Friday, August 05, 2005

Three American ROAC Clerics Suspended by the First Hierarch of the ROAC

(Suzdal Diocesan Bulletin—Vertograd: Suzdal)

His Eminence Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox (Autonomous) Church, in his ukase #63 of July 13/26, 2005, has suspended three ROAC priests in the US from serving: Protopresbyter Victor Melehov, former dean of the ROAC parishes in the US and rector of the Church of the Holy Resurrection in Worcester, Massachusetts, Archpriest Spyridon Schneider, rector of St. John the Russian Church in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and another priest from the same church, Fr. Christopher Johnson. As stated in the ukase, these three clergymen became subject to canonical punishment for “violating church discipline, intrigue, ceasing to commemorate their ruling bishop at divine services, disseminating negative propaganda among their fellow clergy, and introducing disorder in the Deposition of the Mantle Convent” in Suzdal.
According to information received from the official publication of the Suzdal Diocese of the ROAC, “Suzdal Diocesan Bulletin,” in the middle of July, Protopresbyter Victor Melehov came to Russia without informing his ruling bishop, Metropolitan Valentine, or the hierarchical Synod. At the ROAC church in Dimitrov, a suburb of Moscow, he held a meeting to which he invited Archbishop Anthony of Yaransk and Vyatsk with the aim of involving him in schism, and with the participation of Archbishop Seraphim of Sukhumsk and Abkhazia, “whom they also intended to involve in the schism,” have an independent bishop consecrated for the US (their candidate for the episcopacy was Fr. Christopher Johnson). Protopresbyter Victor Melehov and Fr. Spyridon Schneider ceased commemorating their ruling bishop at divine services, Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir, and in his place, they uncanonically began commemorating the name of Archbishop Anthony, a member of the hierarchical Synod of the ROAC. According to the magazine “Suzdal Diocesan Bulletin,” Frs. Victor and Spyridon pressured Archpriest Dionysi McGowan, rector of St. Basil if Kineshma Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, intending to lead him into their schism as well.
On July 19, two novices belonging to Fr. Victor’s community in Dimitrov, arrived in Suzdal and began calling on the sisters of the Deposition of the Mantle Convent, whose head is the catacomb skhi-igumenia Euphemia, and trying to induce them join in with the schism. They also made similar overtures to Archbishop Anthony and several other members of the clergy and laity in Suzdal.
At the meeting of the hierarchical Synod, which took place on July 21st in Suzdal, Archbishop Anthony related in detail the efforts of the suspended clergymen in trying to start their new schism. According to certain information, Protopresbyter Victor Melehov managed to get written agreement from Archbishop Anthony to separate from the Synod, which he later recanted at the hierarchical Synod meeting.
Frs. Victor Melehov and Spyridon Schneider are well known in True Orthodox circles as “errant clergymen,” as they have changed jurisdiction many times and started many conflicts. Before their acceptance into the ROAC, they were with the ROCOR(V), where Fr. Spyridon was suspended from serving, and Fr. Victor was defrocked.