Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pick-a-priest in the Diocese of Eastern PA

This process seems more than a bit odd to me. The parish is the bishop's. A priest serves there in his absence as a bishop cannot be at every parish at the same time, but the parish is de jure his. I know this interview process is very common in mainline Protestantism, but I have not experienced this pick your own priest process in Orthodoxy. Thoughts?

(OCA-DEPA) - On Sunday, June 30, 2013, the faithful of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church welcomed the second of 4 candidates to fill the open clergy position. His Grace, Bishop MARK, accompanied Fr. George Volkovinsky, who celebrated Divine Liturgy.

After Liturgy, all retired to Repella Hall for a breakfast provided by the PTO. Fr. George answered questions developed by a parish survey, and answered many questions posed by the parishioners.

The process continues with 2 more visits, followed by prayer, discussion, and ultimately a decision on who the next rector will be.


  1. I wonder if His Grace is approaching it this way because he is not the Bishop of DEPA but only the administrator appointed in the wake Abp. Tikhon's election as Metropolitan. Perhaps this is his way of trying to guide without ruling?

  2. Realizing there might be truth in the previous comment by "John," I won't state this as strongly as I might otherwise have done. But this is not for us. It is for the Bishop to assign clergy, who are his representatives. They are not "called" by the congregation; indeed, the congregation is "called" into assembly by the priest, acting on behalf of the Bishop.

    No Protestant clergy-calling processes, please!

    Monk Theodore

  3. A diocesan administrator has no real authority. He can only do what the Locum Tenens of the Diocese directs. The whole idea of interviewing clergy is Protestant. A responsibility of the bishop is to assign clergy to parishes. He should be the one who meets with the parish and the potential clergy and then prayerfully make the decision. This idea of "auditioning" for parishes, which has even gone on in some dioceses who are without a bishop may be egalitarian but it is not the traditional Orthodox way.

  4. You have to look at the local Orthodox historical tradition. In Eastern Slavic Orthodoxy for example, the local parish did not interview priests like this but an assignment of a priest was usually worked out between the eparchial consistory and the parish. In the archives of the Russian Orthodox Church for example, there records of parishes complaining about priests and removal/ transfer of priests from a parish. Ironically, the Spiritual reform of peter the Great still left the local parish council with some powers.

  5. I wonder if, Bp. Mark being an administrator and perhaps not knowing either the parish or the priests very closely, is simply using this to learn about both in trying to make the right assignment. It certainly seems better than a bishop simply sending a priest to a parish without much consideration, which has certainly happened.

  6. I doubt any bishop in the OCA would send a priest to a parish without consultation with the local parish.