The enthronement of Tikhon, the new Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and Archbishop of Washington, took place on the morning of Sunday, January 27, at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC. Today's biggest dream of the American Orthodox people of this jurisdiction is that the next to the enthronement of the first hierarch not be held for a least...30 years. The OCA can not afford to make another error, to bring about a final destabilization in the life of the Church. And judging by the coherence of the entire administration in recent months, the increased visible activity of the Holy Synod, and the complete absence of unseemly rumors and gossip, church life in the OCA is really on a new track.
Actually the enthronement was the final part of the Sunday liturgy. Fifteen bishops from other Churches were invited as guests, and the Holy Synod of the OCA was represented by nine current and three vicar bishops. The service was led by Metropolitan Tikhon. The liturgy wasnot only beautiful, but also majestic - sometimes Byzantine traditions both delight the eye and, with moderate use, they reinforce the spirit and the Orthodox faith. Contributing to a large extent to this was the combined choir of the Cathedral and the singers from other churches of the OCA's Washington Diocese who arrived for this occasion.
The service lasted somewhat longer than usual, so the guests and parishioners had the rare opportunity to see the bishops and lower.ranking clergy closer. It was easy to see that Slavic faces in the OCA are in a significant minority; that the clergy is not drawn to luxury, leads a healthy way of life,and does not embelish their bellies with images as if they were royal doors, and restraint and goodwill are taken as the norm of conduct. Almost no one had Sofrino jewelry - no ancient pectoral crosses - no ostentation or frills. A strong impression could be made on ROC MP priests by the pastor of a church in the Nation's Capital who had a simple wooden cross around his neck. Exceptions with flashing "gems" were at a minimum, which diversified the overall picture.
It was decided not to dramatize the enthronement rite, but to keep it to fundamentals - a speech and the presentation of the metropolitan's staff. Perhaps I'm missing some details, but the speech by Archbishop Nathaniel of the OCA's Diocese of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate before presenting the staff was so intelligent and heartfelt that those present literally devoured every word and agreed with what was said. Simply and without apparent obsequiousness the Archbishop told Metropolitan Tikhon that the Synod sees him as a guarantor of stability and entrusts the fate of the Church to him, since it values his ability to work with all the structures of this jurisdiction. Metropolitan Tikhon, undoubtedly knew what the Orthodox world expected of him today, but he listened with the utmost attention, looking intently into the theArchbishop's eyes.
Gifts and presents came next. Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the MP parishes in America, immediately said that the OCA is a "daughter of the Mother Church," and therefore "sisterly" (?) relations must be maintained. He paused and realized he got somewhat entangled in the relationship of mother, sister and daughter; nevertheless, the hierarch clarified that the ROC MP will look after the daughter, no matter how old she may be. There was laughter with many actually thingking it was a joke. A verbal (!) greeting from Patriarch Kirill (Gundyaev) transmitted by the archbishop was accompanied the beautiful image ofSt. Tikhon of Zadonsk with a portion of his relics.
Metropolitan Dimitri of Batumi and Laz, representing the Georgian Patriarchate, greeted Metropolitan Tikhon and presented an elegant gift in the form of a [miniature] tree, decorated with precious stones. Bishop George of Mayfield on behalf of the ROCOR MP and Metropolitan Hilarion personally assured Metropolitan Tikhon of friendship and presented a valuable gift (don't remember what it was; but it was definitely valuable). The clergy of St. Nicholas Cathedral, gave quite an unusual gift to the Metropolitan:in memory of the Metropolitan's French heritage, he was presented with relics of French saints.
The Metropolitan of All America and Canada, and Washington Archbishop Tikhon responded by thanking everyone who participated in the ceremony and touchingly remembered his parents and family members who were present here. Metropolitan Tikhon is 46 years old.
The ceremonial event in the Church ended in the afternoon, and all were invited to a dinner in the posh "Omni Shoreham" Hotel, well-known because, among other things, it was used by the Beatles for their first press conference in 1964 and for the funeral of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
Dinner was prolonged due to what seemed an infinite number of greetings. One can't even remember how many miters and vestments were presented. The dinner ended with a moleben; in his response Metropolitan Tikhon tried not to forget anyone... remembering everyone on the Chancery staff, the bishops by name, colleagues, and friends, family and work colleagues etc., etc., returning several times to the microphone. But, surprisingly, the Metropolitan's suave speech, delivered in monotone was interrupted every 5 minutes by general laugter at his jokes, causing many look at the new Metropolitan in a different way.
All left in good spirits. Calling attention to itself was the empty table reserved for invited members of the MP delegation, who for unannounced reasons did not attend the dinner. Thus by one gesture diplomatic efforts between two countries are negated.