I think we can be of two minds about this elongated process towards securing a bishop for the OCA's Diocese of the South. One side says that the diocese has been waiting all too long for a hierarch. The OCA's most dynamic and burgeoning diocese cannot hope to continue its trend towards healthy growth without a full-time head. As one of my seminary professors once said, "When there isn't a bishop things just get weird." The other side says that the synod cannot be too careful in selecting a new bishop. The OCA has retired so many bishops in recent years that they could build quite a sprawling retirement home to house them all. Every bishop retired is another occasion for slandering the idea that the OCA is mature enough to enjoy autonomy much less autocephaly. A year to test the mettle of Fr. Gerasim is a rather solid next step that provides a provisional period for those with doubts and immediate powers for those who have supported him throughout the interregnum.
(OCA-DOS) - Dear Faithful Clergy of the Diocese of the South,
All the blessings of the fast!
Please carefully read the attached letter (PDF) from His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon. I also encourage you to send this out to your parish mailing list if you so desire.
Following this past week's Holy Synod meeting, Fr Gerasim has been appointed Administrator of the Diocese of the South, and Metropolitan Tikhon is now the locum tenens. As Administrator, Fr Gerasim has been given full responsibility for the life of the diocese, save for those things which are specifically reserved for a bishop. Practically speaking, this means that your dean continues to be the point of first contact when pastoral need arises, but that Fr Gerasim will be integrally involved in all the decisions which affect the life of our diocese.
From today forward in liturgical services you should no longer commemorate Archbishop Nikon, but only the Metropolitan as "His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South".
Be assured, too, that Fr Gerasim is in complete agreement with this decision, and as soon as he is back in Dallas he will send out a letter explaining things from his perspective. This decision in no way nullifies our Special Assembly, and Fr Gerasim has not be rejected by the Holy Synod, nor has any other candidate been put forth for our Diocese. I, therefore, ask everyone to temper his disappointment that there was not an election and recognize that this is the next step in a process that will lead to the election of a new bishop for the Diocese of the South. I counsel patience, and I also beg for restraint, especially as regards to any clergy who might be tempted to 'vent' on social media or in the 'blogosphere'. As one wise member of our diocese has stated, "this is a process not an event".
Please let me know if I can serve you in any way. In the meantime, I pray that you all have a profitable remainder of these Great and Holy Days.
I remain faithfully yours in Christ Jesus,
Chancellor of the Diocese of the South