Saturday, June 2. 2007
Your comments and thoughts on Fr. Wojick's letter are welcome, as well as thoughts on withholding in general.
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Thank you, Fr. Christopher.
I enjoyed your Open Letter to the Midwest Diocesan Council.
The task before the MC in June is absolutely daunting.
I believe in the power of prayer. June 10th is our feast of American All Saints. Perhaps we can jointly pray for our MC to be the ETHICAL and necessary voice in a sea of trouble.
For MH to have dismissed Gregg Nescott and to have disbanded the Special Comission is just simply a horrible abuse of power. Thank goodness the good senior priests in Western PA (the diocese where I grew up) were also outraged and apparently bent Bishop Kyrill's ear long and hard enough to put his foot down to reinstate Gregg.
I hope to believe that the MC's upcoming meeting in Syosset will prove to show them a more courageous and effective presence in wanting concrete change within the OCA.
Frankly, I have been keeping a wary eye on all of this and I have been keeping that phone call to the NY state district attorney in the back of my mind. The MC must work more boldly and courageously in defending not only us faithful, but what is plainly ETHICAL and MORAL.
I have a big ETHICAL and MORAL problem having faithfully given to the OCA and its several charities over the years without these funds having reached the rightful people or places.
That phone call to the NY district attorney is becoming more and more concretely formed as a matter of my personal response to Syosset all the time.
But I hold out, knowing and trusting we have good people in the OCA. I am starting to see more courage, too, among our faithful, across the country. I am praying that the MC will be able to muster the great courage it will take in this most critical and historical of meetings in June.
Gregg is back. Now the Special Commission must be restored.
#1 Patty Schellbach on 2007-06-02 07:34
Our parish is planning a day of fasting and prayer, as suggested by a poster to this site, on Saturday June 9. Right now, we believe that we will do, at a minimun, a molieben and the Akathist to St Herman. We hope that other parishes will do the same, even though less than one week remains to plan. btw, the Akathist can be found on the OCA web site: http://www.oca.org/MDContent.asp?SID=13&Month=NASTS
#1.1 Michael Strelka on 2007-06-02 12:31
GOSSIP! GOSSIP! What do we know about Nescott? He is an attorney? He has a code of ethics to follow does'nt he? He had to disobey someone? Or was he removed for no reason? Attorney's dont spread Gossip do they? They dont make deals behind clients backs do they? DO YOU THINK HE WAS LET GO FOR GOOD CAUSE!!!! I'M JUST TRYING TO GET YOUR READERS TO THINK! THINK! THIS WEB SITE IS ALL ABOUT GOSSIP!! NO POWER THOUGH! AND NO FACTS!!!
#1.2 Anonymous on 2007-06-03 17:09
#1.2.1 Anonymous #2 on 2007-06-04 03:56
Just to answer your silly questions: A lot, yes, yes, no, apparently no good reason, sometimes, sometimes.
It is not gossip you deplore--but the TRUTH! Finding and reporting the TRUTH is what this website is about and what makes it powerful--so powerful that you feel the necessity of posting your trite remarks.
You cringe from the truth as a vampire flees the light. Hence your anonymous post.
#1.2.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-06-04 05:50
Sorry! to inform you I dont have to cringe!! this website has no power! its full of hot air! and it is all made up Gossip! No facts! you cant even tell me if any money is missing! DO YOU HAVE ANY CERTIFIED COPIES OF ANY DOCUMENTATION INYOUR POSSESION TO PROVE MONEY IS MISSING? THE ANSWER IS 'NO'!!! ITS ALL MADE UP! ITS FABRICATED! LETS SEE YOU SPREAD SOME MORE GOSSIP!
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2007-06-04 16:39
Dear Father Christopher,
I did not attend the Midwest Diocesan Council. However I as well as others did request to the board of our parish that our delegates not withhold money from the central Administration. Our parish voted, not unanimously, at that time not to withhold. Our representatives faithfully and honestly reflected our wishes, despite the fact that not all present at the parish meeting agreed. Our delegates hardly betrayed our stewardship.
Our stewardship is unto CHRIST, Fr. Christopher. Let Him judge us for our decisions.
You said "Please, if you cannot make crucial decisions when we most need them made, you really should stand down from the Council."
We made it. You and some others didn't like it. As I said above, let Christ be our judge.
St. Mary's Cathedral, Minneapolis
#2 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-06-02 07:54
So, do we exercise our stewardship to Christ by continuing to give our money to Judas -- since he was after all, an Apostle and keeper of the purse! I have noticed instead a distinct lack of Judas Iscariot in most if not all of our icons!
#2.1 Convoluted Convert on 2007-06-04 18:02
Fr. Wojick, the reason this did not pass, lays squarely on the shoulders of Bishop Job. As I have read in the past, our Bishop is a good cheerleader. We need a good leader, this is not a sporting event. Our leaders are spineless when it comes to making hard decisions. Lets not rock the boat, mentallity. Remember, cheerleaders don't win games!
The two members that did not vote should resign from diocean council.
The other members have to look in a mirror and ask themselves, is this right. I guess these people think that +H is their ticket to HEAVEN.
I want to thank you FATHER WOJICK, for being straight forrward, and your courage for doing what is right! FATHER, I admire you and other PRIEST, for signing your postings. I can't see why a priest will write and not sign his name, but say he is a senior priest. These are the priest that are afraid of their own shadow. I would have a hard time taking a confession from that priest.
St. James--Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
I, too, was disappointed and confused by the Diocesan Council vote on implementing the Palatine Resolution.
The Resolution itself seemed to draw such a clear line. The Diocese agreed to a particular time after which time we would no longer financially support the blatant disregard for the Statutes and the misleading financial reporting given us by Syosset.
We are several months past that deadline. The Statutes do not yet seem to be guiding the Metropolitan (!). The newly released quarterly financial report seems as strange as ever (itemizing such things as $2,916 for youth ministry in the first quarter, but lumping together $422,591 in "General Administration" with no mention of legal fees or the disbursement of loan funds to repay charities).
It would be an act of good stewardship for the Diocese to stop sending money to support this madness.
On the other hand, I trust Bishop Job to lead us through this mess. I assume it seemed good to him to give Syosset just a little while longer to come clean , so I am willing to be patient until the Council reconvenes on June 26.
I do fear that without quick decisive action the OCA is going to "just one last chance" itself into nonexistence, and that would be very sad.
(P.S. I'm a member of St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church in Dayton Ohio, living in rural Indiana. I've never posted anything here before, although I've been reading the site almost daily for the past 18 months. I also keep my husband and teenaged kids up to date on what's said here. It would be a serious miscalculation for the Metropolitan and his entourage to assume that only those who have the time and outspokenness to post here are outraged by the scandal and by the Metropolitan's part in keeping it from coming to a good resolution.)
#4 Ann McLarnan on 2007-06-02 08:59
Fr. Christopher notes that the Metropolitan has been trying to control the scope of the investigation. Apparently, he has already determined its outcome. On a whim or a hunch (God alone knoweth which), I went to the OCA website and checked the "Clergy" listings under "K." Curiously, while Archpriest John Kondratick is listed, Protopresbyter Robert S. Kondratick is no longer listed among the clergy of the Orthodox Church in America. I believe (although I could be mistaken about this) that according to established precedent, suspended clergy remain listed at least until after their trial in the diocesan Spiritual Court, and more often until their deposition has been confirmed by the Holy Synod. But here a wondrously curious thing: sentence carried out before the presumably-fair trial even begins. As we Sicilians say: Oy vey!
#5 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-06-02 09:08
It has been noted elsewhere that the removal of priests under suspension was done under the Kondratick regime. Nothing special here.
#5.1 Weekly Reader on 2007-06-03 18:06
OK, thanks for the clarification. My bad.
#5.1.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-06-04 04:16
Mark's preface to Father Wojcik's excellent reflection emphasized initiating changes. I have been posting about long-term structural changes and had completely failed to address short-term strategies. Here are my thoughts:
1. Metropolitan Herman must go: If he does not retire, he must cease to be the Metropolitan. RATIONALE: There cannot be any meaningful change as long as he is in charge. As for detailed rationale, there are plenty on this site.
2. For Metropolitan Herman to go, his fellow bishops must push him out. RATIONALE: Only way to do it under the Statute if he does not retire.
3. The bishops must have good reasons and incentives to push out the Metropolitan.
A. Good Reasons. Article XI, Section 7, of the Statute describes how this case may be handled. While it is clear that three bishops must bring up the charges against him, it is not clear what the consequences may be.
Obviously, if he is deposed, the main initial obstacle to reform is gone. But, it would take 12 bishops to agree to it and the reasons must be very grave as deposition apparently involves defrocking.
So, I wonder if the Holy Synod may take a step short of deposition/defroscking. Could the Holy Synod decide that for the good of the Church and other substantial reasons, Archbishop Herman will no longer be the Primate and Metropolitan but may continue to function as a bishop if he so chooses?
B. Incentives. There are two kinds of incentives: positive or negative. The positive incentives would be praising and supporting those bishops who are for reform. I think the carrots approach works but has reached a limit in this instance. It may be prudent to try the negative incentives by various concrete steps that do not permanently sever the bonds between bishops and their flocks.
I believe the Midwestern Diocese's Palatine Resolution is such a step. Father Wojcik is correct: it should be put into effect immediately. However, it is necessary to implement witholding in all of the Dioceses not only in the Midwestern.
Bottom line: We are inspired by heroic bishops and dioceses, such as the Midwestern Diocese and Archbishop Job. To get the job done, we need many more such bishops, priests and lay people.
#6 Anonymous on 2007-06-02 09:31
I think it would be wise to be very careful in the advocating of withholding funds if a person does not seem satisfied with what is going on in the Church. First of all it seems counter-productive, for it penalizes any new initiatives, changed procedures, and the good that the Church is doing.
Beyond this is suggests a mentality that if something does not seem right or to be going right I simply won't make contributions. Most know about stewardship and the deeper meaning of giving as we read the Bible and certainly have read many articles on tithing, etc. Do we want to return to the day (or perhaps some have not left it) when we are unhappy with a priest, a council, some parish decision and decide that we will not support the Church because of this. Such an act or approach can be used in varied circumstances. All should realize that even those priests or bishops or laity who may be in favor with some now, may at another time become the targets of such withholding if the same persons come to disagree with them over something else. Do we want this?
Perhaps some do and will act accordingly. I would hope and pray that there is a different spirit in which we can propose new solutions. I would pray that actions being taken today will avoid problems that have occurred in the future. No, I cannot guarantee it. I don't have all the answers and I am not even aware of all the mistakes. It would be good to get more information as to what is being done and how the Church is addressing all concerns, from official Church sources. When we do not, speculation increases and persons become more suspicious. I cannot believe that the voices of concern are not being heard, or once heard are simply being ignored.
Let us though continue to pray and to work in our own ways to strengthen the Church and ourselves, not in any way to try and diminish her through punishing acts regardless of any mistakes having been made.
We call ourselves Orthodox Christians--followers of Christ--this means something very special in our lives...let us never lose sight of this.
Probably some will read this message and react with animosity or the like, that is their right. Please know that it is not offered to offend or to anger or to whitewash or whatever other thought might come negatively to mind. It is offered rather for some consideration as to what might work better in our common goal of supporting and strengthening all that we call Church as it is manifested in this world and populated by persons who sin; with the reflection that above all else, the Church itself is the Body of Christ.
Forgive me if I offend.
#7 Very Rev. William DuBovik on 2007-06-02 09:53
Dear Friends --
There is an escalating schedule of values at work here.
Our people would prefer to feel that they have a voice, that their concerns are being addressed and their questions answered, but Met. Herman & Co. continue to hide behind the firewall which Fr Paul Kucynda told us they had bought for themselves with our money. No real answers, no practical solutions have been forthcoming.
Feeling that nobody's paying attention to them, our people now think that cutting off money to Central might be a way of forcing H&Co. to pay attention. This is a drastic measure, but it's not as drastic as leaving the OCA altogether.
But I'm here to tell you that if even this desperate strategy doesn't work, our people will 'vote with their feet'; many of the less patient among us have already done that and gone to other 'jurisdictions'.
My fear is that Syossett's foolishness, Herman's crazy-quilt attempts to administer the OCA, will finally drive many of our people out of the Church altogether and away from Christ.
Yet it's Herman who will have to answer for their salvation at the end, since those frightened and disgusted souls will have been guilty not so much of abandoning Christ their Good Shepherd as of fleeing a cruel interloper who would steal from Christ's sheep and ultimately lead them to slaughter.
Personally -- given his actions these last two years or so -- I don't think that Herman even believes in God, or understands that, no matter WHAT he believes, he will be held to account on the dread day of Christ's judgement. Out of concern for his salvation, we and our bishops ought to be holding Herman accountable now while he yet lives, while there is still time for him to repent
In the meantime, I trust that our merciful God Who loves mankind will forgive whatever our people do to escape this morass of mental and spiritual illness and moral decay in the OCA which still pretends to minister in His Name.
Where are our bishops? What can be more urgent than their dealing with this mess immediately and deposing Herman?!
Peace and blessings to all.
#7.1 Monk James on 2007-06-02 17:38
Finally, I'm starting to see some postings from the Religious among us who understand the concept of accountability, and not only forgiveness!
"Leaving the OCA" and "Abandoning Christ" are NOT the same thing! There are multiple ways to spread the Orthodox message and to minister to the needy and humble other than through OCA organs. It is regretable to even consider that, given that many good works have been done to build-up the OCA -- but such are the fruits of lies and theft at the top! Any former employee of Enron could explain that to you, especially those who devoted 20-30 years of their lives to build up that company. I for one, weep for the dedicated priests and ascetics who work in faith within OCA insitutions (monestaries, etc) every day. THEY are the true victims.
#7.1.1 Convoluted Convert on 2007-06-04 18:27
I am a member of St. Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Church in Crawfordsville, IN, a church that has discussed, prayed about, and suffered over the decision to withhold our funds going to Syosset. We recently sent a letter to Archbishop JOB written with the conciliar decision of the parish to withhold our national assessment funds in an escrow account. This was not a spot decision, it has taken us months to come to this.
Fr. DuBovik, do you really believe, to quote you, "that the voices of concern are not being heard, or once heard are simply being ignored." ?????
It appears to the parishioners of St. Stephen that the voice that most likely to be heard in Syosett would be that of the empty envelope.
Dianne Combs, Crawfordsville, IN
#7.2 Dianne Combs on 2007-06-03 05:16
First of all it seems counter-productive, for it penalizes any new initiatives, changed procedures, and the good that the Church is doing.
-- I strongly believe that throwing more money towards Syosset means wasting it and actually making the situation worse by encouraging those from there to continue in their modus operandi. Up until now there were enough opportunities for openness, confession, repentance and of course forgiveness. The role of the central administration is to lead the Church. It more than just simply fails to do that, instead it actively engages in lies, deception and theft.
Perhaps some do and will act accordingly. I would hope and pray that there is a different spirit in which we can propose new solutions
-- Father, what would that spirit be? Paying PR $700/hour to read this site and take down names? The only language that Syosset speaks is language of the "almighty dollar". We have watched for years how pastoral platitudes and "kind words" came from Syosset at the same time as intimidations, threats and lies were disseminated. Do you think we have not tried other means, it is not as if we just found out about the scandal yesterday and as an unruly mob decided to withhold the money. Have you not followed these events unfold for months and months, Father?
Do we want to return to the day (or perhaps some have not left it) when we are unhappy with a priest, a council, some parish decision and decide that we will not support the Church because of this.
-- We are all here to worship Christ. If the priest or the bishop does not lead the Church in such a direction, what you would suggest should happen to that priest/bishop? To me it seems obvious (but again, as a sinner I am probably wrong) that the current administration has not lead our Church to worship Christ. I understand your fear that priesthood would turn into a popularity contest, the most popular priest gets the money and the rest are left to starve. I don't think that is what's happening here. I believe that most Orthodox in the OCA are good sincere people that have just exhausted all other means of handling this situation and are forced to speak ( the language of the Syosset -- $$$ )
P.S. Mark, would you be able to monitor the access logs for PR's access and put a counter on the site so all can see how much of our stewardship money is being spent? Not sure if that's even possible. The IP address of their site is 188.8.131.52, but that's not necessarily the address of their ISP, just the website host. Please feel free to delete this part from the post if you feel it's not appropriate.
#7.3 Alex K. on 2007-06-03 05:26
"It would be good to get more information as to what is being done and how the Church is addressing all concerns, from official Church sources. When we do not, speculation increases and persons become more suspicious."
Yes, it would be very good. However, Met. Herman has, and continues to do everything in his power to block, stifle, and thwart just that. His actions have directly caused this scandal to continue and to grow exponentially.
"I cannot believe that the voices of concern are not being heard, or once heard are simply being ignored."
Really? Why can't you believe the plain facts? Has Met. Herman said a single word to his flock (the OCA) addressing the concerns? No. Has he been transparent? No. Is he following the Statute? No. Perhaps it can be said that he has not "ignored" the voices of concern, but only in a negative way, in his multitude of moves to block, stifle, and thwart.
The bottom line is that Met. Herman believes he is in total control of everything, that he has no need for a Metropolitan Council, a Special Commission, a Statute, or even an Holy Synod, and he acts accordingly. That, my friend, is simply not Orthodox. It is papism.
Signed: A priest who is still not ready to sign his name because he knows from past experience that the "powers" have long memories, and that even if there is no immediate retribution, the day will come...
#7.4 Name withheld on 2007-06-03 12:50
Actually, the Metropolitan did hold a session in Bethesda where he answered questions, right? Look at savetheoca.org and you’ll see what good that did. A good percentage of contributors are from the Washington, DC area. Coincidence?
#7.4.1 Stonewall on 2007-06-03 18:24
The only initiative that has been done in the past two years has been the hiring of Proskauer Rose to save the hide of the Metropolitan and in the process enlighten themselves (PR) with what people are saying here. For many years during the regime of Kondratick and Theodosius/Herman there were numerous attempts at good initiatives. What resulted was less than 1% given to youth with similar sums to other real objectives the Church should be doing. Where did the rest of it go? Really, where did it go? Why was so little used for the important stuff? Do you know?
God helps those that help themselves and unless we do something to help change this unbearable situation, our prayers might be falling on deaf ears. Remember, none of this was of our own volition, those of us that go to church, pay our dues, and respond to other appeals and give well from the bottom of our hearts. We’ve been forced into this situation and it’s ours to deal with and deal with it we will to the right end. Are you pained by this? If you are, this is but a short term pain that will lead to the strength you pray for. There’s an ad for the Marines that goes: “Pain is weakness leaving the body”. We are going through a lot of pain right now because we have to rid ourselves of a lot of weakness. When we have accomplished this, we’ll be strong. Your prayers for us to get there are most appreciated and we ask that you continue those prayers for those that are fighting the good fight here. Thank you for your prayerful support.
#7.5 Publius on 2007-06-03 18:22
Sorry to be off-topic, but...two thoughts about the AAC in 2008:
1) Syosset has declared that no observers will be allowed, thus effectively making the Council a closed door session.
2) Syosset has said that St Tikhon's doesn't have the facilities to hold the AAC. This seems a curious statement, in view of the fact that they seemed to be able to accomodate a few thousand pilgrims in 2004.
#8 Michael Strelka on 2007-06-03 05:42
I don't think your concerns about the AAC are off topic at all. This is just about a year away! There should be observers at the next AAC. There should also be outsiders who will be able to see things from an outsider's point of view. This is the case in many actual wars and battles. For instance, in the Civil War, we had observers here from Europe to see how the war was being fought. Our present situation in the OCA can be likened to a "war-zone" of improper conduct.
A lot of issues have to be held within the conscience and earshot of our MC and HS so that these issues are not forgotten or ignored.
St. Tikhon's should be considered as a meeting place. The drive to the various hotels, however, may be a bit far, but perhaps some creative solutions can be thought of, as well. Las Vegas is relatively cheap to fly into. I am sure there are some reasonably priced conference centers around the country. I had worked a few summers at Silver Bay, a YMCA conference center located off of Lake George north of Albany. Their prices were reasonable and could accomodate quite a large gathering, with the recreation of lake activities.
There are college and university campuses, as well as other alternatives. We don't have to be in an overly priced city, hotel, or area.
The MC and HS will have much work ahead of them.
#8.1 Patty Schellbach on 2007-06-03 18:05
Once again, BRAVO Fr. Christopher Wojick!
A long as there are clergy of his caliber in the OCA, we should all continue to fight the good fight and not abandon hope.
As for those still resisting bringing pressure through financial withholding, I ask you, what else is to be done? The secular legal approach seems unproductive or unworkable. Certainly persuasion has failed. Of course, those supporting the status quo, and unfortunately there are many of you, will reject this course and counsel patience, prayer, and faith in our leadership. But this is the road to the OCA's eventual demise and irrelevance over time.
Withholding is an approach that should only be used "in extremis." We are surely at that point.
#9 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-06-03 06:55
Re: Father Christopher
I agree with Father Christopher that "the serpent should not be fed, hoping it will change to a dove".
I disagree in Escrow.
Escrow is a legal move.
The move I believe is needed is not to send monies but to use these gifts and create more ways for charitable use.
Money stored in an ESCROW account is not being used.
All is worthless if it is not ENTIRELY surrendered to Christ.
Charity should know no geographic boundaries.
When we are practiced loving God and neighbor the world is a small place.
In Florida we are also caring not only for "natives" but for those who have fled in some way trying to make a new life from somewhere else. This week I have been working with a charitable group in Volusia County, one of the highest areas of the country for runaways.
It is for this reason the doors were always open in charitable giving when I worked with what was once an honorable missionary benefactor at Christ the the Savior Cathedral in Miami, Father George Gladky.
There were occasions Father George would ask the mortgage company for one more Sunday collection and send me out with the payment on the following Monday morning.
Father George did not believe in storing up (escrow) of accounts.
If we had the money we gave it out.
It came in from many places across Ameica sometimes to the chagrin of certain heirarchs like Archbishop Kiprian of Pennsylvania, but it went out again to those in various places across America and to replanted people in Florida no longer in the Midwest or in the Jersey or 'Pennsltucky' areas.
Most often these means of helping did not always go to the dues paying people who tranfered directly, but care for those whom we were said to "beat the bushes" to find".
It is glaring mark to those who knew this missionary approach from Father George Gladky to hear or see money in Escrow.
Where is our faith, St. Matthew 6:26?
Are we not like the birds Our Father feeds?
Why is "escrow" needed?
This is a form of power play.
'Look see what we have that we are not giving to you'.
No rather, that resources should freely flow through love and charity, as well as documentation and transparency.
For this I disagree with you Father Christopher and perhaps why some others did not agree with the Midwest Palatine descision may have been similar reasons.
St. Matthew 26:6
Matushka Carol Bacha
#10 Matushka Carol Klipa Bacha on 2007-06-03 09:37
Fr. Wojcik's reflection is on target. The administration fell behind miserably releasing financial information in a timely fashion until May 25th. The May 25th release was not complete.
I believe the Diocesan Council really gave the administration a lot of patience in its last vote and I respect them for the patience.
There is a time when patience must end. The resolution required quarterly reporting versus budget and no violation of the Statutes.
If the Statutes were violated, the resolution should be enacted. I would defer to Igumen Philip to interpret whether this has happened. If it did happen, but has been corrected, I would maintain the Palatine Resolution and end any sunset on it. Trouble is interpretation isn't easy and the Statutes themselves may not be perfect so violations of Statutes need to be clear.
On the matter of financial statements, the administration is truly, truly, truly stumbling and bumbling to determine the status of its restricted funds. It is unacceptable not to report the status of these balances. It is further unacceptable to report a portion of a financial statement without the complete statements. This was done and the Palatine Resolution as much as called for it to be done in this fashion. The development of an income statement alone is not sufficient for audit, for example. Unfortunately, the Palatine Resolution was not clear in its expectations and it said (e.g. quarterly reporting) from my read of it.
In fairness to the administration, the Palatine resolution should be draft clearly. Quarterly financial reporting should be the three critical financial statements for a non-profit. A statement of activity (income statement), a statement of financial position (balance sheet), and a statement of cash flows. Notes where needed to explain results would be expected as well. A note would explain unusual stuff, like a 2M cash contribution that was unexpected, or a storm repair for 500k to church property. The statements need to be comprehensive and include restricted funds, ESPECIALLY for the OCA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! which sacked these funds for operations.
The administration appears to have met the minimum standard on the financial side of the Palatine Resolution, but the Resolution is way short of a minimum reasonable man standard. For a moment, focusing not on the Resolution, but just the reasonable man standard, the administration has fallen short of what a reasonable man like me expects.
CALL TO ACT
Enforce the Resolution on the basis that restricted funds are still unreported. Whether the language in the Resolution was clear, our administration must already understand the importance of the restricted fund reporting. Whether that means making an assumption, report as much.
i.e. 9/11 collections 275k, known disbursements 100k, assumed disbursements 50k, balance owing 125k.
In accounting we report the best we can, and it may not be perfect. It may not even be right, but we report the BEST possible information. We don't worry about whether a Charity Commission need be established on the balance owing either (this is a message to our leaders in Syosset).
CALL TO ACT
Amend the Resolution to enhance the language to require a full set of financial statements in quarterly reporting and address deficit spending and the church will return to full financial health.
The Palatine Resolution is a governance of cruel to be kind in the right measure. The right measure is for the OCA administration to do its best to report on restricted funds and to do its best to report a balance sheet. That balance sheet need not be perfect and needn't be GAAP if a GAAP basis is not able to be established.
Fr. Paul and +Herman both know they have not done their best to date.
I support the enactment of the Palatine Resolution and I request the language of the Resolution be amended to clarify the requirements for financial transparency include the 3 critical financial reports and reporting be on all funds of the church to the best of the ability to do so.
A criticism of the income statement released by the administration is that it should say (unaudited) on it when releasing it to the public without an audit. This is important for the church to understand and report publicly, and it gives the church a cushion for any reporting issues auditors find.
Thank you Fr. Wojcik for your reflection, the time has come for the Diocese of the Midwest to set expectations clearly and the time has passed for the administration to meet simple man standards.
At a minimum, amend the Palatine Resolution with clear language on expectations and give the administration 60 days to meet these standards before putting it in force. In fact, any enactment of the Palatine Resolution should allow for a response by the administration to an error. We would expect this for ourselves and should willingly give it.
Other Dioceses really need to support a clear and amended Resolution and should have special sessions to do so. This type of support sends a clear message to the central administration to check their actions and to do a good job of financial stewardship. It would actually result in unity between Bishops and the administration.
With great hope for the OCA, Dan...
#11 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-06-03 10:59
Thank you for the beautiful homily!
You mention withholding would be counter productive, to what good is being done for our church. Please name a few thing that have taken place that are productive,in the last ten years or better yet the last eighteen months!
Most of us know how to tithe, and we do, but where has this gotten us to date. We support deception and lies, it will get better, but never does. The OCA does not have a revolving door on priest replacements.
Somewhere in the BIBLE, I read, smeone went into the temple with a switch and it was not to encourage people to steal money.
I call myself a Christian, and most Christians are GOOD people. I happen to be an ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN,for seventy five years, which does not make me a better Chistian than many of my GREAT FRIENDS.
In the secular world I deal with many good people, and lot of them aren't Orthodox.
Father, I have the skin of an alligator. and I don't become offended easily, I hope you don't.
Radical changes need to be made, the first being that +H has to go. It "ain't" going to get better with him as our leader.
When +H goes the turn around will happen very quickly.
Bravo Fr. Christopher!
Fr. Christopher's reflection hits the nail squarely on the head. And to give you yet another example of partial information, read the the financial report as of March31, 2007 on the OCA's web site.
In fairness, this is a great improvement over similar reports but it is once again very misleading. The report is only of unrestricted funds. What happened to the temporary and permanently restricted funds? And what happened to the balance sheet?
If you take the report at face value, it would appear that the OCA is actually running a surplus of $107,045.00. But look carefully, something isn't adding up. I believe it has already been reported that the legal fees for this fiasco are several hundred thousand dollars. You will note that there is no entry for legal fees (probably because they are buried in the the $422,591 figure for general administration). What basis of accounting was used for this report, cash or accrual? Just a point to explain how you can manipulate the financials, if this is a cash basis report, it will only report what has been paid, not what is still outstanding. If there is say another $100,000 of legal fees associated with this period that hasn't been paid, it would not get recorded.
And what happened to the Honesdale Bank loan? Where are those funds these days?
If you are looking for complete and total disclosure, it would seem that asking for a quarterly balance sheet, statement of operations and statement of cash flows would be a great place to start. And brothers and sisters in Christ, this report isn't it. It is once again a small slice of the truth not the whole loaf.
#13 Fr. Michael on 2007-06-03 17:22
Metropolitan Herman was elected to his position to care, love, and provide spiritual leadership to the OCA church members. Instead, in the past few years of crisis, one can realize that he is preoccupied with putting his personal egos above the life of the church. He keeps the truth locked. He created a gap of distrust between the members of the OCA church and their hierarchs. This is taking us into a spiral of crisis that threatens the very existence of our beloved church. Clearly he failed his responsibility as a spiritual leader! Therefore, he should humbly step down NOW and return to the monastic life he chose initially.
Any reorganization or even the introduction of “high tech” will be meaningless as long as it is headed by +Herman and controlled by the lawyers in Syosset. The most meaningful thing to do is for the bishops of the Holy Synod as well as the Metropolitan Council to request/demand that +Herman step down. The question then will be, how can we find a humble “saint” who can lead us out of our crisis? Yes, it is a challenge but I am confident if we continue to pray to God and ask for his mercy he will send us that leader.
However, judging from his actions recently, it is highly probable that +Herman will reject his brother bishops request/demand. In this case the bishops must step to the plate and take decisive actions, including:
1- Allowing the parishes in their diocese to stop sending any financial support to the central administration and to withhold OCA assessments in escrow accounts.
2- Insist that the work of a special investigation committee to continue aggressively, completely, and without interference from +Herman.
3- Demand that all the facts and truth be told, and all the guilty to be removed.
Of course there is always the complication that the bishops fail/refuse to take such actions. Then there is no other choice but for the laity to take charge and boycott +Herman, and all the bishops who pledge blind loyalty to him, at any activity connected with the church life. I hope it would not come to that but we the laity can learn to be faithful to Christ without this nonsense, though sadly there seems to be no end to the pontificating from the central administration.
Holy annunciation Orthodox Church
#14 Michel Michail on 2007-06-03 18:11
There is a lot of talk on this site about lawyers and Synods. I'm ready to call one of the local locksmiths in Syosset, report a theft, and have the locks changed on the chancery (is the building still called that?) in the dead of the night, if that would help. I'll pay the bill myself -- and keep the receipt for proper reimbursement at some day in the future!
#14.1 Convoluted Convert on 2007-06-04 18:31
In reading things here and on some other threads in regard to the AAC...
I believe it is important to remember why a "scaled down" council was initially decided upon: finances and the perception that larger councils with observers etc was being seen as wasteful.
Personally, I don't agree with this. But that was the reason for the no observers.
For those who discuss having the council at St. Tikhons, please keep in the mind the number of parishes within the OCA (and yes, even though we have never had full attendance, I do believe we should expect full attendance and plan accordingly - especially at a council such as the one that will be coming).
If every parish, mission, monastery, seminary institution etc were to send one clergy delegate and one lay delegate (and in some parishes the Statute indicates they can send more than one), and if we welcome all the retired clergy who have given their entire lives to this church becuase we believe that they should be able to speak, even if they don't vote) we are talking about a good 1800 people.
Not to be brash (ok maybe a litte) St Tikhon's doesnt have the restrooms to take care of that many people for a multi-day event, never mind how they would all be fed, and where they would all fit to have a meeting.
I am pretty sure no one here thinks that the next AAC could address everything that should be addressed in a matter of a day or two. I hope not, anyway.
So you are talking about 3 or 4 days in a place with insufficient facilities for food, restrooms, and meeting space. It doesn't sound like a recipe for success.
I am not saying what the answer is here. I honestly don't know. I do truly feel for the people who are going to be asked to plan the next AAC. There are so many conflicting realities for making it an event that anyone (never mind everyone) will be happy with.
I just ask people to be careful before making statements and realize that they might not be aware of or taking into consideration all the perameters involved.
I do think people need to be clear and vocal about what their expectations of the AAC will be. Unvoice expectations are rarely met and almost always lead to disappointment and disallusionment.
my 2 cents...
#15 Ken Sanders on 2007-06-04 10:19
Very well said, if I may say so. This same thing happened in my Parish (another diocese) earlier this year.
I have decided that, as of this month, I will no longer provide funds to my Parish as a result -- excepting specifically designated funds to specific projects. I am looking into also nominally "resigning" from the OCA so that I won't be counted in the "fair share." In a way, however, the Parish needs to feel a bit of heat, too, for not acting, so maybe I will not "resign." I know what projects my Parish is involved in that are worthy of supporting, and that's fine.
No more money for Syosset and their supporters. That includes direct supporters and indirect supporters.
I like the imagery, too, of "Feeding this snake won't transform it into a dove." How appropriate ... one might say of the Syosset administration and certain hierarchs -- snakes in doves' clothing!
#16 Convoluted Convert on 2007-06-04 17:54
A friend and former Soviet ministry colleague of mine, Jon Karner (Jaanus Kärner) died last week. He is a modern day hero of the Christian faith for me. Now that the facts can be revealed, Jon was a giant of the faith within the Christian underground in the former Soviet Union. Jon's work spanned all Christian traditions. He supported the Orthodox as well as Methodists, Baptists and Pentecostal. In fact, any "honest person" was worthy of Jon's support. We laid him to rest this past Saturday in Milaca, Minnesota. I share this with the readers of OCANEWS.ORG with two requests: (1) pray for our friend Jon and his family, and (2) read about his life of faithfulness at http://www.leaderdialog.com/blogs/jonkarner
The world needs good news and heroes; examples of faithfulness in the face of persecution and temptation. I proffer Jon Karner as a modern day Christian hero that we can emulate. Jon's life was one of fidelity to the Gospel. [Mark, would you kindly make this http link above live? Thanks, Mike]
#17 Mike McKibben on 2007-06-06 20:15
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