Saturday, October 14, 2017

Notes from the Assembly of Bishops meeting in NJ

(AOB) - The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America held its Eighth Annual General Assembly Meeting October 3-5, 2017 in Garfield, NJ. Thirty-Two Hierarchs from across the country gathered to prayerfully consider ways to enhance their Orthodox witness to the world and to address their common concerns for youth and emerging adults.

In his opening remarks, the Assembly Chairman, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, reminded the Hierarchs that “through God’s grace and providence, we have all been brought together to this one place and we have been called to walk in unison toward a common goal…. While our sights are ultimately set on the ‘things to come and longed for,’ as long as we call ourselves co-laborers in God’s vineyard, it is our sacred obligation to work together to realize this goal by drawing ever-closer to one another.”

The assembled Hierarchs heard a report by Dr. Richard Flory, Senior Director of Research and Evaluation at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. Among other things, Dr. Flory explained the extensive research regarding the decline in religious affiliation of young adults over the last fifteen years. He emphasized that in most cases young adults have become increasingly indifferent to religion. Dr. Ann Bezzerides, Director of the Office of Vocation Ministry at Hellenic College Holy | Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, emphasized the critical need to focus on all aspects of religious education and engagement for our youth and young adults.

Following the presentations, the Hierarchs identified specific steps to be investigated to better minister to youth and young adults. These included hiring more trained youth ministry leaders; more effective mentoring programs; encouraging more leadership roles in the Church for young people; greater spiritual development; inter-jurisdictional youth conferences; and improved resources for training and developing parents and leaders. The Hierarchs also focused on ways to enhance their engagement with local Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Chapters; encourage programs like Crossroad and youth gatherings/camps; improve personal relationships with youth and parents, emphasizing prayer and liturgical life; increase funding of youth programs; and encourage all parish activities to be inter-jurisdictional.

The Hierarchs also heard reports from the Executive Director of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and from the Chairman of the Board of OCF; both organizations are official Agencies of the Assembly.

His Eminence Metropolitan Nicolae, Chair of the Committee for Canonical Regional Planning, presented the findings of a recent study: "Places of Greater Orthodox Unity in America: Local Inter-Parish Cooperation,” which identified twenty-one regions with well-organized and active Orthodox Clergy Associations, each with significant cooperation and communication among the parish communities. The Assembly of Bishops agreed to fully support and strengthen the work of local Clergy Associations in these regions and also endorsed the second phase of the study that will analyze and catalogue the effectiveness of the various expressions of inter-parish cooperation.

The Assembly of Bishops concluded its work by issuing a Message to the faithful of the United States of America.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Facing severe financial problems, GOARCH hits reset button

NEW YORK (GOARCH) — The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America releases below a “Statement on the Archdiocesan Financial Situation” and a “Message from Archbishop Demetrios”

For Information Contact: Harry Giannoulis, — Tel. 212-571-7717 ext. 17
Statement on the Archdiocesan Financial Situation

Beginning in October of 2016, and continuing through early 2017, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, and the officers of the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council learned that the Archdiocese faced a severe and complex financial deficit that had been building for several years.

Concurrently, Archbishop Demetrios recommended a new leadership team, which was elected by the full Archdiocesan Council. George Tsandikos, managing director of Rockefeller & Company in New York, was named as Vice President. Michael Psaros, co-founder and managing director of KPS Capital Partners, was appointed Treasurer. Catherine Walsh, a long-serving member of the executive committee and chair of the Archdiocesan Council’s legal committee, was named Secretary. In early September 2017, Archbishop Demetrios asked His Grace Bishop Andonios, the Chancellor, to assume key administrative oversight and responsibilities after the former Executive Director of Administration resigned.

“We were utterly surprised and saddened by the deficit, and by its unexpected nature,” His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios said. “The painful and unavoidable steps we are taking to correct the situation will have significant impact on the operations of the Archdiocese, and we are moving decisively and with conviction to correct flaws in financial controls and operations revealed in the crisis and to rebuild our finances.”

“The Holy Eparchial Synod, the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council and I want our clergy and faithful to be fully informed about what happened and what we are doing to overcome our problems,” His Eminence said.

A talk on the female diaconate

A kind reader recently forwarded me the text of Protodeacon Peter Danilchik's presentation at a female diaconate conference this year.

Good morning everyone. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak about what is -- other than my wife, children and family -- the great love of my life, namely the holy diaconate in Christ, in which I have been privileged to serve for the past 42 years. For the deacon, to live is to serve and to serve is to live. This living and serving is, however, not for oneself -- it is for the Church, the Body of Christ.

I envy my fellow panelists, who are speaking about very intimate person-to-person service to the Body: pastoral counseling, chaplaincy, hospice and homebound. And here I am, discussing the dry and dreary subjects of administration and governance. Or are they so dry and dreary? Can they be full of passion and love? The answer is yes. But only through service to others and sacrifice of oneself.

I have served on multiple governing boards, overseas and domestic: parish councils, diocesan councils, metropolitan councils, St Vladimir’s Seminary, the Secretariat of the Assembly of Bishops, a European international school, as well as a manager for over three decades with Exxon Corporation. In all these roles, my persona as a corporate executive and an Orthodox deacon were intertwined. My knowledge of business development, negotiations, leadership and management were continually permeated by the absolute requirement to serve others in sacrificial love, every day, in every place, without exception. However, none of that would have been even remotely possible without the steadfast and self-sacrificing example of my wife of 49 years, Diaconessa Tanya, who is a far better deacon and servant of God than I will ever be.


Let me speak first about governance. When we think about governance, we might imagine a board, like a parish or diocesan council, meeting in a conference room, making “big decisions.” Well, governance, properly understood, especially in the context of the Orthodox Church, is far more intimate and grass-roots than that.

The icon of governance in the Church is the episcopate. In the New Testament, St Paul uses the word episkopous to refer to the overseers of the flock, who also serve as guardians and stewards. The image of the Good Shepherd immediately springs to mind, the one whose sheep know his name and the one who seeks after the lost and lonely ones. Further, the oversight role of the bishop includes looking after others and visiting them to see how everyone is doing.

Are the bishops the only ones who govern? No, many of us govern and oversee others in some way. Parents oversee children, supervisors their subordinates, teachers their students. But how do we govern? Do we do so by fiat, or by example? Do we reject others’ ideas out of hand if they do not agree with ours? Or, do we listen carefully to not only the words but also to the thoughts and feelings behind them? Do we view ourselves as servants or as authorities?

1 Kings 19:11-13

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Upcoming lecture on "deaconesses" at Jordanville

(HTS) - Scheduled to be held on Monday, October 23, 5:00 pm, Seminary Hall.

Some Orthodox Christians today are trying to re-institute the ancient Church order of “deaconesses,” despite the uneven history of that female office in the Church, as well as that of the male diaconate. Protodeacon Patrick Mitchell surveys the Church’s early experience of both male and female “deacons” and concludes that they were never the same order, that the female order was inherently problematic for the Church because it appeared to elevate women over men, and that the “ordination” of women as deaconesses made less and less sense as the Church’s understanding of holy orders evolved. That explains why much of the Orthodox Church never had deaconesses, and why even those segments of the Church in antiquity and in the Byzantine era where they did serve eventually abandoned the order.

Protodeacon Patrick Mitchell is a former Washington Bureau Chief of Investor’s Business Daily, the author of four books on politics and religion, and a contributor of chapters to four other books on foreign policy, international banking, and American history. He has also appeared on many radio and television shows including ABC’s Nightline and Face the Nation, CBS’s Evening News, NBC’s Today, and CNN’s Crossfire and Larry King Live.

Protodeacon Patrick served seven years in the United States Army as an infantry and counterintelligence officer. He was received into the Orthodox Church with his family in 1990 by our own Dean, Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster, at the Protection of the Holy Mother of God OCA parish in Falls Church, VA, and was ordained to the diaconate by the OCA’s Metropolitan Herman in 2007. He was released to ROCOR in 2013 and is now attached to St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC, where he has served since 2012.

Protodeacon Patrick recently earned the degree of Master of Theology in Orthodox Studies with Distinction from the University of Winchester in England, where he is currently a doctoral student under Fr. Andreas Andreopoulos. His master’s thesis was titled “The Disappearing Deaconess: How the Hierarchical Ordering of Church Offices Doomed the Female Diaconate.” He spoke on that subject at a conference in California earlier this month sponsored by the St. Phoebe Center for the Deaconess.

Assembly of Bishops meets in New Jersey

(AOB) - Address of the Chairman His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America at the 8th Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America

Garfield, NJ

(October 3-5, 2017)


Your Eminences, Your Excellencies and Your Graces, most respected Hierarchs of the Assembly of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America,

It constitutes a great joy and a profound blessing to be together again for our 8th annual General Assembly. Many of us have known each other not only since our First Episcopal Assembly in May 26-27, 2010, but long before. Our eight General Assemblies, however, have been special occasion for cultivating and strengthening the bond of deep love and apostolic zeal that unites us as canonical Hierarchs of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church in America. Through God’s grace and providence, we have all been brought together to this one place and we have been called to walk in unison toward a common goal, albeit, one that is still unfolding and which will be fully revealed in the eschaton. While our sights are ultimately set on the “things to come and longed for,” as long as we call ourselves co-laborers in God’s vineyard, it is our sacred obligation to work together to realize this goal by drawing ever-closer to one another.

This leads us to pay greater attention to the purpose of our meeting. Let us consider some basic points.

1. Cultivating the Bond of Love and the Unity in Christ

The first point related to the purpose of our Assembly is something self-understood. We are here to increase the love for each other, and to enhance our unity in Christ. This is a noble purpose in and of itself, but it also has a decisive impact on our work in presenting an authentic witness of Orthodoxy. Before His betrayal, arrest, imprisonment, crucifixion and death on the Cross, the Lord Jesus Christ reminded His disciples that when He is gone, the only way that the world will recognize that they are His disciples is by the love they have for one another. As you know, He said to His disciples, A new commandment I give to you that you love one another even as I have loved you that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35). At the same time Christ prayed to His Father: Father I do not pray for those only but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they all be one even as You, Father, are in me and I in You, that they also may be one in us so that the word may believe that You have sent me (John 17:20-21). It is not simply that people will call themselves “Christians” that the world will know that they are followers of Christ. Only by their love – their sacrificial love – for one another and their unity in Christ will the estranged world pause and recognize in them the very light and life emanating from Christ and His Gospel. This unwaining light, which is present in the hearts, thoughts, and actions of love of true disciples of Christ, moves young and old to discover Jesus and to quench their spiritual thirst with His living water.

Two new metropolitans for the Antiochian Church

( - By the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Synod of Antioch, under the presidency of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, elected two new metropolitan archbishops in its current session at St. Elias Patriarchal Monastery in Shwayya, Lebanon. His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, primate of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, participated in the elections.

His Grace Bishop Ignacio (Semaan) is the new metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Mexico, Central America, Venezuela and the Caribbean. He succeeds His Eminence Metropolitan Antonio (Chedraoui) who reposed in the Lord this past June, after leading his archdiocese for 51 years. Sayidna Ignacio served as an auxiliary bishop in Mexico for the past six years and as patriarchal vicar of the widowed archdiocese. According to the Mexican Archdiocese, Sayidna Ignacio received a bachelor's degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Damascus; He received a degree in Theology from the Institute of St. John of Damascus, University of Balamand, Lebanon, in 2001. He was director of the Choir of Byzantine Sacred Music of that institution from 1997-2001. He also studied in the Department of Liturgics of the University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Basilios (Kodseie) is the metropolitan-elect of the Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand, Oceana and the Philippines. He also served as the patriarchal vicar of the widowed archdiocese following the repose of His Eminence Metropolitan Paul (Saliba) this past July, after leading the Australian Archdiocese for 18 years. Fr. Basilios has served as pastor of the Church of the Dormition in Mount Prichard, Sydney, New South Wales. Details of Fr. Paul’s consecration to the sacred episcopacy are still being formulated.

Sayidna Joseph congratulates both men on behalf of the hierarchs, clergy, board of trustees and laity of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. Metropolitan Joseph prays, and asks for the prayers of the Archdiocesan clergy and faithful, to Almighty God that He will bless the new ministries of Metropolitan Ignacio and Metropolitan-elect Basilios and all of the clergy and faithful of the Archdioceses of Mexico and Australia.

Met. Hilarion (head of Russia's external relations dept.) in UK

On September 24, 2017 Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Dormition in London.

Met. Hilarion speaks with his usual frankness at the Christian Future of Europe symposium.

( - On 22 September 2017, an international symposium on the Christian Future of Europe took place at the residence of Russia’s Ambassador to Great Britain. The keynote address was delivered by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations.

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers, and participants,

I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples’ lives, their faith and their values.

Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe. Among the reasons for this is the greatest migration crisis on the continent since the end of the Second World War, caused by armed conflicts and economic problems in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. According to figures by the European Union agency Frontex, more than 1.8 million migrants entered the EU in 2015 alone. Figures from the UN International Migration Report show that the number of migrants in Europe has increased from 49.3 million people in 2000 to 76.1 million people in 2015. According to research by the UN International Organization for Migration, throughout the world about 1.3 percent of the adult population, which comprises some 66 million people, in the forthcoming year intend to leave for another country in order to live permanently there. Approximately a third of this group of people – 23 million – are already making plans to move. 16.5 percent of potential migrants who were questioned responded that the countries at the top of their list are Great Britain, Germany and France.

The other reason for the transformation of the religious map of Europe is the secularization of European society. Figures in a British opinion poll indicate that more than half of the country’s inhabitants – for the first time in history – do not affiliate themselves to any particular religion. 2942 people took part in an opinion poll conducted in 2016 by Britain’s National Centre for Social Research: 53 percent of those who responded to the question on religious allegiance said that they do not belong to any religious confession. Among those aged from eighteen to twenty-five, the number of non-religious is higher – 71 percent. When similar research was carried out in 1983, only 31 percent of those questioned stated that they did not belong to any confession.

2nd Annual Modern Coptic Martyrs Remembrance Day in DC

More than a grain truth here

On the David Bentley Hart New Testament

It should surprise no one that there is a veritable cavalcade of theologians and clergy lined up to write something about this new text. Given what I have read about it so far, this amount of attention is deserved given Mr. Hart's popularity (not to mention his charged beliefs on things like universal salvation). As always, Fr. Lawrence Farley has a timely article on the topic. It is entitled "The Deep Melancholy of David Bentley Hart." An excerpt is below.

Dr. Hart has recently completed his translation of the New Testament, and it is now for sale at a book store near you. One naturally asks, “Why do we need another translation of the New Testament since so many translations already abound?” One could understand someone wanting to have another crack at translating the Old Testament, since the verbal concision of the Hebrew tongue and the corruption of the text at a number of places offer opportunity for a number of different readings—to say nothing of the question of how to factor in the Septuagint readings in a modern English translation. But the New Testament? Surely the field has been worked over pretty thoroughly and no real puzzles remain? And the versions offered by individuals have not always met with universal acclaim as worthy alternatives—versions such as those by William Barclay, J.B. Phillips, Ken Taylor, and Eugene Peterson.

Dr. Hart lets us know why he thinks we need yet another version of the New Testament—present translations are not sufficiently literal and serve to hide from their readers the radicality of what the texts actually say. Reading them in the old versions such as the RSV, the King James Version, and the New American Standard Bible, leave us too cozily at ease in Zion, and we might imagine that we are like the Christians of the first century when in fact we are utterly different. If we were to read the New Testament with the fresh and newly-opened eyes free from the bias foisted on us by centuries of tradition, we would see for ourselves how unlike the first Christians were from ourselves, and how utterly we fail to understand the New Testament’s radical message. Indeed, we comfortable Christians would regard our first century compatriots as “fairly obnoxious: civilly reprobate, ideologically unsound, economically destructive, politically irresponsible, socially discreditable, and really just a bit indecent”. Hence Hart’s title for his explanatory essay of 2016, “Christ’s Rabble”.

Hart begins his broadside on the reliability of the Church’s Tradition (for that is what it is) with a bit of personal history, including the fact that he suffered an extended spell of ill health. This, he said, forced him “to take an even more reflective and deliberate approach to the task”. It forced him to think more deeply about the world of the early church, which in turn surprised him by leaving him with “a deeply melancholy, almost Kierkegaardian sense that most of us who go by the name of ‘Christian’ ought to give up the pretense of wanting to be Christian”. By this he meant that if we truly understood what the New Testament meant by being Christian, we would reject it, for it would be too radical for us to accept. We would find it, (in his words again) “fairly obnoxious”. We misunderstand the New Testament that badly, but with the aid of his new New Testament, we can now at last see what the New Testament really says and what Christianity is really about.

Hart goes on to share that perhaps his melancholy at this discovery “was deepened by an accident of timing”—viz. his debate with Samuel Gregg over the intrinsic evils of capitalism. Hart had denounced wealth as “an intrinsic evil”, where Gregg argued with him that it was not wealth itself that the New Testament condemned, but a spiritually unhealthy preoccupation with it. I am not sure that the timing was as accidental as all that. I wonder rather if Hart’s diatribe against later Christian culture and its understanding of the New Testament was not simply a part of his ongoing personal quarrel with Gregg. Either way though, Hart’s arguments should be considered on their own merits...
Complete article here.

First ever Braille books for Orthodox published

BOSTON (GOARCH) – His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios visited the National Braille Press on September 14, 2017. During the visit he received the first copies of Speaking to God, My Orthodox Prayer book, and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom printed in Braille by the National Braille Press for the Department of Religious Education of the Archdiocese of America. It is believed that these are the first books ever published in Braille for Orthodox Christians.

At the National Braille Press, the Archbishop was greeted by Mr. Nicholas Racheotes, the Chairman of the Press’ Board of Trustees, Brian MacDonald, President, Nicole Noble, Director of Sales, and Whitney Mooney, Sales Associate and Social Media Creative. Mr. Racheotes is an active member of the Taxiarchae Church of Watertown, Mass. He explained about the Braille alphabet to the Archbishop, showing him samples of various publications that the Press creates. The Archbishop toured the facilities and saw how books in Braille are created. He saw the first copies of the three books in Braille. Since the Archbishop is the author of Speaking to God, he autographed copies for Mr. Racheotes and the Braille Press.

Rev. Dr. Anton Vrame, Director of the Department of Religious Education, which worked with the Braille Press to create the three books, noted that these three books were selected because they could assist the blind Orthodox Christian in his or her personal interior spiritual and devotional life.

Visit the Orthodox Marketplace here.

See more photos here.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Antiochian Bishop Anton has reposed in the Lord

Some have asked in the past why they say "Christ is Risen" at the repose of someone even if it is not Paschaltide. This something done in the Antiochian Church that is slowly spreading into other jurisdictions.

( - Memory Eternal! + Bishop Antoun

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." John 11:25

Christ is Risen....

With great sadness and hope in the Resurection, His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH announces the passing into eternal life of His Grace Bishop ANTOUN, this morning October 2, 2017.

More information about the funeral arrangements will be posted when they become available.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Met. Hilarion makes visit to EP Bartholomew

( - On 18 September 2017, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, arrived in Istanbul. At the airport, he was met by Mr. Andrey Podelyshev, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Istanbul. In the evening of the same day the DECR chairman met with Mr. Alexei Yershov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Turkey.

On September 19, Metropolitan Hilarion visited the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Great Martyr George in Phanar, he venerated the holy relics of Ss. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, and of the Holy Martyr Euphemia the All-Praised, as well as the other shrines. After that Metropolitan Hilarion met with His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. They were joined in the meeting by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France; Metropolitan Bartholomew of Smyrna, chief secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople; Archimandrite Vissarion (Komzias); Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, DECR secretary for inter-Orthodox relations; Rev. Anatoly Churyakov, DECR interpreter; and Mr. Alexander Yershov, assistant to the DECR chairman.

Metropolitan Hilarion conveyed to His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew cordial fraternal greetings from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and a gift from him – an album of the Bible miniature illustrations made in the Palekh technique. Discussed during the lengthy meeting were various issues of promoting bilateral relations between the Patriarchates of Moscow and Constantinople, as well as the current problems of inter-Orthodox cooperation.

The same day later the DECR chairman left Istanbul.

Traveling all last week

A lull in posting due to travel. Hope to "catch up" soon.