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OCA Spring Meetings

Author: OCA
May 6, 2011
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OCA PRESS RELEASE

From May 2-4, 2011, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America met, and then from May 4-5, 2011 The Metropolitan Council met.

The complete Holy Synod Minutes are available at:

www.oca.org/PDF/NEWS/2011/2011-0506-mayhssynodminutes.pdf.  An official OCA report regarding the Metropolitan Council meeting is available at: www.oca.org/news/2533.

Source: www.oca.org

Below find excerpts from these documents selected by the Administrator at www.roeanews.info.

OCA HOLY SYNOD MEETING

CHICAGO, IL [OCA] -

Address of the Metropolitan:

HEARD: Metropolitan JONAH presented his written report and offered further oral comments concerning his recent leave of absence and offered some proposals for moving forward.  The members of the Holy Synod each offered responses to the address of the Metropolitan…

DECIDED: The Holy Synod began the process for establishing clear policies and procedures for the Holy Synod to allow for better communication and accountability within the Holy Synod.

Pastoral Issues:

HEARD: The Holy Synod discussed several areas of concern in the Church, including a case of clergy interference in another diocese, an unresolved clergy misconduct case and concerns about a monastic community.

DECIDED: The Holy Synod received the assurance of His Beatitude’s definitive action in the case of the monastic community and will prepare official documents in reference to the clergy misconduct case. The Holy Synod also acted decisively in the case of the clergy interference case.

Policies and Procedures:

HEARD: Bishop BENJAMIN presented four resolutions related to the Holy Synod. Discussion followed.

DECIDED: The following four resolutions were approved by the Holy Synod with the understanding that they would be further reviewed in the ongoing development of policies and procedures for the Holy Synod:

Resolution 1 - LOCUM TENENCY

Be it resolved this day … pertaining to Article VI, Section 8 of the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America which states “In the event of a vacancy in the office of diocesan bishop, a locum tenens, appointed by the Metropolitan, shall convoke and preside over the Diocesan Assembly whose sole purpose at this time shall be the election of a new diocesan bishop,” that the Metropolitan shall appoint a locum tenens from among the other hierarchs of the Synod and not himself, so as not to burden the Primate with supervision of multiple dioceses.

Resolution 2 - OFFICERS OF THE CHURCH

The Holy Synod affirms Article II, Section 7, m, which places within the competence of the Holy Synod the “appointment, upon the recommendation by the Metropolitan Council, of the Chancellor, Secretary, Treasurer and other officials whose competence or service extend beyond the boundaries of a single diocese.” The Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America is distinct and separate from the chanceries of the various dioceses, including the Diocese of Washington DC. At this time, it is understood that the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America is located at 6850 N. Hempstead Turnpike, Syosset, NY 11791. It is resolved …by the Holy Synod … to understand “and other officials…” in the Statute cited above, to mean and encompass the chancery staff and membership of the various offices and departments of the OCA which function under the authority of the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan being the presiding officer of the Synod. The officers of the Orthodox Church in America are confirmed by the Synod upon recommendation of the Metropolitan Council and are dismissed from service by the Synod upon recommendation of the Primate, as their service is to all the dioceses of the Church. Thus the chancery of the Orthodox Church in America is understood to be the Synodal Chancery, the other hierarchs, including the Metropolitan, having their own diocesan chanceries.

Resolution 3 - PERMANENT LESSER SYNOD

Be it resolved this day … in accordance with Article II, Section 6 of the Statute that the Lesser Synod be considered the executive committee of the Holy Synod and empowered to meet every second month to exercise oversight of all matters except those excluded by Article II, Section 7, c, of the Statute of the OCA on behalf of the entire Synod. The membership of the Permanent Lesser Synod shall consist of the Metropolitan, the Secretary of the Holy Synod and two other hierarchs elected by the entire Synod. The Lesser Synod is charged with oversight of the execution of policies and decisions of the entire Synod and those of the Metropolitan Council blessed by the Synod. As Primate, the Metropolitan shall be the chairman of the Permanent Lesser Synod. The Metropolitan, as the Chairman of the Synod, shall seek and receive prior agreement of the Lesser Synod for all programs and initiatives relating to the external and internal affairs of the Church. The Lesser Synod also exercises oversight of the officers of the Church and its various departments and offices on behalf of the whole Synod. The term of service on the Lesser Synod shall be for a period of one year.

Resolution 4 - CHANCELLOR

Be it resolved this day … that the Chancellor of the OCA is the chief of operations of the Synodal Chancery of the OCA and is accountable to the entire Synod of the OCA. He manages the day to day operations of the Synodal Chancery, the other officers, departments and offices of the Church.

Episcopal Matters

HEARD: In closed session, the Holy Synod considered several episcopal matters.

DECIDED: [Confidential]

Officer’s Reports - Report of Treasurer

HEARD: Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, presented her report (attached).

DECIDED: The Holy Synod heard the report of the Treasurer and thanked Melanie Ringa for her work.

Officer’s Reports - Report of Secretary

HEARD: Fr. Eric Tosi, OCA Secretary, presented his report (attached).

DECIDED: The Holy Synod heard the report of the Secretary and thanked Fr. Eric Tosi for his work. The Holy Synod will review the agenda for the upcoming All American Council in Seattle.

Officer’s Reports - External Affairs

HEARD: Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky of the Department of External Affairs presented his report. He addressed several issues within the internal life of the Orthodox Church in America and summarized recent developments in world-wide Orthodoxy.

DECIDED: The Holy Synod heard the report of the Department of External Affairs and thanked Fr. Leonid for his work.

Meeting with SMPAC

HEARD: The Holy Synod heard a presentation from the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee (SMPAC). The SMPAC reviewed their expanded white paper and the requested documentation for it, both of which had previously been presented to the Holy Synod. They offered their thoughts on several specific cases now under review and expressed their deep concern for the proper and unequivocal implementation of the current Policies, Standards and Procedures of the OCA on all levels of the Church and in all cases. They spoke of the critical need for the Holy Synod, the clergy and the faithful of the Church to be educated in the proper response to allegations of sexual misconduct and noted their great concern over a prevailing attitude which prefers the ignoring of these problems or hopes for their disappearance. The SMPAC assured the Holy Synod that their documents and their concerns were solely a means to document lessons learned, not to bring accusations against any individual person or organization. They expressed their fervent desire to receive the Holy Synod’s assurance, not only that proper policies are put in place, but most importantly that they be followed.

DECIDED: The Holy Synod thanked the members of the SMPAC for their presentation and for their dedication and commitment to the critical matter of clergy sexual abuse. They also expressed their gratitude for their professional advice and counsel in these matters and asked for their continued guidance to the Holy Synod.  The Holy Synod acknowledged the errors and failures documented and pledged to both continue their review of the SMPAC report and to address any of the failures and weaknesses so that they are not repeated in the future. The Holy Synod also made several requests of the SMPAC to provide concrete aids so that the hierarchs might better educate their clergy and faithful in these matters and to help them better evaluate and respond to cases of sexual misconduct.

Interview of Episcopal Candidates

HEARD: The Holy Synod interviewed two potential Episcopal candidates.

DECIDED: [Confidential]

Board of Theological Education

HEARD: Bishop TIKHON presented the report of the Board of Theological Education (BTE) and presented for approval the candidates for ordination to the diaconate. Other matters related to theological education were discussed.

DECIDED: The Holy Synod approved the candidates as presented by the Board of Theological Education.

Clergy Matters

HEARD: In closed session, the Holy Synod considered several clergy cases.

DECIDED: The Holy Synod acted on the clergy cases presented. The actions taken will be reflected in the official clergy changes prepared by the Chancery office.

Clergy Awards

HEARD: Fr. Eric Tosi presented the list of clergy awards from the Diocesan Hierarchs.

DECIDED: The Holy Synod reviewed the list and approved those clergy who had been presented for awards.

Lesser Synod

HEARD: In accordance with the adopted resolution on the Lesser Synod, the Holy Synod discussed the filling of those position.

DECIDED: The Holy Synod elected the following members of the Holy Synod as members of the Lesser Synod: Metropolitan JONAH (Chair), Bishop NIKON, Bishop TIKHON (Holy Synod secretary), Bishop BENJAMIN.

SMPAC Report

HEARD: The Holy Synod heard the request of the governance committee of the Metropolitan Council that it be provided a copy of the SMPAC report. The Holy Synod also heard a report concerning the improper distribution of the report.

DECIDED: The Holy Synod blessed the OCA legal committee to receive a copy of the SMPAC report. The Holy Synod instituted a spiritual court to investigate the alleged distribution of confidential and sensitive documents to unauthorized recipients.

SIGNED:

Metropolitan JONAH (Chairman), Archbishop NATHANIEL, Bishop NIKON, Bishop TIKHON (Secretary), Bishop BENJAMIN, Bishop ALEJO, Bishop MELCHISEDEK, Bishop (Interim Chancellor), Bishop MICHAEL, Bishop MATTHIAS, Bishop MARK, Bishop IRENEE.

ABSENT:

Bishop Irineu

OCA METROPOLITAN COUNCIL MEETING

CHICAGO, IL [OCA] -

…His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania chaired the meeting, while Igumen Alexander [Pihach] served as vice-chair… After approving the agenda and the minutes of the previous meeting, Metropolitan Council members heard the opening remarks of Metropolitan Jonah. An extensive discussion ensued, during which the Holy Synod announced the four resolutions it had adopted concerning OCA governance going forward. The resolutions deal with Locum Tenency, the Officers of the Church, the Permanent Lesser Synod, and the Chancellor.

In his report, Bishop Melchisedek, Interim Chancellor, spoke of the work that was done during his two months, including specific issues dealing with the leave of absence of Metrpolitan Jonah. He informed the Metropolitan Council that he will continue as Interim Chancellor until the 16th All-American Council… Archpriest Eric Tosi, OCA Secretary, reported on his activities… He also reviewed a variety of administrative issues, including human resources, insurance, estate management, pastoral and legal issues.

In an executive session, the members of the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee [SMPAC] discussed their work …which was presented at the Holy Synod session preceding the joint meeting….[The] Metropolitan Council resolved to recommend strongly the cessation of any activity of Priest Gregory Jensen in matters pertaining to sexual misconduct, and that any candidates to fill a position in the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations must be vetted by the SMPAC… Also in executive session, the Metropolitan Council received the report of the Ethics Committee … Priest John Vitko presented the latest revised version of the OCA Strategic Plan. The Metropolitan Council resolved to recommend that the revised Strategic Plan be posted on the OCA website for continued feedback from the Church and that it be incorporated into the agenda of the upcoming 16th All-American Council. The formation of a Post-Concillar subcommittee of the Metropolitan Council to oversee implementation of the Strategic Plan after the Council was recommended.

… The Metropolitan Council heard the report of the Charity Committee; the Council Development Committee, which presented its report and an updated version of the Council Handbook; and the Crisis Management Committee, which presented its report in executive session. An extensive discussion on failures in the Church to adequately respond to critical issues was held.  Following the Human Resources Committee report, the Metropolitan Council resolved to recommend that Archpriest Alexander Garklavs remain as consultant to the Interim Chancellor for his institutional knowledge and continuity of the work of the Chancery; that his compensation and benefits continue until he receives another appropriate appointment; and that his severance package of four months’ salary be deferred compensation.

The Internal Governance Committee presented a report in executive session on various critical issues in Church government. Out of executive session, the Internal Audit Committee, represented by Michael Strelka, presented their findings and outlined the reporting procedures leading up to the All-American Council…  The Legal Committee presented its report, which covered a variety of current and potential legal issues, in executive session. A lengthy discussion ensued on instances of potential liability of the Church and involved an in depth discussion.

Melanie Ringa presented her extensive Treasurer’s report, after which it was resolved to make some minor adjustments to the 2011 budget. Among the adjustments are funds for further OCA web site development for the Feasts and Saints section; translations into Spanish; funding for psychological evaluation of all ordination candidates; and funding to cover costs realized by the change in the Metropolitan Council meeting venue. She also presented a budget for the 16th All-American Council.  The Financial Development Committee reported on investment strategy and the need for a professional financial advisor.  The Pension Board presented two amendments: … housing allowance calculation for non-clergy Church employees, and a clarification on disability retirement benefits.

Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, reported on the external relations of the Orthodox Church in America…  Father Eric presented an extensive overview of the 16th All-American Council, highlighting work accomplished and items that still need attention… The draft agenda was adopted… Father Eric unveiled the new OCA website… which is due to make its debut in June.  Father Alexander Garklavs addressed the Council, offering words of gratitude. A motion was made to acknowledge with profound gratitude Father Alexander’s service as Chancellor, which was accompanied by a standing ovation.  The Human Resources Committee was mandated to organize the search for a new Chancellor by the next meeting of the Metropolitan Council in September 2011. Council members authorized funding to conduct the search…

3 Comments to “OCA Spring Meetings”


  1. Administrator Says:

    Pare a fi mai multa cooperare intre Sfantul Sinod si Consiliu Mitropolitan decat in trecut, dar aceste rezumate nu arata cum sunt comunicariile intre Mitropolitul si ambele grupuri. Poate ca e nevoie de mai mult timp …

    Ce este clar e ca Sf. Sinod isi ia rolul in serios, ca niciodata, si aceasta este semn bun pentru organizatia bisericii care, in trecut si din cand in cand, sa lasa entrenat de cativa indivizi fara scrupule, avand si mai putin oameni in pozitii de raspundere (clerici si laici) sa franeze totul cand trebuia. Nu mai e cazul, si asta e un lucru pozitiv pentru OCA.

    Cand se pun franele intr-un context de organizare bisericeasca, cat de departe e preamult si cat de aproape nu e destul sunt intrebari de control organizational care se pot raspunde numai incercand mai multe solutii posibile. Asa este fiindca raspunsul la intrebare se schimba in functie de persoanele implicate. Ce este important e faptul ca acum exista vointa de a schimba situatiile care nu mai tin, punand controluri care, la baza lor, iau in cont calitatiile noastre umane cum si slabiciunile noastre, si ai sefii nostrii.

    Autocratia ierarhiei bisericesti este o extrema (cum exista la romano catolici si chiar in multe biserici ortodoxe de astazi) si guvernare bisericeasca de catre masele (cum exista in mai multe biserici protestante) este o alta extrema. Incercand de a creia un sistem de controluri care functioneaza, cere ca fiecare sa fie vigilent si flexibil, bun si iertator cand e posibil, ferm cand e necesar, si intelegator in toate. Aceasta sa invata si nu e deloc usor, dar este singura solutie posibila cand incercam sa fim paricipanti efectivi, asa cum Hristos ne vrea, si noi clerici si laici, in biserica Lui. Si asta este o metoda importanta de ne a deosebi ca ortodocsi. Din pacate, foarte putine biserici ortodoxe pun in practica aceste solutii, sefii lor preferand ascunsul permis numai in autocratie.


  2. Administrator Says:

    While there seems to be more cooperation between the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council than in the past, these notes do not fully reflect how communications are between the Metropolitan and both groups. Maybe more time is needed …

    What is clear is that the Holy Synod is taking charge like never before and this can only bode well for a church organization that, in the past, was sometimes led down the garden path by a few unscrupulous individuals, with even fewer in positions of responsibility (both clerics and laity) bothering to attempt putting on the brakes when needed. This is no longer the case and can only be viewed as positive for the OCA.

    When using the brakes in an organizational Church context, how far is too far and how close is not far enough are organizational control questions that can only be answered by adaptable trial and error. This is because the response to the question will change and vary given the people involved. What is important however, is that there now is a willingness to redress untenable situations with checks and balances that take into account our human qualities and frailties as well as those of our leaders.

    Autocratic clerical leadership is one extreme (as seen in Roman Catholic and many Orthodox churches today) and church governance mostly by the masses (as seen in many Protestant Churches) is the other extreme. Attempting to create a checks and balances system that works requires everyone involved to be vigilant and flexible, kind and forgiving when possible, firm when necessary, and understanding everywhere. This is a learned process and certainly not easy, but it is the only solution we have when attempting to be effective participants, as Christ intended us to be, both clerics and laity, in His Church. In effect, this is one important way of identifying us as being Orthodox. Unhappily, too few Orthodox churches practice these solutions, their leaders preferring instead to hide their shenanigans, which can only be done under autocratic rule.


  3. Jon Teusink Says:

    Indeed! I’m excited by the results (so far) of the Chicago meetings. God willing, we will preserve in our American Orthodox Church a conciliarity both between the hierarchy, clergy, and laity and within the hierarchy itself so that everything is done in one mind instead of unilaterally and sporadically as has too often been the case.


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PRAYER OF ST. EPHREM

O Lord and Master of my life,
leave me not with the spirit of laziness,
of despair, of domination, or idle words.

Rather, give me, your servant, the spirit of integrity,
of humility, of patience, and of love.

Thus, Lord, grant me the wisdom to see my own faults,
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Our Father, who are in heaven,
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Your kingdom come.
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Give us this day
our daily bread,
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