Nikolai’s Supporters: It’s Really All About Money

Author: Mark Stokoe
Date Published: 03/12/2008

Bishop Nikolai, his Chancellor Fr. Isidore (Brittain), and “Anna”, a “humble parishoner” whose comments were posted on the diocesean website controlled by the Bishop, all offered different reasons yesterday for +Nikolai’s troubles – and none of them mentioned the Bishop’s behaviour or actions.

Economic Reasons

In a posting yesterday morning on the diocesean website “a humble parishoner” identified only as “Anna” suggested that the “dissenting” priests’ motives were largely economic. “Anna” writes:

“Instead of being focused on conducting church services first and foremost, it seems that their own incomes may have been prime concerns. …. I would venture that most of the priests made a habit, as did the ones that I am most familiar with, of pretty much shutting down their church from the end of May until late August in order to do subsistence. They want no responsibilities except to put up fish, berrypicking and moose hunting for the whole period.
I really think the timing of their combined requests to the OCA is in the hope that it can all be resolved to their satisfaction so they can go back to having Summer and Fall off again to pursue commercial and subsistence activities.”

At an 11:30 AM (Anchorage time) press conference yesterday morning at the Russian Orthodox Musuem, Fr. Isidore (Brittain) echoed the economic theme, but said the real issue was a fight over “ownership of the diocese’s lands in Alaska”, lands that “generate about $100,000 in income a year”.

The Bishop, meanwhile, reiterated he would not step down. The Bishop again blamed the Metropolitan of “innovations” accusing “… national church leaders of not following proper church procedures when no formal allegations against him (+Nikolai) have been filed.” Both the Bishop and his Chancellor were quoted in a front page story in the Anchorage Daily News.

Fr. Garklavs Responds

In an earlier story – also on the front page of yesterday’s Anchorage Daily News – published under the headline “Season of Lent marred by Orthodox infighting”, Fr. Alexander Garklavs, OCA Chancellor and newly appointed Administrator of the Alaskan Diocese, revealed that he “expects to arrive in Alaska next week.”

Fr. Alexander offered a slightly different, and expanded version of his plans to the Kodiak Daily Mirror. In an interview with Fr. Garklavs published today, reporter Ralph Gibbs wrote:

“Garklavs said because Bishop Nikolai is refusing to leave Alaska, he’s not sure when he will come up, but hopes by next week. Until then, he had a message for members of the OCA in Alaska.