On 06-10-2000, one, a certain Peter Serko, posted a request for prayer for
St. Nicholas' Cathedral in Seattle, WA to the "Indiana" List; On
06-12-2000, he posted the same request to the "Synod" List -- albeit, with
slight textual variations. The entirety of his post is presented here,
with my responses (marked "gs") to certain points that he raises, and with
dual and variant readings of his posts indicated.
[Both Lists]: Dear Brothers and Sisters In Christ,
[Both Lists]: It is with some reluctance that I write this for public
consumption but, I fear that situation is so grave that I must ask each of
you for your prayers for our parish.
<gs: The "situation" is truly "grave," and *I*, too, "must ask each of you
for your prayers for our parish." But, from the *other* side of the
[Both Lists]: Our parish, St Nicholas Cathedral (ROCOR) in Seattle, is
currently under attack by a small minority of parishioners who are
instigating legal action in an attempt to take over the parish
<gs: Except that this "small minority of parishioners" -- which is neither
"small" nor a "minority" from what I have been able to ascertain --
consists of almost everyone who has any historic ties, whatsoever, with St.
Nicholas Cathedral; and that, rather than "take *over* the parish," they
seek to "take [*back*] the[ir] parish." At present, however, no "legal
action" is taking place.
["Indiana" List]: (I personally believe that a few have the intent of
taking the parish to the MP).
<gs: This is mere conjecture on Peter's part -- albeit, presented as
"fact." But it certainly does strike the proper tone of alarm, does it
not? However, none of the people that I know "who [allegedly] are
instigating legal action" are doing so with that intent. They would
certainly not have my sympathies extended to them, were *that* the case (as
anyone who knows me -- whether on List, or off -- knows well)...
<gs: On the other hand, I don't particularly relish *my* church -- that
church in which I grew up, and which I served for over four and a half
decades -- being turned over to the Etna crowd, either, since *they*
recognize the MP as being a true church, even if they are not formally in
communion with it -- yet!
["Synod" List]: (although they are claiming to be saving it!).
<gs: They truly and firmly believe that they *are* "saving it!" And, so
far, I have been presented with no evidence to the contrary...
[Both Lists]: Ours is a parish with a long history of
["Indiana" List]: trouble.
<gs: True, but what parish doesn't?
["Synod" List]: problems. Want to strike fear in the heart of a Synodal
priest, threaten to send him to Seattle!
<gs: How melodramatic can we get?
[Both Lists]: Bishop Nektary, of blessed memory, is reputed to have called
["Indiana" List]: it
["Synod" List]: Seattle
[Both Lists]: his "Golgotha".
<gs: While it is true that Bishop Nektary, of blessed memory (no quotation
marks here; I fully support this assessment of my spiritual father and
confessor for over twenty years), was known, on occasion, to express
himself in such colourful fashion when he would come here to Seattle, one
nevertheless has to balance *that* particular expression with what he would
say each time, concerning his having to go back to San Francisco!... In
other words, one simply had to know Bishop Nektary and the unique manner in
which he was given to expressing himself...
[Both Lists]: Fr. Serafim Gascoigne (a British convert(problem #1);
<gs: That is *not* the problem... That is not even *a* problem in this
case... We have had converts at St. Nicholas since at least the 1960's!
[Both Lists]: five of his ten children are monastics) our current priest,
has done a magnificent job transforming the parish from a Russian social club
<gs: This is an out and out prevarication, to say the least. St. Nicholas
Cathedral has *never* been "a Russian social club" -- a fact for which I
can certainly vouch, having grown up in the parish! In fact, one of the
biggest problems that I encountered during my nearly 50 years there was
that I was *too Russian* for most of the parishioners! (The "Russian
social club," by the way, is located about half a mile away from the
<gs: But the spectre of rampant Russophobia on the part of some -- not
*all*, mind you, but *some* converts -- *has* frequently raised its ugly
head at St. Nicholas Cathedral and such charges are nothing new to
us! Consequently, we can be certain that, just as it hasn't been the first
time, so it will also not be the last, that such an accusation will have
been levelled against us (albeit, falsely so)!
[Both Lists]: to the beginnings of a genuine spiritual community.
<gs: A "spiritual community" not unlike that which exists among various
"Orthodox" gurus -- with whose like we are all familiar -- who seek to
exercise total and absolute control over their subjects, no doubt?... Such
as demanding that one go to them, alone, for confession... Or else...
[Both Lists]: However, there a [sic] number of long-time parish members
<gs: Like me, perhaps?
["Indiana" List]: (some of whom are in positions of power)
<gs: I guess not. *I* haven't been "in [a] position[...] of power" there
for over a decade -- when, for reasons of health, I could no longer
continue to do so. And, even then, I would not have viewed my service on
the Parish Council, or as a Reader, or as a Church School teacher as
putting me "in positions of power," by any means!
["Synod" List]: (some who show up a few times a year)
<gs: But, has anyone of the "new gang" ever stopped to wonder *why*
"some...show up a few times a year"? Probably not! Do let me tell you,
however, about why *I* -- and several other people I know -- fall into that
category. We are disabled. We are lacking in proper and adequate means of
transportation to get to church on time, and public transport is not
readily available in our neck of the woods on the weekends. In addition to
this, the services have been scheduled for earlier hours. And neither our
Bishop nor the present priest seem to care.
<gs: That is not the way it used to be, however! Bishop Nektary was a
loving, caring father to his spiritual flock. If one of us ever missed a
service, he would go out of his way to find out why. And both he and the
priests who served at St. Nicholas Cathedral up until a couple of years ago
would regularly visit their parishioners during the holy days of Christ's
Nativity and Pascha! Not so, today! But, then, I forget -- that's a
*Russian* custom, is it not?
[Both Lists]: who do not like these changes. For instance,
<gs: Given the situation, is it any wonder?
["Indiana" List]: our parish Starosta recently chastised Fr. Serafim
<gs: Somehow, I cannot picture "our [meek and mild] parish Starosta"
chastising *anyone* -- much less, a priest!
["Synod" List]: Fr. Serafim was recently admonished by a prominent church
<gs: Here, "our parish Starosta" suddenly becomes merely "a prominent
church member" -- and he no longer "chastise[s] Fr. Serafim," but simply
"admonishe[s]" him. What a let-down...
[Both Lists]: for communing people too often.
<gs: Oh, come now!
[Both Lists]: Others claim that he is starting a cult because there are a
["Indiana" List]: large
["Synod" List]: growing
[Both Lists]: number of people who commune frequently.
<gs: No. It is *not* because of the "number of people who commune
frequently"! Rather, it is because of the attempted "control factor" that
now pervades the parish atmosphere...
[Both Lists]: Prior to Fr. Serafim's tenure it was common to have no adult
communicants of Sundays,
<gs: This is simply not true!
[Both Lists]: now it is common to have 20-30 adults. I could go on and on.
Too many converts, too much English,
<gs: Again, not true... As I have already mentioned, we have had converts
since the 1960s. As for "too much English," that's a "red herring,"
also! I personally don't care for it, but it is not something that I would
make an issue of...
["Indiana" List]: ......
["Synod" List]: replacing old "paintings" with real traditional icons ......
<gs: One man's "old 'paintings'" are another man's "real traditional
icons"; and one man's "real traditional icons" are another man's
fantastically incongruous "surrealistic paintings."
[Both Lists]: This trouble is without doubt a demonic attack. Needless to
say we are in grave danger due to this
<gs: True enough!...
[Both Lists]: and a number of other complicating factors not appropriate
to share here.
<gs: Quite so, because the "other complicating factors" would tend to cast
even more discredit upon the leadership of the "new gang"!
[Both Lists]: Please keep us in your prayers
<gs: By all means, please do!