Full Agenda Planned
For Metropolitan Council
The agenda for the Metropolitan Council, whose meeting begins tomorrow, March 13 and continues onWednesday March 14th in Syosset, reveals a number of important reports are to be given - with crucial decisions sure to follow. The newly revised agenda, which Council members received only this past weekend, reads:
“Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Minutes of December 11, 2006 Metropolitan Council Meeting and of December 12-13, 2006 Holy Synod-Metropolitan Council Joint Meeting
Address of Metropolitan Herman
Re-organizational Task Force Report
Transition Officer Report
—Deacon John Zarras
OCA Best Practices/Conformity to NY State Law Report
—Protodeacon Peter Danilchick
Search Committee Report
12-1 p.m. Lunch
Wachovia Investment Manager Report
Investigation Committee Report
Computer Upgrade Project Report
—Father Jonathan Ivanoff
—Father Eugene Vansuch
5-6:30 p.m. Dinner
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
8 a.m. Presanctified Liturgy
10 :00 a.m.
2006 Financial Report
—Steve Lamos, CPA
2006 OCA Audit Committee Report (first nine months)
—Father Paul Suda
Martin Drive Property Report
—Father Paul Kucynda
Chancery Property Sub-division Report
—Father Paul Kucynda
Pension Fund Report
—Father Michael Westerburg
Iliff v. SVS, et al Law Suit
12 noon Lunch
Appointment of General Legal Counsel
Fifteenth All American Council in 2008
Finance Committee Report
—Father Matthew Tate
Audit Committee Report
Charity Committee Report
—Father John Reeves
Investment Committee Report
—Father Philip Reese
Bibles for Russia “Funds in kind letter”
Undistributed funds from the Honesdale Loan
Alaska Lands Account
3 p.m. Adjournment”
The meeting breaks down into four major sessions, each dealing with a significant topic. These are, in order: “The Reorganization”, “The Investigation”, “Finances” and “The Rest”. (Following the current administration’s strategy of “just move on”, the meeting begins with the report of the Reorganization Task Force, rather than the Investigative Commission’s report explaining why the “reorganization” is necessary in the first place.) Of these first four reports, the one sure to attract most interest is the Search Committee report. For the past three months four sub-committees have reviewed applications - and applicants - for the positions of Chancellor, Treasurer, Secretary and Director of Ministries and Communications. (Read that story here). The sub-committees will set forward one (or more) applicants for approval by the entire Council - or alternatively, may decide to set forward no names at this time, and re-open the application process again. If an applicant’s name is put forward by the sub-committee, and approved by the Council, the name (or names) will then be forwarded for approval by the Synod of Bishops at their meeting scheduled next week, March 20-22. The final selection is expected to be made by the Metropolitan at that time, or shortly thereafter.
The Investigative Commission’s Report
Following lunch, sandwiched between the "Wachovia Investment" report and the "Computer Upgrade" report, the Council will hear what is surely to be the meeting’s most anticipated report - that of the six-person Investigative Commission. (Read that story here) Since in its four months of existence the Commission has only released two documents about its work (and only one was allowed to be published by Syosset) the actual report, and indeed even the form it will take remains a mystery. Syosset would not allow Proskauer Rose LLP to deliver a written report but to make its report orally; will the Metropolitan require Archbishop Job to do the same? More importantly, would the Archbishop ever agree to such a demand?
It is hard to imagine this Commission offering less than a written report. It has been almost one year to the day since the Metropolitan terminated Fr. Kondratick in the face of blistering headlines in major newspapers across the country alleging scandal in the OCA. (Read that story here) It has been a year since the Metropolitan launched Proskauer Rose’s investigation , the cost of which is now in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It has been four months since Proskauer Rose LLP finally reported to the Metropolitan Council, confirming financial irregularities of “stunning” proportions. (Read that story here) Now the Commission established by the Council to continue the investigation is ready to offer its first report to the Council and, by extension, to the whole Church. The Commission must be allowed to speak as it will to the Council, and the Council must have the will to enforce its own decisions, even if it means a confrontation with the Metropolitan and his agenda. Anything less makes the much-ballyhooed “reorganization” meaningless, since it will not solve the problems the “Reorganization” was meant to address.
The bottom line is that if the OCA is to “move forward”, the Metropolitan needs to stop silencing, delaying, hedging, obscuring and minimizing the facts and those seeking them – and being allowed to do so. Every member of the Council should go on record whether they support the original charge of an independent Commission, given by the Synod and Council in their last meeting, to fully investigate this scandal wherever it leads, or the more restrictive charge subsequently set forth by the Metropolitan. (Read that story here) Let the Council, who represent the People of God, speak loudly for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Let the Council remember the prayer of St. Paul we hear every Sunday now in Liturgy of St. Basil that we “be children of the light and children of the day” - and not those who live in darkness as heirs of fear.
In that same vein, it would be best, following the example of the last Council meeting, that the Investigative Commission’s findings and recommendations (if any) be posted on the OCA website immediately. It would be best to read the news of the Church, good or bad, from the Church itself, rather than from other websites as the truth dribbles out. It was the hallmark of the former Kondratick administration to restrict information as a means of control. If the current administration wants to convince people it is any different, it should not play the same games.
The third session of the Council, which opens Wednesday morning deals with the 2006 financials; including reports on the marketing of the Martin Drive property, the proposed selling-off of portions of the Syosset estate to raise funds, the Pension Fund, and the lawsuit against St. Vladimir’s. Documents relating to the Iliff vs. St. Vladimir’s Seminary et. al sexual harassment lawsuit may be found at the United States District Court Southern District of New York, Case No. 06-CV-15453.
The final session of the Council, on Wednesday afternoon, will deal with many of the other important issues left over when the reorganization, investigative report and financials are completed. These include the appointment of a new general legal counsel, plans for the next All-American Council, reports from the Metropolitan Council’s own oversight committees on finances, charities and investments, as well as how to do deal with three chronic issues: the Alaska Lands Accounts, undistributed funds from the Honesdale Loan (including the 9/11 funds) and the remaining mystery of the diverted $67,000 from the military chaplains’s “Bibles for Russia” fund. Each one of these decisions is fraught with implications for the future of the OCA.
It is difficult to see how the Metropolitan Council will deal with all these issues in two short days. The Synod of Bishops must deal with many of these same issues, and their own, the following week. Both meetings require difficult decisions. But those decisions will determine whether the OCA concludes this year’s journey to Pascha with renewed faith, or still-heavier hearts....
- Mark Stokoe
(Editor's Note: I regret to inform readers of this site that Dr. Lydia Black, the noted historian of Russian Alaska, fell into a coma yesterday, and passed away this morning at age 82. Dr. Black's valiant, but as yet unsuccessful attempt, to have her archival materials returned to her from the Diocese of Alaska were widely reported on this site. May her memory be eternal!)