For the record, I want all readers to know that this website- from very near its beginning- has the blessing of my Bishop. Here’s the “email trail:”
First, I asked our Parish Priest about asking Bishop Thomas’ blessing. Here’s what I emailed Fr. Peter (Nov. 2, 2006):
Sorry for the length of this, Fr. Peter; I just want to show you some contacts I’ve made, a response, and to seek your advice about how to proceed. I sent out this email expressing my intent and desire that a disability website accessible toAmerican Orthodox Christians be developed to KhoreaMaggie Hock, head of Antiochian Family and Marriage Dept., Matushka Wendy Cwiklinski (San Diego) of theOCA, who wrote an article for OCA ministry resources on the subject, and has herself put together disability websites, and to Marina Katsoulis, contact person for the Greek Orthodox Challenge Ministry on Long Island. Khorea Maggie responded positively, and Matushka Wendy sent this email. She gave some good but challenging advice. Shawn Buscay directed me to begin with a WordPress.com blog and go from there. My problem is that the person in charge of FriendshipCommunity’s computers does not seem to be in favor of my going further [than a blog], with all the software involved [in website production]. I don’t think I can do all that Matushka Wendy suggests. But I have the blog set up now at least. I’m actually hoping someone with more facilites and expertise will take this ball and run further with it than I can. This does not come easily to me. My main questions is, shouldn’t I be approaching Bishop Thomas or someone like that if I’m going to be doing this kind of thing, especially since I mentioned pan-Orthodox co-operation in my email? (I took note that in that recent Chicago meeting the bishops suggested more pan-Orthodox humanitarian efforts would be a way forward.). . . May God grant you many years, Ephrem . . . P.S. I will send you by email my Blog, though it maybe in a somewhat distort form.
Fr. Peter replied, yes, definitely, that I whould write a letter- by mail- to Bishop Thomas. I proceeded to write and then send His Grace Bishop Thomas this letter by mail, expressing the matter in a way similar to what I wrote Fr. Peter. And this was His Grace’s response (Nov. 7, 2006):
From: “+Bishop THOMAS”
To: [Ephrem Gall]
May God bless you always!
Thank you for the information about your thesis. I’ll make this very simple: Fr Peter is the dean of eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Baltimore, and if he blesses this activity, you may proceed.
Please remember that when sending mail to the Diocese, that “Charleston” precedes “Oakland” in the title.
Yours in Christ,
Yours in Christ,
I forwarded this email from His Grace to Fr. Peter, and this was his response:
From: “Fr. Peter Pier”
To: “‘Ephrem Gall'”
Glory be to Jesus Christ!
Greetings Ephrem. Wow, I had no idea I have such authority! Anyway, you
certainly have my permission. May our good God bless your endeavor.
His Grace, not knowing me very well, left the decision to Fr. Peter. It may be a somewhat vicarious blessing, but His Grace Bishop Thomas’ letter is clear on the matter.
I felt it necessary to establish these matters before all of you readers of this blog because I recently reread the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who, after having the led the flock of God in Antioch, Syria for 40 years from 69-109 A.D., having been said to have been a disciple of St. John the Apostle, he was crowned with martyrdom in Rome. He wrote 7 letters to churches as well as the Bishop of Smyrna, St. Polycarp, who himself would receive the crown of martyrdom decades later.
My point is, St. Ignatius urged the churches- the hearers of his letters- to “do nothing apart from the Bishop.” He emphasized this many times in these letters. The unity and harmony of the Church was being threatened, As St. Paul asserted in Acts 20, by wolves and heretics- Judaizers, Gnostics, etc. And the generation following the Holy Apostles, with St. Ignatius of Antioch in the lead, was interpreting the directives of the apostles concerning the roles of the bishops, presybters, and deacons- such as the letters of St. Paul to Timothy and Titus– in light of this situation.
I would invite all non-Orthodox readers to read the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch and consider whether perhaps their pessimistic assessments of the generations following the apostles should be reconsidered. For the Holy Spirit continued to work in the life of the Church, and not only through its written documents. (2 Thessalonians 2:15) There is a website where you may access these letters;
click on: Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch (you may have to scroll down to get to these specific letters)