Updated (9/15): There were inaccuracies in this article that have been corrected. At least three non-monastic priests and a large number of monks of HTM are involved. This appears not to be a schism but a revolt, and one that shows no signs of slowing.
After the latest missive posted to Portal-Credo demanding the removal of Metropolitan Ephraim, we have received word that Bp Demetrius has resigned from the Synod and a number of the monks of HTM have demanded the departure of both Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory.
Is the rumor true? Beats us. This is HOCNA, and something like that only becomes public either (a) when HOCNA’s administration wants it to become public or (b) the departing parties involved want it to become public.
So let’s deal with the first question– the oddity of the requests. Why did three priests and two deacons demand that Metropolitan Ephraim step down?
The original letter that was listed on Portal-Credo– and reproduced here– by Fr Jacob Wojcik is in fact a draft of a clergy protest with the names of three priests and two deacons on it: Protopresbyter Christos Constantinou, Fr. George Liadis, Fr. George Kamberidis, Protodeacon Demetrius Houlares and Deacon Jacob Wojcik. The documents given to NFTU reveal a response to the clergy involved, as well as a formal resignation of Fr Panteleimon from the priesthood.
Meanwhile, Fr Isaac, the Abbot, is pushing for the monks involved in the split to leave HTM. Our source noted that your editor’s original assertion is incorrect that this was based primarily upon name-worshipping. This is incorrect. Imyaslavie is, according to the clergy argument, only the tip of the iceberg– we note that the actual text of the clergy letter states: “we have reached this point of being on the brink of espousing a false teaching as the inevitable spiritual result of Metropolitan Ephraim’s seriously flawed governance of both the Metropolis of Boston and the Holy Synod. Specifically, His Eminence Ephraim has been centrally involved in three major divisions in our Church in the last 6 years: the Seattle upheaval; the departure of clergy and parishes in Portland and Toronto; and the present imposition of the Name-worshipping heresy. More so, he has presided over a scandalous cover up of Fr. Panteleimon that has given rise to serious doubts about the very integrity of both our confession of Faith and our canonicity and the underlying motivation of our separation from the Russian Church Abroad.”
This is apparently a build-up that has been simmering for years, and is now bubbling to the surface.
Your editor would question whether getting even rid of Metropolitan Ephraim would solve the problem. It would appear, based on a blog started by someone inside or close to Holy Transfiguration Monastery– that the monastery Fathers are actually condemning both Bishops, who are residents! Stranger still, the entire text of a document written by “the monastery Fathers” of Holy Transfiguration Monastery (it is not clear who) condemning the name-worshippers– and by extension, both Bishops– appears in part on the blog mentioned, but in full on the website of the Metropolis of Portland– which left HOCNA last year!
And as we said earlier, Fr Isaac is pushing for all Fathers involved to leave, which begs the question– what will be left? In any case, I can’t see that there’s any evidence– yet– of Bishop Demetrius’ departure. But we are searching, and hopefully we will get a confirmation soon enough.
That said, it has to be asked– where does this leave the HOCNA again? There seems to be a pattern developing. The future generation of their jurisdiction continues to leave. Remember, HOCNA lost two Bishops last year. And if Bp Gregory, based on what we have read above, is the future of HOCNA, it won’t survive much longer because no one is interested in reviving dead heresies. No one doubted Bishop Demetrius’ stability. But that stability goes with him.
Of course, there remains one more possibility(as has occurred before): that this is all a calculated plan to determine potential schismatics on the part of HOCNA. If that’s true, Bishop Demetrius may well be part of HOCNA, but Fr Jacob will soon need to find a new jurisdictional home.We are well past the age where Kailomirism and other conservative renovationist teachings are interesting. Heresies aren’t Orthodox because they have a hundred year history. And the Orthodox people are really getting tired of this “creativity”. More importantly, they are getting tired of strange actions like communing Imyaslavyist leader Gregory Lourie upon his visits to the United States.
If HOCNA actually loses a Bishop over this, your editor’s prediction is that the end is closer for them than he could have guessed. It was often surmised that after the repose of Fr Panteleimon, the monastery’s official elder, that the following around HTM would split, and go in different directions. That seems to be happening anyway, regardless of the fact that their elder is still very much alive– at this point, we can’t even really gauge what is the position inside the monastery.
So is there chaos in HOCNA?
… May well be.