Tuesday, July 15. 2008
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I appreciate the Town Halls and their discussions.
Because Fr. Paul and I could not be at the SVS one (we both being graduates from there) I did send an email to SVS that morning of their Town Hall to share there at the meeting or pass on a similar suggestion I had made earlier:
Each treasurer of each diocese should be nothing less than a reputable CPA of unquestionable character who is hired on a full time basis with full benefits.
Their credentials should be available and published for the public to see.
They and their diocesan bishops must have continual, open, and regular communication about the finances.
Each treasurer of each diocese implements best practice financial practices for each church and the diocese. That person will visit each station, mission, and church and make recommendations as necessary. Best practice includes how churches conduct yearly audits.
These treasurers will come together as often as the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council and meet as a group of CPAs at these times to collaborate with the central church's CPA, Fr. Michael Tassos. They also meet in joint session with the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council.
Fr. Michael Tassos and the CPAs continually work together at Syosset and through conferences and emails with getting each diocese where it needs to be financially in terms of policies, accounts, etc.
The diocesan CPAs cannot be volunteer and they must be full time and able to travel to the churches, particularly in emergencies.
Expense of a CPAs salary and ability to travel must be as flexible as with the bishops.
With the past debacle in our OCA's administrative finances, plus what appears to be the debacle and great complexity in Alaska's finances, the OCA cannot afford to keep finances in the back seat of management, importance, or ethical and moral activity.
I hope this similar email to SVS was at least passed on to the right people.
#1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-07-15 18:33
Fr. Timothy Lowe said: "The OCA is largely dying and this begs the question if God in fact has dismissed us."
Autocephaly has been proclaimed multiple times in the past but always failed without the assent of the whole Church (The Churches of Carthage, Mediolana (Milan), the First Justiniana, Ochrid, Trnovo, Ipek, and Iberia).
Perhaps now is the time to add the OCA to the list.
(Editor's note: Don't hold your breath.Or better, do. My guess is you will be gasping for air before the OCA is. You see openess, transparency, frank discussion, disagreement, confession, repentence, etc., as signs of weakness and impending death. On the contrary, they are the stirrings of life after a long stagnation. )
#2 Anonymous on 2008-07-15 19:55
Editor: Your "stirrings" remind me of movements of a chicken that my grandmother was trying to catch for our supper. It went running, running, running all over the place until she grabbed it and chopped its head off with a cleaver. The chicken (sans its head) then struggled out of her hands and went running, running, running all over the place just like before. It was a macabre sight. If the OCA succeeds in decapitating itself by somehow forcing all of its Bishops to resign, lots of "stirrings" like ones that preceded the coup d'etat are sure to follow and these stirrings will only be the OCA version of a chicken with its head cut off.
#2.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-16 15:38
Yes Mark. Control-addicts hate openness and dialogue. They want only subservience and submission. What does this tell us about many of our so-called "traditions"? I have felt for decades that world Orthodoxy has a lot of waking up to do. We have been controlled too long by too many myopic control freaks in black garb who have twisted theology toward their control agendas. Notice I did not say all who are in black garb, I said too many. This fear of honesty and forthrightness is not born of the Holy Spirit that I know. He moves where He wills and leads us into all Truth. It is sad that so many who we have counted on for leadership should view the move of the Holy Spirit to breath life into the OCA with such disdain. God help them. God help us.
#2.2 Anon. on 2008-07-16 19:08
Anon. Are you saying that it is the OCA is God's instrument to wake up "World Orthodoxy" and that this current mess is a "move of the Holy Spirit to breathe life" into the OCA?
Let me get this straight. The soon-to-be filled with the Holy Spirit OCA is going to take the lead in the Orthodox World lead it into little "p" paradise?
Is the next AAC scheduled to be Pentecost II?
Where do you get this stuff? There is nothing in the history of the Metropolia/OCA to show that it ever had the wherewithal to be such a body. The past 20 plus years have been a story of steady decline and things are only getting worse.
#2.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-17 16:36
Honesty is a good start toward salvation. Movements start with personal repentance. If not us, who? If not now, when? There is a whole lot of hubris in world Orthodoxy that must be repented of IMHO. It is hard to find salvation when one spends one's waking hours in pompous exultations, self-praise, false piety, and endless criticism of the godless others. Our Lord's message is what I am talking about. God doesn't save organizations. He saves persons... the organizations will follow.
#22.214.171.124 Anon. on 2008-07-18 16:27
Know what? These town hall meetings look like a waste to me. They are just so much bla bla to make the laity feel as though progress is being made. I don't buy it.
Is this what is coming at this AAC? Keep shifting the shells and the laity will grow tired of the game?
I am sorry Bishop Nikon, but I do believe there are a few bishops that just plain don't give a damn at all. Nothing that can be said at a TOWN HALL or the AAC will convice me otherwise.
I have seen too much!
#3 no name on 2008-07-15 20:22
Everything the OCA is doing is either a waste of time or a smokescreen. These town hall meetings are a waste of money and time. The synod and the rest in charge don't care what anybody has to say, they are just trying to keep a riot from happening at the next AAC by giving us these bogus opportunities to speak our mind. The SIC is also bogus. You can't tell me that Met. Herman and those around him don't know exactly what happened and who did what. There is no need for an investigation. Just make the man tell the truth. (And get Kondratick out of Venice. For all the money he took from the Church he doesn't deserve his pension.) Also, I am sick of people screaming about the autocephaly as though it was some gift from God. It was not. It was given to us half-heartedly by the Russian Church at a time when its bishops were agents of the KGB, and for whatever reason it was given to us it is clear today that it isn't even worth the paper its written on. The OCA is a cold war relic at best, and if something drastic doesn't happen at the nest AAC, then its as good as dead.
#3.1 OCA Seminarian on 2008-07-16 16:17
Please keep speaking your mind. You speak things that have for too long been supressed at St. Vlads. It is your time now. Speak the truth and don' stop. Expose the darkness that lurks within those halls and among its discredited former students.
#3.1.1 Anon. on 2008-07-17 20:13
A Cold War relic, huh? That's all the OCA is to you, O nameless Seminarian? I realize many people are discouraged now and I count myself among them. But we must not abandon all hope. I don't think for an instant that God has abandoned us or forsaken us, despite the fact that some of us may have abandoned him. The Church always has its scandals, its imperfections and bad leaders, but that doesn't mean that it has to be absolutely perfect as a jurisdiction before God can use it. Remember Christ's parable of the dragnet. The Kingdom of God (the Church) contains all sorts of fish and other creatures in it before Christ sorts it out on the Last Day. Have some hope. All is not lost.
#3.1.2 Tikhon Griffin on 2008-07-19 08:20
Do you expect me to give my name??? Not so long ago a seminarian was almost expelled for signing that petition against Met. Herman. He wasn't expelled, but he isn't holding his breath waiting for ordination either. I know how things work. I also know that the boundaries of the Orthodox Church extend well beyond the boundaries of the OCA, and for that reason I do have hope.
#126.96.36.199 OCA Seminarian on 2008-07-22 11:29
AT LAST! A seminarian speaks the truth!
#188.8.131.52.1 Anon. on 2008-07-23 06:19
The OCA isn't a "Cold War relic." As for its autocephaly being granted by bishops who were "agents of the KGB," it would have made more sense for the Soviets to force the Church in Russia to hold onto its American possession than to set it free to speak its mind and act on its own, detriment to their political interests. Discount that act on that premise, and you might as well discount every other act of the much-suffering Russian Church under the communists.
Whatever its faults and travails at the moment, the OCA was begotten as a witness to the very basics of Orthodox Christianity: a territorial church composed of bishops, clergy and laypeople organizing themselves and exercising their ministry within their own cultural context while living in communion with other Orthodox Christian churches around the world. It was a rejection of phyletism (the heresy that ethnicity is the organizing principle and defining characteristic of the Church), subordinationism (the false notion that ecclesial legitimacy only comes by being "under" another see, be it Constantinople, Moscow or elsewhere) and state control of the church. For those reasons -- much needed in the modern Orthodox Christian world -- may God preserve the OCA and lead it out of its present scandals and troubles, of which there are no end in the Old World Churches emerging from under communist rule or languishing under Israeli and Muslim rule, too.
#3.1.3 Gregory Orloff on 2008-07-25 17:51
It's a pity that the conduct of the OCA's bishops has brought, what should be a self-evident construct, into doubt and disrepute.
#184.108.40.206 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-07-27 17:04
No disrespect to Fr. Lowe. However, the biblical comparison to Deacon Eric is completely out of line. The truth is the truth is the truth!
For those who are involved in a 'cover up' The following sins are considered to be mortal: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth: they are the "Seven Deadly Sins". The holy church teaches us that these sins can lead to the spiritual death of an individual.
May I ask, can we as individuals publicly bash the individuals who are keeping silent about their sins? Or is it just fare game to publicly write about Deacon Eric?
#4 Greg Petratis on 2008-07-16 01:51
Read Fr. Timothy's post again. He was comparing Dn. Eric (and others who have spoken out) to Elijah himself, but warning that we can't have our own little "pity party" when the powers that be persecute us for speaking the prophetic word (again, like Elijah). As I read it, he was certainly NOT condemning Dn. Eric, but rather holding him up as an example with the caveat that speaking the prophetic word 1) ultimately isn't about us, and 2) is usually not very popular.
#4.1 anonymous on 2008-07-16 16:25
Thank you Fr. Lowe for that wonderful exegesis of Elijah! How apropos.
I do think, however, that there are more than five members of the OCA who have read all of Elijah--but they are all converts.
#5 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-07-16 06:27
Everyone already knows what the answers are. To continue to beat a dead horse makes no sense. RSK stole the money with + Theodosius. This needs to go to prosecution. + Herman knew all about it and he needs to retire or be prosecuted if necessary. A new Metropolitan is needed IMMEDIATELY, + Seraphim, since he won the popular vote at the last AAC and is the best candidate overall.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-07-16 06:28
+Seraphim???!!!!! Please! No!
Don't make me write another comment that Brother Stokoe won't publish!
#6.1 no name on 2008-07-16 15:40
The problem is, that after all the accountamts, lawyers and commissions, where is the proof?
It is time for people to demand to see the hard evidence, no reports, no more rhetoric, black and white facts and figures.
Until then, Paul Meyendorff, prepare the resolution.
This is a disgrace to the public!
#6.2 MP on 2008-07-16 18:22
What makes you think that Archbishop SERAPHIM is worthy to move up to the position of Metropolitan when he has shown himself unable and/or unwilling to perform the necessary duty of defending the Holy Tradition of the Church in the recent scandals? As one who went to Orlando openly supporting him as a candidate for Metropolitan, albeit as an observer, not a delegate, I once again unequivocally state that he and every other member of the Holy Synod have shown themselves unworthy of their calling to the episcopacy, and all must be returned to the position of simple monk as soon as possible.
#6.3 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-07-16 18:38
I will decide whether I fully agree upon the filing of a comprehensive report.
My decision will be based upon the extent of truthful and comprehensive reporting from each of the fiduciaries of the church from 2001 through 2005.
A lack of comprehensive questioning on the part of the 2nd SIC and you and I will completely agree.
#6.3.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-07-19 15:00
What are you all making statements about over the town hall for ?Alaska is in debt and what is with getting the Metro Herman out for Seraphim? Majority of the churches in Alaska are affected and we need assistance up here. We have been waiting a long time for recovery to get our priests back from where they have been relocated without any reason. We hope to hear something soon. Please keep us "Yupik" Orthodox Christians in your prayers for assistance! Thank you.
#6.4 To All Of YOU! From Annonymous on 2008-07-19 01:08
"Fr Alexander Garklavs spoke, stating that "there was no single, clear understanding yet about what actually went wrong.” The Special Investigative Committee is now meeting, he pointed out, and “their goal is to outline and present a report how we got into this financial/administrative crisis.” That report is expected at the end of the summer. "
This is the kind of response one expects from a "company man". It is intended to prepare you for the fact that you will never be told the whole story. Do you honestly believe between retired Met Ted and current Met Herman the whole story is not known? I refuse to be insulted by continued "company" statements!
#7 anon on 2008-07-16 14:00
"Fr Alexander Garklavs spoke, stating that "there was no single, clear understanding yet about what actually went wrong.”
Pleanty of us knew ABOUT Syosset long ago. The human wreckage and list of victims left in its wake goes on for pages. HERMAN RESIGN! BISHOPS RESIGN!
#7.1 no name on 2008-07-17 15:39
stopped by SVS to observe in what manner embezzlement and theft (past and present) are dealt with at the highest academic level...........departed wondering whether or not this onerous bank loan could be repudiated after the removal of +MH...........in the words of a great poet, "....instead of a cross, an albatrosss about his neck was hung"
#8 Guileless on 2008-07-16 17:34
To Fr. Lowe,
I am surprised about your comments regarding Deacon Eric Wheeler.
I think we all owe him great respect and gratitude for putting himself in jeopardy for the sake of the OCA. No body want to acknowledge that.
I would like Deacon Wheeler to tell the whole world the truth.
The Synot knows truth but they are covering it up.
Until the truth is revealed will not be any peace.
#9 Father Nicholas on 2008-07-16 19:16
#9.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-07-17 06:27
Dn. Eric has told the whole truth. He has written it all down and it has been distributed, even to the FBI. It's all true and people have known about this since at least 1994. So why is + Herman still metropolitan? Because RSK helped push him in at the last AAC. A deal was made between RSK, + Theodosius and + Herman. + Theodosius would retire (claiming medical issues) and prosecution wouldn't be brought against him by RSK or + Herman. Then, + Herman would become metropolitan controlling any investigation sanitizing all documents. RSK didn't expect to be the scape-goat, but better that than ending in jail. + Herman thought he'd come out of this smelling like a rose, however, too many people knew of his involvement. By the way, where are those financials on St. Tikhon's and East. PA Diocese? How many years have none been produced?
#9.2 Anonymous on 2008-07-17 06:35
You forgot to mention Kucynda - the best character he played was Judas and then he hung himself.
Herman and Metropolitan have been in charge for years, but they always had someone to do their work. I wonder who the next person will be to be thrown under the bus?
Things should heat up now that the AAC is nearing. If Herman remains in office the people loose, just remember, he's not going anywhere, he's got too much to loose!
#9.2.1 MP on 2008-07-17 17:10
Whoever you are, please keep disclosing what you know. Those of us close to these events have been working to put all those pieces together and you clearly know many things about who knew what. Thank you. It is time to pay the piper. Please reveal how all of RSK's flunkies were complicit... Who were his daily enablers? Is the missing $5 million being used now, in your opinion, to buy all their silence? It is too suspicious that no one has broken ranks yet. Please speak.
#9.2.2 Anon. on 2008-07-17 20:08
The Church of Antioch did NOT grant autonomy to the No amer Archdiocese. Self Rule has been in existence for MANY years. All Chrism ... election of a new Primate MUST come from Damascus. no Amer Primate MUST sit on the Damascus Holy Synod. The kind of autonomy no one needs. Support our OCA a real autocephaly.
#220.127.116.11 anonymous on 2008-07-19 22:41
Has this writer supplied proof to support their comments or is their conclusion based upon their own conjecture? And if it is conjecture, how does their post have relevance to the desire for truth that has been the basis of this website? Could you ask them to elaborate?
#9.2.3 Anonymous on 2008-07-20 14:06
Dear Fr. Nicholas. You have drastically misunderstood what I have written. My citation of "Dn. Wheeler and others" is used solely as an equivalent example to the biblical Elijah and is not personal, let alone any kind of criticism. My personal feelings for Dn. Wheeler, like most, are one of gratitude and respect. Both in the biblical text and in our world, anyone willing to speak out against abuse and corruption in "high places" pays a dear price on some level. The biblical Elijah clearly serves as an example to us as someone who paid the price and then later started complaining to God about it and said that it was a failed effort believing he was the only "right believer" left. He lost heart and began to despair. This is always the temptation, and who amongst us has not fallen into despair over the ongoing scandal and not considered walking away? In this area Elijah failed, and we (Dn. Wheeler and others) must not lose heart for what is really at stake is our faith in God as opposed to the numerous idols that are out there and being offered to us as the real thing.
The bottom line at this point is rather simple. The corruption has been exposed and there is no going back to a date before this. Each and everyone of us has "been troubled" whether we want to be or not. So how are we going to respond? We will be judged! To me personally the most shocking group are those priests who refuse to deal with the issue in their parishes, some even to the point of forbidding any discussion on the matter, and yes I know their arguments about wanting to protect and not scandalize the faithful, but I find this misplaced and misguided, parochialism at its worst.
#9.3 Fr. Timothy Lowe on 2008-07-18 15:07
Dear Fr. Timothy,
Thank you for your posting.
I've been disheartened by the scandle, not all because of its nature and gravity, but more so because any open discussion about it in my parish appears prohibited.To my knowledge there is no constructive avenue for discussion, or query at at the parishioners level. Those who do risk talking about it, do so guardedly. I once carefully approached the parish council via, suggestion box, asking specifically for such a forum. At the meeting, the introductory sentence of my question was read aloud to the body present. Alone, it only indicated that the inquirer was asking for an open forum, which the council proudly affirmed already exixted in the form of itsel. The heart of my questioin was edited out. That gesture was very loud to me - and indeed, was itself the answer to my question. I was listening through the intercom from another area in the church, so was unable to address it. I felt betrayed by that seemingly insignificant gesture. It certianly left me with a clearer impression of what really matters.
In my years of experience with communities, within and without the church, controversy and conflict are instruments of growth, bonding and resolution, when guided correctly.
This incident happened awhile back but it still leaves me with more questions and new dilemmas.
This commentary on Elijah might possibly be the most poorly written article (both in logic and attitude) to appear on OCANews, second only to articles equating spelling errors and poor editing to some type of Divine intervention. This site has become a caracature of itself, publishing articles for nothing more than mere perpetuity.
#10 Anonymous on 2008-07-17 11:59
Dear Anonymous of Post #10,
I must respectfully disagree with you. Father Lowe's commentary on Elijah is spot on. It is beautifully written and is deficient neither in logic or style. It is hard for me to counter any other argument since you have not made any--just a summary judgment. I would be interested why you arrived at your conclusion though. Would you please elaborate?
#10.1 Carl on 2008-07-18 08:46
I understood Fr. Timothy's reflection well enough and I really enjoyed his reflection very much. I understood the spirt of it in that we have prophets in today's OCA, such as Dn. Eric Wheeler, and so many countless others who are trying to courageously stand up to corruption.
I will put my faith and hope in his courage, and so many of those of like-minded courage, and not the literary pen, per se. I believe courage and integrity is most likely the real goal for most of us (sans the critics) who have probably blogged on this site.
The quest for truth and integrity is such an arduous task.
#10.2 Patty Schellbach on 2008-07-18 08:49
At least the rest of us have the guts to sign our own reflections, posts, and comments. You remind me of some kids in my neighborhood who wouldn't speak up unless they were hiding behind the pants of at least six other big kids. If you have something to say, great! But, at least have the courage and the honesty to sign your name! Enough said!
#10.3 David Barrett on 2008-07-18 16:14
Ditto to David's comments. All these brave and courageous anonymous posters who tear into people and then don't have the guts to sign their names. Perhaps, this scandal would have been brought to satisfactory resolution a long sooner if some of these anonymous people had the intestinal fortitude to confront the dictatorial powers to be.
#10.3.1 Rich Kendall on 2008-07-19 09:17
I agree with other comments that apologies,repentance and renumeration are needed from the guilty ones,and they know who they are.This is to be followed by prosecution.Autocephaly? We were not ready for it...we should have returned to the Mother Church first and let time take its course.ROCOR is now autonomous and now is when we should all get together.Let the Sunnis and Shiites fight each other not brother Orthodox Christians...
#11 Retired Archpriest on 2008-07-17 14:15
Why does the OCA want to have anything to to with ROCOR? Their philosophy is rooted being Russian and backward. There is no hope with ROCOR or the MP. It will take them 50 years to understand what an American Church is.
#11.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-17 15:18
Dear Retired Archpriest ,
I certainly agree that sister Orthodox Churches should not be fighting. We certainly should all get together in North America--all Orthodox folks in one united and independent Church. Is this not the true Orthodox Christian way?
Let us pray that the overseas independent Churches who have churches in North America, that is outside their natural and canonical boundaries, relent in their continuing assault on Orthodox polity and free their North American churches to join in what must be the Orthodox Church in North America. I am talking primarily of the venerable Patriarchates of Constantinople, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia. If needed, they should emulate the Patriarchate of Antioch and at least grant autonomy to their churches in North America, with the understanding that this is the penultimate step before independence.
Dear Father, don't you think that the current situation in the mother churches are drastically different from the past? It is true that the Church did save the national identity in Russia (after the times of trouble),and Greece, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria (after the Ottoman yoke). In the case of Russia, the Tatars are long gone and the Bolshevik era is behind her. The rest are either members of the EC or aspire to be. The situation has indeed changed.
Looking at the ancient sees, they have all been hurt grievously by the Islamic conquests and have been struggling to survive for centuries (except for Cyprus, which is making a come back). I would submit that a united and independent Church in North America would be a stronger supporter of them than their dioceses here. Let us pray that they put the welfare of the entire Church before their own.
Dear Father, don't you think that we need to rise above ethnic and national pride and not hold one Orthodox Church to be holier or better than another? Don't you think that modern day clergy and laity are much more informed and educated than in the past, to the degree of actually understanding their faith and being able to contribute to the life of the Church? Don't you think that they can discern the best in every Orthodox Church and adopt them? I don't have to be a member of a Russian congregation or speak a dead language (Church Slavonic) to like Russian chants better than Byzantine ones. I don't have to speak another dead language, demotic Greek, to read and understand the Holy Scriptures in translation. I do not accept the position of some that if you are Greek/Russian you must be Orthodox and if you are Orthodox, you must be Greek/Russian. Such conceit! Such hubris!
#11.2 Carl on 2008-07-18 09:35
I noticed the posting on the oca's webpage concerning these town hall meetings. One question I would like to ask, which is open to anyone, is: Will there be a town hall meeting in Northeast Pa. geographically the upper Valley of Lackawanna County? If NOT I also raise the question: Why NOT? I understand that there is one in the Lehigh area however, many people cannot/would not travel that far. Besides, I think there are more oca church's in the Lackawanna County area than that of the Lehigh area. From the people I speak with on the internet, they tell me that the people in Lack. Co. area are basically unaware of what is happening. Meaning those who do not have access to the internet. If not mistaken the Lack. Co. area is basically made up of the older generation of people. I could be wrong on that! But, I would not be surprised by the clergy in that area to keep hush-hush what is going on. Not many of them seem to have a backbone. Something else that has come to my attention is this: while emailing some people they, along with myself, can not understand something- the oca likes to brag about autocephaly however some of the church's still call themselves the Russian Orthodox Church. After reading on the oca's webpage about the granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly, I would think that they lost the title of Russian Orthodox Church 38 years ago. Who are they trying to fool, themselves or everybody else? Sorry to go off the topic at the end of this post. If anyone would care to respond I would love to get and explanation on using the title of Russian Orthodox Church. Thanky You! Oh! one little bit of non-seriousness: a couple of days ago I was IM'ing one of my computer friends and she asked me if I knew what oca stand's for? So I replied "orthodox church in America", she said "LOL, NO! It stand's for orthodox collection agency. However, I guess that has come to an end".
#12 Stephan on 2008-07-17 19:05
or perhaps, OCA simply means "Orthodox Church of the Albatross"
#12.1 Guileless on 2008-07-18 17:01
There is no Town Hall Meeting in Detroit, which is one of the cradles of the OCA since the turn of the 20th century. Not surprising that the OCA would overlook NE PA, too. After all, the Self-Autonomous status of the Metropolia was decided in Detroit in 1924... Detroit is unique in that it has representation of Albanians (Bishop Nikon was in Detroit for many, many years), Bulgarians, Romanians (perhaps the largest concentration in America), and former Russian parishes, and yet it is overlooked. Our community is certainly dwindling (for various reasons), but it should be included in the discussion. As far as I can tell, the nearest Town Hall is several hours away, which is likely unreachable for an aging community of largely cradle Orthodox.
Also, I have noticed that the forms for registration for the AAC have been posted on OCA.org. It turns out that in order to be an Observer, one must be a member in good standing of the OCA. Transparency abounding... I am not a member of an OCA parish, but have a vested interest, and was planning on attending, but I guess I am not welcome as an official Observer unless I am an OCA member... I was very much anticipating attending the Sobor. Disappointing.
#12.2 Anonymous on 2008-07-18 22:50
Requirements for status as an "official" observer of the 15th All-American Council:
1. certification by the Parish Secretary as meeting the qualifications of Article III Section 6 Paragraph b of The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America (http://www.oca.org/DOCstatute.asp?SID=12&ID=3);
2. confirmation by the Diocesan Hierarch; and
3. submission of the Observer Registration form with a $250 registration fee by 1 October 2008.
There is no registration fee for clergy or lay delegates; retired clergy have a registration fee of $125. For comparison, the registration fee for observers at the 13th AAC in Orlando, FL, was $100 and the registration fee for observers at the 14th AAC in Toronto, Ontario, was $200.
I wonder why the observer registration fee was set at $250? Does the PCC now have a working budget for the 15th AAC? If so, how does it relate to the special assessment levied earlier this year? Inquiring minds want to know ...
#12.2.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-07-21 03:46
My point was not to dispute the $250 fee, but rather to question why the OCA would perpetuate such a sanitized, "members-only" event. If an "Observer" must be an OCA member AND be approved by both their parish priest and diocesan bishop, the OCA essentially controls every person who comes through that door, and if we are to question the fee, make a great deal of money off of them. The more important facet, however, is the control over attendance. By ensuring that every person who attends has the approval of an OCA hierarch, how could that not be used to crush dissent? I realize that Observers are not voting members of the Sobor, but it if an attitude of rubber-stamping all those who wish to attend is perpetuated, how can this Sobor be anything but a sham?
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2008-07-21 11:17
I've got no ties to the Pre-conciliar Commission or Syosset, so I can hardly speak for them. However, if I recall correctly, one of the goals of this AAC has been to scale back, focusing on the decisions facing the Church rather than the dog and pony shows we've had in the past. Scaling back means reducing the number of attendees, keeping the duration limited appropriately, and staying focused on the task at hand. I expect this AAC to be a full week of long, tiresome, depressing work.
There's all kinds of pressure to stop spending money and to stop collecting so much from the parishes. Fewer attendees means smaller, cheaper venues, fewer materials to print/distribute, less postage, fewer meals, and so on. A crowd of observers further stretches the very thin budget. They're giving us what we've been asking for on this one, no?
I really don't think this is a conspiracy. I know many here view any and all clergy as nothing more than sycophants and control freaks, but that's not true. We'll be there, with our lay delegates, and will be fighting vociferously for a godly resolution to this mess.
#22.214.171.124.1 Fr Basil Biberdorf on 2008-07-21 21:11
Dear Fr. Basil,
In suggesting there was no conspiracy to limit the number of observers who seek to register for the upcoming AAC, you wrote this:
"Fewer attendees means smaller, cheaper venues, fewer materials to print/distribute, less postage, fewer meals, and so on. A crowd of observers further stretches the very thin budget. They're giving us what we've been asking for on this one, no?"
You are in error to suggest that more observers, at $250 a head, would cost the OCA money. Nothing could be further from the truth.
i sat on the AAC local committee in 1999, have been on many committees for national conventions and events, and presently sit on the Metropolitan Council, so I have some familiarity with these issues.
When the AAC manager, Fr. Myron Manzuk, first presented the Pittsburgh AAC plans to the MC last year, he stressed that the Hilton was smallish, and therefore there would be no observers invited. "Firestorm" might be too strong a term to describe what followed that announcement, but the MC very strongly directed the church administration to include provisions for observers, even if the number of available rooms at the Hilton might be insufficient, and observers might have to stay in other hotels.
The MC very clearly did not want to limit attendance of the faithful at this critical AAC, for obvious reasons, and Fr. Myron and the administration, to their credit, understood and agreed that observers would be included.
(Now, it is troubling to me that apparently the registrations of all delegates and observers must be signed off on by the diocesan hierarchs. I don't know if that is a new requirement. If it is, then I could understand how some may argue that this is a conspiracy that gives our hierarchs veto power over permitting certain individuals (who are otherwise in good standing in the OCA) to attend the AAC. But I can tell you this: the requirement that the registrations of duly-elected AAC delegates be signed/approved by their bishops does appear to flatly contravene the Statute of the OCA.
Article 3 of the OCA Statute reads as follows:
"Section 6 Election, Qualification, and Accreditation of Lay Delegates
The lay delegates and alternates to the All-American Council must meet the following requirements to be validly elected, qualified, and accredited:
Be elected by a parish meeting;
Be a voting member of the parish in good standing (Cf. Article X, Section 5), at least eighteen years of age, having received the Sacraments of Confession and Communion at least annually for the past three years at his home parish. (Like holders of all offices in the Church, he may not be a person under ecclesiastical interdict, who is in violation of moral standards, who is married outside the Church, who is a member of anti-Church and/or secret societies.)
The lay delegate or delegates will personally receive from their parish a uniform document supplied by the Central Church Administration. The parish rector shall forward to the Pre-Conciliar Commission the name and the address of the elected lay delegate or delegates and alternates two months prior to the All-American Council.
The document of accreditation must be signed by the parish rector, or Dean in case of a vacancy in the parish, and the parish secretary, and sealed with the parish seal.
In case of a vacant parish, the parish is entitled to one lay delegate. The delegates from a theological seminary, if laymen, shall be accredited by a similar letter to the Pre-Conciliar Commission by the dean of the theological seminary, immediately after their appointment."
So wherever this requirement for our bishops to sign off on all delegates came from, I don't know. But it is contrary to the Statute. And the decision to include this additional level of approval is just plain foolish, considering our much bigger problems and the current suspicions of the faithful. It's not exactly a step on which to build trust. But I digress......)
Let me get back to your statement, ""Fewer attendees means smaller, cheaper venues, fewer materials to print/distribute, less postage, fewer meals, and so on. A crowd of observers further stretches the very thin budget. They're giving us what we've been asking for on this one, no?"
Well, no, Father.
"Smaller, cheaper venues"? No. Unlike 1999 in Pittsburgh, we aren't holding sessions at the convention center. The Hilton and its ballroom and meeting rooms is the one and only venue. The costs generally don't vary: you meet the room block, you get the meeting rooms. The hotel is not going to charge to set up an additional 100 seats, theater-style.
"Fewer materials to print and distribute"? Perhaps. But it's not like additional printing couldn't easily be covered by what seems to me to be an extremely exhorbitant $250 observer registration fee.
Now, I may be wrong, but I suspect that the old over-stuffed notebooks of past AACs might not be quite so large this time around. The grand study papers of the past cannot be written as long as we remain in this crisis and, at this point, so much remains unsettled --- that is, everything remains unsettled --and I would expect that the number of trees killed to paper this AAC might be fewer. (In any case, I hardly think that the cost of a binder and a few hundred pages copied at pennies per page will add up to more than a few bucks out of that $250.)
Of course, you do have that official "Observer" badge and lanyard to buy. Couple more bucks there, tops.
"Less postage"? Sure, if voluminous materials are indeed prepared and sent out ahead of time, then every observer should receive one. So figure, what, $6-8 by priority mail?
So we've spent less than $20 of that $250 registration fee. (You might want to add a few bucks for a cloth bag to carry all your papers around, because I'm guessing that ADM may not be donating them this time.)
"Fewer meals"? No, Father, not so. More observers means more spent on rooms and room service and in the Hilton restaurant, and especially on those ubiquitous box lunches that have become such an important profit point for hotels --- grab a box lunch for $10 or so and head back into a workshop or session. Saves time, is efficient for the group, and makes a lot of money for the hotel.
After all, the only ones whose meals are paid for out of the AAC budget are the members of the Holy Synod, at their joint daily luncheons and dinners, and the VIP comps, or friends of Syosset (in days gone by), who would get freebie banquet tickets (or rooms). Everyone else has always paid for his own meals. And as a scaled-down banquet may be held in Pittsburgh, more people means more potential banquet customers; and the banquets are always critical to the profit made by the hotels.
In my opinion, the best thing that could happen would be for observers to flood this AAC. (It would also be nice if they were accorded the right to speak, but that has never been the case.) An outpouring of interest might just help to awaken some who seem to be still asleep.
So I agree with you, Father, that there probably is not a conspiracy to keep observers away from the AAC.
However, I hope you agree with me that if certain crucial events do not occur before the AAC --- like the prompt disclosure of the full SIC report to the church at large at the time of its release to the Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod during the first week of September, and the recognition by all our hierarchs that trust has indeed been shattered and our leadership has failed --- then we needn't concern ourselves with observers at the AAC, because it will hold little promise of being an event worth attending.
#126.96.36.199.1.1 Gregg Nescott on 2008-07-23 15:18
Let us also look closely at the requirements for one to be either an observer OR an lay delegate. According to the OCA statute:
Article III, Section 6, Part B:
"Be a voting member of the parish in good standing (Cf. Article X, Section 5), at least eighteen years of age, having received the Sacraments of Confession and Communion at least annually for the past three years at his home parish."
So someone who has converted within the last three years to the Orthodox faith is not allowed. Nor is someone who has come to the OCA within the past 3 years from another jurisdiction (as if that is even a possibility in the current climate, but I digress...).
Additionally, I question the right of the AAC planning committee to require that an observer have the same qualifications as a lay delegate. There is no precedent for this in either past practice nor the Statute itself.
And, of course, your points on the cost issues are masterfully put, and it is ludicrous to suggest this is a function of anything having to do with expenses of observers, as, let's be honest, if one wants to attend the AAC as an observer, they are essentially paying out the nose to sit and listen. They cannot speak. All they are there to do is fork over their $250 (which is likely too much, but that's neither here nor there) to take it all in without a voice or voting interest. What's wrong in that? What is the Pre-Conciliar Commission afraid of, that too many outsiders will show up and see the farce this will likely be? That other jurisdictions will send representatives to see what sections of the OCA they can gobble up once the experiment fails? It's all hogwash. Attempting to make this a "scaled-down" event, especially when such an event is to be an unprecedented attempt at transparency, accountability, and humility (one can only hope), by paring down the invitees is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
#188.8.131.52.1.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-23 22:14
I have no substantial disagreement with what you've said. In fact, I'll concede the bulk of your points concerning the expense. This is because your points make sense (as usual) and because I am in no position to evaluate the decisions of the Pre-conciliar Commission on a matter such as this one.
My larger point is that the continual suggestion of a church-wide conspiracy going on at every juncture (Town Halls, AAC registration, etc.) is false. Clergy, including myself, are routinely subjected to all manner of unjustified attacks in this forum, even when working persistently for greater disclosure, Christian decency, and adherence to the "rule of law" in the OCA. (For example, I was the one who spoke up about our diocesan violations of the Statute at the Dallas town hall. See the 7/1 4:53pm post at http://oca15aac.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/oca-%E2%80%9Ctown-hall%E2%80%9D-meeting-notes-dallas-tx-june-24-2008/
for the text.) We must do better than to see a rat in every cassock. We must learn to discern our friends. The scandal itself is not church-wide; only its detrimental effects are. Not every priest's silence or criticism can be equated with support of the evil or its cover-up.
I think the SIC report should have been released a long, long time ago, and certainly prior to the upcoming AAC. I wish people like yourself were allowed to speak out about what they've seen and heard. I don't think the "You can't handle the truth!" defense is a valid one.
However, even with only the delegates (both clergy and lay) in attendance at this AAC, there will be a tremendous outcry for disclosure and resolution to this scandal. I'm not sure that a large number of observers would do anything to aid that outcry, and might even make the necessary work harder. (As a hypothetical question: does the presence of a large crowd of observers in the courtroom always help? I don't know that answer. It doesn't seem, intuitively, that it would help unequivocally.) That having been said, I agree that the requirement for hierarchical approval of the delegates is a burdensome provision. As a matter of counterpoint, though, parish council members serve only with the bishop's approval, per the OCA Statute X.8b, even though council members are elected also. If that's the case, what's so different about an AAC delegate?
Thanks again for your faithful work in this very trying time.
#184.108.40.206.1.1.2 Fr Basil Biberdorf on 2008-07-25 13:00
A quote for the day: "How often are we brought up short, incapable of understand His will. His first and last thought for us. We do not easily abandon ‘our ways’ and with enormous difficulty search out ‘His ways’. The instant it seems to us that now I begin to see…He demonstrates how immeasurably distant He is. My soul is strained to the limits of her strength, my spirit fails. I am appalled at the endless profundities of the knowledge of God that stretch before me. I look for sustenance in the Divine word, and what do I come on? ‘Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven’. Why? ‘For the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain’ (Hebrews 12:26-27).
O Lord, I am weak. Thou knowest this.
In fear I seek the way to Thee. Despise me not.
Forsake me not in my fall.
Draw near even unto me, who am of no account, yet I thirst after Thee.
Take up Tine abode in me and do Thou Thyself
perform in me all that Thou hast commanded of us.
Make me Thine for ever and ever, in love unshakeable."
The Elder Sophrony
#13 Michael Bauman on 2008-07-18 16:31
Money flowing again at Downtown Hilton
Friday, July 18, 2008
Everyone got paid on payday today at the Pittsburgh Downtown Hilton.
Tim Zugger, the general manager of the hotel, said the hotel has had a couple of financial issues at once. One, the hotel had trouble making payments to the pensions of the members of the Hotel And Restaurant Union Local 57. Also, P.J. Dick, the contractor for the renovations now going on at the hotel, has stopped work on the outside of the building.
Mr. Zugger said that while the hotel does owe the contractor money, the work delay is because of a change in the architectural plans for the building, and that the contractor is awaiting new fabricated steel.
Renovations have been going on for nearly two years at the hotel and are expected to be completed by winter.
The Hilton, at the forefront of the Golden Triangle on Commonwealth Place facing Point State Park, opened in 1959.
First published on July 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm
#14 Anonymous on 2008-07-18 18:23
Me thinks someone needs to watch more television news. KDKA has had extensive coverage on this story. Here read the print story from the station.
Hotel Employees Receive Paychecks
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ― Employees of the Hilton Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh have now received their paychecks after threatening to walk off the job over financial issues.
The hotel has been under renovation for nearly two years. On Thursday, contractors pulled their workers and equipment off the job saying they hadn't been paid.
But officials with the hotel ownership group say employee paychecks were handed out this morning.
Also, officials say they have been in touch with contractors and are working out those payment issues and the plans are to resume renovation work in about three weeks and wrap it up completely by next spring.
Chief Operating Officer Harris Mathis admits that workers do not deserve the uncertainty of waiting for money they have earned.
"Employees, they work, they do a good job for us, they expect to get paid and it's our duty to make sure the paychecks are there on payday," said Mathis. "People depend on receiving their paychecks in a timely manner."
The hotel is owned by the Schub Corporation, based in India. And union representatives for the workers say the hotel is still a million dollars behind in payments to the health and pension fund.
When the Shubh Corporation bought the Hilton, executives promised renovation work to make it the finest hotel in Pittsburgh.
"We're going to spend approximately $25 million, which is more than what the hotel is built for," said President and CEO of Shubh Hotels, Atul Bisaria, before the renovations started.
However, this morning, Mathis admitted that there is not enough money to finish the project along with paying off contractors and paying employee benefits.
"It all has to do with construction and during the winter when we had over 500 of our 713 rooms out of order," said Mathis. "The problem is it took longer and took more money than we anticipated. We had underestimated to cost and how long it would take."
As far as renovations go, officials say the interior is just about complete, but there is still a long way to go to finish the exterior.
Jul 18, 2008 1:00 pm US/Eastern
#14.1 In the know in Pittsburgh on 2008-07-20 18:38
As in "Moby Dick". so also in that period of Isreael's history, that Ahab fights the great fight but is defeated by greater forces, and will not be glorified for having lost, of course........the followers of Baal and fr. Lowe seems to be one, can revel in their apparent victory, but his diatribe may be intended to encourage those to whom Ahab's torch has fallen.......
#15 Guileless on 2008-07-19 19:23
I have read this post several times, and I cannot figure out what in the world you are trying to say. (I can figure out, though, that you have no idea what "diatribe" means.) Conflating the biblical Ahab with Melville's Ahab could have been a nifty bit of rhetoric, but you lose style points when you evoke the image of the well-spoken and kindly Fr. Lowe as a self-gashing frenzied follower of Baal. That one would have been a reach even for a master of over-the-top like the late Hunter S. Thompson.
#15.1 Scott Walker on 2008-07-21 08:39
Bishop Nikon sits in at the meeting and says (paraphrasing) that when I serve with each of the bishops, I find none who do not care for the people! He and the other bishops might very well care, but that DOESN'T mean that they can manage! Caring and Management are two DIFFERENT things! And, when financial mismanagement and fraud takes place, all are guilty! By their own admission, the bishops say that they are "overwhelmed" with reports! If this was a real corporation, Metropolitan Herman would be in jail with the bishops for stealing! And, that's what they have done. They might care, but when they turn to bless the people, they should consider each face and their financial strains and the trust that they put in the priests and bishops when they actually "give".
To say that bishops and priests are "immune" from prosecution under financial mismanagement is to say that its ok for athletes to abuse drugs! Fraud and drug abuse are both illegal! And, every single bishop by default has mislead the trust of those who continue to donate to Syosset!!!!!
#16 Anonymous on 2008-07-20 15:23
Bottom line: The trust of EVERY single parishioner has been betrayed!
The Pope is in Australia admitting the faults of the Catholic Church on sexual abuse; admitting all are guilty!
Our bishops are in Syosset, admitting NOTHING and stalling the truth!
Financial fraud and sexual misconduct are comparable only in that they betray individual trust. Both are criminal! Our bishops are no different than TV Evangelists, who ask for money and misuse (but at least to their credit, they do build orphanages and churches throughout the world.)
The bishops may indeed care, but they cannot "bless" their flock and look them in the "eye". Heck, they cannot even admit that they are to blame! How can anyone trust them - parishioners, clergy, peers included!
Shame of it all is that they all have large bank accounts. Bishop Tikhon was just in the south of France vacationing, and all the bishops live very well and have nice savings! There is ZERO humility - even at a time when the average person suffers with the national economic crisis and can barely afford a mortgage! When you think about it, had they just "invested" all that money wisely INSTEAD of STEALING it throughout the 1990's, our church coffers would be overflowing!
God, though is the ultimate judge! The health issues of many of the bishops, Metropolitan Theodosius and now Herman, are as much from stress as their conditions! Granted NONE of them are in any physical shape of health - zero exercise, etc. - but stress is the ultimate killer.
Their "torment" is that of "hell on earth" - living with their lies every single day, convincing themselves it was all Fr. K. Metropolitan Herman was the Treasurer then.
My town hall question is: Why was the monies that were stolen NOT invested? Who was advising on financial matters? Who was on the Metropolitan Council at the time and are they liable?
If the bishops were truly humble, instead of vacationing in the south of France, they should be declining salaries until this is all cleaned up - all of them - and setting the example of donating that money to the debt! Perhaps then we would all take them seriously - including Bishop Seraphim - who is sounding more and more like Metropolitan Herman!
Nothing changes until they ALL GO! And, I think instead of asking if any one of the bishops "care" (as referenced above), we should be asking "Do they love Christ and the Church enough to step aside? Give up their salaries?" Answer = NO!
(And, if I am wrong, I would love to hear a response from one of our bishops online here - as I would an explanation WHY the town hall meetings are not broadcast on the internet for all to see and hear!!!)
With the special report due in September, I fear Pittsburgh will be overwhelmed by it, and nothing will be accomplished! And, for this reason, I'm withholding my money, and have also begun, like my peers, to seek a new church - one that truly serves Christ!
The business of Christ has stalled at our highest level! Very sad...
For whom does the bell toll - dear bishops, it tolls for thee....
#17 Anonymous on 2008-07-21 09:33
Since the treasurer has the financial responsibility, why not have all of the treasurers since 1990 come forward and form a panel - give straight forward answers?
#17.1 MP on 2008-07-21 10:47
Bishop Tikhon was visiting his 99 year old grandmother with his parents! He has done this ever year, and to me that is humble. I would love to visit my grandparent, but they are no longer alive. What are you talking about Mr/Mrs Anonymous? Obviously you did not get the whole truth did you.
I think that we are off base when we make comments like this.
The SIC report is coming out soon enough and we will wait for it, but until then stop judging others as we are ALL brothers and sisters in Christ. I don't know who you are but I pray for people like yourself who have no self esteem. Must we find faults of others when we all have many of them? I do not beleive this makes us good Christians.
I know I can sleep at night as I will not be ashamed when I am judged! Can you?
#17.2 jackson on 2008-07-21 13:32
The Hilton in Pitts.
Well this is just perfect! The Hilton is having construction and employment problems - what a great pick for the AAC. Watch what will happen! Everyone will send in their registration and money and days before the AAC, the Hilton will have to close due to more issues. + Herman will rejoice and everyone will be *%@#$%. Typical for the OCA right now to choose a hotel which isn't financially sound!
#18 Anonymous on 2008-07-21 09:34
This situation with Hotel Hilton would be hilarious, if not so pathetic. You have to admit the Lord has a sense of humor - judgment is waiting at Hotel Hilton in Pittsburgh!
#18.1 Rich on 2008-07-21 12:42
If Elijah were here today, I'm not too sure that all of Alaska's bears would suffice for the job that he'd certainly have to have them do...
#19 herman on 2008-07-21 11:42
The Good News is that this narrative as with all the stories and messages of the Old Testament is fulfilled, clarified and understood in Jesus Christ and the New Testament, where the ultimate meaning of all is found.
Contrary to being “fired” or cast away by God, we see that through repentance we are saved in Christ, who assures us that our Heavenly Father cares for us, clothes us, and knows the hairs of our head. Each one of us is a unique being in God’s eyes, each one of us is His child, and each one of us is made in His image and likeness.
Our Lord, while just, is loving, merciful and forgiving. And this message is repeated over and over again in the Bible through Christ’s actions and words, and in the Church which He established and which will continue into eternity.
The door was not shut to the Prodigal Son; the Centurion’s plea was not ignored; by Publican not condemned. And so it is for each of us if we come humbly to Christ, being willing ourselves to forgive, to love, to address ills and wrongs; and to seek the Lord’s will in our lives and His awesome forgiveness of us, which has shown from the Cross.
#20 Very Rev. William DuBovik on 2008-07-23 08:53
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