Friday, October 26. 2007
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If the love of the truth is a requisite for loving and serving our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, how can those who are deceived into denying the truth expect to lead His Church?
#1 Marc Trolinger on 2007-10-26 15:00
Isn't it very interesting that under New Business in the Metropolitan Council Minutes Faith Skordinski is stating "confidentiality" needs to be addressed at the next meeting. What ever happened to transparency.? It went out the window.
#1.1 Sue on 2007-10-28 10:49
Well, that's just it. I don't think that some of our hierarchs actually believe in God's existence. This is not as uncommon as uncommon as people think.
Judging by the actions of the people as Syosset that is the only conclusion I can come up with. I don't know of course and it's just a guess. But when you hear lie after lie after lie -- there is a pattern that become obvious. It is not just a one-time slip-up followed by a repentance -- no it's an ongoing conscious decision to lie and hide behind lawyers. It's these cold, pre-meditated lies that point to their non belief in God's existence.
Years ago I was looking though the Orthodox Q&A section on the oca.org website. Somebody had asked the question whether a priest can be an atheist and still be a priest.
(here is the actual link: http://www.oca.org/QA.asp?ID=243&SID=3)
Fr. John answered it very well.
But that question itself terrified me. All of the sudden I was wondering what if the person had never asked the question and just went to the seminary. Never married, became a monastic, did all the right external things. Then if they were particularly power-hungry they could have set their sights on becoming a Metropolitan. They get a nice pension, residence, they get invited to dinners, get gifts, go on retreats -- it's not that bad of a job if they just follow all the 'expected' behaviors.
Or, what probably happens more often is that young candidates go to the seminary, graduate, get ordained then they lose their faith. They see the corruption in Syosset, they witness some dramatic event, or simply get persuaded by some other philosophy and just stop believing in God. I bet this happens more often than we realize...
What would that priest / monk do? My answer is that they will not simply quit and go to McDonald's to flip burgers, instead they will just keep their "job" in order to get a pension and get money to feed their family. If they later on decide to cut a corner or two and 'borrow' some money from the Church to go to Aruba and party on the beach -- no big deal. Those obedient "sheep" won't say anything, or if they do I know how to hush them.
In the end though it is hard to keep up appearances for long. Those who have do faith in God can and will smell the wolf in the sheep's skin, sooner or later.
Even the best con-artists can't keep up appearances forever. When they are discovered they start fighting back openly, hire lawyers, user scare tactics and so on.
#1.2 Alex K. on 2007-10-28 12:12
It there anymore proof right now that MH and MT were behind all of the scandal? There were many pawns but the big cheeses reaped all the benifits. MH must come clean and RSK submited the proof. 60 pages worth , when will the hierarchs release the goods !!!!!!
#2 Anonymous on 2007-10-26 16:16
These excerpts from Fr. Alexander Schmemann essay: "The Task of Orthodox Theology in America Today" really explain how important Truth is for the Orthodox Church, how to deal with the crisis we are facing, and the widening abyss that exists between the hierarchy and the "real" Church and the faithful. I offer them for encouragement, comfort, and a much needed reality check for all of us who are thirsting for our theologians to speak and leaders to emerge. Since most of our theologians and teachers are silent, at least the teachings and words of Fr. Schmemann speak to us from beyond the grave.
"For the eternal task of theology is to refer the life of the Church to the absolute Truth of the Church's own tradition, to keep alive and operative a criterion by which the Church judges herself. Immersed in human history, the Church is always full of temptations and sins and, what is even more serious, of compromises and accommodations to the spirit of "this world."
The temptation is always to prefer peace to Truth, efficiency to rectitude, human success to the Will of God. And since, in the Orthodox Church, there exists no visible center of infallible authority, like the Papacy, since her ultimate criterion and recourse is always the Truth abiding in her, it certainly belongs to those whose specific ministry is the study and the search of that Truth to make it known and manifest in all its purity and clarity. There is no arrogance, no pride in that claim.
The theologian has no rights, no power to govern and to administer that which belongs exclusively to the hierarchy. But it is his sacred duty to supply the hierarchy and, indeed, the whole Church with the pure teaching of the Church and to stand by that truth even when it is not considered "opportune."
It must be admitted that much too often our official "academic" theology has failed to accept this "obedience" and preferred quiet complacency. It has thus become accomplice to many deviations and distortions from which the whole Orthodox Church suffers today. But again, it was not so with the Fathers. Almost to the one, they suffered from the various "power structures" of their days for their refusal to opt for the compromise or to accept silent obedience to evil. And the fact is that ultimately the Church followed them and not those who, then as today, have a thousand excellent reasons for avoiding the "abstract principles" and preferring the "demands of reality."
Today this prophetic function of theology is needed again more than ever. For, whether we want it or not, the entire Orthodox Church is going through a deep crisis. Its causes are many. On the one hand, the world which for centuries framed and shaped her historical existence is crumbling and has all but vanished. The ancient and traditional centers of authority are threatened in their very existence and most of them deprived of even elementary freedom of action. "
"Only the blind would deny the existence of the crisis, yet not too many seem to realize its depth and scope, least of all (let us face it) the bishops who continue in their routine work as "if nothing happened." At no time in the past has there existed such an abyss between the hierarchy and the "real" Church, never before has the power-structure so little corresponded to the crying spiritual needs of the faithful."
"Only a deep, fearless, and constructive evaluation of this situation in the light of the genuine Tradition of the Church, only a creative return to the very springs of our dogma, canons and worship, only a total commitment to the Truth of the Church can help us overcome the crisis and transform it into a revival of Orthodoxy. I know that this task is difficult and that a long tradition has taught theologians to avoid hot issues and not to "get involved." "
"I know that too many "power-structures" have a vested interest in not allowing any question, any search, any encounter with Truth. The forces of inertia, pseudo-conservatism, and plain cynicism are formidable. But the same was true of the time of St. Athanasius the Great, St. John Chrysostom and St. Maximus the Confessor. As for the issues we face today, they are not lesser than those they had to deal with. And it depends on us to choose between the pleasant prestige attached to mere academic scholarship and the responses to the Will of God."
(Excerpts from Paper read at the first Conference of Orthodox Theologians in America, Sept. 26-27, 1966)
Thank you Chris for sharing Father Alexander's powerful words. It is very unsettling to realize that as we draw ever closer to our Lord's Second Coming, the leadership of the New Israel, His Church, is becoming in many ways as corrupted as the leadership of Ancient Israel was during His First Coming. Perhaps the "wise virgins" who anxiously await His Second Coming are being encouraged to continue to prepare, and the "foolish virgins" are being warned to repent.
#3.1 Marc Trolinger on 2007-10-27 08:26
Amen. This is the best comment about the crisis that I have read in a long time. Father Alexander, pray to God for us.
#3.2 Robert Wachter on 2007-10-27 08:42
Thank you, Chris for posting these words of Fr. Schmemann Spoken in 1966, they could not be more timely now.
But, is it only a voice "from the grave" that can speak to the contemporary crisis in the OCA? Was it only in the past that the OCA had such leaders?
Who will rise today and in behalf of tomorrow sound so clarion a call?
#3.3 Jean Langeley Sullivan on 2007-10-28 09:47
Powerful words--for those with eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts and minds to absorb. But alas, most of our hierarchs have hardened their hearts and refuse to hear the pleas of the faithful or give heed to their own consciences.
From the beginning, this spiritual crisis, for that is what it is, has been all about Truth. How telling, as Mark points out, that the Metropolitan never mentions this word, but instead does everything he can to twist, hide and obfuscate it. In truth, he is not alone, so-called religious leaders have been doing this from time immemorial to their everlasting shame and the detriment of the cause they supposedly are championing.
In the modern era it is increasingly difficult to succeed, in the long run, with this stratagem. The Truth will win out--eventually. But the lies that have been exposed may destroy the credibility, not only of the perpetrators, but of the cause which they espouse. Some have already, or are considering, leaving Orthodoxy, because of the disconnect they see between those calling themselves the heirs of the Apostles and the faith they preach and don't practice. This is the danger we face, the challenge that must be met, if we are to rescue our faith from charlatans and false prophets.
#3.4 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-10-28 12:24
Thank you Ken for your thoughtful comments. I sincerely hope that all of our brothers and sisters in the Church realize that it is Holy Apostolic Tradition, and not flawed and sinful human beings in positions of authority and responsibility, that ultimately defines our Faith. History is repleat with examples of how the faithful laity preserved the Holy Apostolic Tradition at times when episcopal leadership has failed. Let us always cherish the "Pearl of great price," and never abandon our precious Orthodox Christian Faith.
#3.4.1 Marc Trolinger on 2007-10-28 16:45
You know, there is an old, wise saying: "If you always tell the truth, you have no need to remember what you said."
The ever-changing stories of MH reveal two things:
1. He has trouble remembering what he has said.
2. He obviously does not tell the truth.
So, we have to ask: Can we ever get to the point where we can trust a liar to lead the OCA?
I, for one, believe only a complete fool would ever answer this question in the affirmative.
#4 Name withheld on 2007-10-26 17:29
It is obvious that the man is a fraud.
He says one thing and does another - and we all let him.
#5 Sue on 2007-10-26 18:01
We do not all let him!
#5.1 Anonymous on 2007-10-27 14:23
The fact is this, you have, once again, given the Holy Synod a chance to rid itself of a man who is so callous, so selfish, so corrupt, that is defies belief. The mass mind-think that overtakes both the Synod and the Metropolitan Council when they are under the spinning spell of Syosset must be broken. It is not that difficult, an open hand and heart will suffice.
What could be so bad, so perverse that Herman is trying every tactic he and his chief advisor, Kucynda, will try to block? What is the real truth that Kucynda in his moment of decision as a man gave up to build a firewall and not hold true to the vision of the OCA that his mentor, Fr Alexander called from him uphold? Oh, the inner pain he must now try and resolve, yet, how can he when he compares Herman to Fr. Alexander. May none of us ever have to choose between the two.
The ďtrail of tearsĒ of the OCA and its financial woes, may very well lead to South Canaan. The small group of those who have benefited from the patronage of Herman is a story that will next be uncovered. Why else would Herman be so racked in his attempts to dissemble the path that lead to his earthly homeland of his heartís desire...
#6 Anonymous on 2007-10-26 20:14
It is very obvious to me that because the report appeared, was declared erroneous and Kucynda removed from his position, he and Herman conspired all along. Herman through him off the bus. All of the usual commentators are not commentating - what does their silence say? In my opinion, the allegations were willfully reported in a way to accuse only one person. Will Herman continue to survive? You bet! Now there is no money coming in from extra contributions (all of the outstanding invoices including legal fees were released in the minutes of the MC) and they already owe money. There is threat of litigations. Will the Diocese of the Midwest continue to withhold? Will the Diocese of New England withhold? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, some of the new high paying positions may have to repack their boxes.
It is a sad story - one Herman wrote!
#7 Suzanne Wilson on 2007-10-27 05:13
Dear Suzanne, as of yesterday at the NE Diocesan Assembly I saw no leadership from our Bishop. Not many are willing to do the heavy lifting that withholding assets requires. If the vote today confirms my impression I will not be surprised. The Orthodox Club of America continues to operate in a fantasy world, with a Gospel which writes out the Cross. There is now only one hierarch the laity can trust: Bishop Job. It was said that there is now unity in the Synod, which I challenged from the floor. The Synod is not in unity with Bishop Job. And when Father Tregubov stated that Bishop Job was not a knight in shining armor, I spoke again to state that he is indeed our only knight in white armor. No one else in the Synod or the Metropolitan Council with the possible exceptions of Father Mark Sherman and Gregg Nescott can claim that they are shepherds, they have protected themselves not their flocks. In the session of lay people I suggested that those who oppose withholding commit themselves to a communal fast and begin to pray more than once a week and wear black, until this crisis is resolved. They didn't much care for that either. Take the easy way out, and make sure that those who don't are labeled as neglecting their ministry because they are concerned with this crisis. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, and infinitely sorry that his brother bishops have hung Bishop Job out to dry. Alice
#7.1 Alice Carter on 2007-10-27 08:14
Thank you, at least, for having the courage to speak out and witness to the truth.
I had been led to believe that there was some hope for your bishop, but that appears to have been misplaced. Except for +Job, they continue to disappoint or worse.
#7.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-10-28 11:35
Mark, I am so thankful for your dedication to this site. In particular, I am grateful that you not only report on current events, but that you take the time to cross-check them against past events/statements. Because of your diligence, the insidious attempts of the statements of +MH at changing the 'truth' of the past to meet the 'needs' of the present are exposed.
+Metropolitan Herman, with all due respect, if you're still in doubt as to why there is deep mistrust of you, you might consider the following: as 'first among equals/bishops' you have not led the Holy Synod in a Christ-like manner by demonstrating humility and repentance through asking forgiveness of Dn. Eric Wheeler when his allegations and whistle-blowing were shown to be FACT, and asking the Holy Synod to do the same. Instead, your leadership style echoes the 'loose lips sink ships' philosophy--only it's YOUR ship you're out to save, not the Church as a whole.
Well, you may think your ship is a mulit-million dollar yacht, but you need to look again. Its bilge is full of rats, its GPS system hasn't been working for a very long time (probably since before you became Acting Treasurer) (if it were working we wouldn't be in the mess we're now in!), and as owner/captain you don't see that its keel & hull are grinding inexorably against a reef. Your ship is breaking up, whether or not you acknowledge it.
Members of the Holy Synod of Bishops: it's a long-standing sea tradition that 'the captain goes down with his ship' --after making sure that everyone else is safe IF he's the right sort of captain. As +Metropolitan Herman's 'crew', you may need to jump ship even if you used to suscribe to the 'I'm under orders to keep quiet about this' philosophy.
Members of the Orthodox Church in America: Jesus not only walked on water, but he also dined with sinners, even those of the most reviled kind. At this point in time our faith in His majesty, power, and truth has to be demonstrated by both prayer and action. Right now the closest I can come to walking on water is to sincerely pray, with as much love as I can, "Lord have mercy!" with +Metropolitan Herman -- and those embroiled with him -- in my mind and heart.
Pray for me, a sinner
#8 Larissa on 2007-10-27 10:04
This is a sad story but we should not lose our hope. I cannot imagine what it was like for Athanasius the Great or Saint John Chrysostom when they were exiled for years for standing up for what was right. Fortunately, right now, there are many who are standing up and more beginning to stand up and oppose Met. Herman and his posse. Although, still outnumbered, those who stand for the truth, for Christ, will always prevail. Lets take courage in Christ brothers and sisters - He who will never fail us!
#9 David M. Capparuccini on 2007-10-27 11:11
Looks like the disease is getting around. I like the cure!
#10 New Yorker Comparing Scandals on 2007-10-27 11:35
The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together; I have said nothing secretly. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me, what I said to them; they know what I said." (John 18:19-21)
The openness and transparency of our Lord Jesus when He was put on trial is certainly a refreshing contrast to what we see in the central church administration and the Synod of Bishops today. Perhaps if our central church and Synod didn't have so many secrets they want to hide, they wouldn't need closed sessions, and redacted reports, and confidentiality clauses, and investigative committees, and expensive and high powered attorneys, and web pages dedicated to accountability, and bishops with fears about the Internet. Jesus said He had nothing to hide and that everything He said and did was totally in the public domain. Everything he had to say was heard by others. Jesus told his prosecutors to ask those who knew what he said and did. Perhaps if our Metropolitan would ORDER everyone who had been involved in the central administration to tell everything they knew and if he himself proffered up all he knew, Bishop Benjamin's committee would indeed be able to bring the investigation to a quick and decisive end. If everyone willingly told the truth, we wouldn't need an investigation at all.
#11 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2007-10-27 13:24
One wonders whether or not the hierarchs of the Holy Synod would have had the kindness of heart and charity of spirit to depose the "first" hierarch to preserve what little will be left of the OCA, were theirs the pockets that were picked.........
#12 Guileless on 2007-10-28 00:53
They won't because they are all co-conspirators. How do you think they got to be on the Synod? Merit? Faith? A witness to Christ? No, they got there because they are of the same moral fiber as who was on there. It's just remarkable how everyone has maintained silence. Do we need to know the specifics when the silence they maintain, the absolute strict silence, is enough to make us think the worst when the worst may not be as bad as it is!?
#12.1 Anonymous on 2007-10-29 10:54
I read the minutes of the meeting of the Synod and found one laughable subject. The subject was the "misuse" of the internet and how ecclesiological education was necessary to teach Orthodox people how to use the internet.
Before any clergy ought accept the idea that internet education is important, how about the Synod reflect on its failure to accept anything wrong in the church finances upon inception of this website in November of 2005 and express gratitude for the voices of those demanding accountability?
Another couple of Bishops just made my unbelievable list.
Mark, let me personally thank you for your continued efforts and express shame on those Bishops for bringing the idea forward that education and not honesty is needed. Which came first the honesty or the educational need?
Again, truth would rule the day. Apparently, a Bishop stating that the internet has benefits of waking the people and that the internet is a blessing and can be a positive source of fruitfulness would be just too much to expect.
Further, Abp. Job I see is to be the signer of a Summary Report.
I would like to recommend Abp. Job convene a session with his clergy and not sign the Summary Report until certain specifics have been answered.
Some ideas would be:
What was Richard Rock's interest in the OCA? Was it just getting his AR taken care of or was it more?
What did Metropolitan Herman know about the termination of Dn. Wheeler?
Did Metropolitan Herman sanction the misuse of funds and did he understand whether this was wrong?
Did the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council and AACs get compilation reports that accurately reflected the misuse of restricted funds since 2001?
For any clergy of the Midwest reading my post, I implore you to give Archbishop Job guidance on whether or not the report is comprehensive enough to sign.
If he does not accept the report, but the rest of the Synod does, if he is the "signer", does this mean he wouldn't have to sign?
Just my thoughts..
Educate Orthodox people or accept scorn when failing and lying?
Otherwise, thanks to the Holy Synod for posting the minutes. It is good to see their perspective and offer mine..
#13 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-10-28 16:37
We know what Herman thought about the termination of Eric Wheeler. Before he went in to see MT, Herman told him, "take a like a man". Just another case of "do what I say, not what I do"
#13.1 Anonymous on 2007-10-29 11:02
I know that line.
What I don't know is what MH was told by MH and RSK.
It would have been real easy for MH to have been lied to, but this question deserves more than the quote.
#13.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-10-29 19:40
Regarding Metropolitan Herman's opening address to the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council on 10/16/07, I have a question to anyone who was present. When Metropolitan Herman stated that "tomorrow the members of the Special Investive Committee (SIC) would be determined through open discussion with one exception, those who served previously and resigned are not eligible to serve on the new committee" did anyone ask *why*? Why could not those who had resigned from the old Special Commission now not serve on the newly formed SIC? WHY could not Archbishop Job, Very Reverened Vladimir Berzonski, Very Reverend John Reeves or Mr. Gregory Nescott serve on the SIC? I would like to know the Metropolitan's reasoning for the "exception."
Patiently awaiting an answer, Athanasios Anasis. St. Mark Orhodox Church, Bradenton, FL.
Please answer on this site or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
#14 Athanasios Anasis on 2007-10-28 19:12
Why was Bishop Benjamin and Faith Skordinski former members allowed to be included in the SIC?
Smells very fishy!
#14.1 Margo on 2007-10-29 06:11
Because they refused to be bullied by +Herman and resigned instead of participating in the cover up. In other words, they were honorable and independent-minded persons who took their task seriously. Makes you wonder about the next "investigative" committee, doesn't it?
#14.2 Carl on 2007-10-29 10:31
Those who resigned can not be on the SIC because they were trying to do the job they were apparently given. That is, get to the bottom of this mess. It's all spelled out in the letter that Swaiko sent to JOB. JOB was expected to be a unifying force rather than an investigative force, but when he did the latter the commission was repeatedly suspended.
What Swaiko wants, is for this committee to meet and issue a report that exonerates him as quickly as possible, hopefully before the Nativity so he can go on and say, "See, I'm innocent, you were all wrong. Now, because I'm a great and holy man and I'm innocent according to this commission (which is stacked with people from areas friendly to me) you are obligated to send money, and please, don't leave out the stuff you were withholding and on that, I expect THAT with interest (preferably at the rate that the promissory note was stacked at)."
Swaikoís holiday wishlist is the SIC quickly exonerates him and the Synod overturns the defrocking of Bob Kondratick. That way both of the conspirators get off the hook and, from an official standpoint, the entire thing comes to a close. Delusional, but definitely what he's thinking. Joe Swaiko then lives out his days preaching the good word and living the bad living high off the hog on things that you helped buy him. He will live in glee knowing that he's overcome, outlasted, and prevailed over all the people who banded together to battle against his anti-Christian behavior. Who says good always wins out? The First shall be last, and the last shall be first, but being first now feels so good, doesn't it Joe? And, afterall, is there REALLY anything after death? Why risk it? Nowís the time to be first!
For Joe, the good word is only good to get money, other than that, he doesn't believe an ounce of it for a second. He likes the good word, like any television evangelist, because people give because they feel that giving money to any one who preaches the word of God is doing a good thing and furthering that word and making me feel good and the world a better place. He says such good things, he dresses the part, he walks slowly in his vestments as if moving slowly was some characteristic of the ultra holy! He walks with a stick, surely that makes him holy! So, we must give, because heís a holy man. When he preaches, he leans upon his staff like he needs support because heís carrying all the woes of the world on his little shoulders. Surely, this is a man of God, no? Pharisees are fictional characters we only hear about in the Gospel, they donít exist in real life! People are gullible, as weíve seen many times with the evangelists. Otherís good conscience and desire to do good is taken advantage of and results in feeding the power and money monster. Unfortunately we see gullibility is not limited to TV audiences.
We, ourselves, a good number of us, think that yes, we need to send him money because itís good to send it to the Church. Itís cleansing for the soul and the conscience and I get a tax deduction! The Church does the work of God, no? The Church IS God, no? Then itís good to send money to God, no? Do you need to send money to the Church because you think itís the right thing to do and those that manage it will do so in a manner worthy of a Church figure? Do you feel the wrath of God will come down upon you if you donít? If you do, there are alternatives. Alternatives, which those that cannot bear to see money burned if it was sent to Syosset send to. We have two truly wonderful Orthodox charities, the OCMC (www.ocmc.org) and the IOCC (www.iocc.org), which really DO good works and use the bulk of the money they receive not on themselves, but on doing the work of the Church. Sending to these two organizations not only fulfills doing the Lordís work, it also cleanses your soul and clears your conscience. And you get a tax deduction! The only thing is that you have to make a little, very minor effort, to give, rather than drop an envelope or check into your collection basket. These two organizations do more good in a year than FOS ever did!
Letís look at it this way. In a good year, the OCA spent about 10% of its income on doing ďworks of the ChurchĒ. This means works that were directly related to the mission of the Church. In a good year, we didnít have enough money to support our Chaplains in Iraq and it wasnít due to, like the administration tells you, because you didnít send enough, itís because they took too big a chunk out. The remaining 90% went to stuff like salaries, benefits, and travel of the administration that was not directly related to any of these good works. And this is of the money that was accounted for Ė imagine what happened with the money that ďfell off the tableĒ when it was being counted. Of the 10% that went to good works, most of that was on salaries, leaving a very meager amount in which to help show the faith in action outside of the Chancery building.
Good charities, those that are the highest rated, use less than 10% of the money they receive for administrative purposes. We are talking a complete reversal of the OCA administration. The IOCC uses 8% on administration. That means that for every dollar used on administration, nearly 14 dollars go to doing their mission in the field and when we say ďfieldĒ, we mean in the trenches, we donít mean the Marriott Marquis. In addition, according to their site, for every dollar you send, more than 6.5 times comes in addition to that. In the OCA, for every 10 dollars you give, one is used for work on the Churchís mission and of that 1 dollar, most of that on administrative purposes for a particular department. And yet people feel the central Church is a necessary and good way to use their hard earned money Ė is it just because itís easier to give? Even when its learned that 0% of the money for charities like beslan, etc., went anywhere until this was uncovered.
There are many more local Orthodox based charities that exist. Thomas OíNeill, former speaker of the House used to say that all politics is local. Well, we can modify that a little and say that all good is local and we can do the most good when we use our money on needs that are in our own local area. Give to your local charities, start a food bank, feed the homeless, thatís a good use of money in an Orthodox manner Ė it gives more witness to our Orthodox faith than anything the administration ever did. Give to the IOCC and OCMC to help on a larger scale and evangelize where people are eager and anxious to take in the good Orthodox word - and its good, itís even better when those speaking it follow it. In short, do you need to waste your money on keeping this scandal going when you can use it in an Orthodox context in ways that are highly effective and meaningful? Giving money to the OCA is feeding a monster. A monster for whom good works and mission are merely marketing phrases to part you and your money. We can do good in this scandal for all those that we felt were being helped with what was being misappropriated by our top officials. In light of the intransigence of the bishops and those that enable them, itís time for us to review what it means to do the Churchís work when we give money and give to that which uses it in a manner that allows us to sleep at night knowing itís doing what we intended it to do. In a manner that is well pleasing to God, not the powers that be in Syosset.
#14.3 Stonewall on 2007-10-29 12:21
This week-end I had an eye-opening and shocking education about the workings of the structure of the OCA. I naively believed that at least a portion of the assessment monies sent to Syossett supported the Departments of Evangelism, Education, Outreach, Chaplains, Church Planting, etc. What I just learned is that only the salary for the director of the FOS (currently Fr. Eugene Vansuch) and some minor stipends are paid from assessments!
All the departments under the FOS (Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards) are wholly dependant on VOLUNTARY donations! And now, as a money-saving maneuver, even the position of the director is being eliminated and the FOS will now be under the responsibility of the new Treasurer!
IF the business of the OCA is supposed to be one of (let me quote Met. +Herman here out of the FOS fundraising brochure) "proclaiming the saving message of Jesus Christ with others", then we need to re-assess (pardon my pun) where our funds are even to be directed.
Pagentry and pomp do not reach out to the lost soul or educate our young in the way they should go. It does not "feed the hungry", "clothe the naked", "visit the sick and lonely" or "take in the stranger".
This crisis in the OCA is not only about mis-management or mis-use of funds that were not sent to where they were directed to go, I believe the true crisis of the OCA is that money was not even directed for its rightful and proper use IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Yes, it would be nice to get to the bottom of who knew what when, and what went where, but the more critical issue now is that we must insist that funds be directed, not into the support of more pomposity, but for the growth and outreach of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
It is my understanding that ALL MONIES EARMARKED FOR THE FOS MUST BE SPENT ONLY ON FOS PROJECTS.
It is therefore my proposal that instead of withholding assessments and therefore strangling all growth and development of the OCA, rather all monies be sent to the OCA but EARMARKED that it must specifically be spent on the departments within the FOS. This would ensure that these programs would continue and in fact flourish, and so would our church!
Let the Metropolitan and Bishops find their own cost-savings within their own lifestyles and no longer in yours and mine and our children, and in lives of "widows and orphans".
May the Lord bless us and have mercy on us.
#14.3.1 Alison Cloonan on 2007-10-29 23:52
At one of the AAC's, I believe, maybe in Florida, the FOS funds were ok'ed to be directed to be used in the general checking account. What this means is that money that you thought was going into Stewardship activities was going into funding day to day operations, stuff like travel to an event in warm Los Angeles in February or Swaiko spreading the good word, in, say, Georgia (the country, not the state obviously). It didn't go to youth projects or to Chaplains or whatever else the brochures said. That was all a cover to get money to cover what they really deemed important.
So, since that was ok'ed, the general operations are a FOS project! This is one of the things that if people don't read the reports from the AAC, MC, etc. and are not active in what is going on, they will assume that when you send to FOS it goes to Stewardship. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is how the scam was permitted to go on. People thought they were sending to FOS, but it was a free will donation for whatever the administration wanted to do and not necessarily any of the things that was advertised in the flyers and sales pitches. Demand to know from the FOS directors in the past where all the funds were used. Demand to know! Demand to know what stewardship they accomplished! But donít hold your breath.
Itís not your fault. You were truly being good stewards and giving money you had the best of intentions that it would be used right and had no reason to think that what you were being told wasnít the case. After all, if you canít trust the men in the riassas in Syosset to handle your money with integrity, who else can you trust?
People have to get over the hurdle of that fallacy that if you withhold assessments that you are preventing the good works of the Church from happening. Nothing, my friends, could be further from the truth. Just take a look at the numbers they, themselves, have published and you see that money is not used where you think it is. Itís just very representative of the people running the joint. Where you put your money therein is your heart and we know where their hearts are. The heart is with lawyers, not our chaplains.
At this point in time, the OCA administration has shown that it canít be trusted with any money so the risk of sending money to them thinking it will be used for good purposes is unwarranted and too high and will remain too high as long as those that in power are still there. They were inept at raising funds and corrupt at using what funds they did raise. They still canít tell us where the remaining 9/11 money that was replenished from the Honesdale loan and wasnít all distributed afterwards went! Even after they profess to be doing better and put us in the hole to replenish the missing charity money, money still disappears! Why do people send them more? Why do people send them any ? How can they do good works when they canít even tell the difference between good and bad?
Earmarks are not the answer. We earmarked the 9/11 money, we earmarked the Beslan money, we earmarked Seminary monies, and Charity monies, etc., etc. etc. What happened with those earmarks? They were misappropriated and used for stuff such as tanning salons! Earmarks are useless both in them being adhered to with this bunch and shouldnít have to be necessary when people give money to, say, the 9/11 fund. Itís explicitly earmarked for a purpose, but that doesnít prevent the plunder! Earmarks work if the people handling the money have integrity and are of good, solid moral character. That was not, and is not, the case. If we had that kind of people we would know that our FOS money would be used for Stewardship, not so that they could be served by stewardesses! If we had that kind of people we wouldnít be where we are today.
Bottom line is that with other ORTHODOX charitable organizations that exist that handle a lot of money and are professional charitable organizations with solid and impeccable reputations, why are you sending anything to the OCA? You want to help youth, send to the OCF (www.ocf.net). You want to help with education, SCOBA has a group for that (http://www.orthodoxed.org/). You want to help evangelize and really help with disasters, send to the OCMC (www.ocmc.org) and the IOCC (ww.iocc.org). We donítí need a bloated, corrupt operation in Syosset in order to do good works. In fact, we can do more if we donít go through them and we can get real value on our charitable dollars maximizing how itís used for good effect to those that need and value it.
#188.8.131.52 Stonewall on 2007-10-30 11:00
WHY Good question asked by Athanasios Anasis.
When Metropolitan Herman stated that
"tomorrow the members of the Special Investive Committee (SIC) would be determined through open discussion with one exception, those who served previously and resigned are not eligible to serve on the new committee"
I guess we shouldnít question the pope's decree .
Also, we could save a lot of money if we dissolved all committees, and just let the pope run HIS circus.
#15 Ande on 2007-10-29 09:21
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