THE RUSSIAN-GREEK CHURCH.

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Bishop Vladimir’s "Peace" Meeting Ends in a Lively Row.

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A FIGHT BETWEEN FACTIONS.

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The Dissensions in the Society Still Unsettled.

After a Scrimmage the Bishop is Sustained.

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The Russian Church on Powell street was the scene last night of one of the most turbulent meetings ever held among the rival factions in the Greek, Russian, Slavonian, Orthodox and Eastern Church and Benevolent Society. The meeting was held in pursuance of a call issued by Bishop Vladimir, who has done all in his power since his arrival here to settle the many dissensions that have grown out of the peculiar manner in which the business affairs of the Society have been conducted for years. Long before 8 o’clock more than a hundred members of the Society, including representatives of the opposing "sects," had assembled in the chapel. Divine services were conducted by the Bishop, after which those present kissed the hand of their spiritual leader and seemed to have the most brotherly feelings for each other as they filed into the assembly rooms. Trouble was brewing, however, and Bishop Vladimir, seated on a raised chair in the rear of the little hall, and attired in the robes of office, had scarcely called the meeting to order when the trouble began.

When B. M. Gopchivitch arose and flourished a set of resolutions which he had carefully prepared for presentation, there was an angry roar and cries of "Shut up" and "Sit down."

Gopchivitch did not sit down, but waited until order had been partially restored. Then he began relating how certain members of the society had mismanaged affairs, and particularly the cemetery. He declared that if the advice of the Bishop was taken, all the differences might be satisfactorily settled. "There are some members here," he continued, "who want to make trouble and run the society to suit themselves."

"You’re a liar," yelled Bozo Radovitch. "You control the Bishop, and think you are going to run this society."

"You are a liar yourself," retorted Gopchivitch, as he sprang forward with clenched fists.

This was the signal for a general uprising, and an all-round hubbub ensued.

A. Chilovitch could contain his wrath no longer. He dropped a huge umbrella and rushed at Gopchivitch, who dodged behind a stalwart member of his faction, and Chilovitch ran into the arms of his nephew, Radovitch.

Everyone wanted to talk at the same time, and during the general confusion the lie was given and fists shaken in all directions. Excited members soon began rushing out on the sidewalk, and soon only a band of about fifteen, all faithful to the Bishop, remained in the room.

Then Gopchivitch offered without interruption the following resolution, which was declared adopted:

WHEREAS, Some evil inclined person has circulated the rumor that the course of His Eminence Archbishop Vladimir, since assuming charge of the Russian-Greek Church in this jurisdiction, has been arbitrary, and subject to criticism, and has secured the publication in the press of this city of such rumor; now, therefore, we, the members of the Orthodox Eastern Church, in meeting assembled hereby condemn such charge as false and unfounded. And we further desire to give expression to our utmost confidence in the Christian worth and ability of His Eminence, feeling assured that he is exerting his best endeavors to heal the dissensions which existed in our church prior to his advent among us, and that if he is not hampered by senseless opposition his presence and labors will be productive of much good among our brethren of this Coast. This faith and confidence which we have expressed are warranted by his course since he commenced ministry among us, and it is with the greatest pleasure that we avail ourselves of this opportunity to record our commendation of his every act and to assure him our fullest support to the end that he may fulfill his divinely-appointed mission.

Bishop Vladimir then made a sorrowful little speech in broken English. He said that he was very much grieved indeed that his children could not settle their little quarrels and again be united. He hoped that some time in the near future this might be accomplished, and dismissed those who remained in the room with his blessing.

On the sidewalk, just around the corner from the church, Bozo Radovitch, who was one of the first to bolt from the hall, held a little meeting of his own. He claimed that the Bishop had no business to call a meeting to settle grievances in the church. As head of the American Diocese his word was law, and he had only to command to be obeyed. Radovitch concluded by expressing his opinion of Gopchivitch, in terms by no means complimentary to that gentleman. Later in the evening, Gopchivitch, speaking to an ALTA reporter, was equally severe in his references to Radovitch. He says that another meeting will soon be held, at which the Radovitch faction will not be admitted.

The Daily Alta California, Friday, June 15, 1888, p. 2.

Reprinted in the Holy Trinity Cathedral LIFE, Vol. 4, No. 5, January 1997.