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The American Catholic-Orthodox Church
24-03-2008, 09:27 AM
Post: #1
Clarification
Dear all ...

The articles from the 1927 Constitution quoted herein do not reflect the mission and ministry of The American Orthodox Catholic Church in these times. Actually, this is the first time I have seen these.

To the best of my knowledge, Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh never claimed to have jurisdictional authority over any of the Orthodox Christians in the United States. His mission was simply to unite all the Jurisdictions for the purpose of bringing the Orthodox faith.

He formed the American Orthodox Catholic Church in a climate wherein there was a great deal of infighting among the Orthodox here, and he saw a sad lapse of attendance at Divine Liturgy among the younger generations of those ethnic orthodox in this country, and who cared little for the past which was being so tightly clumg onto by the ethnic Jurisdictions. That was all foreign to their experience.

He wanted to form an Orthodox Church for the American people wherein there would be no emphasis on nationality and ethnicity; wherein all Orthodox would find welcome and genuine Orthodox teaching and praxis.

That continues to be the aegis of the work of The American Orthodox Catholic Church. We do not seek to dominate anyone. We do not claim to have any jurisdictional authority over anyone. We seek simply to unite those who wish a truly American Church that brings the True Faith to all who wish to receive it without forcing upon them ethnic customs foreign to their daily experience.

I hope this clarifies our position. There has been a great deal of misinformation put out there over the years, and we have been attepmting to put all that to rest.

Metropolitan +Samuel
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24-03-2008, 10:08 AM
Post: #2
 
Dear Metropolitan +Samuel,

That is good to hear - thank you for putting the record straight.

When you write:
Quote:He wanted to form an Orthodox Church for the American people wherein there would be no emphasis on nationality and ethnicity; wherein all Orthodox would find welcome and genuine Orthodox teaching and praxis.
that is a goal we would recognise as our own in these Islands.

The curse of modern Orthodoxy has been nationalism. One of the wonderful things about the Copts is that having a nationality which long antedates the modern era, they are comfortable enough in their skins and their identity not to worry too much about it. They have preserved the pearl of great price at the cost of much suffering - and they share it with all who are truly Orthodox. They are an example to us all.

In peace,

John

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
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24-03-2008, 11:45 AM
Post: #3
 
Dear Metropolitan +Samuel, Dear Tom, Dear All:

As John has said, thanks for setting the record straight when you say:


AmericanOrthodox Wrote:We do not claim to have any jurisdictional authority over anyone.


However, I wonder if we might continue with our clarification here? I am somewhat confused when you say you have not read the articles from the constitution quoted above. Possibly, you could help us to understand more fully the origins of your group?

I see that there are other groups in America which employ combinations of the adjectives "American," "Orthodox," and "Catholic." Possibly, we can clarify further in an attempt to avoid any misinformation as you say.

Is the full name of your group, "The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America?"

I ask this because as I have read this was the name of 'the first attempt by mainstream Orthodox canonical authorities at the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church for North America. It was chartered in 1927 by Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky), primate of the Russian Metropolia and his holy synod. During its short existence, it was mainly led by Aftimios Ofiesh, Archbishop of Brooklyn.'

And, the short name for this group was:

The American Orthodox Catholic Church

however, the name of your group is:

The American Catholic Orthodox Church

So I am seeing a difference here in terms of nomenclature (an AOCC and an ACOC), as well as charter/constitutional meaning and function (viz. jurisdictional authority). I understand that you have not read the two articles quoted above; however, I wonder if you have access to the 28 page constitution of the group led by Archbishop Aftimios?

At the present, based on your last post refuting/disowning what was said in the two articles as it relates to the ACOC, I am wondering if the ACOC adheres to this constitution that the founding father would have adhered to, and what the real links between the ACOC and the group chartered by Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky) and his holy synod consist of?

In Christ,
Rick
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25-03-2008, 11:34 AM
Post: #4
Further Clarification
Dear Rick ...

To further clarify ... no, we are not The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America. While yes, that was the first attempt at an American orthodoxy, that Jurisdiction went dormant in 1940 with the death of Archbishop Sophronios Bishara, who Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh had consecrated as Metropolitan of THEOCACNA.

The AOCC from which this Jurisdiction claims its continuance was re-incorporated in the State of New York in 1945 by Archbishops Ofiesh and William Ignatius Nichols, who Ofiesh consecrated in 1934.

There is a Bishop here in America claiming to be the heir of Archbishop ofiesh and THEOCACNA, however he went to the State of Massachusetts and basically stole the 1927 Incorporation by use of deception. We are in no way linked to him.

The American Orthodox Catholic Church, as I stated, is the continuance of the 1945 New York Incorporation. I must also add that we are not The American Catholic-Orthodox Churcch. There is an entirely separate Jurisdiction headed by a woman 'bishop' called that. We are THE AMERICAN ORTHODOX-CATHOLIC CHURCH.

I will provide more clarification tomorrow. I have to head to Northern New York State to preside at an Episcopal Consecration.

Metropolitan +Samuel
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25-03-2008, 11:52 AM
Post: #5
Thank You
Dear Metropolitan +Samuel,

Many thanks for this helpful post, and for the additional clarification when you may have time tomorrow. This is not easy to sort out for the one who would gain an introduction to the history of THEOCACNA. This causes me to take up an old consideration of the question: 'what constitutes a church?' . . . and now 'what re-constitutes a church?'

Thanks also for the info about the Bishop here in America claiming to be the heir of Archbishop Ofiesh and whose group has the name THEOCACNA today? I see them now at:

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.geocities.com/theocacna/index.html">http://www.geocities.com/theocacna/index.html</a><!-- m -->

It is interesting to me that this group promotes that they are:

Quote:The canonically established autocephalous Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America

Thanks again for being so willing to educate the likes of me as it relates to the history of Orthodoxy in America.

In Christ,
Rick

PS I wonder if you could share with me what year the Bishop from THEOCACNA aquired the constitution/incorporation and name THEOCACNA?
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26-03-2008, 11:07 AM
Post: #6
Further Clarification
Dear Rick ...

First, to answer your question, that Bishop appropriated the charter from 1927 in the early 1980's. To the best of my knowledge he is unaware of the re-chartering of the AOCC in 1945.

As a further explanation of the current AOCC History, Archbishop Ofiesh left the Russian Church under which he was ordained due to the Communist influence under which the then sitting Russian Patriarch was installed. he did not consider him to be the true Patriarch.

There was also a great deal of upheaval among the Orthodox Jurisdictions in this country at that time, as several arms of that Church were formed. From this came such Jurisdictions as the OCA and ROCOR, which, if I might add, were under Archbishop Ofiesh's omophora at one point. However, they chose to continue in an ethnic vein and walked away from Archbishop Ofiesh who clung tightly to a true American orthodoxy.

By 1945 there was only one Bishop left to assist Archbishop Ofiesh, that being Archbishop Ignatius Nichols. His other two Bishops, Joseph Zuk and Sophronios Bishara had both passed on.

The both of them continued to form the Church, though it was a rough process. They had very few Clergy and parishes. It was actually Archbishop Walter Myron Propheta who greatly expanded the Church when he became the Primate. It is from this that the AOCC in these times has its continuance. As I stated, we do not stake any claim to THEOCACNA, nor do we intend to in the future.

I pray this provides some further clarification. If you have any more questions, I am more than willing to provide answers. We seek to make sure it is understood we are not some fly by night Jurisdiction.

Metropolitan +Samuel
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26-03-2008, 07:23 PM
Post: #7
 
Dear Metropolitan +Samuel,

We are very grateful to you for your informing us of the truth in this complexity; most useful.

In Christ,

John

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
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27-03-2008, 10:57 AM
Post: #8
Archbishop Ofiesh and American Orthodoxy ... continuation
To continue with the words of Archbishop Ofiesh on American Orthodoxy ...

"What, then, is the canonically lawful and proper jurisdiction of Orthodoxy in America? To this, there are three different answers, each supported by a respectable weight of Orthodox opinion and authority. It is quite unlikely that all orthodox in America or abroad will ever agree on any of them.

They arise out of the fact that the history and situation in America is without precedent, and had no parallel in the period when the Apostolic and Conciliar determination for the guidance and development of the Church were developed.

Another view of the question is designed to brush aside the others in favor of the theory that no precedent or conciliar prescription applies to the fact of the American situation. America was not then in the knowledge of the Church and her Councils.

America is not diaspora in the sense of the Canons and practice of the Church. America is not borderland territory between or on the edge of rival or adjacent jurisdictions.

America is not primarily or to any great extent territory evangelized or converted to Orthodoxy; it is cheifly a land into which Orthodox groups from all existing Patriarchates and National Churcches have moved and where they have established communities in the midst of an unchanged or heretical environment. No such land as this was privided for in the formulation of the Canons and practices of the Church.

The prime necessity for Orthodoxy in America and at large today is to bury the causes of her divisions and set forth anew on a road of peaceful and united progress for the good of Holy Church and the Kingdom of Christ.

Orthodox Catholic Bishops and leaders should come toggether in the spirit of love and the humility of their Master, and sacrifice themselves and their personal and nationalistic ambitions to the cause of their Church and their God."

It is the last two paragraphs of this that The American Orthodox-Catholic Church finds as the motivation for our mission and ministry. As I have stated, we seek to become a unifier rather than a divider.

Metropolitan +Samuel
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27-03-2008, 12:00 PM
Post: #9
 
Dear Metropolitan +Samuel,

Yes, we are grateful for you time and patience, this has been a great time of learning for me personally. And, when you wrote:

Quote: As I have stated, we seek to become a unifier rather than a divider.

I appreciate what is said here very much, as well as what is said in the last two paragraphs of the archbishop's writing.

As the most admirable mission and ministry, of the ACOC, begins to come into view now, and as I research more about the history of the archbishop and his original group. I think I becoming more aware of what was going on during this time in the history of the Orthodox Church. It appears to have been a very chaotic time, speaking of ecclesiology.

However, in an attempt to be plain spoken here, while I feel that there has been great learning about your group, the ACOC, at this point in our conversation I would like to understand clearly what the links are between the ACOC and Orthodoxy. I don't know if this is something that could be presented in bullet point form or not (timelines can be helpful, but I like bullet points); . . . but, I wonder if you would have time to speak to this issue viz. 'the real links between the ACOC and an historic Orthodox Christianity?

You have been so kind and gracious to interact with me/us here and to share about the ACOC in an open and honest way. Thanks again.

In Christ,
Rick
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27-03-2008, 12:11 PM
Post: #10
 
Your Grace, Dear Rick,

You touch on that most difficult of subjects when dealing with this question - the nationalist agenda.

Whatever is said about the connection between Orthodoxy and nationalism, and however much the 'heresy' of phyletism is condemned, it is alive and well, and the confusion between Orthodox praxis and ethnic practice is one that many of us are all too familiar with.

The call to set aside personal and nationalistic ambition is a noble one; but, alas, we know just how difficult Christians can find it to repent and to seek amendment of life.

In peace,

John

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
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27-03-2008, 10:02 PM
Post: #11
 
Rick Henry Wrote:Dear Metropolitan +Samuel,

Yes, we are grateful for you time and patience, this has been a great time of learning for me personally. And, when you wrote:

Quote: As I have stated, we seek to become a unifier rather than a divider.

I appreciate what is said here very much, as well as what is said in the last two paragraphs of the archbishop's writing.

As the most admirable mission and ministry, of the ACOC, begins to come into view now, and as I research more about the history of the archbishop and his original group. I think I becoming more aware of what was going on during this time in the history of the Orthodox Church. It appears to have been a very chaotic time, speaking of ecclesiology.

However, in an attempt to be plain spoken here, while I feel that there has been great learning about your group, the ACOC, at this point in our conversation I would like to understand clearly what the links are between the ACOC and Orthodoxy. I don't know if this is something that could be presented in bullet point form or not (timelines can be helpful, but I like bullet points); . . . but, I wonder if you would have time to speak to this issue viz. 'the real links between the ACOC and an historic Orthodox Christianity?

You have been so kind and gracious to interact with me/us here and to share about the ACOC in an open and honest way. Thanks again.

In Christ,
Rick

Dear Rick;
As I read your posts I feel it is possible you have us confused with another group. Unfortunately there is an alphabet soup of possibilities to chose from when looking on the internet. We are not, as +Samuel has pointed out, the ACOC. This is another group that I believe has a female as their head. We are the American Orthodox Catholic Church, the AOCC. Actually, I believe that there are others that might use this acronym such as the Anglican Orthodox Catholic Church and others.

As I understand it, we have as a body feel that our Oriental roots should actually be our focus. As of this writing I do not yet know if +Samuel has heard back from the Ethiopians or the Egyptian Copts.

As for our connections we have admitted that we are not currently recognized by those churches in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch or with any Oriental Orthodox Patriarch. Currently we are trying to discover just what exactly did happen that our part (whatever part that was) in the Ethiopian Church did not progress.

The discussion of Archbishop Ofiesh has more to do with our history extending from the Russian Church. Of this we are a little better informed about the history involved.

Eventually +Ofiesh married and at that point many in the Eastern Churches felt he created schism. (This was after the pertinent consecrations from which our succession proceeds.

I hope this helps some. As usual I defer to +Samuel and hope that I didn't cause more confusion.

_______________

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!


Tom
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27-03-2008, 10:27 PM
Post: #12
 
Thanks Tom--let me look into this.
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27-03-2008, 10:40 PM
Post: #13
On Alphabet Soup
Dear Tom,

I understand now that you are the AOCC. Possibly we need to change the title of this thread? Good job catching this Tom!

In Christ,
Rick
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28-03-2008, 10:51 AM
Post: #14
More Clarification
Dear all ...

First of all, let me state is has been my pleasure to interact with all of you thus far.

To bring the historical perspective of the AOCC I have been trying to impart to all of you into a more contemporary focus though, I begin with a certain Archbishop Walter Myron Propheta who was consecrtaed to the Episcopacy in 1964 by Archbishop Peter Zhurawetsky, who was then the exarch for the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria in the United States; with co-consecrators being Archbishop Joachim Souris, Primate of The Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church in America (Old Calendarist), and Archbishop Theodotus DeWitow, Primate of The Holy Orthodox Church in America (Eastern Catholic and Apostolic).

Archbishop Propheta was a Mitred Archpriest with the Ukranian Orthodox Church in America. He excardinated from that Jurisdiction because the then sitting Primate of the UOCA refused to allow the English language to be used in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. In 1963 Archpriest Propheta came under the omophora of Archbishop Souris.

A little more background ... all three of Propheta's consecrators were consecrated in Apostolic Succession to Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh; Zhurawetsky in 1950, Souris in 1951, and DeWitow in 1936.

DeWitow received his consecration from a certain Archbishop Ignatius Nichols, who received his consecration from Archbishop Ofiesh in 1934.
Archbishop Ofiesh received his consecration in 1917 from three Hierarchs of the Orthodox Church of Russia. We maintain a record of the consecrations, via consecration certificates, as far back as Archbishops Nichols, DeWitow, and Zhurawetsky to prove our claim.

As far as the Oriental Orthodox background of the AOCC as it exists now ... its roots, as I have stated, are with the Ethiopian Church, extending from Abuna Basilios, first Patriarch of that Church. Sadly, and unfortunately, the Ethiopian Church has thus far not cooperated with us in providing any documentation. I do, however, have it on corroborated verbal authority from both Archbishop David Worley and a Priest of the Ethiopian Seminary in Ethiopia that Abuna Basilios did indeed consecrate a certain Archbishop Gabre Kristos Mikael, who in turn consecrated the afore mentioned Archbishop Worley, who in turn consecrated me.

Our Orthodoxy, thus, comes from those sources. Both Archbishop Propheta and Archbishop Gabre Kristos Mikael in no way wavered from the True teachings of the Church. They implanted this in their Hierarchs and Clergy.

We believe that, through those sources I have spoken of, we have maintained as unbroken the Orthodox faith. Yes, a great many of us are converts to the Orthodox faith. We do not in any way deny this.

I hope this provides a further Clarification for you, Rick and John.

Metropolitan +Samuel
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28-03-2008, 12:16 PM
Post: #15
Flesh of Our Brethren
Your Grace,

We are very grateful to you for explaining matters so fully. Our own beloved Metropolitan Seraphim has written a most interesting volume called Flesh of Our Brethren which examines the western episcopal successions which came from the Syrian Orthodox Church in the nineteenth century. It is not only a masterly study which rescues from the obloquy of history the originator of the BOC's mission, Jules Ferrette, it also shows the often complex and obscure histories of such successions. One of its many virtues is that it does not shy away from admitting that Ferrette's ordination was irregular and should not have happened - before going to to show that it did happen.

A comment from page 3 seems very apposite:
Quote:Much has been made of the changing religious loyalties of our subjects, stigmatised as symptomatic of instability, but in no case did any of them repudiate the Orthodox faith they had embraced ... '

The vicissitudes which you describe seem the lot of those who trace their descent from Orthodox mission work. A reminder to us, their heirs and successors, that we should bring the scattered sheep together.

In peace,

John

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
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