Former Anglican Bishop Samuel Seamans was ordained to the Orthodox priesthood last week by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch (primate) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), for service in the Western Rite Communities. Ordinations by Metropolitan Hilarion last week included three priests, two deacons, and a number of readers.
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is part of the Patriarchate of Moscow. More than 160 million of the 300 million members of the Orthodox Church are under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. Today there are Western Rite congregations and monastic communities in the Russian, Romanian, Serbian and Antiochian Churches.
Fr. Samuel Seamans had been a bishop in the Diocese of Mid-America, of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). He and his congregation, the parish of St. Thomas in Mountain Home, Arkansas had been received into the Orthodox Church together. Two deacons were ordained with Fr. Samuel for service at St. Thomas Orthodox Church. A third man is preparing for ordination to the diaconate. St. Thomas is a Western Rite Orthodox parish and is one of a rapidly growing number of Western Rite Orthodox congregations and monastic communities in America and the Western world.
Fr. Samuel Seamans is the second Anglican bishop that I have served with that has entered the Orthodox Church with his parish and is now serving as a Western Rite Orthodox priest. For more information on St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas you can visit their website:
Today Anglicans make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church and are found in both the Eastern and Western rites. Archpriest Josiah Trenham, himself a former Anglican (REC) priest, writes, “It is my estimate that there is no heterodox body in America from which more Orthodox clergy have come than the Anglican Communion. The number of Orthodox priests in this country that were previously Episcopal clergy is certainly in the hundreds” (Rock and Sand, An Orthodox Appraisal of the Protestant Reformers and Their Teachings, by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Newrome Press, c. 2015, p.193).
Some Christians have the erroneous idea that the Orthodox Church does not evangelize or is not welcoming, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The Orthodox Church is growing rapidly and expanding throughout the world. In America alone, 23% of all Orthodox Christians are converts, as are 30% of all Orthodox clergy and 43% of seminarians. The percentage of foreign born Orthodox Christians in the United States is no higher than the percentage of foreign born in America as a whole. In ROCOR, three of our bishops are converts: two from Anglicanism and one from Roman Catholicism. Converts and convert clergy are everywhere, and have risen to the highest levels of the Church.
The ROCOR Western Rite Communities function much like a diocese with Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch, as our bishop. Our Dean, Fr. Mark Rowe, is a former Anglican Archdeacon and is providing inspired leadership. I have seldom known such a hard worker or more dedicated leader. We have our own Western Rite Advisory Board, Spiritual Court, and Administrative Council. Western Rite clergy meet every year in a Western Rite Clergy Conference that brings together clergy from America and abroad.
Clergy, laity, congregations both small and large, and monastic communities seeking entrance into the Orthodox Church are welcomed with love and dignity. The Orthodox Church wants everyone to come home, and welcomes everyone. If anyone has any doubts about the welcome they will receive or the dignity with which they will be treated during the reception process, they need only contact me or Fr. Samuel Seamans. We have both gone through the process and can put your mind at ease. The door to the Church is wide open, the welcome mat is out and the lights are on. You will be received with open arms.
For more information I encourage you to visit the website of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities:
As a Western Rite parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia we have preserved the fullness of our English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual patrimony and heritage in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. We are treated no differently than an Eastern Rite congregation. At Holy Cross, we even had an Episcopal Visit from Metropolitan Hilarion — a man with world-wide responsibilities — in August of 2015.
Reunion with the Orthodox Church is no longer a dream or something to be worked toward. It is a reality. You can come home right now. To remain separate when unity is possible is to needlessly perpetuate schism and to set up altar against altar. As our Lord warned, “he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Luke 11:23).
The one requirement is unity in the Faith. There is no comprehensiveness in Orthodoxy. The fullness of the Orthodox Catholic Faith must be accepted without addition or subtraction. As St. Mark of Ephesus has said, “There can be no compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith.” For those who have been struggling against the assaults of liberal-modernism and the compromises of Western religious leaders this will be good news indeed!
The Western Rite has been restored, the Western Church is being rebuilt, and the post-Christian West re-evangelized. This is a tremendous move of the Holy Spirit. Church history is being made, and you can have a part in it. The fields are ripe for the harvest, but the laborers are still too few. Come and join us. You will be glad you did!