Bishop Nikolai returns to pulpit

Author: Leyla Santiago
Date Published: 03/30/2008
Publication: KTUU (Anchorage AK)
Bishop Nikolai was ordered to step down in early March after clergymen and church members spoke out, accusing him of verbal and emotional abuse. (Shawn Wilson/KTUU-TV)
Bishop Nikolai was ordered to step down in early March after clergymen and church members spoke out, accusing him of verbal and emotional abuse. (Shawn Wilson/KTUU-TV)
The bishop's first Sunday back was what the Russian Orthodox call the day of adoration for the precious cross. (Shawn Wilson/KTUU-TV)
The bishop's first Sunday back was what the Russian Orthodox call the day of adoration for the precious cross. (Shawn Wilson/KTUU-TV)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A bishop asked to step aside after allegations of verbal and emotional abuse has been allowed to return to his church.

Sunday was Bishop Nikolai Soraich’s first day leading a service as the reinstated leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska.

Parishioners say it was wonderful to see the embattled leader back in church.

Nikolai was ordered to step down in early March after clergymen and church members spoke out, accusing him of verbal and emotional abuse.

He was reinstated three days ago, three weeks after he was first asked to step aside.

Church leaders say they will continue to investigate allegations the bishop verbally and emotionally abused clergy and parishioners.

He says it has been a trying time for him and his church’s followers.

“Even the clergy under these conditions have been very confused and it’s very painful,” Bishop Nikolai said.

The bishop’s first Sunday back was what the Russian Orthodox call the day of adoration for the precious cross.

This time, Nikolai had a deeper understanding.

“Christ was crucified on the cross. They thought that was the end of him. It wasn’t,” he said. “I felt very much like Christ, going to the cross and being abandoned and pushed aside and no one there for him.”

But the bishop says the adversities have only made him stronger and he’s ready to move forward.

“There are no hard feelings. Everybody makes a mistake and everybody can come back,” he said. “It seems the biggest mistake that I’ve made is not recognizing that there were some problems there.”

The bishop calls it a communication problem and says he’s willing to work through it.

He says he can’t do it alone.

“Put aside your pride as I have to put mine aside and let’s work to the glory of God,” Nikolai said.

Contact Leyla Santiago at lsantiago@ktuu.com