OCA Diocese of New England, bishopless since 2019, narrows down episcopal candidate

New Haven, Connecticut, June 9, 2023

Photo: stgeorgeedenton.org Photo: stgeorgeedenton.org     

His Eminence Archbishop Nikon of Boston and New England and the Albanian Archdiocese of the Orthodox Church in America reposed in the Lord on September 1, 2019.

Since then, the primate of the OCA, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of Washington and All America and Canada, has been serving as Locum Tenens of the New England Diocese. In April, the Holy Synod formally elected Archimandrite Nikodhim (Preston) to take over the Albanian Archdiocese.

And now, after nearly four years, a possible candidate for the office of Bishop of New England has been found and vetted.

Met. Tikhon writes:

Dear Reverend Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ of the Diocese of New England The blessing of the Lord be upon you!

With gratitude to Almighty God, I am writing to you today to inform you of the progress made in identifying a possible candidate for the office of Bishop of New England. As you know, the Diocese of New England has been widowed since the passing from this life to life eternal of the Ever-Memorable Archbishop Nikon in September of 2019. In July of 2020, in my capacity as Locum Tenens of the Diocese of New England, I informed the Diocese of the step-by-step procedures we would take in finding a Bishop for New England. (I have attached that letter here with this email for your review).

I am pleased to announce that the first eight steps of this procedure have been completed. The search committee first met (via zoom) with Fr. Benedict Churchill for several hours to discern if he might be a good candidate for Bishop of our Diocese. This meeting proved most favorable and it was recommended that Fr. Benedict be asked to meet with the Diocesan Council. This meeting took place in person on May 6th and lasted for over two hours. On May 17th at the next Diocesan Council Meeting, the council voted unanimously to request me, as the Locum Tenens of the Diocese, to call for a Special Nominating Assembly and to recommend Fr. Benedict Churchill to be nominated for the office of Bishop of New England.

In consultation with the Diocesan Council, I am now calling for a Special Diocesan Assembly to be held on Saturday October 28, 2023, at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in New Haven, CT for the sole purpose of nominating Fr. Benedict Churchill for presentation to the Holy Synod for election as the Bishop of the Diocese of New England at the next Regular Meeting of the Holy Synod in November.

The procedure for this special nominating assembly and election is outlined in my letter mentioned above, with the understanding that there is only one name for consideration to elect or not to elect.

The Diocesan Council has approved the limiting of our already scheduled Diocesan Assembly on Oct 27- 28 to a one-day assembly to allow for the Special Assembly on Oct 28 following the Divine Liturgy. Each parish will need to decide on how to elect their delegate for the Special Assembly, either to have the elected delegate for the Annual Assembly serve as the delegate for both assemblies, or to elect a separate delegate for each assembly.

In the light of the Great Feast of Pentecost, let us pray the Holy Spirit who descended upon the Apostles and filled them with knowledge and wisdom, will guide all of us in the selection of the Bishop of New England. I ask all of you to continue to include the petition sent out for this purpose in the litany of supplication, with great attention until we meet in October.

Fr. Benedict is currently the priest of St. George’s Orthodox Church in Edenton, North Carolina, in the OCA’s Diocese of the South. His biography from his parish website reads:

Father Benedict received his B.A. from St. John’s University in Minnesota in 1969, his Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies from the Pontifical Institute of the Mediaeval Studies in Toronto in 1975, his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1979, and his M.Div. from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 2010. He held adjunct positions at both Fordham University and New York University, and he worked for Xerox Corporation from 1983 until he retired in 2006. He was ordained to the diaconate in 2009 and to the priesthood in 2010. He does translations of liturgical texts from Greek and Slavonic, and occasionally sets them to monophonic chants. He maintains a website with Slavonic liturgical texts, and he enjoys music and reading. A former SCUBA instructor, he also engages from time to time in non-violent exercise. The priest at St George’s Orthodox Church in Edenton, North Carolina, Father Benedict is Editor at St.Vladimir’s Seminary Press.

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