In the last few years we have seen many diocese in the American orthodox church undertake a search for a new bishop to lead them. This is a matter that should be done with all diligence and prayer. We hope that all leaders are chosen for their spiritual as well as administrative ability and that these are done in that spirit of prayer and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Two such diocese, the Diocese of the South (OCA) and the American Carpatho Russian Diocese are in the final stages of their selection process. In both cases the man chosen to lead will be filling some rather large shoes. In the case of the Diocese of the South, the man chosen will be filling the shoes of the only man they have ever had as their bishop. Very large shoes indeed.
The church here in 21st century America is very different than it was even 20 years ago. We are in a fast paced world that is continually changing. How do we keep the young people in the church? How do attract converts or do we continue to rely on immigration to keep the doors of our church open? How do we take the Ancient Faith that we all hold so dear, and that so many sacrificed for, and make it and keep it relevant in this world that we live in? These are all questions the leaders of our churches are going to have to face in the future.
Fr. Jonathan Tobias of the American Carpatho Russian diocese has assembled a list of question on his wonderful blog. The questions are, in some ways, specific to his diocese but I think these are questions we all should be asking of candidates for the episcopacy. The character of each particular diocese need to be taken into account especially if they are looking outside of their diocese for candidates. Like me, the Carpatho Russian Church came out of the Greek Catholic Church (Byzantines United with the Bishop of Rome). This is a unique history that needs to be understood and respected as this is what makes them who they are.
As we move to what I hope is a united American Orthodox Church, these are the questions that will need to be asked of all present and future candidates for the episcopacy as well as how are men chosen and who is choosing them.
Thank you Fr. Jonathan for your questions and I would ask my readers to check out those questions he has so thoughtfully and prayerfully placed on his blog. My hope is that he posts the answers to those questions.