Metropolitan Jonah Offers His Resignation

According to the Orthodox Church in America’s web page, Metropolitan Jonah tendered his resignation as Metropolitan on Saturday, July 7.  According to the letter published on the web page, Metropolitan Jonah asked to be reassigned as bishop citing his need to financially support his sister and parents.  The Metropolitan admitted that he had “neither the personality nor the temperament for the position of Primate.”

Metropolitan Jonah was elected as the Primate of the OCA in 2008 at the All American Council in Pittsburgh with a tremendous amount of hope and good will in what was hailed in the press as the “Miracle in Pittsburgh.”  It was thought his election signaled a new page in the OCA’s history – leaving behind a financial scandal that had rocked the church, and the election of the first convert to the office of Primate of the OCA.

According to the OCA webpage, the Synod of Bishops will meet in a teleconference on Monday, July 9, to discuss the tendered resignation.  The web page says a further announcement will follow that meeting.

As with any unusual change in leadership, there will be talk and discussion about the “why?s” of this situation.  Why is he resigning?  Why now?  etc.

Prior to the OCA’s own official statement, Rod Dreher had already posted on his blog an announcement that Metropolitan Jonah had been “ousted.”  Dreher calls the Synod of Bishops “ravenous wolves” and “wild dogs” but offers no explanation for his derogatory comments.  That the Metropolitan and Synod had been in contention over issues has been well known.  The Synod itself is not known for making rapid decisions.  And since there were well known disputes between the Synod and the Metropolitan, and between the staff and the Metropolitan, and between the Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan, none of this occurs without context.  What the Synod will choose to reveal about its decision making remains to be seen.  But Dreher’s characterization of the on-going events seem pretty one-sided, and seem to lack that context which has been an on-going tussle within the OCA’s administration.  The OCA’s Synod has in fact demonstrated a rather patient attitude with the administrative problems and seemed to have been trying to help him with his office recognizing the truthfulness of the Metropolitan’s own statement that he was personality-wise ill suited for the position of Primate.

My prayers go out to all the Members of the OCA’s Synod (of which Metropolitan Jonah is one member) who again have to wrestle with such tumultuous events.

See also a few comments by Bishop Matthias of the Diocese of the Midwest  on this news at The Resignation of Metropolitan Jonah and OCA Appoints Archbishop Nathaniel as Locum Tenens.

See also the OCA Synod’s Statement on the Resignation.

14 thoughts on “Metropolitan Jonah Offers His Resignation

  1. Pingback: Orthodox Collective

  2. Pingback: Metropolitan Jonah Resigns as Primate of OCA

  3. Pingback: The Resignation of Metropolitan Jonah | Fr. Ted's Blog

  4. Thank you, Fr. Ted, for your temperate and clear words and thoughts. I decry Mr. Dreher’s intemperate, hasty, and negative speech. I also decry the continued stream of negativity and dissembling that comes from another blog, one that’s run by someone who says they are Orthodox Christian — but how does his blog reflect that? Too often the posters speak with scorn and disrespect about members of our Holy Synod, senior clergy, etc. With the resignation of Metropolitan Jonah, posters on their site have called the Holy Synod “disgusting,” pronounced their own “anaxios,” the blog owner and others saying this action was a coup and uncanonical. What purpose does such speech serve except the forces of darkness?

    Together with you “My prayers go out to all the Members of the OCA’s Synod (of which Metropolitan Jonah is one member) who again have to wrestle with such tumultuous events.”

    O Lord, Save Thy People!

    1. Fr. Ted

      For Dreher to label the bishops as “ravenous wolves” and “wild dogs” is a sign that he has totally lost perspective and is accepting a one-sided narrative of what is happening. That happens when people become ideologically driven and lose sight of the fact that other interpretations beside their ideological one are also plausible and obvious.

      The struggle between Metropolitan Jonah and the Synod first played out on the Internet months ago. There was tension and disagreement not only over the interpretation of the facts but over what the facts themselves were. Just think back to Met Jonah’s supposedly going on a leave of absence and what confusion there was about the facts.

      And despite that wrangling, Dreher seems to have forgotten that the Synod stood with Met Jonah and Fr. Garklavs was the one who lost his job. So much for the ravenous wolves. The Synod was trying to work with Met Jonah and trying to make Jonah as Metropolitan work. Met Jonah indicated if he only had different people to work with things would be better.

      While Met Jonah got his wish, Fr. Garklavs was the victim of that one and lost his job.

      But apparently despite the Synod’s efforts to make things work, something wasn’t working. I don’t think the Synod can be accused of rushing into some decision. They have been struggling to find a way to work with Met Jonah, and reformulated some of the work load and responsibilities with the Synod shouldering more of the load – all to make things work. This is hardly the way of wild dogs and wolves. If anything, the Synod was trying to avoid the conclusion that was reached this week.

      Many leaders find that as time and events unfold, their options become fewer and fewer until they have to take an action they have been trying to avoid.

      I think, unlike what their viperous critics are saying, that the Synod has been trying not only to keep the OCA afloat but also on course. They recognized the acute problems that would be caused by replacing the Primate. My guess is for whatever reason at this point in time, they came to that reluctant conclusion that it was not possible simultaneously to do the three goals of maintaining the Primate, keeping afloat and keeping on course. Something had to give and they took the action they thought best served the interest of the OCA.

      They need our prayers. And for those of us who still believe that autocephaly was a gift to us from God, we need to pray that our bishops continue to work to preserve and use that gift.

  5. Clara

    Thank you for this calm and valuable response to a sad, confusing situation. I appreciate your criticism of Rod Dreher’s hasty, angry rhetoric. You sound like the adult in the room here, and Rod has been acting like a child lacking necessary supervision.

    It troubles me that certain clergy, I believe, encouraged Rod–still quite a recent convert–to do this “reporting,” even the anonymous blogging that produced so much unsubstantiated character assassination. They at least indirectly affirmed Rod’s work by referring readers to it. Those priests should know better.

  6. Clara

    I edited my previous comment in such a way that what I’m referring to by “anonymous blogging” got cut out. I refer to the blog, “OCA Truth” (which appears now to be defunct), which Rod co-produced, and for which he wrote under a pseudonym, until he was “outed” as a contributor.

  7. While the Church in Alaska was growing, immigrants were arriving in the rest of North America. In the 1860s a parish was established in San Francisco by Serbians, Russians and Greeks. Parishes were also established across the territory of the United States. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the headquarters of the North American Diocese was moved to San Francisco and then to New York. At this time there were great waves of Orthodox immigrants from Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe, and the Middle East. A belief commonly held within OCA circles (and among some in other jurisdictions) is that they were all united in a single diocese or jurisdiction , which was under the Russian Orthodox Church. (This view is disputed by a number of non-OCA church historians.) Although the Russians certainly were united, as were some parishes from other ethnic groups (especially those of Middle Eastern heritage), there were many others (most notably the overwhelming majority of the Greeks) who did not look to the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese of the Aleutian Islands and North America. Instead, they looked to their mother churches. In an attempt to address this problem, Archbishop Tikhon, later Tikhon of Moscow , had advocated (in a 1905 report to the Holy Synod) for an American Orthodox Church with “greater autonomy,” governed by a synod of bishops representing the various nationalities. Tikhon’s proposal did not have the opportunity to succeed.

      1. Fr. Ted

        Actually, I think she has the “splainin” to do. She claims to have emails which show how the situation was fabricated into a frenzy. That is an allegation for which she offers no evidence nor does she explain how or why she would happen to have the supposed emails. To be honest I don’t really remember having discussed the story of a nun being raped with the others she named, or with anyone else for that matter. I have seen the claims that this story of supposed rape of a nun had something to do with Metropolitan Jonah’s removal, but have never been under the impression that it really had anything to do with his removal. It seems to be a story that has been “fabricated into a frenzy” by those who support Metropolitan Jonah. I don’t remember ever reading much about it except from those who claimed to support him. It’s the straw man syndrome: you create the story that he was removed because of the supposed rape of a nun story and then show that the rape story has no merit. But as far as I know it was not a significant factor in decisions which were made so you are tearing down a straw man of your own making. Thus you are no closer to the truth than when you started though you have deceived yourselves into thinking you’ve made an important point.

        I cannot explain her comments since I don’t know much about them. She’ll have to explain where she came up with such ideas. Since she didn’t spell my name correctly anyway, maybe she is thinking about someone else.

  8. Fr. Ted, you have my prayers. I agree with your response to “George P.” “George P.” needs to take a breath, pray, and ask God for discernment. Are we not called to pray without ceasing and ask God to show us His way, that we may do His will and not our own?
    From the Gospel of St. Matthew, 10:16: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” O Lord, let us be wise and innocent!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.