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ANNOUNCES WITHHOLDING has received the following press release from Holy Trinity parish:

As a result of council action taken April 1, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Clayton, Wisconsin will no longer forward the OCA portion of its monthly assessments until trustees are confident that integrity has been restored, investigations into past financial mismanagement have been completed, and those deemed responsible have been held accountable. The church will continue to pay the portion of its assessment for the Diocese of the Midwest. All ten church council members voted unanimously to send a letter to Archbishop Job detailing their reasons for the decision.

“Our withholding of $9,000 a year from Syosset isn’t going to turn out the lights on chancery but we need to somehow convey a message from the laity that the continued obfuscation and a lack of urgency by leadership toward resolving this mess can no longer be supported,” said church treasurer Steve Dzubay. “If this were a business, those responsible for would have been immediately terminated, practices revised and some serious efforts made to at least create the impression that integrity has been restored. As the Church, we should be doing better than a mere business.”
Holy Trinity parish set up a separate account and has begun to escrow its assessment dollars with the intention of revisiting the issue if and when conclusive action is taken on the church scandal.

“Maybe our small step will give other parishes the courage to speak with their checkbooks as well,” said Dzubay.
In their letter to Archbishop Job, council members cited a host of specific concerns ranging from the Metropolitan’s role in the missing charity funds to the recent unilateral suspension of Gregory Nescott from the Metropolitan Council. All ten members of the council signed the letter.  Holy Trinity pastor, Fr. Christopher Wojcik, noted, “This is a very sad time for us. The faithful of our parish have been more than patient, and the administration has taken advantage of that patience. I don’t think our bishops have the slightest idea how much pain they have put us through.”


In related news, at the recent Columbus Deanery meeting in Indianapolis, held Bright Thursday, Archbishop Job stated he would respect the wishes of those Midwest parishes that decide to withhold assessments in protest, and would no longer advance payment out of the diocesan treasury to cover their withholding. He stated that the Palatine Resolution, (Read that resolution here) overwhelming adopted by the Archdiocese at its last Assembly, was still valid. In view of the conditions of the Palatine Resolution, the Archdiocese may well begin withholding as well at some point in the near future.


The six deans of the Diocese of the South will be meeting Thursday, April 19th in Dallas with Archbishop Dmitri to discuss the confusion which has arisen in the diocese concerning the canonical situation of former OCA chancellor Fr. Robert Kondratick. They are: Fr. Stephen Freeman - Appalachian Deanery; Fr. Marcus Burch, Carolinas Deanery; Fr. Basil Zebrun - Southcentral Deanery; Fr. Mark Stevens -Central Florida Deanery; Fr. Peter Smith - Southeastern Deanery;  and Fr. Philip Reese - South Florida Deanery.

The OCA website no longer lists Fr. Kondratick as a priest in the Diocese of the South, but as attached to a “stavropegial institution”, presumably St. Sergius Chapel in Syosset, and thus under the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Herman, rather than Archbishop Dmitri. Following the unanimous recommendation of the Metropolitan Council and the Synod of Bishops, the Metropolitan is now expected to suspend Fr. Kondratick shortly. As of March 28th, 2006 however, Archbishop Dmitri is no longer in accord. (You can read the Archbishop’s explanation of his change of mind here).

The situation is fraught with canonical uncertainty - for while Syosset could proceed with the suspension, it is unclear if it would be recognized by the administration of the Diocese of the South where Fr. Kondratick and his supporters (most notably his former assistant, Fr. Joseph Fester, Archbishop Dmitri’s new right hand) seem to exert great influence. On the other hand, one of the Deans - Fr. Philip Reese - is a member of the Metropolitan Council and has read the Special Commission’s report, and voted with the Council to recommend Fr. Kondratick’s suspension. If the rescinding of the transfer is not recognized by the elderly Archbishop or his administration, the question arises whether a suspension will be; and if the verdict of a church court following the suspension of Fr. Kondratick is that he be deposed - a real showdown would be in the offing if the elderly Archbishop and his administration refuse to recognize that as well.

- Mark Stokoe


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