+Jonah Pushes Back

March 3, 2011

Mark Stokoe, a member of the OCA Metropolitan Council, writes the following on OCANews.org:

Metropolitan Jonah moved quickly over the weekend of February 25-27 to undo the decision of the Synod taken on the 24th placing him on a 60-day “Leave of Absence”. Rather than seek assistance for the “spiritual/health” issues that had caused the Synod its concern (and then proceeding to Holy Transfiguration monastery in Elwood City, PA for a period of reflection, as had been privately recommended by the Synod) both he and his personal assistant, Monk Gregory (Stevens) (who had been instructed to return to St. John of Shanghai monastery in Manton, CA for the duration) flew to New York instead.

Once in Syosset the Metropolitan challenged the official press release that had been crafted by the Bishops in Santa Fe. The increasingly harried Syosset staff eventually referred him to the Secretary of Synod, Bishop Tikhon (who by then was back in South Canaan, PA). On the phone with +Tikhon, +Jonah pleaded that he be allowed to “moderate” the tone of the release by inserting “for a time of personal retreat and spiritual renewal” instead of the official term “Leave of Absence” in the opening line of the second paragraph. It was, after all, what the Bishop’s intended, +Jonah argued. +Tikhon gave in. “The Holy Synod Announces Changes” press release, with +Jonah’s amendment, was then posted late Saturday. (Read that statement here).

That small change however, allowed +Jonah the opening he and his followers needed to initiate a series of actions that sought to undo the Synod’s decision.

Read the full article here.

Arguing for a very different version of events comes a new site (whose owners are anonymous) posting an email from Fr. Joseph Fester, who was recently appointed by the Metropolitan to serve at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC, reportedly posted this e-mail to the OCA Clergy Yahoo! list:

Dear Fr. John and Brothers:

I write you tonight to warn you that Mark Stokoe is preparing to post another of his devilishly spun “stories” mixing half truths and inaccurate statements on the backdrop of a timeline of His Beatitude’s movements since the Synod ambushed him in Santa Fe.  The ambush was lead by two members of the Synod.

Stokoe is scared and he should be because His Beatitude has in his possession concrete proof of the efforts of people, including Stokoe to have His Beatitude removed from office.

I am putting myself on the line now. I may be moved, suspended, who knows what, but if I let this moment pass without standing up for a man who has done nothing deserving the slime job that Stokoe will now unleash upon him, I could not live with myself.

Brothers, it is now or never.  Don’t abide Stokoe one inch. He will take it and spin it into a web that will entrap all of us.  I beg you, not for me but for His Beatitude, who we know and love.

Please forgive me and pray for me.

We are at a tipping point and if we don’t stand now, we will all mark this day as one in which we will regret.

Read the full email here.

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