The Power of the Bishop: The Power to Serve

Fr. Paul Gassios
Fr. Paul Gassios

The Diocese of the Midwest is in the process of selecting  a new bishop.  God-willing at the Diocesan Assembly on October 7 in Cleveland it will nominate a man in order to present him to the OCA Synod of Bishops for them to elect him as the head shepherd of the Diocese.  I just ask for all the faithful of the Diocese to pray for our Assembly that they can discern the will of God in this matter.  Pray also for Fr. Paul Gassios, the current Diocesan Administrator, who is being considered for the office of bishop.  Fr. Paul in accepting consideration for this office has shown himself to be a faithful and obedient son of the Church.  He has not sought out this office, but has made a humble gesture to accept the office if it is the will of the Diocese.

Here are some thoughts from Fr. Nicholas Afanasiev on the ‘power’ of the bishop, the power to serve others so that all can do the work of salvation:

“The idea of power as diakonia, that is ministry or service, was first formulated by St. Paul, who based it upon Christ’s own teaching. Paul’s famous words addressed to Rome state that ‘those who have authority (hoi archontes) are ministers of God (leitourgoi Theou)’ (Rom 13:6), This approach was alien to the Roman mentality. In republican Rome power was honor and in imperial Rome, the power was divinity. These words of St. Paul were not heard at that time since Roman power did not wish to consider itself as a ministry. Only such an understanding of power, though, would be acceptable to Christian consciousness. The power, as divinity, was the ‘infernal beast’. Nearly two centuries later, Origen again used this Pauline approach to the subject of power with respect to the presiders of the churches. I think he ought to be called ‘guide’ (hêgoumenos), the one we call ‘bishop’ in the Church. He ought to be the servant of all in his ministry, in order to be of use to all in the work of salvation.”The Church of the Holy Spirit, p 270)

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