Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, (Matthew 28:19)
To the primary Church the world was composed only of the Mid-east, Europe and some parts of Asia and
Africa the rest of the world was unexplored and none existent.
These Patriarchates were independent (autocephalous) but united in faith. The rites would come to reflect the
diversity of its people in language, music and art, and the church came to embrace them as the treasury of the
Orthodoxy was not influenced by the errors of the Latin Church.
The Western Rite is not a modern innovation, it was part of the Church from the beginning, and the Latin
speaking Christians used it. When it comes to England, Scotland and Ireland their rites were as Orthodox as
the one used in Constantinople. Later, because of the Great Schism in 1054 the errors of the Roman
Patriarchate were reflected in their rites.
These teachings of the Latin Patriarchate were so entrenched on their believers that when the crusaders met
the Orthodox Christians instead of seeing them as fellow Christians they were subjected to an invasion and
the pillaging of Constantinople, leaving the Orthodox Christians weak and defenseless thus allowing the
Muslim hordes to invade, conquer and subjugate the Orthodox Christians.
In the New World, especially the United States, Orthodoxy arrived via Alaska by Russian Orthodox Church
(1794) and it is hard to believe it has been over 200 years ago that Orthodoxy set foot in the New World and
still at this very moment most Americans have no idea of what the Orthodox Church is all about. In other
words the bringing of the message of the truth of Orthodoxy has failed while Protestantism and Catholicism
are triumphant and are growing.
The reason for this failure is that as the Ethnic immigrations have arrived they have set up what is called
Ethnic Churches where to a certain extent Orthodoxy has been maintained but as the children of the first wave
of immigrants are born and many do not learn the language of their parents and enter into the American
culture many leave the church and become Protestants or Catholics. This is a tragedy because they are walking
away from the truth and into the arms of heresy.
This new generation sees Orthodoxy as something alien and indeed it is, because it stopped reflecting the
culture of the people it serves and has remained connected to a language and nationality that is not theirs. The
reason Orthodoxy flourished in the Old World was because it embraced the culture, language, art and music of
the people it served.
Why then is the Orthodox Church not assisting in developing an American Orthodox Church that reflects our
culture, language, art and music? Sadly it is due to greed. Foreign jurisdictions have found that the USA has
great wealth to gather and send back to the respective nations of these ethnic churches who have come to
economically depend on the Ethnic-American Churches. They will never let go of this constant flow of
economic support. Money has become more important than bringing the liberating truth of Orthodoxy to the
people of this continent who are no longer ethnic but American.
To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" (John 2:16)
I would like to continue by bringing to mind a good example that is found in our own history, the American
colonies were extremely valuable to the English, so they wanted to have English governors and the wealth of
the colonies to continue flowing back to England.
When the colonies requested to have representation in the governing of themselves then the English consider
it to be an act of treason, the colonist did not want to be apart from the crown but simple wanted to have their
own representatives and a Governor but the English because of their greed and feeling of superiority would
only permit certain self rule of the colonies and when it came to self governance and the right to have their
own destiny as a people this was not permitted or tolerated.
Unfortunately at this present time we have Americans that are being given certain rights in self governance
but when it comes to bishops and most of all a Patriarch they are not allowed to follow their own destiny as a
native church, they are only allowed to be a carbon copy of the jurisdiction giving them these so-called Canon
Sadly we are to blame to a certain extent because just as the Tory's during the American Revolutionary War
could not see themselves apart from the British Empire, with a king and English governors so do we in the
United States continue to think that without being under the jurisdiction of foreign Patriarchs and Bishops we
are not truly a church.
We in the Autocephalous movement are constantly asked the following questions:
‘To what Jurisdiction do you belong?’
St. Aftimios (Ofiesh) was elected to serve as the replacement of St. Raphael of Brooklyn in 1915 in caring for
the Arab Orthodox faithful in America under the Church of Russia's canonical authority.
He was consecrated by Archbishop Evdokim (Meschersky) as an auxiliary bishop in 1917 with the title of
Bishop of Brooklyn. In 1923, in recognition for his work in America, he was elevated by Metropolitan Platon
(Rozhdestvensky) of New York to the rank of archbishop.
In 1927, Aftimios was commissioned by the Russian diocese in America to form an English-speaking American
Orthodox Catholic Church, and during this time, St. Aftimios consecrated three bishops for his new
jurisdiction, Sophronios (Beshara) of Los Angeles, Joseph (Zuk) and Ignatius (William Albert) Nichols in
September of 1932 as his auxiliary bishop of Washington.
Our Primate in the Holy Byzantine Catholic Orthodox Church has these three lines in his succession and we
believe that we are a Canonical Church of America.
‘To what Jurisdiction are you in communion with?’
In spirit we teach that we are and will always be in communion with all Orthodox Jurisdictions but until our
sister churches (Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, Alexandria, Rome) accept that we have the canonical
right to have a native church with native Bishops and that our Liturgical Rite may express our culture,
language, art and music, then physical and intellectual communion may not be possible.
Also we find it extremely hypocritical that our Orthodox brethren accuse the Roman Church of being
legalistic and judgmental when they are legalistic in demanding that as an American Orthodox Church we
must be attached to a foreigner jurisdiction to be truly Orthodox.
‘Did Archbishop Aftimios (Ofiesh) forfeit his appointment when he got married?’
Orthodox theologians agree that the restriction on married bishops was an attempt by the church to stop
nepotism thus making it a matter of church discipline rather than doctrine.
Therefore it could be changed and would require a consensus among a self-governing Orthodox churches.
St. Aftimios had every right to be married because in the American Culture it was an acceptable condition.
The American Church had every right as an autocephalous church to change this discipline but regrettably this
was use by the unscrupulous ethnic churches as an excuse to force and remove St. Aftimios as Hierarch of the
These same ethnic jurisdictions to this day continue spreading calumnies against St. Aftimios without any
legal documentation to prove that St. Aftimios walked away from his Bishopric. On the contrary, it was because
of the isolation and chastisement that St. Aftimios was not permitted to continue his responsibilities as a
St. Aftimios suffered deeply because of the isolation, chastisement and calumnies perpetrated against him and
for this reason the American Church has canonized him as a Saint of the American Orthodox Church.
St. Aftimios will always remind us in the autocephalous church that we are still suffering from the same abuse
from our brethren.
We in the Holy Byzantine Catholic Orthodox Church being autocephalous in consensus agreed to have non-
married bishops as a matter of church discipline but not because it is church doctrine. We agreed as a church
that at this time in the American Culture the propensity for nepotism is great so we have in consensus agreed
for non-married Bishops.
St John Chrysostom on married Hierarchs.
'A Bishop then,' he says, 'must be blameless the husband of one wife.' This he does not lay down as a rule, as if he must not be
without one, but as prohibiting his having more than one. [pg.438, First Series, Vol. 13, St John Chrysostom, Homily X,
Homilies on Timothy]
Saint Tikhon was not only a true visionary but a true Orthodox, he knew that as Americans we had the right
to have a Native Church and that is why he examined the existing Anglican Book of Common Prayer and sent
it to the Holy Synod of Moscow for the restoration and correction of a truly Western Rite. This Liturgy,
derived from the ancient use of the Orthodox West, and first expressed in English in the edition of 1549 by
authority of King Edward the Sixth of England, was corrected and approved by the Holy Synod to be used by
the Orthodox Church in the United States He understood the need and desire of people to have their own
native church, because the Russian Church also experienced this struggle.
In 1448 the Russian bishops elected their own Patriarch without recourse to Constantinople, and the Russian
church was thenceforth autocephalous. It was by the unity of the Russian Hierarchy that they were able to
create an autocephalous church, a problem we in the USA have because of the multitude of ethnic churches and
any one that moves towards an autocephalous church in the USA will be treated like they treated St. Aftimios,
with isolation and false allegations by the foreign jurisdictions.
After Saint Tikhon's death the Russian Church as well as other ethnic churches have use the Western
Liturgical Rite (Liturgy of Saint Tikhon) as a carrot in order to appease the growing desire for complete self
governance from their American subjects. And I use the word subjects because that is exactly how the
American Orthodox Christians are viewed and treated by these foreign jurisdictions. These poor well meaning
Americans searching for the good news of Orthodoxy have fallen victims to the greed and power hungry
Saint Aftimios was also a true visionary, he had the heart of a missionary he (like Patriarch Saint Tikhon
before him) felt it was absolutely essential to establish a Native American Church. In 1927, Saint Aftimios (an
Archbishop) became the first Ruling Hierarch of the Church when Metropolitan Platon and the Synod of
Bishops of the American Russian Orthodox Dioceses, meeting in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, carried out the
will of Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and helped set up the (autocephalous) American
Under Saint Aftimios, the Church in America was established and incorporated on the basis of an excellent
Constitution, designed to bring true unity to American Orthodoxy, but unfortunately his efforts failed and
hopefully the following quotes from Fr. Serafim Surrency's book, The Quest for Orthodox Church Unity in
America (1973) will explain why.
Fr. Serafim's analysis of the failure of this church is as follows:
There can be no question that while the movers of the new Church were sincere and highly motivated that nonetheless they
were fostering an idea whose time had not yet come, or to use more appropriate phraseology: Almighty God in his infinite
wisdom did not see fit to bless this first attempt to have an American Orthodox Church. On the human level it is clear why
the movement did not succeed. The Orthodox in America where still in their own particular ghettos... [the church] was
unable to attract or find clergy theologically trained in the Orthodox tradition and able to communicate with the young
people with immigrant parents (p. 33).
Note: The Holy Byzantine Catholic Orthodox Church unlike this first attempt to establish an American
Orthodox Church is not interested in communicating to the already orthodox but to the Americans that are of
other traditions that are searching for the truth of the Orthodox Faith. The Greeks, Romanians, Syrians and
so forth can stay in the ethnic ghettos and continue to fail in bringing the truth of Orthodoxy to the western
External pressures on the movement also contributed to its demise: While the Russian Council of Bishops gave initial
support, it was only moral support, and the first person elected to be a Hierarch of the new Church in fact turned down the
nomination because it was not possible to guarantee him any kind of salary which is indicative of another primary
deficiency of the movement, no adequate financing.... [The] new Church lost its most important supporter, Metr. Platon,
because of antagonism of the clergy initiators towards the Protestant Episcopal Church.... [some of whose authorities]
resented the American Orthodox Church as being a challenge to... the “senior Orthodox Church in America” [i.e., the
Episcopal Church], and that pressure was put on Metr. Platon to withdraw his support or the financial assistance he was
receiving from the Episcopal Church... would be cut off and perhaps he would be deprived of the use, on a temporary basis,
of Episcopal churches (pp. 33-34).
Note: The Holy Byzantine Catholic Orthodox Church will not encounter this problem because of the following
Canon VII. (7)
...[In order to stop the abuse the of clergy with the tidings given by the faithful to the Holy Church, the Holy Synod inspired
by the Holy Ghost has decreed that no one will be ordained until they first have a profession and are self-supported. The
funds of the Holy Church will never be used to give the clergy an exuberant lifestyle. The only exception will be if a parish
in general is willing to pay the clergy in order for them to be full-time staff.]
“Paul went to see them, and because he was a tent-maker as they were, he stayed and worked with them” Acts 18:3
By having a self-supported clergy the Church will never find itself in the predicament of catering to any group
in order to receive economic support from them.
Our Clergy are also able to negotiate and rent the use of churches and in this manner will always be able to
maintain our independence without the meddling of other jurisdictions that do not always have the best
interest for the Church in mind.
...it would be most unjust to blame the failure of the “Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North
America” solely or even primarily on Protestant Episcopal opposition. One can state it more strongly: the various Orthodox
groups in America at that time simply were not ready in terms of church consciousness for the establishment of an American
Orthodox Church(p. 34).
Note: The Holy Byzantine Catholic Orthodox Church agrees that the failure in bringing Orthodoxy to
America is not to fall on the shoulders of the Protestant Episcopal opposition or the Holy Eastern Orthodox
Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America, but on the approach of the this first attempt. We feel that
Orthodoxy would have been established years ago in the west if only the American Church would stop trying
to mimic the Eastern Churches and speak to the west in their own language, art, music and culture.
We the Holy Byzantine Catholic Orthodox Church believe we are the living spirit of Saint Tikhon and Saint
Aftimios when it comes to bringing the message of Orthodoxy to our brethren in the Unites States or any
other country that believes they have the right to have a native church with native bishops. A church that
reflects the culture of the people it serves.
The Western Rite Parishes represent a restoration of the legitimate Western Liturgy of the Undivided
Church of the first 1,000 years, by the Patriarchal authority of Saint Tikhon, for the benefit of all Orthodox
Our Church is presently facing the stigma of the independent groups that claim to be Orthodox and traditional
and yet permit female priests and openly gay clergy. This is presently one of the biggest obstacles we are
facing as a church. We are independent (autocephalous) but united in faith with all Orthodox Churches and
please understand that we are not seeking or need the approval from any individual ethnic jurisdiction to be
truly orthodox. It is not by claiming to be orthodox that we are orthodox but that we live as orthodox and
profess it in our daily lives that make us true orthodox. It is because of the false belief that we need the
blessing and approval of a foreign jurisdiction that has caused the western people to reject orthodoxy.
When will we as a people learn that it is not the messenger that holds the truth but the message itself, for the
message of orthodoxy is true, pure and liberating but unfortunately the messengers (foreign jurisdictions) are
false in their intent, unclean in their approach and non-liberating in their governance?