Tuesday, February 21. 2006
Your thoughts and comments as the OCA story becomes nationally known. Please sign all posts. If you wish to remain anonymous, please include a name for the editor to use.
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This is knee-jerk but I agree with Bishop Tikhon. This is a wedge meant to cause problems for Orthodox Christians. We look like a bunch of squabblers and from the story it looks like we are some kind of evil secret society. It would be best if this done quietly and in a spirit of service and humility.
It is money who cares about it. I know that I give as much as I can and that our church passes up a good portion of that. I believe that there is some misguided resentment based accounting going on.
Let the Bishops handle this it is not meant for the whole world to see this is not a beautiful temple you are building it is a dung house.
#1 Ted Sbardella on 2006-02-21 08:36
It is unfortunate indeed that a matter that should have been handled internally in the conciliar tradition of our Orthodox Church, where ALL are able to discuss and ask questions of each other had to be aired outside of the church. No one wants to expose their weakness. But it was precisely the unwillingness of the Synod of Bishops, except Archbishop Job, that caused this issue to be aired in public. Orthodoxy is conciliar and the actions of Bishops and other leaders in refusing to acknowledge legitimate concerns and answer legitimate questions caused the conciliar tradition of our Orthodox church to break down. Is that in the "spirit of service and humility?" Spurred on by the attempts to silence and evade have only worsened the situation. How is this the, “building up of a beautiful temple?” It seems to me that the "dung house" was caused by the failure to address the issues at the outset and rather arrogance on the part of our leaders prevailed.
Now that we are out in the open, we have the best opportunity for the building up of the beautiful temple if our leaders acknowledge completely that we have financial problems and then implement concrete reforms and ACTUALLY FOLLOW THEM.
I think that could only improve our status or image in public. I think people would be attracted to a church that didn't cover up and faced the consequences however severe. In doing so we would be representing the TRUE Orthodox Way! If I might suggest, look at the outrage of Roman Catholics and others, when the revelations of sexual misconduct were made public in the national media and the leaders of the Roman Catholic church dodged serious questions and in cases covered up illegal and certainly immoral behavior, the public was only further scandalized and the image of the Roman Catholic church has been harmed indefinitely.
Let us Pray that our leaders in the upcoming meeting of the Holy Synod take a lesson from this and honestly answer the allegations that have been brought forward and show with action, that what Met. Herman has said publicly that, “Every Orthodox Christian, having received the Holy Spirit, may properly express concern for the Church, discuss the Church’s challenges and needs, and suggest insights and answers to the challenges found by the Church.,” really is the feeling of his Heart and the guiding principal by which the Holy Synod takes action.
#1.1 Shawn Michael Karney on 2006-02-21 14:19
Well, gee, Ted. If there is a wedge here, you've got to ask who formed it, Was it created, after several years of financial abuse, by a few of the people you would like to "let handle this"?
Solving this "quietly" doesn't quite cut it, even in a church, if someone is spending money on things not intended, without receipts, approval or bothersome things like audits. There has been, frankly, too much silence on this issue for too many years. Without this website in particular and the general furor it has sparked, the synod would never have addressed this, albeit as timidly as they did.
I started reading this site several weeks ago, quite skeptical of the story. I posted a few times defending our priests and bishops, as you can read for yourself. And while the information presented here is quite compelling (spend some time, Ted, reading the chronology in the documents section) it was actually the reaction of my own bishop, Tikhon, that convinced me of the fire behind the smoke.
#1.2 Marty Brown on 2006-02-21 21:12
Are the allegations true or are they false?
#1.3 Jack Miller on 2006-02-22 09:55
We cannot let the BLIND lead us who still have VISION !
Bishop Tikon should have taken care of the mess in his care. If this had been taken care of properly fourteen years ago, we wouldn't be in a cess-pool today.
The OCA will come back stronger, only, if we get rid of the cancer. REMEMBER, WE HAVE A LOVING GOD WHO LOVES ALL.
When John Kozey (Chairman, OCA Audit Committee) tried to let people know that there be a problem, I did nothing. I think the fundamental reason for my inaction was a thoroughly Orthodox "default state" (if you will) of trust in those set above us.
Ted cannot act in a manner contrary to his conscience, and should not be expected to do so. The Teds of the OCA will not come around by an oppositional approach.
Without patronizing, without criticizing, those of us who want to hear whether the allegations are true, false, or mistaken as to fact, should continue to adduce that which is known. Patience, reason, logic and passionlessness should continue to characterize our approach to transparency.
#1.5 Edmund Unneland on 2006-02-24 20:14
Mr. Chadwick's article is even-handed, skims the surface; no new light is shed on the issues. This is a horizontal move rather than a vertical one, in the effort to find out "are these allegations true, or are they false?"
What does it mean, that a local newspaper in northern New Jersey has printed this article? On the one hand, those directly involved in defending the OCA's financial dealings may feel some additional pressure, lose some space in their comfort zone, but not many people outside the Orthodox Christian community may be particularly interested.
On the whole, unless this is the first in a series that will go into greater depth, and possibly break new ground, not much has been accomplished here. Of course Mr. Chadwick is at a disadvantage, in that central figures in the controversy will not speak to him, and on the other hand, he has to work under some constraints that an advocay group such as Orthodox Christians for Accountability do not have.
I once went to work for a boss whose first order of business was to encourage me to break a number of organizational rules, little things like taking a two hour lunch hour, or misusing non-monetary resources for personal benefit. The idea behind that is to make the new person complicit, and thus make it impossible for that person to blow the whistle, should it need blowing. I wasn't having any, but that's not always a safe course of action either! I am afraid something of that sort is involved in this tangled web within the OCA , and truly a miracle from God is the only thing that can bring about any voluntary move toward resolution. Gertie
#2 gertie trumbore on 2006-02-21 14:25
Are appearances more important than truth? Who is causing this wedge? Seems the message bearer is getting blamed. Until the finances are properly accounted for, there will be no confidence that church funds were spent appropriately.
#3 Kathleen Carlsen on 2006-02-21 14:49
Wow Ted. It is hard not to respond in a patronizing manner.
Have you considered a fair and honest man was fired for speaking the truth?
Is it okay that the Bishop(s) did this to him, either by direct or indirect action? Any Bishop on the Synod that allowed this is a party to it unless they work to correct it.
How does it make us evil to expect Bishop(s) to be truthful? They want to borrow millions, but not disclose the truth about missing millions.
Bishop Tikhon was wrong to condemn Bishop Job. The potshot from Bishop Tikhon is simple infighting. This type of infighting is unnecessary and only adds frustration to a frustrating situation. Bishop Job made a humble request that is sure nicer than the IRS or FBI will be doing if the Bishops don't resolve this issue. Supporting Bishop Tikhon is like saying, "I'm for infighting in the church".
Accountability is never an issue if is it transparent. Noone will care we spent 58 grand getting figureheads here for a get together, or 1st class plane tickets costing 9 grand, or taxi rides costing 900 dollars. Overspending happens all the time in life. Dinner in New York isn't cheap, and hosting dignitaries is not an inexpensive proposition. This isn't even the concern.
We do care when they say, we don't want to tell you what happened because sin was committed. This says nothing of the scope. Was the sin mismanagement and overspending of limited resources, or was the sin graft of large sums of money?
Do you know that firing a whistleblower and fraud can result in felonies? Whose dungheap would that be if one of our Metropolitan's was found guilty of multiple felonies? Would it belong to the people that turned in the criminal?
If a forensic audit is done by an agency and not the organization, the agency will decide what the temple looks like and it will most likely have iron bars.
Metropolitan Herman has a chance to turn all of this around with the truth. Pray for him and pray that we are all wrong.
#4 Anonymous on 2006-02-21 17:40
I'm Nadia Bolinsky age 23, an Orthodox Christian and parishioner at Holy Trinty Orthodox Church In Yonkers, New York
I just wanted to say that "We should all pray before Lent that this will end".
#4.1 Nadia Bolinsky on 2006-02-22 17:28
I can hardly believe everything that is popping up here. Unfortunately, it looks like there are more issues that need addressed than just the secret bank accounts. Regarding the lost monies, I truly believe now that everything is coming out in the open, whoever the villains are, they will not continue to make bad judgments because they are being watched. In light of this, we should still continue to give to our church. It is my understanding that the mission churches rely on money from the mission collection. We cannot deprive them. Special collections for seminaries and charities could be forwarded directly to seminaries and IOCC. We must continue to give because it is our christian responsibility. I just hope once the truth is out, we will all forgive and move forward. We must be careful what we write on the internet because we must not expose our neighbors sins. It is for God to judge, and He will.
#5 Jane Cap on 2006-02-22 14:58
And if he does not turn it around quickly and legally, not covering up possible criminial offenses, he'll cost the OCA membership and eventually it'll cost him his job. He should resign along with Fr. Kondratick for the good of the OCA, and make way for an honest truthful administration to take over.
#6 Robert Holowach on 2006-02-22 17:36
I could not agree more. The past and present Metropolitans and the current Chancellor are at fault for even having a " secret stash" for which they were accountable to no one! This is NOT the Orthodox way, which is to be conciliar, not act like a little Pope.
The Church cannot operate as a tax-exempt institution and then have those high up in power play a shell game with peoples' donations. Now that I have heard about the wasteful expenditures such as flying people to NY for meetings, spending money on travelling to Russia, etc, etc, I am outraged. It is stealing, pure and simple!
An outside agency should be appointed to come in and thoroughly audit everything, and if there were criminal activities involved, which I do believe taking monies for charity drives and then not giving to those charities, and for firing a whistleblower are, then let the guilty serve their sentences according to the laws of Caesar. Resignation from their officies is not enough.
#6.1 Pauline Costianes on 2006-02-28 13:36
A fervent prayer for the upcoming special meeting of the Holy Synod:
Let us pray that humility and love will be embraced and emboldened in this special meeting of the Holy Synod.
Let us pray that wisdom to conduct a Commission and to get the Church's financial affairs under control and in order with "Best Practices" in financial affairs will commence.
Let us pray that a long standing, broken status quo will be challenged and destroyed as the chains of hell were destroyed.
There is so much the Church is called to be other than the shambles that it seems to have disintegrated to...
#7 Anonymous on 2006-02-22 21:53
Mark Stokoe wrote this:
"According to the Statute of the OCA, a special meeting of the Holy Synod may be called either by the Metropolitan, or at the request of three ruling hierarchs. Syosset has yet to announce this new meeting publicly, so it is not known who has called it, or its purpose."
If Syosset has to yet to announce this new meeting publicly, than why are you announcing it on your web site? You are showing your disobedience to the Holy Synod. That is not very good publicity for the American Orthodox Church. Nor is it good publicity for your case because you are judging others by a higher standard than you are judging yourself. In other words, your behavior on this web site is not Christian.
#8 Olympiada Kane on 2006-02-25 08:48
Thank you for your comment. Since the meeting was not "secret" in any way, and an emergency meeting of the Holy Synod is clearly news, we announced the meeting after having learned of it. How is this disobedient? I cannot say whether the meeting will be good publicity for the OCA or not - that will depend on what decisions the Bishops take, won't it? I admit I am a bit perplexed by your comment about judging others. How does announcing a meeting of the Holy Synod involve judgement of anyone? I am sorry that you feel my behaviour on this website is not Christian. My guess is that not being able to challenge the message, you choose to challenge the messenger instead.
#8.1 Editor on 2006-02-25 10:07
Give generously to support the OCA - but let them know you are not mailing your FOS check today, not making your bequest today, until there is a full discussion and resolution of these issues. Encourage your parish, deanery and parish institutions (sisterhoods, auxiliaries, etc. ) to do the same? I think not. You can encourage your fellow parishiners to quit the OCA and encourage everyone else to do the same. That will certainly put an end to these shenanigans.
#9 Linda Zilinsky de Jesus on 2006-02-25 15:29
It is Lent - take this autumnal tree down at least till pascha when the dead shall rise.
#10 Ted Sbardella on 2006-03-02 07:10
To whom this may concern,
Shame on all of you for airing this. It should have been handled internally. It sickens me to see people quoting the bible (in your "Share Your Comments" section) and then stabbing other's in the back at the same time. Because they weren't "helped?"
To Mr Stokoe, Mr Hunchak and Mr Wheeler, you all should remove yourselves from this religion. Each of you had an opportunity to address this problem year's ago. Yet, you all waited until you left Syosset. Whether you quit (resigned), were fired or removed from your duties. You using that against this organization is truly humiliating.
I've grown up in this church my whole life (39 years) and have served my country for 19 years in the US military. And never once can I say that I was embarrassed for being an Orthodox. And now I will. Whether what you say is right or wrong, it shouldn't be aired like this. None of you, NONE OF YOU, are prefect and I'm sure you have done your fair share of wrongdoing.
The unfortunate thing about this whole ordeal is, your hand's are "bloodied" too, whether you want to admit it or not. Good christians would have stopped it when it started. Instead you turned your shoulders and just went along with it. When the Orthodox Church in America crumbles, you'll be the ones having to look in the mirror for your part in this devious act.
You've embarrassed this church, I hope that makes you happy.
Michael J. Livosky
#11 Michael Livosky on 2006-03-02 13:42
After reading the articles on this site, I can feel the hurt of all the people who have written and responded to articles on this site. Most troublesome,to me is the way, women were treated, by, so called, CHRISTIAN men, our leaders.Don't these men know this is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, not Iran.
I personally don't know a lot of people who have written here,but, I am guessing that many have served in the military as you are now doing.
When people have myopia, or can't hear, as on man said in a previous comment,you smack em in the back of the head with a 2x4 to wake them up.
What is happening here is procrastination, to the "umpth" degree.
Kodos to Metropolitan Herman. Kudos to us the laity. It makes me believe that the Holy Spirit does work in all of us. I've read all the thoughts of many of us and I know that my thoughts are not as deep and well founded as many of you. But I know that today my faith is restored in the fact that together we can make a difference.
I am "cradle" Orthodox and growing up, the Bishop, the clergy as a whole were sacroscant. My Baba wraped her head. She did'nt have a refridgerator or a TV. She was a different breed from what we are today. The Hierarchy and the clergy at large have to know that they are dealing with a totally different venue.We know what is going on and we will question. And we will have answers! Perhaps we should ask Fr. "Bob" Kondratick what he has been "priviy to". I look forward to his answer.
#12 Diane Gloumakoff on 2006-03-16 21:15
As the son of an Orthodox priest, I am stunned at what I have read on this website today. My father reposed in the Lord nearly 2 years ago (after 40 years of Priesthood), and I have the feeling if he were around to see this now, he would be sickened. That our Orthodox church is in a financial scandal is to some no big deal. Believe me, to this Orthodox Christian, it does matter. Some of the things I have seen at the parish level, make me wonder "Just how much more corruption could there be?"
This matter of discretionary funds should be stopped immediately, a full and public accounting of all monies in the OCA be performed immediately, and those responsible for "ANY" wrongdoing be disciplined immediately. The time for action is long past.
Praying that any who have committed a wrongdoing in these matters confess and ask for forgiveness is something we should also do - after all judgement is not ours to make.
#13 Richard Grabowski on 2006-03-23 16:17
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