February 14, 1998

To the Beloved Clergy and Faithful Laity of Saints Peter & Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church Ben Lomond, California:

Grace and peace to all of you in the Name of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We are very dismayed and deeply saddened by the news of the rebellion and disobedience which Weldon Hardenbrook and David Anderson incited against the Metropolitan and heirarchs of the Antiocian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, at a meeting held Thursday evening, February 12, 1998 at Saints Peter & Paul Church of Ben Lomond. One of the basic principles of Orthodox ecclesiology was clearly stated by Saint Cyprian of Carthage who wrote: “You ought to know that the Bishop is in the Church and the Church is in the Bishop and if there is anyone who is not with the Bishop, he is not in the Church.” For further instructions on the authority of the Bishop in the Church, please read the great Martyr, St. Ignatius of Antioch.

In view of what happened Thursday evening, we would like to inform the faithful of Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Parish that by the apostolic authority invested in us, we do hereby laicize Weldon Hardenbrook and David Anderson for their defiance of the Holy Canons. Furthermore, since the following priests and deacons, namely: Archpriest Kenneth A. Berven, the Priests Luke Dingman, Methodius Clausing, Edward Hillhouse, Robert Hinde, Thomas Lindsay, Terry Somerville, Basil Steiger; and the Archdeacon Anthony Pagano, and the Deacons Lawerence Hulter, Nathaniel Johnson, Terry Adams, Michael Russell, Kevin Shelby, Paul Trigg and Elias Union, have expressed solidarity with Weldon Hardenbrook and David Anderson, we do hereby, by the same aforementioned authority, suspend and forbid them from celebrating any divine service. Henceforth, all the sacraments which they perform are, canonically, invalid. If and when the laicized and suspended clergy acknowledge their errors and repent, this directive will be reviewed.

Beloved children, for the sake of peace, we advise the faithful Antiochians to worship tomorrow, Sunday, February 15th, at St. Stephen Antiochian Orthodox Church of Cupertino, California, until you receive further instructions from us and Bishop Joseph next week. We know that some individuals in Ben Lomond have been misled by blind pastoral leadership. We urge you to be kind to them and to do everything you can to bring them back to the knowledge of the truth.

Finally, we ask you to remain steadfast and faithful to the teachings of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and may the Almighty God have mercy on our souls.

Your Father in Christ,

Metropolitan PHILIP
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
of North America

MP: km

cc: Metropolitan THEODOSIUS
All Members of S. C. O. B. A.
Bishop BASIL
Rt. Rev. Paul Doyle, Protosyngellos
V. Rev. Richard Ballew, Dean
V. Rev. Peter Gillquist

“…the Disciples were called Christians first in Antioch!”