Don't Miss This Opportunity
by Dr. Dmitri Solodow, CA
From the OCA report of the just-completed Holy Synod meeting:
“HEARD: The Holy Synod discussed the need for revision and clarification of the selection process for Episcopal candidates.
“DECIDED: The Lesser Synod will compile a list of criteria and procedures to be followed for the selection of Episcopal candidates within the Orthodox Church in America.”
The basics are, to a limited extent, spelled out in the Statute. What is critical now is that the Lesser Synod, having now observed two approaches to the nomination of episcopal candidates, that of the Diocese of Western PA and those for the Dioceses of NY/NJ and of the South, come down on the side of the former.
The Western PA process, described by Gregg Nescott in a “Reflection” on the ocanews.org website, was open, transparent and inclusive. It yielded a candidate with whom Diocesan parishioners had became familiar and comfortable, and whose nomination the Holy Synod accepted. The rancor resulting from the NY/NJ process is so recent as to need no elaboration here.
As described by Mr. Nescott, the Western PA process had the Diocesan Council act as the Search Committee, “to eliminate the process being controlled by a small, select group.” To ensure broad participation, regional meetings were held where two points were focused upon: the qualities the faithful believed were desirable in a bishop, and the names of specific individuals the faithful had
The Diocesan Council reviewed the candidates who thus emerged as possible nominees and selected those it believes best qualified. These individuals were then invited to visit the Diocese for more in-depth and personal diocesan-wide discussions and meetings. These took the form of
tours, preaching at parishes, meeting clergy and laity at coffee hours and meeting with the Diocesan Council. Notes were taken at each of these meetings, from which a detailed comparison chart was compiled. This chart was made available throughout the Diocese.
The Diocesan Council met and chose two nominees to be presented to an Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly. An effort was made to get information to everyone in the Diocese about the candidates qualifications, since no comments about a nominee could be made at the Assembly.
At the Assembly, the two candidates nominated by the Diocesan Council were put forth. An additional nomination was made from the floor. Delegates cast their votes, and one candidate became the nominee.
Let us encourage the Lesser Synod to follow this process as it prepares its documents. Let them seize this opportunity to enshrine openness, transparency and inclusiveness in the selection of our hierarchs. Let this be an opportunity to change the culture of our Church.