News From Around the OCA

Author: Mark Stokoe
Date Published: 06/03/2008

Anchorage, Alaska

Fr. John Dunlop has been appointed the new Dean of St. Herman’s Seminary by Bishop Benjamin, Acting Administrator of the Diocese of Alaska. Fr. Dunlop has served at St. Herman’s as the Instructor in Liturgics & Old Testament Scripture for more than decade, and was formerly the Prefect of the school.

Bishop Benjamin was the speaker at the Seminary’s graduation ceremonies, held Sunday, June 1, in Kodiak. One student graduated. Two received certificates in drug and alcohol counseling. According to sources attempts are also underway to reconstitute the Seminary’s Board of Trustees which suffered many resignations during the turmoil of the past year. Mr. Ben Ardinger has agreed to come back for one year, and Ms. Marge Pysarchyk was also asked to return.

Ms. Erica Carl, who recently completed her Master’s degree under Fr. John Behr at St. Vladimir’s has agreed to teach at St. Herman’s for a year, after which she will return to St. Vladimir’s for doctoral studies.

It has been confirmed that both Fr. Isidore (Brittain), the former Rector of St. Herman’s and former Chancellor of the Diocese of Alaska, and Hieromonk Panteleimon (Erickson), former assistant to Bishop Nikolai, have been suspended by the Synod of Bishops. The two were suspended for leaving the Diocese without the permission of the Administrator or Acting Administrator of the Diocese.

Bishop Nikolai, in one of his last acts as Diocesan Bishop, attempted to transfer both men to the jurisdiction of the Serbian Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. This action explicitly contradicts the Guidelines adopted by the Synod of Bishops in 1993 regarding transfers. It was explicitly voided by the Synod at its last meeting. Those guidelines state:

“GUIDELINES FOR THE ORDINATION, APPOINTMENT AND TRANSFER OF CLERGY

VI. Release of Clergy to Other Orthodox Churches

1. The release of clergy to other Orthodox Churches is the prerogative of the Metropolitan.

2. Clergy petitioning to be released to other Orthodox Churches shall be referred to the Metropolitan by their diocesan bishop. Any such reference shall be accompanied by a letter from the diocesan bishop with his recommendation for appropriate action on the petition.

3. The exact mechanism of release may vary from case to case due to the vagaries of the administration of Orthodoxy on the North American continent and elsewhere.

4. Nevertheless, the Metropolitan must receive a letter informing him of the willingness of the receiving bishop to accept the cleric in question upon canonical release.

Approved for distribution by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America
October 21, 1993 Oyster Bay Cove, New York”

By then, however, both men had left the Diocese. Fr. Isidore was last reported in Montana. Fr. Panteliemon is at the monastery of St. Sava in Canberra, Australia.

Cleveland, Ohio

The Episcopate Council of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America (ROEA) met on Saturday, May 31st, 2008. The “proposal for unity”, that is, the proposal to leave the OCA and join the Church of Romania as a “self-governing Metropolia” was officially presented to the Council. Members of the Council then participated in a long discussion that lasted until late afternoon. The Council voted that the proposal be presented to the ROEA Congress next month (July 3-5) for consideration. A vote on “unity” will not be taken at that time, but a decision will be taken as to how to proceed.

The following evening, Sunday June 1st, a “Town Hall” meeting was held in Cleveland’s historic St. Mary’s Romanian Orthodox Cathedral, attended by the Episcopate Dialogue Commission, made up of Frs. Laurence Lazar (Southfield, MI), Romey Rosco (Dearborn Hts., MI), Ian Pac-Urar (Akron) and Remus Grama, pastor of St. Mary’s. This was an open meeting, for informational purposes only, during which, after brief presentation, a question and answer period was held. According to Fr. Grama, the purpose of the meeting was “to help us all to understand, first hand, the nature of the issues at hand.” Fr. Grama went on to explain that “This meeting is also held with our Hierarch’s (Archbishop Nathaniel) blessing and knowledge.”

Syosset, New York

The Pre-Conciliar Commission (PCC) has announced the schedule for the “Town Hall” meetings that are to be “living study papers” for the forthcoming 15th All-American Council to be held in Pittsburgh in November, 2008. In the words of the PCC the meetings will be opportunities for “… the faithful to speak to the hierarchs and express their feelings in an atmosphere of openness and candor.” At the meetings, “Our hierarchs have been asked simply to hear the voice, pain, ideas and concerns of the faithful.”

Since the idea was originally developed at the Commission meeting in April and announced the following day, much has changed.