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DOS Perspective on the Dallas Town Hall

The Diocese of the South's website at DOSOCA.org carried the following report on the Town Hall meeting held Tuesday, June 24th, in Dallas:

"The 31st Annual DOS Assembly began yesterday with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the Nativity of St John the Baptist. Later in the day His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, OCA Chancellor led the second of the OCA “Town Hall” Meetings.

In a frank, respectful and honest airing, over 80 DOS clergy and laity shared their feelings and offered their suggestions to the questions posed by Father Alexander dealing with the current situation in the OCA and what Syosset and the next AAC should be concerned with?

Many expressed their hurt and pain over the disclosure of misdeeds yet there was a sense of frustration that Syosset is not fully coming to grips with the scandal. The “breaking of trust with the faithful is still an open wound” said one speaker. Another commented on how badly the entire episode has been handled which has not led to any sense of confidence in those in charge in Syosset.

When the question came to “What should ‘Syosset do” offerings were more specific. One attendee stated flatly that, “Syosset is irrelevant” and must be further reduced in size and scope. Another said that, “the past model of a strong central church was wrong and that Syosset never could nor should have ever thought it could fix the problems in any given diocese or parish.” “The model of strong Syosset and the facade that we were bigger than we were, was wrong.” Echoing this another comment centered on the understanding that, “Syosset serves the dioceses not the dioceses serving Syosset.”

One participant read a letter from his parish which called into question the lack of reaction by the Holy Synod to warning signs that things were going wrong in Syosset - that a perception of a lack of concern or interest by members of the Holy Synod to issues beyond their respective dioceses was alarming.

Another comment centered on the role of the Metropolitan and that a model of a “papal style” Metropolitan and central church governance is wrong. “The life of the Church is in the diocese” not in Syosset.

When a lay member of the gathering asked the question “Why two Metropolitans directly responsible for the work of Syosset during the years in question have felt no consequences” she followed up her question with a stunning conclusion that, “as long as Metropolitan Herman is in power, it will be business as usual.”

This prompted another speaker to state that, “leadership is influence and Metropolitan Herman has no influence. He must retire.”

Others stated that a new beginning for the OCA must start but it cannot unless Metropolitan Herman steps down. “He is part of the past and not part of the solution nor the future” stated another participant.

Another specific suggestion was made that diocesan not parish representation at future All American Councils should be the model of participation. When it was said that the Statute of the OCA would have to be rewritten to reflect this, another participant later offered that the current OCA Statue needs to be rewritten reflecting a limited role for the Metropolitan so that dioceses can be the focus of Church life. This was illustrated when a participant stated that, “if you look at one OCA diocese that asks its members for $37 to support the work of the diocese and $105 to support the work of Syosset, it is a recipe for disaster if not death for that diocese.”

His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri thanked Father Garklavs for his attentiveness and his willingness to listen to the voices of the members of the Diocese of the South."

(Read the full report on the day's activities at the Diocese of the South's Assembly here)


A Correction, Two Clarifications and An Update to Yesterday's Article

• In our posting yesterday OCANews.org reported that "Only four lay people spoke;..."That sentence should have read "Four lay women spoke; ...." Several lay men spoke as well. We regret the error.

• In that same article OCANews.org reported that: "The Diocese currently has appointed Metropolitan Council delegates, not elected ones." A spokesperson for the Diocese asked OCANews.org to clarify that delegates have been elected in the past. "Last year", he stated, "they were reappointed, only for continuity, since both were active on the Metropolitan Council." OCANews.org appreciates the clarification.

• At the same time, the participant who raised the question about the diocesan lapses with respect to the Statute asked OCANews.org to clarify that "...it's not just the delegates. Our diocesan council doesn't meet at least twice per year. Our finances are not audited twice per year. Diocesan assembly agenda, including proposed budget and all other resolutions, are not provided to parishes three weeks ahead of the diocesan assembly (actually, they're not really provided at all). The diocesan assembly is not allowed to control its agenda when in regular session. All of this violates the Statute." OCANews.org appreciates the clarification.

• In an address to the Bishop’s Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, reported yesterday, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad made interesting comments on transparency and the internet. Apparently the Council did not share his views.  Interfax reports:

"Participants of the Moscow Patriarchate Bishops' Council, which is being held in Moscow these days, are concerned that some clergymen often discuss inner church problems on the Internet, including the "Live Journal".

'Such practice not only contradicts moral setup and Church canons but should be considered unacceptable and subjected to condemnation,' the Council's official website has reported on the results of its working group session.

As an alternative to this tendency that witnesses to 'the lack of lively communication in the Church,' the working group suggested conducting more seminars and meetings of clerics on diocesan level to discuss most acute questions of church life and to work out joint positions on them."

- Mark Stokoe



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