7.27.10 - Updated
News From Around The OCA
• Kiev, Ukraine
The Synod of dissident Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate, led by the former Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev, Filaret, has published a letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow concerning the work of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission that dealt with the issues of autocephaly and autonomy. The letter has an interesting reference to the OCA. The Ukrainian Synod points out:
“In fact, the participants of the session in Chambésy, among the other, took the trouble of determining the future destiny of the Orthodox Churches of Ukraine, Macedonia and Montenegro, Orthodox Church in America, as well as the destiny of the Orthodox Church in Japan, Moldavia, and Estonia. But no representatives of these Churches were involved either officially or unofficially in elaboration of the decisions which are of importance for their further being. It is obvious that such way of discussion of important issues of ecclesiastical life does not comply either with the spirit of the God’s justice and of the Gospel’s brotherly love (?f. John 7:51), or with the practice of the Ecumenical and pious Local Councils, where at even indubitable heretics had a chance to express their stance.”
(emphasis in the original)
You can read the full text of the letter here .
• Ottawa, Canada
Earlier this month, in a July 4th letter to his Ottawa cathedral, Archbishop Seraphim of Canada acknowledged his “willing and unwilling” participation in the recent “time of troubles” in the OCA. The Archbishop who is meeting with his Diocesan Assembly this week in Victoria, BC, wrote:
“Dear brothers, and sisters in Christ,
I am writing just at this time, because I feel I must.
The life of this bishop has never been particularly easy. Some say a bishop’s life is a picnic, but if so, I find there are many army ants attending. The last more than seven years have been particularly difficult---first, because a greatly increased volume of responsibility and travel in the USA, and abroad : second because of a multiplication of meetings during the OCA’s “time of troubles”. I am not about to defend any of my own contributions to the difficulties, but I am a member of the Holy Synod, and, nolens-volens, I did contribute somehow, and I am sorry for that. Regardless, pain has been the main characteristic of the last decade, for us all....”
• Episcopal Selection Processes Across the OCA
There are currently four episcopal search processes underway in the OCA: in Alaska, the Midwest, the Bulgarian Diocese and he South. According to recent reports two are active ( Midwest, Bulgarian) the South’s process is dormant, and the Alaskan process seems stillborn.
1. The Midwest, which publicly announced its process last January, will have its three candidates meeting with diocesan clergy at the end of August, where video interviews will be conducted so parishes will have the opportunity to become more acquainted with the finalists before voting at the beginning of October.
2. According to sources in the Bulgarian Diocese, their goal is to have a bishop installed by the next AAC in November 2011. A call will go out to the diocese in mid-August 2010 for the presentation of potential episcopal candidates. Membership will be informed of necessary criteria and given a deadline for reception of names. At the same time, the advice of the Synod will be sought for potential hierarchical candidates.
A Search Committee will then review all names received from diocesan membership and the OCA chancery and create a “short list” of no less than four and no more than seven possible candidates. The Search Committee members will contact each of the names on the short list, arrange for telephone interviews with those willing to let their name stand and will request further biographical information from each. Based on results of these interviews, and on backgrounds checks and further committee deliberations, the Search Committee will select three potential candidates for in-person interviews. The proposed deadline for this phase is September 2010.
The Search Committee will then meet in October with each of the three and select two as candidates for presentation to the Diocesan Sobor. The two candidates selected by Search Committee visit parishes of the diocese to become better acquainted with diocese and to have diocesan membership meet with them. Video interviews of each will be posted on Diocesan website.
The Diocesan Sobor, scheduled for November 12 -13, will elect one of the two proposed candidates as the Episcopal Nominee to present to the OCA Synod for canonical episcopal election.
(Editor's note: You can read the letter from the Diocese concerning the process here.)
3. At the recently concluded Assembly of the Diocese of the South, Metropolitan Jonah “spoke regarding the vacant See of Dallas and his desire to make sure that the See of Dallas is filled by the right candidate. In the meantime he is willing, and the Assembly concurred, that he will remain the Locum Tenens.” According to one member of the Diocesan Council there has been little discussion of any potential list of candidates from the Search Committee, which consists of the Deans and the Diocesan Chancellor. As there will not be a Diocesan Assembly next summer, the process is expected to remain dormant until after the next All-American Council in November 2011.
4. Finally, according to sources in the Diocese of Alaska, the priests of the Kuskokwim attempted to organize a committee to propose candidates to be considered for that vacant diocese. The attempt was quashed by Bishop Benjamin, the locum tenens. It is not clear whether Alaskans will be allowed any participation in the process as several members of the Synod of the OCA have already expressed their desire that Archimandrite Gerasim ( Eliel) the former abbot of St. Herman’s monastery in Platina, CA, be elected to the position. Fr. Gerasim will be a main speaker at the St. Herman’s pilgrimage next month in Kodiak.
• Syosset, NY
The OCA administration has made clear that the scope of the new Audit Committee does not include stavropegial institutions, most specifically, the six monasteries under the care of the Metropolitan.
At the 15th All-American Council in Pittsburgh, PA on Thursday, November 13, 2008 at the Seventh Plenary Session, the following amendment was approved:
“An auditing committee consisting of three members shall be nominated and appointed by the Metropolitan Council at its first meeting following the election of Metropolitan Council members at the All-American Council. The term of service shall be from appointment to the end of the next All-American Council. Its duties shall be to audit all accounts of The Orthodox Church in America on a semiannual basis and review the audited accounts of all stavropegial institutions on an annual basis and to report same to the Metropolitan Council. The Chairman of the auditing committee shall attend sessions of the Metropolitan Council only to make the committee’s reports....”
The Audit Committee was recently informed by an email from the administration that “The stavropegial institutions fall under the canonical jurisdiction of the Primate of the Church, Metropolitan Jonah, and the Holy Synod, not the Metropolitan Council. All of their affairs, spiritual, canonical as well as practical are subject to blessing and approval of the Metropolitan.”
In explaining the new committee’s tasks, the administration stated the committee “may look at the reported and written external audits of all the stavropegial institutions. Many of these are posted online (e.g. the seminaries) and others may be requested from the institutions themselves (e.g. some monastic institutions). The Statute does not require the audit committee to visit the stavropegial institutions to conduct an audit. In fact, many of these institutions pay a considerable amount for external audits and it would seem unnecessary to duplicate those efforts. However, the published audits are open for your review as part of your duty to report to the Church. These institutions are separate corporate entities with their own laws of governance and as such this needs to be respected and adhered to in accordance with corporate law.”
The letter concluded: “ If the stavropegial institutions ask for your assistance, they are free to do so with the blessing of the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod. They do not bless any on site visits at this time.”
The letter reassures the committee that this decision “..In no way does this limit your tasks and aims. All financial files and materials at the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America are available for your inspection, study and review. Likewise, you have access to all published financial materials and external audit reports of the stavropegial institutions that are in our files. We again thank you for your patience and understanding. We all are engaged in creating the tools and methods for insuring that all of the financial matters that affect the life of the Orthodox Church in America will be conducted with complete fairness, clarity, accountability, honesty and in conformity of all legal and ethical standards. “
(Editor's note: Please see an update on this story in the comments section from the Chairman of the Audit Committee, Deacon Marty Watts.)
• Syosset, NY
In what promises to be a busy Autumn, the Metropolitan Council of the OCA will meet Monday, September 20 through Thursday evening, September 23, in New York. The meeting will begin with a day-long retreat together with some members of the Synod, led by Fr. Thomas Hopko, The Metropolitan, due to scheduling conflicts, will not be attending. The Synod has scheduled their Autumn meeting October 19-22 in New York.
In other news of the Metropolitan Council, Fr Matthew-Peter Butrie, a married priest currently serving St. Nicholas Church in Burton MI, has replaced Fr. Andrew Moulton as the clergy representative from the Bulgarian Diocese.
(Editor's note: please see a concerning the Strategic Plan in the next article "Two Reactions From Readers" here.)
• Chicago, IL
There are still 4 more days to register for the 2011 Archbishop Job Memorial Project Mexico trip . The goal is to gather enough young adult and adult missionaries to build hundreds of homes in July 2011 as a legacy of the late Archbishop of Chicago. You can register or receive more information from Ruth Yavornitzky c/o St. Mark Church, 400 W. Hamlin, Rochester Hills, MI 48309.