Friday, June 11, 2021

GOA, OCA hierarchs - Divine Liturgy in Episcopal church

Lest you say "The EP is going to be the EP," there were representatives (episcopal and otherwise) of other Orthodox jurisdictions in attendance (OCA and others). I'm sure people have a variety of opinions about celebrating a Liturgy in an Episcopal church. Feel free to see their website here if you are curious where this church fits on the ACNA/ECUSA spectrum. And do read the words of Abp. Elpidophoros on ecumenism and of the role/greatness of the Ecumenical Patriarch. It makes very clear his opinions on both topics.

(GOA) - His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America will preside over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy honoring Saint Bartholomew at the historic Saint Bartholomew Church in Midtown Manhattan on June 11, 2021.  Bishop Dean Wolfe, Rector of Saint Bartholomew’s Church, joyfully has extended his blessing to His Eminence for this joyous occasion to take place. 

St. Bartholomew's Church is a historic Episcopal parish founded in 1835, and located on the east side of Park Avenue between 50th and 51st Street , in New York City. The current church was constructed in 1917. It is known as Byzantine Revival and was designed by celebrated American architect Bertram Goodhue. On October 31, 2016, the St. Bartholomew's Church and Community House complex was designated a National Historic Landmark, for its significance as an outstanding example of early 20th-century ecclesiastical architecture.

The Divine Liturgy will take place on Friday, June 11, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. EST and will be live-streamed on the social media accounts of Archbishop Elpidophoros. Due to health and safety precautions, attendance in the church will be limited.

Words from Abp. Elpidophoros at the event:

Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Christ is in our midst!

Today, in an ecumenical gesture worthy of the occasion, I have the special honor to preside over the Divine Service for the Patronal Feast of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, and Spiritual Father of Orthodox Christianity. 

This magnificent church dedicated to Saint Bartholomew is truly a precious architectural gem and artistic jewel of both Manhattan and the entire country.

I would like to express my deepest thanks and gratitude to Bishop Andrew Dietsche of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and especially to the Right Reverend Dean Wolfe, Rector of this extraordinary Parish, for the warm and fraternal welcome that they have extended to us today.

Some may wonder: Why celebrate the Ecumenical Patriarch’s nameday in a church borrowed from another Christian tradition? My dear friends, it’s not only the name. Therefore, let me say this in reply:

It is precisely because of the ecumenicity of the First Throne of Orthodoxy, and the faithful and inspiring ecumenical ministry of our Patriarch. His All-Holiness has now served longer on the Throne of the First-Called Apostle than any other Hierarch.

For this alone, this day is most fitting indeed, especially in a church that shares his heavenly patron, the Apostle Bartholomew!

As Orthodox Christians, we are not about exclusivity, but about authenticity. We say with the Lord Jesus Christ, “whoever is not against us is for us!”  We openly embrace those who differ from us, not to manifest any compromise, but to extend to others the love and acceptance of Christ.

We are very welcome here indeed, and the honor shown by our Episcopalian brothers and sisters to our Patriarch is a sign that bodes well for the future of the ecumenical movement. By this time, we all know what gulfs separate us. Perhaps, then, we should spend more time focusing on building bridges than on acknowledging walls.

For as the Lord said: “By this shall all people know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”  Therefore, this ecumenical commitment stands at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian. 

The embellishments of this magnificent church are designed to remind us of the adornments of soul and heart that are the true and essential beauty of the Church.

Thus, I can proudly and joyfully declare that such beauty of soul, heart and mind are to be found nowhere more manifest than in the sacred and most revered person of His All-Holiness our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

He is a living Apostle of love, peace, and reconciliation – recognized, of course, with the highest award of Congress.

He has encouraged dialogue when others would shut their hearts as well as their lips.

He has reached out beyond even the borders of Christendom, to the Abrahamic Faiths, and well beyond these shared legacies.

He has faced the difficulties of the past without giving up even an inch on justice for the oppressed and the downtrodden. 

He has engaged his lively and prescient mind to imagine a healthier and different future of coexistence and mutual respect among all religious traditions.

For years, he was “a voice crying aloud in the wilderness” about the ecological dangers to our world. But his persistence and sincerity have roused religious leaders from the Amazon to the Aegean and the Arctic Circle, as well as world leaders from Kyoto to Paris. And for his many rallying efforts, His All-Holiness has received – from no less an environmental advocate as former US Vice President Al Gore – the moniker, “The Green Patriarch.”

His All-Holiness has engaged the Orthodox world, imploring that freedom and authentic witness be the standard for the exercise of our faith and that we not fall into nationalistic schemes and machinations.

In 2016, at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church held on the island of Crete, our Patriarch led the assembled fathers of the council to choose dialogue and not division – even in the face of nationalist interests that would have interfered with the Council’s deliberations.

For Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, there is no gulf too wide or a bridge too far that he is not willing to traverse in order to pursue the love of Christ for each and every human being.

My dear friends, coming to this eponymous church here today is truly a delight and a distinct privilege, as well as a precious opportunity and a challenge.

It is a delight because this is one of the great ecclesiastical and aesthetic triumphs of our Nation.

And it is a privilege because genuine ecumenism takes nothing for granted.

However, it is also an opportunity, because the Patronal Feast of His All-Holiness brings us all together.

And it is a challenge as well because the “Dialogue of Love” and the “Dialogue of Truth” go hand in hand. And thus, there cannot be one without the other.

Therefore, we celebrate every aspect of this experience bringing the authentic worship of Byzantium into this Byzantine-inspired shrine.

We celebrate the inspired ministry and the sacred person of His All-Holiness and announce the formation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation. This Endowment Fund has been initiated by the faithful Archons of the Ecumenical Throne – the Order of Saint Andrew. 

It is a worldwide effort to ensure that the ministry of the Mother Church of Constantinople will be set upon a firm footing for generations to come. The Foundation will be a rampart around the Mother Church and a bulwark for the life-changing ministry of His All-Holiness and those to follow.

Therefore, let us all acclaim Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on His Patronal Feast.

And let us joyously cry aloud:

Many years, Your All-Holiness!

Ἕτη πολλά, Παναγιώτατε, Πάτερ καὶ Δέσποτα!

Many years, indeed, of health, spiritual prosperity, and the grace of God overflowing in Your life, to continue to lead Orthodoxy, Christianity, and all people of goodwill to a better life in this world, and in the world to come.

Christ is in our midst!

Who was, and is, and shall ever be.



  1. Well, that speech (let's not stoop to call it a sermon) can almost be called pornographic. It's an orgy of exaggerated Greek/American importance (and the language they typically use to express it), current-yet-old hyperbole around the EP's ecclesiastical role in the post-Empire Orthodox Church, naive 1960's like faith in signal/gesturing somehow being *substantive* in ecumenism and religious dialogue, topped of with a heaping helping of EP Bartholomew personality worship that comes eerily close to what you see out of states like the former Soviet, North Korea, and the like.

    It is so absurd, anachronistic, and irrelevant to the reality of the religious situation in modern western society, NA, and the general Orthodox world that it does not even need to be refuted.

    I speak as one who worships in an 120 year old Episcopal chapel that our mission has rented for the last 10 years every Sunday. God bless the Episcopalians!

  2. So this is america, why wasn't the service in english,,,,why was byzantine chant used instead of american compositions,,,this is embarrassing on many levels,,,,this does nothing to attract new adherents,or to retain present church members,,,sounds like a group of old men with belly aches

  3. This is scandalous. It is contrary to the canons of the Church and the clear and consistent teachings of the Fathers.


  4. Who is the audience? Certainly not Orthodox Christians. Perhaps the "homogenea"? Liberal Protestants?

    Those who stand outside the Church do not see this and find that it draws them. In fact I could say it is a turn off. With all due respect to these hierarchs and priests, at what point does this become merely theater?

    I have never understood how a Patriarch's primary focus could be environmentalism. You don't need the Church to care about creation. There are many non-religious organizations focused on environmentalism. Why not focus on pain, suffering, and this sin laden life? In an era where depression, anxiety, and despondency is at an all time high why do we not offer the medicine for the soul rather than calls for recycling?

    1. "Who is the audience? Certainly not Orthodox Christians..."

      The audience is a certain kind of Orthodox Christian, namely the integrationist, very modern, and politically "progressive" upper middle class (or higher) Greek American. Look up Hanby's 2015 First Things essay "The Civic Project of American Christianity"), and most everything he says about Catholic interationalism applies to these Greeks, as well as their counterparts in every jurisdiction.

  5. So the NYC Greek Orthodox Cathedral was unable to accommodate the vast crowd for this occasion?

    1. This was my first response. The Cathedral is a few blocks away so it’s not as if there was no where to go.

  6. Is this our decade of self destruction? It seems so. If we do not realize that an united american orthodox CHRISTIAN church is our mission and destiny,,,then the devil will ruin us. Ethnic politics will be our down fall. This is tragic, very tragic

  7. Meanwhile, the rest of the Churches of the Ecumenical Throne went about the business of commemorating St. Bartholomew, with a "shout out" to HAH (Many Years!----I say this without irony, the man certainly isn't what pundits say---on either side of "the divide").

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  9. The speech is the dumbest thing ever written in English. The liturgy video is ghastly, and notably doesn't let anyone see who was communed. How many episcopalians, I wonder? Worth investigating. Did anyone say in advance that only Orthodox would receive the gifts? In their own church? The bishop might have done a quantum of homework. The episcopal church formally adheres to the idea that worship is in the local language, article 24: It is plainly repugnant to the Word of God and to the custom of the early church for public
    prayer or the administration of the sacraments in a language not understood by the people.

    It isn't the only thing that was repugnant that day, but a good start on a long list.

    1. Not showing who is communing on video doesn't necessarily mean that the Chalice is being violated. I personally think that Holy Communion should not be broadcast at all, for a number of reasons.

      "I will not reveal the mystery to your enemies, nor will I give you a kiss as did Judas"

    2. St Thecla (ROCOR) doesn't show communion in their livestream either. If I'm not mistaken, the St. John the Baptist (DC) livestream also moves the camera somewhere else while communion is being taken.

  10. Can you hear the distress signal of the TITANIC, er, um, I mean GOA sounding?!

  11. As cringeworthy as this sort of thing can be, it is the norm for the Ecumenical Patriarchate's "ecumenical" activities. The Patriarchate has been doing this stuff for 30+ years (even the speech is EP boilerplate)---why is everybody acting like it is some surprise? People have been predicting the end of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for a long time now. It has almost become a sport.

    The usual suspects have a fit, of course. But that has more to do with their previous prejudice against HAH. I'm not saying everything he does is right (it's not), but some perspective is needed, I think.

    1. Ok Dave. This is acceptable because it has been happening for 30 years? We understand that you are a constant apologist for this sort of thing...but you are reaching for straws here.

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  12. Follow your own conscience and teaching of the Orthodox church.Nothing can be done with "THESE PEOPLE", don't fret over it, if you do, it will be in vain.

  13. I'm not sure why people are would have been more surprising if he HAD NOT done this, which in itself is obviously also sad.

    This is just part of the echo chamber that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is in. If you tell yourself a lie long enough, it becomes a truth.

    The hierarchs of the GOA are so out of touch with the average parish/monastery in GOARCH (at least outside of the N.E) that it would be laughable if it wasn't so sad and caused so much scandal.

    The best the other jurisdictions can do is steer clear of GOARCH, but, I doubt that will happen. GOARCH has lost over 100K members over the past 10 years, I guess it's better just to let them implode on their own.

    1. "This is just part of the echo chamber that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is in. If you tell yourself a lie long enough, it becomes a truth. The hierarchs of the GOA are so out of touch with the average parish/monastery in GOARCH..."

      It's not a "lie", so much as a way to integrate Christianity into modernism. It has a long history with the Protestant's and the Catholics, and is a hundred or so years old here in America among all the ethnic Orthodox. It's not "out of touch", as it was a norm (alongside, seemingly paradoxically, with the ethnic "ghetto" mindset) for the last 4 generations or so, with only *some* (but not all) of the most recent generation even seriously questioning it.

    2. To add to the above, it is a "lie" in the sense it is a failure path and leads exactly to what did and is happening - the loss of the Faith. It is not a "lie" in the sense that it is not a way of "being" Orthodox that many have and are trying to live. In other words it is a reality, even the status quo reality...

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  14. back in the day, the russian orthodox metropolia would not have made it without the assistance of the episcopal church,, they were courting the russians for a regularization of their orders ,,, their aspiration was to be the western rite orthodox wing of the eastern church. their intrigue casused the withdrawing of support from ardhbishop aftimios and his holy orthodox church of america. however, since that time the episcopal church has morphed into moderization and secularization to the point that eastern orthodox tenets and those of the episcopal church are vastly not in accord with each other. as such an inter communion is just not on the horizon. the challenge is why are the greeks persuing such a possible relationship, especially because the greeks have created and are pepetuating an ethnic ghetto of hellenism. as such, instead of becoming part of the fabric of america, they are choosing to remain as a gteek island with its drawbridge erect and not down. i do not see why they choose not to do God's will but allow the powers of satan to overwhelm themselves.

  15. Did the Antiochians participate?

  16. That is not a altar, it is a stage on which to mount a performance. It has been a long time since I have seen any western altar that was anything but a stage. They may "strut and fret their hour" on that stage but then "will be no more". It is not even good theater.