The following letter was emailed on January 29, 2020 to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, all his suffragan bishops, Father Thomas Zain, Father Nicholas Belcher, several other staff members in Englewood, and Father Josiah Trenham.
The deafening silence from the Patriarchate and the Archdiocese compels us to share this letter publicly.
For context see the Josiah Trenham: The Scandal section in our Archives 2020.
Metropolitan Joseph (Al-Zehlaoui) and Archpriest Josiah Trenham of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
To whom it may concern:
Christ is in our midst.
The more the Josiah Trenham débâcle drags on, the worse it gets:
1). According to Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s analytics for yesterday, January 28, several people found us by googling “metropolitan joseph girlfriend”—which is interesting, given that we have never mentioned “metropolitan joseph” and “girlfriend” in the same article. In fact, I don’t recall that we’ve ever used the word “girlfriend” in any article at all. Yet, this is what people are googling, and they’re finding us and our articles about Metropolitan Joseph and Josiah Trenham, and here we are today.
2). We have published almost 800 articles to date. Yet the relatively few about Josiah Trenham and/or the AOCA overwhelmingly dominate any given day’s most popular articles listed in the lower right column of the homepage—and not just the relevant articles that remain pinned to the top of the homepage until we see adequate action on your part.
3). While we have imposed on ourselves a moratorium on any additional, internally produced articles on Trenham—in order to give you time to act in a face-saving manner—we feel no such compulsion regarding externally produced articles and letters that are submitted to us. Daniel Nicholas’ open letter came to us completely by surprise last night. We cannot predict whether other readers of OiD will follow suit, but I can promise that we will publish, either on our homepage or Letters page, anything we receive on the subject. (Our Letters page gets as much exposure as our top articles.)
4). The Twitter assaults on my person from Trenham’s fanboys have escalated beyond anything I’ve endured since launching OiD in August 2017. Yesterday and today they have called me everything from faggot to sodomite to pederast and then some. One threatened me with physical violence. Mr. Nicholas was not exaggerating when he wrote that Trenham’s rhetoric emboldens and radicalizes people. In fact, Trenham’s most passionate defender has been a man entirely dedicated to paternal and husbandly prerogatives…whose children have been removed from the home by the state. Is this the “spirituality” that Trenham preaches? Deposed I may be (people love to call me by the noncanonical but more delicious word defrocked), but when I was a priest, no one in my flock—no one—felt emboldened to behave like animals. We were too busy trying to see our own transgressions and not to judge our brother.
5). The clergy sex abuse epidemic in the Roman Catholic Church was allowed to spread unchecked until bad publicity shamed them into long overdue action. This seems par for the course for institutional ecclesiastical apparatuses. Today we have reached out to the SPLC, NPR, and other media outlets to cooperate in bringing public attention to the AOCA’s inertia while LGBTQ children, teens, women, and men continue to be harmed as much by your silence as by Trenham’s words and actions. (For the record, did Trenham really say that it’s better to be a Christian murderer than a peaceable atheist? That’s worth an article in its own right.)
6). You have brought this on yourselves. It took you less than two weeks to force Father Warwick to retract an article suggesting what a merciful LGBTQ ministry might look like. Yet you have allowed Trenham to rage ahead with impunity for years—in a manner bearing no resemblance whatever to the “love, compassion, and dignity” of Father Belcher’s secret letter of January 14—and you continue to allow it despite OiD’s frequent attempts to get your attention even prior to your anonymous clergyman’s open letter.
7). I conclude with the following requests:
a). Order the complete and total removal of Trenham’s online œuvre—written texts, audio recordings, and video—from anywhere and everywhere they appear on the internet.
b). Order Trenham to accept no more public speaking engagements anywhere.
c). Arrange for a full parish visitation of adequate duration to interview parishioners, members of the Trenham family (we have shared our concerns for his family with you privately), and self-reported escapees from the parish, to determine what is really going on there. I can recommend Archpriest Isaac Skidmore (I am making this recommendation without his foreknowledge) of the OCA Diocese of the West, who has impressive credentials in clinical psychology in addition to being a priest. Read his bio at the end of this article.
d). Order Trenham to submit a signed letter of retraction and apology, as a jpg file, on parish letterhead. We will publish this in the same way as we did Father Warwick’s letter of retraction.
e). Submit a letter, signed by Metropolitan Joseph (not by Father Zain and not by Father Belcher) on AOCA letterhead, as a jpg file, apologizing for Trenham’s actions and your protracted inaction, and outlining the steps that have been taken to correct the situation. This too will be published on Orthodoxy in Dialogue.
f). Note that I want no mention of the abuse that I have endured personally from Trenham’s fanboys. This is not about me, but about the countless innocents around the world whom he has wounded and left bleeding on the roadside of his massive ego for his entire priestly career.
Do these things and, for my part, I promise that everything will stop: no more articles about this, no more open letters, no more contact with the media, no more pinning embarrassing articles about the AOCA to the top of our homepage. I would love nothing more, for everyone’s sake, than to put this behind us and get on with the business of writing theology. Most especially, wouldn’t we all love this behind us before Great Lent?
I hope to hear from you on or before Wednesday, February 12, two weeks from today.
As I stated previously, I am neither your enemy nor the enemy of the Church. I am in the Church. But I am a tireless warrior for the oppressed, the wounded, the voiceless: I believe that my Lord, God, and Saviour requires no less of me.
With sincere love in Christ, I am your most sinful and unworthy brother,
Readers wishing to convey their thoughts to the Patriarchate and to the hierarchy of the AOCA may do so as follows:
- Patriarch John of Antioch ~ email@example.com
- Metropolitan Joseph ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bishop Basil ~ BpBasil@aol.com
- Bishop Thomas ~ email@example.com
- Bishop John ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bishop Alexander ~ email@example.com
- Bishop Anthony ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bishop Nicholas ~ email@example.com
You may also address your concerns about Father Trenham’s content to Ancient Faith Ministries:
- John Maddex ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bobby Maddex ~ email@example.com
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