ACNA invites Metropolitan Jonah, wheels within wheels (revised)

ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) has invited several notables to address its first synod in Texas this June. The speakers in morning sessions are: Pastor Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, the Archbishop of Washington and New York and the Metropolitan of All America and Canada for the Orthodox Church in America, and the Rev Todd Hunter, Director of West Coast Church Planting for the Anglican Mission in the Americas.

Of the three it is Metropolitan Jonah that drew my interest. He is Metropolitan for The Orthodox Church in America. Here are some interesting points drawn from his biography:

"His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah was born James Paffhausen on October 20, 1959, in Chicago, IL, and was baptized into the Episcopal Church. While still a child, his family later settled in La Jolla, CA, near San Diego. He was received into the Orthodox Church in 1978 at Our Lady of Kazan Moscow Patriarchal Church, San Diego, while a student at the University of California, San Diego. Later, he transferred to UC Santa Cruz, where he was instrumental in establishing an Orthodox Christian Fellowship."

"He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1994 and in 1995 was tonsured to monastic rank at St. Tikhon's Monastery, South Canaan, PA, having received the name Jonah."

"In the spring of 2008, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America elevated Fr. Jonah to the rank of Archimandrite and he was given the obedience to leave the monastery and take on the responsibilities of auxiliary bishop and chancellor for the Diocese of the South.

"Metropolitan Jonah's episcopal election took place on September 4, 2008, at an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops. Earlier in the summer, his candidacy was endorsed by the Diocese of the South's Diocesan Council, shortly after he had participated in the diocese's annual assembly.

Metropolitan Jonah was consecrated Bishop of Forth Worth and Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of the South, at St. Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX, on Saturday, November 1, 2008. On Wednesday, November 12, 2008, he was elected Archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada at the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, in Pittsburgh, PA."

Metropolitan Jonah has ties with Bishop Iker with whom he met in November last year. Here the two are pictured together.

At that meeting, Bishop Iker said, "There are multitudes of our American people who have been wounded in the "culture wars," which have brought long-standing essential American cultural institutions – like the Episcopal Church – to doctrinal, moral, and institutional degradation and collapse.

The Metropolitan said, “It is my fervent hope that as the Orthodox Church in America, we can be a context of support for you and those communities with you that are seeking to realign themselves with Christians who stand fast in the Apostolic and Patristic Faith and Teaching.”

There is an interesting sort of parallel between the Orthodox Church in America and the in-formation Anglican Church in North America:

  • They both cover the whole of North America, although OCA actually has someone in place in Mexico.
  • They both involve ethnic / other national congregations as well as "generic" congregations.
  • They both have synods that are episcopally oriented. OCA has fewer bishops but they get to wear great hats.
  • They both claim to be churches in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. OCA is more widely recognized by the Orthodox community than ACNA is by the Anglican community, but, as they say, "we're working on it."
  • They both attract ex-Episcopalians. The Metropolitan was baptized in the Episcopal Church and became Orthodox in his late teens. Lots of people in ACNA are ex-Episcopalians.
  • They both are in trouble with the larger systems they claim to be part of: ACNA with the Anglican Communion via ACC and OCA with in the Orthodox system. If you think we have troubles read this complements of Lapinbizzar in comments: "Evidently Metropolitan Jonah also has problems with the authority of the communion of which his church is a member." It seems Metropolitan Jonah shares a bit of the foot in mouth problems that the Archbishop designate of ACNA has.

Here is one difference: while ACNA might look to the OCA as an alternative to the real step, which is to Rome, I bet OCA is not looking at ACNA as a step to anything.

OCA recognition of ACNA would give ACNA a different sort of ecumenical place, but good luck. The presence of Metropolitan Jonah at the meeting of the new synod will be interesting to watch. The Orthodox are no fools. There will be all sorts of polite diplomatic doings - mutual joy, delight in seeing this new church form, etc. But genuine full recognition will have to wait another day. Meanwhile, ACNA will play up the involvement of Metropolitan Jonah as yet another sign of its legitimacy, and the Orthodox will wait. They are good at that. Centuries roll off their backs like the green waters past our bows.

Still, great hats.


  1. Evidently Metropolitan Jonah also has problems with the authority of the communion of which his church is a member.

  2. Oh my, they may move SLOWLY but Johah certainly RISES quickly...you don´t think, naw, well, maybe the Diocese of the South could use another former Episcoplian and quicker-than-the-eye Bishop...perhaps they could cut the rim off of Jack Leo´s Cowboy hat and embroider, embroider, embroider until the cows come home...might be a fit?

  3. The OCA will no more recognize ACNA than it will recognize the Episcopal Church, if, by recognition, you mean, "in communion with." This appearance seems to simply be moral support.

    Regarding the implication that the OCA and the ACNA are in any way, shape or form similar, you are absolutely and categorically wrong. Orthodoxy has its issues in the Western half of the world, and, specifically, in North America, there's no question about that. On the other hand, for all of the several jurisdictional entities, they are in communion with each other and fully of the mentality that they are members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. ("The" Church: not "a" church, in the Protestant style, as the ACNA would have it.) That includes the OCA, whose autocephaly - not status as a particular Church - is in question by part of the Orthodox world. The OCA Metropolitan would, and has, concelebrated Divine Liturgy even with bishops of those jurisdictions that question the canonicity of the OCA's place in the Church. When do Katharine Jefferts Schori and Peter Akinola plan on doing that?

    I understand the desire to take shots at anybody who seems to support Episcopal dissenters, but there are probably safer targets, especially given the moral and doctrinal chaos within ECUSA's house, than the entire Eastern half of the successor Church to the Apostles'. Which is, in fact, the case, as the Russian Orthodox Church has offered similar expressions of support; along with, of course, from the Western side of the aisle, Cardinal Ratzinger.

    Yes, the vast majority of the Christian world does disagree with ECUSA; I know you don't like it, but that's how it is.

    Orthodoxy's issues on or beyond these shores should not be conflated with the problems ECUSA has visited upon itself and the Anglican Communion. Anglicanism should be so lucky to revert to that level of dispute from its present situation.

  4. Nom de Plume7/5/09 6:46 PM

    Great hats, indeed! It's all about the sartorial splendour.

  5. In the 70s, the OCA elected Theodosius (Pittsburgh) to be their Metropolitan. That proved to be a disaster. Then, Herman (Philadelphia) clawed his way to the white veil. That man was easily one of the most despised of all the bishops in his synod, but he was American-born, so they elected him. There are hair-raising rumors about Herman's indiscretions over the years. Electing a relatively inexperienced man with, it appears, little or no sense of politesse doesn't surprise me in the least.

    I spent 23 years in the OCA before returning gleefully to the Episcopal Church and then getting ordained in the Canadian Church. I have no regrets whatever about leaving them. Despite the cool hats, the exotic vestments and the floor show, I seriously doubt that either Christ or the Apostles would recognize what they call the "true Church handed down by the apostles." Their Biblical understanding leaves too much to be desired. Although they will deny it, anti-semitism is rife in its ranks.

    Their attitude toward anything "modern" is that "the flesh is evil." Don't take my word on that last one... it's in their hymnology and they believe it.

    Finally, although Jonah has offered them a hearty handshake, what ACNA may not be aware of is the ridicule and contempt that both clergy and laity in Orthodox-land regularly display amongst each other. They may be getting a nice photo-op with his Beatitudinal Circumfrence, but be assured that ultimately, the Orthodox have no use whatever for anything Anglican--legitimate or otherwise.

  6. For all Episcopalians and Anglicans who go ga-ga over the luxurious vestments, chanted Liturgy, smells & bells, the mystical lure of 'the One True Church' and the like - perhaps a splash of cold water to the face and a reality check are in order. The Orthodox have just as much a problem with the "revolving door" as any other church, not to mention ethnic-xenophobic pettiness, homophobia to make +Akinola proud, financial shenanigans and on and on. +Jonah's OCA has advertised for years that they are a million strong, while they've recently admitted that on the ground their numbers are 125,000 at best.

    Start with a cruise through www.ocanews.org- Orthodox Christians for Accountability, an independent watchdog site that dogs the Hierarchy and good-old-boy clergy networks, demanding financial and ethical accountability.

    Did I mention clergy sexual abuse? Wade through www.pokrov.org for another sobering reality check. While TEC's clergy sexual abuse policies seem to have teeth, the policies of the various Orthodox jurisdiction in North America may as well be printed on Charmin toilet paper. My family knows from tragic personal experience the indifference and callousness the OCA's hierarchy toward victims of clergy abuse.

    Like the Romans, the Orthodox consider Anglican orders non-existent, so forget about married bishops or a "Western Rite" which is anything more than a carrot on a stick.

    I genuinely feel for the ex-TEC and Anglicans, now Orthodox, who thought they were fleeing the perceived "gay menace" in the Anglican Communion. Self-loathing, closeted homosexuality is well ensconced among the monastics, clergy and Episcopacy of all the Orthodox jurisdictions in North America. I'll bet that was a shock! Perhaps these ex-Anglicans console themselves with the belief that they have found the One True Church. Another Orthodox jurisdiction, the Antiochian, trumpets Orthodoxy as 'America's Best Kept Secret'. Those of us who've seen it up close and personal, advise you poor, benighted 'heterodox' (that's a quote, folks!) Episcopalians/Anglicans to ask the hard questions we wish we'd asked before swimning the Bosphorus. This is so cliche', but I found I'd jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

    Keep seeking Christ!

    from OCA to TEC, and not the least bit sorry! John

  7. Great hats, indeed. I have hat-envy when looking at Orthodox bishops beside their mitered Western-rite counterparts.

    Hats aside, I agree that each ecclesiastical body of sufficient size and esteem is bound to have problems plaguing it. In any case, should ++Jonah have anything special to say, we would like to be kept posted.

  8. What unbridled ugliness. Greg


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.