- March 8, 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Our Church is being torn apart by a conflict that our hierarchs have refused to deal with. The following is a brief explanation of why we are concerned. We have also attached our appeal (Greek and English) to the Holy Synod concerning this matter.
Questions We Have Been Asked about Awake Sleeper:
What is this about?
Awake Sleeper refers to a series of 11 articles, beginning in 2009. The series contains incorrect teachings on the Faith, relating to death and repentance. Awake Sleeper is causing great disturbance in the Church.
I've heard that this is a political matter or a personality conflict?
This is neither a political matter nor a personality conflict. It is a matter of the Faith and must be resolved with all haste and seriousness. Priests are required to guide their flocks to salvation and protect them from false teachings. The entire Church must jealously guard the Faith, rejecting all innovations.
Have you dealt with this according to the Church and the Canons?
Yes. Upon first reading and understanding the Awake Sleeper series, the Toronto clergy voiced their concern and objection to Met. Makarios, asking that this teaching be discussed at the upcoming Synod meeting and that it be stopped. There is no record in the Synod's minutes that the matter was addressed. Only after the Synod failed to consider and resolve the matter in two consecutive meetings, and after Met. Ephraim continued to teach and distribute Awake Sleeper, the Toronto clergy wrote to the Synod. The Toronto clergy have followed the Church's canonically prescribed order for attempting to resolve this problem.
Have you spoken with Met. Makarios and did he respond?
Yes. He has stated verbally to the Toronto clergy, and again at the December 13, 2010, St. Nektarios Parish Council meeting, that he does not agree with the teachings in Awake Sleeper. He is fully aware of the efforts the Toronto clergy to protect their flocks from the teachings of Awake Sleeper. He also stated that the Synod had informally agreed that the Awake Sleeper teaching would end.
Have you contacted the Synod and did it respond?
Yes. Resolving matters of this type is responsibility of the Synod. Met. Makarios has told us that: 1) he raised the Awake Sleeper teachings as we had requested of him; that 2) the matter was discussed at the Synod meeting; and that 3) that the bishops agreed that the teaching would be stopped. The minutes of the meeting of the Holy Synod of April 16-17, 2010, make no mention of Awake Sleeper. On Monday, April 19, 2010, just two days after the "off the record" agreement was made at the meeting of the Holy Synod, Met. Ephraim disregarded the agreement and publicly taught Awake Sleeper, unabated, at a St. Nicholas Diocese House social reception hosted by Met. Makarios.
Have you contacted Met Ephraim and did he respond?
Yes. After his public teaching of Awake Sleeper in Toronto in May, 2010, the Toronto clergy, with Met. Makarios' full knowledge, wrote to Met. Ephraim. The letter was over 25 pages with an itemized reply to the Awake Sleeper teachings. Met. Ephraim replied with a short letter stating that the teachings of Awake Sleeper are his personal opinions.
Why is this a problem if Met Ephraim claims this is his personal opinion?
He continues to distribute his incorrect teaching publicly in print and on the internet. Any public teaching by a bishop cannot be construed as a personal opinion. In his tract titled, "More Heat Than Light," Metropolitan Ephraim states, "When I wrote the article "Awake, Sleeper!", I wrote what I and others had found in the Church Fathers and the writings of the Saints. If someone else has found other viewpoints in the patristic writings, I am certain everybody would like to see them and share them, so that we may find what the consensus is in these writings. The one thing we don't need is people's personal opinions about this matter." The written distributions of Awake Sleeper are under the letterhead of the Diocese of Boston and of the Synod. The internet distributions are world-wide and are from the Diocesan Office. These methods each carry the impression and force of the Church, stating, in effect, that his incorrect Awake Sleeper teachings are the teachings of the True Church - they are not.
What is expected of Met. Ephraim?
A bishop who publicly teaches incorrectly is expected to publicly retract his incorrect teaching, to recant his statements, to correctly state and affirm the Church's teaching. In addition to this, a ruling bishop must also correct and instruct any of his clergymen who have also taught the incorrect teaching.
Why are you giving this info to me and why am I learning of this now?
This distribution to you is according to the Canonical order for problem resolution and with Met. Makarios' full knowledge. The Toronto clergy have taken this matter to Met. Makarios, to Met. Ephraim, to the Synod, and now, to the laity. Since this is a matter of the Faith, since the problem remains, and to resolve confusion in the flock, and to follow canonical order, we now take the matter to the laity.
How does affect me and my salvation?
All clergymen are to teach only what the Church teaches, taking nothing away and adding nothing. Erroneous teach can lead one off the path of the True Faith and jeopardize one's salvation.
What am I supposed to do?
Read the articles provided, investigate the citations. Overlook any and all personal sentiments toward personalities, people or places. We must all jealously guard God's revelation and reject all innovations, regardless of our personal opinions. Contact Met. Ephraim and ask him to withdraw his incorrect teaching and to proclaim the Faith as "once delivered to the Saints."
What does this all mean for the Church?
These are turbulent times of strong temptations in the Church. However, as long Christ is our center and focus, we will come through this unharmed.
Are there any more steps to the process of resolving this?
The Synod is not stopping the incorrect teaching. In the history of the Church we see that it is the parish clergy and laity that finally come to bear against false teaching. Please request Met. Ephraim to withdraw his incorrect teaching.
What happens if this is not resolved?
The Church and the faithful must be protected, and protect themselves from false teaching and error. Consider the Sunday of Orthodoxy and the Synodicon wherein false teachings are defined and rejected, while pious teachings are confirmed. Necessary action must be taken by us all to safeguard the Church from the incorrect teaching of Awake Sleeper, lest we fall into error and lose our soul.
+Fr. Panagiotes, Fr. Alexander, Fr. George, Fr. David, Fr. Sergius
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Ort ... topics/837
The Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Pro-Awake Sleeper)
Position Paper on the Awake Sleeper Series by Metropolitan Makarios of Toronto April 21/May 4, 2011
http://www.scribd.com/doc/81726027/Awak ... d-Response
http://gocportland.org/Concerning_Repen ... xcerpt.pdf
To the Hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the True Orthodox Church of Greece
Petition of the Canadian Clergy to join the GOC-Kallinikos due to the Awake Sleeper's teachings of HOCNA, 2011
http://onimyaslavie.blogspot.com/search ... %20Sleeper
Statement of His Grace Bishop Demetrius, formerly of HOCNA dated September 3/16, 2012, now the Metropolitan of HOTCA: Concerning Awake Sleepers