Archbishop DMITRI of Dallas Announces Retirement

bluebellsdmitriThe first Orthodox bishop I ever met was Vladyko DMITRI of Dallas and the South. He was everything I had ever thought a bishop should be – faithful, dynamic, mission-minded, and with a heart of gold. He has been the Apostle to the South here in the United States, leading many men and women into the Church and establishing around 60 parishes during his tenure. He is the first Bishop the South had known (under the OCA). He is my most beloved Father in God. Today, in Dallas, he announced his retirement from the Episcopate, effective March 31.

There is not space to say anything like the fullness that I have known in this man – but he has been an embodiment of the Orthodox fullness. I must comment on the fact that I always found him to be excited about the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and that his conversation was constantly turned to Christ. Coming to the Church under his omophor was clearly about coming to Jesus Christ and not simply coming to Orthodoxy. Thus he allowed Orthodoxy to be the fullness that it is.

My heart grieves only because time robs us of our most beloved friends from time to time. I pray he will have a long and healthy retirement. His has laid the foundation of Jesus Christ in the Diocese of the South. May all of us who dwell and serve here take care how we build on that foundation.

May God grant him many years. Eis Polla Eti, Dhespota!

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.





21 responses to “Archbishop DMITRI of Dallas Announces Retirement”

  1. mich0u Avatar

    I never knew bishops could retire… 😕

  2. fatherstephen Avatar

    He is 86 years old and has become too weak to carry out his duties. In such cases they are allowed to retire under the Statutes of the American Church. But not like retiring at 65 or something. Learn something new everyday.

  3. Sean Avatar

    “I never knew bishops could retire… ” They are not obliged to, but they are allowed. In doing so they do not forfeit their episcopal rank (ie they are still Bishops), they are just dismissed of their administrational duties in a particular Diocese.

    Humble prayers for as good a successor and for the man who dedicated his life to the God that found him. Εις πολλά έτη, Δέσποτα!

  4. fatherstephen Avatar

    He is one of the great pioneers of English-speaking Orthodoxy. I liken him to Met. Kallistos Ware and others who converted at a time when such things “were not done.” His writings and Bible Commentaries are a lasting legacy as well as the Church he nurtured so well. There were virtually no English works on Orthodoxy until the early 60’s. Today his mission work and that of others is bearing much fruit – despite our youth as a Church and within the ethos of Orthodoxy.

  5. David Bryan Avatar

    “Coming to the Church under his omophor was clearly about coming to Jesus Christ and not simply coming to Orthodoxy. Thus he allowed Orthodoxy to be the fullness that it is.”

    Well said, Father. We were blessed just this morning to attend one of the mission parishes he has founded (St. John of Damascus, Tyler, TX). What a shock. Any word on who his replacement will be?

  6. David Bryan Avatar

    I should say the “shock” was learning of his retirement, not attending the mission parish! Liturgy this morning was beautiful…

  7. fatherstephen Avatar

    The Holy Synod meets on March 31, at which time they will have to vote to accept his retirement request. I doubt that it would be refused. Likely, the Met. (Jonah) will be appointed locum tenens (temporary bishop) of the South.

    In the OCA, ultimately, we elect our bishops. Names have to be put forward, etc., then the Diocesan Council, consisting of the deans and one lay representative per deanery (we have 6 deaneries) will elect. At least that’s what was done in the election of the Auxiliary (Jonah who shortly became Metropolitan). I serve as Dean of the Appalachian Deanery and could be a bit busier come April. I will continue to write.

  8. Isaac of Syria Avatar
    Isaac of Syria

    For those who are interested, you can find some of Archbishop Dmitri’s writings at this link:

  9. Vasiliki Didaskalou Avatar
    Vasiliki Didaskalou

    May his retirement bring forth deeper prayer for the church and for his own salvation and we thank him for his service to the Body of Christ … I hope that he spends his final years in peace and metanoia.

  10. clint Avatar

    I was blessed to meet Archbishop Dmitri just last year in North Carolina at the Holy Cross Mission Parish. I was still a protestant minister at the time, but was in the process of converting to Orthodoxy. I actually took off the whole weekend from my protestant congregation in order to spend the weekend at Vespers and Liturgy with the Archbishop. I knew at the time that I would be appreciative of the opportunity. Now I am especially grateful. It was obvious to anyone present that he has a heart for God and for the people of God.

    God grant him many years of faithful retirement.

  11. Edward Hunter Avatar

    Eis Polla Eti, Dhespota!

    One of the turning points for me as I began to look into Orthodoxy was reading a letter of excommunication written by Bishop Dmitri to two clergymen who had violated their vows.

    Even though you wouldn’t think it by the subject matter, when I read the letter, I said to myself, “this man sounds like Paul or Ignatius, this sounds like the writing of an Apostle!” I was in awe of the profound love and bruised, fatherly sadness reflected in Dmitri’s words. After that, I began to take more seriously the Orthodox Church’s claim to be the one Church which really has genuine apostolic succession.

    My faith looks up to thee, most venerable Master. Keep fighting for your sheep in prayer.

    Eis Polla Eti, Dhespota!

  12. Elizabeth Avatar

    Eis Polla Eti, Dhespota!

    May God grant many years to Archbishop Dimitri!

    It was under him that my husband and I converted to Orthodoxy in 1978. We were blessed to be able to help in the establishment of several of the new parishes in the South. My husband and I are saddened that the time has come for his retirement. He has labored diligently in the fields of mission work for over 40 years. Someday, and I hope not soon, God will say “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

    Our love and respect for him is untarnished over the years of knowing him.

    Eis Polla Eti, Dhespota!

  13. Karen Avatar

    Dear Father, bless! Is there a bio. of Archbishop Dimitri somewhere? Is he a convert like Bp. Kallistos? (I always enjoy reading the stories of other’s journeys of faith.) Will he perhaps write some memoirs for the encouragement of his spiritual children?

    Thank you, Isaac, for that link. Thank you with all our hearts, Archbishop Dimitri, for your years of faithful service to the Lord. May you continue to enjoy many years of fruitful labor in retirement. We who will continue to reap the benefits of your love and labor in the Lord, are deeply grateful to God for you.

  14. Barnabas Powell Avatar
    Barnabas Powell

    Eis Polla Eti, Thespota!

    His Eminence DMITRI sat down with me and my best freind, Rod Loudermilk in the Spring of 2000 at St. Mary of Egypt parish in Atlanta. We were both refugees of Evangelicalism and had both been pastors in Pentecostal churches. After listening to our heartbroken plea for direction into the Orthodox Church, His Eminence allowed a small smile to come to his lips, gently encouraged us in our journey, and then called the parish priest over to him. He looked at Fr. Peter Smith and said ” Father, do whatever these men need to bring them home.” Under Fr. Peter’s training, and after having journeyed toward Orthodoxy for almost 9 years before we met His Eminence, we and 20 families from the church I had pastored all entered the Orthodox Church in November of 2001.

    Thank you, Your Eminence. Due in large part to your prayers and example, I now find myself at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox seminary studying for the priesthood. Every victory, every battle won, every soul touched, will be credited to your fatherly love for some scared, wounded refugees you were kind enough to receive with love and gentle care. Your prayers and life continue to strenghten us.

  15. fatherstephen Avatar

    There might be a short bio on the hierarchs page of the OCA website.

  16. Karen Avatar

    Thank you, Father, for the link. What an extraordinary person! I surely do hope he writes some memoirs–especially what drew a Texan Protestant boy to Orthodoxy in the 40s (and to learn Japanese). I will plan to read the books and commentaries he has written. Forgive the misspelling of his Eminence’s name in my earlier comment–that should have read Archbishop DMITRI. May the Lord be praised for all He has done in and through his life!

  17. Sean Avatar

    Karen: Dimitri and Dmitri is one and the same, so no worries. Both forms refer to Saint Demetrius (Δημήτριος), a military saint who martyred during the reign of Diocletian, you can check it out at:

    Dmitri is a popular alteration of the russian name Dimitri which refers to the saint (basically the “formal” version is Dimitri 🙂 ).

  18. Sean Avatar

    Oh, by the way, the name could also refer to Bishop Demetrius of Alexandria, who goes by exactly the same name and was the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria from 189 to 232 AD.

  19. Fr Paul Yerger Avatar

    Archbishop DMITRI told me that he and his sister were baptized Demetrios (after the Great Martyr) and Demetra by the Greeks in Dallas at their conversion in the early 1940’s. When he took monastic vows before being consecrated bishop he was given Dmitri of Rostov as an additional patron.

  20. fatherstephen Avatar

    As Fr. Paul notes: Vladyko DMITRI was tonsured as Dmitri for St. Dmitri of Rostov, though originally baptized for Demetrius of Thessaloniki.

  21. Ross Harrington Avatar
    Ross Harrington

    I trully miss both Dmitri and Demetra. Both the sacrifices and role models both played in my life placed a foundation that I wish all could have experienced. I am especially saddened by the need of Dimitri to retire and I hope his undermined smile will last forever.

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