SHNS: New bishop finds himself sitting in the hot seat

Author: Scripps Howard News Service
Date Published: 11/28/2008

When an Orthodox bishop enters a sanctuary, he is traditionally greeted with the following words chanted in Greek: “Eis polla eti, despota.”

In English this means, “Many years to you, master.” Witty bishops in the Orthodox Church in America have started using this sentiment as the punch line in a joke about the impact the episcopate can have on their egos.

“What happens to a guy?” said Bishop Jonah, during the church’s All American Council in Pittsburgh. “You put him on a stand in the middle of the church, you dress him up like the Byzantine emperor and you tell him to live forever. You know?”

The audience of clergy and lay leaders laughed, but it was nervous laughter. The atmosphere at the recent gathering was so tense, Jonah said later, that some of the bishops were afraid that “everything was about to unravel.”

Only 10 days earlier, the 49-year-old monk had been consecrated as assistant bishop of Dallas. Now, he was facing the clergy and lay leaders of a flock that was reeling after years of bitter scandal