NEWS FROM AROUND THE OCA
+JOB Asks Withholding Midwest Parishes for Support
Withholding parishes throughout the Archdiocese of the Midwest report receiving a letter from Archbishop Job of Chicago at the beginning of July requesting them to cease doing so, so that the Archbishop may journey to the Synod of Bishops Meeting on July 31 with his diocese united behind him. In the letter dated July 3rd to parishes who were withholding, the Archbishop explained this new position:
“From this point forward we will act as a diocese and I will no longer allow individual parishes to withhold assessment payments. If the benchmarks set by the council are not met, the diocese, as one body
will withhold. Therefore, it was also decided by the council that all parishes withholding and escrowing assessments are to remit to the diocese their back assessments. Monies escrowed during the months
April, May and June by......... parish, out of respect to the original decision of your parish, will be placed in escrow by the diocesan treasurer until we have fully come to the end of our present crisis.”
At least one parish, St. Paul’s in Dayton OH, has agreed to the new arrangement but with the stipulation that should the Archbishop or Diocesan Council now fail to implement withholding under the terms
clearly set froth by the benchmarks, all further assessments to the OCA and the diocese itself, will be withheld.
More Turmoil in Alaska
Following the firing of its librarian Mark Harrison for writing to OCANews.org (Read that story here), OCANews.org has learned that the Bishop has now unexpectedly terminated Paul Sidebottom, the associate Dean of St. Herman’s Seminary in Kodiak, Alaska for reasons yet unexplained. The Seminary is currently seeking a new Dean, following the departure of Fr. Chad Hatfield.
OCANews.org has also learned that Archimandrite Isidore (Brittain), Chancellor of the Diocese, is on a leave of absence and has left the Diocese. At this time no word has been given on whether -- or when -- the Archmandrite will return.
New OCA Chancellor Writes Clergy
A letter to the clergy has been released by the new Chancellor of the OCA. Fr. Alexander Garklavs. The frank letter does not hide that “financial contributions to the national Church are at an all-time low, and our other ecclesial institutions have also been adversely
affected”. The clergy though, Fr. Garkalvs writes, are: “Like soldiers, we are under obedience and we are held to codes of honor and fortitude, even if at times the officers are indifferent, the politicians self-serving and the people we defend unappreciative. Like all soldiers, we stand together. Without that esprit de corps we are
doomed to fail and therefore we need to preserve this sense of brotherhood now more than ever.”
Fr. Garklavs is not shy about asking questions concerning the scandal that is rocking the Church : “Is it a case of singular malfeasance? Is it corporate ineptitude at the administrative level? Is it a matter of
finding and rebuking the guilty party/parties? Is it a canonical issue involving pastoral ethics? Is it a legal matter pertaining to tax-exempt status and liability?" He continues rhetorically: “Professional legal advice has been sought, which has been praised by some as unquestionably necessary and condemned by others as absolutely useless. It is certainly a spiritual crisis, but who does it most concern: our hierarchs, our chancellors, our theologians, the Metropolitan Council, the ‘Syosset’ staff, the entire Church?" (Read the entire letter here)
In a spirit of good-will, albeit at the risk of falling under Garklav’s condemnation for being one of the “self-styled pundits, offering diverse opinions, many being passionate pleas for immediate action and judgment”, OCANews.org offers the following: The answer to all your questions, Father, is “Yes.” Yes, it is a case of singular malfeasance; Yes, it is a case of corporate ineptitude; Yes, it is matter of finding and rebuking the guilty parties; Yes, it is a canonical issue; Yes, it does involve pastoral ethics( mainly the lack of same); Yes, it is a legal matter; and yes, we may well be liable
for taxes, which we should pay as good citizens and as honest Christians if due, rather than attempt to avoid, like criminals do.
The only exception is that no, there is no question of loss of tax-exempt status, as the accountants have reported to the Metropolitan Council. That concern is a red-herring.
And most assuredly yes, it does concern the hierarchs, chancellor, theologians, Metropolitan Council, Syosset staff and the entire Church. The fact that most of our theologians have been silent is sad; our hierarchs mostly silent --painful, our Council -- silenced and the voice of the entire Church not listened to because of “professional legal advice” -- too painful for words. But perhaps if our new Chancellor continues to find his voice, things might get better....
Old Habits Die Hard, Though
In a recent article entitled “Archbishop Mourned” in the June 21st edition of the Toledo Blade, marking the death of the late Archbishop Kyrill of Pittsburgh and the Bulgarian Archdiocese, David Yonke, religion editor for the Blade wrote: “Metropolitan Herman, head of the million-member Orthodox Church in America, .....” When questioned by a reader about the source of his information for the figure of 1,000,000 members for the OCA, Yonke expressed surprise and replied the number had been given to him by Metropolitan Herman himself.