An Open Letter to the Synod of Bishops and the faithful of the OCA
by Fr. Andrew Moore, Springfield MO
Pious Christians pray for us,
I will for a moment gladly boast of my Protestant upbringing. Lacking much of the Holy Tradition the Lutherans were taught to defend everything on the basis of Scripture. We from kindergarten began to memorize the Scriptures and were trained to look for clarity in the midst of life’s confusion from the Word of the Lord alone. From my youth I memorized scripture in Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, Catechism classes and every youth event we attended. So it is not uncommon for me still when confronted with a problem to go first to the Scriptures and only then to the Fathers, the liturgy, and the lives of the Saints or other aspects of the Holy Tradition. This Orthodox fullness of the Holy Tradition has made Holy Scripture even more clear and meaningful to me. Thanks be to God. This practice of seeking the Word of God sticks with me still and has guided me throughout the unfolding of this OCA leadership crisis.
Since becoming an Orthodox priest nothing has been as challenging to me as a pastor than the matter of the misdeeds of some of those placed over us, the cover-up of those misdeeds, and the extreme measures that would be taken to protect and maintain personal position and privilege in the Church. This has for my parish and me been a source of great anguish and confusion.
We do not have a long Orthodox experience in Springfield, MO. The first liturgy I attended in 1999 had fewer then 15 people present and 5 of them were immediate family. Now we have an attendance that approaches a 100 people on a good Sunday, with an additional 100 Orthodox people that come less frequently. At Holy Pascha this year we exceeded 150 persons in attendance. Currently there are 20 catechumens and at least 10 more attending services and thinking about Orthodoxy in their future. So we are very optimistic about Orthodoxy in the Ozarks, even in the midst of our tears about the OCA’s leadership. Most all of the converts coming to the Holy Church are Scripture readers also. Most all of the Scripture readers, like me are confused and in anguish about these matters. They are not bewildered because of the theft of the money but rather the sins that have followed the theft. Sadly for us, some have left the Holy Church in the midst of their confusion.
For this I blame the Metropolitan and those who have confidence in his ongoing leadership.
Someone from the Synod of Bishops needs to tell my people and me why they are so confident in Metropolitan Herman’s leadership when we Scripture readers are so much the opposite! Is it that we have not fully recovered from our Protestant past or because you have fallen so far from the Orthodox truth?
Here is just a little of the Holy Scripture that has so lead us in not having confidence in Metropolitan Herman’s leadership:
See Ezekiel 34:1-10; Jer 23:9-11:
"Since a Bishop is entrusted with God’s Work, he must be blameless-not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it" Titus 1:7ff
"So you must obey and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do for they do not practice what they preach." Matthew 23
"Put to death, therefore whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and greed, which is idolatry…" Col 3:5ff
"There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of money, boastful, proud abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." 2Tim 3:1ff
“Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being a Bishop, he desires a noble task. Now the Bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to much wine, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. He must not be a recent convert or he may become conceited and fall under the same condemnation as the Devil. He must have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap." 1 Tim. 3ff
"Those ‘Bishops/priests’ who sin are to rebuked publicly, so that the others may take a warning unto themselves. I charge you in the sight of God and the elect angles, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism." 1 Tim 5:20-21
We know that Satan is the father of lies and seeks to sow confusion amongst God’s children. There seems to be much confusion in the minds and hearts of many in the OCA including not a few of our Bishops. We have seen the Bishops seeking to maintain the status quo. That reality does not look, sound, walk, talk or act in a consistent manner like Jesus Christ. Tell us Bishops how we are not “rightly defining the Word of Truth”? Give us some applicable Scripture that explains to us how you have confidence in the Christ filled leadership of our current Metropolitan. “Come let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Where is the evidence of his Christ likeness?
Is it in His leading us into truth?
In his defending those who were trying to speak the truth?
Do we see his Christ-likeness in forthrightness, humility, love, and compassion for those who have been so hurt by all these matters surrounding him?
Help me and others to see what you Bishops see so that we may be of one mind and heart. What are you seeing that we are not? Give us an account and show us how in these last three years he has not really done that which is not of Christ. The Holy Tradition agrees with Holy Scripture and these bear witness against your confidence in Metropolitan Herman’s leadership!
The Bishops with their latest vote of confidence in Metropolitan Herman reveal a group of Men confused. They are in a position of defending the Metropolitan who publicly and without repentance has repeatedly lied to them and us. He then attacked and maligned those who did speak the truth. The Synod has rallied around a man who was responsible as treasurer for the stewardship of God’s money even as million of dollars disappeared into various and sometimes-horrible- personal expenditures. The Synod has in this vote continued in cover-up, over and against repentance. The Synod has chosen to defend a Metropolitan who has become an icon of the world instead of the icon of Christ his office calls him to be.
Scripture is clear and the Synod is not. Metropolitan Herman is not eligible to be a pastor/priest/Bishop much less a Metropolitan based on the authoritative, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Sacred Scripture. Thus saith the LORD. Metropolitan Herman is NOT above reproach. He does NOT have a good reputation with outsiders. Matter of fact, the actions of Herman and the gang of thieves is the single biggest hurdle that my 20 catechumens have to get over, in their beginnings in Orthodoxy! Metropolitan Herman has publicly shown his LACK of self-control in his condemnation of two of the dioceses that he purports to shepherd and his continuation in saying things that are NOT true! He is NOT able to teach, for as all parents know, teaching is done not merely with words, but example. There is little to emulate in Metropolitan Herman’s pastoral approach. If I were to do in my parish what he has done with the central church administration (in Syosset or where ever he lives) the parish would already be dead. He is a study of what a pastor is not. If I had done similar things in my parish I would already have been disciplined and looking for a new job.
At least I hope I would.
Metropolitan Herman has NOT demonstrated a hospitable soul. He is rather unapproachable, aloof, and detached. He will not engage us in conversation. He has approached these matters as if he is above it all when in fact he is mired in the depths of it. He has invited no inquiry and has opposed it at every turn. He allows us not into his soul and desires not to enter into our souls and see and experience the tears and heartache there that He has helped to cause. He is not hospitable.
Immediately there will be a detractor running to his/her computer to protest that I am guilty of judgment and that judgment belongs to God. But I have not judged! I have not assigned him a place in Hell. I have uttered no anathema - as he has. I have never asked God to punish Him - only to remove Him from office. We cannot and should not judge. Yet every one of us is called by God, and given the ability with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to discern what is good, and what is evil. The gift of discernment is necessary for each person’s salvation. Each of us must be able to measure, to test, and to know what is good (from God) and what is not.
What has gone on with the last two Metropolitans, Kondratick, and various other co-conspirators is not iconic of Christ! It is not good, holy, or righteous. It is not from God. It is more iconic of Vor y Zakone than of the Holy Priesthood.
And we have confidence in that?
I converted into the One Holy Church that teaches the ongoing incarnation of our Lord, God Jesus Christ. I am not willing in my discernment of these matters to stand on the sidelines as the work of converting others is undermined by the evil of a few receiving the approval of a thoughtless, and out of touch Synod.
Neither in this matter am I willing to just say that we all need to repent! I repent often to my wife, kids, parish, and father confessor, and God forgives through each of them! I am not willing to go into this AAC and act as if we have all had a hand in this unchristian behavior that has attacked the beloved OCA. I came to the OCA building her up even while the self-love of a few was tearing her down. I came into a beautiful OCA that gave me entrance into the eternal, glorious body of Christ even as others saw the Church as an opportunity for misuse and abuse.
Since 1999 I have been busy. I with the blessing of God and Bishop have taken this parish from mission to parish status in two years. I served at Ft. Leonardwood army base to reestablish our Orthodox presence there for the Orthodox men and women in uniform. I have began a Mission in the North part of Kansas City and have in the last two years been instrumental in establishing a monastery for women near our home in Marshfield, MO. I have done this receiving very little (money) for my work but an abundance of love and prayer. I have worked hard for Orthodoxy and will not allow this self-love to receive a vote of confidence without protest. I disagree vigorously with the vote that the Bishops took regarding confidence in Herman’s leadership. It is insulting to the many souls across America that have promoted genuine Orthodoxy in their words and work.
No, I will not engage in a forgiveness charade at the AAC and confess that we are all guilty of harm to the Church. This belongs to Herman and those who both committed the theft, those who are helping in covering it up, and those who have confidence in Herman being an Icon of Jesus Christ in the role of Metropolitan going forward. The office of Metropolitan is the Office of Christ. The office of Metropolitan does not belong to the Synod of Bishops to define as they as they wish. The office has been defined away from Jesus Christ by the actions of the last two Metropolitans.
May God quickly give us a Metropolitan to show forth the Incarnate Son of God to an American culture that so badly needs to see Him.
Every one of us in the Holy Church is called by God to be the mind, hands, feet, and voice of Christ our God (remember your Chrismation). God is not going to control, manipulate, force, or coerce any of us (including the bishops) to do the right thing at the upcoming AAC. He made us all his children, gave us freewill, and endowed us with the Holy Spirit, and now Bishops and faithful laity, each must discern!
What is holy? What is of God? It is not a matter of majority opinion. It is based on the Will and Word of God.
Many of us are discerning that the current Metropolitan has chosen repeatedly and without remorse (Godly Sorrow) to publicly lie, slander, defame, condemn and cover-up. This is not iconic of Christ. This is an impediment to the work that we are called to do for a short time, in North America, in the early days of the 21st century. Metropolitan Herman has made our work in this time and place much harder. And the Synod of Bishops has joined him in this. He himself is not manifesting Jesus Christ and is responsible for many leaving the Orthodox faith in the midst of their personal weaknesses. He himself has become a stumbling block for those who would enter the Holy Church. He has become a source of ridicule for those in other denominations who had begun to look at Holy Orthodoxy because she manifests the truth. Now they laugh and say Orthodoxy is just like every other denomination. The Bishops have joined in saying they have confidence in this. God forbid!
The Synod of Bishops should love Metropolitan Herman enough to tell him the truth of His personal failures. I thank God I have a wife, kids, friends, and parish and a trust in them to do that for me. Who loves the Metropolitan enough to tell him the truth?
Discernment tells us that every matter brought before the AAC is tainted as long as Metropolitan Herman heads the council. His leadership, and the approval by the Bishops of his leadership, will decide whether God’s Will is done at the upcoming council. If we continue to lack discernment we will ask God to stay away from this Council so that we can continue to do our will and press on to become an icon of the World.
The God who inspired St. Paul to write about the qualifications to be a Priest/Bishop/Metropolitan has said that Metropolitan Herman is not given to continue in His role. I hope and pray that the Synod will have the courage to discern this truth and dismiss, retire, or defrock Herman so that we can try to rebuild what he and others have so vigously torn down.
I pray that soon we all, with one mind and heart, might have unanimous confidence in Jesus - and not those that are opposed in their works to Him who is Lord of All.
St Thomas Orthodox Church