Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington

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Metr. Jonah at his election as metropolitan

His Eminence, the Most Reverend Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington was the primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) until the Holy Synod of Bishops requested and accepted His Eminence's resignation on July 7, 2012. He was elected as metropolitan on November 12, 2008, and was formally enthroned on December 28, 2008, in Washington, D.C. Metr. Jonah is also the first convert to the Orthodox faith to be elected as the OCA's primate.


James Paffhausen was born in Chicago, Illinois, and baptized into the Episcopal Church. His family later moved to La Jolla, California, near San Diego. In 1978, he was received into the Orthodox Church at Our Lady of Kazan Church (Moscow Patriarchate) while studying at the University of California - San Diego. James later transferred to UC - Santa Cruz and helped to establish an OCF chapter there.

After graduation from UCSC, James went on to study at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, graduating in 1985 with an M.Div. and again in 1988 with an M.Th. in Dogmatic Theology. In 1989, he began doctoral studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, but interrupted his studies to spend a year in Russia, working for Russkiy Palomnik in the publishing arm of the Moscow Patriarchate. During his time in Russia, he was introduced to Russian spirituality and its particular form of monastic life.

He eventually joined Valaam Monastery as a novice, coming under the spiritual direction of Archimandrite Pankratiy, the monastery's abbot. Fr. Pankratiy's spiritual father, Elder Kyrill of Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, later blessed James to become a hieromonk.

In 1994, James was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood, and then in the following year, he was tonsured a monastic at St. Tikhon's Monastery, South Canaan, Pennsylvania, receiving the name Jonah.

Hmk. Jonah returned to his home state of California, serving a number of mission parishes there and later given the obedience to establish a monastery. In 1996, St. John of San Francisco Monastery was founded in Point Reyes, California (later moving to Manton). During his tenure as abbot, Fr. Jonah grew the monastic community to more than fifteen members. In 1995, as a new priest, he was initially assigned to the existing Saint Mary Magdalene mission parish in Merced, CA by Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald). He later worked to establish Californian missions in Sonora, Chico, Eureka, Redding, and Susanville, among others, and in Kona, Hawaii.

In 2008, Fr. Jonah was elevated to the rank of archimandrite and was then sent from the monastery to take on the duties of being an auxiliary bishop for the OCA's Diocese of the South. In September of that year, he was officially elected to that position, and then on November 1 consecrated in Dallas as Bishop of Fort Worth, led by Abp. Dmitri (Royster) of Dallas, then locum tenens of the OCA's metropolitan see.

Eleven days later, on November 12, Bishop Jonah was elected Metropolitan of the OCA at the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America in Pittsburgh. His formal enthronement in Washington, D.C., was on December 28, 2008, at St. Nicholas Cathedral.

After an episcopate that became increasingly controversial, Metr. Jonah submitted a resignation as the first hierarch of the OCA on July 6, 2012.[1] On July 16, 2012, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the OCA issued a "Statement from the Holy Synod Regarding the Resignation of Metropolitan Jonah".[2] In 2015, Metropolitan Jonah was granted a release into ROCOR.

Succession box:
Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington
Preceded by:
founding abbot
Abbot of the Monastery of St. John of San Francisco
Succeeded by:
Meletios (Webber)
Preceded by:
new creation
Bishop of Fort Worth (OCA)
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Herman (Swaiko)
Archbishop of Washington and New York,
Metropolitan of All America and Canada (OCA)

Succeeded by:
Michael (Dahulich)
Bishop of New York and New Jersey
Preceded by:
Archbishop of Washington,
Metropolitan of All America and Canada (OCA)

Succeeded by:
Tikhon (Mollard)
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  1. [1] Metropolitan Jonah tenders resignation
  2. [2] Statement from the Holy Synod Regarding the Resignation of Metropolitan Jonah


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