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Dart
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« on: August 13, 2010, 04:56:36 PM »

What role should the laity play in selecting a priest for their parish?
In a recent survey (Krindatch- Orthodox Reality In America) 47% of GOA laity responded that, It is a good idea for Orthodox Parishes to choose their own priest from among available ordained clergy while only 18% of GOA clergy agreed.

Are Bishops doing a good job in matching priests with parishes? What should happen when a parish rejects the priest assigned to them? What if the priest wishes to relocate?

How do transfers between territories work? Do transfers between jurisdictions in America happen?

Any insight on priest assignments would be helpful. Thank you.
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2010, 05:07:18 PM »

What role should the laity play in selecting a priest for their parish?

Well, the current quasi-congregationalist model sometimes employed in the Greek Archdiocese is not Orthodox--it is not traditional, and is a reflection of historical circumstances peculiar to a certain time in America. Now that America has established bishops and many priests, it should be up to the bishop to match a priest with a parish. Now, not all bishops do this in the same way or with the same care. But, not all parish councils speak for the parish or run things in a good or Christian manner, either. In the Orthodox model, the congregation does not own or run the individual parish or church. The property is the property of the bishop. The clergy are the extension of the bishop. The bishop alone decides who he will ordain and where he will serve.

What should happen when a parish rejects the priest assigned to them? What if the priest wishes to relocate?
A parish can always appeal to the bishop if a priest is unsuitable. Yet, this is a very grave thing. There are as many cases of parishes lacking the humility to accept the priest given them as there are of priests being overbearing and arrogant.

If a priest wishes to relocate, he applies to the bishop.

How do transfers between territories work? Do transfers between jurisdictions in America happen?

Any transfers, between territories or jurisdictions are between the priest and the bishops. A parish may also apply for a transfer of jurisdiction.
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2010, 05:09:26 PM »

Bishops usually know the personal issues of the Priests under them, many of them should not be know to the public and while taking them into the account they can assign Priests to the places they will serve best or at least no harm both to the Parishioners and the Priests.

For example Priests with pedophilic leanings shouldn't tech religion at schools, but they will be OK as chaplains in Monasteries.

People that would know no more than a name of a Priest and how does he look like, won't be able to choose the most proper one.
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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2010, 05:22:09 PM »

I suppose, though, that if a newly ordained priest desires strongly to serve the parish that sent him to seminary (assuming that the timing is right), that would be a very good thing.  But how often does it happen that a parish needs a new priest at just the time one of their own seminarians gets ordained?  (Turned out that fortuitously for my priest.)
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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2010, 05:47:34 PM »

Bishops usually know the personal issues of the Priests under them, many of them should not be know to the public and while taking them into the account they can assign Priests to the places they will serve best or at least no harm both to the Parishioners and the Priests.

For example Priests with pedophilic leanings shouldn't tech religion at schools, but they will be OK as chaplains in Monasteries.

People that would know no more than a name of a Priest and how does he look like, won't be able to choose the most proper one.

I agree, this is definitely one of the instances in which the "parish choice" does not work.   
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« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2010, 05:52:09 PM »

I suppose, though, that if a newly ordained priest desires strongly to serve the parish that sent him to seminary (assuming that the timing is right), that would be a very good thing.  But how often does it happen that a parish needs a new priest at just the time one of their own seminarians gets ordained?  (Turned out that fortuitously for my priest.)

I think so.  If a Bishop finds that a Parish wants a particular priest and that priest in turn wants that parish, this is normally received well and is not a problem.   However, if there are a shortage of priests, some Bishops will assign based on a well-established parish that has been waiting the longest.     
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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2010, 11:14:44 PM »

Back home when the faithful didn't want a new priest they would just lock the church and keep the keys. They did just that recently, and many times the bishop would just give in.
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« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2010, 01:11:16 AM »

Thank you for your posts.

In America, the parish just stops paying the priest. I can see how locking the doors would be needed in places like Greece where the government cuts the paycheck.

Anyhow, I understand how priests ARE assigned as I have read the Archdiocese regulations. My question is how SHOULD they be assigned since 48% of the laity believe the current system should be changed to allow the parish to select their priest from available ordained clergy.

Granted, the laity maybe just as susceptible to make mistakes as the Bishop is if not more so. Therefore, can we think of a constructive improvement.

Maybe the problem is not the assignment procedure. Maybe we just need better priests. Maybe the laity expect too much and we should lower our expectations.

The best suggestion I have heard so far is we all need to do a better job of listening. I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

"Where shall I place, child of Jesus, the spiritual intuitions springing from silence! How the eyes of understanding are opened and see Jesus in sweetness greater than that of honey! What new wonder is worked from legitimate silence and attentive understanding! You know these things, therefore compel yourself. A little has been revealed to you; struggle and you will find yet greater. I have you in prayer just as I promised you; I wonder if you were prepared?" Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2010, 11:05:28 AM »

What role should the laity play in selecting a priest for their parish?

Well, the current quasi-congregationalist model sometimes employed in the Greek Archdiocese is not Orthodox--it is not traditional, and is a reflection of historical circumstances peculiar to a certain time in America. Now that America has established bishops and many priests, it should be up to the bishop to match a priest with a parish. Now, not all bishops do this in the same way or with the same care. But, not all parish councils speak for the parish or run things in a good or Christian manner, either. In the Orthodox model, the congregation does not own or run the individual parish or church. The property is the property of the bishop. The clergy are the extension of the bishop. The bishop alone decides who he will ordain and where he will serve.


I see you are from the Antiochian Orthodox Church: can you please clarify for me that it is in your own Antiochian Orthodox tradition where as you say "The bishop alone decides who he will ordain and where he will serve."?
Thanks.

The reason I am asking this because hsitorically and tradtionally this has never been the case in the Eastern Slavic Churches.  If we look at Church history, the parish councils which also had a role in local governing of each village did have a role in approving priests.  Not only that there was a time in which the priestly caste became inherited and a village church could be passed on from generation to generation.  Or in the cities from a priest to his son-in-law, for example the life of Fr. John of Kronstadt, the only reason he got such a plum parish in the city was because he married the daughter of the current priest.  In this way you had an elderly priest in the parish waiting to end his life and a younger priest already in place. 

Also in the days of the Holy Synod in the Russian Empire, with an extensive consistory bureaucracy  there was centralization.  Priests or seminary candidates were not free to go jumping around choosing bishops.  Strict records were kept.

When speaking about traditions and the history of the Orthodox Church if we are honest we will admit there have been various traditions in our history.
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2010, 11:15:47 AM »

Thank you for your posts.

In America, the parish just stops paying the priest. I can see how locking the doors would be needed in places like Greece where the government cuts the paycheck.

Anyhow, I understand how priests ARE assigned as I have read the Archdiocese regulations. My question is how SHOULD they be assigned since 48% of the laity believe the current system should be changed to allow the parish to select their priest from available ordained clergy.

Granted, the laity maybe just as susceptible to make mistakes as the Bishop is if not more so. Therefore, can we think of a constructive improvement.

Maybe the problem is not the assignment procedure. Maybe we just need better priests. Maybe the laity expect too much and we should lower our expectations.

The best suggestion I have heard so far is we all need to do a better job of listening. I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

"Where shall I place, child of Jesus, the spiritual intuitions springing from silence! How the eyes of understanding are opened and see Jesus in sweetness greater than that of honey! What new wonder is worked from legitimate silence and attentive understanding! You know these things, therefore compel yourself. A little has been revealed to you; struggle and you will find yet greater. I have you in prayer just as I promised you; I wonder if you were prepared?" Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"



It SHOULD be the discression of the bishop and the bishop only.  the bishop is the one who ordains this fellow.  The priest then is ONLY allowed to serve the Holy Mysteries by the blessing of the Bishop.  They serve at his discression, in the parish of his choosing, because ultimately it is HIS parish and the priests are in a sense his representatives.  Not that they are not priests of the Most High, but that our ecclesiology is a Metropolis based one, not a local parish based ecclesiology.  That's just the way it is my friend. 
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« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2010, 11:48:16 AM »


It SHOULD be the discression of the bishop and the bishop only.  the bishop is the one who ordains this fellow. 

Yes, but the congregation must cry Axios, and if the congregation cries at Anaxios, the ordination cannot happen. So while things are top down in Orthodoxy, it is not only a top down model.


Quote
The priest then is ONLY allowed to serve the Holy Mysteries by the blessing of the Bishop.  They serve at his discression, in the parish of his choosing, because ultimately it is HIS parish and the priests are in a sense his representatives. 

And what of the parishes who only see their Bishop once every 5 or 6 years? Are those parishes equally "the Bishop's parish" as much as the ones the Bishop visits every six months (or more)? Of course I know the "technical" answer is "yes", but what of the real world, practical, in the trenches answer? We can talk about technical answers to we turn blue in the face, but if those rules don't work in the real world, what good are they?

The hierarchical model only actually works if the Bishop is actually tending the flock. And in the real world, many Bishops do not tend to their sheep. I'm sorry if this is offensive to some people, but this is just the way it is. IMO, a parish who sees their Bishop every 3 years should have a bit more say in whom serves them as a priest, than a parish who is actually tended to by their Bishop on a regular basis. And by parish I don't mean the parish council, since in my experience parish councils often have very different agendas than the rest of the congregation does. I'm not suggesting we need to go to a congregational system, but the ultra high hierarchical system many times just don't work for many parishes. Either because Bishops are simply spread too thin, or because they just don't care about parishes in the "outer reaches" of their Metropolis. Or we could simply go back to the earlier model where we actually did have Bishops in every single city, instead of 500 miles away. But I don't expect that to happen any time soon. Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2010, 11:56:11 AM »

Members of the Parish don't usually now much about the newly ordained Priests that graduated a Seminary hundreds of kilometres away. How do you thin such choosing the Priest for the parish would look like? Some kind of beauty contest, American Idol?
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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2010, 12:48:46 PM »


It SHOULD be the discression of the bishop and the bishop only.  the bishop is the one who ordains this fellow. 

Yes, but the congregation must cry Axios, and if the congregation cries at Anaxios, the ordination cannot happen. So while things are top down in Orthodoxy, it is not only a top down model.


Common misconception.  If this were to actually happen the ordination would still happen (I would say 9 times out of 10).  You must declare your issues BEFORE the ordination.  the day of is just too late.  As much as you are THEORETICALLY correct, that's just not the reality. 

Quote
Quote
The priest then is ONLY allowed to serve the Holy Mysteries by the blessing of the Bishop.  They serve at his discression, in the parish of his choosing, because ultimately it is HIS parish and the priests are in a sense his representatives. 

And what of the parishes who only see their Bishop once every 5 or 6 years? Are those parishes equally "the Bishop's parish" as much as the ones the Bishop visits every six months (or more)? Of course I know the "technical" answer is "yes", but what of the real world, practical, in the trenches answer? We can talk about technical answers to we turn blue in the face, but if those rules don't work in the real world, what good are they?

The hierarchical model only actually works if the Bishop is actually tending the flock. And in the real world, many Bishops do not tend to their sheep. I'm sorry if this is offensive to some people, but this is just the way it is. IMO, a parish who sees their Bishop every 3 years should have a bit more say in whom serves them as a priest, than a parish who is actually tended to by their Bishop on a regular basis. And by parish I don't mean the parish council, since in my experience parish councils often have very different agendas than the rest of the congregation does. I'm not suggesting we need to go to a congregational system, but the ultra high hierarchical system many times just don't work for many parishes. Either because Bishops are simply spread too thin, or because they just don't care about parishes in the "outer reaches" of their Metropolis. Or we could simply go back to the earlier model where we actually did have Bishops in every single city, instead of 500 miles away. But I don't expect that to happen any time soon. Smiley


You know...I would have usually been the FIRST person to agree with you. But recently I have had the blessing of traveling with my bishop, and the amount of wisdom and pastoral care this man has shown to parishes he hasn't seen in 2 years is just unbelievable.  He has learned how to assess a situation IMMEDIATELY.  He speaks to the parish council, at length.  he speaks to the priest, at length, and he figures out what the situation is and how to address it.  I've seen priests be very frank with the bishop and he has found a way to help them deal with their problems. 

Every church he goes to he asks them "ok...you're here, what is next for you spiritually, financially, architecturally"...He is constantly trying to update them, upgrade them, in every aspect of their lives (including spiritual).  This is what a pastor does, who has other people helping in his pastorship.  He also has visited every parish in our metropolis several times in the last 5 years of his assignment here.  He truly is an example of how this model can work very well.  I'm not saying it's perfect, but it also doesn't have to be so "hands-off" as perhaps you have seen it. 

Also, we discussed this AD NAUSIUM in our Ecclesiology class.  the reality is that we don't have a "parish" ecclesiology, but we DESPERATELY need one.  We have a Metropolis ecclesiology and that's the bottom line.  That's our reality, not some idealistic view of the way things "should" be...
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« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2010, 01:04:17 PM »

Members of the Parish don't usually now much about the newly ordained Priests that graduated a Seminary hundreds of kilometres away. How do you thin such choosing the Priest for the parish would look like? Some kind of beauty contest, American Idol?

Maybe that is the way it is in your country and in your church, but that is not my experience in my church.

Our seminary has an annual "Month of Vocations" when the students travel around to specific parishes and put on a programme for the whole weekend. 
Also a lot of seminary students work in our church camps for the summer.  Or sometimes a parish can get a government grant to hire a seminary student for the whole summer (4 months) to work in their parish.
Plus seminary students attend Eparchial meetings and various other major church functions.
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« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2010, 01:13:50 PM »

Our seminary has an annual "Month of Vocations" when the students travel around to specific parishes and put on a programme for the whole weekend. 

2 days - what an amount of time!
Quote
Also a lot of seminary students work in our church camps for the summer. 

Do kids seat in the Parish councils?

Quote
Or sometimes a parish can get a government grant to hire a seminary student for the whole summer (4 months) to work in their parish.

One Parish can get to know one seminarian.
Quote
Plus seminary students attend Eparchial meetings and various other major church functions.

How many normal Parishioners attend them?

So one Seminarian can visit a parish for a couple of days and take care of some children. Do you think it is enough to get to know him?
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« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2010, 02:18:24 PM »

Our seminary has an annual "Month of Vocations" when the students travel around to specific parishes and put on a programme for the whole weekend. 

2 days - what an amount of time!
Quote


Also a lot of seminary students work in our church camps for the summer. 

Do kids seat in the Parish councils?

Quote
Or sometimes a parish can get a government grant to hire a seminary student for the whole summer (4 months) to work in their parish.

One Parish can get to know one seminarian.
Quote
Plus seminary students attend Eparchial meetings and various other major church functions.

How many normal Parishioners attend them?

So one Seminarian can visit a parish for a couple of days and take care of some children. Do you think it is enough to get to know him?

1.
Quote
2 days - what an amount of time!
It is not perfect but it helps.  Students are in seminary for 4 years.  During visits to various parishes, the local people do get to meet individual students speak and give presentations so they can see the individual talents of a students.  Plus, the students mixing and talking to parishioners during meal times.  It gives practical experience and feedback from a local parish for the students.  Plus, it is good for seminarians to use or improve their social skills mixing with parishioners.   They are billeted in local homes with families.

2.
Quote
Do kids seat in the Parish councils?

No children do not, but their parents and grandparents, kumy and uncles & aunts do.  I have heard from priests who have come to Canada from the Polsh Orthodox Church that church camps and retreats are very popular with young people over there too.  Again it provides practical experience for the seminarians.  Many adults who are volunteers in the camps over the summer are on parish councils or active in their parishes.   Plus, usually the parents come to visit the camp every Sunday and this gives parents an opportunity to meet & talk to seminarians.

3.
Quote
How many normal Parishioners attend them?

So one Seminarian can visit a parish for a couple of days and take care of some children. Do you think it is enough to get to know him?

A lot of parishioners attend Eparchial Meetings.  They are usually 2 days: a Friday & all day Saturday.  There are various reports, discussions and of course liturgical services.  Of course the laity outnumbers the clergy at these meetings.  And again seminarians attend them over their 4 years of study.  A lot of the interaction and conversation during mealtimes is helpful to get to know people.

Just to correct the information in your quote: it is not one seminarian who visits a parish but all the seminarians with a seminary professor or two for the weekend over all the years of their studies during the month of vocations.
Also Church Camps go on all summer usually.

In my church, assignment of priests is usually a joint decision between the spercific parish & consistory once a year.  For example, the consistory suggests a priest and gets feedback from the parish.

 All priests if they are to be moved are moved at the beginning of August.  I have heard of 2 cases in which the assignment of a newly ordained priest was not a good "fit" as someone said.  What happened was that the following August that new priest was moved on to another parish.  Also quite often it happens that a newly ordained priest is assigned at first to a larger city parish to work under the guidance of an older priest.

I think we can see from this discussion that there are different ways/ methods/traditions for a priest to be assigned to a parish.
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2010, 03:40:02 AM »

So if I understand the posts, we have a need for Bishops to visit the parishes more often.  Priests/seminarians and parishes can visit and get to know each other through youth camps, summer "internships", and other seminary programs. Concerns and preferences should be voiced to the Bishop by the priest and laity before assignments are made if possible. Bishops are generally OK with approving assignments when the priest and parish have indicated a mutual match.  Additionally, some transparency in the process would be reassuring to everyone. But the Bishop should be the final approving authority.

Maybe a listing of the current assignment of priests, where there is a need for additional priests, and priests that have been newly ordained or are otherwise available. Priests and parishes can interact accordingly and then make better recomendations to the Bishop for approval.

Bishops probably already have a similar system for their internal use. But a uniform program would create efficiency and allow Bishops more time to spend ministering to their large territories while also creating good will and greater satisfaction among the priests and laity.
It could also identify areas of particular need which could be addressed before it becomes a problem for example maybe a need for a particular language set like a trilingual Spanish/Greek/English speaking priest. Or the flexibility to assign or remove priests from youth director positions as may be needed.

What do you all think about this idea?
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2010, 02:51:36 PM »

Perhaps we need more Bishops.
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2010, 03:11:38 PM »

We need a lot of things!

Just my opinion, an exchange program.  Lets get priests raised in the Church with its world view to come minister to the 'diaspora' and we'll send our new priests to Orthodox for centuries pious communities to learn some things.  Maybe there would be less "5 Love Languages" and "renegades"
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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2010, 09:15:50 PM »

My experience of the last 35 years (as an adult, active parishioner) is that the system in the GOAA has essentially reversed the manner in which priestly assignments occur.  It probably was too lay oriented, with bishops, too frequently, ratifying arrangements.  However, the current system in the GOAA, mostly, is not even in compliance with the hierarchally leaning Uniform Parish Regulations (UPR), wherein, the bishop is to "consult" with the Parish Council, in matters of priestly assignments.  They have taken away the interviews, too.  26 years ago, my parish had conducted an interview process among 5 priests whom the bishop had authorized for interviews by our Parish Council.  In addition, the priest would celebrate the Liturgy and give a sermon.  The process was respectfully conducted; each priest was asked the same question, responses were recorded by a secretary.  The bishop ratified the priest the Parish Council had asked to be assigned, who was not the bishop's first choice. The selected priest from that process remained in the parish for 26 years.  Too often today, I see wrong matches being made, which cause problems in parishes that take a long time to over come; way too frequently.  I am adamant that the bishop's proposed selection should be interviewed, respectfully. 

In reply to the original post, transfers between jurisdictions, including the "on-loan" type, are routine.  I'm not sure of the percentage, but I believe the GOAA's Metropolis of Denver is composed of a very substantial percentage of priests who have been canonically received from other "jurisdictions."

In my years of active parish service, I've witnessed the reversal from way too much lay influence in ecclesial affairs, to way too much unilateral episcopal control, and I believe this change has not served the church well; a moderate middle ground must be found.
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« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2010, 10:17:14 AM »

It is an interesting dynamic how the parish, monastery, and episcopy interact inorder to prevent any one person or institution from having "control" and thus allowing us all to more fully rely on God's revelation through sobornost. This is certainly something unique to Orthodoxy as there is no balance to the Pope and little to no monasticism in the Protestant churches.
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« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2010, 12:16:30 PM »

It is an interesting dynamic how the parish, monastery, and episcopy interact inorder to prevent any one person or institution from having "control" and thus allowing us all to more fully rely on God's revelation through sobornost. This is certainly something unique to Orthodoxy as there is no balance to the Pope and little to no monasticism in the Protestant churches.

Huh?   Huh  What role do monasteries have with how Priests are assigned in the GOA? 
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« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2010, 02:24:02 PM »

What role should the laity play in selecting a priest for their parish?

Well, the current quasi-congregationalist model sometimes employed in the Greek Archdiocese is not Orthodox--it is not traditional, and is a reflection of historical circumstances peculiar to a certain time in America. Now that America has established bishops and many priests, it should be up to the bishop to match a priest with a parish. Now, not all bishops do this in the same way or with the same care. But, not all parish councils speak for the parish or run things in a good or Christian manner, either. In the Orthodox model, the congregation does not own or run the individual parish or church. The property is the property of the bishop. The clergy are the extension of the bishop. The bishop alone decides who he will ordain and where he will serve.

What should happen when a parish rejects the priest assigned to them? What if the priest wishes to relocate?
A parish can always appeal to the bishop if a priest is unsuitable. Yet, this is a very grave thing. There are as many cases of parishes lacking the humility to accept the priest given them as there are of priests being overbearing and arrogant.

If a priest wishes to relocate, he applies to the bishop.

How do transfers between territories work? Do transfers between jurisdictions in America happen?

Any transfers, between territories or jurisdictions are between the priest and the bishops. A parish may also apply for a transfer of jurisdiction.

I agree with much of what you have written. My dilemma is whether the traditional Orthodox model is 100% appropriate to our present circumstances in the United States of America (among other countries). As you know, the rationale for the bishop owning everything, for example, is a matter of canon rule and is not theological. The context for this rule is the imperial state governing not only the temporal but also the spiritual affairs of its population. (Yes, I know all about symphonia and relevant canons--I am talking here about actual application of power in these matters). The same goes with many other traditional Orthodox practices, which also find their root in the ever-fluctuating but always tilting to the state power relationships between the hierarchy and the rulers.

Here is the fundamental problem: there are not any rulers in the USA, except they be you and I--that is the laity. Here is another fundamental challenge: the priests are the most educated of the people of God but they are bound by their ordination oath to uphold all of the canons and to obey their bishops unconditionally (unless I assume and I hope it is a matter of illegality or immorality). So, you end up with a few folks running everything unchecked by any non-clerical powers-that-be. Talk about a situation that is against tradition as received!

I do think that the Russian Sobor of 1917 and the nascent efforts in the OCA to approach things in an atmosphere of sobornost are steps in the right direction. Of course, in the OCA's case, sobornost turned out to be smoke-and-mirrors with each positive step taken back by the bishops (read the current OCE Statutes). In all other jurisdictions, unchecked monarchical rule by the bishops seem to be the rule.

IMHO, we need to use the Ignatian model at each level of church administration, making it fit the not-for-profit requirements of the IRS, as well as the attendant corporate responsibility, and model nonprofit accounting and governance practices. Under this approach, which is one that the OCA is slowly edging toward, we would have a renaissance of both the classic model for Church structure and the power equilibrium that had existed for centuries--with the elected representatives of the laity assuming the power of the rulers of the past at parish, diocese and national church levels. The equilibrium is also enhanced by the additional power that the parish priest exercises naturally at the parish level, but also at the diocesan and national assemblies where he is automatically a voting member. What would be wrong to apply Canon 34, for example, in a way that includes the laity and parish clergy in the governance of the church that the bishops now enjoy. Let the clergy be 100% in charge of spiritual matters at each level, but let them share power and responsibility in all other matters. I have no problem with the priest, bishop or the Holy Synod vetoing a lay initiative if it is not spiritually sound or beneficial. But, what is the point of vetoing mundane things like establishing a ministry to the poor, or investing building funds in a particular instrument, or performing best-practice financial audits?

The bottom line is that we are all to be servant-leaders, clergy and laity alike. I think this is the true Orthodox model for governance.  If the bishops insist on ruling as medieval monarchs, I do not believe that it would salutary for the existence and growth of the Church. Again, the Church is indeed the bishop surrounded by his presbyters, deacons and laity. In matters of governance, too many of us are OK with the Church being only the bishops. And that is indeed sad.
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« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2010, 03:30:11 PM »

It is an interesting dynamic how the parish, monastery, and episcopy interact inorder to prevent any one person or institution from having "control" and thus allowing us all to more fully rely on God's revelation through sobornost. This is certainly something unique to Orthodoxy as there is no balance to the Pope and little to no monasticism in the Protestant churches.

Huh?   Huh  What role do monasteries have with how Priests are assigned in the GOA?

Monasteries provide a sanctuary for lay people against the abuse of clergy. Lay people can go to them for confession and spiritual guidance at times when the assigned priest to their parish is less than adequate. I once had a priest demand that the parish go only to him for confession as it was his "right". He would denigrate monasteries as tourist attractions that sell trinkets and said we should not visit them. He equated the monks to peasants. Fortunately, the monasteries have maintained such a high reputation that not even a priest can speak ill of them with any credibility.

I believe monasteries are important to the assignment process of priests because if clergy were to strong arm the laity for their own personal agendas, the monasteries would speak out with an authority and respect much greater than that of the laity. Monasteries are an alternative for spiritual guidance when the parish priest fails. Without monasteries the laity would not have the same tharos to find the true way and speak out against abuses.

A lay person saying brother I love you but you are wrong is a "renegade". A spiritual elder at a monastery saying the same thing cannot be so easily dismissed; even for a Bishop.

I should also add our seminaries to the list. It is almost comical to see the same priest mentioned above come to our parish and make some minor changes to the divine liturgy. When asked as to why the previous way had not been questioned for decades even by visiting Bishops (we get a visit about every 5 years) he stated that Holy Cross seminary was wrong in their teaching and only the Ecumenical Patriarch could be the source for the liturgy. True story in the GOA.

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« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2010, 03:32:34 PM »

I believe monasteries are important to the assignment process of priests because if clergy were to strong arm the laity for their own personal agendas, the monasteries would speak out with an authority and respect much greater than that of the laity.

Don't you have secrecy of confession in GOA?
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« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2010, 03:48:40 PM »

mike, your off topic. You should report yourself.  Grin
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« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2010, 04:32:48 PM »


The bottom line is that we are all to be servant-leaders, clergy and laity alike. I think this is the true Orthodox model for governance.  If the bishops insist on ruling as medieval monarchs, I do not believe that it would salutary for the existence and growth of the Church. Again, the Church is indeed the bishop surrounded by his presbyters, deacons and laity. In matters of governance, too many of us are OK with the Church being only the bishops. And that is indeed sad.

I don't believe bishops ruling as medieval monarchs is the issue. The issue IMHO is of a practical matter of maximizing the interests of the priest, parish, and Church and in some circumstances what to do with a particularly problematic priest or parish.  Including the laity to solve the problem of finding an apropriate priest for their parish makes sense to me. Including the interests of the priest and their family also makes sense.  Bishops should not consult with the laity out of law but because it is simply the right thing to do. Bishops are the authority of the Church and as such should love and care for it like Christ did. The laity simply don't feel the love when they are ignored.
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« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2010, 04:49:05 PM »


The bottom line is that we are all to be servant-leaders, clergy and laity alike. I think this is the true Orthodox model for governance.  If the bishops insist on ruling as medieval monarchs, I do not believe that it would salutary for the existence and growth of the Church. Again, the Church is indeed the bishop surrounded by his presbyters, deacons and laity. In matters of governance, too many of us are OK with the Church being only the bishops. And that is indeed sad.

I don't believe bishops ruling as medieval monarchs is the issue. The issue IMHO is of a practical matter of maximizing the interests of the priest, parish, and Church and in some circumstances what to do with a particularly problematic priest or parish.  Including the laity to solve the problem of finding an apropriate priest for their parish makes sense to me. Including the interests of the priest and their family also makes sense.  Bishops should not consult with the laity out of law but because it is simply the right thing to do. Bishops are the authority of the Church and as such should love and care for it like Christ did. The laity simply don't feel the love when they are ignored.

I do not know if we are not saying the same thing in differing ways. What is wrong with revising canon law to reflect what you just said? What is wrong to make it more difficult for the bishops to ignore the priests, deacons and laity, for the priest to ignore the deacons and the laity, and the deacons to ignore the laity?

I was in the military for 26 years and have been in nonprofits and state government for 16 more. A bishop today has far more power and fewer checks than a four star commander-in-chief. No corporation would ever conflate the positions of a President/CEO and the CFO for example. No President of the United States would ever dream of combining his office with those of his secretaries. Such concentration of power and responsibilities would be madness in any other field. So, all I am saying is to get real, use our God-given ability to reason, and our responsibilities as lay persons (conferred on us at our baptism and chrismation) to help our Holy Church.
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« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2010, 08:29:27 PM »

I don't believe it is up to us to revise law. Law is revealed by God. The law is already clear. Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Just trying to make it easier for our Bishops to fulfill their calling. Not change the order of things.

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« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2010, 10:08:18 PM »

I don't believe it is up to us to revise law. Law is revealed by God. The law is already clear. Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Just trying to make it easier for our Bishops to fulfill their calling. Not change the order of things.



1. The order of things were changed in the past. Were they untruthful to the deposit of faith then?
2. You cannot equate law of God with Canon rules, which were adopted by the Church to address a particular situation at a particular time.
3. I also want to make it easier for our bishops, priests and deacons to fulfill their calling. I do not want to detract from their charisma as bishops at all.
4. We cannot revise the canons; only a local council of bishops can do that. I am merely proposing that we respectfully approach our church leaders and suggest revising the rules, that's all.
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« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2010, 12:33:13 AM »

It is an interesting dynamic how the parish, monastery, and episcopy interact inorder to prevent any one person or institution from having "control" and thus allowing us all to more fully rely on God's revelation through sobornost. This is certainly something unique to Orthodoxy as there is no balance to the Pope and little to no monasticism in the Protestant churches.

Huh?   Huh  What role do monasteries have with how Priests are assigned in the GOA?

Monasteries provide a sanctuary for lay people against the abuse of clergy.

How does the monastery's role of a sanctuary determine how a Priest is assigned in the GOA?  Disciplining and Assigning Clergy is the Bishop's responsibility.

Lay people can go to them for confession and spiritual guidance at times when the assigned priest to their parish is less than adequate. I once had a priest demand that the parish go only to him for confession as it was his "right".

There is no "right" to listen to confessions.  A Bishop can bless a Priest and/or a Monastic to listen to confessions; however, only the Priest can say prayers of absolution and monastics who have received that blessing from a Bishop, not a Spiritual Father, et al.

He would denigrate monasteries as tourist attractions that sell trinkets and said we should not visit them. He equated the monks to peasants.

Why would the Priest use a pejorative term to describe the monastics?   Huh

Fortunately, the monasteries have maintained such a high reputation that not even a priest can speak ill of them with any credibility.

How do you feel about monasteries having that kind of influence to restrict speech?

I believe monasteries are important to the assignment process of priests because if clergy were to strong arm the laity for their own personal agendas, the monasteries would speak out with an authority and respect much greater than that of the laity.

I thought the purpose of a monastery was to set an example of asceticism rather than exaltation.  By speaking out with authority and respect on topics where the monastery has no canonical basis for action, is a monastery exalted?  Didn't Jesus say that those who exalt themselves will be humbled?

Monasteries are an alternative for spiritual guidance when the parish priest fails. Without monasteries the laity would not have the same tharos to find the true way and speak out against abuses.

The purpose of a monastery is not to "police" or provide "oversight to" the Church; Otherwise, the monastics would have chosen a vocation in law enforcement or social work.

A lay person saying brother I love you but you are wrong is a "renegade". A spiritual elder at a monastery saying the same thing cannot be so easily dismissed; even for a Bishop.

You do realize that the 9 Hierarchs on the GOA were not monastics before their elevation to Episcopacy.  You are aware that some Hierarchs in other Orthodox Jurisdictions were monastics before being elevated to the Episcopacy and had their monastic vows revoked by the action of consecration.  I agree with you that the sayings of a Spiritual Elder deserve respect; However, we also live in the fallen "do as I say not as I do" world.


I should also add our seminaries to the list. It is almost comical to see the same priest mentioned above come to our parish and make some minor changes to the divine liturgy. When asked as to why the previous way had not been questioned for decades even by visiting Bishops (we get a visit about every 5 years) he stated that Holy Cross seminary was wrong in their teaching and only the Ecumenical Patriarch could be the source for the liturgy. True story in the GOA.

What about the Ecumenical Patriarchs who served prior to the current one?  Were they the "only" source for the Divine Liturgy before 1991?
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« Reply #31 on: August 17, 2010, 02:18:36 AM »

mike, your off topic. You should report yourself.  Grin

I suppose you have secrecy of confession in GOA so even if Monks hear in confessions how bad some of your Priests are, they can do nothing with it.
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« Reply #32 on: August 17, 2010, 10:33:26 AM »

I know at least one of the GOA Hierarchs was indeed a monastic.

(YMMV, of course, but there's Bishops who would laugh out loud at being told that they had absolute monarchical power.)
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« Reply #33 on: August 17, 2010, 02:54:40 PM »

What is it this Bishop would like to accomplish which he feels he does not have the authority to do?
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« Reply #34 on: August 17, 2010, 03:02:39 PM »

What is it this Bishop would like to accomplish which he feels he does not have the authority to do?

What Bishop??
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« Reply #35 on: August 17, 2010, 03:55:20 PM »

What is it this Bishop would like to accomplish which he feels he does not have the authority to do?

What Bishop??

I know at least one of the GOA Hierarchs was indeed a monastic.

(YMMV, of course, but there's Bishops who would laugh out loud at being told that they had absolute monarchical power.)

the one katherineofdixie says laughs out loud
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« Reply #36 on: August 17, 2010, 04:29:23 PM »

What is it this Bishop would like to accomplish which he feels he does not have the authority to do?

What Bishop??

I know at least one of the GOA Hierarchs was indeed a monastic.

(YMMV, of course, but there's Bishops who would laugh out loud at being told that they had absolute monarchical power.)

the one katherineofdixie says laughs out loud

I'm not sure she meant one hierarch in particular, but I read her statement as more of a general one. Could be wrong though.

In any case, there are plenty of hierarchs and clergy who, rightly or wrongly, don't have as much power as is sometimes claimed.
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« Reply #37 on: August 17, 2010, 06:39:32 PM »


The bottom line is that we are all to be servant-leaders, clergy and laity alike. I think this is the true Orthodox model for governance.  If the bishops insist on ruling as medieval monarchs, I do not believe that it would salutary for the existence and growth of the Church. Again, the Church is indeed the bishop surrounded by his presbyters, deacons and laity. In matters of governance, too many of us are OK with the Church being only the bishops. And that is indeed sad.

I don't believe bishops ruling as medieval monarchs is the issue. The issue IMHO is of a practical matter of maximizing the interests of the priest, parish, and Church and in some circumstances what to do with a particularly problematic priest or parish.  Including the laity to solve the problem of finding an apropriate priest for their parish makes sense to me. Including the interests of the priest and their family also makes sense.  Bishops should not consult with the laity out of law but because it is simply the right thing to do. Bishops are the authority of the Church and as such should love and care for it like Christ did. The laity simply don't feel the love when they are ignored.

I do not know if we are not saying the same thing in differing ways. What is wrong with revising canon law to reflect what you just said? What is wrong to make it more difficult for the bishops to ignore the priests, deacons and laity, for the priest to ignore the deacons and the laity, and the deacons to ignore the laity?

I was in the military for 26 years and have been in nonprofits and state government for 16 more. A bishop today has far more power and fewer checks than a four star commander-in-chief. No corporation would ever conflate the positions of a President/CEO and the CFO for example. No President of the United States would ever dream of combining his office with those of his secretaries. Such concentration of power and responsibilities would be madness in any other field. So, all I am saying is to get real, use our God-given ability to reason, and our responsibilities as lay persons (conferred on us at our baptism and chrismation) to help our Holy Church.

Unfortunately it's not as neatly explainable as you have made it be.  I agree with you in principle that administrative things should be separated from spiritual shepherding, but how this happens is critical because bishops are shepherding and coordinating up to 70 parishes at one time! 

Anyway, my real problem with what you said was that you somehow think that what bishops do happens in a vacuum. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that is not the case.  If a bishop makes a move or does something, we still live in an age of instant communication and YouTube.  There is also the Synod within the US as well as the patriarchal synod (in the goa at least) which keeps all these things in check. 

Also, your analogy has many other flaws including the fact that a commander of a battalion can send people to their death.  A bishop doesn't really have that kind of power. 
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« Reply #38 on: August 17, 2010, 07:33:17 PM »

Unfortunately it's not as neatly explainable as you have made it be.  I agree with you in principle that administrative things should be separated from spiritual shepherding, but how this happens is critical because bishops are shepherding and coordinating up to 70 parishes at one time! 

Anyway, my real problem with what you said was that you somehow think that what bishops do happens in a vacuum. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that is not the case.  If a bishop makes a move or does something, we still live in an age of instant communication and YouTube.  There is also the Synod within the US as well as the patriarchal synod (in the goa at least) which keeps all these things in check. 

Also, your analogy has many other flaws including the fact that a commander of a battalion can send people to their death.  A bishop doesn't really have that kind of power. 

Everyone agrees that one Metropolitan used that power in 1821 by raising the "Liberty or Death" flag.

The same power, "Orthodoxy or Death", is exercised by monasteries as they struggle against the "evils" of the "fallen world."
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« Reply #39 on: August 17, 2010, 09:20:27 PM »

I think the issue at hand for this topic is a lack of communication. Bishops not consulting with parishes in assigning priests. Thus the results of the survey.

In regards to their power, all things are possible with God and faith. The problem is when people have a personal agenda. How can the Church step in and make corrections?

I seriously doubt the Synod would step in to question a Bishop's decision for assigning a priest to a particular parish. In these mundane issues which are very important to the people effected, who steps in to help the Bishop accomplish God's will?

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« Reply #40 on: August 17, 2010, 11:55:07 PM »

Who steps in for the Monastery to help accomplish God's will?  Dart's argument is that the Monastery ought to oversee Bishops and have a role in assigning Priests to Parishes.  The only wrinkle in Dart's argument is to ask who oversaw the Apostles when they went forth on their Great Commission before the presence of Monasteries?
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« Reply #41 on: August 17, 2010, 11:58:28 PM »

Who steps in for the Monastery to help accomplish God's will?  Dart's argument is that the Monastery ought to oversee Bishops and have a role in assigning Priests to Parishes.  The only wrinkle in Dart's argument is to ask who oversaw the Apostles when they went forth on their Great Commission before the presence of Monasteries?
Is that really what Dart is saying, or is that merely how you read Dart?
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« Reply #42 on: August 18, 2010, 12:02:44 AM »

Who steps in for the Monastery to help accomplish God's will?  Dart's argument is that the Monastery ought to oversee Bishops and have a role in assigning Priests to Parishes.  The only wrinkle in Dart's argument is to ask who oversaw the Apostles when they went forth on their Great Commission before the presence of Monasteries?
Is that really what Dart is saying, or is that merely how you read Dart?

Both, based on what Dart said in Reply #20 when the term monastery was introduced.  I took the ball and ran with it.   Smiley
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« Reply #43 on: August 18, 2010, 12:23:20 AM »

Who steps in for the Monastery to help accomplish God's will?  Dart's argument is that the Monastery ought to oversee Bishops and have a role in assigning Priests to Parishes.  The only wrinkle in Dart's argument is to ask who oversaw the Apostles when they went forth on their Great Commission before the presence of Monasteries?
Is that really what Dart is saying, or is that merely how you read Dart?

Both, based on what Dart said in Reply #20 when the term monastery was introduced.  I took the ball and ran with it.   Smiley
I don't think it's both.  Then again, maybe Dart will return to this thread and tell you what he REALLY meant to say. Wink
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« Reply #44 on: August 18, 2010, 12:35:25 AM »

Is that really what Dart is saying, or is that merely how you read Dart?

Both, based on what Dart said in Reply #20 when the term monastery was introduced.  I took the ball and ran with it.   Smiley
I don't think it's both.  Then again, maybe Dart will return to this thread and tell you what he REALLY meant to say. Wink

Let's hope that Dart darts in and clarifies his POV (pun intended).   Wink
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