Voices from Russia

Monday, 18 June 2012

18 June 2012. Another Sane Voice Weighs In on the Ephraimites

Elder Ephraim of Philotheou (1927- ) with followers


A long-standing friend weighed in with this intel:

I know Fr Ephraim and I believe him to be an excellent man. However, as so often happens, I also believe that many of the “Ephraimites” are rather nasty. In other words, the poor man’s a prisoner of these nutjobs. We must distinguish between Fr Ephraim and his self-appointed followers.

Firstly, this sounds like a great deal of good sense. Fr Ephraim’s in his eighties, which means that he’s not as robust as he once was. Other sources tell me that he’s sharp as a tack mentally, but frail physically. You see, one of the reasons that I post as I do is to provoke responses from my “cabinet”. This is NOT a solitary enterprise, for if it were, it’d be doomed to failure. To return to the point, it’s very true that hieromonks from Ephraimite monasteries have caused great upset amongst believers. However… I’ve received just as many communications stating firmly that Fr Ephraim isn’t involved personally. This is much like what happened in the years just prior to Vladyki Laurus‘ death at Jordanville. There were parties there that used Vladyki’s physical frailty as a “cover” for their own ambitions and power games. Here’s the sad part… a good elder or hierarch CAN be dragged under by the actions of crook subordinates. I hope that the GOAA investigation uncovers the truth and cuts out the cancer. The future of Elder Ephraim’s name depends on it.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Monday 18 June 2012

Albany NY


18 June 2012. Some Updates on the Ephraim Situation… AOCANA Bishop Joseph Issued Letter on Confession Aimed at Hyper-Zealots

Don’t let them do this… you don’t have to just “submit” to crook clergy… the people in Vladimir stood up, and they got action after going to the secular press (not all that they wanted, but they ended the abuse, and that was good enough).


I got some quick replies in re Elder Ephraim from the kitchen cabinet. Several sources sent me a link of a pastoral letter of Bishop Joseph al-Zehlaoui of Los Angeles and the West. It’s very interesting. Click here for it. Note this quote particularly:

Some of you may desire to receive spiritual guidance from Clergy or Monastics outside the Antiochian Archdiocese. In such cases, people run the risk of choosing a spiritual guide who isn’t under appropriate discipline or who may hold to policies that conflict with our Archdiocese’s pastoral standards. To prevent such problems, Clergy and Laity who seek out Confessors outside the Archdiocese must first seek permission either from one’s Pastor or from the local Dean. Once permission is given, Laity are expected to inform their Pastors each time they make Confession, so the Pastors know that the flock is being ministered to.

The sources that sent me the link made it clear that Vladyki Joseph was making a direct and clear reference to the Ephraimites in the above quote. I was told that he had a problem with AOCANA clergy going to the Ephraimites for confession, especially at St Anthony Monastery in Arizona, their “flagship” monastery. It smells like konvertsy, as Arabs have more sense than to seek spiritual counsel outside their Church. Vladyki Joseph’s from Syria, my sources say that he’s traditional, yet balanced. Patriarch Ignatius Hazim of Antioch and all the East is his kum (no lie), and he’s widely considered to be Saliba’s successor. Besides that, all my sources insist that the Ephraimites aren’t a good influence. They APPEAR to be OK on the surface, but things appear “off” in short order. I’ve also heard that some OCA and ROCOR priests warned their parishioners not to go to Ephraimite priests for confession.

Of course, the thing that’s blown things open is the Scott Nevins suicide on 10 June. It’s the equivalent of the Eric Iliff affair. Although SVS has hushed up talk about it, no one in the Church is unaware of the situation, and no one’s indifferent to it. I pray for John and Monica Iliff daily. The fact that they left was the direct responsibility of the crank clergy who covered up the whole matter. This isn’t small beer… however, I’d advise most people to stay away from fighting the Ephraimites directly (they appear to have powerful deep-pocketed friends)… simply don’t give them any money or support. If you’re in the GOAA, put pressure on the authorities to investigate this and get to the bottom of it. If they won’t… go to the civil authorities… it’s what they’re there for.

I stand by my previous assessment. This is a gigantic shit sandwich just waiting for the unwary. Have a care…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

18 June 2012

Albany NY

Sunday, 17 June 2012

17 June 2012. A Cautionary Word About Elder Ephraim… The Jury’s Still Out, Kids

Schema-Archimandrite Zosima Sokur (1944-2002), a REAL elder… and he WASN’T noted for goofy “obediences” or overly-strict penances. He said, “Mysticism is harmful to the soul. Our main miracles are the liturgy, repentance, and prayer. … Avoid extremes… extremes aren’t from God. Take the middle path. Don’t despair… there’s no sin that can’t be healed by repentance. God is merciful. … Be in a hurry to do good deeds, life is so short. May your guardian angel watch over you”.


If you really want to get Orthodox folks riled up, start a discussion about Elder Ephraim and his monasteries. The situation around this monastic is confused, to say the least. Not only are emotions very high, there’s more than two sides to this debate, and I’ve been unable to make much sense of it, admittedly. In fact, to speak bluntly, it’s a gigantic shit sandwich, best avoided by most of us. However, I do know from multiple sources that Ephramite priests are overly zealous and strict in confession. One priest told me, “They’ll tell people to stay away from communion for years because of this or that minor infraction”. Another source told me that Ephramite priests told a woman who had an abortion that she couldn’t take communion for three years.

I’m told that there’s an investigation in the GOAA on at present concerning this guy. Click here for an outside report on Ephraim. Until this investigation is over, I’d advise you to keep your money in your wallet. My good-sense observation is that eighteen monasteries took a fair chunk of cash to build, and “money doesn’t grow on trees”. Right now, we don’t know if Ephraim is a Zosima Sokur or Ioann Krestiankin, or if he’s a Sam Greene or Gleb Podmoshensky (the latter was the guru to Paffhausen and Eliel… they were his willing running dogs (JP even went to Russia under his auspices)). Until we do, discount all partisan praise of him.

I’d say be careful… this particular field has more than its share of large juicy cow pats just waiting for the unwary. Until there’s been an official account from the GOAA on this guy, be cautious and don’t part with your cash… that’s the most that I’m going to say now. God willing, the report will be out in the autumn… things like that NEVER come out in the summer, y’ know. Things are never boring in Orthodoxy in America…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Sunday 17 June 2012

Albany NY

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