Orthodox diocese denies that priest was suspended for attending DC pro-Trump protest

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. | Getty Images/Samuel Corum

A diocese of the Orthodox Church in America is denying reports that one of their priests has been suspended due to his attending the Jan. 6 pro-Trump protests in Washington, D.C.

Father Alexander Koranda, director of Communications for the Diocese of the Midwest, told The Christian Post in an emailed statement that the Rev. Mark Hodges was suspended for other reasons.

“Fr. Mark was not suspended for his presence at the rally. This suspension is a result of various circumstances that is currently part of an internal process,” explained Koranda.

“All of the facts can not be disclosed at this current time. The suspension is not due to one event, but also involves other matters.”

The Dayton Daily News reported last week that Hodges was suspended on Jan. 12, with the priest telling the outlet that it was connected to his attendance of the D.C. rally.

“My beloved bishop had questioned the wisdom of a priest attending,” Hodges told DDN. “I think part of the problem is I viewed that Stop the Steal rally as expressing extreme concern over voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election.”

Metropolitan Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America and archbishop of Washington, issued a public letter on Jan. 20 congratulating Joe Biden on being inaugurated.

“Following the command of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles, we Orthodox Christians pray for the governing authorities in all of our worship services,” wrote Tikhon to Biden.

“Thus, the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America will keep you in our prayers, praying for your good health, sound judgment, and wise governance, as you faithfully serve the American people as our President.”

On Jan. 6, the day that Congress met to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, hundreds of Trump supporters and others stormed the Capitol Building.

The riot began while a rally was held at the Ellipse near the White House featuring thousands of Trump supporters with President Donald Trump being the main speaker.

For several hours, protesters confronted and fought with security, resulting in dozens of injuries and at least five deaths, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.

Earlier this month, a Florida-based nondenominational church garnered attention when the wife of one of its pastors and her mother were found to have been involved in the demonstrations.

Bayside Community Church posted a statement to Facebook on Jan. 8 addressing the issue, saying they were “heartbroken and saddened by the events” and that any member of their church who attended the protests “did so as a private individual, for their own purposes and not as a representative of Bayside Community Church.”

“We want to make it clear that Bayside Community Church does not support, agree with, or condone violence, lawlessness, riots, or terrorism of any kind,” stated the church.

“No pastor or staff member of Bayside Community Church attended or participated in any of the events which occurred in our Nation’s Capitol this past week.”

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