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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://ocanews.org/news/IndyTownHall8.5.08.html 8.5.08 Indianapolis Town Hall Held A long, lively and thought-provoking OCA Town Hall was held at St. John
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2008


      Indianapolis Town Hall Held

      A long, lively and thought-provoking OCA "Town Hall" was held at St.
      John the Forerunner parish in Indianapolis, Indiana, Thursday
      evening, July 31st. Some 85 persons were present for the three and a
      half hour meeting, including eight local OCA clergy from both the
      Columbus Deanery and Romanian Episcopate. More than 50 persons spoke,
      many in multiple instances, in a meeting that was no less passionate
      for being very well-ordered. The meeting was unique among the ten
      "Town Halls" that have been held to date in that after the official
      "Town Hall" was concluded, a 30 minute question and answer period was
      held, in which Archbishop Job responded to questions from the floor.

      The Town Hall

      Following a brief prayer led by the Dean of the Columbus Deanery, Fr.
      Joseph Gibson, and a brief introduction by Popadia Michelle Jannakos
      of the Pre-Conciliar Commission, who moderated the event, speakers
      rose to address the first question of the evening: "What is working
      well in the OCA?" Cited were:

      - parish life

      - the dioceses - especially the Midwest

      - the Midwest Diocese's new 'Parish Health Initiative'

      - Archbishop Job

      - the use of English, and the growing diversity in our parishes

      - the fact that the OCA has been humbled by the scandal, so that it
      is no longer so prideful or
      judgemental of others as was often the case in the past

      - diocesan communications

      - the wonderful latitude of practices in the Diocese

      - a very pastoral approach dominates

      - we have become a lot more "on the ball" about things, not letting
      things slide as we did in the past

      - after three different OCA parish experiences, we appreciate a
      consistency in the OCA, regardless of where we have had to move... It
      has been refreshing to find the centrality of Christ is there in each
      parish...Despite the problems there is no other place we would rather be

      - OCA parishes are very welcoming

      - the Chancellor of OCA is making an effort - such as these Town Hall
      meetings - to deal with our problems. This is unique in Orthodoxy

      - I would disagree. Too often problems are expected to be kept in
      the parish. Openness does exist in other jurisdictions, just in a
      different way

      - Despite what are serious failures in the national Church and Synod
      of Bishops. people really care about the OCA. OCANews.org is
      devoting a lot of time for the good of the Church. Here tonight from
      my Ohio parish alone there are twelve people...

      At this point the Archbishop jumped in and added that:

      "Our seminaries are filled. We graduated a couple of students this
      year, and we have identified 15 more students who will be entering in
      the next 3 years. They know the score, but are willing to go."

      Second Question

      Discussion then turned to the second question of the evening: "What
      are your concerns for the OCA?"

      A woman began by quoting two passages from Scripture. The first was
      from 1 Kings in which Solomon is asked to decide between two women
      claiming to be the mother of a baby. The speaker stated that Syosset
      is not acting like a true mother, but is willing to sacrifice its
      child for itself. Syosset must repent and cleanse the Church with the
      truth. The second passage quoted concerned the Russian lay theologian
      Khomiakov who "named the heresy that Syosset is presently suffering
      from." According to Khomiakov, apostolic tradition is not an
      inheritance of words, but an inner spiritual life. Truth and unity
      are now being severed by Syosset. We are coming to the next
      ANAC (All North American Council) to rejoin the parishes in
      "sobornost", and no ecclesiastical authority is authentic without "sobornost".

      A woman who stated she was a convert of 18 months stated that "my
      concern is that we keep things in perspective. Accountability is
      important, but perspective needs to be kept. "

      The next speaker, who identified himself as a "convert of just a
      year" stated "I fled from doctrinal problems, and knew there was a
      scandal here. It appeared to me to be temporal, and I expected that
      it would soon be over. I am deeply disappointed that it has not happened yet."

      When the next speaker began "I am a convert of one month..." the
      audience erupted in laughter, and one priest suggested that the
      speaker should win a door prize... The speaker, who worked at a
      Catholic School continued. "I was impressed by people speaking
      truthfully about the scandal. I always remember what a Sister told
      me in elementary school: ' If you want forgiveness you have to tell the truth."

      Several concerns followed in quick succession:

      - "Town halls are good in addressing the proximate problems, but
      there are long term issues in the OCA." Particularly the state of
      monasticism. Often trying to think of these things gets pushed aside
      in the need to solve things right now. Monasticism is the backbone of
      the Church -it is where we get our Bishops from...

      - If a woman had been behind these bishops,"things might have been
      different". No desire to offend, but we need married bishops. They
      would not be so isolated.

      - "Our ecclesiology is flawed. The focus should be on the diocese.
      Too much focus on the Central Church Administration (CCA). The CCA is
      a only a resource, and yet the lion's share goes to the CCA, not the
      dioceses. It is ass backwards. Our expectations are different from
      the Synod, from the parishes. I expect them to tell the truth and not
      lie to us. I am very concerned by slander- the slander of Wheeler
      and the attacks on Archbishop Job are not acceptable. And nothing
      has been said about that." (The speaker, a priest, offered a longer
      written statement on these themes which will be published on the
      Council blog at <http://oca15aac.wordpress.com/>http://oca15aac.wordpress.com

      The priest's comment elicited many "Amens" from the crowd.

      A speaker then asked: "Will this meeting do any good? Does anyone
      else besides +Job care?"

      "This makes this a dangerous situation."

      A priest's wife continued: "Is there any interest in acknowledging
      the problem, and then doing the things that are required to resolve
      it?" "It begins with disclosure, full and complete. If there is no
      resolution to this, I would have a real problem staying in the OCA."

      -"I would like to see a system in place for the so -called
      whistle-blowers." If someone like Eric Wheeler comes forward they
      should be validated, not scapegoated. "We need a system that makes it
      OK to come forward, and not result in an attack-dog reaction."

      - "I have another expectation. I want to know why those who broke
      the law or colluded with them have not been prosecuted."

      - "I am concerned there is only one bishop who has asked forgiveness
      for this." "I am not even in your diocese, Your Eminence, and I still
      received your letter. But the others, there is no accepting of
      responsibility, and no accounting offered. We have a real problem."

      - "If we were a corporation, or any money-making or government
      entity, if that kind of money had disappeared on that watch, it
      wouldn't have been just the people taking the money who would be out.
      The CEO would develop a strong need to see more of his family.
      (Laughter) It was on the Metropolitan's watch and yet...nothing. We
      can't even peacefully retire those who are responsible.
      Responsibility means taking the fall if something goes wrong. It is
      all like a bad dream: we are running in place and can't get anywhere."

      - I am concerned about the persistent rumors of the precarious
      condition of our autocephaly. Moscow is abandoning us because of ROCOR.

      - I would like to add to that notion of lack of vision. There has
      been no response from the Synod regarding the proposed unification
      of the two Romanians jurisdictions and the Episcopate leaving the OCA.

      "I doubt the geographical dioceses understand the importance of the
      Romanian decision to leave. The Romanians say they put the "A" in
      OCA, because the OCA would not be fully "American" without
      them." Not to mention the spiritual influence of the two women's

      -Where are the Feds? Is there not a federal investigation, and an IRS
      investigation. Is no one looking into this?

      At this point Mark Stokoe, editor of OCANews.org, who was present at
      the meeting rose and stated that there was an ongoing FBI
      investigation, that the IRS had been notified, but that they worked
      to their own ends and own timetable. The comments continued:

      - "I am disappointed that my Church's bad behavior is being aired
      before the government. I am disappointed that we have no integrity to
      resolve this ourselves. It is a shame and disgrace." (Many "Amens"
      from the audience.)

      - "I am concerned that attorneys and legal authorities - and we have
      spent $700,000 on lawyers so far - were the guiding principles of
      how we dealt with this crisis, not Christian principles. I am
      concerned that it was not the Bishops who resolved this, but that
      OCAnews.org was needed. Without OCANews.org this all would have
      stayed buried." The Bishops continue with an elitist attitude that
      they don't trust the laity to deal with major issues. "I am angry,
      and I think alot of people are angry." I converted to Orthodoxy 37
      years ago. "But I am sad to say that my business partner, who
      wouldn't step foot in Church, has more integrity than the Bishops of
      my Church. When one of my agents did something wrong last week,
      he insisted we not only immediately correct it but make amends
      beyond what was required. So I am tired of this endless series of
      comments from the Bishops without resolution." They were and remain
      asleep at the helm. "I'm sorry, but they should all resign, but if
      not, then at least +Herman should take responsibility so we can move
      forward." (Shouts of "Second!" from across the room)

      - "I am concerned about the process and criteria by which people who
      wish to serve the Church, in orders, positions and committees, from
      top to bottom, from Syosset to every parish are selected and vetted."

      - "What bothers me is the long lasting effects this is going to have
      on how we view and interact with the episcopacy." The episcopacy is
      not going to go away, but there will be a profound change of
      attitudes, and I think it will only be for the worse.

      -"As a convert from Protestantism, it took me along a long time to
      view Bishops with respect. And now, that is shattered. Except you,
      Vladyka." ( Laughter) Outside of our own, I look on all of them with
      mistrust. "I wince when we commemorate +Herman on Sundays, and that
      is devastating, especially as I try to teach my children. I know he
      needs our prayers. But it is an involuntary feeling."

      - "I am concerned that I have to endure this Synod and their actions."

      - "My overwhelming concern is that until trust is restored, that the
      real work of Christ can not move forward."

      - "I am going to go with Christ's promise that the Gates of Hell
      will not prevail. Honesty, integrity and courage - those are the
      things that are needed. I realize there is not a perfect Church, but
      we all sin, but it is hard to forgive when there is no repentance.
      I know that +Herman needs the healing touch of Christ as well."

      - "I guess that the one thing that bothers me is that I am starting
      to assume that the majority of Bishops will always cover up. I hate
      thinking that it is adolescent (of me) to think that repentance, that
      is at the heart of Orthodoxy, will be done. The thing that is
      bothering me, is that these things are not going to bother me
      anymore, and that this is not taken seriously by the leaders. That is
      the real problem. Our bishops are not credible as a whole, and seem
      not to be willing to do what we as laymen are expected to do, that is
      to confess and ask forgiveness."

      A priest then spoke passionately: "If there is a reconciliation
      service at the ANAC, but if there is no word of confession and
      repentance, it will be yet another lie . We are using our beautiful
      heritage and forms of worship as a cover. I am sick of that mask."
      There is pressure being put on priests not to expect change in a
      parish - and now on the national level as well. "If there is no
      repentance there can be no word of reconciliation. If that is what
      expected at the Council it will be a lie."

      - Tosi (Larry Tosi, Treasurer of the Diocese of Washington-New York)
      said that the truth is so bad that if it became known it would kill
      the OCA. "Why ask forgiveness if you don't believe in its power?
      Christ conquered Hell, do they think that he can't conquer the death
      of the OCA?"

      Mark Stokoe, editor of OCANews.org then read a written statement. You
      can read that statement

      - The worse thing you can do is not be honest and bring it out in the
      open. I am grateful to the Bishop for bringing it out. "After a while
      you get to the point where you think others will deal with it; but
      tonight, I realize it does effect me. I am a layman, I have no robes,
      I have no titles, but I am still responsible as everyone else. So do
      I get to sit here - and listen- and go home and do my thing, or do I
      have to do something? What is my responsibility, beyond prayer, for
      the clergy and bishops? What is my personal responsibility, other
      than let it go, and let others carry the load?"

      - My concern is that I am just a lay person, but even more so than
      others, as a mother, daughter and grandparent. I don't want my
      grandchildren to deal with these lies. My grandchildren are 13, 10,
      7, and 3. I don't want to give my grandchildren a legacy of lies and
      cover-up. I want to say that I can tell them 'they came and spoke
      the truth and corrected things.' When we sin we do wrong. We have to
      ask not only God's forgiveness, but each other's as well. That is my
      concern - because the Lord might call me home tomorrow, and I do not
      want this (scandal) to be my legacy.

      Fr. Ted Bobosh then spoke: "There are so many concerns of my people
      in my parish. They came looking for Christ, and what they found in
      the national Church and the Synod is not Christ. This is the truth of
      the OCA."

      He then extemporized from a written statement you can read
      <http://ocanews.org/news/BOboshQuote7.31.08.html>here. (Applause.)

      - I want to echo something said in another Town Hall, that a number
      of our bishops who are rather old-worldly, wanting to be kings,
      rather than fathers. We are in a strange situation in North America
      as how the Church is structured. They are not kings, they are to be
      loving fathers. "The Statute of the OCA gives quite a bit of
      authority to those who are not Bishops. And this is where our Bishops
      are having trouble relating. That may point out some of the problems
      with moving forward. Once the dog gets hold of the car, what does he
      do with it? Does the Synod now have hold of this car? "

      - Our paralysis needs to be addressed.

      - Fr. Mark Hodges then rose: "I spoke at the Cleveland Town Hall but
      I wanted to share 3 things that are different here than there. There
      is a fundamental confusion for many between forgiveness and
      reconciliation. Forgiveness is something I give to you, regardless of
      what you do. But a working relationship requires reconciliation,
      and for that there must be a confession - the truth must come out.
      People say "Forgive." That was done a long time ago. I forgave Bob
      Kondratick a long time ago. But forgiveness is different than having
      a working relationship."

      Scripture says Bishops must be blameless, avoiding even the
      appearance of impropriety. Judge Bearse put it very well, and it was
      so sad to read what he wrote: "No one has the right to stonewall
      about God's money. The good people of the OCA simply cannot tolerate
      it. If an individual is stonewalling, you just assume that person has
      something to hide. Decisive steps must be taken, such as forcing
      removal of or withholding financial support from those responsible."

      Metropolitan Herman must resign for trust to begin again. The SIC
      Report has to be complete and be made public.

      We talked a lot about money, but it is not about money. "We have
      lost our corporate soul." There is a list of failures, specifically
      to discuss what should an American Church look like in 100 years,
      regarding evangelism, etc. This is not a failure, but "an
      opportunity of the Spirit to get us back to what we should be doing.
      The Council then becomes an opening step to really being the Church
      in America."

      - "Like many in the room I am a convert as well. I was in the
      Anglican tradition. As long as it was change in New York or San
      Francisco, it was OK by me. When the Anglican church changed in
      Indiana, I had to leave." Been there and done that. Not going
      anywhere now as Orthodoxy is the True Faith. We have to clean house
      on these people. "There is no aspirin to cure this what ails us
      here. Cut it out and fix it."

      At this point a layman rose and made a very passionate statement to
      Archbishop Job personally. "Your Eminence, do not to lose courage or
      faith. Someone has to stand to the end, and many of us will stand
      with you to the end. You may think you are not capable of doing what
      needs to be done. But you are it. This is your time, You may have to
      go to the cross, but we will stand with you if that is needed. It
      has been the laity who have led in this affair, and I hope the clergy
      will now stand up against this evil as strongly as well. No other
      Bishop is willing to do what you are doing, so know that we are with
      you." (Much applause.)

      - My concern is evangelism, and it is about my heart as much as
      anything. I am convinced that the Church will not fail, but I cannot
      say that about our parish. "We are thinking about things we should
      not. I worry we are bringing sheep to people who are not shepherds. I
      worry about not building the new church next door because so many of
      us will not give money to the OCA if that is with whom we are
      affiliated." My children are 16 and 18, and my fear is that they
      will hear all this and be so disappointed. How does that make us
      look? It is a lot easier to live in the world. My children go to
      Catholic schools and are very aware of their problems. I feel if we
      are not willing to speak truthfully about our situation, then God
      forgive us. "We are living in fear in the OCA, and no one in the
      Godhead is the source of the fear." We have no Ombudsman in the OCA,
      but as a business person, I say we need one. And while I appreciate
      the feeling we have for our Bishop, I pray God will speak to the
      others (Bishops) as well. "There were other options than the OCA, and
      I am concerned that the OCA will no longer be an option..."

      Fr. Joseph Gibson responded: "We can speak to our kids about
      this. They know more than you think. Speak to them - don't let them
      find out other ways and they will look to you for guidance. If you
      keep it quiet, and treat it as a scandal, they will be
      confused. They should really be here tonight...."

      And then the Archbishop stated: "The kids had their own Town Hall at
      camp this afternoon."

      - I met Metropolitan Herman in 2003 at an Orthodox Peace Fellowship
      conference at St. Tikhon's. He made an effort to talk to us, which
      he did not have to do. Pictures were taken. We celebrated
      liturgy. So I remember his kindnesses, but then, I have never been
      on the receiving end of one his diatribes. We are speaking now as
      though he is the enemy, and one of the things I get from the
      Beatitudes is to pray for our enemies. We need to pray for him and
      all our Bishops because this can't be solved without God's help.

      - "I don't understand why we have a culture where the laity should be
      seen but not heard. That is a central problem in our eccelsiology."
      Maybe +Herman is a decent man, maybe he is just trying to protect
      +Theodosius. Why do we feel such unity here - we are willing to go to
      the cross with +Job, yet we feel nothing with Syosset, like it is
      some UFO. This is a problem with our structure, our ecclesiology.

      - Alaska. I want to know what happened and what is happening there
      now, and what we can do to help them heal.

      Third Question

      The discussion moved to the third question: "What would you like to
      say to the ANAC?" (ANAC refers to the All-North American Council,
      rather than the All-American Council, which was seen as a too
      USA-centric expression.)

      - I am the delegate from my parish to the ANAC - are others going to
      help storm the Bastille in Pittsburgh?

      - Can other people (observers) show up? "Yes. OF COURSE there can
      be outside demonstrations. We're the closest diocese and people - so
      we would show up!"

      -$250 just to "observe"? What kind of Church meeting is that? "There
      is not a business in America that charges its shareholders to attend
      their annual meeting. Nor would it be allowed. And we are a Church,
      not a business, claiming to want to evangelize America, and we want
      to discourage people from participating by charging them? "

      - "I was at the 14th AAC in Toronto. I am a trained auditor. When the
      motion was made to protect the accounts from auditing, I was behind a
      velvet rope unable to speak to our delegates, and our delegates voted
      "yes" on the motion because no one knew what it meant. But I knew
      there is no reason for it (the motion) unless it was to cover up
      fraud. The delegate told me later when I complained: "I wish you had
      been within distance, because I was confused. We might have voted
      no." "What I want to say is that given this historic time, enough of
      shutting out the observers. We should be heard."

      - I am a simple girl and I want simple things. Many signed the
      resignation petition for +Herman. He needs to resign. That's #1.
      "Then I want to see some head-banging, floor touching, robe-bending
      confessions and asking for forgiveness..."

      - If things are not out in the open, we can't know where to begin. If
      there is still a glass house, someone is going to throw a rock. We,
      that is the Bishops, priests, men, women, mothers, daughters,
      fathers, sons - we are not any less than any of the others. We are
      all equal in the love of God, so please, do what needs to be done.

      -Confession is needed first. A time of confession, repentance and
      then reconciliation. We need to make that order clear. Setting that
      aside, it concerns me that at the ANAC there would be a small portion
      of time for this. Our hearts are broken, for many reasons. We need a
      time of healing, and the council needs the opportunity to open the
      wounds an heal . "But +Herman needs to leave for this to happen."

      -I agree. We need a time to discuss this, and get the puss out, and
      express our feelings. It is important. It is also important that we
      discuss what so many have said here: "I am just a layman." The
      clergy need to trust us enough to listen, and we to clergy as well.
      We need openness at all levels.

      "What would I like to see come out of the ANAC? The OCA." (Laughter).
      Fr. Bobosh then read that portion of his statement dealing with autocephaly.

      - In dealing with this as an issue, we have to deal with how our
      Bishops are chosen. We have a method by Statute, but this is ignored
      over and over again. Now we know there are secret lists of approved
      candidates, but those criteria are unknown. This issue has to be
      addressed. The Synod can't do this secretly, when they won't tell us
      why it has been done. The synod must no longer just accept the
      Metropolitan's wishes in this regard. If we are not going to do it
      by Statute, then autocephaly means nothing.

      - "Those of us who don't want to leave the OCA to join the Romanian
      Church want the ANAC to address the Romanian question. I think
      Archbishop Nathaniel is an honorable man, but he is voting with his
      feet, and that concerns me."

      - "Autocephaly is important and part of it has to do with baptizing
      the culture. Truth and ecclesiology have come up over and over again.
      There cannot be a real ecclesiology without the truth. Theologians
      can do this better than I." But back to autocephaly, ROCOR said we
      had no grace when we received autocephaly from the Russian Church.
      That was not true. But frankly, after we have spat and blasphemed
      about truth, (during the scandal) one has to question. And then we
      are told we are "rebellious" for demanding the truth. The Russians
      came to Orthodoxy through beauty, and perhaps it is through Truth
      that America will come to Orthodoxy. The OCA is about truth. And if
      the OCA can't be about the truth, then it should fail.

      - "I have thrown out what I was going to say. The focus of what I
      would like to say is that the whole purpose of this ANAC meeting
      should be to iron this out. We have lost our way, completely, about
      the scandal. Pittsburgh should be to iron this out, by following St.
      Innocent and Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorff, and Hopko. Let's stop
      going down this road of Herman and Nikolai and Kondratick."

      - I want to know the timetable for resolutions and when things like
      disclosures need to be made.

      - I read the Statute before I joined the OCA. I wanted to see what
      kind of group I was joining. The Metropolitan Council forgot the
      Statute, the Bishops don't like it and would just as soon see it
      ignored or changed. The laity and priests that are at the ANAC should
      reaffirm the Statute exists. They must affirm its rules and they must
      be part of us until they are amended.

      - It is of supreme importance at this Council that we need the
      resolutions in advance, so we can be educated about it when we get
      there to vote.

      Fr. Stephen Kostoff (Cincinnati, OH) rose to speak. He had a
      prepared statement, which he did not read in full. He did say: "I
      would like to tell the Council that we can't effectively evangelize
      until we resolve the scandal. It undermines our efforts. At what
      point do I tell my catechumens that there is a scandal? Before
      instruction, so he never starts, during - so he leaves in the middle,
      or wait until the Chrism is on his head? By the Grace of Christ (Oh,
      and by the way.... )" (Laughter) (OCANews.org will publish Fr.
      Kostoff's remarks as soon as they can be transcribed.)

      - "It's going to be a fight, and it won't be a clean fight. And we
      have to be as wise as serpents or we will fail." Some people will go
      to the mat for the wrong things. We need to be prepared, and know
      what is on the docket, given the shortened time frame. There is hope,
      even if it is not an honest fight. And in the midst of this, Christ
      will be in the Center.

      "- I don't want a Toronto II where the Bishops are on their podium
      and there is no interaction between them and us. We need to have the
      Bishops engaged. If we have a Toronto II, it will be bad..."

      - What does that mean? I wasn't there.

      -There was an absolute lack of interaction between the people and
      bishops. Alice Woog summed it up at the end when she said: "Thank you
      all for being such a good audience."

      -We need priests to stand up and speak just like they did at the last
      diocesan assembly. "We need priests with chutzpah and they have to
      come with all their body parts." (Laughter) "I am just saying it like it is."

      - Don't underestimate the power of the laity. They can't do anything
      to me or you. They can't fire us, cut our salary, they can't do
      anything to us.

      - They can deny you the Eucharist. But didn't +Herman silence his clergy?

      The Archbishop responded: "Yes, initially. Until it was an exercise
      in futility and the damage was done. In an era of instant
      communication it was pointless."

      - Do we know what is on the docket?

      Popadia Jannakos answered: "There are certain things that have to be
      done. The last proposed agenda had the vast majority of time
      dealing with these issues. But please know that everything the
      Pre-Conciliar Commission does has to go through the Synod."

      The Archbishop explained: "Some things were not accepted this last
      go-round. For example, having the service of reconciliation instead
      of the Liturgy the first morning was rejected..."

      We cannot move forward until this is resolved. Whatever the character
      is of the man, good ,bad, evil, ignorant, guilty or not - nothing can
      happen until +Herman steps down. That is an undeniable fact, since
      there is no trust in the man. "That has been said a couple dozen
      times tonight - but it has only been written down twice on the papers
      on front. It needs to be underlined and begin every section."

      - The entire church is now asking for his resignation, since it is
      our only hope. We can forgive him, but any success requires this.

      - My impression is some people still defend him - that it is not as
      unanimous like it is here.

      Popadia Jannakos replied: "Well, the Town Hall comments are rather clear..."

      - I would like to speak in support of Fr. Bobosh's autocephaly
      comments. I was in the Bulgarian diocese that went to ROCOR to the
      Antiochians to OCA. "Should things not go things the way things
      should go, people need to know there are alternatives. If we fail,
      the Church in America will come in another format."

      - If Metropolitan Herman stepped up to the podium, and really
      repented, it would be better to have him stay than a successor chosen
      through secret means. "What they mean is that they don't believe he
      has the capacity to repent in a timely manner." It is not the man,
      but the results people are upset with.

      -"No way in heaven or hell is Metropolitan Herman going to resign.
      And if the Synod does not force his retirement, he will stay. We can
      rattle our sabers, but so far only one man seems convinced of this on
      the Synod." We need to know ourselves and our enemies - Sun Tzu said
      that - and then will come victory. We are not going to see a new
      Metropolitan at this Council so, to be frank, we need alternatives.
      He will wear us down. It is war by attrition, and we need to think
      what else can we do...

      - What is our plan B? What if the Council fails? If the OCA lacks its
      own dream? Do we all vote with our feet and join another jurisdiction?

      A priest rose to speak. "I think this is a spiritual battle. Are
      there options to that Plan B, just leaving? For those who have the
      mettle, this may turn into a fracas if he doesn't resign. Shouting
      "anaxios" during the divine liturgy. I would. If enough people
      disrupted the proceedings, that is a real plan B, like St. Nicholas
      fighting with Arius. We have been told wait until the next assembly,
      the next meeting, the next committee. This November is it. In my
      experience, people talk big, but when it comes to doing something,
      everybody folds. I expect some to fold - indeed I have found it
      universal that most fold. So maybe it is a kamikaze mission, but I
      won't stand for it anymore. What was that movie line: 'I am mad as
      hell and I won't stand for it anymore?' Those who won't fight, don't
      really care. I am for creating anarchy until he does leave."

      - This is the time for all reports to be pre-made. They must all be
      written beforehand. We need to talk, not listen to reports.

      - "The last time we decided not to vote for a budget at ANAC, and
      when the time came, we all did. This time we need to stand together.
      At our October diocesan assembly we need to discuss this. We don't
      need fluff or reports, luncheons, and banquets. Nobody wants a
      seminar this year."

      "We come to the end of the Council, and the budget comes up, and it
      is the most important thing. We spend lots of money, but it always
      comes up at the end, when there is no time for discussion, and we are
      expected to rubber stamp after a long song and dance of how badly it
      is needed. I don't want to quibble about money - but what it is being
      used for and not being used for - blackmail, bribery, and God knows
      what - so we have to come together as a diocese to demand change. We
      trust our Bishop and we need to stand behind him. I say 'No to the
      budget.' Fr. Joseph (Gibson) is right: Metropolitan Herman will
      not step down. I love him, and will always respect him for the March
      of Life. But this is not working for him. The money is where it is
      at. When we started to withhold, we got answers. We when stopped,
      because the Archbishop was threatened, we folded. That makes me
      angry." - We need our priests united. The people do not want the
      money to go to Syosset, but to the dioceses. Priests need to listen
      to the people. At the Diocesan Assembly in October, we need to say
      "No more money!"

      There followed a very passionate, emotional comment by a priest. "If
      you are not going to have repentance and there is no reconciliation,
      how can we even celebrate the liturgy? We are not Donatists, but I am
      appalled to hear that there are no plans for a service of confession
      and repentance prior to the Liturgy."

      "We start Great Lent with the priest confessing his sins to the
      people . I was told not to do this because people take it as a sign
      of weakness - and so I didn't. I was wrong. If we clergy cannot lead
      with honor , then we are liars, and we spit on the face of the Lord.
      Talk about religious formalism! Talk about a lie! Our Lord did not go
      to the cross of us to behave like this. The Liturgy is not religious
      formalism; it is the Kingdom of God on earth, the judgement of
      Christ for those on earth, as well as our salvation. There can be no
      Liturgy like this. The whole OCA will be judged for it. We will be
      held accountable."

      - The resignation of +Herman will be for his salvation. So I have no
      problem kissing his hand and saying "anaxios" at the Liturgy. I will
      be protesting his actions and behaviors, not condemning the person. I
      do not hate him.

      - It breaks my heart to hear priests speak of this. Can we go to plan
      C? Hey, we tried to withhold. So now we have a showdown at the OK
      corral, and if we fail, and we withdraw from the OCA , it will make
      the newspapers.

      - I fear that is near to Donatism: that is, that the holiness of the
      Church depends on the leaders. That is a recipe for schism. Jesus
      said: 'The Pharisees sit on Moses' seat.' He did not say 'And unless
      you pry them out there is no blessing.' He said 'Do what they fail to
      do, not what they do.' He doesn't suggest revolt and withdrawal, he
      suggests 'doing what they teach.' They are not teaching heresy here.

      - "Are they not teaching heresy? If they can't tell the truth, and
      invoke their authority for not speaking the truth, that is heresy. "

      - The battle is lost just on this point. We are not in schism if we
      join another jurisdiction.

      At this point Popadia Jannakos stated: "I don't want to cut anybody
      off - but it is 10:00 already, and the Archbishop said he would take
      questions. Please remember that some questions do not have answers.
      And that the Archbishop has a three hour drive home this evening...."

      Questions and Answers

      The Archbishop began the question and answer session with the
      following statement:

      "This has been very exhilarating for me, to listen to all of you. I
      am losing my voice, as I was at camp all day as well, but I want to
      make a few points. No, I would never take the diocese to another
      jurisdiction because there is no place I want to be other than the
      OCA." The Archbishop then talked about the Ligonier meeting of
      Orthodox Bishops in 1994. " We didn't have to report to anybody (
      like all the others). It proved a point. I will not take a diocese
      to someplace which has to report to Istanbul or Damascus for
      direction, when it concerns my people in the Midwest of America.
      Constantinople , God bless him, thinks we are barbarians, And
      while he lives in a totally barbarian land called Turkey! We are the
      Church in America, and we have to fight what that stands for, and
      that includes the vision of SS. Innocent and Tikhon. They are on our
      side, don't forget."

      "I heard this in Cleveland, here and in Chicago as well. I never like
      to hear " I am only a layman but..." Our Ecclesiology is clear and
      expressed liturgically." The Archbishop then discussed the roles of
      the laity and priesthood in the Liturgy. ". It is all about
      everybody, but no one is more important than another. All are
      essential and important. ""This is my fourth town hall, and it has
      been the most revealing and instructive. I found all your comments
      quite profound. It is my second (Town Hall) today, for the first
      was at camp. We talked to staff and then the kids. You would be
      surprised at some of the questions. Profound ones as well. This has
      been a great day. "

      "As for radical action: I was the only one here who was at Montreal
      in 1977. Was anybody else? No? The whole thing was to elect the new
      Metropolitan. It was a transition - the Bishops had been all foreign
      born, the incumbent was aged, and a DP, a former married priest. It
      was all very ethnic, and an all-Slavonic Liturgy was held. A few
      clergy banded together in the back, and when it came to the Creed
      they began to sing in English. The choir stopped singing, and
      the rest of Liturgy was in English. That was a violent act, but one
      that was inspired. We are an North American Church and there we
      began to act like it. It has got to be real. We must have integrity.
      The same applies at this Council, even if it does seem radical.
      (When St. Nicholas decked Arius, it was radical and he was suspended
      for it.) But that intervention in the Creed is part of our history
      and it was a turning point. That is when we started to become the OCA."

      After speaking of the changes in the United States following the
      Civil War, the Archbishop continued:

      "In the infamous letter of November 28, 2005, the question was
      raised for the first time. Are the Allegations True or False.? One
      told me that will be carved on my tombstone, but I only hope it will
      be answered by then! Mark Stokoe wrote in an editorial that " If we
      don't get to the bottom of this, can we really expect God to bless
      any of our efforts? That question has not been addressed yet. Now, I
      don't claim to be a good man, but I am an honest one. That is all I
      have to offer."

      The crowd then began their questions, with responses by the Archbishop.

      - "How optimistic are you that the SIC report will be honest, given
      that the first commission of which you were head was hampered?"

      "It's frustrating, this new and improved SIC. I always try to be an
      optimist though. It was given carte blanche, and they have
      interviewed very many people we were not allowed. That is also
      irritating. Why the difference? But speculation is not edifying. I
      hope for the best. But I don't want to speculate about it until I
      hear what they actually will say."

      "Are you alone as far as the bishops go? Do others believe like you
      in wanting to really correct things?

      "The one bishop who talks to me all the time (is) Bishop Nikon. And
      when things were intense he would say:" I agree and am behind you.
      "And the next time he would say; " I am behind you." And finally, I
      said, "I know you know and God knows. Would you let some other people
      know as well? I kind of think I am alone. I love my brother bishops.
      I have known +Herman for 42 years, and to be frank, we have never
      seen eye to eye about anything. We have two different approaches. At
      St. Tikhon's he spoke of me as a (The Bishop used a Russian
      expression) -"snotty-nosed kid" and he still thinks so. He dealt with
      problems the same back then - don't speak about them and they will go away."

      - "What was behind the decision to resume payments to the CCA? "

      - "The stipulations were not met completely last December at
      the Synod meeting. I knew I would be asked about it. The benchmarks
      were met - except for the SIC report more or less. But then, at that
      meeting, Bishop Nikolai, greeted me warmly and I sat next to him in
      the Chapel in order to rank, and all seemed rather normal. The next
      day, we stood at the altar for the service, and then he read his
      report accusing me of interference in his Diocese and asked that I
      be deposed. That is what we are dealing with here. It was 2-3 pages
      long. There was dead silence. And the Metropolitan said: 'What do you
      have to say?" And I said "Nothing." And then there was silence.
      Another one asked questions of +Nikolai, and then I defended myself.
      I said 'I did nothing proactive. I answer the phone if someone calls.
      I initiated nothing.' I was not afraid, but it was, unfortunately,
      coupled with "Will you release the assessment?" I was between a rock
      and hard place, and on my way back (to Chicago) I kicked myself for
      giving in. Withholding was working and it was worthwhile.

      Many times there are no good choices, no cut and dried answers.
      I felt like Tevye on the roof. "On the other hand, on the other
      hand..." But sometimes there is no other hand...."

      The question was asked if we should stop given the drive back, but
      the Archbishop dismissed the concern:
      "I am all fired up now. The drive is no problem."

      -"Do you concur with this audience that the Metropolitan needs to step down?"

      "I made that clear at the Diocesan Assembly last October. The fall
      session of the Synod took place the next week, and I was set up, as
      you can see. I am not saying anything that I have not said to his
      face - with witnesses. I told him: " All of us must sacrifice. I was
      a contented parish priest and I had to change my whole life to be a
      Bishop, out of obedience. I went to New England for 10 years. And
      then I was content, and the Synod moved me to Chicago, and that was
      really rough. Because no one asked for me here. They wrote a letter
      demanding a Bishop and to their surprise, they got one. My first six
      years here were no honeymoon. Things have gotten better, though.

      I said to him I have had to sacrifice, as have all the Bishops. You
      came to St. Tikhon's in 1966 and have never left. Bishop ,
      Archbishop and Metropolitan and then Archbishop of New York, all at
      St. Tikhon's. 'What have you sacrificed?' I asked. And he couldn't
      answer. And then they moved on..."

      - "What about +Theodosius?"

      "After Seminary, I went to Black Lick PA to work with the choir for
      one year, and ended up there twelve years. After Paul Sawchak left, I
      ran the parish as reader for 15 months, and then +Theodosius ordained
      me a deacon, priest and bishop. My own love for him is personal. But
      Syosset is no more. It only achieved notoriety after Kondratick
      became Chancellor. Unfortunately, +Theodosius abdicated his position
      as Metropolitan sometime even before 1989, and certainly afterwards.
      And Bob was so accommodating. Kondratick is brilliant, in how he
      controlled everyone. He was amazing. He kept us on the Synod in
      order. The agendas were full, he would keep us on track, and
      seemingly it was all good. As long as you have an honest person doing
      that it is helpful. But hat was not the case....

      The Metropolitan is not Pope, he has the Synod to advise him. But
      neither +Herman nor +Theodosius asked our advice, and we were to
      rubber stamp, on both the Synod level and then Metropolitan Council
      as well. It was truly a culture of fear, because if you questioned
      too much, it was a sign of disloyalty. There were taboo topics.
      Selling Syosset was taboo. Now it is not - too many people are
      talking about it. There is a real story behind all this scandal. And
      when Mark (Stokoe) writes his book on it, I have told him that the
      diocese wants to get the movie rights." (Laughter)

      -"What if +Herman won't resign?"

      "The Synod could unite, respectfully, asking him to step down, or
      failing that, then respectfully demand he step down, and then,
      removing allegiance should he fail to do that. That would have to be
      unanimous though. And right now, there is a 'snowball in hades'
      chance for unanimity on that...."

      - What were the signs of this disease, this creeping culture of fear.
      Could it have been stopped?

      "No one thing signalled it. So much happened without the knowledge of
      the Synod or the Metropolitan Council. For example, in Pittsburgh in
      1999, the Metropolitan's discretionary fund was brought up for the
      very first time, and I agreed to it, because Kondratick explained it
      so well - to preserve the anonymity of those who were being assisted.
      It was my own stupidity not to ask more. My discretionary account is
      $100 a month, and I use it mostly to send flowers, for funerals and
      people in the hospital. Now it is $1500 a year. But I expected the
      Metropolitan's was what, $10,000? Now I know it was millions. Well,
      that is a whole different story,. One trusted and was betrayed. But
      if you can't trust anyone you quickly become jaded..."

      - "Could you comment on the Romanian proposal to leave the OCA?"

      "I knew that the Romanians were talking, mostly about clearing the
      air about their history, especially about former Bishops. And then I
      saw it was on the agenda of the last Synod, and I read the proposal
      in disbelief, and I was very upset. Archbishop Nathaniel was quite
      quiet. Benjamin talked a great deal. I asked the priests that were
      there and it was about Romanians, only Romanians, and no mention was
      made of Americans or Canadians. Not one mention of the OCA. How does
      it speak to 38 years of autocephaly of which the Episcopate has been
      a part? I think the whole thing smacks of phyletism."

      I was challenged on that. +Nathaniel said all of us are phyletists.
      +Seraphim said phyletism is too strong to fight. The problem is
      that I had to leave for the consecration of my diocesan headquarter
      Church, and +Nikon said "We stopped the discussion after you left."
      Why? We have to determine a policy, otherwise it looks like we don't
      care. What if there are parishes or institutions that do not want to
      be [art of the 'maximally autonomous' Romanian Metropolitinate? We
      need input as far as the policy. We got nothing. and that is very

      There was no leadership by Herman. So anyway, the pitch of it was
      that this was a positive step for unity in America. And my question
      was 'How?' And they couldn't convince me at all.

      +Nathaniel is under great pressure, from his clergy and vicar Bishop
      and new immigrants, and even some of the American clergy. I won't
      judge that. But how this assists in unity in America is beyond my

      - "We are contemplating building a new Church building here (in
      Indianapolis) - and we are worried about who we joined up with in
      2002. If as you say we are not going someplace else, what do we do?"

      "The first sign will be September, and that will make it clear in
      November what is going to happen. I am a convert too. My father was
      Roman Catholic, my mother Orthodox, and I maintain I cried every
      time the Filioque was sung in Church. (Laughter). I went to Church
      mainly with my mother, but I am partly a convert at the very
      least. But the truth is, I am still converting to Orthodoxy and that
      will not be over until my last breath. We must continue to grow even
      in these difficult times. We must grow in appreciation for truth and

      The meeting concluded at 10:30 PM following a brief prayer.

      - Mark Stokoe
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