Posts Tagged ‘15th All American Council’

The Writings of Metropolitan Jonah

November 17, 2008

Metropolitan Jonah’s writings prior to his consecration are well known in the quarterly journal Divine Ascent published by St. John of San Francisco Monastery, and reflect the same spiritual depth that were evident in his speeches at the All American Council.  The Diocese of the South  had gathered several essays prior to his consecration as Auxiliary Bishop and they are accessible here.   I particularly loved his reminisces on a trip back to Valaam Monastery.  It made me feel like I was a part of his spiritual journey.

Fr. John Peck, Nostrodamus?

November 14, 2008


I’m beginning to believe Fr. John Peck has got some kind of cystal ball under his riassa.  It seems that every week brings some new revelation or finding that supports his beliefs about the present state and future life of the Orthodox churches in America.  In reviewing the list of predictions and speculations in his now infamous article, The Orthodox Church of the Future, I realized we’ve got several more to check off:

  • More (and younger) bishops – Well, Metropolitan Jonah was a bishop, albeit briefly, but I think a young Metropolitan will do just fine.  This is not to denigrate the wisdom and experience of an older hierarchy, but in the present times we need someone with the vigor, energy and time to see a renewed vision through in the long run.
  • Publicly renowned Orthodox media and apologetic ministries – Only three words are necessary:  Ancient Faith Radio.  I’d like to expand on this in another post, but is there any doubt about how important it was to provide the faithful with contemporaneous downloads of the proceedings of the 15th All American Council?   Their professionalism and expertise provided the link that made all of us feel that for once, we were a part of the proceedings.  We didn’t have to wait for word-of-mouth or gossip, some uninformative pastoral announcement or a month old article in The Orthodox Church magazine.  This is the power of an effective Orthodox media.
  • A different demographic of clergy – i.e. converts.  This could also read ‘a different demographic of hierarchy’.  There are quite a few convert hierarchs, our beloved Vladyka Dmitri, for example.  But can anyone name me a convert Metropolitan prior to his Eminence Jonah?  This is the ultimate example of the convert shift in Orthodoxy. 

And this may be the most compelling evidence for Fr. Peck’s prophecies – hope.  The events of this past week have given me such a renewed sense of hope and joy, an expectation that just around the corner is greatness.  Not material wealth, not esteem and secular laurels, but the fulfillment of the Orthodox Church’s potential in this country.  As Fr. Peck predicts

Orthodoxy is about to take flight on new beautiful wings.  These are the birth pangs of a new era for Orthodoxy.   God is giving us a time of freedom and light.

News Article on Metropolitan Jonah

November 13, 2008

As promised, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has put out a more detailed news article  today on Metropolitan Jonah, that not suprisingly, highlights his status as a convert.  It’s a great article, I just wish they’d interviewed more ‘ordinary’ folks.  Come on.  Out of 700 people in that ballroom, Mark Stokoe of Orthodox Christians for Accountability is not just your average “Joe layman”.  Listen to Ancient Faith Radio’s coverage of last night’s banquet at the All American Council; Fr.  Alexander Garklavs’ has a great ‘gotcha’ for the Accountability site’s ‘news’ reporting.

Did I Dream Yesterday’s Primatial Election?

November 13, 2008

sunriseWhen I woke up this morning I still had a smile on my face!  Can y’all believe what actually happened yesterday?  I bet His Eminence woke up this morning with the same thought,  but he wasn’t smiling.  One day you’re an abbot, running your monastery, leading a brotherhood in sunny California.  Next thing you know, you’re kicked back into the world to be the No. 2 guy in a diocese.  And before you even get your stuff unpacked in Fort Worth, you’re elected the Big Kahuna and you’ve got to move to the cold Yankee North and lead a million souls (though after living at Valaam, New York state ought to be positively balmy).   Would you be smiling?   I’d be, well….there’s a phrase I’m thinking of but it’s not something you put on a respectable blog. 

When I imagined Barack Obama on election night I pictured a guy jumping up and down for joy, at least in a dignified manner.   I bet Metropolitan Jonah is having a very different reaction.  He was chosen as a man of obvious prayer, vision and spiritual depth – things that he will draw upon even more so now.  And just like Barack Obama, there are a million people expecting change and miracles the day after he’s “sworn-in”.   Good thing his Eminence is in the business of miracles. 

I would imagine that just like all of us are being called upon to make sacrifices and do our part to help the national economic and political recovery, equal sacrifice is going to be expected of every praying member of the Orthodox Church in America.  So don’t just sit back and expect to see some results (or failures) to plight your troth.   Our clergy and hierarchs aren’t here just to serve us laity.  We serve each other and together we grow and change spiritually, each building up the Kingdom of God within ourselves and in God’s visible Kingdom on Earth.  So, when you pray, pray more.  If you tithe to your parish, tithe more.  And if you’re still bitching and moaning about problems and scandal, make your prostrations in a glass house, then pray and tithe more.

Video of Metropolitan Jonah

November 13, 2008


This is so awesome – the first video  I’ve seen of the Council proceedings and the announcement of the election of Metropolitan Jonah.   (I even thought I caught a glimpse of our priest, but men with grey hair dressed in black all look the same on a 1 second glance).  Here are also a couple of photos taken by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this afternoon.  Right now I’m ready to follow his Eminence from city to city like an Orthodox Deadhead, just for the chance to hear every word that comes out of his mouth.jonah-2 

The Post-Gazette has promised a longer follow-up article to today’s news piece.  Will post when that comes out.

Metropolitan Jonah

November 13, 2008



He looks good doesn’t he?  The audio announcement of the election of Metropolitan Jonah is now available for download on Ancient Faith Radio.   It positively sent shivers down my spine to listen to the entire 700 plus crowd shout “Axios” when Archbishop Dmitri announced the election of Metropolitan Jonah.  I so wish I could have been there.  People must be feeling an almost drunken joy.  As it says in the Acts of the Apostles,

13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”  14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.  15 “For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.  16 “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.  18 And on My menservants and My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days…’

Please pray for Metropolitan Jonah that God will guide him in all things and give him strength to bear the burdens that come with this office.  Our new President has the responsibility for the lives of millions of Americans, but a Metropolitan has literally the souls of millions dependent on his leadership.  That kind of weight can only be held up by the Lord himself.

The 2nd Ballot

November 13, 2008

According to Ancient Faith Radio, as of 1:48 p.m. EST (12:48 CST) “the 2nd ballot has now been tallied and given to the Holy Synod for deliberation and the selection of the new Metropolitan.”   I am holding my breath here – the suspense is just killing me.

No Metropolitan Yet

November 12, 2008


It’s currently about 1:15 p.m. in Pittsburgh and the first ballot cast for the new Metropolitan has been tallied within the last hour or two.  According to the reporting by Ancient Faith Radio, no candidate received the 2/3 required majority and a second ballot will be taken.  No information has been received yet as to when that ballot will be taken or whether it has already occurred.    While you’re waiting, go to Ancient Faith Radio and listen to a fascinating Ancient Faith Radio interview with Fr. John Erickson that was conducted during the tallying of the first ballot this morning.  He gives a very thorough explanation of the election process.

The Big Day

November 12, 2008


Today is the day the 15th All American Council elects a new Metropolitan.  I don’t have the faintest idea of all the logistics, sort of like how we elect a President.  I just know the process works and my contribution isn’t by pushing a button (or not, as the case may be for me this year), but through prayer.  To read a history of the OCA’s election of Metropolitans throughout its history, click here.   The most relevant point of the article summarizes the election process and the changes implemented for this Council:

Since the first primatial election of the Orthodox Church in America, there has been a gradual refinement of the electoral process. In the earliest elections, there was some uncertainty in the search for the right procedure for electing a Primate, which would conform to the universal Tradition of the Church. Those early elections were by vote of clergy and lay delegates alike. As there was not yet a Synod of Bishops in North America, the first two elections had to be confirmed by the Holy Synod in Russia. Until the clear definition, which has since remained essentially unchanged, of the election procedure in the Statutes of 1955 and 1971, electoral processes utilized in previous elections were generally ad hoc – worked out just prior to being implemented. The current process in place since 1955 allows for the voice of the entire Church to be heard in the nomination of candidates by vote of the entire All-American Council, which provides guidance for the election by the Holy Synod of Bishops. The entire assembled Church invokes the Holy Spirit in prayer as the council prepares to vote. If there is a consensus on who the Church’s Primate should be as expressed by a two-thirds majority vote on the first ballot by the council, only that candidate’s name is submitted to the Holy Synod. If the bishops vote to reject this candidate, they must give a reason for so doing. If no candidate receives two-thirds of the total votes on the first ballot by the council, each council delegate is required to write the names of two candidates on the ballot during the second round of voting, thus leaving the final decision between the two top candidates entirely up to the hierarchy as the highest authority in the Church. In this two-step nomination and election process, it is hoped that the selection of the Primate can be truly guided by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, it was intended to reflect the dual nature of Orthodox ecclesial structure, which is both hierarchal and conciliar.

That seems clear enough doesn’t it?  If someone were taking bets on the likely outcome, I don’t think I’d like the odds on anyone.  So many of the best possible candidates, like Archbishop Dmitri of the Diocese of the South, I just can’t believe would be best suited due to their advanced age.  Others like Archbishop Job have expressed their desire for retirement.   And one of the dark horse favorites, Archbishop Hilarion of Vienna, has expressly stated he does not seek the job.  So, beats me who’ll be elected.  That’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

Here’s the agenda for today.  Funny how the most serious and important business of the Council, the election of a new Metropolitan, is just one little entry no different from the Continental Breakfast or a financial report.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

7:00 AM
Hierarchical Liturgy

9:15 AM
Continental Breakfast

10:30 AM
5th Plenary (Special Session): The Needs of Today

Scripture Reading/Reflection
Election of Metropolitan

1:30 PM
Lunch (on own)

3:00 PM
6th Plenary: Financing the Future

Scripture Reading/Reflection
Financial Forum moderated by Treasurer
2007 Financial Statement
2008 Year to-date
2009 budget
Pension Report
5:00 PM

7:30 PM
Dinner with Guest Speaker

Vladyka Dmitri’s ‘Come To Jesus Speech’

November 12, 2008


God bless Archbishop Dmitri and grant him many years!  He gave yesterday’s opening address at the All American Council that will be, I believe, a singular turning point in the present direction of the Orthodox Church in America, in its recovery from our present distress and a clear vision for the future of American Orthodoxy.  It was for want of another phrase, a ‘come to Jesus moment’, literally and figuratively, for everyone sitting in that hall and for all listening to the Ancient Faith Radio podcast.  If you didn’t immediately want to act on his pastoral call for repentance and reconciliation, your heart must be spiritually frozen.

Archbishop Dmitri talked plainly and openly about the recent difficulties, including the “local, isolated dishonesty’ of some Church officials.  He called it the ‘first major internal challenge’ confronting a young and growing church, which had exposed a bit of our immaturity, weakness and neglect.  He honestly expounded on the negative impact this has had on the Church and its ministries, and the resulting schism, judgmentalism, fear, anger and coffee-talk gossip and sermonizing this has caused among the laity and clergy.  He again and again urged reconciliation and a remembrance of our unity, and the primary importance of the Gospel message. 

We became slaves to the letters of the law and we forget Christian compassion and love and forgiveness…I think probably we were very close to it….It would appear that the current financial scandal commends more attention than the scandal of the Cross…[and] provokes a more ready response from us than Christ’s words to go forth and teach.

 Some policy changes were included in his speech – most importantly in where he believes the strength of the OCA is to be found:  at the parish and mission level and within sovereign dioceses.  He stressed the primary importance of the fundamentals of the faith, the “basic disciplines of Orthodox Christianity”, and the need for people to get back to the Gospel message and its “business” of proclaiming the Christian message, not an obsession with church politics (my interpretation) and “the letter of the law”.   

Archbishop Dmitri’s greatest accomplishment has been his leadership of the Diocese of the South and his almost single handed creation of the Diocese as it is today – a growing, mission-minded, conservative witness for Orthodoxy in the southern United States.   He knows what a strong diocese can do to preach and spread the faith, and brings this vision to the All American Council.  I believe a proposed resolution on the Council’s agenda, reducing the national church tithe to $50, would allow this money to be tithed more directly to the local diocese.   Archbishop Dmitri stressed that a sovereign diocese would allow dioceses to use their abilities at a local level rather than be subject to direction from a central church government  a thousand miles away.   His other, as yet unrealized, goal is for the establishment of diocesan pastoral schools to provide regional educational opportunities in areas of concern that are specific to a particular diocese.  Not as a way to undermine the schools of theology, but to augment them.

Throughout the entire address you can hear the pastoral love, the humility, wisdom and sound judgment of a life lived in serving the Church.  Vladyka’s ability to speak with charity and patience while at the same time calling everyone to try harder, to break out of their spititual limitations and sins is what the Christian life is about.  I find it ironic that we just elected a president whose message of hope and change motivated an entire country.  Our beloved Archbishop Dmitri nailed it here with the true meaning of hope and change.   Eis Polla Eti Despota!