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Chapter 38: Archimandrite Gregory Joins the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church

When the Greeks refused to acknowledge Metropolitan Valentine‘s letter, in exasperation, Metropolitan Valentine accepted Archimandrite Gregory, realizing that he, Metropolitan Valentine, had fulfilled all the requirements set forth by the Greeks in their synodal letter. To finalize the reception, Metropolitan Valentine himself flew to Denver to officially receive Fr. Gregory and those with him back into the Russian Church.

Archimandrite Gregory with Met. Valentine

He was not chrismated, nor were any prayers of forgiveness read over him, for in reality he never changed his faith nor left the Church. While the metropolitan was visiting the monastery, he performed two ordinations, making Fr. George a hieromonk and the monk Peter a hierodeacon. It was then that he asked Fr. Gregory if he would consider being a bishop. Father Gregory replied that it would be better if someone else who speaks Russian were ordained, so he could communicate with the Synod. The metropolitan replied that he had two other candidates who were Russian, but would Fr. Gregory agree to be the third candidate? Father Gregory replied, “If you think it would be for the benefit of the Church, I would consider.”

The metropolitan returned to Russia and within a few months Fr. Gregory was notified that they had had an election for the episcopacy and he was unanimously elected to be bishop of Denver and vicar of the Hierarchal Sobor. He requested that Fr. Gregory come to Suzdal in November for the consecration. Father Gregory had to immediately buy hierarchal vestments and a mitre and a staff, a mantia and have them delivered so that they were ready to accompany him to Russia. Everything arrived prior to his departure except for the vestments which arrived the very day that the bishop-elect was to depart for Russia. He did not even have time to try on the vestments to know if they were sewn properly. Father Gregory arrived in Russia for the first time, accompanied by Hieromonk George and the novice John. The metropolitan decided the consecration was to take place on November 19/December 2, the feast of Saints Barlaam and Ioasaph, two days before the Entry of the Virgin into the Temple. During that Liturgy, the metropolitan concelebrated with two other hierarchs, Archbishop Theodore of Borisovsk and Bishop Anthony of Yaransk, a catacomb bishop who, as a catacomb priest, commemorated Metropolitan St. Philaret and the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad.

Bishop Anthony of Yaransk

The Liturgy which took place that Sunday was very unique, not only because it contained the consecration of a bishop, but also because it contained the ordination or elevation of four other people to every rank that the Church permits during one Liturgy. This is something which may never be witnessed in a person‘s lifetime. A bishop, a priest, a deacon, a subdeacon, and several readers were all made during this Liturgy.

The Consecration of Bishop Gregory

After the consecration, Metropolitan Valentine discussed with the newly elected bishop all that had transpired before his elevation. He had mentioned that never before had he witnessed so much opposition to any consecration. When word had been made known that the consecration was going to take place, the metropolitan said he was getting e-mails and letters from every place imaginable, “even from those not in communion with us.” They were all objecting, warning and counseling against the consecration, but their reasons were quite unconvincing. From this he understood, he said, that if the enemies of the Church did not want Bishop Gregory elevated, this must be the right choice.

When Bishop Gregory arrived home, news came from Greece that the very instigator in the Greek Synod against Bishop Gregory, the notorious Metropolitan Niphon, had suffered an automobile accident in Athens. The automobile was totaled, but his driver suffered no injury. Metropolitan Niphon was the only one injured in the accident. Later it was learned that he was hospitalized for many months. What was notable to all, both those in Greece in those of us in America, was that the accident occurred exactly the day of Bishop Gregory‘s consecration, and in fact, on exactly the same morning.

What was the final outcome of this Greek metropolitan? After Bishop Gregory left the Greek Synod, an election was held as to who would be the next archbishop. Niphon wanted this honor with a vehement desire, but when he saw that he received only his own vote and that of his disciple, Bishop Arethas‘ vote, and lost the election to the new Archbishop Makarios, he refused to attend synodal meetings anymore. Eventually he separated himself and caused a schism in the Greek Church, and lastly he was arrested and imprisoned, under accusation for sexually abusing many of his monks and young boys in the Monastery of Holy Protection. When news of his imprisonment became known and how many witnesses came out against him, it was understood why he wanted Bishop Gregory out of the Church, since he knew that Bishop Gregory was the revealer of the same type of sexual abuse that occurred in the Boston monastery, known as Holy Transfiguration Monastery.

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Last Updated: July 12, 2011