Voices from Russia

Monday, 10 March 2008

Nikolai Refuses to Leave

Russian Orthodox parish church in the state of Alaska


Synod May Be Forced to Suspend Bishop… Fr Eugene Vansuch Declines Administrator Position

The drama in Alaska continues. Bishop Nikolai Soraich, in an interview with Channel 2, KTUU-TV, a NBC affiliate in Anchorage, announced he wouldn’t leave the diocese despite an order from the Synod of Bishops to do so. The story by presenter Maria Downey as posted on the KTUU-TV website reads:

Tensions are mounting for the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska. The Right Rev Nikolai says he “refuses” to take a leave of absence after receiving national orders to step aside as Alaska’s Russian Orthodox leader. The order came down from the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America after Alaska church leaders complained about the bishop’s leadership. The church first asked the bishop to take a temporary leave of absence while the investigation was underway, but he wouldn’t step down. Bishop Nikolai said Friday that even though he’s been ordered to step aside, he still won’t leave. The bishop says proper procedures aren’t being followed by the church in its decision. He says no one has the authority to remove him since there are no charges or no trial. Archpriest Eugene Vansuch has been appointed to temporarily run the Alaska diocese.

Synod Now On The Spot

The Bishop is serving this weekend in Eklutna, outside Anchorage. The Synod has already made it clear that failure to comply with its order placing the Bishop on mandatory leave and requiring him to quit the diocese physically during the conduct of an investigation would be considered “wilful disobedience”. When he was consecrated bishop, Nikolai pledged obedience to the Holy Synod. Thus, his refusal to leave is a breach of church discipline that could lead to his suspension, regardless of the findings of any investigation.

Vansuch Declines

The confusion surrounding Alaska deepened today, if possible, as informed sources related to OCANews.org that Fr Eugene Vansuch, who was appointed as the Administrator of the Alaskan diocese by the Metropolitan on Friday, has declined the appointment. Rev Vansuch, who’s been a loyal supporter of Bishop Nikolai on the board of St Herman Seminary, was just appointed Rector of St Vladimir parish in Trenton NJ on 1 January 2008. Syosset offered no comment on the Bishop’s latest refusal or on Rev Vansuch’s either. It’s reported that an alternative administrator has been chosen, but that his name won’t be released at this time.

8 March 2008 (actually posted 10 March 2008)

Mark Stokoe

Orthodox Christians for Accountability


Editor’s note:

This brings things back to the rather nasty beginning. The refusal of Nikolai to leave is open and evident rebellion. If the OCA Synod of Bishops refuses to, or can’t, remove a recalcitrant bishop, it’s the beginning of the final act for this ailing (at best) organisation. I’ve no doubt that Moscow pressured Syosset to act in this matter. I’m sure that the next 48 hours shall tell the story. The refusal of Fr Eugene to take the position as administrator doesn’t bode well for the future of this body. He did so because he was a friend of Nikolai, which illustrates the lack of control by Syosset, or, outside sources asked him to decline. None of us knows. The evidence is non-existent, so, it’s imprudent to speculate. Nevertheless, it’s further proof that the Jabberwocky lives, and that his address is in Syosset.



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