NY-NJ Episcopal Search Committee Ends with Two Unnamed Nominees
In memo to the clergy and laity of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey last week, the Diocesan Search Committee, appointed by the Metropolitan and composed of the Chancellor of the Diocese and three deans, announced that they had fulfilled their three week search process and that two names will be submitted for nomination as the new Bishop of New York to the Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly at the end of this month. The Committee declined to release the names of the candidates selected. Rather, they will wait until mid-August to do so, allowing each parish two weeks to review the Committee’s choice by themselves.
In explaining their process the Committee stated they had reviewed more than 40 names “non-competitively”, and that they decided to put forth only two so as to insure one, if not both names, would be forwarded to the Synod for confirmation. Unlike the recent Western Pennsylvania process the two (as-yet to-be identified candidates) will not be speaking to parishes, clergy, or deaneries prior to the Assembly, nor will delegates at the Assembly be given the opportunity to discuss or review the candidates together at that Extraordinary Assembly.
The full memo follows:
TO THE CLERGY & LAITY OF THE DIOCESE OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA
FROM: DIOCESAN SEARCH COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON NOMINATION SELECTION FOR DIOCESAN HIERARCH
27 JULY 2009
Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon
Dear Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, and Faithful of the Diocese,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
As was communicated in our memorandum of 15 July 2009 to all clergy of the Diocese of New
York and New Jersey, and by clergy to all the parishes in the diocese, the Holy Synod of Bishops
of the Orthodox Church in America, by an action on July 1st, 2009 has:
recreated the Diocese of New York and New Jersey
declared the Diocesan See to be vacant
appointed His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, as Locum Tenens of the Diocese
Subsequently, His Beatitude appointed a Search Committee consisting of the Chancellor and the
Deans of New York City, New York State, and New Jersey Deaneries. The Search Committee
was charged and empowered to prepare a list of candidates for nomination to the position of
Bishop of New York and New Jersey.
The Search Committee, in a full-faith effort to make the process as conciliar and inclusive as
possible, sent e-mail communications to the clergy and parishes of the Diocese soliciting names
for nomination, as well as describing in detail the processes by which candidates will be
evaluated and nominated. We, the members of the search committee, felt strongly that all the
clergy and laity in our diocese should be engaged (if by no other means, certainly in prayer) and
have their voices heard in the search process. In this way, it is our sincere desire to ensure the
nominee(s) submitted to the Holy Synod of Bishops for canonical election will truly reflect the
affirmation and petition of the faithful of the diocese.
In numerous meetings the committee has reviewed and discussed all the candidates submitted to
us. We have obtained pertinent biographical information. We have done all within our power,
and with a keen awareness of our human limitations, to evaluate and prayerfully deliberate a
most-difficult question: Which candidates will we present to the Diocesan Council and,
subsequently, to the Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly on August 31st, 2009?
The criteria the committee employed were established by extensive and careful deliberations; all
submitted candidates were evaluated individually (not in head-to-head comparisons; noncompetitively).
This was, of course, guided by the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America:
Article VI The Diocese
Section 9 Qualifications
a. The candidate for the office of diocesan bishop must satisfy all the requirements of
the Holy Canons pertaining to this highest of all ecclesiastical offices. In addition, it is
preferable that he have completed a course of study in a Graduate School of Orthodox
Theology and that he be conversant in the English language.
b. If he is not already a bishop, he can be nominated only from among the monastic or
celibate clergy or laymen;
c. If at the moment of his nomination he is a layman or a celibate or widowed priest, he
shall pronounce at least the first monastic vows (rasophoria).
d. Diocesan bishops of the Orthodox Church in America shall not be candidates for
nomination by the Diocesan Assembly of another diocese.
In addition, the Search Committee has established seven criteria by which all those submitted for
consideration and nomination are evaluated:
1) character, demeanor, and competence to fervently strive to know, guide, care, and pray
for those committed to his care with paternal love
2) breadth of Orthodox theological education and secular education
3) pastoral experience (minimum 10 years)
4) administrative experience and demonstrated effectiveness
5) psychological and physical stability
6) communication skills
7) ability to promote witness, evangelization, and church growth ministries
As of the writing of this memorandum, forty (40) names have been submitted for the Search
Committee to consider! Frankly, the committee was both amazed and overjoyed by the scope,
thoughtfulness, and seriousness in the response from clergy and laity in bringing forth names
truly worthy of our consideration. The candidates are located in the United States, Russia,
Canada, and Greece; representing nine OCA Dioceses (New York/New Jersey, Washington DC,
Midwest, Western Pennsylvania, Alaska, Canada, West, Romanian, Bulgarian); and six
jurisdictions (OCA, Russian, Greek, Serbian, Carpatho-Russian, ROCOR).
Individual names that were evaluated for consideration included:
1 Bishop Elect
1 Retired Bishop
33 Priests (various ranks: monastic, celibate, widowed)
2 Lay Monks
To reiterate, each candidate is being comprehensively and exhaustively considered, discussed,
and evaluated by statutory requirements and the seven criteria established by the Search
Our difficult task is to identify two candidates to be presented for a vote at the Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly. Obviously, one may ask why only two names will be presented. To make an understatement: “That’s a good question!” And, truly, such a determination is difficult to the point of anguish; and yet in prayer, faith, hope, and love
throughout the process, we feel it must be so ... and for these reasons:
In the “Instructions Concerning the Election of the Ruling Hierarch” (Approved & Revised 1972) paragraphs 9, 10, and 12, we are presented with the process we will follow
in the election.
"9. If at the first ballot a candidate receives 2/3 of the accredited votes, he shall be declared by the Locum tenens as the elected nominee to the See and his name shall be submitted to the Synod of Bishops for approval and canonical election.
10. If no candidate receives 2/3 of the accredited votes, a second ballot shall take place and two names shall be written on each ballot. The ballots with
fewer or more than two names, or names other than those of officially listed candidates, shall be declared void.
12. However, if no candidate receives more than 40% of the accredited votes, the Locum tenens shall declare the ballot as non-conclusive and the Assembly as having failed to nominate a candidate for the office of Ruling
Bishop (Article 6, 10B). In this case, the Assembly may, by duly accepted motion, request the Synod of Bishops to transfer one of the Ruling Bishops to the See. The Synod of Bishops, however, may refuse to transfer a Bishop, in which case it will direct the Diocesan Assembly to reconvene for the purpose
of electing a candidate. If the Diocesan Assembly again fails in its task, it may waive its right of election and request the Holy Synod to appoint its own candidate.”
The Search Committee, by recommending two names to the Assembly on August 31st is trying to prevent any attempt to mitigate the vote and avert the dilution of votes scattered among a multitude of candidates, thus denying any one candidate from receiving either the two-thirds vote
required by Statute for a first ballot nomination, or the 40% required on the second and last ballot for two names to be submitted to the Holy Synod of Bishops for election.
Every reasonable effort will be made to inform and educate all delegates to the Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly (and, hopefully, all of our clergy and laity) on the qualifications of the candidates prior to August 31st vote. Please note: the Statute strictly prohibits any comments in support or against any candidate during the Extraordinary Assembly: individuals are simply nominated without comment, and voting commences. The time for discussion, prayerful
contemplation, fasting, and other means of preparation (individually and in parishes) is prior to the Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly.
During its meeting today, the Search Committee finalized the selection of candidates to be presented to the Diocesan Council during the week of August 17th. Following the presentation to the Diocesan Council, an official communication will be sent to all the clergy of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey with the names and complete biographical information of the nominees. This is to be shared with the laity as completely as possible; this is to be as conciliar a process as we are capable of achieving, with God’s help.
Official letters were drafted today and will be mailed to the nominees on Tuesday July 28th
informing them that they have been selected by the Search Committee for presentation to the Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly as candidates for election. The letters request a reply indicating consent and the presentation of an autobiography. Nominees replying in the
affirmative will be interviewed by the Search Committee in person or by teleconference prior to Diocesan Council meeting.
Soon, the parishes of New York and New Jersey will receive detailed information regarding the
Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly: hotel information, registration forms for delegates, and
procedures to be followed during the Assembly.
We ask for your continued prayers for our diocese, deaneries, parishes, nominee(s), and each
other. May the will of God be manifested and accomplished as we come together to select our
Archpastor and spiritual father in Christ.
Your brothers in Christ,
The Members of the Search Committee
Archpriest Joseph Lickwar (Diocesan Chancellor)
Archpriest Alexey Karlgut (Dean, New York State Deanery)
Archpriest Samuel Kedala (Dean, New Jersey Deanery)
Archpriest Wiaczeslaw Krawczuk (Dean, New York City Deanery)”
In a second Diocesan memorandum sent out that same day, Diocesan Chancellor Joseph Lickwar informed parishes of the details of the Extraordinary Assembly, It reads:
“An Extraordinary Assembly of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey is being convened at the Holy Assumption Church, NJ on Monday, August 31, 2009, to vote on the nominee(s), who shall be presented to the Holy Synod of Bishops for approval, canonical election, consecration and installation as ruling hierarch.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy is at 9 a. m. and will be followed by brunch and the Assembly.
A delegate to the assembly will consist of the following: rector/acting rector, assistant/s to the rector, and lay delegates equivalent to attending clergy of a particular parish. For a diocesan assembly, a deacon can be considered as either clergy, or lay delegate. The fee of each parish is $100 (one clergy delegate and one lay delegate). The fee covers the overall expense for the day and its preparations, and excess income will be set aside in anticipation of expenses in conjunction with the consecration and enthronement. Attached clergy and observers will be admitted. Their fee is $25 per person....”
- Mark Stokoe