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Ephraim & St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona

Ephraim at his Arizona monastery of St. Anthony's

Please scroll below to see videos and new posts afterwards.  It is important to restate the following, with a new  paragraph that was added at the end that is formatted in bold letters

To recap, our church is in a crisis….. our parish Priests feel great pressure from their Bishop/Metropolitan and their congregation (that must be a very lonely place for our Priests), the Laity feels spuriously controlled or condescended to by the Clergy, the Metropolitans may feel their Priests don’t listen to them or are inept, and that the lay people do not really know the faith. Additionally, if parishioners do not like what is happening, they hold back money. Some feel disconnected. Inevitably, financial pressures come upon the priests and hierarchs. What a landscape! All of these demographics (laity, priests, hierarchs) start polarizing, and the unity of the community of the faithful becomes handicapped.

Then comes an alleged beacon of hope. In this context that took decades to evolve into a perfect storm, someone comes onto the scene that embraces our estranged and isolated priests, that subsidizes our Metropolises with gifts that form grandiose monasteries, someone that inspires the disenfranchised parishioner, someone that is billed as our own alleged Saint! Could the soil not have been more fertile for this to happen?

Now the message of Orthodoxy has become austere. So much that “seeking the sheep that was lost” has been replaced with “if you are not serious about being Orthodox, then go away.”

America is only now beginning to witness the manifestation of Greek Orthodox Monasteries. The mysterious “other worldliness” of them is compelling. Monasteries innately carry with them a message of peace and spiritual connectedness. They offer the legitimate idea of a spiritual retreat for pilgrims that can get away for a short period to recharge themselves. This is the ideal and the hope for those isolated, disillusioned, and even disenfranchised. But it appears these monasteries have a hidden agenda to promote their understanding of a monastic mode of spirituality upon America’s Orthodox faithful.

Additionally, there is an attempt to disarm any form of criticism under Ephraim’s self-proclaimed prophecy of “I am going to be persecuted.” In the Orthodox Church that we know, it is okay to ask questions – especially if allegations of abuse of power, or lack of financial transparency exist, as they do. It is okay to examine actions. To many of us, it seems reasonable that a true saint would understand if any of his actions were undermining the peace of the Church, and proactively do all he or she can to rectify it. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

20 thoughts on “Ephraim & St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona

  1. Toula, your equating the monastery with the Taliban, only serves to show how slanderous and unconcerned with accuracy the critics can be. The Taliban was a political Islamic movement, and engaged in terrorism against civilians. When has the monastery ever done this? The reason why this issue about the monastery is even alive, is because the social engineers want to give the impression that there is actually an issue with them, when in fact, there is none. Just because something appears in a news report, does not mean it is significant and valid. But because so many people have been conditioned and brainwashed all their lives into believing that news reports always tell the truth, they fall for this kind of nonsense.

  2. Ted, how are you using the word “fundamentalist”? To be an Orthodox Christian, means we believe certain things. Just because you use a fancy word, does not mean it has any relevance or significance. I believe the attack we see against the monasticism practiced at St. Anthony’s Monastery, is rooted in the modernist agenda to turn Orthodoxy into something Protestant. The modernists hate monasticism, and they hate tradition. By the way, this website is too dark to read.

    • Toula S.

      Mr. Valdez the word “fundamental” is not technical nor fancy. What is also apparent is that this excellent website has also clearly stated that it is not against Monasticism at all. It is addressing real issues of unhealthy Monasticism. Healthy Monasticism is a good way of life for those who voluntarily choose it. Your fears of a conspiracy dictated by the “modernist” agenda seem really off base.

      Your irrational fears and accusations prompted me to write this response to you (and people that “think” like you), and also for all my other sister and brother parishioners. The average parishioner needs to know!

      We do need to talk about these things. Not having a dialogue allows the fundamentalists to continue unfettered and unrestricted. Sitting and simply watching this disaster unfold one can rationalize their way into doing nothing. If that is the case, what you are really doing is allowing your children and grandchildren to be potential future victims. In 20 or 30 years from now when our Church is a mere skeleton of what it was (and what’s left of the parishes will be inhabited by fundamentalists), where will our grandchildren be going for spiritual nurturing? In my area (and from what I hear in others too) they will be going to another Orthodox jurisdiction, or another Christian denomination all together.

      At a minimum we SHOULD be discussing this “Talibanistic” element being introduced to our faith. Sometimes this element is led by monks and priests that want to discuss with those who come to them for confession, every sexual position and activity they have ever experienced in their life. This includes graphic details of their marital relations with their spouse. The fundamentalists seem to believe that normal and healthy sex with your spouse is sinful. Do they think that their perverted sexual voyeurism is absolving those innocent ones confessing to them of their marital “sins”? Seems to me they are creating their own kind of canon law that really distorts the view of marriage by introducing their own interpretations.

      I know this from dear friend I have in Tennessee where we live. She had this very experience and she was floored. We have had to endure this ugly chapter in the life of our parish. Our parish was embroiled in an Ephraimite controversy. Our priest touted that his spiritual father is Elder Ephraim. That priest was transferred but left a wake of pain and distortions. Unfortunately this is continuing throughout the country.

      This is why I am speaking up. Enough is enough. I encourage my sisters and brothers to love their Orthodox Christian faith and to stand up for it on behalf of our children and grandchildren.

  3. Ted.T4

    Although I live in California, I am a frequent reader of your website and the one out of Chicago. As you will see below I have cut and paste a section of that site’s contents here on your website. Also, let me thank your editors for having the courage to address the thorniest problem facing Orthodoxy today, the rise of fundamentalism and the unaddressed allowance of “Gurus” among us. This IS a cancer spreading within Orthodoxy in America and has caused many to leave. How is it that the Serbians, based on the conservative nature of their Orthodox beliefs would try and have an open dialogue about this issue and we can not?

    Every time I bring this up to my own Parish Priest he does not walk away, he runs away. I know that he does not believe in this, but he seems to lack the will to even engage in a simple discussion. Anyway here is the link and introduction to the article that is in the Orthodox Resources section of the GOTRUTHREFORM.ORG website:

    “12. For an interesting article about Monastic guruism that appears in a blog by an Orthodox Priest please link to: http://frmilovan.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/spiritual-fathers-and-guruism/ In this article there is a discussion at a conference in Serbia involving leaders of the Serbian Orthodox Church were the subject of Orthodox Monastic guruism was a major issue and growing concern. After reading this ask yourself, “does this sound familiar”? Unlike Serbia, leadership in the GOA chooses not to face the problem, ask yourself why?”

    Keep up the excellent work!

    • How are you using the word “fundamentalist”? Just because you employ a fancy word, does not mean it has any relevance or significance. To be Orthodox means we believe certain things. The monasticism practiced at St. Anthony’s Monastery, is consistent with historic monasticism, that’s why (I believe) the modernists have targted them –because they hate monasticism and tradition. http://orthodoxpatristicwisdom.blogspot.com/2005/11/in-response-to-david-smith-concerning.html

      • Toula S.

        Mr. Valdez the word “fundamental” is not technical nor fancy. What is also apparent is that this excellent website has also clearly stated that it is not against Monasticism at all. It is addressing real issues of unhealthy Monasticism. Healthy Monasticism is a good way of life for those who voluntarily choose it. Your fears of a conspiracy dictated by the “modernist” agenda seem really off base.

        Your irrational fears and accusations prompted me to write this response to you (and people that “think” like you), and also for all my other sister and brother parishioners. The average parishioner needs to know!

        We do need to talk about these things. Not having a dialogue allows the fundamentalists to continue unfettered and unrestricted. Sitting and simply watching this disaster unfold one can rationalize their way into doing nothing. If that is the case, what you are really doing is allowing your children and grandchildren to be potential future victims. In 20 or 30 years from now when our Church is a mere skeleton of what it was (and what’s left of the parishes will be inhabited by fundamentalists), where will our grandchildren be going for spiritual nurturing? In my area (and from what I hear in others too) they will be going to another Orthodox jurisdiction, or another Christian denomination all together.

        At a minimum we SHOULD be discussing this “Talibanistic” element being introduced to our faith. Sometimes this element is led by monks and priests that want to discuss with those who come to them for confession, every sexual position and activity they have ever experienced in their life. This includes graphic details of their marital relations with their spouse. The fundamentalists seem to believe that normal and healthy sex with your spouse is sinful. Do they think that their perverted sexual voyeurism is absolving those innocent ones confessing to them of their marital “sins”? Seems to me they are creating their own kind of canon law that really distorts the view of marriage by introducing their own interpretations.

        I know this from dear friend I have in Tennessee where we live. She had this very experience and she was floored. We have had to endure this ugly chapter in the life of our parish. Our parish was embroiled in an Ephraimite controversy. Our priest touted that his spiritual father is Elder Ephraim. That priest was transferred but left a wake of pain and distortions. Unfortunately this is continuing throughout the country.

        This is why I am speaking up. Enough is enough. I encourage my sisters and brothers to love their Orthodox Christian faith and to stand up for it on behalf of our children and grandchildren.

  4. Romanos

    Spiritual Fathers and Guruism

    A great article on the dangers of Guruism (when the spiritual father is the criterion). This was from the “Inter-Orthodox Network of Initiatives for Research and Religious and Destructive Cults“.

    http://frmilovan.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/spiritual-fathers-and-guruism/

  5. Basil312

    I am posting my portion of a dialogue I had in another forum with a fellow Orthodox man named Niko concerning the death of Scott Nevins. That thread was closed and I did not have a chance to post these comments there, so I am posting them here.

    + + + + +

    Niko thank you for restoring my Faith in my fellow Greek Orthodox Christians (as few Hierarchs are another issue altogether – I am writing from the Chicago Metropolis area so I am sure you understand). The death of Scott Nevins is tragic at a number of levels. His father was yelling for years about the allegedly unorthodox practices at our Ephraimite Monasteries. I personally have spoken to families where the parents go to complain about irregularities in the “recruitment” of these young novices and hear the following: “if your child decided to join a monastery it is your fault as a parent”! And so it starts, we have the parents come to the authorities of our Church and they get blamed for the entrance of these young people into the Monasteries of Elder Ephraim.

    I spoke to a Priest I know from a Metropolis far from mine. He told me about the Archdiocesan Council session that recently occurred in Philadelphia. A highly respected Lay member of the Council spoke to the topic of his 3 college age sons and their future involvement in the Church. One Metropolitan responded that if this man’s sons left the Church, or diminished their future involvement it was “your fault as a parent”. This same Metropolitan has shielded the Ephraimite Monasteries in his own jurisdiction. Do you see the common thread Niko? It was Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit that had to step in and attempt to undue the damage done by one of “his brothers”. We need more like him!

    Here you have Ashley Nevins, the father of Scott Nevins screaming at the top of his lungs about his perception that there are multiple disturbing issues surrounding the Monasteries of Elder Ephraim. Look, I dont agree with everything Ashley has written on other discussion, but my heart does go out to this father who loves his son. I cannot imagine what he must be going through. Think about a parent that drives home one day and sees that his house is on fire. On arrival he sees the fire department pretending to pull out their fire hoses and connecting them to the fire hydrants all the time giving this man the appearance that they are “in control”. The parent sees the home on fire and can see the child hanging out the window of the attic waiting to be rescued. Suddenly the fire department decides that it is time to eat lunch, they throw down a blanket and open the picnic basket and start eating. Mean while the building burns to the ground and flames engulf the child who dies in the fire.

    This is the only way I can see the unnecessary death of Scott Nevins. Our leaders continue to fail us. I now see the Hierarchy as the firemen having a picnic while Mr. Nevins son was engulfed in flames of apathy and misguidance. The Ecumenical Patriarch needs to now get involved and start asking for accountability. The days of the want-a-bees taking their supporters to Constantinople and dropping cash to gain influence with the Church must end. As a friend of mine suggested to me after hearing about the loss of young Scott Nevins, “there is a deficiency of character within our Church”! What other conclusion are we left to have?

    There is blood on the hands of many. I believe the guiltiest by far hold positions of authority within the Church. Next are the Ephraimite apologists that have spent their spare time perpetuating this amalgam of propoganda and distortions that they follow and try to sell like laundry soap on TV. These Ephraimite apologists have flooded the internet with garbage and are now polluting the minds of our youngest and most vulnerable Orthodox Christians. Within our Orthodox Faith we have let in the wolves and they are now rationalizing ever improper action to cover their cult!

    • Admin

      Editor’s Note:

      Thank you Basil for your passionate and insightful thoughts. The actions of the San Francisco Metropolis and the Archdiocese will be closely scrutinized. If this is not handled properly, there are many that will expose it on a grandiose scale. It is already in the works.

  6. Admin

    Metropolis of San Francisco Issues Encyclical

    One of our readers just sent us this encyclical issued by Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco (dated June 14th, 2012) concerning the death of 27 year old Mr. Scott Nevins. As of June 14th, we have been told that there is still no police report on file. Mr. Nevins died after 2am Monday, June 11th. We did hear that Mr. Nevins’ death was about 75 yards from the monastery gated entry. This is unconfirmed. The police report from Pinal County Sheriff’s Office will speak to this.

    Click Here to view Encyclical.

  7. Spyros

    Three days ago, a former monk, Scott Nevins, 27 years old, (featured in the first video you have above), blew his head off at the gates of the Arizona Monastery that belongs to Ephraim. He spent 6 or 7 years there (from the time he was 19 through 26). I have read other blogs about this. Especially from his dad, Ashley Nevins.

    Two questions:

    1) What does this say about the spiritual direction he received while he was there for about 7 years? A young adult killed himself at one of our spiritual centers – what does this mean?

    2) Does the Greek Orthodox Archdiosese know about this? I hope so.

    Spyros

    Editor’s Note:

    Thank you for your post Spyro. We also hope the Archdiocese AND the San Francisco Metropolis knows about this AND DOES SOMETHING about this. It won’t bring Scott back to life, but it may prevent someone else from being so hurt. We haven’t written anything about this yet. We are waiting to get a copy of the police report. It happened outside the gates of the Monastery. He was refused entry apparently. He reportedly went back to pick up some things, but there seems like a lot more to this story. Our prayers to his mom Diane, his Dad Ashley, and all his family. It will be interesting to see how things unfold.

  8. ConstantineL414

    In response to Romanos, you are asking the question everyone but our Hierarchs are asking. “Where is the money coming from?”. I live in Wisconsin and have visited the Kenosha monastery. It was a bit of a drive, but when I arrived, my jaw dropped open when I say the opulence. It looks like 30 acres, 8 foot high stone gates encircling the several chapels, cemetery, professional/industrial kitchen facilities, and an inner compound where the nuns live that also has a high stone gate all around it, and a 3 story watchtower where the abbess lives. The main church is like a cathedral. The marble floors and expensive accoutrements are certainly not cheap. Big money! I have watched the news clip from the Arizona television station and both episodes of Pandora’s Box. There is only one conclusion here that can be reached; the vast majority of the money is not coming from the “believers” as all Ephraimites would have you believe. The laity has had it with them (our Hierarchy and the Ephraimites). Why does our local Metropolis Council come into our Parishes like “Bulls in a China Shop” demanding audited financial statements and our Monasteries get a free pass?

    I for one have lost faith in the objectivity of our hierarchy. Everyone says “yes it is a major problem”, and a breath later they blame someone else. Has anyone stopped to calculate the number of donors giving to these “Monasteries” to build this network in two decades? I have and the numbers do not add up. Worse yet I really wonder has Elder Ephraim of Vatopedi used the funds allegedly secured in illegal land deals to buy influence here in the United States? I would guess yes.

    I will no longer donate money to any cause with the words “Greek” or “Hellenic” in their title. Really……….. It took a Prime Minister who was not elected in Greece to find the courage to take Elder Ephraim of Vatopedi into custody. Then the Russian machine started to dictate their own agenda onto Greece. I strongly feel that a power vacuum has developed in the United States and those who used the sympathetic plight of the Patriarch to change the charter should fess up to the damage they have unleashed on the Faithful. Who is minding the store?

    Editors Note: PLEASE only post your comments once. We want you to know, dont lose faith Dean! (Is it Dean, Kosta, Gus, or Constantine?) If we do nothing, nothing will get done. Please channel your energy into a proactive positive force by spreading the word that there are laymen and silent priests and some hierarchs in the background that are not fond of this phenomenon. Our clergy are afraid to speak out for fear of retribution. We must start writing to the Archbishop in New York, and copy them to the Patriarch as well. We cannot sit silent. But at the same time, we have to protect our children from seeing this side of human beings that unfortunately the Church is not immune from. Stay proactive. Stay involved. You sound knowledgeable, dont give up. Remember to pray about this as well.

  9. Romanos

    Where is the money coming from? Where is the money coming from? Where is the money coming from?

    Eighteen to twenty monasteries. The one in Arizona (like others) has an estimated cost (back then) of 17 million dollars, minimum. Other Ephraim Monasteries have similar price tags (as far as costs). I am not even including the Monasteries that Ephraim “owns” in Greece, and possibly other areas.

    Our local parishes are struggling and are further taxed by the Monastery minions that raise money for the monastery from the local parish members. Our Archdiocese is struggling too. But the Ephraim monasteries are thriving in opulence.

    Where is the money coming from??? Where is the money coming from??? Where is the money coming from???

    To have a Greek Orthodox Priest state on a news telecast that it cost “a few thousand dollars” seems to make a very strong statement that this operation is clearly NOT above board, that it has something to hide, and is NOT providing any semblance of financial accountability to the Archdiocese. Churches do that. Metropolises do that. But Ephraim’s Monasteries have no financial transparency. Fr. Anthony Moschonas made this absurd statement in the second video from KVOA, Tucson, Arizona. His statements also seem to disparage the majority of Greek Orthodox Priests that are ethical and forthright people.

    Why hasnt any Metropolitan insisted and demanded that there be financial disclosures made to the Metropolis and the Archdiocese (the way Churches and Metropolises do!)?

    Where is the money coming from? This leads to a follow up question:

    Where else is the money going?

  10. ksipnagoa

    I know for a fact that many people go to AZ to have their sacraments reblessed by Elder Ephraim. They believe that even Catholics need to be rebaptized. They believe that priests that marry Orthodox and Catholics, or Orthodox and those chrismated Orthodox, should be excommunicated and that they are going to Hell. They teach that Orthodox and other Christians do not worship the same God. They will ruin and are ruining Orthodoxy in America. Everything that our forefathers worked for will be ruined in a few short years.

    • Roman Catholics DO need to be repaptized. Don’t you know the teaching of the Church? Roman Catholics use aspersian and pour water. There is no economia for this. And the RCC is heretical and schismatics. Learn the teaching of the Orthodox Church.

  11. Admin

    RELIGIOSCOPE Questioning Ephraim Movement.

    Religioscope, is an independent website about religions in today’s world that was launched in 2002. It offers news and analyses. Religioscope pays attention to current developments and trends.

    The Ephraim movement has caught the attention of Religioscope. It has a compelling article entitled, “Orthodox Church: Monastic movement raising new controversy in Greek Orthodoxy in America” by Richard Cimino published on 24 Nov 2011.

  12. Admin

    Reader Demands More Reporting on Ephraim.

    The National Herald, a dynamic news service out of New York that has a well known newspaper not affiliated with the church, has printed a letter from a reader that is demanding more reporting about the Ephraim movement. This is Mr. Paul Cromidas’ follow up to his 2003 letter “The Ephraim Question” (posted earlier here).

    If you have a subscription to The National Herald, you can read it by clicking here. Otherwise, to view this article click on the above title to see a copy of this informative and provocative letter. Thank you Mr. Cromidas.

  13. Admin

    The Ephraim Question.

    Here is a link to a site started in California for victims of abuse (abuse in the many different forms it can exist). The author of this article, the articulate and esteemed Mr. Paul Cromidas, wrote an excellent piece on “Blind Obedience” and the Ephraimite issue. The article is called The Ephraim Question . Amazingly, it dates back to October 2003! It is a valuable read, click on the following link to check it out: http://www.pokrov.org/resource.asp?ds=Article&id=128&sSrch=Paul%20Cromidas&sType=Articles

    The Ephraim Question.

  14. Admin

    News Report on St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona

  15. Admin

    News Report on St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona