Be it known that the North American Holy Synod does hereby proclaim on this 15th day of August, 2007 that Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh, first presiding bishop of this Church, is hereby determined and proclaimed to be a Martyr for the faith.
During his lifetime he suffered at the hands of the ethnic orthodox jurisdictions in the New World for his faith and his Church and after his death these same so called ethnic orthodox jurisdictions continued to write about Archbishop Ofiesh in a defamatory manner.
Pertinent to his appointment as head of the new American Church in 1927 until 1933, prior to his marriage, he suffered great mental anguish at the hands of the Schismatic orthodox jurisdictions who invaded his canonical jurisdiction, usurped his authority and territory, attempted to steal and did steal his parishes, accepted his suspended clergy without the canonically required letters, and refused to recognize Archbishop Ofiesh, his synod, clergy or the American Church. The Schism became an open act when in 1929 Archbishop Alexander, the Greek Archbishop in New York claimed he had authority over not only the Greek Orthodox but all Orthodox in America. This along with the acts, claims and statements of many orthodox makes the Schism a clear violation of the canons. The Ecumenical Patriarch refused to recognize this Church, our authority as well as the clergy. Gradually all other orthodox jurisdictions including Metropolitan Platon followed the Ecumenical Patriarch’s lead in this matter.
Today the present Ecumenical Patriarch appears to still be claiming to preside over All Orthodox worldwide. The Russian Patriarch has denied and refuted this claim stating all Patriarchates are autocephalous jurisdictions under the leadership of their own Patriarch. It is also stated that in Orthodoxy we do not have a single leader over all like the Roman Catholic Church does.
The Synod has considered the matter of the Archbishops marriage in 1933 and have determined that this has no effect on the prior Schism and cause of the suffering he underwent at the hands of these groups. The Schism began prior to but can be openly dated as of 1929. It is clearly stated and agreed by most orthodox jurisdictions that the canon on married bishops is not a matter of faith, can be changed at anytime and was not adopted by all orthodox. Writers from the ethnic jurisdictions have claimed the early synod members of this Church made statements consistent with the synod not accepting or adopting the canon related to married bishops but then claim the Archbishop deposed himself by marrying.
To re-enforce this Schism the Moscow Patriarchate, our Mother Church, established a second American Church to replace us which we consider a further act of Schism. First they abandoned us then they attempt to replace us.
We declare Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh a Martyr because
he would not bow down to the greed, power and usurped authority of the
unchristian ethnic groups and he suffered at their hands.
A Martyr is generally considered a person murdered for their faith but another acceptable meaning of “Martyr” is one who “endures great suffering or hardship” or “who undergoes severe of constant suffering” for any belief, principle or cause. It is clear that this is the case in regards to the life of Archbishop Ofiesh. The fact he continued to dress as a bishop, as conceded by members of the ethnic jurisdictions, demonstrates that he was still a bishop and head of this Church until his death on July 24, 1966.