In every instance when the Church has been assailed by one or another heresy, we find that many people are fooled by the heresy without actually understanding what is happening. Heresy is always presented as the truth and in this way many are misled.

-- Metropolitan Ephraim, Holy Orthodox Church in North America, 2001

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chronology of Name-Worshipping in HOCNA

Updated 11/19/12

Chronology of Name-Worshipping in HOCNA

as of September 14/27, 2012

Universal Exaltation of the Precious Cross

Assertions have been made that the HOCNA hierarchs were unaware of the clergy’s concerns regarding the Name-worshipping heresy until about the first or second week of September 2012. Below is a chronology of events that clearly shows that Metropolitan Ephraim and the other hierarchs have been well aware of the clergy’s and others’ concerns since at least as early as autumn 2011.

The clergy and laity who have spoken out against the introduction of the Name-worshipping heresy are also accused of instigating this issue and promoting turmoil and dissension in the Church. However, as the facts below unambiguously demonstrate, the entire matter and the related turmoil have been instigated, promoted, and advanced by the supporters of the Name-worshipping doctrine. In this regard, HOCNA was peaceful until the Name-worshippers raised and pushed their teaching on the Church.
The same clergy and laity are further accused of acting rashly and rushing forward, not allowing the HOCNA synod ample time to work through this matter. But the historical record outlined below makes it abundantly obvious that the clergy and laity, for nigh unto a year, were patiently working with the HOCNA synod to bring this issue to a conclusion consistent with the Orthodox confession of Faith. Some suggested that those speaking against Name-worshipping wait until the completion of the HOCNA Clergy Synaxis in early October 2012 in case the HOCNA bishops would change their stance. However, as the record below makes sadly mani-fest, from any rational and reasonable perspective, this suggestion, however well-intended, was in vain since, as late as the third week in September 2012, the HOCNA synod publicly declared it would never accept the synodal decisions against Name-worshipping without conditions.

— All dates in the chronology below are civil calendar dates. —

November 3 or 4, 2011 — Name-worshipper Bishop Gregory Lourie (or Lourje), visiting from Russia, was communed at a midnight Liturgy at HTM. Metropolitans Ephraim and Makarios and Bishop Demetrius consented to communing Bishop Gregory Lourie. Afterwards, Bishop Demetrius regretted his assent and then asked forgiveness of the monastic fathers.

 November 5, 2011 — Fr. Christos Constantinou has a conversation, in the HTM office, with Metropolitan Ephraim in which Name-worshipping is first mentioned between the two of them, called the "’Name of Jesus’ controversy" in Fr. Christos’s first written communication on the subject. Metropolitan Ephraim did not mention that Bishop Gregory Lourie was given Holy Communion. Instead, Metropolitan Ephraim stated he did not know the man and the Synod would investigate him as time goes on. (See Document 1 below.) As it happens, Metropolitan Ephraim was given information on Bishop Gregory Lourie as far back as 2001. (See the chronology entry below for August 27, 2012.)

 November 12, 2011 — Fr. Christos Constantinou sends the first written communication protesting the communing of Name-worshipper Bishop Gregory Lourie. (See, again, Document 1 below.)

 On or about November 14, 2011 — Metropolitan Ephraim summons Fr. Christos Constantinou to the Dedham, MA, HOMB offices to discuss the contents of Document 1; also present were Fr. John Fleser and hieromonk Gregory (now Bishop Gregory of Concord). Among the subjects raised were the controversies around Bishop Gregory Lourie. Metropolitan Ephraim had with him and cited documentation concerning these controversies, among which were Bishop Gregory Lourie’s advocacy of Name-worshipping, his use of "punk rock" as a missionary tool, and his association with a nun who does not wear monastic garb. (The Metropolitan had a photo of that nun in civilian attire.) Fr. Christos repeated his positions noted in Document 1: the synod bishops must fully examine other bishops before communing them and present a report to the Church, to which the bishops are accountable, and there needs to be a Church-wide council, to which for years the Metropolitan has been adamantly opposed, to discuss such doctrinal issues and the governance of the Church.

 November 15, 2011 —Metropolitan Makarios was implored by clergy to work with Bishop Demetrius to put an end to the present crisis that was gripping HOCNA and threatening to tear it apart.

 November 1, 2011 - April 8, 2012 — Fr. Yakov Tseitlin expressed in many written and verbal communications to the HOCNA hierarchs his serious objections to (a) HOCNA ties with Bishop Gregory Lourie because of his support of Name-worshipping and (b) rumored future ordination of hieromonk Gregory because of his support of Name-worshipping. (See Document 2 below for one example of Fr. Yakov’s statements.)

 Mid-November 2011 — In another conversation with Fr. Christos Constantinou on the Name-worshipping issue, Metropolitan Ephraim called Anthony Bulatovich an "aggressor" rather than a "confessor" as Bishop Gregory Lourie views that chief proponent of the Name-worshipping doctrine.

 November 25 & 30, 2011 — With the blessing of Metropolitan Ephraim, hieromonk Gregory sent a broadcast email containing Fr. Gregory’s opinion that the synodal decisions against Name-worshipping were motivated by other than doctrinal considerations and cast doubts on the decisions’ validity. (See Document 3 below.) This engendered increased and openly expressed objections from clergy and laity.

 December 2, 2011 — The HOCNA synod issued a qualified apology for communing Bishop Gregory Lourie and stated the Name-worshipping teaching is a matter for the Russian Church. When the HOCNA synod said the issue has been raging for 100 years and the bishops do not wish to "take sides," the synod effectively denied the synodal decisions that had, in fact, made a determination against Name-worshipping. (See Document 4 below.) Clergy and laity objected that the bishops did not plainly state that they accept the synodal decisions regarding Name-worshipping as all of Orthodoxy has done.

 On or about December 19, 2011 — Fr. Panteleimon was intent on giving a talk on Name-worshipping in Toronto, but Metropolitan Makarios prevailed on Father to comply with the synod’s directive and not discuss the issue.

 Throughout December 2011 — Many broadcast emails, from people within and without HOCNA, were sent all over the USA and abroad regarding the communing of Bishop Gregory Lourie and the introduction of the Name-worshipping doctrine within HOCNA, and the HOCNA hierarchs were in receipt of these emails. Both Frs. John Fleser and Yakov Tseitlin were encouraging Metropolitan Ephraim to convene a Church council to deal with the Name-worshipping issue, the election of a bishop, and other matters concerning the governance of the Church, but the Metropolitan was opposed.

 January 21, 2012 — Fifteen laity, among whom were Diaconissa Panagiota Houlares and at-torney Athanasios George, met with Metropolitan Ephraim and hieromonk Gregory, by then bishop-elect, and Frs. John Fleser and Isaac requesting a postponement of Fr. Gregory’s ordination due, in part, to his support of Name-worshipping, and asking for assurances, given his negative views of the synodal decisions against Name-worshipping, that he would abide by the HOCNA synod’s decision not to discuss the matter. Both the Metropolitan and hieromonk Gregory assured the laity gathered there that the Name-worshipping issue would be dropped and neither of them would continue to be involved in the issue. (See Document 5, A & B, below.)

 March 23, 2012 — Metropolitan Ephraim met with Fr. Yakov, in the presence of Bishop Demetrius, Fr. John Fleser, and Fr. Christos Constantinou, to have Fr. Yakov cease from his publicly expressing his objections to HOCNA’s equivocal stance regarding Name-worshipping and Fr. Gregory’s impending ordination. Both Metropolitan Ephraim and Fr. Yakov had documentation with them concerning Name-worshipping and read from them during this meeting, Fr. Yakov citing texts against Name-worshipping, Metropolitan Ephraim citing texts he took to cast doubts on the history and the validity of the decisions.

 May 9, 2012 — In violation of the HOCNA synod’s directive, Fr. Panteleimon referenced Name-worshipping in a sermon at HNC. Priestmonk Menas, who was serving with Fr. Panteleimon protested. From months before, there was a controversy at HTM over Name-worshipping, and many monks, among whom were Frs. Haralampos and Basil, were disconcerted that the HOCNA and HTM administrations did not come down on the issue with full support for the synodal decisions.

 June 19-26, 2012 — In violation of his own synod’s decision and his promise to the laity in the January meeting, Metropolitan Ephraim sent a limited-broadcast email to a select group of clergy and laity in the USA which contained his response to a man in Russia who asked about Name-worshipping. The Metropolitan expressed his view that he was uncertain about the issue, and he cast doubt on the validity of the synodal decisions against Name-worshipping, using some of the arguments employed by both Bishops Gregory. (See Document 6 below.) Fr. Christos Constantinou wrote the Metropolitan that, by sending the email around, he was violating the HOCNA synod’s decision not to get into the matter and was disturbing the peace of the flock and creating serious doubt in the minds of some clergy and laity regarding HOCNA’s Orthodoxy. The Metropolitan heard similar objections from others, but, in all cases, he rebuffed the criticisms, saying he had permission from his brother bishops to send the email to the individual in Russia.

 Mid-June – mid-August 2012 — Clergy and laity, as well as HTM monastics, were expressing grave concerns regarding the deepening rift in HOCNA over the Name-worshipping doctrine and the HOCNA synod’s refusal to put an end to the matter with an unequivocal acceptance of the synodal decisions. Fr. Haralampos of HTM produced a treatise that explained the history and theology undergirding the Orthodox position regarding the Name-worshipping heresy.

 August 20, 2012 — Twelve New England clergy decided to meet together 5 days later (10 actually made it) to discuss as brothers in Christ the turbulence in the Church due to the Name-worshipping doctrine and to see if they could come to an agreement how to approach the issue with the Metropolitan in order to preserve the Orthodoxy and unity of the Church.

 August 22, 2012 — The decades-long cover-up of the HTM scandal was revealed to the non-monastic clergy.

 August 25, 2012 — The 10 clergy met and, along with the Name-worshipping teaching, dis-cussed the HTM cover-up. Concerning Name-worshipping, the clergy agreed that the HOCNA synod needed to declare its oneness of mind with the definitive position of all of Orthodoxy in accepting the decisions against the heresy and its supporters. Concerning the HTM scandal, the clergy agreed that the synod needed to take immediate and decisive action to protect the Church. Then and there, the clergy went to Metropolitan Ephraim to present their views regarding both matters. Fr. Barsanuphius was present, and Fr. Isaac was also present and acknowledged to the clergy as a group that the allegations, from many years ago and more recent years, against Fr. Panteleimon were true and that he and Fr. Panteleimon agreed to the cover-up. Metropolitan Ephraim stated that, when he heard about the allegations, he chose not to investigate them. The clergy protested that the Church, the victims, and all the people were used and abused and betrayed in this manner. The clergy also said that the Metropolitan has lost his moral authority to govern the Church, and, at the very least, resignations were in order, and the Name-worshipping matter had to be put to rest once and for all because HTM was now permanently divided, and clergy and parishes were being torn asunder by both scandals. The 10 non-monastic clergy who participated in this meeting were: Frs. John Fleser, Vassily Mihailoff, Alexander Buterbaugh, John Knox, Michael Knox, Christos Constantinou, George Kamberidis, Demetrios Houlares, George Liadis, and Jacob Wojcik.

 August 27, 2012 — In an email to Bishop Demetrius and copied to Fr. John Fleser, Fr. Nicholas of HTM set the record straight concerning Metropolitan Ephraim’s and Fr. Panteleimon’s knowledge of Bishop Gregory Lourie. This email was forwarded to the clergy, as well, so they would know the facts regarding the Metropolitan’s insistence he knew nothing about Bishop Gregory Lourie. According to the record, as far back as 2001, Fr. Nicholas presented both Metropolitan Ephraim and Fr. Panteleimon with a nine-page report regarding Bishop Gregory Lourie and his involvement with the Name-worshipping heresy. (See Document 7 below.)

 August 26-31, 2012 — Clergy from beyond New England were voicing their concerns over HOCNA’s handling of both issues. Some clergy saw a direct spiritual connection between the two issues and voiced this view. Specifically, the decades-long cover-up morally compromised the hierarchs and the HTM administration, leading to the turbulent series of recent crises and controversies, one after the other, eventually weakening the defense of the Faith and culminating in the introduction of foreign, even synodically condemned, doctrine.

 September 1, 2012 — Eighteen clergy, Fr. Isaac, and the 3 local bishops, met at the HOMB offices to press for the resolution of both matters and to urge the hierarchy to speak out against libelous charges being hurled against the clergy. Fr. Isaac again acknowledged the longstanding cover-up of the numerous instances of the HTM scandal. Metropolitan Ephraim would not agree to accept without reservations the synodal decisions, as has all of Orthodoxy for 100 years, against Name-worshipping. The Metropolitan stated the synod would convene before the October Clergy Synaxis and produce a clearer statement regarding Name-worshipping and, further, the matter would be placed on the agenda of the Synaxis for discussion by all the clergy, and everyone should wait until then. Most of the clergy reiterated that the Metropolitan has lost his moral authority to govern the Church and ought to retire. Metropolitan Ephraim was also told HOCNA was on the verge of losing every-thing that was built up over the last 40-50 years, and his legacy would be in shambles. Bishop Gregory praised the Metropolitan and said his would be "one of the greatest legacies" ever. The 18 non-monastic clergy who participated in this meeting were: Frs. John Fleser, Dimitry Kukunov, Otari Deisadze, Christopher Catanzano, Vassily Mihailoff, Andrew Snogren, Alexander Buterbaugh, John Knox, Michael Knox, James Graves, Christos Con-stantinou, George Kamberidis, Demetrios Houlares, George Liadis, Michael Marcinowski, Jacob Wojcik, Andrew Boroda, and David Ruffner.

 September 3, 2012 —In a quick and direct violation of his statement above that everyone should wait until the Clergy Synaxis, Metropolitan Ephraim sent a broadcast email containing two documents the Metropolitan intended as support for his position regarding Name-worshipping. One of the papers was a resend of the Metropolitan’s June 2012 email to a man in Russia. (See the chronology entry above for June 19-26, 2012 and Document 6 below.) The other paper, titled "Excursus," was yet another presentation of arguments by Metropolitan Ephraim with the goal of undermining the validity of the synodal decisions against the Name-worshipping heresy. (See Document 8 below.)

 September 6, 2012 —In another violation of his statement above, Metropolitan Ephraim, with Bishop Gregory, held a meeting at the Kukunovs’ home with laity in which they discussed their views that the Russian synods against Name-worshipping were not valid synods and that, because of internal theological errors, the decisions are not acceptable as they stand. Scandalous accusations, known not to be true, were made by some of the laity against some of the clergy, but neither hierarch refuted the charges.

 September 10, 2012 — Metropolitan Makarios agreed to meet with the Boston Metropolis clergy, but cancelled the meeting. Frs. George Liadis, Demetrios Houlares, and Christos Constantinou met with Metropolitan Makarios, anyway, and impressed on him that, without an unconditional statement from HOCNA accepting the synodal decisions against Name-worshipping, HOCNA would begin losing some clergy and parishes who were having strong doubts about the integrity of HOCNA’s confession of Faith. At the request of Metropolitan Makarios, the clergy faxed the text of a declaration that, if signed by the synod bishops, would preserve the Orthodoxy of HOCNA’s confession of Faith. (See Document 9 below.) Also, again in violation of his statement above for everyone to wait until the Clergy Synaxis for Name-worshipping to be discussed there, Metropolitan Ephraim sent out broadcast emails in which he once more pushed his position that the synods and the decisions against Name-worshipping are of questionable validity. (See, for one example, Document 10 below, in which the Metropolitan disparages the Russian synods from the time of Czar Peter to the twentieth century with the intent of thereby discrediting their decisions, aiming right for the decisions against Name-worshipping.)

 September 11, 2012 — Because of the intransigence of the HOCNA synod regarding the Name-worshipping heresy, Bishop Demetrius of Carlisle resigned from the synod and withdrew from HOCNA for reasons of Faith in accordance with Canon 15 of the First and Second Council. (See Document 11 below for Bishop Demetrius’s statement and Document 12 below for Canon 15.) A petition bearing the signatures of over 40 lay men and women and urging the HOCNA synod to issue a declaration as described above and to retire Met-ropolitan Ephraim was faxed to the Dedham, MA, HOMB offices for consideration at that day’s synod meeting. The HOCNA synod did, in fact, meet but did not issue a statement as described above. Instead, the bishops addressed five clergy, "categorically demand[ing]" that they state their views concerning purported internal theological errors in the 1913 decision of the Russian Synod. The bishops’ action was consistent with their oft-repeated stance, adopted from the Name-worshippers, to deflect attention from what has been the sole issue all along, that the decisions, themselves, condemning the heresy of Name-worshipping are valid and universally accepted by the Orthodox Church.

 September 15, 2012 — Although the bishops, at the September 11 synod meeting, had agreed among themselves to cease from circulating Name-worshipping material, Metropolitan Ephraim sent a broadcast email containing two additional documents the Metropolitan intended as support for his position regarding Name-worshipping. The one file was titled "The Name of God in the Psalms," about the contents of which there is no contention anyway. The other file, "The Orthodox Veneration of the Name of God" (17 pages in length), however, plainly promoted the Metropolitan’s view in the opening "Prelude." (See Document 13 below.)

 September 16, 2012 — At the St. Mark parish meeting, Metropolitan Ephraim’s position was accurately represented by non-parishioners Thomas Deretich and Michael Vagianos. A number of parishioners stated they felt they were lied to by Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory because the two bishops did not adhere to their synod’s decision and their promise to the laity not to pursue the Name-worshipping issue. When there was a consideration to ask the Metropolitan to come to the meeting, Michael Vagianos stated clearly that the Metropolitan was willing to come, but his position on the Name-worshipping issue would be the same as circulated in his recent statements: he would not accept the synodal decisions against Name-worshipping without qualifying reservations and conditions. The clergy reiterated the Orthodox position on the matter: the Orthodox Church Universal has upheld the decisions against Name-worshipping and its adherents without reservations; any purported internal theological errors do not negate the validity of the decisions.

 September 18, 2012 — A statement was issued by the HOCNA synod declaring that those bishops would never agree to accept, without reservations, the synodal decisions against Name-worshipping and will not associate with any hierarchy or church that does. (See Document 14 below.)

 September 22, 2012 — Metropolitan Ephraim called for a meeting at St. Anna’s parish with the Metropolitan and Bishop Gregory. Present were Fr. Dimitry Kukunov and laity from St. Anna and St. Mark. The meeting was presided over by Judge Leonid Ponomarchuk of Seattle, WA, and only clergy who were commemorating Metropolitan Ephraim were permitted to attend. In this meeting, libelous charges against some clergy were again brought up and, though known not to be true, were not refuted by the hierarchs. It was here in this meeting where Metropolitan Ephraim stated that it was only one or two weeks before this meeting that he was made aware of the clergy’s concern regarding the Name-worshipping heresy. Despite frequent attempts by laity for the Metropolitan to clarify this remark, given all the history presented above, Metropolitan Ephraim did not modify this statement.

he foregoing chronological record is irrefutable evidence that the Name-worshipping heresy was openly introduced into HOCNA approximately one year ago, and its supporters openly have been pushing it on the Church since then. Early in the twentieth century, three synods condemned Name-worshipping as a heresy, and the entirety of the Orthodox Church has accepted these decisions without reservations for the last 100 years. The Church has spoken concerning that teaching and its adherents. Orthodox Christians are faithful to the decisions of councils the Church has accepted. Therefore, faithful Orthodox Christians cannot sit idly when their hierarchs, or anyone else for that matter, teaches or allows to be introduced into the Church doctrines already determined to be heretical.

It is out of this faithfulness to the Church’s doctrines, then, that clergy and laity, over the past year protested this incursion of the Name-worshipping heresy into the HOCNA synod. The clergy were accused by some of violating the canons when the clergy met without their bishop. However, the relevant canons address insurrections against a bishop, conspiracies and plots to undermine the bishop, the setting up of an administration within an administration, the issuance of decisions without episcopal authority, etc. Under no circumstances are brothers in Christ forbidden to gather together to discuss issues important to the Church family and to come up with proposals to solve problems. That is one of the things concerned members of a family do. And what greater problem is there than a violation of Church doctrine?

Some have said the latest Protocol #2917 (Document 14 below) is "what we’ve been waiting for" because the bishops say they are not Name-worshippers. However, this document is none other than an official, synodal restatement of all that Metropolitan Ephraim and those with him have been writing and saying for a while now. The only really "new" thing is they make it very clear—in writing—they just will not accept the synodal decisions against Name-worshipping, as has all of Orthodoxy so peacefully for 100 years, without qualifications. This has been the fundamental issue all along, and it is this that puts them in opposition to Orthodoxy and St. Tikhon, who, himself, made it clear, in the very Nativity encyclical they cite, that the decisions stand unchanged at least until the Russian church ever cares to re-examine the matter, which that Church has not done. Effectively, HOCNA’s position is it and Bishop Gregory Lourie’s group are the only Orthodox synods in the world since all other Orthodox Churches accept the synodal decisions against Name-worshipping without reservations.

Had HOCNA never gotten involved in what was up until then a non-issue, this would not be of concern now. Once HOCNA unnecessarily thrust itself into this matter, having realized the turmoil it created, it could have honored its own resolutions and been silent, leaving the matter alone since, as HOCNA correctly said, this was the affair of the Russian Church. Instead, the hierarchy kept hammering away with the same arguments of the Name-worshippers, casting doubts in the minds of the faithful about the validity of the Russian synods and the syn-odal decrees, the purpose of which doubts is to invalidate the decisions against Name-worshipping.

Unfortunately, relying on St. Tikhon’s Nativity Encyclical as a means to bring peace is nothing other than a compromise, a vain attempt to bring together two irreconcilable teachings, Orthodoxy and Name-worshipping, because of the history how that document is understood by the Orthodox and manipulated by the Name-worshipping advocates. To illustrate this point, it is as if, in the midst of the Arian heresy, the synod of bishops said we fully support and uphold everything that the Holy Gospels and Prophecies say concerning Jesus Christ. That is a perfectly sound Orthodox position, which, nonetheless, the Arians would also accept and put their names to, only to manipulate the Sacred Scriptures to suit their doctrine. This is exactly what is happening with St. Tikhon’s encyclical. He said, without qualifiers, the decisions stand. Why do not the HOCNA hierarchs say the same?

As of September 27, 2012, the following faithful have separated themselves from HOCNA, for reasons of Faith in accordance with Canon 15 of the First and Second Council, and have been received into the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece under the omophorion of Bishop Demetrius of Boston: Demetrius, former Bishop of Carlisle, now Bishop of Boston; Fr. Nicodemos Gayle and St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church in Glen Allen, VA; Frs. Michael Marcinowski and Jacob Wojcik and St. Philaret Mission Orthodox Chapel in Chicopee, MA; Fr. George Liadis and Ascension of our Saviour Orthodox Mission in Carver, MA; Frs. Christos Constantinou, George Kamberidis, and Demetrios Houlares and St. Mark of Ephesus Orthodox Cathedral in Boston, MA; Fr. Vassily Mihailoff and St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco Orthodox Mission in Kennebunk, ME; Fr. George Kochergin and family; and Fr. Yakov Tseitlin and family. (See Document 15 for the HOCNA synod’s official and publicly proclaimed recognition of the Orthodoxy and Canonicity of the GOC and Document 16 for the St. Mark of Ephesus Orthodox Cathedral clergy and parish withdrawal from HOCNA and appeal to the GOC.)

Update as of 11/19/12: Since this document was published, Frs. Andrew Snogren and Alexander Buterbaugh and the Dormition of the Theotokos Church in Concord, NH; Fr. Michael Azkoul and St. Katherine of Sinai Mission Church in St. Louis, MO;  Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Albany, GA; Fr. John Knox, Fr. Michael Knox, Fr. James Graves and St. John the Confessor Church in Ipswich, MA; Fr. Christopher Catanzano and family; and Fr. Christos Patitsas have also been received under the omophorion of Bishop Demetrius. 


HOCNA = Holy Orthodox Church in North America, presided over by Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston

HOMB = Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, a diocese of HOCNA under Metropolitan Ephraim

HTM = Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, MA

HNC = Holy Nativity Convent in Brookline, MA

GOC - Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece, presided over by Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens

See supporting Documents on the following pages.

This Chronology is the product of the collaboration of several members of:

St. Mark of Ephesus Orthodox Cathedral

Boston, MA