To His All Holiness Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America,
A CALL TO ACTION
Death at an Ephraimite Monastery
Please reach out and intervene on behalf of the members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
In just two decades, the Ultra-Fundamentalist Orthodoxy practiced at the Monasteries of Elder Ephraim has created a schism between our Church and the Monasteries and obedient followers of Ephraim. Our concerns for the members of the Orthodox Faith and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) have caused us to form an organization called The Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform. Our main issue has been and continues to be providing to the community a warning against the harmful zealot teachings, practices and customs emanating from these Monasteries. We have turned over information concerning these issues to official sources at the GOA and other administrative bodies, with seemingly little result.
We have now learned of a significant and serious consequence of those teachings. On the morning of June 11, 2012 a young man by the name of Scott Nevins allegedly took his own life after having spent six years at the Monastery of St. Anthony in Florence Arizona. In any other institution or religion, this incident would mandate at the least an investigation of the facts surrounding Mr. Nevins’ death by the Church Hierarchs, independent of the investigation of the secular authorities. Additionally, a measured and in depth investigation of all the other issues that are well documented and written about on this website is warranted.
The loss of the life of Scott Nevins, a six year tonsured monk at the Monastery of Elder Ephraim in Florence, Arizona, is directly attributable to the errant teachings and methods. Young persons who voluntarily enter the monastic life as a service to God and their fellow man have been subjected to methods and procedures that outside the religious context would be actionable and even criminal. We thus demand that action be taken to bring these monasteries into line with the true teachings of the Orthodox Church, and that authoritative control over these ostensibly Orthodox monasteries be rightfully returned to the Church Hierarchy, rather than left to a rogue monk and his followers.
“WHAT IS OUR INSITUTIONAL RESPONSE TO THE DEATH OF SCOTT NEVINS?”
According to our sources, Scott Nevins was a healthy and well adjusted young man before he became an Ephraimite monk. He went into one of our sanctioned Monasteries well and came out hurt and twisted. Now the Ephraimite public relations machine that supports this group has gone into overdrive casting unfounded aspersions about the mental health of this young man before his entry into the Monastery. If he was troubled before he arrived there, why would they accept him and why would he be permitted to stay there for six years under the authority of the Elder and his followers? Why did he secretly leave his home without the prior knowledge of his parents and enter the Monastery without even informing them of his whereabouts? When this young man left his home that spring evening in 2003 at the age of 18 why did he dress in a tuxedo for his high school prom, take pictures with his parents and go directly to St. Anthony that evening? Who were his accomplices in this subterfuge and helped him get there that night? On his exit from St. Anthony a little over a year ago, why did he leave in a clandestine way? What did he fear? Whom did he fear? Why did he have two loaded guns and a knife with him as he returned to St. Anthony the morning of his alleged suicide? (For an article on the incident please go to: http://www.pokrov.org/resource.asp?ds=Article&id=1814 )
Has the GOA and our Metropolitans asked themselves “did the actions, methods and teachings of this secret group lead to the death of Scott Nevins?” The Monasteries under the “Spiritual Guidance” of Elder Ephraim seem to operate under their own rules and from our collective perspective, only damage the institution of the GOA and harm those members of our faith who have succumbed to their errant teachings.
We ask ourselves:
What are we missing? Why do the powers that protect the Monasteries carry so much sway over the Church Hierarchy in the United States? Is there one body, or just one person within the GOA or any single Metropolis that has the intestinal fortitude to stand up for the family of Scott Nevins, and numerous others who are in the sway of the Elder Ephraim? What about the other young people brought into a failed monastic system that has little or no oversight from the Hierarchs or the GOA? How many catastrophes of this kind have to occur before the GOA demands transparency and accountability?
When we sit at our editorial meetings and discuss the collective years spent by all of us helping our respective Parishes, we are all at a loss to understand the broken operational practices of our Church. Worse yet, some of our individual Metropolises are so poorly administered by the Hierarchs that the Ephraimite Clergy within those jurisdictions seem to control many of the decisions made in the name of he Orthodox Church. We, the Laity, demand that an investigative committee be formed comprised of independent professionals that are not concerned about damaging their relationships with our Hierarchs. This group must not be under anyone’s influence or control. They must be allowed to address the death of Scott Nevins without the fear of undue influence or control from the leadership of the Church. The committee should be led by a former prosecutor such as a retired former United States Assistant Attorney or retired Criminal Court Judge. Unfortunately, the state of the Orthodox Church in America after the Charter changes of 2002 and the expansion of the Ephraimite movement over the last two decades will not permit this to happen.
We state the following:
1. WE ARE CONCERNED OVER the irregular establishment of multiple (at last count 21) monasteries, all under the “spiritual” guidance of Elder Ephraim, formerly of Philotheou.
2. WE ARE CONCERNED OVER the lack of transparency and oversight of financial practices and fundraising occurring at and on behalf of these monasteries. Our concerns extend to the preying of the followers of this schismatic movement when Church members are sick and in extremis.
3. WE ARE CONCERNED OVER the many unusual teachings and practices of Elder Ephraim and his infected followers including that:
• The spurious anti-Semitic “Protocols of Zion” and other ethno-centric, discriminatory practices are true and part of our beliefs;
• The Patriarch has no authority over Elder Ephraim and his monasteries;
• Full obedience to an elder is mandatory and true confessions may only be given to an elder or one of his designated clergy;
• Upon death, our souls will be judged by satanic demons through a series of “aerial tollhouses”, a perverted teaching used as a tactic to scare and dominate the laity;
• Only monks have any real possibility of salvation and those who are married have little or no chance of salvation;
• All Chrismated or Baptized that were not fully immersed be rebaptized, contrary to instructions from the Ecumenical Patriarchate;
• The spirituality and authority of Greek Orthodox Priests are denigrated and their Parishes do not follow the “true faith” as practiced by the Ephraimites;
• Apostolic succession rests exclusively with their monks; and
• The faithful are taught that if a family member becomes monastic, then 7 generations of the family are guaranteed salvation.
4. WE ARE CONCERNED THAT the “veneration” of Elder Ephraim by his followers who:
• Claim and venerate him as a living saint;
• Claim that he peforms miracles and other surreal acts
• Are taught that Elder Ephraim will be the next saint of our church;
• Display his photograph alongside icons in their homes and businesses; and
• Express their total obedience to him to the point where they are unable to make both spiritual and secular decisions for themselves without first consulting him, one his monks or nuns.
OUR CONCERNS ARE NOT NEW but have been expressed by many others over the last two decades. A fundamentalist “Orthodox” Church in America exists which denies or minimizes loyalty to our Ecumenical Patriarch and our Archbishop Demetrios. This cult stresses rigid obedience to the elder and literal or legalistic interpretations of the teachings of “Church Fathers” with little or no reference to God or the teachings of Jesus Christ. In just two decades, the cult of Ephraim has grown creating a schism between the Greek Orthodox Church of America and his network of monasteries and followers.
The problem is national and is acute in the Metropolises of Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Denver. These Concerns have been expressed to our Metropolitans but not properly addressed by all of them. We believe the recent changes to the charter have eliminated the Archbishop’s ability to resolve these problems in America. Instead, the new charter (2002) has created mini Archdioceses led by Metropolitans who cannot make a unanimous decision for the collective good of the GOA and in many cases are notable to resist the influence of this cult in their Metropolis.
We are of the belief that Your ALL HOLINESS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW AND YOUR EMINENCE ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS cannot possibly subscribe to the beliefs, methods or positions taken by the Elder Ephraim and his followers. We implore you to seriously address our concerns and take immediate action.