Archive for the ‘Church News’ Category

The Chariot of Israel and Its Horsemen – The Repose of Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas

August 28, 2011

And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”  Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. (2 Kings 2:9-12)


These verses came to mind when I heard the news this morning of the repose of Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas. There are a number of saints within Orthodox history who are given the title: “Equal to the Apostles.” I cannot rush beyond the Church and declare a saint where the Church has not done so, but I can think of no better description of the life and ministry of Vladika Dmitri here in the South than “equal to the Apostles.”

Many people whose familiarity with the presence of the Orthodox faith in English-speaking lands are unaware that until 1962 there was no particular standard work of introduction to Orthodoxy available in English. Thus pioneers, such as Met. Kallistos Ware in England (who wrote that first standard work), or Archbishop Dmitri (who entered the faith along with his sister – as teenagers – in 1941) were extremely rare individuals and generally found conversion a nearly impossible feat.

Vladika Dmitri began life as a Texas Baptist, and, in my experience, never spoke ill of his background. I can recall him saying, “I like Baptists – they make great Orthodox!” accompanied by a sly smile. Indeed, I frequently heard him caution converts to Orthodoxy to refrain from disparaging their roots: “Most likely, it’s where you first heard of Christ.” His conversion as a teen led to a life as a scholar, missionary, teacher, leader, pastor – all in the context of kindness and love.

He cared deeply about the Christian faith and expressed concern, even dismay, as he saw many surrounding Churches that once would have been considered “traditional,” moving away from many of the primary teachings of the Christian faith. He was particularly expressive about the weakening of the doctrine of Christ’s Incarnation. He insisted that the understanding of God becoming Man was the only possible foundation for the dignity of human beings. It was a thought shared by men such as C.S. Lewis.

His advice to priests was very clear: “When you have opportunity to speak about the faith, never turn it down. And when you speak, don’t waste time on ethnic concerns. Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that is the great treasure of Orthodox and that is what you have to offer.”

In 1977 he was almost elected as the Metropolitan of the newly-autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. The Holy Synod seemed less than sure that the OCA was ready for a convert-bishop to be Metropolitan. In 1978, the Holy Synod formed the Diocese of the South, with Dallas as its see city. Bishop Dmitri was appointed as its first diocesan bishop. The new diocese had little more than a half dozen parishes, strung from Florida to Virginia to New Mexico (mostly Florida). Vladika Dmitri would always smile and call it his “consolation prize.”

However, it became a great apostolic opportunity for a man uniquely suited to its apostolic task. He saw the Diocese grow over ten-fold with a remarkable spirit of kindness and hospitality. During World War II he met an Orthodox priest in California who spoke about a vision of an American Orthodox Church. It was the first time the young Dmitri had encountered the concept. It became his vision as well. In the course of a life-time, he saw that vision mature in his beloved South. Having been its apostle, he now becomes its intercessor. May his memory be eternal!

Archbishop DMITRI of Dallas Announces Retirement

March 22, 2009

bluebellsdmitriThe first Orthodox bishop I ever met was Vladyko DMITRI of Dallas and the South. He was everything I had ever thought a bishop should be – faithful, dynamic, mission-minded, and with a heart of gold. He has been the Apostle to the South here in the United States, leading many men and women into the Church and establishing around 60 parishes during his tenure. He is the first Bishop the South had known (under the OCA). He is my most beloved Father in God. Today, in Dallas, he announced his retirement from the Episcopate, effective March 31.

There is not space to say anything like the fullness that I have known in this man – but he has been an embodiment of the Orthodox fullness. I must comment on the fact that I always found him to be excited about the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and that his conversation was constantly turned to Christ. Coming to the Church under his omophor was clearly about coming to Jesus Christ and not simply coming to Orthodoxy. Thus he allowed Orthodoxy to be the fullness that it is.

My heart grieves only because time robs us of our most beloved friends from time to time. I pray he will have a long and healthy retirement. His has laid the foundation of Jesus Christ in the Diocese of the South. May all of us who dwell and serve here take care how we build on that foundation.

May God grant him many years. Eis Polla Eti, Dhespota!

Memory Eternal!

December 5, 2008


His Holiness, Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow and of All Russia, fell asleep today in his home near Moscow.

He was elected as Patriarch in 1990 at the critical moment when the winds of freedom were at last blowing through the Orthodox Church in Russia. The nearly two decades since that event have been years of tumultous change in Russia and in the Orthodox world. There were no clear road maps for the task that was ahead.

In his time as Patriarch, he oversaw the healing of the schism between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, an occasion that is still quite fresh and promises much fruit in the future. Finding the right path for the Church in a secular but friendly state (which Americans think is obvious) is far more difficult than many in the West might imagine. Time will tell how well the past 18 years have been spent in that pursuit.

I will not forget that he has been a steadfast friend of the Orthodox Church in America and will offer prayers for the repose of his soul.

May his memory be eternal!

Writing Plans – Zizioulas Made Plain

October 13, 2007


I hope to spend some time next week “unpacking” (as they say) some of Met. John Zizioulas’ theology. It is very helpful in understanding the true nature of the Church. This weekend I am in Clarksville, TN, near Fort Campbell, to explore the possibilities of a new mission. I would much appreciate your prayers. It’s hard to be away from my home parish – even for two days, but especially on Sundays – and this will be the case for 2 Sundays to come.

For what it’s worth – Ancient Faith Radio – will be offering a weekly podcast from me, mostly based on this Blog, starting on October 20. Go to their website for more information. If you enjoy the blog, perhaps you’ll enjoy the podcasts. If you do not enjoy it then you can download it for a listen and consider it a podvig. 🙂 In seriousness, for whatever use it may be to Christ’s Holy Church, I pray God will bless this effort. It was someone else’s idea and invitation which gives me some courage.

Glory to God!

Orthodox Europe?

October 12, 2007


From the Christian Science Monitor comes this interesting opinion piece:

A short quote:

Western suspicion of Eastern Orthodoxy can be traced back to before the Great Schism that divided the Christian Church in 1054. One hundred and fifty years later, it fueled the Crusaders’ zeal for the sacking of Constantinople. In the 18th century, it became a main theme of Edward Gibbon‘s influential interpretation of the Roman Empire, which was later echoed in the writings of Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee. And in modern times, Samuel Huntington, among others, has warned direly of the potential for clashes between “Slavic-Orthodox” civilization and the Catholic-Protestant West.

With the exception of Greece, this sad legacy has made Western Europeans notoriously slow to accept countries with large Orthodox populations into pan-European institutions. In the current expansion eastward, however, it is inevitable that the values and mores of European institutions and alliances will be shaped more and more by the traditionalist views of Orthodox Christian believers and less and less by the modern, secularized Protestant assumptions of Western European democracies. Orthodox believers already far outnumber Protestants across Europe, and by some estimates they may eventually even surpass Roman Catholics. If 21st-century Europe ever develops a religious complexion, it will be predominantly Eastern Orthodox.

The entire article is worth a read.

Another Wall Street Journal Article on Belief in the Modern World

August 6, 2007

This article also recently appeared in the WSJ. It is an interesting take on Christianity in Europe, where, we are constantly told, it is almost completely dead. Perhaps the obituaries are premature. Comments are off for this article.

An Interesting Read on the “New New Atheism”

August 6, 2007

David Berkowitz, columnist for the Wall Street Journal, has an interesting article on the “New New Atheism” worth a read for any who have been following discussions on belief and atheism here on Glory to God for All Things. Comments are off for this article.

New Martyrs from Optina

June 11, 2007

There is an excellent account of three Monk Martyrs of Optina Monastery in Russia on the website of Handmaidleah. She is a frequent visitor to this blog, always with insightful comments. Her account of these new saints is well worth a read. Her blog, Christ is in our Midst is on the blogroll here at Glory to God for All Things.