Jun 3, 2013

Metropolitan Jonah's future plans

More details of the negotiations between the Orthodox Church in America and the now-retired Metropolitan Jonah have emerged, via Ryan Hunter on his blog, Orthodox in the District. Jonah, it seems, was pushing the church that forced him to resign for a stipend, retention of his title, and freedom to minister. Now that these things are settled, he may found a monastery in Maryland.

Hunter writes:
Metropolitan Jonah has been awarded a monthly stipend along with insurance coverage, and he will not be expected to absent himself from both Dallas and Washington, D.C. as earlier demanded, but will free to live where he likes. He [will] be listed as the OCA’s most recently retired former Primate and Metropolitan, and he will keep the style of Metropolitan, since he was consecrated to this honor at his enthronement in November 2008.

Joyfully, Metropolitan Jonah is also free to serve wherever he likes and will be free to start a monastery, as he has wished to do for some time. Plans are currently underway to look into acquiring a rural Maryland site near Washington, D.C. which has a host of beautiful buildings. Evidently, Metropolitan Jonah will also be at liberty to request transfer to another jurisdiction if he so wishes, but he is also welcome to stay on as a retired Metropolitan in the OCA.
A convert and a supporter of Jonah, Hunter judges this a positive resolution.

Jonah has been active at a Russian Orthodox parish, in recent days, fueling speculation he may transfer out of the OCA. He's been at a church in D.C., among other things offering a lecture series titled Orthodoxy 101. The first lecture:


  1. Dear Daniel,

    Thank you for posting this on your website. I am glad that you are spreading the word. For the sake of openness and transparency, I must sadly inform you that Metropolitan Jonah’s situation has changed considerably since June when you published this post.

    This past summer, Metropolitan Jonah was informed by Metropolitan Tikhon that he was expected to serve *only* at the OCA parish of St Mark's in Bethesda, Maryland, located immediately outside the District of Columbia. Metropolitan Jonah is only permitted to serve at another parish (including within the OCA) if he receives the express written permission of Metropolitan Tikhon.

    The explanation given for this sudden change was that it would be seen as unusual or improper for the retired Primate of the OCA to be serving at the DC cathedral of the ROCOR. At the kind invitation of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Jonah had been serving at St John the Baptist Cathedral here in DC for almost one year, following his sudden July 2012 removal as OCA Metropolitan by the OCA Synod.

    All of us at St. John's and in DC were stunned by Metropolitan Tikhon's letter, which came without any warning or expectation. This change in conditions, of course, obviously contradicts the assurances Metropolitan Jonah received in May of 2013 when he met and con-celebrated with Metropolitans Hilarion and Tikhon at St Tikhon's Monastery in Pennsylvania. At this May 28 meeting, in the presence of Metropolitan Hilarion, Metropolitan Tikhon promised Metropolitan Jonah his freedom to serve wherever he was invited. Obviously, this includes the ROCOR Cathedral of St John the Baptist here.

    It is extraordinary to me that a retired Metropolitan of the OCA apparently enjoys less freedom of movement than any other non-incarcerated person in the country. Your guess is as good as mine as to why Metropolitan Tikhon or his fellow bishops on the OCA Synod felt it either necessary or appropriate to withdraw their earlier agreed-upon-promise to their former Primate and fellow bishop. Metropolitan Jonah's ministry at St John the Baptist was very popular, and his Bible studies well attended by parish members, as well as friends from St Nicholas, the OCA primatial cathedral here in DC.

    The parish community of St Mark's has warmly welcomed and received Metropolitan Jonah, and he has continued to serve there regularly since the summer. The Metropolitan resumed his Bible study at St. Mark's prior to his two trips to the United Kingdom over the summer and earlier this fall (where he was a guest of His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia and spent time visiting the wonderful Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex, established by the late and venerable Elder Sophrony Sakharov).

    I and so many of us here remain disturbed and confused by the inexplicable reassignment of the Metropolitan, given that his ongoing ministry at St John's was popular, widely beloved, and caused offense to no one. The complete silence from the OCA Synod is deeply troubling, though hardly surprising. It astounds me that such restrictions can be considered Christian in any way. I pray for a resolution, but what sense would I have to trust men who have so repeatedly broken their promises, even ones publicly made? Still, I must believe this is all in God's Providence. May His will be done in all things.

    Yours in Christ,
    -Ryan Hunter

    1. As a D.C. resident, I would love to attend a Bible study with the Metropolitan. Do you know when these occur?

    2. Billy, it doesn't look like they're happening, at the moment. Ryan might have more info. There are recordings of the Bible studies he did at St. John's last summer: http://www.youtube.com/user/StJohnDC