On Saturday, January 25, 2020, clergy and faithful from the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., the Monastery of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk, Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary [SVOTS], Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary Seminary [STOTS], and New Skete Monastery gathered at Saint Nicholas Cathedral here for the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, during which Bishop-elect Alexis [Trader] was ordained to the Episcopacy as Bishop of Bethesda, Auxiliary to His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon.
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America elected Archimandrite Alexis (Trader) as Bishop-elect of Bethesda, Auxiliary to the Metropolitan for Stavropegial Institutions during its Regular Fall Session on Tuesday, November 12, 2019.
On the eve of the Ordination, the hierarchs celebrated the Nomination and Proclamation of a Bishop, after which Bishop-elect Alexis delivered an acceptance speech and then served Great Vespers for the feast of Saint Gregory the Theologian.
Concelebrating with His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon were His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of New York, His Eminence Archbishop David of Sitka, His Grace Bishop Paul of Chicago, and His Grace Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa.
Before the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, Bishop-elect Alexis offered his statement of faith, proclaiming the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and offered a detailed explanation of the Church’s Trinitarian and Christological doctrines in the presence of Metropolitan Tikhon and the assembled hierarchs, clergy, and faithful. He pledged his commitment to uphold the Church’s canons and the teachings of the Holy Fathers and to preserve unity with his brother bishops.
During the singing of the Trisagion, Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, and Archimandrite Sergius (Bowyer), Abbot of Saint Tikhon Monastery, presented Bishop-elect Alexis to the bishops in the altar. With the open Gospel Book placed over Bishop-elect Alexis’ head Metropolitan Tikhon proclaimed, “By the election and approbation of all the Venerable Bishops of the Holy Synod, the Grace Divine, which always heals that which is infirm and fulfills that which is lacking through the Laying-on-of-Hands, elevates you, most beloved of God, Archimandrite Alexis, to be the Bishop of Bethesda, which enjoys the protection of Almighty God…. O Lord our God Who, in that it is impossible for the nature of man to endure the Essence of the Godhead, in Thy Providence hast provided for us teachers of like nature with ourselves to maintain Thine Altar, that they may offer to Thee sacrifices and oblations for all Thy People. O Lord, make this man also, who has been proclaimed a steward of the Episcopal Grace, to be an imitator of Thee, Who art the True Shepherd, Who laid down Thy Life for Thy sheep. Grant that he will be a leader of the blind, a light to those in darkness, a reprover of the unwise, a teacher of the young, a lamp to the world. Grant also that he, having perfected the souls entrusted to him in this present life, may stand unashamed before Thy Throne, and that he may receive the great reward which Thou hast prepared for those who have fought with valor for the preaching of the Gospel.”
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Tikhon presented Bishop Alexis with the pastoral staff, signifying his responsibility and authority as Bishop of Bethesda, and offered the following words of exhortation:
Your Grace, Bishop Alexis, newly ordained bishop of the city of Bethesda:
On behalf of all the bishops, clergy, monastics, and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, and on behalf of all those who have gathered here today to give expression to the fullness of the Church: I wholeheartedly congratulate you on your ordination as auxiliary bishop to the Primate and Metropolitan of our Church.
Through the mystery of the All-Holy Spirit and the laying on of hands, our Lord has bestowed upon you the apostolic grace to give life to you and to your Episcopal labors.
My dear brother, I pray that our Lord will grant you good health and a plenitude of spiritual gifts so that you may in peace and love nourish the people of God and be a witness to all those who are searching and seeking for the truth as offered by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
From my heart I wish you inexhaustible energy, peace, and joy as you undertake this awesome ministry as a Bishop of Christ’s Church.
I exhort you to have care for the clergy, their wives, and their families, so many of whom have joined us today to participate in this great event. The brotherhood of the clergy is a sacred bond which it is necessary to preserve and nurture through mutual support and the guidance of the chief pastor.
Have care for your fellow monastics, the monks and nuns of our sacred monasteries, who faithfully and sacrificially impart to the rest of us of the value of prayer as well as the pains and joys of the communal life.
Have care for the faithful, without whose prayers, your ministry and service will wither as a dry branch. It is your love and friendship with them that will both water their souls and bring refreshment to your own life and ministry.
St. Silouan the Athonite asks: “What shall I say of a bishop? To bishops is given great grace of the Holy Spirit. They are placed highest of all men. Like eagles they soar aloft and there contemplate infinite expanse, and by their understanding of things divine they feed Christ’s flock.”
But along with this high calling, he also reminds us of our human frailty, even those of us who are bishops:
“In His omniscience the Lord instructs the soul by His grace, like a kind teacher and father. But even a father can make mistakes, whereas the Lord is always faithful and true; and a teacher is not versed in all things, whereas the Lord is all-knowing.” (Archimandrite Sophrony)
Your Grace, Bishop Alexis of Bethesda, you have around you in the present, and before you in the past, countless examples of good, kind, and faithful pastors. Follow their examples, both in strength and in weakness. Among the first, look to St. Gregory the Theologian to find your inspiration by immersing yourself in the tradition of the Church, by appreciating the value sacred liturgical hymnody, by agonizing in the careful preparation of homilies and words of encouragement, and above all by preserving in your heart a deep gratitude for God’s love for all of humanity.
On Sunday, January 26, Bishop Alexis celebrated his first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Church of Saint Mark, Bethesda, Maryland. Before the beginning of the Divine Liturgy His Grace tonsured Alexander Norton [STOTS 2019] a reader of the Church.