated several times that he wants an American Church governed by Americans. We simply don’t need the name calling. The American spirit of revolution and defiance of authority is not really a postive value in the Church. It comes from the worst side of Protestantism.

      What is of value is the American willingness to take on the reposnsibility to govern ourselves under a set of principals that transcends the paricularities of national origin, race or political expediency. Those principals are adaptable and allow for a dynamism and growth that is fully in acord with Holy Tradition. The dhimmi consciousness of the historical patriarchates simply cannot imagine such.

      However, the approach of SOCHA seems to be to minimize Ligonier and maximize the valildity and potential of the EA which includes working out all of the minutae of jursidicitional disputes as a prerequisite to unity. I don’t quite understand that. Fr. Andrew is obviously a gradualist as his statement, “I hope it takes a long time” indicates. That is where he and I really part company. If we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, the amount of time it takes will be the right amount of time. We, being human, want to go about it our own way controlling the process and the result to fit our own notions….’kicking against the pricks’ the whole time. Exhausting, self-defeating and unnecessary.

      The historical question of the degree of unity is moot once one makes the leap to a truly self-governing American Church, i.e. having a national synod in which all canoncial bishops are members that has decision making authority and meets on a regular basis.

      One bishop one city, local synod ruling. Can we agree on that?

      Once we do, then which ‘jurisdiction’ has the ‘rights’ to do anything will have no meaning whatsoever.

      That’s why I think we need to lock the bishops up in a monastary together following the monastic discipline together of prayer and fasting until they reach agreement in principal. Then we should hold them to it.

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        Fr. Andrew says:

        FWIW, I believe that the Ligonier meeting was a major step forward, and I regard it as having largely been a success. Its success, though, was not in any grand declarations or gestures, but rather in assembling many American Orthodox bishops together to begin forming a mutual self-identity.

        But its ability to do that was quite limited, because it was based on SCOBA, which was only ever essentially a consultative body formed without reference to the mother churches to which most American Orthodox have reference.

        The reason I want the EA process (which includes many more bishops and whole jurisdictions which were previously unrepresented) to take time is so that we have the time to get to know one another and continue to form that mutual identity, so that when tough times come, we don’t scurry back to our long-established support networks of familiarity (as happened after Ligonier) but rather rely on one another as Orthodox of America.

        If we do not look at each other and see the Church in one another’s eyes, then there is no hope for us. In order for us to love one another like that, we have to know one another. That is why it will take time. I do not believe we should assume that the Holy Spirit is leading us to any instant declarations. Can we not follow our bishops, whose job it is to discern His voice and follow it? Should it not greatly lighten our hearts that they seem to be working together in peace and unanimity? How can that be bad?

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          Michael Bauman says:

          Fr. Andrew,

          Ligonier did not die because folks went ‘scurrying back to our long-established support networks…’ The EP quashed Ligonier. Without the GOA, Ligonier was DOA except in the sense of a idea to be resurrected later. So, we went on about our lives, a little less hopeful, a little more cynical. (are you old enough to acutally remember what happened?)

          Why can’t we just trust our bishops….? Man, I’d love to, but really, how can you say that with a straight face–especially with the response to Ligonier, the financial and sexual scandals, the naked Machievellianism, the pastoral abuse, the embarassing kow-towing to secular, anti-Christian leaders, etc., etc. Out of the 55 gathered, I trust 3 of them. That is probably 3 more than many folks.

          I’m more than willing to trust the Holy Spirit to get through to them in spite of themselves, but trust them? I have no reason to. If the laity do not stay involved and keep the heat on, business as usual will tend to prevail. Business as usual includes the incessant squabling over past jurisdictional boundaries and authority, a squabblilng that Fr Herbal’s and Mr. Namee’s way of promoting their writings seems to exacerbate.

          “We have to get know one another…” Wow. You call on us to pretty much blindly trust our bishops then say, but wait…………………….’cause they have to learn to trust each other and, oh, that will take “time, time, time see what’s become of me as I looked around for my possibilities, I was so hard to please…” Even if such a process would actually work, sporadic, widely spaced meetings will never accomplish that, it will just become another old boys club. Lock them up in a monastary until the job is done!

          You early on spewed some hyperbolic and unjust epithets at folks here–among them, atheist. Largely, it seemed, for not just accepting the EP as a work of the Spirit without hard questionning . Now, you seem to fall back on an almost kumbaya humanism (“…working together in a spirit of peace and unanimity”) God Lord, even biker gangs can do that from time to time. BTW, have I missed an apology to the folks you so labled? Just in case you need some impetus–those remarks offend me.

          Where is God in all this as far as you are concered? Is God merely in human bishops developing human relationships that will survive the test of time? Are we really supposed to trust that? Is that any different that any of our Presidents meeting with the head of a hostile foreign power and liking the guy? Where are the bishops, dedictated to God, taking prophetic stances, willing to die for their flocks? Frankly, I don’t care how much they iritate one another if they are equally dedicated to the truth and have a daring trust in God.

          Mostly, I can’t figure out what you believe or why as you have a maddening tendency to shift around when your ideas meet with criticism or questions–choosing a premise and/or approach to fit your pre-suppositions of what ought to be. You are a well educated man and a priest, I expect more clarity of thought than what I see from you so far.

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            Fr. Andrew says:

            Let me know when you can decide between whether I’m stupid, evil, naive or insane. Of course, I suppose it could be some combination.

            As for the comment about taking an atheistic approach to our Church here in America, I’m not apologizing. How else should one characterize the assumption that God is not involved with us, especially with the episcopacy whom He ordained? I meant every word.

            Okay, I suppose one could call that “Deistic” instead, but “Atheistic” is a rather more dramatic and provocative term, and it bears with it the caustic attitude which I perceive in those whose image of the Church somehow doesn’t include the episcopacy, who are apparently all mafia.

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            Tamara Northway says:

            Hi Michael,

            Please don’t believe Fr. Oliver Herbal wants business as usual when it comes to the way we are governed. He is a brave priest with the highest integrity.
            He has been through the fire on our behalf.

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            George Michalopulos says:

            Tamara, you’re right, Fr Oliver is a stand-up guy. He’s got loads of integrity, just based on his actions last year alone.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          But its ability to do that was quite limited, because it was based on SCOBA, which was only ever essentially a consultative body formed without reference to the mother churches to which most American Orthodox have reference.

          Actually, the “reference” (not really sure what you mean by this) to the “Mother Churches” in large part contributed to the impotence of SCOBA. It might even have been the cause. The fact is that Chembesy would not have been possible without the rise of Moscow to challenge and in some cases revoke Constantinopolitan claims to universal hegemony. I think these claims held progress in abeyance and there is no real evidence to show that the claims have been modified in any way (the attempt to refuse a seat to the OCA is exhibit A).

          We’re moving into the endgame of the disunity that was acculturated as the Orthodox sociological norm after 1918. Ligonier was the first significant break in the status-quo. That is was an administrative failure won’t matter in the long run.

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            Fr. Andrew says:

            What I meant by it is that SCOBA had no authority granted by the mother churches to act in any significant way, something which distinguishes the EA, which is acting precisely on the mother churches’ authority.

            Yes, there was certainly a deference to the mother churches by the members of SCOBA. Short of ecclesiastical rebellion (which I know many here would probably prefer), that’s the only support network they had.

            By the way, someone asked in another thread what the source is of the claim that the EP attempted to keep the OCA out of the EA. Has anyone posted that anywhere? I’m not saying that it didn’t happen, but I’d be interested in proof. Surely there must be something. (And I say this quite honestly.)

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      George Michalopulos says:

      American Housewife: you sound like my kind of woman! Nothing dhimmi about you! That’s why we will have an American Orthodox Church, because of the clarity of your observation, the overall truth of same, and the precise analogy to the American experience.

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      Isa Almisry says:

      Fr. Andrew, you, Namee and others who agree with this historical rendition, are just on the side of the Redcoats. And that’s okay, no one will tar and feather you. You can honestly believe that foreign rule is still needed, just like the long-ago British Sympathizers. But for crying out loud , be honest about it. This is America and we have a history of independence and independence will come.

      LOL. You just described the present day Canadians. They still have the Queen. Not all North America is [the United States of] America.

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      Dean Calvert says:

      Dear American Housewife,

      I thought I’d dispense with the nonsensical “madam”…because I think it’s condescending.

      I think you are RIGHT ON THE MONEY.

      You will be accused, if you have not already been, of “knowing where Hoffa is buried”, if not worse. Asking for an honest answer will certainly brand you as a conspiracy theorist, if not worse…LOL. That seems to be the opposition’s style.

      However, I came to exactly the same conclusion, reading exactly the same things as you.

      So if you’re nuts…I’m right there with you.

      BTW…i love the imagery The “tracks” you have laid, lead the “train” straight into the Constantinople Depot

      Talk about a dead end!!!

      In any case…I’ve been away all day, and see “da boyz” have been busy.

      Welcome to AOI blog!

      Best Regards,
      Dean Calvert

      PS….now I have to go figure out where all this “Tory” business came from…looks like things got out of hand below.

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    American Housewife says:

    LOL – thanks Isa, I stand corrected. I should have said the United States of America.

    Michael – I don’t recall doing any name calling – I was making an analogy and asking for honesty.

    I reject the premise that Americans (and by that I mean citizens of the USA and not Canadians *wink wink* Isa) by nature/culture are defiant of authority. Americans absolutely respect authority (we are not anarchists, you know), but we expect greatness and a certain level of respectable behavior from those in authority. I believe the most definable characteristic of being an American is deciding and designing our own destiny and equality.

    Fr. Andrew, with all due respect to your office and authority, I believe that it is quite telling that you dodged the answer as to whether or not the OCA has autocephaly or not. It really is a black and white/yes or no question. And that is the pink elephant in the room.

    I also believe that unity will happen in the pews. When more and more people choose to attend a church that has the Divine Liturgy in their own vernacular; when more and more people want to get together and just be an Orthodox Christian community and not a culture club; when more and more people desire to attend a church where no one asks you “so, what are you ?” or “you know, you’ll never really be Orthodox” because you don’t have the right pedigree; when more and more people want to attend a church that not only loves everyone’s time, talent and money, but also their input and opinion – and not be told to sit down and shut up, this isn’t your church, then we will finally have an American Orthodox Christian church.

    Americans will respect the authority of those who say “ There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” and mean it (Galatians 3:28).The bad news is that many in authority say it but few believe it. The good news is that more and more people in the pews do. So, which ever church promotes this, will grow and prosper and will morph into the American Orthodox Church (and Canada too!).

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      Fr. Andrew says:

      Fr. Andrew, with all due respect to your office and authority, I believe that it is quite telling that you dodged the answer as to whether or not the OCA has autocephaly or not. It really is a black and white/yes or no question. And that is the pink elephant in the room.

      Madam Housewife,

      Autocephaly is a somewhat more complex question than such a binary characterization can encompass.

      If you are asking whether the OCA is, in fact, self-governed: Of course they are. No one denies this except perhaps some fanciful conspiracy theorists.

      If you are asking whether the OCA is worthy of being counted as an equal among the patriarchates and other autocephalous churches: That’s outside of my responsibility. I don’t get to write their diptychs. And what would it mean for me to weigh in on this, anyway? Not a whole lot.

      If you are asking whether the OCA is the only canonical Orthodox church in America and all the rest are uncanonical (i.e., not really Orthodox): I have to say no to this (if only because saying yes means most Orthodox in America are not Orthodox). Fortunately, the OCA says no to it, too, else they wouldn’t have communion and concelebration with the rest.

      So, in short: yes, not my gig, and no.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Am. Housewife: you called Fr. Andrew a Tory, in the context of your analogy that is tantamount to calling him a traitor, at the very least disloyal. He is clearly neither. He appears to be an ardent priest quite dedicated to his vocation. That is nothing but a good thing.

      I heartedly disagree with some of his perspectives as far as I can understand them, but I do not doubt his devotion.

      One should never call another person’s belief and devotion into question without clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.

      I object to his characterization of some here as atheists and your characterization of him on the same grounds.

      BTW, in the Church, there is no such thing as independence

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        George Michalopulos says:

        Michael, a quibble: being called a Tory does not necessarily mean being called a traitor. Tories are the conservative party in England. The American patriots who rebelled against England did not (to my knowledge) call the loyalists “traitors” so it would be wrong to accuse American Housewife of necessarily believing that Orthodox “tories” are traitors. They are not. What they are are people who believe that the Orthodox Church of America should be subject to foreign leadership, pure and simple.

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          Michael Bauman says:

          George, let’s see, during and after the American Revolution Tories and Tory sympathizers were imprisoned, deported, had their property confiscated and many were killed. Even if they were not officially labled as traitors, they were no longer considered friends and neighbors, sons or brothers.

          Am. Housewife’s analogy is fraught with historical assumptions that are highly debatable and without real analog in the Church in any case. Especially since it seems to suggest that those who are not immediately for her version of autocephaly are automatically for foreign rule and, in the context of her analogy, subject to all sorts of unpleasantness including deprivation of position, banishment and forfeiture of citizenship. Way over the top, uncalled for and wrong in so many ways.

          In fact, your comments notwithstanding, I could argue that her approach is just another form of the dhimmi/ethnocentric attitude you say you despise as it links the Church in America to a specifically American mythos and form of government while effectively excluding and/or denigrating others.

          As much as I am skeptical about the bishops, I’d rather live in obedience to them than go down the road so naively and unintentionally suggested by Am. Housewife.

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            George Michalopulos says:

            Michael, being an American does not mean that we trade one dhimmi attitude for another. (It’s possible but not likely.) Yes, some Tories were horribly treated, that’s one of the consequences of war. It’s never pretty and anyway, it wasn’t Continental policy. (It couldn’t have been, fully 1/5 to 1/3 of all Americans were loyalists.) Even so, there was no lasting hatred towards the mother country. Upon the cessation of hostilies America and England exchanbed ambassadors and have cultivated a two-centuries long friendship, often coming to each other’s aid in times of dire peril. (Good example for the Phanar if they’re smart enough to listen.)

            As for “banishment,” there’s one bishop who certainly deserves that. Lemme put on my descendant-of-Greek-immigrants hat here: This land took us in, it didn’t have to. It gave us something we hadn’t had in centuries –an opportunity. America is not perfect but I owe it my life. As the son of a Greek immigrant I can apply and receive dual citizenship but I would consider this to be a slap in the face of my homeland. Until our ethnic bishops (not just Greeks) realize that this is their homeland as well, then Orthodoxy will bifurcate into two presences: a local and hopefully growing church and a withering colonial outpost.

            American Housewife sees things in clear terms. She paints with bold colors, not pale pastels. In general terms, her assessment is right on the money. It’s the Phanariotes who contort themselves into pretzels to reply “maybe yes, maybe no” on any given question.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Fr. Andrew, Michael, and everyone else:

    Look, you guys have got to tone it down. Michael, I know Fr. Andrew. He’s a good guy, he really is. If you knew him you would like him too. I don’t know you apart from this blog, but I think we would have a great time together over coffee — or preferably a beer but I don’t know if you like beer.

    (BTW, Martin Luther said beer was one of God’s greatest gifts to man and in this he was right. I never liked beer, in fact I hardly ever drink alcohol but about five years ago I had a beer and thought “Man, this is good.” Liked it ever since. If I could I would sponsor a beer summit like Obama did with the policeman but I can’t afford to fly everyone to Florida.)

    Fr. Andrew, some of these guys are just starting to recover from the AOCA issue with the Bishops. That threw many people off-center and it is forcing them to confront deep issues that are perplexing and in some cases has caused a measure of scandal to their souls. I am not overstating this. Scandal takes a long time to heal and can be very painful. You have to be more patient with this.

    Fr. Oliver Herbel was mentioned upstream. I don’t know him but I publish his stuff on Orthodoxy Today. Why? Because it’s good and reputable work. He’s a serious minded man, and I like serious minded men.

    I think the same of Fr. Andrew which is why I publish his podcasts. Lot’s of good stuff there. I think he misplaces the emphasis on the historical narrative in our discussion of the genesis of Orthodoxy in America (more precisely I don’t think he understood the power of narrative although the first paragraph in note 17.2.1 indicates that may have changed), but his work with SOCHA will prove to be of inestimable value down the road, in my opinion. This is no small thing.

    I’m not going to give a moral exhortation. You guys know the drill. Ideas are important, very important in fact, but people are more than their ideas.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Fr Hans, I think we all realize that SOCHA does excellent work. No, I mean that, really good stuff. Astounding really. I don’t want to judge anybody’s bona fides. However, I can’t shake the feeling that there is an anti-missionary narrative agenda going on there. One that is specifically dismissive of the first century of canonical rigor that did exist (at least among those who submitted themselves to it). And yes, one that was recognized internationally.

      Why do I say this? Because I just took a look over at SOCHA and read a recent review of my “Response.” Again, all factual stuff (except the bald assertion that the “unity myth” has been “disproved,” that’s assuming the argument in question, not proving it). Other than that, the bias becomes apparent towards the end. Namee, not being able to eradicate the episcopal line that existed for the Russian diocese in North America, gives a decidedly negative editorial comment after the name of each bishop (St Tikhon of course excepted). One bishop is a suspected pedophile (no proof), the other is “incompetent”, another is a “nationalist” (shocker!) yet another is a “flake.” And so on. In addition, mention is made that the diocese was “vacant” for several years and that life in the diocese was not as rigorous as it could have been.

      Allow me to address these last two issues first: dioceses can be vacant for years. The patriarchate of Moscow was vacant for 250+ years. There was no metropolitan of Kiev from 1441-1449. Not ideal, not a good thing certainly, but not catastrophic and certainly not probative of things being less than ideal in the Russian Mission. Second, the name of the diocese underwent changes. And? One would only have to look at the patriarchate of C’pole in its early years especially and come to some rather startling conclusions about its “order” and “rigor” to say nothing about fidelity to the Faith. As for character of some of these first patriarchs, the less said, the better.

      Sorry for the verbosity; let me cut to the chase: why do I suspect bad faith? (And if I’m wrong, I’ll apologize.) Well, since SOCHA is a historical site, and since it opened up the can of worms of episcopal peccadillos, then why stop with the bishops of the Russian Mission? I’m sure that if we examined the lives of some bishops recently passed we’d be in for some shocks. (I’ll withhold comment on bishops presently living as there’s always room for repentance.)

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        George, you may have a point. If an episcopal line is disenfranchised by the (alleged) bad characters of the men occupying the office, then Protestant ecclesiology is being read into the argument. The discussion will inevitably devolve into (or has as its starting point?) interest-group activism, that same affliction that affects so much of our body politic.

        You know, for all the (correct) disapproval of the Congregationalist ethos that shaped the anomalous parishes in the early years (SOCHA provides an invaluable resource here), the attempted disenfranchisement has a decidedly Congregationalist flavor.

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        Isa Almisry says:

        Namee, not being able to eradicate the episcopal line that existed for the Russian diocese in North America, gives a decidedly negative editorial comment after the name of each bishop (St Tikhon of course excepted). One bishop is a suspected pedophile (no proof), the other is “incompetent”, another is a “nationalist” (shocker!) yet another is a “flake.”

        I just didn’t want to leave this hanging. Although Namee doesn’t give proof in this post on the suspected pedophilia, he does discuss it and its repurcussions elsewhere on the site (the suspicions of it and the scandal and fallout contributed to the failure of the Russian Archdiocese to found a united parish in Chicago in the 1880′s). On the Holy Trinity SF (OCA) website “Pages of our history”, look under 1891. The Russian Consul of SF stormed out of SF in protest, leaveing with Prince George of Greece to NYC, a fateful trip, as it the NYC Greek community were induced during their stay in NYC to form their first parish (perhaps something Cousul Oralovsky, given his distaste for Bishop Vladimir, may have encouraged or looked the other way. As for the nationalist charges, they were raised at the time (there is a xenophobic NYTimes article that epitomizes it at the time), but that was being debated in the Old World (e.g. Galicia) as well (there is an interesting book published during WWI but before the US entry, by a AustroHungarian diplomat that makes the “Russification” charge).as were the charges of incompetence for the other. And anyone in the “Living Church” was a flake. Again, Nameee has posted the data for these charges elsewhere on the site. Though I don’t think he was making a Donatist argument, I see how that can be misconstrewed.

        You are rigth about the see thing: Alexandria, for instance, just over a century ago was reduced to 3 bishops, basically functionaries of the phanar with a lot of dead and titular sees without even a bishop claimin the title. Now the Holy Synod has several dozen sees with real people in them all across the African continent.

        As for the episcopal peccadillos, he has posted on odd Greeks, Arabs, Bulgarians and others as well. That it only seems he is concentrating on the Russian Archdiocese’s bishops is the reason you know: they were the only bishops in town for most of the time the site covers. I wouldn’t recommend examining recent examples: there is something to be said for hindsight and the moderating effect of time on views.

        There is one thing that Namee is right on: it is an anachronism to see the Archdiocese of 1794-1917 like the OCA or GOA of today, just as the state of the Federal Government of Today shouldn’t be projected back to elucidate the Federal Government of 1789. But then again, the Russian Missionary Archdiocese was a work in progress at the time, in changing times.

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          George Michalopulos says:

          Isa, thanks for the clarification. Personally, I think Namee was probably right on target about some of his characterizations. My question was: why bring it up now? It can’t help but look as condemnatory of the Russian Mission. Also, why stop there? Also, the idea that this bishop was “incompetent” or that one a “nationalist” struck me as special spleading. All one has to do is look to the bishops of the GOA since Alexander in 1921 and see the same type of idiocy. (As for the “nationalist” charge, most Grreek-Americans over 40 years old remmeber being taught in church how evil the Turks were and how glorious Greece was. If that’s not nationalism, I don’t know what is.)

          If I may, my criticism of SOCHA is not with its facts (which as I’ve said time and again and will continue to say til the cows come home) are nothing short of solid, but with the interpretation of those facts. Basically, to state that there was not a functioning Orthodox diocese in North America, canonical in all respects, missionary in outlook, and acknowledged as such by both the Old World and the US. If that’s not the definition of church unity, then I don’t know what is.

          Let’s look at it this way: suppose the entire Southern Baptist Conference decided to become Orthodox tomorrow. That’s 15,000,000 Americans. Should they be allowed to overwhelm the local Orthodox Church? Should its new bishops be allowed to set up their own jurisdiction? If not, why not? That’s analogous to the picture that SOCHA has more or less uncovered, that the massive infusion of 300,000 non-Russian Orthodox in 30 years should wipe away the operation of the existing diocese. (And even this isn’t completely true as the existing diocese struggled mightily to accommodate non-Russians.)

          Ultimately, the two narratives that have been identified –missionary vs. colonialist–are obvious. If one chooses to view the Church as an organic body that sanctifies a nation, then one sees the planting of a diocese as providential, even if the actors within it were incompetent, sinful, near-sighted, etc. In other words, God uses flawed humans for His own purposes. If on other hand one is concerned with the antiquarian notions of a historical enterprise (in this case the American Church), then one can easily become consumed with the knick-knacks and tchotchkes found in Grannie’s attic. For good history to proceed, both are necessary but the latter one is unconcerned with the grand narrative of the enterprise in question. It can’t logically overwhelm the common consciousness of a people. After all, we all had grannies who had knick-knacks in their parlors or black velvet portraits of dogs playing poker in their attics, so what?

          That’s what has been happening in America the last 50 years, instead of looking at the men who founded this country as visionaries who made mistakes, we’ve taught our children to look at them as evil, dead, white men who bought and sold slaves. We’re more interested in reading Jefferson’s diaries to find out if he was anywhere near the vicinity of Sally Hemming’s nine months before her children were born. Instead, we should be concerned about where he got his ideas and if they’re still applicable today. When studying the Church, it’s the grand narrative that matters, otherwise, focusing on reductionism obviates the essential truths of the Church. I dare say can even justify heresy.

          (I realize this last point may sound harsh, but has anybody given consideration to the seemingly endless ecumenical conferences that deal with the Filioque clause? What is that if not the reductionist impulse? Can any of us state unambiguously that the Catholic interpretation is wrong? We’ve been throwing proof-texts at each other since the council of Toledo.)

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Tamara, I am well aware of Fr. Herbal’s courage and I don’t mean to diminish him or his work in anyway only the manner in which the work is sometimes being used.

    Actually the thesis of his work and Matthew Namee on the relative disunity of the Church in North America makes perfect sense. It is irrelevant to the proposition of unity now although it can be of use in addressing some pastoral concerns related to unity.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Fr. Andrew: Stupid, evil, naive or insane? None of the above, forgive me if what I said implied any of that. I would say you are needlessly hyperbolic, over-reactive and, to me, confusing–but so am I at times. As the discussion has progressed, you have become less hyperbolic but only marginally less confusing to me. Merely trying to work out what you really mean.

    Over-reaction always casues problems, when a priest over-reacts, especially to folks who have been damaged by pastoral abuse, that is a real issue. It deserves more consideration than you seem to give it. It makes it really difficult to trust or appreciate anything else you say.

    Regardless of the truth of your words.

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      Fr. Andrew says:

      Michael,

      I’m pretty careful with my language, and I deliberately did not say anything like “You are an atheist,” etc. Here’s how the comments you are referring to actually went:

      Dean Calvert: “…And, personally, I consider people like Fr. Andrew dangerous because of their inexperience. While he may have good intentions, he is new at this and has yet to discover what he is really dealing with…think “Corleone” and you are in the right pew. People like you know that…he will only know it 10 years from now, after he’s been burned severely (and probably repeatedly)….”

      Me: “Inexperience at what? Disincarnate Internet pastoring? Smug “Christian” atheism? Ethno-loathing partisanship? Self-appointed psychoanalysis and semi-prophetic pronouncement? Information-vacuum commentatorship? Trivial, conspiracy theory manufacture? Paranoid, all-encompassing hatred?

      Okay, sure. I’ll let you know in ten years.”

      I didn’t actually label anyone in particular. Whether anyone here is an atheist or not, I don’t know. But such an approach surely smacks of atheism, or at least deism. I was responding somewhat sarcastically and hyperbolically to what I perceived Dean and his posse seemed to want out of me. His comments were pretty condescending, don’t you think? And his characterization of our episcopacy as “Corleone” is also a theme I’ve noticed.

      Anyway, that doesn’t particularly bother me. I’ve been called a great many things during my last 16 years of having discussions online. No doubt as long as anyone actually believes that God is doing good things, he will be called too young/naive/inexperienced/whatever by people who prefer to believe that all is darkness. I’m happy to be among them, and I won’t try to flash any “severely burned” credentials, because no doubt there will never be enough scar tissue for some folks.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Fr. Andrew,

        Yes, his comments were condescending, but so what? I find your distinction between directly and indirectly calling someone athestic unpersuasive. Sorry.

        Hyperbole never serves anyone well in serious discussion, yours or Dean’s or mine. It mostly appeals to the passions which can make it a lot of fun. The internet tends to encourage the passionate approach. Fr. Hans’ warning is quite appropriate, don’t you think?

        That being said, our episcopate’s public actions give more credence to Dean’s position than to yours, at least to me.

        That is quite painful for me to say, I hope their non-public actions are of a higher quality.

        I have to ask, who is acting/thinking in a deist manner, Dean or the Bishops? I guess that depends on one’s perspective. From my perspective, taken as a group, the episcopate does not seem to act in a manner congruent with an incarnational understanding of God with us, filling all things to whom we must submit in love. They seem rather to be far more concerned with the maintainece and exercise of power. I pray I am wrong. There are many faithful Orthodox who pray, like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof for the Czar, God bless and keep the bishop……far away from us. That is not simply from unbelief. Does that not trouble you?

        I am more and more coming to the conclusion that there is only one bishop that has any importance for me–my own. By the grace of God, I live in a diocease with a good and holy bishop. I am confident that my brother, in a different jurisdiction, does as well. I’ve met his bishop and seen him in action. Met. Jonah comes higly recommended by close friends who know him (he has a God son in my parish) and his public discourse has, largely, been of a much higher quality than what I have seen from others.

        The GOA and Greeks in general are completely inscrutable to me other than that they mostly irritate me to no end.

        So, I watch and pray and speak out far too much, but I trust not in the men.

        BTW, I think one has to be a little insane to be a priest, but that is a compliment not a condemnation.

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          George Michalopulos says:

          Michael, you have every right to be scandalized. But even if our bishops were better men, the idea that their ideas and actions can’t withstand scrutiny is anathema. It’s a non-starter in the Church and has only come about under the Turkish occupation when they were dressed in imperial robes and treated their flocks as subjects to be fleeced and kept in line, not as living icons of God.

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    Would you all please stop?

    I have sifted through all of this. I don’t know where to start. Fr. Hans asked to tone down the rhetoric. I am asking that we all take a break. I think the historical questions can be important and I’m glad we’re interested, or at least interested in asking whether they’re important, but I would like to ask us to stop for a bit. This is not because I cannot take it. Some comments here are very kind to me and I thank you. Even without them, I could “take it.” No, I ask because at this point, I fear we may all need to just take a deep breath and pray the Lord’s prayer. We’re small in America. We need each other.

    Forgive me for being the meek one here. It’s not normally my style. This is the only comment I will make on this thread. If you so choose, you may continue. I will not be offended. I simply ask whether it is prudent to continue on.

    This thread and a few other conversations (email and elsewhere online) prompted me to post this:

    http://frontierorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/governor-art-link-and-why-someone-from-north-dakota-is-who-he-is/

    For whatever it’s worth, I am who I am. Matthew is who he is. Fr. Andrew is who he is. We do not work for Constantinople. I am well aware of power-hungry bishops. I am also aware of one who asked whether allegations were true or false. Fr. Andrew has a parish that is mission oriented. Matthew wants unity (as do we) and I am a mission priest in the OCA. If we are wrong, forgive us, please, but if possible, avoid the temptation to think we are something we are not.

    I suppose I’ve said too much already.

    May God forgive us all.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Fr. Herbal you say,
      “We’re small in America. We need each other.”

      Yes we do and we should celebrate each other, but the kind of sniping, dislike and even hatred that swirls about ‘unity’ is the direct result of lack of episcopal order, oversight and teaching. When the shepherds play, the sheep will stray.

      While not denying our own responsibility for acting in a Christian manner, it is just one more indicator of how badly we need to get our house in order; of how we cannot really afford to wait one or two more generations as some wish.

      People’s souls are at stake. There is a war going on. Can the bishops really afford to act like the Ent’s in the Ring Triology–endlessly debating in their quiet and isolated groves?

      I pray that the Holy Spirit awakens them to the danger, arouses them and motivates them to finally go to war.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Fr Oliver, thank you for your words of wisdom. Forgive me if I’ve ever given offense. I think we can all agree that the level of discourse on this thread at least has been very edifying and constructively critical. I believe it is critical that this discussion continue; not only is it of historical importance, it has ramifications for today. Yes, we need each other, but we also need the truth. The only way to arrive at the truth is by free, open, and honest debate, one done in good faith.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    (Thread continuation)

    Fr. Andrew:

    What I meant by it is that SCOBA had no authority granted by the mother churches to act in any significant way, something which distinguishes the EA, which is acting precisely on the mother churches’ authority.

    Yes, there was certainly a deference to the mother churches by the members of SCOBA. Short of ecclesiastical rebellion (which I know many here would probably prefer), that’s the only support network they had.

    By the way, someone asked in another thread what the source is of the claim that the EP attempted to keep the OCA out of the EA. Has anyone posted that anywhere? I’m not saying that it didn’t happen, but I’d be interested in proof. Surely there must be something. (And I say this quite honestly.)

    Fr. Andrew, don’t set up straw men. Criticism of the status-quo is not synonymous with “ecclesiastic rebellion.”

    The fact is that Chambesy never would have happened without the restoration of Moscow after Communism. Moscow functions as a counterweight to Constantinopolitan historical revisions. By “revisions” I mean the universalizing of Canon 28 (which thankfully Chambesy gracefully buried) and the universalizing of the Phanariot policy* through the Hellenism apologetic (which still has to be clarified). Moscow, in other words, correctly affirms that ecclesiastical authority has geographical specificity and thus reveals the ecclesiological speciousness of the universalist claims, and in some cases reverses the decisions that grew out of them (the recent expulsion of Constantinople from Ukraine, for example).

    Moreover, to expect Constantinople to approve of an independent or autonomous American Church is a naive hope. By universalizing the Phanariot policy (the Hellenism apologetic), the mythology of Ecclesiastical Monarch extends not only to the Greeks under Turkish domination, but to all Greeks in the diaspora (world-wide authority), and through them to all the Gentiles. Geographical specificity, in other words, has been nullified. Their policy is clear: America is to come under the direct authority of Constantinople.

    If you have any statement from Constantinople that they support an independent or even autonomous Church, I’d like to see it. I argue of course that the experience of Orthodoxy in America (over 200 years now) stands in opposition to the universalizing policy even with all of our anomalies. That’s why Ligonier is powerful. Ligonier’s strength is symbolical but only in the Greek (not American) definition of the term: sym-bolos – the place where two realities come together, in this case proper self-understanding in the proper space (geographical specificity) at the proper time. Ligonier was when the American Church first began to see itself as an American Church since the rupture of 1918.**

    Constantinople is a declining Church but will always deserve our respect and support. It will always hold the primacy of honor and properly so. Its responsibility however, is to those under its geographical care. Moreover, the solution to its problems does not lie in assuming authority over the Church in America or elsewhere.

    The story on the attempted exclusion of the OCA is here: Archbishop Demetrios on the Way Out?.

    +++++++++++

    *For more on the Phanariot policy see: Runciman, Nationalism in Greek Orthodoxy.

    **The argument between SOCHA and others is really about what weight we put on the “anomalies.” IOW, do they constitute the heart of the American narrative or were they, well, anomalies? We are picking up where we left off after 1918.

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      orrologion says:

      the universalizing of the Phanariot policy* through the Hellenism apologetic (which still has to be clarified).

      I think we should all be eagerly awaiting the results of this weekend’s SVS Symposium on “Hellenism and Orthodoxy”:

      Our timely “Hellenism & Orthodoxy” symposium is being held on the seminary campus this week! We invite our Web audience to read the cogent Opening Remarks of Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff, Associate Professor in Systematic Theology at St. Vladimir’s and conference organizer, and to listen to upcoming Podcasts of the symposium on Orthodox Christian Network, http://www.myocn.net/.

      From June 10–12, our highly qualified speakers will explore the ramifications of Hellenism, noting its lasting and profound effects on the cultural, linguistic, and canonical history of the Orthodox Church. We hope our symposium contributes to the ongoing discussion about Orthodoxy in North America and facilitates greater understanding and cooperation among Orthodox Christians on this continent.

      His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (photo at right), will deliver the keynote address for the symposium at 7:30 PM on Friday, June 11. His talk is free and open to the public. Please come!

      View the full schedule of the symposium, which will investigate the Hellenistic world of the first Christians and its lasting impact on 21st-century Orthodox Christians.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Lord help us. Looking at the schedule of the conference, I am reminded of the Simon and Garfunkel song, “The Dangling Coversation” about two lovers who have lost their first love and now exist in a meaningless void no longer really touching one another but they “speak of things that matter, with words that must be said…”

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          Harry Coin says:

          In this case the words said fall like drops of water into lovely pots filled with the perfume of flowers — silk and plastic.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        I just read Dr. Bouteneff’s introductory remarks. They are very good, excellent in fact, and if the seminar holds to the boundaries and meets some of the goals he set forward, it could be of great benefit to us. Obviously a lot of care went into crafting it. I suggest everyone read it: Opening Remarks of Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff.

        Just for clarification, I do not see Constantinople’s “Hellenism apologetic” and historical Hellenism as one and the same. (In fact, I see the appropriation of the term “Hellenism” to promote an ecclesiastical monarchy as deliberate obfuscation.) Rather, the Church (indeed, Western Civilization) has been shaped by Hellenism properly understood. It’s no accident that the architecture of major buildings in Washington, DC is neo-classical, or that the Magna Carta is called by its Greek, rather than English, name for example.

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          Harry Coin says:

          Fr. Hans,

          So many years, so many perfectly true and appropriate words.

          They walk down the mental roads they’ve known among their best friends and best sparring opponents these many years. I bet half of them there if asked could write a paper pretending as though they were one of the others in the room that would be accepted as authentic.

          The people making and leading the growth stifling decisions view ‘good points’ and ‘reasons’, ‘canons’ and ‘history’ as arrows in a quiver to be mentioned if they further the agenda they favor and if not to be simply ignored and the cost of that discounted and not felt. Easier to do among those whose idea of time resets once every 24 hours and every 365 days — in short: those who don’t have spouses and children.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Harry, you charted some of this course years ago, trail-blazed it actually. Don’t give up.

  24. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Dean Calvert says:

    Orrologion,

    Yes…I’m clearing my schedule anticipating more cogent remarks from Fr. Elpidoforos!!!

    Well…at least the guy is honest…tells us what he thinks. We may not like it, but we can deal with that.

    BTW – Does anyone know if AFR is recording the event?

    Best Regards,
    dean

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