ARTICLE ARCHIVE

By dogcatcher on February 25th, 2012

“What is an “Ephraimite?”It is not easy to exactly define the term Ephraimite. One can say it is an affliction of varying degrees. Some readily acknowledge the title while others who are so influenced are not even aware of the word Ephraimite. It is curious that some… Read More 

Learn to Speak “Ephraimitese”

If you wish to understand “code” language of the Ephraimites, avail yourself of the following glossary:… Read More

 

Reasons why Archbishop Demetrios is not responsible for the Ephraimite Mess

Reason #1
With the unilateral charter changes that occurred in 2002 by the Patriarch, the Archbishop is no longer the “Primate” of the church in the United States. He presides over the Holy Eparchial Synod, but has little actual control over the…  Read More

 

Has Anyone Connected with the Ephraimite Cult/Movement ever been Disciplined by the Spiritual Court in the Metropolis of Chicago?

Members of our organization have heard numerous anecdotal accounts of matters that have been taken to the Spiritual Court or should have been heard by the Spiritual Court. Many have stated that if the issue involves an Ephraimite…  Read More

 

Has your Priest been infected by Ephraimite Theology?

While reading this article, ask yourself if your priest is an Ephraimite. If you can still ask him questions, you are more fortunate than others. Most Ephraimites stopped asking questions when they began following an Ephraimite elder or one…  Read More

 

 

Parishes Impacted by the Ephraimite Movement

GOTR has conducted numerous interviews of Clergymen, Parish Council members and members of the laity and has compiled a list of those parishes located within a 50 mile radius of the Metropolis of Chicago. We have concluded…  Read More

 

The Ephraimite Movement has come to Foreclose on your Parish Home: Why has the Ephraimite Movement been so successful in influencing the Laity of our Metropolises?

The answer to this question is complicated because it is multi-faceted containing religious, philosophical, psychological and even sociological aspects. It is important to understand what is really happening in our Greek Orthodox faith. We…  Read More

 

The Game Plan to Take Over Your Parish

This article will give you, the reader, an idea of what to anticipate when the Hierarchs of the Metropolis of Chicago assign a new Ephraimite Priest to your parish. The editorial …  Read More

 

Open Letter to the Faithful

Dear Mr. *

There are few individuals in my estimation who possess the integrity and faith I have observed in you. Therefore I trust you in sharing some personal reflections. Reflections of sorrow and concern for the church we both have grown to love and cherishI have recently become aware of the difficulties that have occurred in your parish of St. George and I respect your decision to find the truth and declare it to those that will listen. Your vigilance in seeking truth and justice is commendable but most likely unrealistic since it appears that our church has had a past history of sweeping things under the carpet. I pray your efforts are not overlooked Read More

A Tribute to Pokrov – 10 Years of Courage and Commitment, by Paul Cromides, November,7 2009

It was the early 90’s when Melanie Jula Sakoda and Cappy Larson thought they had found a home in Orthodoxy at San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, part of the OCA – The Orthodox Church in America.

Instead, they found a nightmare: a place where a layman went about the church wearing black clothes and a large cross, but was molesting children of the parish. This was taking place even though he had admitted to the pastor that he had a history of pedophilia. As many as 11 children were victimized, some were toddlers. Read More

Conversation with a Young Ephraimite

The following summary of a Conversation with a Young Ephraimite was compiled from notes made shortly thereafter by two of the participants. Both men felt compelled to memorialize what they heard that evening. Both men have served on parish councils and are deeply supportive of the church. There were others present who heard the young Ephraimite’s words. The conversation occurred the evening of June 6, 2009. We want make it clear that we do not want to persecute the young Ephraimite. We believe he has been a victim of cult tactics. We are very concerned for his well being. It is this concern that compels us to write this article in order to expose the teachings of Ephraimite followers. We have withheld the identities of the persons involved for obvious reasons. The conversation lasted 45 minutes. Read More

We Are Not “Under One Umbrella”

The Ephraimite movement has changed the perspective upon those who remain Faith abiding. During the supervision of our faith by Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory one would not have imagined an attempt to defend the indefensible. But, like a very bad nightmare that has taken a life of its own, this is what we hear from our clergy. Rare is the Priest that will directly confront the issue of the Ephraimites. Some will not even engage in a discussion about the issues that surround the Ephraimites. Do faith abiding Priests and Hierarchs owe a duty to rightfully educate our laity? Do we as members of the laity have a duty to guard the faith? Read More

The Aerial Toll House Myth and Why this Teaching is Flawed

Background
The Aerial Toll House myth was introduced to Christianity by Gnostics in the early Church. Like many heresies, it has resurfaced throughout the existence of the Church. Its most recent retread was spurred by Seraphim Rose in his book The Soul after Death. Recently, it has been heavily integrated into the theology of Elder Ephraim and his followers. The Aerial Toll House myth states that upon death one’s soul must encounter 20 (some say 40) demonic stations within the realms of the space between the earth and Heaven. Each station interrogates the soul of the deceased for a specific transgression. If the soul fails at any one of these toll houses it is supposedly dragged to Hell by demonic spirits. This teaching comes from a dream had by Gregory, a disciple of St. Basil the New, which gives an account of the journey of St. Theodora through the Toll Houses. (This teaching has also been referred to as the dream of Blessed Theodora). Supporters of this teaching, which comes from the tenth century, often use spurious references of the writings of various Saints in an attempt to validate this myth. …Read More

Are The Lambs Being Poisoned?

Reflections from a “Cradle to Grave” Greek Orthodox Christian

Recently, I sat down to talk to my son who is a Religious Studies Major at a University. I was curious to hear his opinion about the damage caused by so many individual Priests in the Metropolis of Chicago to the Parishes where they have been assigned. He is one of many young adults who have had their ecclesiastical lives uprooted by the assignment of a fundamentalist Ephraimite Priest. As you will read, his views and perspectives explain why this fundamentalist movement has taken hold and why it appeals to the laity on an individual basis. He is not, however, able to understand how the Metropolitan and his assistant Bishop are not being held accountable for allowing this to occur in their own Metropolis.

Our Metropolitan and assistant Bishop have invited these affected clergymen to serve here. They have witnessed the damage done to those Parishes. No one is able to understand their decisions, but, ultimately, they will be judged for it. Remarkably both of these Hierarchs have the respect of many of their colleagues for their collective ability to squeeze every single dollar in “fair share” assessments from their flock.

My son made a profound observation about our faith. He looked up and said it simply, “We Greek Orthodox Christians have a Shepherd’s religion”. Many times I had heard the word flock to describe the laity. I admitted to him that I never gave much thought or consideration to the Priest as a Shepherd. He carefully explained to me that the extent of our theological knowledge as laymen comes from what we learn through our Priest’s sermons and the conversations we have with him. Without our own independent knowledge of our Greek Orthodox religion, it is almost automatic for laypeople to accept the heretical teachings of an Ephraimite Priest as fact, simply for the reason that it is the only side of the story that laypeople have heard. We then discussed how our old Parish community was transformed from a working partnership of clergy and laity based on a consensus, to a dictatorial theocracy. The newly assigned Ephraimite Priest used his assumed powers to become an unquestioned Shepherd. His new flock soon divided into camps. Read More…

Letters, Emails and Comments from Friends and Foes

We are excited to report that we have received many hits to our website. In the first 10 days of January alone, we have received over 27,000 hits. Obviously, our website’s disclosure of the Ephraimite agenda has exposed a need by the faithful to learn more about the Ephraimites, their cult and our faith.

We have selected a sampling of correspondence to our Editors and our website. You, our readers, have made some insightful observations and suggestions. We have tried to shield the identity of the authors, while giving you some information about their background. In some cases we have very little idea of the nature or identity of the author. While in other cases, we are very familiar with them. Our goal is not to “out” any of them. Our only goal is to give our readers insight into the various perspectives that exist among the faithful. Our introductions and comments are bolded and italicized.

Sadly, some emails by certain members of the Ephraimite Cult are so disturbing, that we can not publish them. We have also taken the liberty of redacting certain sections that would certainly expose their identity. We have bracketed [and added eclipses…..] to those missing areas of submitted text. We have not corrected spelling errors, nor have we edited grammatical or other obvious errors of any nature. We welcome dialogue on the important issues facing the future of the Greek Orthodox faith. We hope this article does not discourage future correspondence from either our Friends or Foes.

Correspondence from our Foes

This was an email we received early on. It is sent to us from a young woman who lives in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago. She has a relative who is a monk in one of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries. We believe that this email speaks for itself. It is very typical of many of the hateful emails we have received.

Are you so scared of the Efraimites that you have (spies) at all churches??? HA HA HA HA!!!! Now you scare US…
And how about the the tax-exempt organization, why do you have that??? you don’t pay taxes?? why? what do you offer??.

Let me tell you something!! as an Efraimite (and proud one) you guys don’t scare me or anybody else. We are not hiding, you are…
We have nothing to hide. You can go everywere and do whatever pleases you and still you can’t do nothing about it. It’s that simple!!!
So stop hiding like the rats in the dirt and show your face or maybe you are so ashamed!!!!Father Efraim did not ask you or anybody else to go to him… i am so amazed of your stupidity like you investigate a high crime scene!!! and who are you anyway, and who is going to report to you???
sooooo stop being let’s say stupid and get a life… ok???
Like you said, nobody is paying attention to you, not enen the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Read More…

Ephraimite Fallacies (Part One)
Avoid Becomming an Accesory to Their Schismatic Offense

Most people will tell you that a fallacy is a false or mistaken idea. The reality is that a single or multiple fallacies can serve as the basis of an individual’s incorrect understanding of his or her own faith. As we have opened a door to a debate about the Ephraimite Monasteries one thing is clear, misinformation is being used as a tool to falsely educate their followers. We begin by looking at some of the constant claims made by the Ephraimites in support of their peripheral movement within our Church and follow with our responses to their false claim by pointing out the major differences between the Monasteries on Mount Athos and the Monasteries of Elder Ephraim.

Their Claim

Elder Ephraim has merely brought “Athonite Monasticism” to North America. Or, people are only upset with this form of Monasticism because they don’t understand it.

OUR RESPONSE

First, one has to understand that even a claim that there is a universal form of Athonite Monasticism is a fallacy. The various Monasteries of Mount Athos are not carbon copies of each other. There are 20 different Monasteries and 12 Sketes on Mount Athos. A Skete is a small Monastic community housed on the grounds or property of a larger Monastery. There are some similarities that do exist among the vast majority of these religious enclaves. The first similarity is the schedule of the Divine Liturgy. Let’s use this as a starting point to tell our readers why the claim that the Ephraimite Monasteries are bringing an “Athonite Monasticism” to North America is a fallacy. Read More…

Encyclical of His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew issued for the Sunday of Orthodoxy 2010 on Fanaticism and Ecumenism

We ask all of our readers to examine the very important Encyclical of His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew that was to be read on the Sunday of Orthodoxy by the Clergy to all Greek Orthodox Parishes in the United States. In this Encyclical, Patriarch Bartholomew addresses, among other things, Orthodox Fanaticism and Ecumenism. Unfortunately for the Faith abiding, these two concepts are entangled and used to gain a following among the fringe groups that exist within our Church today.

The fringe groups, which include the Ephraimites, have strategically and narrowly defined the typical layman’s understanding of Ecumenism and use this as propaganda to attest that they are the true protectors of the faith. We now have a growing number of laity who accept the Ephraimite’s definition of Ecumenism. The term Ecumenism can be broadly defined as a movement promoting unity between different Christian religions. The Ephraimites and their followers have narrowed the definition and characterize Ecumenism as any conversation, dialogue, or negotiation of theological issues between any Orthodox Hierarch and any other Christian group. They have convinced their followers that most Greek Orthodox Hierarchs, but, especially the Patriarch has betrayed our Faith. Time after time, the Fanatics use the “Straw Man” method of argument to successfully convince their followers that only the old calenderists, Russian Hierarchs, or the Monastics have the best interest of the Orthodox Christians in mind. They have succeeded where many of our own Hierarchs have failed. They have educated those that hunger for the truth. Sadly, the hungry are not fed the truth. The Ephraimites have found a vacuum, now they fill it with their own brand of Heresy. Soon, you will need a Hierarch standing next to you to distinguish fact from fiction. Read More…

Money-Money-Money, Part One
March 5, 2010

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident”.

Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher 1788-1860

This is the first in a series of articles that will explain, analyze, disclose, and enlighten faith abiding Greek Orthodox Christians about the financial operations of the Ephraimite Monasteries of North America. We have spent the last two years analyzing this complex network. An open mind is crucial to develop your opinions after reading each of our articles and doing your own due diligence. The information is available for all who desire to find it. We respectfully request that you read the Greek Newspapers that are all on-line or at the very least their English language versions which are often abbreviated.

Some Background Information

The background information will provide a basic understanding of the Vatopedi, (also spelled “Vatopaedi”) land scandal. Future articles will describe the recent construction boom at Elder Ephraim’s Monasteries in the United States and Canada. The question asked by many is whether there is any correlation between these two issues. At the end of this article we include a list of sources so that our readers can confirm the facts and can be provided with additional information. The editors at Gotruthreform.org included citations throughout the article for our reader’s convenience. The basic background information is as follows:

1. The Monastery of Vatopedi is by far the richest located on Mount Athos. It has real estate and business holdings in Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and several other Balkan countries. Carassava, A. (2008, Oct. 25) Land Scandal Threatens Greek Leader. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/25/world/europe/25greece.html?_r=3 See also Michaletos, I. and Deliso, C. (2008, Nov. 4) Scandel over Vatopedi: International Capital and Aristocracy, Mixed with Greek Politics. Retrieved from http://www.balkanalysis.com/2008/11/04/scandal-over-vatopedi-international-capital-and-aristocracy-mixed-with-greek-politics/ .

2. Vatopedi is the most popular of all monasteries on Mount Athos, hosting a “Who’s Who” of the rich and famous including Vladimir Putin, Prince Charles and in the last decade has become the favorite religious sanctuary of Greek politicians from all major parties. Gilson, G (2008, Sept. 29) Unholy Scandal Burns Government. Athens News. Retrieved fromhttp://www.athensnews.gr/articles/13305/19/09/2008/22214, Gilson G. (2008, Dec. 5) Press Watch, Athens News. Retrieved from http://www.athensnews.gr/articles/13316/05/12/2008/22578

3. Before land scandal criminal charges were filed, its Abbot was Ephraim (also spelled Efraim in some newspaper reports) of Vatopedi. Many also allege that he is the “spiritual son” of Elder Ephraim of Florence, Arizona, formerly of Philotheou.

4. The monastery of Vatopedi has on numerous occasions disclosed that it has sent money to North America for the benefit of monasteries and church organizations. Several of these admissions are made on the official website of the Vatopedi Monastery. These can be found at the following links:

a. http://vatopaidi.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/vatopaidis-statement-for-the-churchs-people/

b. http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/filladio-immb-english.pdf

c. Still other facts have come out of news conferences and statements made by Monastery officials to journalists and others.

5. Elder Ephraim of Vatopedi has already been convicted along with Judge Maria Psalti and one other monk of a breach of duty stemming from the delay in publishing a 2004 ruling against the Monastery of Vatopedi in a property dispute. At the base of the criminal conviction was a finding that Elder Ephraim and his fellow monk were responsible for influencing a delay by Judge Psalti which permitted them to facilitate a conveyance of land. That land was exchanged for land owned by the Greek government and it is this exchange, among others, that are currently under further investigation. In the United States this type of crime is known as “Obstruction of Justice”. AP (2009, Oct. 18) Abbot Convicted in Land Case. Athens News. Retrieved fromhttp://www.athensnews.gr/articles/13360/18/10/2009/3335.

6. When Elder Ephraim of Vatopedi was called in for questioning about the land scandal by the Greek Authorities, he refused to answer any questions. Elder Arsenios is Elder Ephraim’s right hand and is the monk responsible for the financial operations of the Vatopedi Monastery. He also refused to answer questions. Tzamaros, P. (2008, Nov. 11). Monks Snub Parliament’s Investigation. Ekathimerini. Retrieved at http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_2_25/11/2008_102452
Read More…

http://gotruthreform.org/money-part-one-continued

 

THIS IS NOT CONFESSION – DON’T BE FOOLED

March 14, 2010

We have received many reports from victims of spiritual abuse promulgated through the tool of confession. The following article illustrates a number of examples of the typical testimonies we have documented regarding the misuse of the power of confession.

 

 

 

Greek Orthodox Fundamentalism and Evangelicals

April 5, 2010

There is a movement in the Greek Orthodox Church led by the monastic adherents of Elder Ephraim. The adherents of this movement are called “Ephraimites”. That descriptive term has now become universally used by Clergy, Laity and Theologians to describe the adherents to Elder Ephraim. Although, it is not the only Fundamentalist movement within Orthodoxy; it is by far the one generating the most schismatic polarization among the Greek Orthodox in North America.

 

Fortunate Encounter

May 4, 2010

If you asked me a couple years ago if I thought a schism would occur in our Greek Orthodox Church, I would have called you crazy. Now, unfortunately, that seems to be the path we are on due to a fundamentalist movement which is occurring within our Archdiocese, in our Metropolises and especially on the local Parish level.

 

Protectors of Our Faith?

May 20, 2010

The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are individuals deeply devoted to the Greek Orthodox faith and tradition and dedicated to the protection and promotion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its mission.

 

Ephraimite or Faith Abiding Priest?

June 3, 2010

The Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform’s (“GOCCTR”) website receives a myriad of emails in support of and opposition to our mission. All emails received by GOCCTR are reviewed by the Editors of GOCCTR and in our duty to inform the readers, the Editors have determined to address the issues posed in relevant specific email messages. We chose this email because it reflects typical arguments made by those who do not support our mission. The following email is authored by a Priest from the Metropolis of Pittsburgh. The italicized text is the email in full followed by categorical responses by the Editors to the issues posed.

 

The Decade of Neglect

 

July 5, 2010
On January 12, 1999, the five Metropolitans who were then serving the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America authored a “Report” to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy and Sacred Synod of Constantinople. It was published in The National Herald of New York in Greek (January 16-17, 1999) and in English (January 23-24, 2009).

The five Metropolitans authoring this report at that time were Iakovos of Krinis (Chicago), Anthony of Dardanellion (San Francisco), Maximos of Ainou (Pittsburgh), Methodios of Aeno (Boston) and Isiah of Proikonisou (Denver).

 

 

The Role of a Spiritual Father

 

September 20, 2010

“A person without a soul-friend is like a body without a head.”
Saint Brigid of Kildare

These are the words of St. Brigid, abbess of the Kildare Convent in Ireland. In the Celtic tradition, a person called an anam chara, Gaelic for soul friend, played the same role as a spiritual father. They were a guide, a confessor, a friend, and most importantly a person with whom the Christian journeyed and with whom they shared all their joys and sorrows. Her words sum up the importance of the spiritual father in the lives of Orthodox Christians of 5th century Ireland, and even the Orthodox Christians of the modern world.

The role of spiritual father is an important component of an Orthodox Christian’s life. As an individual’s chief guide and confessor, they educate and guide their spiritual sons and daughters through the joys and sorrows of life. They are called upon to heal the wounds of both body and soul and, most importantly, they help the individual on the road to theosis, or the ultimate attainment of union with God. Although the role of spiritual father is of great importance, it can be misused to the detriment of not only the spiritual child but also the spiritual father.

 

Do You Pray “Twelve Times a Day”?

 

October 14, 2010

After receiving a significant number of emails from individuals all across the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA), it has become evident to our editors that the laity of the GOA live in two separate worlds. The common thread connecting these two worlds is the presence of GOA priests. Yet, distinct differences exist in the interpretations of our faith including which canons are emphasized in our modern day world. You are about to read how these two worlds are continuously colliding.

 

Confessions About an Ephraimite Confession

 

November 23, 2010
As a preteen, before I knew anything about the movement of Elder Ephraim, I attended a church now identified as a center of Ephraimite ideology, where I now recognize how much I was affected by their doctrines. In retrospect, it is frightening to think about how indoctrinated I had become. I spent nights laying awake with the vision of demons coming to attack me. I spent days contemplating my salvation and tried desperately to pray away all of the evil impulses of the world. My life and thoughts concentrated on death. At times, I wished that it would just come before I could become corrupted any further in the society that I was taught to believe was inherently evil. These feelings lasted the entire duration of my time under the guidance of the Ephraimite priests at this church, but they were most vivid during one particular youth retreat.

 

 

 

 

An Exploration of True Monasticism

 

January 9, 2011

Over the life of the website gotruthreform.org, the editors have received numerous accusatory emails suggesting that those who created the website are “anti-monastic”. As a coalition of faith-abiding Greek Orthodox Christians, we can collectively say that this suggestion could not be any further from the truth. Monasticism is an integral part of the Orthodox Faith and is a necessary aspect of the full Christian life. We at gotruthreform.org have not ignored the role that ascetics and monasteries maintain within the Church. Our members have visited, financially supported, and volunteered at countless monasteries, both in the United States and abroad. In fact, without monastics, Orthodoxy would not be present in its current form. Many of our Forefathers enriched their lives and the Faith with the monastic tradition. The well-known Desert Fathers, including St. Anthony the Great, laid the groundwork for modern monasticism. They are regarded as one of the major influences provided by the Church Fathers. From the solid foundations built by these men, a great history of asceticism has arisen, producing many of our Saints.

 

Ruth’s Blog

January 17, 2011

The following is the first entry of a blog written by Ruth. Her name has been changed in order to protect her identity. The policy of anonymity maintained by the Editors of this website is imperative in order to prevent abusive verbal attacks toward her which we have witnessed against others who have spoken out against Ephraimite monasteries. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios is aware of her identity.

The Blog of Ruth is written by a woman who contacted the editors at the gotruthreform website desperately seeking help to reunite with her husband who was living at an Ephraimite monastery. She has documented her and her family’s ordeal in a series of letters and journal entries. This is a recorded history of her and husband’s journey in joining an Ephraimite monastery. This entry and subsequent entries on Ruth’s Blog will describe how the nuns at an Ephraimite Monastery came between the sacramental union of a husband and wife. We will focus on the facts of how an innocent, trusting and pious couple became victims of the blind obedience demanded by these monasteries. She wrote the following letter to Archbishop Demetrios. This letter was hand delivered to the Archbishop personally. It is divided into two parts. Part II will appear next week. The author’s altruistic intent in making these postings, which include some very painful personal information, is to educate others to prevent them from experiencing the intense pain and suffering she has endured. We applaud her courage and will protect her anonymity while shining the full light on her and her husband’s experience with Ephraimite monasteries.

 

Ruth’s Blog

January 27, 2011

To Our Readers:

We have received several comments to the first entry on Ruth’s Blog. Many have been moved by her experience. As promised, here is Part II of Ruth’s letter to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios.

Part II of Ruth’s Letter to Archbishop Demetrios:

When I arrived at my daughter’s house, I thought the worst surely must be over. I was completely numb, empty, hopeless, as though having no future, and I had absolutely nothing to call my own, nor any resources. But the worst was not by any means over.

My daughter had an arrangement with her father (that is, a blessing from the abbot) to speak with him on the phone once a week. She also had a blessing to visit the monastery that following week-end. Before I left, I mentioned to the abbess that my daughter was going to go visit on Saturday. She said, “Oh, I doubt if they will let her come now that you are leaving. They will probably put him in isolation.” Immediately I got that his family had now become a threat. Sure enough, three days later, he called to say that she could not visit, probably until sometime next year, and that she could not call him for at least two months. His comment was, “It’s different than I thought.” She was devastated.

 

Monasticism: The Angelic Evangelic Life

February 14, 2011

Please take the time to read the following article written by Fr. Steven Salaris of the Antiochian Archdiocese of America. It was published in the March 2010 issue of the Antiochian Archdiocesan newsletter The Word. The article does an excellent job in defining the role of Monasticism in America. Fr. Steven also demonstrates the overwhelming good Monasticism will do for Orthodoxy in America.

Fr. Steven earned his Ph.D. in mammalian physiology from Purdue University in 1991. In the Year 2000, Fr. Steven earned his M.Div. from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Christian Theological Seminary and was ordained into the priesthood that same year on July 9th. Fr. Steven Salaris currently serves at All Saints of North America Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in St. Louis, MO.

 

Ruth’s Blog

February 20, 2011

LICENSE TO LIE

I am the way, the truth, and the life. [John 14:6]

People should never permit falsehood of any kind to invade their conversation, their professional work, their meetings, or their writings. Either truth or falsehood: towards spiritual independence or towards spiritual servitude.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

To bend the truth is to bend the mind. To bend the mind is to damage the soul. Of all people on earth, perhaps no one is more responsible to live in truth than one who has given over his entire life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and above all, one who has taken into his own hands the formation and care of souls. To devalue truth in oneself, and to set that example before others, is a spiritual crime, and one that inexorably leads to death of the soul.

One Monday as I worked with two sisters and a visiting pilgrim cleaning the monastery guest house, the sister in charge sent me upstairs to get a special broom for cleaning under the beds. I returned with a long, narrow broom. She said that that was the wrong broom. Someone else went up and returned with a long, narrow swivel mop. It was like the typical dust mop made with strings, only longer.

I said to the sister, “Oh, I thought you wanted a broom. That’s a mop.” She replied, “That is not a mop, it’s a broom.” Something about this exchange troubled me exceedingly. Shortly, a second pilgrim who had been cleaning upstairs appeared and inquired whether she should take our mop outside to shake it out.

A few days later, when I asked the abbess about this perplexing exchange, she commented, “Oh….it’s a monastic thing.”

I was deeply agitated as I attempted to grasp the meaning of such a concept. Somehow, it seemed, a monastic had a special right to alter reality, or more to the point, a monastic in charge could “bend the truth” over an underling.

A few weeks later, this abbess said to me: “If I tell one of the younger sisters that black is white, she will repeat it back to me, and she will believe it. If I tell you that black is white, you might repeat it back to me, but you won’t believe it. You have had too much experience in the world.”

This shocking revelation, a concrete expression of what I had been sensing for several weeks, abruptly challenged my entire repertoire of monastic assumptions. From this point on, I could no longer brush aside the incongruence I had been noticing at every turn. This was no small indiscretion to be ignored or relegated to some remote corner of the mind. This was rather a fundamental modus operandi at the monastery, being not only an alarming foundational assumption, but a convenient and deceitful strategy for indoctrination and mind control.

Now a host of questions flooded my mind. With the leadership’s blanket license to lie, and not just small, “inconsequential” lies, but lies diametrically opposed to the truth, how is one to ever discern truth on any level? How much of what one already has been told is false? To what extent is lying the norm? Does one start small and grow into the ability to lie without restraint? Is believing a lie rewarded? Is one punished for not believing a lie? Under what circumstances can one expect to be instructed falsely?

I know the answer to only one of these questions. Yes, indeed, one is punished for not believing a lie. The consequence of being “so worldly” as to reject believing a lie is to be slowly and cruelly ostracized from the monastery and judged unfit for the monastic life…. a most blessed fate, in the final analysis.

I submit that the license to lie practiced in these monasteries has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ, Who is Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Rather, it is a direct result of the activity of Satan, whom Scripture tells us is a liar and the father of lies.

We pass over in silence the world’s tacit agreement that truth is no longer relevant. We know for certain that this applies to the media and to society as a whole. Now, we discover that for some, truth is as well no longer relevant in the spiritual life. In fact, deceit in these monasteries is a tool used arbitrarily to bend the mind and coerce the soul into blind obedience.

“You shall know the truth and truth shall make you free.” It is fascinating, astounding. What does this mean? It means that the path to freedom lies not in the fact that the parliament made a law of greater freedom today, but [rather] that you have to go through the truth. And if you go through truth just a little, then you will no longer say things such as, ‘Well, if the people are good, truth doesn’t matter.’” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” Psalm 15:1-2

Editor’s Comments
Ruth’s account of her experience at the Monastery strikes at the core of what we know to be true and is so powerfully written that it needs neither introduction nor conclusion.

 

The Blog of Ruth – Entry #4 – Blind Obedience

March 7, 2011

Introduction

In our continuing series on Ruth and her experience with some of the monasteries supported by the cult of Ephraim of Arizona, the editors introduce Joshua, Ruth’s husband, who was emboldened by his faith in God to write the following account of his experience upon leaving one of these Monasteries. We thank him for contributing to the mission of this website. As we reported earlier, as a result of Ruth’s blog, we are receiving reports from families whose lives have been significantly and negatively impacted by some of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries. Joshua’s altruistic goal is the same as Ruth’s, which is to warn others by educating them of the dangers that lie in the monastic world when blind obedience results in unintended consequences. Joshua eloquently conveys his experience and pain to all of us. The editors feel that the best answer to lies is to bring the truth fully out in the open and to allow those who have been most severely affected to tell their story without prior editorial constraints. Again, we are indebted to you, Joshua for writing this account in you own words.

Dangers of Blind Obedience and Breaking the Bond of Marriage

Put not your trust in princes, in sons of men, in whom there is no salvation.
(Ps. 146:3)

Traditionally, the monk submits to his elder as if he were submitting to Christ, and that is the model handed down through the ages. In this way, every decision, whether it seems right or not, is given over to the one in charge. This ideal striving, however, can be horribly abused as it was in my case. When a person is airtight convinced of someone’s benevolence, that person is entirely blind to anything to the contrary. When all of the externals appear above reproach, there is left no room for a trace of suspicion.

In the monastery where I lived for nine months, the abbot repeatedly preached blind obedience. After a visit to the main monastery, he related that on at least half a dozen occasions, his Elder Ephraim had reiterated, “Blind obedience! Blind obedience is what is needed!” The following describes how I carried out blind obedience, how it affected my mental state, and where it led.

After my wife Ruth was forced out of her monastery, I had no way of finding out what had led her to leave, since my only source of information was what the abbot told me, which was riddled with lies, as I will subsequently prove. By submitting myself and every aspect of my life to this abbot, I became totally isolated from my wife, as I was forbidden to have any communication with her.

Originally, my wife and I had agreed with one mind and one spirit to live apart in separate monasteries, following in the path of certain other married couples who had historically made this decision. While we can never know how these couples fared in perhaps genuine monasteries under truly dispassionate elders, we can certainly state categorically how this dreadful decision impacted our own lives in modern times, with the hope of warning couples, or in fact anyone else who may have the inclination toward monasticism, of the following:

1. It is very dangerous to base a decision for monastic life on what is only visible on the surface.
2. It is impossible to perceive important contradictions from the vantage point of merely observing a group from the outside.
3. It is inexpressible:
• how powerful is the bond of marriage;
(they are no more two, but one flesh [Matt. 19:6]);
• how right marriage is in God’s eyes (Eph 5:21-32);
• how much God hates divorce, (Mal 2:16) whether it be a legal divorce or a breach in the marriage for other reasons;
• and above all, that marriage is indisputably recognized by the Church as one of the seven great sacraments, whereas a monastic vow is not and has never been.

To continue, now that my wife was out of the monastery, I was prevented not only from learning what had happened to her, but from exercising my power in Christian freedom to choose the course we would take, now that our original plan no longer existed. The abbot assumed ownership of me to the extent that I no longer had the right to act on my own conscience or integrity, but rather was bound as a slave to the dictates of a person I had in fact only known for a short time.

When I asked him if he thought I should go to be with her, his answer was that I shouldn’t even consider it. He told me that she was happy to leave the monastery, which proved she had no true calling to monastic life according to him. This, of course, was in direct contradiction to the repeated insistence of Fr. Paisios that she was indeed called and in fact, should make no other plans for her life. I, on the other hand and according to the abbot, loved being at the monastery, which authenticated my calling.

Whereas I was assured that my wife was very happy out of the monastery, nothing could possibly express how far that was from the truth, as her life was completely shattered and she was in a state of total personal devastation. And whereas I was assured that I would be miserable if I left the monastery, in fact, the moment I left, I felt an incredible weight lifted from me, which came in successive waves of relief over a period of many days. Does this mean that I was not called to the monastic life? Certainly I can say without a doubt that I was not called to this form of so-called monastic life, and neither was my wife.

I must confess that I initially dreaded the thought of leaving the monastery, since I completely trusted the abbot, and was convinced that being a monk was how I would find salvation and save my family. My wife and I had been told early on by Elder Paisios at St. Anthony’s, that the way to really help our children was to join the monastery. On the strength of that saying, we had sold or given away everything in order to clear the path into this new way of life. Like so many other men and women who have a heart for the monastic life, we wanted to give ourselves totally to Christ, and so we innocently took an enormous leap of faith which ultimately had huge, unforeseen ramifications on all levels.

Shortly after my wife left, I learned in a phone call from my daughter that her husband had left her, and that my daughter, my wife, and my three small grandchildren, would likely soon have little means of support and no place to live. (Prior to that, my wife had made desperate attempts to have me informed of their plight, but I was never told.) I again asked if perhaps I should go to help them. The abbot’s initial response was that I wouldn’t be much help anyway, just another dependent person looking for work. In retrospect, this was a clear method of diminishing my worth as a person able to operate effectively outside the abbot’s domain, despite the fact that I had always been capable of supporting my family, having owned and operated my own business for many years.

He also added that if I left, it would be very wrong, since I had desired monastic life for so many years. In other words, feeling a desire constitutes not only a calling, but God’s will for me, and to turn away from that life meant a turning away from God. In fact, the elite status of monastics was proved by frequently reiterating the notion that “only one in a thousand is called to monastic life, and of that, only one in a thousand respond.”

The abbot predicted at that time that if I left, I would end my life, “crying in a corner” and that those tears would have “no redeeming value”. This, in effect, was damning me to hell if I left. He also said that if I were to even think about leaving, this thought should be understood as coming from the devil.

Going against the abbot’s will was the unforgivable sin. In my state of mind, his answer thoroughly settled the question on two counts. First, it was unthinkable not to follow his counsel, as those who are recognized as elders are considered to have the gift of prophecy. Second, I was convinced his dreadful prediction would come true if I ever left. All of this despite the fact that I was under no vow whatsoever, and had only been clothed as a novice two weeks before, which coincidentally occurred immediately after my wife left her monastery. It is well understood, that the novitiate is only a trial period. The implication here is that every person who begins even as a novitiate is condemned to loss of salvation if he or she for any reason leaves without the elder’s blessing. In other words, the elder was laying a curse of damnation on me because I would be acting without his blessing. To this, I have this to say in the Name of Jesus:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I
give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither
shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave
them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of
my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)

The blessing of the elder is seen to constitute the will and word of God. However, there were many instances in my own experience in which the word of the elder overrode Scripture as well as my own conscience. The following verses are clear examples of how man’s pharisaic traditions were given more weight than God’s Word:

“But if any provide not for his own, especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim 5:8)

One Scripture that was quoted to me on more than one occasion and by more than one person was:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” (Lu 14:26)

If we are to understand by this verse that my returning to my responsibilities to my family as stated in First Timothy constituted loving my family more than Christ, then the Bible contradicts itself, which we know is not possible since scripture cannot be broken. John 10:35. In fact, I committed spiritual adultery by listening to this false and unbiblical counsel and by remaining in the monastery when my wife was about to become destitute with no one to help, support, or protect her.

The Priest there to whom I confided everything, repeatedly assured me that my place was in the monastery. He said that I should forget my wife and family, that I should place them in God’s hands and let Him take care of them. He and other fathers assured me that an angel had been assigned to take care of them in my place and that my family was in better hands that way. This is an example of a man-made tradition which has been written about in various books, but which in truth has no basis in Scripture, and which counsels cruelty and negligence. Now, to my shame and sorrow, I understand how much pain I inflicted on my wife.

No one has the right to break up a marriage, which was what was happening as long as I went along with their distortion of the truth. The moment that by the grace of God I became aware of how my wife was treated at the women’s monastery, the lie became evident and I was set free. I knew all at once that all I really wanted was to get out of there and be with my wife. No spiritual authority can legitimately justify causing the abandoning of one’s spouse, but they took that on themselves, boldly inserting themselves between my wife and me, and I participated in the crime until the moment I penetrated, by the grace of God, that false mental state. By God’s grace there came a moment of truth at once encompassing the entire picture of what I had accepted as truth, but which was in reality a house of cards waiting to fall.

This priest also said that in reality my wife was not really my wife, but that she belonged to God. In this way, not only was I being told that my marriage was invalid and not as pleasing to God as being a monk, it was a way of invalidating the sacrament of marriage itself, and spurning the teaching of our Lord that, “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mark 10:9)

My wife and I were consistently taught over a period of seven years that it was entirely appropriate to abandon our marriage in favor of living the monastic life, and we believed that we had the right to do this, even to the point of living for seven years as brother and sister. Our experience has proven to be entirely different, in that we both felt an overwhelming sense of being brutally torn in half, and we realized too late that “let no man put asunder” means not only by others, but by ourselves. We had no right to attempt to dissolve the bond of marriage which God Himself had formed thirty-one years ago. Neither do persons posing as spiritual leaders have the right to insert their man-made opinions into the bond of marriage, which happened at both monasteries.

I also would like to state how the Jesus prayer was used improperly. My primary obedience was to attempt to pray the Jesus prayer either orally or mentally continuously. I was told that that was my number one obedience. I conscientiously attempted to do this. The result was that any critical thinking was interpreted by me as an interruption thrown at me by the devil. The effect was that my conscience was overridden so that what I needed to hear I was screening out. In fact, repetition of the Jesus Prayer under circumstances such as these rubs out your ability to think critically, to follow a logical train of thought, or to profoundly question things that under any other circumstances would be absurd. Even when I would have fears about my wife or children, I instructed myself that this was coming from the devil and that in reality they were doing fine.

When I left the monastery, I walked away with nothing but the clothes on my back. When I later called to ask that my identifications be sent to me, I was told that both the abbot and abbess involved sent the message to me they were “very embittered” by my leaving, and the abbot predicted that I would end my life, “shedding black tears.” That means in a state of hopeless despair which would ultimately consign me to hell. This is the “blessing” that followed me. Can this be the word of a godly priest?

More importantly, I would like to end by posing these questions:

• To whom are these “elders” accountable?
• How is it that strangers are allowed to exercise such spiritual atrocities on unsuspecting American citizens?
• Why was there no response to my wife’s desperate appeal to Archbishop Demetrios for help?
• Who is at the helm of the Greek Orthodox Church of America?

Editors’ Note:

Both Joshua and Ruth were conflicted about whether to end Joshua’s account with the above mentioned questions. They did not want to offend any of our Hierarchs. The Editors at gotruthreform.org believe it is imperative to pose these questions. Not once, through our due diligence, have we heard any of our Hierarchs consoling the victims who have experienced abuse, suffering or even financial loss in their encounters with Elder Ephraim’s Monasteries. In addition to receiving reports about couples whose marriages ended after turning to a monastery for counsel, we have also received reports from several parents whose children left their families to join the monasteries. These parents tell us that their children never had plans or spoke of a calling to join a monastery before they left. When asked whether they have reached out to their local Hierarchs for guidance or help, their responses have been shockingly similar. Instead of receiving guidance or insight, their parenting skills were called into question by their local Metropolitan. We have yet to hear any accounts of family members being consoled rather than criticized.

Recently, Bishop Elias of Philomelion, Interim Abbot at the St. Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery in Astoria, N.Y. was quoted by The National Herald, a weekly Greek American Publication as follows: “There are victims and when someone is a victim, he suffers, and on that pain we as clergy and spiritual fathers should show the necessary sensitivity.” Kalmoukos, Theodore. “Bishop Elias Met Alleged Sex Abuse Victim” The National Herald [New York] February 26-March 4, 2011, Vol.14, Issue 698, pp. 1+4. We ask our readers to please send us reports of our Hierarchs showing such sensitivity for a victim or a victim’s family as a result of any actions by Elder Ephraim’s monks or Priests who follow the Elder. Thank you again Joshua for your courage and forthright statement of what has occurred to your family and the pain that it caused.

 

The Blog of Ruth – Entry #3

 

February 20, 2011

LICENSE TO LIE

I am the way, the truth, and the life. [John 14:6]

People should never permit falsehood of any kind to invade their conversation, their professional work, their meetings, or their writings. Either truth or falsehood: towards spiritual independence or towards spiritual servitude.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

To bend the truth is to bend the mind. To bend the mind is to damage the soul. Of all people on earth, perhaps no one is more responsible to live in truth than one who has given over his entire life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and above all, one who has taken into his own hands the formation and care of souls. To devalue truth in oneself, and to set that example before others, is a spiritual crime, and one that inexorably leads to death of the soul.

One Monday as I worked with two sisters and a visiting pilgrim cleaning the monastery guest house, the sister in charge sent me upstairs to get a special broom for cleaning under the beds. I returned with a long, narrow broom. She said that that was the wrong broom. Someone else went up and returned with a long, narrow swivel mop. It was like the typical dust mop made with strings, only longer.

I said to the sister, “Oh, I thought you wanted a broom. That’s a mop.” She replied, “That is not a mop, it’s a broom.” Something about this exchange troubled me exceedingly. Shortly, a second pilgrim who had been cleaning upstairs appeared and inquired whether she should take our mop outside to shake it out.

A few days later, when I asked the abbess about this perplexing exchange, she commented, “Oh….it’s a monastic thing.”

I was deeply agitated as I attempted to grasp the meaning of such a concept. Somehow, it seemed, a monastic had a special right to alter reality, or more to the point, a monastic in charge could “bend the truth” over an underling.

A few weeks later, this abbess said to me: “If I tell one of the younger sisters that black is white, she will repeat it back to me, and she will believe it. If I tell you that black is white, you might repeat it back to me, but you won’t believe it. You have had too much experience in the world.”

This shocking revelation, a concrete expression of what I had been sensing for several weeks, abruptly challenged my entire repertoire of monastic assumptions. From this point on, I could no longer brush aside the incongruence I had been noticing at every turn. This was no small indiscretion to be ignored or relegated to some remote corner of the mind. This was rather a fundamental modus operandi at the monastery, being not only an alarming foundational assumption, but a convenient and deceitful strategy for indoctrination and mind control.

Now a host of questions flooded my mind. With the leadership’s blanket license to lie, and not just small, “inconsequential” lies, but lies diametrically opposed to the truth, how is one to ever discern truth on any level? How much of what one already has been told is false? To what extent is lying the norm? Does one start small and grow into the ability to lie without restraint? Is believing a lie rewarded? Is one punished for not believing a lie? Under what circumstances can one expect to be instructed falsely?

I know the answer to only one of these questions. Yes, indeed, one is punished for not believing a lie. The consequence of being “so worldly” as to reject believing a lie is to be slowly and cruelly ostracized from the monastery and judged unfit for the monastic life…. a most blessed fate, in the final analysis.

I submit that the license to lie practiced in these monasteries has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ, Who is Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Rather, it is a direct result of the activity of Satan, whom Scripture tells us is a liar and the father of lies.

We pass over in silence the world’s tacit agreement that truth is no longer relevant. We know for certain that this applies to the media and to society as a whole. Now, we discover that for some, truth is as well no longer relevant in the spiritual life. In fact, deceit in these monasteries is a tool used arbitrarily to bend the mind and coerce the soul into blind obedience.

“You shall know the truth and truth shall make you free.” It is fascinating, astounding. What does this mean? It means that the path to freedom lies not in the fact that the parliament made a law of greater freedom today, but [rather] that you have to go through the truth. And if you go through truth just a little, then you will no longer say things such as, ‘Well, if the people are good, truth doesn’t matter.’” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” Psalm 15:1-2

Editor’s Comments
Ruth’s account of her experience at the Monastery strikes at the core of what we know to be true and is so powerfully written that it needs neither introduction nor conclusion.

 

 

 

 

The Living Saint

 

June 17, 2011

This letter was written to the editors of Gotruthreform.org. It serves as one example of several reports to the website claiming that Elder Ephraim is a living saint. We have also heard reports of requests for donations to help the “living saint” pay his mortgages. We know of no reports that there is a living saint in any of the monasteries of Greece. The following is a record of a conversation heard in Dallas, Texas. It has been edited for conciseness.

 

Editorial Edition

July 11, 2011

Editors’ Note:
The following letter to the Editors at gotruthreform.org provides insightful reflections concerning how some members of the laity are working to support the financial operations of the monasteries under the spiritual guidance of Elder Ephraim. We are interested in hearing your thoughts and comments on the following letter.

Ephraimites Peddling at Secular Festival
On a recent visit to the “Taste of Park Ridge” (which is the suburban version of the Taste of Chicago) where one can stroll and sample foods and beverages of the local vendors, I discovered a booth whose placard was entitled, “St. John Chrysostom Monastery of Kenosha, WI. The booth was manned by several people whom I recognized as being members of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church community (Des Plaines, IL). The booth did not sell icons, candles, reading materials, DVDs or the usual monastic products, but rather gyros, pastichio and other Greek delicacies.

A Reflection on a Texan

July 14, 2011

This brief article contains my reflections on the posting of June 17, 2011 on gotruthreform.org entitled “The Living Saint.” I found what was being said about Elder Ephraim and Orthodox clergy in general to be completely in error in regard to the teachings of the Orthodox Christian faith. In fact, the Texan gentleman quoted in the article demonstrates that much of what is coming out of Florence, AZ is heretical and, in my opinion, demonic.

 

A Witness To Pain and Destruction

October 6, 2011

A Letter to our Editors from a Faith Abiding Priest

We received the following letter to our Editors from a Faith Abiding Priest:

To the Editors at www.gotruthreform.org.:

Christianity has taken a back seat in the Metropolis of Chicago. No longer is our focus on our Savior Jesus Christ. No longer can we find endearing leaders who witness the teachings of the Gospel. No longer can we find joy in the hearts of the Clergy while they are coerced and intimidated by their supposed spiritual leaders. Instead we find coldness of heart along with blatant immorality and corruption. We also find ourselves entangled in webs of deceit and lies that emanate from those to whom we should be turning towards for encouragement and consolation. Where is the love of Christ! Where is the love of the Church! It has been replaced with the love of money, power and Machiavellian principles of life.

 

Deafening Silence

November 14, 2011

(Confessions of a GOTRUTHREFORM Editor)

I am one of many who have changed the course of their religious life as a result of the Ephraimites. Before I was personally affected by this “movement”, I was a happy and content Greek Orthodox Christian living a quiet family life in the Metropolis of Chicago where I was raised. I cannot say the same for my disposition today. The Ephraimite issue has changed my life and my view of our Greek Orthodox Church and its leadership.

 

Gay Parishioner Denied Communion

December 2, 2011

The Editors of gotruthreform.org website are compelled to write about an unfortunate matter that has been reported to us. For the sake of brevity, we will not include a long discussion of the Canon Laws regarding the facts. The followers of the Ephraimite fundamentalist movement indiscriminately choose which of the Orthodox Canons are identified as crucial and which require adherence.

The Orthodox fundamentalist movement is judgmental in nature, and legalistic in its adherence to the Church Canons. Often missing in their pastoral messages are references to a forgiving and loving God and the teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ who has paved the road for our salvation.

 

How Do You Know You Are In A Cult

January 3, 2012
The title to this article poses a question our Hierarchs and members of the Laity who lead our faith should be asking themselves. The editors of this website, Faith abiding Orthodox Clergy, Monastics unaffiliated with the Ephraimites and the vast majority of our email correspondents have used the term “cult” to characterize the structure, activities and organization of the monastic movement headed by the Elder Ephraim of Florence, Arizona. Certainly, there is no greater disagreement among the Faithful than the term of art used to describe this group, so which is it? Are the Ephraimites a movement, a branch of our traditional Orthodox Faith or, as we believe, are they a destructive cult?

The Politicizing of the Music Ministry of the Orthodox Christian Church

February 14, 2012

Editors’ IntroductionThe article below has an interesting genesis. The author and one of our Editors were discussing yet another Parish choir that was recently dissolved by an Ephraimite Priest. The choir in question was from a Parish located in the Metropolis of San Francisco, California. The Editor in question is from the Metropolis of Chicago. The author, a Senior Greek Orthodox Priest, has served in three different Metropolises but is not currently part of the dissolved choir’s Parish or Metropolis. Both the Editor and the Author are not strangers to this issue. Both are concerned about the by-products generated in our Parishes by the spiritual sons of Ephraimite theology. Both of these men strongly believe that these problems operate like a cancer within our beloved Archdiocese. Every ministry is subject to attack from within. We are confident that this article will create the necessary dialogue needed to preserve the sanctity of our Churches and their historic ministries.

 

The Politicizing of the Music Ministry of the Orthodox Christian Church

Music is an important medium that communicates with its words as well as the tones themselves. The Orthodox Church has identified 8 tones that are used in church music because they contribute towards enhancing prayer and inspiration. The Church is a dynamic place of worship. The form might present itself in different ways, but the content is the same. It is self evident how important music is within the Church’s life. It certainly lifts the spirit. Throughout the Church’s history, services are intoned or sung for this very reason. We see this phenomenon not only within the Orthodox Christian Church, but even within our Judaic roots, as illustrated in Old Testament Scripture as well. Even the Old Testament Scripture indicates the appropriateness of using musical instruments (as we see in the Psalms). Also in the Psalms, singing itself is noted as an offering to God. The place of chanters has long been evident in Old and New Testament worship. Whether it is in the synagogue or the Orthodox Christian church, chanters have provided a necessary contribution to the worship experience. Within the Orthodox Christian Church, chanters have been complemented by the use of choirs and organs. But this music ministry, like every ministry, has its challenges that should be identified and addressed, in order to better provide an atmosphere of understanding, peace and love within the community.

One Person and the Truth Consist of-the-Majority

March 10, 2012

“One Person and the Truth Consist of the Majority”
Abbott Sylvester the Hagiorite

Introduction

The following is a letter written by A.P. Cromidas to the Editor of The National Herald. After Mr. Cromidas submitted this letter, he gave us a copy and asked if we would be interested in publishing it on this website. We told him that we would be honored to but would wait to see if The National Herald would publish it. After a lengthy period of time, they did publish the Letter to the Editor which renewed our confidence in their editorial board. However, we did find it unusual that the original title of the article submitted to us by the author was “Monastery Cover Up?” We urge you to read Paul Cromidas’ letter and then read our Editors’ Notes which follow.

Pandora’s Box Vatopedi In Numbers (Partn One)

April 11, 2012

[Editor’s notes: The Editor’s of Gotruthreform.org have long felt that the events that surround the Vatopedi Monastery scandal are and should be a major concern to all that care about Orthodoxy. The links between the key players of this scandal and the Movement that is now commonly referred to as the “Ephraimites” is unnerving. At the center of the scandal is the deposed head Abbott of Vatopedi, commonly known as “Elder Ephraim of Vatopedi”. His spiritual brother (or as many suggest his current spiritual father) is commonly known as “Elder Ephraim of Philotheou”. It is Elder Ephraim of Philotheou that currently resides in Florence Arizona at the St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Monastery.

Both men were the spiritual sons of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Orthodox Wiki.org describes him as follows: “Elder Joseph the Hesychast was a Monk and elder on Mount Athos. He reposed in 1959, and he has wide acclaim for being the spiritual father or grandfather of Elders Ephrem {a/k/a Ephraim} of Philotheou, Joseph of Vatopedi, Charalampus of Dionysiou and others, who are directly credited for revitalising [sic] six of the twenty monasteries on Mount Athos.” http://orthodoxwiki.org/Joseph_the_Hesychast

Why is it important for those that care about Orthodoxy to understand this scandal? First it has been alleged that hundreds of millions of Euros were made by the Monastery of Vatopedi from the hundreds of real estate transactions they participated in with the Greek Government and then later with real estate developers. All the money generated by these transactions has not been accounted for by or to any official or ecclesiastical body.

The spread of Fundamentalism and the birth of “Athonite” Monasteries in North America required vast sums of money. Many do not believe that it came from “believers”. Many look to Greece and perhaps further east as the source of these funds. In our earlier article entitled “MONEY-MONEY-MONEY” we strongly suggest that the Vatopedi Monastery plays a key role in the funding of this extreme movement within our Faith.

In this article we deliver to our readers an accurate translation of the report aired on the show Pandora’s Box on the ERT channel in Greece. There are some sections that do not lend themselves to an exact verbatim translation of the broadcast, but we have strived to be extraordinarily close. In some sections this article, an accurate synopsis of the interviews and commentary contained in the broadcast are provided.

Generally, in the interest of accuracy the text has not always been modified to make this easier to read, so as not to disturb the exact language or intent of the speaker. We will add “Editor’s notes” to aid the reader’s understanding of important events or individuals. At the end of this article you will see a link that will take you to a site in which you can watch the original ERT broadcast of Pandora’s Box. There is a part one and part two of these broadcasts aired by the ERT Network. We urge you to read this article first and then watch the broadcast.]

The Grace Which Heals That Which Is Infirmed

May 9, 2012

I am a “cradle” Orthodox Christian and I have been an Orthodox priest for over a decade. Over the last twenty years or so, I have been astonished by the rise of Orthodox Christian fundamentalism which was never present in the Church when I was growing up. Now, as a priest, I find myself continually battling fundamentalism in all its covert, rigorist, and legalistic forms. I am always asked by catechumens whether or not they will have to be “re-baptized” or “re-married” because they know of people to whom this has happened. I find myself continually defending the basic practices and standard teachings of the Orthodox Church. In my studies of the problem of fundamentalist re-baptism and re-marriage, I found the basis of my refutation in, of all places, the prayers of ordination. It was then that I came to realize that the real problem lies in a failure to recognize the grace and operation of the Holy Spirit.

“Holy Deception”

June 22, 2012
The words “Holy Deception” have been used together in a serious discussion about religion. Unfortunately, these words describe an important tactic used by many leaders of the Ephraimite movement. The use of Holy Deception is nothing new to religions. Some religions have called it “Pious Fraud”, “Spiritual Deception” or even “Moral Deception.” Generally, most people call it just what it is: a lie. Persons who use holy deception believe it is acceptable to lie to you or deceive you for your own spiritual growth. The rationalization is that “the ends justify the means”. In an ironic twist, the use of “Holy Deception” is supposedly used to support Christian Orthodox belief, including the Commandment against bearing false witness.

A Call To Action

July 1, 2012

 

-GOTRUTHREFORM.ORG

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.

Scott Nevins: a voice crying in the wilderness

August 3, 2012

By Charles Shingledecker

The alleged June 11, 2012 suicide of former Greek Orthodox monk Scott Nevins sent shock waves through the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Given the fact that Church officials have remained startlingly silent since Nevins’ death, perhaps “shock waves” is a bit of an exaggeration.

The reality is that, as of July 26, 2012 the only official statement from anyone within the Church hierarchy (perhaps an obligatory gesture at best) came on June 14, 2012, when the official website of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco posted a letter by Metropolitan Gerasimos, in which he writes:

It is my paternal obligation to inform you of a tragic event that has occurred within the boundaries of our Holy Metropolis. A young man who had come to our Faith and became a novice at the Holy Monastery of St. Anthony the Great, and subsequently left the Monastery for unknown reasons last year, took his life last Monday morning at approximately 2:45 a.m. Scott Nevins, 27 years old, had spent six years at St. Anthony’s. Last year, after leaving the monastery he enrolled in a college in Oregon. In the early hours of last Monday morning, Scott took his life in an area near the monastery. (source: http://sanfran.goarch.org/blog/announcement-regarding-scott-nevins-death/)

What the Archbishop Could Have Said At the Clergy-Laity

August 18, 2012

 

By A.P. Cromidas

August 2,2012

The recently-concluded Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, held in Phoenix, was long on praise and short on forthrightness, like previous such gatherings. Sadly, this year, the opportunity for Archbishop Demetrios to be direct and frank about two timely and important news reports was lost.

PANDORA’S BOX VATOPEDI SCANDAL (PART 2)

August 25, 2012

The Editors of Gotruthreform.org have long felt that the events which surround the Vatopedi Monastery scandal are and should be a major concern to all who care about Orthodoxy. The links between the key players of this scandal and the Movement that is now commonly referred to as the “Ephraimites” is unnerving. At the center of the scandal is the deposed head Abbott of Vatopedi, commonly known as “Elder Ephraim of Vatopedi.” His spiritual brother (or as many suggest his current spiritual father) is commonly known as “Elder Ephraim of Philotheou.” It is Elder Ephraim of Philotheou that currently resides in Florence, Arizona at the St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Monastery.

Why is it important for those who care about Orthodoxy to understand this scandal? First it has been alleged that hundreds of millions of Euros were made by the Monastery of Vatopedi from the hundreds of real estate transactions they participated in with the Greek Government and then later with real estate developers. Not all of the money generated by these transactions has been accounted for by or to any official or ecclesiastical body.

Are all of the Canons to be Blindly Followed?

September 15, 2012

The following article was submitted to us by one of the youngest members of our editorial board. This person gives us a lighthearted review of a book entitled The Crazy Side of Orthodoxy by Charles Shingledecker published by Regina Orthodox Press, 2011. Like many of us who have encountered the negative effects of the Ephraimite movement, this person wanted to educate himself about his own faith and stumbled upon this book. The editor uses humor to get all of us to think about some of the Canons of our faith and how the Ephraimites have used and often misused the Canons. The humor is not intended to make light of our religious history or the Ephraimite issue but is used as a tool to reach out to the largest audience possible, a tool often used by priests during their sermons to reach out to their flock. We thank this young editor for his efforts and commend him for his obvious concern and love of our Greek Orthodox Faith.

Mainstream Orthodoxy vs. Ephraimite Fundamentalism

October 21, 2012

A Synoptical Overview

Introduction

Several editors of both WeAreOrthodox.com and GoTruthReform.org websites recognized the need to “package” the issue of the “Ephraimite” movement in an easy to read format. With consultation of Orthodox Clergy and Laity alike, the task was set in motion and resulted in this article. The following is a comparison of main-line Orthodox Christian beliefs and practices as compared to what is being referred to as “Ephraimite” beliefs and practices. Another term for “Ephraimite” that is used synonymously is “fundamentalist”.

In the following article, the reader will see how various issues are seen from two different sets of viewpoints. Yet both perspectives claim to be “Athonite” Orthodox Christianity. In other words, both views claim to be representative of the norms and standards of what is seen at monasteries at Mount Athos. Clearly the issues discussed in this article establish to the reader that this is not at all the case. Ephraimite Fundamentalist beliefs and practices are not an accurate representation of all monasteries on Mount Athos.

The opinions, representations and statements of fact reflected in this article have been extrapolated from statements and incidents reported to editors of both websites. The issues contained in this one article are not an exhaustive list. Although it is not comprehensive, it presents a wide spectrum of issues and concerns that one must look at. It does in fact raise some very significant concerns with the broad (but powerful) issues brought forth. One can intuitively conclude that monks live a more ascetic and austere life than the average parishioner of a typical Parish in America. The “Ephraimite” brand is now touted as the litmus test to what is pure and true Orthodoxy. The suggestion that parish life is inferior to the fundamentalist perspectives set forth is a grave concern that should prompt one to look at this issue a bit more intensely.

A Call from the Holy Mountain

January 16, 2012

Excerpts from, and Reflections on, Fr. Ephraim’s

“A Call from the Holy Mountain”

Editor’s Note: The following article is a collaboration of the Editors of We Are Orthodox (http://www.WeAreOrthodox.com) and Go Truth Reform (http://GoTruthReform.com). Through our due diligence we were able to obtain a copy of Elder Ephraim’s book “A Call From The Holy Mountain”. This is a must read for all of those interested in understanding the thinking of Elder Ephraim and his fundamentalist movement. His own words appear quite troubling.

Introduction:

The Elder Ephraim of Philotheou, also known as Elder Ephraim the Arizonite, wrote a small book that was published in 1991 by the New Sarov Press (Blanco, Texas 78606, ISBN 1-880364-05-0). It was printed with the blessings of His Grace Bishop Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (as mentioned in the book). The book is titled “A Call From The Holy Mountain” with a subtitle of “The Sacred Monastery of Philotheou”. At the outset it should be understood and known that Elder Ephraim has no known formal theological instruction or training. He was at one time the Abbot of the Monastery of Philotheou on Mount Athos. It is alleged by his legion of followers that he chose to leave that monastery and the Holy Mountain, because of his alleged self-professed vision of the Virgin Mary telling him “to go to America and make it return to pure Orthodoxy”. Remarkably, this conveniently corroborates the alleged teachings of his spiritual father, Joseph the Hesychast. It was Joseph the Hesychast who is reported to have also taught his followers to go into the world and make it return to pure “Athonite” Orthodoxy. Thus begins the travail of Elder Ephraim which hashed such an effect on Orthodox Christians in North America. After living temporarily in both Canada and Russia, Elder Ephraim came to the United States and founded St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, Arizona, among many others. Elder Ephraim now has over 20 monasteries in North America, as well as others abroad. He is acknowledged as the “Spiritual Father” of these monasteries by the monks and those residing there.

Elder Ephraim has become a lightning rod of controversy. His teachings and his movement have been characterized by Orthodox scholars as zealous and fundamentalist. The National Herald recently published that, “There is a huge difference, though, between healthy monasticism and the cultish mentality that the Ephraimite monasticism promotes.” (Theodore Kalmoukos, The National Herald, December 13th 2012).

A Must Read Article For Those Concerned About The Ephraimite Issue

January 28, 2013

Recently on the website MYSTAGOGY (The Weblog of John Sanidopoulos) an article was posted entitled “Healthy and Sick Monasticism”. It is a translation of an essay that was recently written by His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos. For those who may not know Metropolitan Hierotheos, he is considered one of the “Great” Hierarchs by those who adhere to the strict fundamentalist “theology” of Elder Ephraim. Elder Ephraim’s followers revere this Hierarch. They hold him in high esteem because of the shared beliefs such as the existence of Aerial Tollhouses and a disdain for the benefits of modern psychiatry.

So it was with great and utter shock when it was announced that Metropolitan Hierotheos broke off communion from one of his local monasteries, the well-known Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration in Nafpaktos. This Metropolitan, facing great pressure chose to “protect the inheritance” and place the health and well-being of his Laity ahead of the agenda of this Monastery. When you read this thoughtful article all the way through, you see so many similarities in the problems facing this Metropolitan and his Hierarchical brethren here in North America . The greatest difference is that Metropolitan Hierotheos acted!

Nevins Demand Letter and Important Attachments

February 7, 2013

Demand Letter and Important Attachments Made Public in the

Law Suit

Threatened by the Parents of Scott Nevins

The parents of Scott Nevins, Ashley and Diane, have retained Stephen M . Murphy, a San Francisco attorney, to represent them in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA), the Metropolis of San Francisco, and Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery and other individual defendants. Scott spent more than six years at the Florence, Arizona facility before leaving unannounced in the middle of the night in February, 2011. He returned to Saint Anthony’s and on June 11, 2012 took his own life. For background, two articles are posted on a related website, available at the following links:

http://weareorthodox.com/ourblog/scott-nevins-a-voice-crying-in-the-wilderness/

http://pokrov.org/display.asp?ds=Article&id=1815

An open letter is also posted at:

http://www.pokrov.org/display.asp?ds=Article&id=1850

In a demand letter sent to Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Metropolitan Gerasimos Michaleas, and Archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios by Federal Express on February 5, 2013, Murphy lays out the Nevins’ allegations. These documents are extremely informative and already available on the website Pokrov (link is available to the website at: http://www.pokrov.org/display.asp?ds=Article&id=1953 ) and WEAREORTHODOX (link is available to website at:http://www.weareorthodox.com/usersubmissions/DEMANDLETTER-FINAL.pdf)

If you wish to remain at our site, here is our direct link to this now public information: http://gotruthreform.org/wp-content/NEVINS_DEMAND_LETTER-FINAL.pdf

If You Ignore It – - – It Will Go Away

February 13, 2013

An Essay of an Apparent Modus Operandi of the GOA Holy Synod
By Yanni Pappas

A friend of mine recently asked me “How are we supposed to deal with heresy in our Church?” Seems like a simple enough question. The answer seems simple enough too. At the grass roots level: identify the problem, confirm it, formally report it (to various offices of our Church’s administration and Hierarchical structure), and start the wheels of ecclesiastical due process in motion. One would think that in turn, our Church’s leadership would likewise identify it, confirm it, and formally pro-actively respond and address this by issuing some communication indicating the solution and/or proper beliefs of the Orthodox Christian Church. In recent decades, it seems the GOA Holy Synod has not shown this kind of reasonably expected leadership in various issues that should be addressed. What do we think will happen then? Aside from our Hierarchs appearing to lose their base of constituents and supporters, we might expect the void in leadership to be filled by something or someone else and consequently might redefine what we believe in and the general spirit and ethos of the Church community itself. A void is usually filled, but sometimes filled with something unexpected or not preferred.

The Common Good?

April 12, 2013

The “Common Good”, is a phrase often discussed by religious scholars but how does it apply to our own faith? The “Common Good” calls upon us to take the needs of others into consideration when making decisions rather than do what is best for us individually. When the late Archbishop Iakovos of Blessed Memory walked with Martin Luther King, he did so because it aided and promoted the “Common Good” for all. He did not avoid his personal destiny by carrying out his Hierarchical office as a religious politician. Instead he acted to promote the “Common Good” in spite of the temporary damage he endured. After this historic walk, there were an embarrassing number of Greek Orthodox faithful who called his leadership into question for just this one act. Fortunately, history has preserved his legacy, vision and wisdom.

Heroes Advocating Truth

May 28, 2013

(Or: who are those among us that have the courage of conviction)

These are strange and interesting times, especially as they concern our Church. There is something missing……… “We are in need of heroes.” They shape the identities of those who aspire to grow with a sense of noble character and/or purpose. Heroes can help shape not only individual identities, but communities as well. Typically these heroes are stereotypically leaders, or other prominent public figures, like teachers, clergymen, soldiers, politicians, or successful businessmen (to name only a few). But sometimes these heroes that are often unsung. The fact is that there are more unsung heroes than prominent ones.

Deny,Defend and Deflect

July 5, 2013

(How does your Clergyman respond when you ask about the Ephraimite Issue?)

Since the launch of this website, we have been surprised by tendencies in the dialogue about the Ephraimite issue. Our detractors follow a step by step template when it comes to sending us their comments. As strange as it may seem, there is also a protocol when you ask a Clergyman or Hierarch about where he stands on the issue. There are those involved in the Church that make their personal positions very clear. They cut to the chase and just say things like………”yes, you are correct, we have a major problem” or ……”you know that the Hierarchy must show leadership and deal with this problem” or even “we are headed for a schism and I pray that the damage to the Church and the Faith is minimal”.

But a clear indicator of where you are personally on the spectrum of what we call “Ephraimite intelligence” it only requires you to ask a simple question. This is to say, once you ask the question, where does the respondent place you in their mind? How much respect, knowledge or even compassion does the Clergyman or Hierarch show to you, the person who is asking the question?

Prophets for Profit – The Dismantling of the GOA

July 5, 2013

“This article is posted on this website with the permission and consent of its authors, the Editors of WEAREORTHODOX.COM. It also appears on their website and has not been altered by GOTRUTHREFORM. ORG. We wish to thank WEAREORTHODOX.COM for making this available to our readers.”

We hope our title grabbed your attention. It was meant to. There is something developing within the greater Church that is alarming, disturbing and to the Laity at large, almost unbelievable. This essay is a result of numerous dialogues that are already taking place amongst lay leadership throughout our country. Let’s be very clear about this, that this is not a mere rumor or speculation on our part. As you will understand by reading this, that this is not a rumor, but a dialogue actually occurring throughout the United States, from leaders within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA). Join us as we explore this ill designed concept that will continue to damage our beloved Church. A Church that is arguably in the worst condition anyone can remember. A Church that is being brought down to its very knees by small minded thinkers who are only concerned with expanding their own power base, to the detriment of all.

DESIGNED FOR EXTINCTION?

August 28, 2013

Two recently published articles, one in the Orthodox Observer and the other in The National Herald caught the attention of our Editors. Both concern the administration and the future of our Church and Faith. They come from two different perspectives yet both accurately indicate the present condition. Both authors draw upon their own views and reach, in our minds, the identical conclusion that foreshadows the future of our Church. These authors have not yet fully appreciated the foresight, power or the precision of their observations. Remarkably, it is as if both of the authors transcribed dialogues of our Editorial meetings. At these meetings, one recurring question is often asked out loud: “Does anyone in a position of authority in the Church see this problem and is willing to do anything about it!”

Contra Tollhouses: The Dormition of the Theotokos

November 9, 2013

A note from our Editors


The article that is linked below is written by the V. Rev. Fr. Steven C. Salaris, M.Div., Ph.D. Fr. Salaris attended DePauw University in Indiana and graduated in 1987 with a B.A. in Biology. In 1991, he received a Ph.D. in mammalian physiology from the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology at Purdue University. After graduate school, he transferred to St. Louis, Missouri to take a position as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Cardiology at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1993, he began teaching biology courses at various campuses in the St. Louis area. That same year, he married at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis, MO to his present wife. In 1995, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he taught biology at St. Joseph’s University. In 1997, as a result of his personal journey, that began several years earlier, he pursued and was granted a Master of Divinity degree at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Christian Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY.

In the linked article Fr. Steven closely examines an ecclesiastical issue that has caused considerable confusion to Orthodox Laity. Absolutely no confusion existed before heretical teachings seeped into North American Orthodox beliefs as a result of revisionist teachings from the Ephraimite movement. We now have Priests telling our Laity, at funerals, that we must pray for departed souls to pass through the Arial Tollhouses. We agree with Fr. Steven when he writes: “As do all tollhouse teachings, it makes a blasphemous mockery of Christ’s salvific death and resurrection”.

We hope you enjoy this serious, excellent and well researched article.

gotruthreform.org/wp-content/Contra Tollhouses – The Dormition of the Theotokos Clean.pdf