I thought this to be perhaps the best summary I’ve seen anywhere of how to deal with the various issues of our day…the crux of it comes in his seven points in the second half.

(The URL above also includes a great introduction to the below)

“What Can We Do?
Fr Thomas Hopko

I believe that the problems and disagreements we have in the Church today, not only concerning finances in the Orthodox Church in America, but about virtually everything in Orthodoxy (authority, community, responsibility, structure, organization, leadership, decision-making, education, mission, monastic life, liturgical worship etc.) are not simply because we are sinful and incompetent people. They also exist because we are compelled to deal in a complex, secularized world with a two-thousand year history that we don’t know how to understand and handle in relation to our present times and conditions.


I believe that we can begin by doing seven things.

We can realize the tremendous complexity of our present situation, and work together patiently and charitably to disentangle its various elements, to understand them accurately, and to deal with them appropriately in our church life today, according to our abilities to do so, whether or not our hierarchs, here in America or abroad, choose to lead us and participate with us in these obligatory efforts.

We can make our views known, and offer our suggestions about proper action, forcefully and firmly, without demonizing or ridiculing those who disagree with us, while cooperating courageously with those who do.

We can always remember that those who disagree with us are as strongly committed to their understanding of things as we are.

We can meet regularly with those whom we believe are building up the Church and fostering its God-given mission, even if these people are few and are not always supported by the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

We can obey our leaders who disagree with us, and refuse to meet with us and speak with us, to the extent that they do not lead us into heresy or immorality, whatever they are doing, or not doing, in their personal lives and pastoral actions.

We can give our money, time and energy to the churches, institutions, organizations and activities in the Church that we believe in, and give only what we are obligated to give by statute to other ecclesiastical offices and institutions.

We can work on ourselves to be faithful Orthodox Christians in word and deed through liturgical worship, sacramental communion, reading Holy Scripture, and following the Saints in prayer, fasting, silence, repentance, confession of sins and acts of mercy to others, whoever they are, that are in need of spiritual and material assistance, guidance and support.

If we do these things, we will be using our time, energy and money to inspire, encourage and educate new church leaders, who, humanly speaking, are the Church’s only hope for survival and growth. We cannot keep trying to “put new wine into old wine skins.” We cannot keep trying to force or cajole or shame our leaders and our people into doing things that they don’t want to do. We can only love them and leave them to do what they think best while we give ourselves fully to finding and fostering a new generation of Orthodox Christian leaders who believe in the Gospel and struggle to interpret the complex history of Orthodoxy in the eternal light of Christ, while applying their evangelical, theological and historical visions to the conditions of the real life of the real world in which they are really living.

We have everything in the Orthodox Church that we need for divine life in this world, whoever our bishops, priests and people are, and whatever their behavior may be. We have God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, His Only Son, and the Holy Spirit. We have the Scriptures, the Sacraments, the Liturgical Services, and the lives, teachings and prayers of the Saints. And we have each other. We don’t need anything else. We don’t even need formal church unity, especially if it will be a unity in our present chaos and confusion that may actually make matters worse. Indeed, we are perhaps even better off, at least for the time being, without such unity.

Let us all start by doing what we can as individual believers, families, monasteries and local communities. Let’s leave all the rest for now. And let’s let those responsible for those aspects of church life, for whom we pray and whom we obey and support to the extent that we can, do what they think best, remembering that we will all answer on the Day of the Lord for what we have said and done. May the Lord have mercy on us all.

Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko
Dormition 2006