Ben Lomond Crisis

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The Ben Lomond Crisis was the result of a parish, formerly in the Evangelical Orthodox Church and then within the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, that split.


  • 1996 Sep: Sts Peter and Paul Parish ran into difficulties with Bp Joseph. Bp Joseph expressed his desire to reduce the number of clergy at that parish (29 at the time), through transfers and laicisations, to a number more in keeping with standard practise.
Fr John Hardenbrook, during this period, was removed from his position as Dean of the Northern California Deanery at this period. This was seen as retribution for the Phyletism or Freedom!" article written in the parish newsletter, which declared the parish's right to choose from amongst various Orthodox musical traditions and liturgic practises.
  • 1997 May: Bp Joseph issues directive that all formerly-EOC parishes (which included Ben Lomond) are to use the official Archdiocesan service books and the Archdiocesan music within two years, rather than music from many and varied sources.
The parish responded badly to this directive, which compounded the reaction from the first directive. A minority accused the dissenters of disloyalty to the bishops.
A common practise at Ben Lomond was to seek spiritual direction, often from members of other Orthodox jurisdictions. In some cases, these directors were advising to defy the bishops. A directive is also issued that asked clergy and laity to avoid placing themselves under spiritual directors who were not a part of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
Sep: Truce called.
  • 1998 Feb 6: Fr David Anderson was issued a transfer to Chicago. This was seen as an attack on parish life, as Fr David was one of the most popular priests in the parish; it was also seen as cold, due to Fr David caring, with the help of parisioners, for his invalid mother at the time. After the rejection of an appeal, Fr David applied for a release to the OCA.
12: A letter was sent from a number of clergy of the parish, signed by 10 priests (out of 12) and 11 deacons (of 17), outlining the problems had with the hierarchy by the parish and why they lost their trust in the hierarchy. It asked for a release to the OCA. A petition was sent from the laity, with 60% of the laity signing their support for the clergy's letter.
Metropolitan Philip responded with the laicisation of John Hardenbrook and David Anderson and suspending the remaining clergy and ordering one of the non-signatory priests to change the locks on the church. [1]
The clergy and laity at odds with the Archdiocese began to attend St Nicholas Orthodox Church (OCA) in Saratoga, and petitioned to be entered into the OCA. St Nicholas Church begins an extra Sunday service to accomodate the sudden rise (approx. 300) in parisioners. The Ben Lomond group continued to regard themselves as a separate community, and was unresponsive to requests to fill out membership forms and otherwise become a part of St Nicholas, which provoked a letter from Bp Tikhon ordering that all must worship in the same Liturgy.
  • 1998 Aug 20: Having sued the Ben Lomond Parish Corporation for the property and assets of the parish, the Archdiocese was awarded both, which resulted in the closure of the parochial school (running for seven years).
  • 1999 Feb: Having been made clear that the OCA would not accept the suspended clergy, the parish sought ministrations from the Jerusalem Patriarchate, who began to serve at a chapel in Felton. Two priests from the original community have since been ordained, who serve the community at St Lawrence's Church and it's parochial school.
  • The suspended clergy remain in canonical limbo, being unreleased from the Antiochian Archdiocese.

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