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Reflections On The Scandal

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9.6.07
Meeting the Challenge
by Robert J. Klancko, P.E., CSP, CHCM

Woodbridge CT


Every day, the first site I visit is this one, and I check on the latest news and views. As each day goes on, the tragedy becomes not only worse but also more and more convoluted. Added to all of this is the apparent lack of communication from Syosset or at best, misleading communications. We all sit at our computers in wonderment trying to understand what is going on and by doing so we all become very frustrated.
 
If this was happening in business and industry or in other venues in our lives ( Boy Scouts, Rotary, Lions etc.) how would the situation differ? I keep asking and asking myself this question. And while teaching a management class the answer became as clear as a brightly sunlit day.
 
In the business community, unless we are bound by a non-disclosure or non-compete clause, we are free to seek employment and allegiance as we choose. We do not need a release from our employer or organization and where  we go to need not be on the 'approved to go to list' of our previous employer or organization. If our employer or organization is involved in activities we do not subscribe to, whistle blower laws protect us and we can move on. It is much easier for us to market our skill sets and to follow our conscience.
 
This is not the case in our Church and in the OCA. Take for example the situation with anyone in the Church and more importantly the chancery who is clergy. Their ability to continue to serve as clergy -- which is their profession and major skill set -- is a function of the Metropolitan. If they incur the Metropolitan's wrath, they place their livelihood in jeopardy. If they are suspended they cannot serve nor derive monies from their pastorate. If they wish to leave and join another bishop they cannot without a canonical release - unless of course if they go with a quaisi or non canonical jurisdiction - which in many cases can be professional suicide. So they are in many ways stuck, they either perpetuate the party line or their families suffer. Of course if they have another skill set to market, this is not the case - but how many have skill sets outside of their pastorate and singing the liturgy?
 
This is evident with the recent inquiries regarding the OCA's finances. It becomes apparent that the responses are not solely those of a singular individual but part of an overall directive and philosophy -- which requires executive approval and direction. It is evident that what is being said comes from the Metropolitan who has taken on all administrative responsibilites -- perhaps even to the perception of micro-managing.
 
In any church organization there are major facets to their operation - one is spiritual and the other is financial. Because our bishops are not sent for a Harvard MBA (which may not be a bad idea) but are supposedly chosen from the spiritual monastic ranks they are poorly equipped to be administrators, this is not their skill set. On the other hand, those with administrative and business talents and educations have not gone to seminary (which would not be a bad idea in itself), they are not good candidates to be bishops or even clergy. Yet the Church needs both skill sets in order to survive and keep a proper household.
 
What we are learning from what is going on in the OCA is that both functions need to be parallel with each other but also need to independent of each other. The glue that binds them both is in fact the Metropolitan Council. However, the Council needs to go for executive board training and be schooled in their responsibilities and liabilities as a board. They need to be able to hold both the bishops' and the administration's feet to the fire inorder to ensure there is positive progress and growth.
 
What does this all mean? It means that how we operated in the past, or how the have operated in the 'old country' is now passé. We need to operate according to the laws of our country; we need to operate in a professional business like manner; bishops need to be schooled in not only the spiritual but also the secular business areas - finance, marketing, communications, public relations; there needs to be transparency and full disclosure to all; regardless of personal prejudices there needs to be checks and balances so that clergy have a modicum of security; bishops need to focus on parish growth, clergy needs, and need to be there spiritually for their flock; and lastly there needs to be responsibility throughout the organization for each and everyone who fails in their job is an indication that someone has not been doing their job.
 
A moment needs to be taken to focus on public relations. Public relations will make or break a cause. This has been seen in many venues - such as politics, Fr. Katinas situation, etc. The public relations posture of the O.C.A. situation is simply havoc, there appears to be no planning or concept of cause and effect. As I speak with my peers and go from church to church, I continually hear the phrase ' the meltdown of the O.C.A.'.
 
Does this sound like we have become a business instead of a church? The reality is that from the time of Jesus, when Judas was the treasurer there has been a business organization in place. Records need to be kept, planning needs to be done, responsibilities need to be executed, perceptions need to be evaluated. The important concept is that unless sound business principles and training are part of the Church's operation, there will be massive failures such as the existing condition and frustrations within the O.C.A.
 
I remember the story of the person caught in the flood, atop his roof waiting for God to save him. Three times a boat came by offering a ride and three times the offer was rejected for the man was waiting for God. The waters rose and the man drowned. When he saw God he asked him why he did not come to save him? And God replied: "I sent a boat three times."
 
The O.C.A. situation perhaps is an indication for all our jurisdictions - Greek, Antiochian, Serbian, etc. that if they are seeking to grow, and hopefully unite, here in America, they need to examine their own operations and ensure that they can meet the challenge of this modern education/communications/business-focused world.
 
(Mr. Klancko has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Lally School of Management & Technology and Adjunct Lecturer of Metallurgy in the Department of Engineering at Rensselaer at Hartford since 1972. He sits on Connecticut’s State Emergency Response
Commission, and the Nuclear Energy Advisory
Council. He is currently a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (although brought up in the OCA), a Church archivist and historian.)

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