Upon this account, therefore, O Bishop, endeavor to be pure in thy actions, and to adorn thy place and dignity, which is that of one sustaining the character of God among men, as being set over all men, over priests, kings, rulers, fathers, children, teachers and in general over all those who are subject to thee; and so sit in the Church when thou speakest as having authority to judge offenders. For to you, O Bishops, it is said:” Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

That It Is a Dangerous Thing To Judge Without Hearing Both Sides, or To Determine of Punishment Against A Person before He is Convicted. (more…)


[When I said],”If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.” I meant it was terrible to desire, not the work, but the absolute authority and power.

I think a man must rid his mind of this ambition with all possible care, and not for a moment let it be governed by it, in order that he may always act with freedom. For if he does not want to achieve fame in this position of authority, he will not dread its loss either. And if he does not fear this, he can always act with the freedom which befits Christian men. But those who fear and dread deposition from this office endure a bitter slavery, full of all kinds of evil, and cannot help often offending man and God.

But the soul ought not to be in this condition. As in war we see soldiers of fine spirit fighting eagerly and falling bravely, so those who have come to this administration should be ready either to be consecrated to the office or to be relieved of it, as befits Christian men, knowing that such deposition earns a crown no less than the office itself.

For when anyone has this done to him because he will not submit to anything which is unbecoming or unworthy of his position, he procures a greater punishment for those who wrongfully depose him, and a greater reward for himself. “Blessed are ye,” says our Lord, “when men shall reproach you and persecute. you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven.”‘ This is surely true even when anyone is expelled by men of his own order, either through envy or to please others or through enmity or any other wrong motive. But when he gets this treatment from his enemies, I do not think any argument is needed to prove how great a benefit they confer on him by their wickedness.

So we must be thoroughly on our guard against ambition and examine ourselves carefully.

—St. John Chrysostom

Sometimes the temptation for men to seek ordination in Christ’s Holy church can be born out of a desire for honor or power. That is why it is safer for Bishops to come from the monastic rank of the Church. They have a much better possibility to handle temptation for earthly glory and power having been previously formed on the foundations of ascetic spirituality. Bishops are celibates because they usually were monks. The pressure to act more like a Byzantine King rather than like “Christ the Servant,” is more (it seems) than most can handle. Some hierarchs manage to keep the way of humility in their leadership.

St. John Chrysostom writes: “But no one will always endure the strain; for fearful, truly fearful is the eager desire after this honor. And in saying this I am not in opposition to blessed Paul, but in complete harmony with his words. For what says he? “If any man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.” Now I have not said that it is a terrible thing to desire the work, but only the authority and power. And this desire I think one ought to expel from the soul with all possible earnestness, not permitting it at the outset to be possessed by such a feeling, so that one may be able to do everything with freedom. For he who does not desire to be exhibited in possession of this authority, does not fear to be deposed from it, and not fearing this will be able to do everything with the freedom which becomes Christian men: whereas they who fear and tremble lest they should be deposed undergo a bitter servitude, filled with all kinds of evils, and are often compelled to offend against both God and man. Now the soul ought not to be affected in this way; but as in warfare we see those soldiers who are noble-spirited fight willingly and fall bravely, so they who have attained to this stewardship should be contented to be consecrated to the dignity or removed from it, as becomes Christian men, knowing that deposition of this kind brings its reward no less than the discharge of the office. For when any one suffers anything of this kind, in order to avoid submitting to something which is unbecoming or unworthy of this dignity, he procures punishment for those who wrongfully depose him, and a greater reward for himself. “Blessed,” says our Lord, “are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake; rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.” And this, indeed, is the case when any one is expelled by those of his own rank either on account of envy, with a view to the favor of others, or through hatred, or from any other wrong motive: but when it is the lot of any one to experience this treatment at the hand of opponent, I do not think a word is needed to prove what great gain they confer upon him for their wickedness.”

“those who will deny men freedom first attempt to deny them truth. Yet truth can never be fully repressed, for it is not a fact or dogma, but a Person.”

Source: Dennis Engleman -Ultimate Things-

As a favor to an acquaintance, posting this link to an article from AGAIN Magazine VOL. 21 NO. 1 Winter 1999 [here]

Again is publication within the Antiochian Archdiocese.

February 7, 1955 – January 12, 1999

Michael J. Russell was born in San Francisco, California on February 7, 1955, to parents Bob and Lenore Russell. The family moved to Carbondale, Illinois, where Michael graduated from Carbondale High School. He was an outstanding athlete and captain of his football team as well as a talented actor who starred in his high school plays.

Michael married Wendy Freitag and moved to Hawaii from 1976 to 1978. It was in Hawaii where Michael was “tagged” with the nickname “Madness” because of his reputation to surf the “Pipeline” at times when no one else would dare to do so on the north shore of Oahu.

The Russell family moved to Santa Cruz, California in 1979 and attended Bethany College. At that time, Michael’s spiritual search led him to the Orthodox Christian faith, in which he was ordained a Deacon in 1987. The parishioners of his church loved to see him serve and hear his beautiful voice during the Divine services in the San Lorenzo Valley. Michael is the father of daughter Megan and two sons, Justin and Jared.

For 18 years, Michael owned and administrated his successful business, Michael J. Russell Hardwood Floors, while teaching the trade to his eldest son Justin. “Deacon” Michael, as he was affectionately known, was the loving husband and friend of his wife of 22 years. This powerful man with his famous “bear hugs” and ready laughter will always be remembered by all those who knew him, whether at church, work, or play.

Having passed from this life at 43 years of age, vitality, joy of life, and with the strength of a bear, leaves behind a legacy of friendship, love, and faith in God. Along with his wife and treasured children and parents, Michael leaves three brothers, Bob, John Patrick and Matthew, six godchildren, and a huge family which extends beyond his relatives. Everyone knows that if you met Michael, you liked him. If you knew Michael, you loved him. May his memory be eternal!

[source: St. Nektarios Brotherhood]

The parish in Ben Lomond, CA was then the largest parish of the Antiochian Evangelical Mission. In 1997, it was a parish of about 1500. Saturday Vespers had about 200 attendees. The entire congregation sang as the choir. It has a K-12 school, a world class choir, a hospitality house (for visitors), programs for teens, and a publishing house, Conciliar Press, which the evangelicals brought with them. The parrish allowed a highly respected spiritual father from Mount Athos to visit them and to hear confessions and give guidance. People began to fast and pray more. The hierarchy of the Antiochian Archdiocese then forbade any Antiochian clergy or faithful to go for a confession to a non-Antiochian priest. Their practice of having a complete round of daily services, with Matins, Liturgy, Vespers, and everything else, all well attended, was considered bizarre and no longer normal. Moreover, they had some unusual liturgical customs and Russian customs in their services. Certain Arab ladies in the parish got the ear of the local Bishop and started demanding that the thing was getting out of control; a new leadership had to be installed at Ben Lomond. The hierarchy instructed them that no Russian music was to be used; all music had to be from the simplified Antiochian music packets. Eventually, there was a huge parish meeting and the parish petitioned Metropolitan Philip to release them to the OCA (Orthodox Church in America). In response, the main priest who had years before started the parish from scratch and all clergy who were felt to support him, got a sudden fax from Met. Philip saying they were all defrocked immediately. They appealed to the decision to an Antiochian trial council. Then they were all excommunicated, some for a minimum of five, some for a minimum of three, years. The majority of them were treated as lepers. The building, all property, the school, all the bank accounts, were seized by the Archdiocese. The original parishioners became scattered, confused, and priestless. The court decisions came in in favor of the Archdiocese. However, the remaining small congregation hadn’t been the primary financial backing, and couldn’t support the church as it was. It abandoned the school entirely and gutted or abandoned other things, and began selling property. The OCA eventually received a large number of the faithful, on condition they keep quiet, likewise forbidding OCA clergy from discussing it. The Jerusalem Patriarchate received the rest. The Antiochian Archdiocese considered suspending relations with both. To this day, there is an atmosphere of watchfulness over parishes becoming too much like Ben Lomond had been. The clergy remained persona non grata for years, even after the imposed period of excommunication, and some died as such. Recently, the rest were received back into the AOA or elsewhere. The remainder of the parish is still there, but it’s not what it was. Nothing in the AOA has been like it since.”

This is a slight revision of a text written originally in 1998.

May 25, 1950 – October 23, 1998

Born on May 25, 1950 in Shrevport Louisiana, Terry Clark Somerville was the eldest son of Willis Jay and Margie Somerville. His brother Scott was born four years later followed by his sister Marsha. The Somerville family moved to southern California in 1963 when Terry was 13 years old.

The energetic and talented Terry quickly adapted to California social life. He made many friends and excelled in baseball, football, and track at Placencia High School. Terry was elected Student Body President his senior year.

During his high school years Terry began his spiritual search through contact with Youth For Christ International and became a student leader in Young Life Club his senior year. After graduating from high school in 1968, Terry attended Redlands College and spent his summers as a counselor at Redwood Camp, Mount Hermon. His second summer on Redwood Camp staff, Terry met co-counselor and future wife Judi Hopsen of Gilroy, California. They were married on May 15, 1971 at Mount Hermon.

In 1973, terry and Judi moved to Mount Hermon to join the Conference Center staff. The following year they helped found a very active Young Life Club on the SLV High School campus. In 1975, Terry became one of the primary leaders of the Christian Community Church, Felton, CA, which later became Sts. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church, Ben Lomond, CA. In 1987, Terry Somerville was ordained to the priesthood of the Orthodox Church.

Fr. Terry served tirelessly as the Youth Pastor as well as highly efficient administrator. Each year, Fr. Terry took a large group of high – schoolers to Tiajuana, Mexico, where they would build small houses, from the ground up, for pverty stricken Mexican families and assist in numerous tasks for Project Mexico Orphanage. He took the youth on visits to homes for the aged, sponsored monthly Senior Dinners, and numerous other activities to put love into action with his youth. He constantly filled the gap for busy parents trying to raise their teenagers in the Valley. Fr. Terry was a Board member for six years with Valley Churches United and served as its Ministers Contact. He was activly involved with the local Crisis Pregnancy Center. Fr. Terry also served as a guest lecturer and high-risk education aide at SLV High School and coached SLV Senior / Major Baseball for three years.

Fr. Terry wrote many published articles as well as co-authoring a goundbreaking book titled Missing From Action. The popular book resulted in Fr. Terry traveling across America holding seminars for men.

Everyone who knows and loves Fr. Terry can warmly remember him being as one who was equally comfortable with a hammer in his hand as he was with the Bible. Only God knows the countless acts of love he gave towards his church and community without neglecting his wife, Judi, and five children, Shannon Hardenbrook (23), Rachael Hagler (20), Gabriel (17), Benjamin (15), and Elizabeth (12), and grandson Nektarios (5 mo.).

Amidst family and friends singing sacred hymns and prayers, Fr. Terry passed from this life shortly after partaking of Holy Comunion.

[source: St. Nektarios Brotherhood]