Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Defrocked Priest Converts to Sect
Background: To protect the family of this defrocked priest I have changed his name and voided overly specific dates and parish names. I discuss the facts which are pertinent and which serve to complete the picture of the deplorable state of the end of his priesthood and his joining a christian sect.
In the late 1980's, Sam enrolled at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology graduating with honors. Sam served as a member of the Sexual Misconduct Advisory Board for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA).
While Pastor at his California GO Parish, in 2002, he was granted permission from his bishop to sit on an interfaith Clergy Sexual Misconduct Review Board charged with advising the local bishop on policies related to clergy sexual misconduct.
After few years of service Sam resigned in a formal letter to his congregation, in which he acknowledged having ”strayed from faithfulness” to his wife, resulting in divorce. While Sam was never accused of sexual contact wtih minors he refused to comment whether the person or persons with whom he has sexual relations where part of his flock.
Sam was suspended from the priesthood in 2007 and was defrocked in 2008.
On November of this year 2010
Sam posted this on his Facebook status "For three and a half years ... Cathedral has been my spiritual home. It welcomed and cared for me in time of greatest need. It’s the place I stand authentically before God. Today, with a thankful heart, I was received into the Anglican Communion & Episcopal Church at a blessing service...".
What stuck me as sad and obvious state of personal defeat for Sam he received 15 'like' comments from his 'friends'. And many comments of congratulations. I can't really explain what welled up inside of me what I read prominent Orthodox church members falling over themselves to congratulate him.
I chose rather to reach out in a message:
"it was fortunate to stumble across your Facebook status. Elias would wish you warmest regards himself but he is in Brussels at the Religious Freedom Conference. I know many people close to you have offered their encouragement. i wish you the very best. you are thought of fondly here in our humble home. I will pray for your comfort and solace".
Sam's reply "Thank you and please extend by appreciation to Elias...best...S"
My follow-up "Will do. I'm sorry for your difficulties but more so that you didn't find what you needed in the Holy Orthodox Church. How have you been what are you doing with yourself now? How is your family life? On a lighter note, my new blog has its official kickoff today i hope you visit and comment often!"
Sam's reply "Angela... Thanks for reaching out...I'm happier and more at peace with God, self and others, than ever in life. I'm the Executive Director of the Interfaith Council. Very fulfilling and relevant work. Spending long overdue time as a quality dad. Living and authentic life. Fascinating blog...I'm glad that you are undertaking this VERY needed project!"
THEN Sam's anger and resentment which sits just below the surface emerged. The end result I was 'defriended'.
Later that same week Sam posted this Facebook status prompting my seeking his council. "DUE TO THE OVERWHELMING RESPONSE, RESERVATIONS FOR .... 13th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast ARE NOW CLOSED...."
Christ is in our midst. I am interested in finding out from you with your broad knowledge base and understanding of orthodoxy (proper) and Protestant denominations why you think orthodox rallies, youth events, seminars and other events including service attendance tend to be a low representation of actual numbers. Why do you think other sects have stronger turnout.
I believe orthodox Christians are on even footing intellectually and are statistically more educated; have higher wages and strong family values. Orthodoxy also have the fullness of the faith so why the shortfalls? Thank you for your help.
In His service,
Sam's initial RESPONSE:"Crunch time at work...glad to help after the holidays...m
Ps. Sects is not a pc term"
ME: Sam whenever you can. I'm not concerned with PC as an appropriate mandate for private or public speech. PC speech is too arbitrary speaking little about an issue and more about cultural fads and trends based on geopolitical climates.. I'm interested in truth and understanding.
God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.
Sam starts to escalate. RESPONSE: "I don’t consider myself to be part of a sect, in the same way that I don’t believe that the Orthodox Church has exclusive right to the kingdom. Exclusivity precludes the possibility for relationships with the other and is probably the reason that the Greek Orthodox Church and community continues to function in a ghetto".
ME: Now Sam that was spiteful. Exclusivity of the Kingdom how did you get there? God will save whom He wishes. I personally believe based on the church history dogma was basic tenants of the Faith (of which you are familiar) what saves those who seek outside the Faith are those aspects which are in common not contrary.
Sam slams the door in classic protestant form RESPONSE: "Thanks for reaching out. I really don't think that I can be of assistance to you.
Blessings to you and your family."
ME:Blessings to you also please know that my initial email I the thread was to gain insight. It was for my benefit not yours. I'm not trying convince you of anything. You know Orthodoxy doesn't function like that. If you lost confidence in the church because of your short comings (which we all have and all have to come to terms with) then you have chosen the long way and unlike others who think. Congratulations are in order I'll simply note your overwhelming pain and disappointment and light a candle for you. I'm not trying to offend or anger you. You chose rather to sling mud. After your second email I went to the dictionary and sect would apply. I'm disturbed that you would say that the Greek Orthodox Church is in the ghetto is that what you found when you professed the faith. I'm sorry your pride infected you that you somehow blame the church for your pain. The prodigal first had to find his condition to be lacking so much so that be returned as a hired hand.
If I don't hear from you again I'm sorry for your loss which is apparent..