We are an inclusive Orthodox Christian community. Our worship services conform to the theology of the Slavonic (Russian) typicon. We are not a local Church in Hayward but a small Orthodox metokian skete, dedicated to worship, study, and service to Orthodox and Catholic Christians from any historic jurisdiction in the greater San Francisco bay area. We also have a unique (among Orthodox Christian communities) focus in service of the marginalized, including the LGBT community as well as their welcoming non-LGBT friends.
We are part of the North American Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church under the omophorion of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Nestor.
The large Orthodox and Catholic jurisdictions continue to publicly humiliate LGBT folks with declarations like: “homosexuality is intrinsically disordered.” This attitude is so prominent that some LGBT folks assume that our Russian jurisdiction must be homophobic, judgmental and concerned all about sex as these jurisdictions seem to be. Very seldom do clergy talk about knives which can be used for good or for evil. We think the same way about sex so we seldom discuss it. Some of the best advice about sex might be found in Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, appropriately enough to be found on page 69:
Those members of our community, as well as any visitors, who are still catechumens (learners), are welcome to approach and kiss the Holy Chalice, the cross, and the priest's hand. We also welcome those who are prepared to receive Holy Communion, have been Chrismated in their own Orthodox jurisdiction.
Beginning in 1980, Axios, an organization of Eastern & Near Eastern Orthodox, and Byzantine & Eastern-rite Catholic Gay & Lesbian lay Christians was founded in Beverly Hills California. They did not include Roman Catholics at that time because the LGBT Roman Catholics already had their own support group called Dignity which had been founded earlier in San Diego, California.
Details about the history of Axios.org can be found on the Axios website. Axios marched in Pride celebrations for five years until two anti-catholic members insisted on ousting the two Eastern-Rite Catholics from the group. Axios, following its charter, voted unanimously (except for the 2) to uphold their membership. The two disgruntled members sent the Axios mailing-list to the OCA bishop in San Francisco. California membership has been mostly underground ever since. Anyone interested in working with Axios may contact them directly.
While Catholic and Orthodox Church hierarchy still continues to see each other as schismatics of sorts and argue over authority, the overwhelming majority of LGBT Orthodox and Catholic lay people, I have met, perceive each other to be in cultural jurisdictions of the one Church established at Pentecost with valid and effective sacraments. Therefore, our Saint Seraphim community, serving the San Francisco bay area of California, in solidarity with all LGBT Orthodox and Catholics, welcome each other to pray and commune with us.
We celebrate Divine Liturgy, as a community, almost every Sunday morning at 10 AM in our Saint Seraphim skete chapel in the hills of downtown Hayward, CA 94541. Our Saint Seraphim phone line for messages is (510) 856-3611. Please phone ahead for directions and to make certain we are not out of town that Sunday. If you enjoy singing Russian chant in English, please do ask about singing with us. We enjoy hearing from anyone who is interested in our work.
James, the first leader of the Jerusalem church (James 2:14-26), tells us that “faith without works is dead”. The Disciple John (1 John 3:17-18), tells us the same thing, that love must be proven by deeds. Yet, Christians throughout the ages have forgotten these truths. 'Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.' (1 John 4:20)
Today for some reason we are witnessing hatred on an epic scale in this country. Even against children. Simply because they are of a different race. Simply because of where they come from. Simply because of how they got here. And what is even more surprising is the number of people who call themselves “Christian” who support this hatred for the sake of power and control. It is sickening and disheartening. It is NOT enough to believe in Jesus. It is NOT enough to say you “love God” but have a heart filled with hatred for those different from you.
The almost weekly mass shootings targeting innocent people and children are another example of hatred in the extreme. Amid a culture of violence exacerbated by the proliferation of firearms is the careless disregard for human life that is already born. Where are the many so-called “pro-life” Christians. Try as I might, I just don't see the rallies against guns by the “pro-lifers” the way they do for the “unborn”. The only rallies I observed are those from the teen survivors of the Parkland, FL school shooting and the school children around the country calling for a responsible gun control. The “pro-lifers” are no where to be seen. And now many of these teens are getting death threats from some gun owners. Where is the outrage? WHERE IS THE CHURCH???
On June 20 in Lancaster, California, 10 year old Anthony Avalos was brutally murdered by his mother's boyfriend after coming out as gay. Another boy, 8 year old Gabriel Fernandez on May 2013 (in Palmdale, California), was systematically tortured, starved and murdered by his mother's boyfriend because he thought the boy was gay. On a conservative website, someone made a comment that Anthony's death was “justified” because of his “filthy perversion”. The church's attempts to dehumanize LGBT people are reminiscent of the Nazis attempts to dehumanize the Jews. See where that led and see where this is leading. Gay people are supposedly “intrinsically disordered” says the Roman Catholic Church. Gay people are made to seem like they are incapable of love as any human being but are instead “subhuman” because they are romantically and physically attracted to the “wrong” gender. This dehumanizing attitude and language are what leads ultimately to violence against the LGBT community since they are “less than human”. Yet Our Lord WELCOMED the marginalized. (Matthew 9:11) He NEVER attacked them. He NEVER dehumanized them. He treated them with dignity. He even made a hated and ostracized ethnic group of that time (the Samaritans) the hero of one of His parables. (Luke 10:25-37) He did NOT turn anyone away.
No. The church is not immune from hatred. Not when Orthodox bishops and priests openly call for brutal violence against LGBT people celebrating their lives in peaceful marches. “Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another.” (Matthew 24:10) “All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them.” (1 John 3:15) “Whoever does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3:14)
Paul tells us, “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
We have a choice to make in these terrible times. We can choose to love or we can choose to hate. I hope sincerely that you will choose love which is of God for indeed God IS love! (1 John 4:8) God bless you!