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News From Across Orthodox America

• Syosset, NY

The Minutes of the September 2009 joint meeting of the Synod and Metropolitan Council of the OCA were posted this past Saturday, November 7th, complete with financials. You can read them here.

• Washington, DC

Fr. Ray Velencia, who was elected as the clergy delegate from the Diocese of Washington in late August, has stepped aside from the OCA’s Metropolitan Council at the request of Metropolitan Jonah. He has been replaced by the alternate, Fr. John Vitko.

Fr. Velencia, the pastor of St. Matthew’s parish in Columbia, MD, was one of the defendants, along with former Metropolitan Herman and the OCA, in a lawsuit filed by Ms. Kristine Koumentakos last year. (Read that story here.) Although several counts in this lawsuit were dismissed, the counts dealing with employment discrimination, of which Fr. Velencia was also a part, continues amid rumours of an impending settlement. It has been reported to members of St. Matthew’s “...made a unanimous vote to withhold the OCA dues until the Metropolitan explained the reasons for removing Fr. Velencia.”

• Milwaukee, WI

The Lesser Synod of the OCA met in special session, in Milwaukie WI, last Wednesday, to discuss the process by which new Bishops are to be chosen. The Diocesean Council of the Midwest is scheduled to meet December 1 in Chicago with this topic high on the agenda as well.

• Memphis, TN

Mr. Matthew Spinolo, elected to the Antiochian Archdiocese’s Board of Trustees in Palm Desert last July has resigned following the decision of the body to agree to an internal, rather than external audit of Archdiocesan financials.

• Toledo, OH

In a letter dated November 6th to his parishes throughout the Midwest, +Mark, AOCNA Bishop of Toldeo, has addressed the issue of parish councils and fiduciary responsibility, topics which are currently being hotly debated in some parishes of the diocese. The Bishop writes:

”..As we approach year’s end, many of our parishes will be forming nomination committees for the Parish Council. As St Paul says, “Let all things be done with decency and with order.” Our parish council members engage in a position of leadership which requires preparation and training to maintain the focus as men and women of Christ’s Holy Church. We need to select men and women who are dedicated Orthodox Christians, known for their piety and dedication to living an Orthodox Life.

As with anyone who desires to serve, one must have a sense of what is expected. Doctors, nurses, teachers and professionals from all walks of life need to refreshers periodically and to stay abreast of requirements within their area of discipline. It is no less so as officers of a non-profit organization. There are laws that must be followed as well as Canons of the Church prescribed. We are required by law to operate in conformity with our parish constitutions and Canonical Traditions as stated in our articles of incorporation. Do you know what they say? Do you know your legal obligations and liability? Did you know the fiduciary responsibility of non-profit organizational officer is greater than a for profit organization officer?

With these questions in mind, I am forwarding once again my previous letter regarding qualifications and requirements for nominations for the Parish Council and other practical guidelines through your parish priest”.

The Bishop has also instructed all parishes in his diocese to “ in touch with the V. Rev Fr Alexander Atty regarding a parish council workshop for your deanery and/or parish as soon as possible.  Hopefully, in the near future we will be adding elements on the responsibility of officers of a non-profit organization.”

- Mark Stokoe



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