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028. Feb 18/Mar 3, 1970

Dear Father David [Black],

We just received the first three issues of Orthodox Alaska and would like to share a few thoughts with you about it. It is a good and welcome beginning — sober in tone and format, conscious of past tradition (wisely preserving Bp. Philips cover), written clearly and simply, concentrating on the essentials — lives of Saints, Church calendar and feasts, monasticism, not even afraid to be a little outspoken about heresy. With God’s blessing it can do much good for the Orthodox in Alaska.

It should be pointed out, however, that Dr. Bensin’s book is so inaccurate as to be unreliable even as the foundation of an amended text. In the Father Herman article he places; St. Sergius’ Holy Trinity in Serpukhov, speaks of an “Abbot and well known preacher” who is apparently fictional or confused or confused with someone else, puts St. Seraphim in Valaam (where he never was), etc., and seems to invent some details out of whole cloth. There are better sources!

But even if not perfect, Orthodox Alaska is a welcome beginning, and to speak frankly, its tone is far more serious and Orthodox than the bulk of what passes for the “Orthodox press” in the “lower 48.” For this reason — to speak to you from the heart — we are sincerely pained at the thought of what will happen to Alaska if it accepts the “autocephaly.” I suspect you already realize that the Metropolia has been living so far on the capital of the old Russian (that is, genuine Orthodox) spirituality, which she still has some contact with owing to the presence in America of the Russian Church Abroad, which preserves and lives by this spirituality. Most of the Metropolia has strayed far from this spirituality, and only a few individuals now will probably find their way out before the Metropolia reaches the end of the trail in “Eastern-rite Protestantism.” (I’m speaking quite frankly with you because I think you see enough to know I’m not trying to “insult” anybody but only describing things as they unfortunately are.) But Alaska is remote, neglected» and besides has deeper roots in Orthodoxy. Can’t it at least be saved?

We’ve just written a personal appeal to Bp. Theodosius to stand up for the truth and put Alaska on the right path — for I’m sure you and the other priests and the whole of Alaska will follow him if he does choose this path. Of course there are tremendous obstacles in the way of such a difficult decision, but if it is not made now it probably never will be. To go with the “autocephaly” is to choose the way of the “general trend” of the times, which is away from the Church entirely. (Indeed, Moscow couldn’t even wait for the Metropolia to sign before she announced that she will give communion to Catholics that is, that the Unia is already here and the martyrdom of St. Peter the Aleut, instead of a sign and inspiration for all Orthodox faithful, becomes an absurd and futile gesture.) But to stand against it (which in practical terms today means choosing the Russian Church Abroad because, whatever her human failings, she happens to be the only one even interested in truth today!) means to stand with our modern-day confessors and those unashamed of real, “narrow” Orthodoxy (the Orthodoxy that Father Herman, Bp. Innocent, and others brought to Alaska) — men of the caliber of Abbot Panteleimon and his monks, the monks of Holy Trinity Monastery, Fr. Neketas Palassis, and others.

If Bp. Theodosius does choose this path, it would be by a miracle of Father Herman (but Fr. Alexy Ionov, who was supposed to write Father Herman’s life for the Metropolia, has already chosen this path with his whole parish!). I’m convinced the response of our people would be overwhelming.

Although as brothers in the name of Father Herman our hearts are with Orthodox Alaska, up to how it hasn’t been possible for us to enter into cooperation with the official Church in Alaska, owing to its “semi-canonical” status (and our caution is only too well confirmed in the “autocephaly,” which will stamp the Metropolia with the seal of the Moscow betrayers and persecutors of the faithful); if His Grace has the courage to stand up and be numbered with the confessors of Orthodoxy, we will offer every support possible for Orthodoxy in Alaska and encourage our readers to do the same. How our hearts long to receive you all as full brothers in that small flock of Orthodox faithful which now seems about to face the hatred not only of the world but of those “Orthodox” who do not care enough for their faith. May God and Father Herman and the holy New Martyr Peter guide aright His Grace and all of you in Alaska. We are praying for you and ask your prayers for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose

P.s. Br. Gleb sends his greetings. Enclosed is our just-printed icon of Father Herman. Separately you will receive (in case you don’t have it already) F. Golder’s life of Father Herman. Both are gifts from us.

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