Monday, August 11. 2008
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Three powerful statements--the more so since they were delivered in front of Metropolitan Herman. And all he can do is sit there, like a bump on a log, looking alternately bored and disgruntled. What a paragon of sanctity and leadership!
It is far past time that this "paragon" was ridden out of town on a rail--tarred and feathered. Then we could all claim to be "Bolshies" in the inimical phrase of one the Metropolitan's sycophantic acolytes.
I do hope some memorable event is being planned for the AAC in November.
#1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-11 08:35
Same old, same old. Even + Herman sat there and no one stuck a fork in him to tell him HE'S WELL-DONE! How ridiculous is this to go on and on with this when what is needed is + Herman's resignation? Where are the civil suits against these people? These people are thieves. Doesn't anyone have the cajones to remove the problem? Is the MC still emasculated? How are you going to heal when the cancer is still in place?
#2 Ano-nymous on 2008-08-11 11:04
I agree with Fr. Ivanoff and especially on one point. That is the churches strategic direction is best shown by its spending and spending on evangelism is insufficient.
Other priests in the NJ town hall also asked to change Fair Share to tithing. I believe tithing is a first step at the parish level to stop the lies and start telling the truth and I believe tithing/giving can help the church evangelize. Ultimately, tithing/giving should result in no net financial change for the national church in year one. I know the annual budgets of two churches and both are just above tithing with the Fair Share calculation.
A church that is currently spending say 14k on a general fund budget of 100k is giving at 14%. A church that is currently spending say 8k on a general fund budget of 80k is tithing at 10%. These amounts should remain the same in the first year. Only the Diocesan Bishop could change the amounts and he could only change them within a range (say 5 to 15%) and within a range (say 1%) for any given year. As far as headcounts are concerned, measure the priest's performance on the Sacraments; not cash flow.
I can think of so many positives from this change. For a small new mission church with an annual budget of 80k, rather than requiring them to give a tithe or 10%, the Bishop could ask them for 5% and to use the other 5% for debt service or building fund escrows, etc. For a well established church with no building debt and a financially healthy parish, they can afford to give say 14%.
I am entirely disgusted with the notion that a small parish in Alaska with 40 members must lie about assessments and I am equally disgusted with priests and parishes trying to determine their 'membership' headcounts with a crystal ball every year. Its more absurd than budgeting and we all know it.
Another positive is that the priest doesn't need to tell a newcomer who is considering Orthoxy we have a 200 dollar annual membership fee.
On the downside, the Diocesan Bishop would need to review his parishes and their amounts and each church would need to submit a request for a change to the Bishop and/or the Bishops would need to submit a request for a change to the parish. The Bishop might also need to use another gauge for performance to determine the needs for missions where there isn't much money in neighboring communities, but lots of people..
Has this ever been proposed in a Resolution at any previous AAC?
In an earlier thread, someone mentioned the ADM monies were given from 1992 to 1996 under a different OCA Treasurer, but noone names that person. Who was it? Was it Dn. Wheeler and weren't the monies landed in other accounts or am I missing another piece?
#3 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-11 19:01
AMEN to the commentaries on tithing. It works for the Diocese of the South, and there is no reason that it can't work elsewhere. Transition from the "head tax" to the tithe would require a lot of hard work, some creative thinking, and a willingness to be responsive to the circumstances of the constituent parishes and missions and, above all else, a good deal of faith and courage at each level of our church. The dioceses need to formulate their own strategies for implementation, rather than sit and wait for a resolution of the existing leadership crisis in our church.
Milos Konjevich, Treasurer
Diocese of the South
#3.1 Milos Konjevich on 2008-08-12 09:34
Daniel, if you knew the parish that Michael Geeza attends and who his parish priest is, you would have gotten the subtely of the comment. Mr. Geeza is a parishioner of Wayne, NJ. Fr. Paul Kucynda is the priest. Kucynda was the treasurer from 1989-1996. Eric Wheeler took over from Kucynda and shortly thereafter noticed the irregularities of the books. What does that imply to you? The lightening fast run of Herman and Kucynda to Proskauer Rose after firing Kondratick makes it look all the more suspicious, no?
Kucynda is also the parish priest of Larry Tosi, treasurer of the DC diocese who said we can't handle the truth and famous for the numberless treasurer reports Ė weíre doing so good, who NEEDS to see numbers? Larry is the brother of Fr. Eric, the new OCA Secretary, also hailing from Fr. Paul's parish. But they want you to believe that new people have come in, people who's names you probably aren't familiar with (since you didn't know the treasurer in 92-96), like Fr. Eric Tosi. Fr. Eric Tosi is not only a former son of Wayne, he's also took over the highly valued Las Vegas parish after Nikolai shuffled off to Alaska - you think they give that to ANYONE? He also took over for Kucynda in the missions department. His brother has been diocesan treasurer for 10 years. He's no outsider, he's no new name, just one more of the second tier people from the administration past brought in to fool you into thinking things have changed. Thereís too much to hide, too much that can cause damage for them to gamble in putting in someone they donít know, they donít trust, they canít coerce. Don't buy it for a second that things have changed.
#3.2 Anonymous on 2008-08-12 11:28
Does anyone else find all these roads leading to Wayne odd. This comment needs to be read over and over again until it sinks in.
WE'VE BEEN HAD!
#3.2.1 no name on 2008-08-12 12:33
And lest we forget, Fr Eric Tosi's father-in-law is Archpriest Joseph Lickwar, who's daughter is Fr Eric Tosi's wife!!!!!
#3.2.2 Anonymous on 2008-08-12 12:34
And Fr Lickwar is the Chancellor for Herman in the New York/Washington diocese.
The fix continues to be in .....
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2008-08-13 10:34
Perhaps this is could be an option.
The Greek Orthodox Church says it wants to convert a 17th Century monastery into a prison for convicted clerics.
The Holy Synod has applied for permission to turn the Hrysopighi monastery in the southern Peloponnese peninsula into a correctional facility.
It hopes the recently convicted Bishop of Attica, Panteleimon, will be able to serve out his six-year sentence for embezzlement in the monastery.
The plan could later be extended to other errant priests, officials said.
Panteleimon, who is in his 70s, was convicted a month ago of embezzling around 200,000 euros ($317,000; £158,000) from a monastery under his jurisdiction.
Greek news reports say he is currently having a tough time in the country's top security Korydallos prison, suffering from taunts by fellow prisoners.
But the proposal to move him to what the Synod calls more "appropriate surroundings" has aroused considerable opposition from people who believe that convicted priests should endure the same conditions as other law-breakers, says the BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens.
Panteleimon is the most high-profile cleric in jail, but another influential priest is facing trial for allegedly bribing judges, while the authorities have accused members of a rebel monastery on Mount Athos - Greece's semi-autonomous religious enclave - of embezzling Church property.
They deny the allegations against them.
#4 FT on 2008-08-12 06:21
Most of the reflections that have been posted the last month or so have been very encouraging in terms of stating a solidarity that the OCA must be committed to a higher calling and integrity than from "embezzlement" as so stated by our recent OCA treasurer.
This is very encouraging and inspiring as we near the joint Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council meeting to be held September 3rd throuh 5th.
Mark Stokoe has provided a website in which we can become of common voice to help all of us reach that higher level of honesty and integrity that may have been very difficult otherwise.
The upcoming joint session of the HS and MC to discuss the SIC report, of which WE THE FAITHFUL are supposed to also see, should really hopefully set a new course for the OCA.
Dear Metropolitan Herman:
Your fight to mataing your current position should be well broken after that report is out. You may already know that. And you will be staring at probably some 40-50 people, well versed in the recent past events, at that joint sesssion in September who will most likely use even greater voice for your retirement or resignation.
This is not a bad thing.
Rejoice at the years you will have left to meditate, reflect, repent, and help the church in ways you may not even have thought of yet.
#5 Patty Schellbach on 2008-08-12 06:47
Mat. Mariam Vernak, in her impressive letter included this: "..The upcoming AAC will be able to address my concerns.......only if all is disclosed so that we can start afresh..."
I think most who have been reading everything available will agree that the present leadership expects this present 'town hall' exercise will provide everyone a chance to 'vent' so that everyone will then 'feel better having accomplished nothing beyond venting' with the intention that nothing important enough to lead to health will change.
Still there is the hiding of information, the sham further 'accountability investigative committees' that remind a person of very active hamsters constantly moving within the pre-set limits of their cage so as to give the appearance of 'productive activity'. Still we see Mr. Nescott facing shenanigans from the 'boys (not men) in black' when trying to do basic prep-work.
Therefore those who will attend the AAC should agree in advance upon a plan of action to be implemented in the context of lack of truth, hiding or delaying information, or more or less, more shenanigans.
The AAC members should agree in advance upon an action to be implemented that makes the assumption that the darkest plausable interpretation of events is true. If should transparency and truth not happen at the AAC, adopt that resolution.
#6 Harry Coin on 2008-08-12 07:33
What OCA parish do you belong to? Are you a member of the OCA or a member of the GOA?
#6.1 Just Curious on 2008-08-12 11:48
I don't know Harry Coin, and I doubt he needs my commentary, but I'll offer some defense.
Regardless of GOA, OCA, Antiochian, Romanian, Serbian, I take it Harry Coin is Orthodox. Would you also ask, Am I my brother's keeper?
Orthodoxy first (which includes telling the truth); Ethnicity second or somewhere further down the line. The OCA could use all the help it can get from truly caring and faithful members of the Orthodox community and even beyond.
We just returned from Matushka Slimak's panikida tonight. I'll offer a couple of quick comments as I found the gathering to be in many ways more important and more significant than any of these town hall meetings. I attended the Cleveland meeting and posted some comments on the Yahoo forum. These are not Town Hall meetings; there is no response from the Hierarchs. The discussion is a one way street. Quite frankly, this OCA News site has provided much, much more of a true Town Hall Forum. If the Hierarchs don't know where the OCA laity (and former laity) stand, I'll gladly print them a copy of the history of this site, all its documents, and comments free of charge. The Town Hall concept was a good idea, but without dialogue from the leadership, they have proven to be a waste of time and money. Yes, Fr. Tasos comments on a lack of money for the forensic accounting investigation. The town halls have not been a huge expense for the administration, but add to it the cost of the clergy and laity driving long distances to attend these meetings and you have more time and money being wasted.
No, tonight's Panikida offered greater inspiration. Fr. Slimak was seated in his wheelchair with his oxygen next to his beloved. At the conclusion of the service and singing of Memory Eternal, Fr. Basil sang Vechnaya Pamyat by himself, and loud enough for the entire congregation to hear. That was moving, and when we walked up to offer a farewell kiss, Fr. Basil was positioned with a cross for veneration and offered the words "Jesus Christ is among us". He did not use the shorter and more common "Christ is among us". Perhaps it's nothing, but his words "Jesus Christ is among us" still resonate in my head. Or perhaps it was Fr. Basil's condition. He did not appear well. Yet many of us hear his typed voice on the Forum and his unending call for the OCA members to call the police. Call the police in S. Cannan, call the police in Syosset, call the FBI, call the NY State Attorney General. Yes, he is sometimes caustic, but here is this severly weakened man and he can see through all the BS. He's been sounding the police siren for several years now. I hope he gets to see some justice. Fr. Tasos has identified embezzlement, and a lack of money for the forensics. Has he filed the claim with the OCA insurance carrier to begin the recovery? Surely the Chancellor was a bonded employee? Fr. Tasos, is it not your duty to God and man to report the theft to the police?
During the reception following the service, I chatted with a few folks. Some are still scared about the statement that "The truth will kill the church". I spread my arms for a huddle and commented, the truth will not kill the church, we are the church. Pat, you and me and Kathy and Ted and Alice and Erin and the brave priests and Hierarch who can stand up for the truth are the church. No, what could kill the OCA is allowing the evil to continue and grow. It's allowing millions in donations to be diverted to illicit spending. Allowing the secrets to remain underground and continuing to feed the monster is what will kill the Truth that is dwindling in the OCA. Face reality, you have received the gift of the True Faith (Capital T) and you fear that the truth (small t) will kill the church? Nonsense!
I reflected tonight on the deafening silence of so many priests and hierarchs, do you not fear God? Will you be remembered as Fr. Slimak - aged, tired, weak, saddened by his loss, but still with the strength to call for truth and honesty, or will you stand by and remain complicit, proclaiming the Gospel, but turning a blind eye? Perhaps you will shun (yes, the Amish/Mennonite response) those Orthodox brethren who cry for justice. Yes, I've also seen worse, with brothers trying to intimidate those asking for the truth (What happened after the Cleveland Town Hall meeting? What is happening at the Ansonia council meetings?). Do the clergy, laity and hierarchs of the OCA fear the truth or do they fear The Lord? The truth in this crisis is the only hope for rebirth of the OCA. There is no doubt, the Lord is watching which paths are being selected. In this case, the easy path is the path of truth; the difficult trail is that of lies, cover-up, deception, shunning and intimidation. Don't mock God, pick the easy path, it leads to a better place.
Memory Eternal, Matushka Slimak.
#6.1.1 Ken Kozak on 2008-08-12 21:52
Sorry to say, that my brief comment was not printed or included in these comments.
All I asked was what is a "TOWN HALL" Meeting?
My comnments I surmise are not important to your town hall meetings because I probably struck some truthful nerves!
All talk, talk,talk,talk it seems. The grassroots have no idea what is happenning at all these TOWN HALL MEETINGS? Very political, as far as I can understand the situation.
Why don't we just live our Christian, Orthodox life in the Light of the Gospels? Then perhaps all these power struggles will cease once and for all
#7 annonymous on 2008-08-12 07:35
How nice? Herman has ordered the rest of the Synod to be quiet at the town halls? Their presence nothing more than to be a paperweight on the chair. Nothing like loudly proclaiming the Gospel and living the truth, eh? Oh, that's right, we need a SPECIAL resolution at the AAC to tell the truth. So, until THAT gets passed the bishops can be silent or lie as much as they want, irrespective of what the Gospel teaches. Maybe Herman will turn his head at the word Hypocrite and Godless as he did at Fraud. Sounds like that word hit a nerve!
The order to keep the bishops quiet is another fact in the proof that these guys are in danger of civil penalities. Herman put out the gag order so that they say NOTHING that would incriminate him or themselves. This wasn't like one of Clinton's "listening tours", this was stonewalling, this was a sign of being scared. A sign that something might be coming down the pike shortly? If you think they are going to speak at the AAC, take this as the sign that there's nary a word they are going to speak at the AAC concerning this. And if they aren't going to speak, they aren't going to stand for much of it to be spoken, officially, by others as well. Get over the fantasy that the AAC is going to do any good.
That gag order speaks volumes of the reach of the criminality that is rampant upon the bishops in the Synod. Its incredible now that each of them have been told to keep quiet. I would suppose that that conference call they had earlier this month dealt a lot to do with that. Herman and lawyers might have felt these guys were saying a lot more than they should which should be nothing.
Keep up the pressure people....
#8 Anonymous on 2008-08-12 11:16
You speak of the bishops being told not to say much at the Town Hall meetings. That could be an effort to keep them from saying anything that +Herman and the lawyers believe is better left unsaid, I suppose. The party line explanation is that the Town Hall meetings were designed to "listen" to the people, not to lecture, nor explain, nor enter a dialogue. The two concepts are of course, highly compatible.
I thought it was interesting that at the Bethlehem Town Hall (EPA), the host rector, who happens to have been OCA Treasurer from 2001-2005, made a point of not attending the meeting, though he strolled through several times, on his way to the kitchen. Rumor was, and it is only a rumor, that he had been advised by the lawyers to steer clear of a public situation in which someone might ask him something. ...
Perhaps there are other explanations for absences of this sort, and yet, under the current circumstances, there is nothing but suspicion and distrust, an inevitable outcome of the way this mess has been handled. Cate
#8.1 Cate on 2008-08-12 14:24
Father Shafran - we DO want to move ahead but haven't gained a fraction of an inch in three years! During that time, many have abandoned the OCA and more will drop out because there is no trust in our leadership. Our metropolitan and bishops have heard from enough people to know wherein lay the problems towards moving forward. This is not a case for blind faith in a leadership that has repeatedly lined its own pockets, committed immoral deeds, and turned a blind eye and deaf ear to our rehtoric.
You bet we're angry and will continue to be so until there is satisfactory resolution or we drop out and turn our backs on the OCA.
#9 ANON on 2008-08-12 13:59
I have to say that I am very sad that the respose to the scandal and the outrageous conduct of the SOB'S has been so weak.
Look at the numbers on the comment section here, and on the Herman petition. Where are the large numbers? Where is the outrage?
The AAC will be in Pittbgh and I see no real grass roots organizing of protests. ...
We need action. We need new bishops, and even a new look at the administration. Fire the bottom dwelling lawyers, dump these bishops. It is long past time to take this Church back from the soiled hands of its custodians.
Each of us, must go back to our parishes and ORGANIZE.
Think about it, then do it! Stokoe can't carry the burden himself, no one is doing their fair share. Let's get the vote out!
#10 no name on 2008-08-12 14:47
Before you go making assumptions about the numbers on the petition, consider first there are only about 27k members. Of those 27 thousand, expect at least six thousand are not internet users, so that gets you down to at least 21k possible signers. Now consider that of the 21k, at least half, if not more are quite content to go through life going to church and nothing more. Gives you 11k. Now consider that at least half of those don't want to risk any chastisement from the church for asking for Herman's resignation, gives you 6k. Now consider about 2/3rds of the rest have given full credit to Kondratick and you are down to the 1-2k that actually signed.
Taking a look at my own reasons for signing it. I would have never signed it except for what the Metropolitan pulled with Nescott. Keep a powerful, but thieving priest around for years, but fire a powerless MC member? That's an abuse of power.
To be frank, I feel sorry for the Metropolitan. His is an incredible comedy of errors and I think that is being nice.
To be even more frank, I can't think of any member of the Synod that should be Metropolitan.
#10.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-12 20:24
D.E. Fall writes:
"To be frank, I feel sorry for the Metropolitan. His is an incredible comedy of errors and I think that is being nice."
No matter your mathematics, it is not enough.
Lets keep up the pressure! ORGANIZE.
#10.1.1 no name on 2008-08-13 09:45
Now the Met says all bishops are *instructed to say nothing*? So he will do he same? Well, with such outstanding leadership I think it's clear how things got this way. For some centuries it would appear there has been a cult of bachelorhood we've been forced to venerate and honor. Completely apart from any idea of bishops in the Church. It is now apparent, if it weren't before, that this parallel faith along side Orthodox Christianity is false. The bishops are instructed to say nothing. This is nothing less than insulting. They are supposedly teachers, pastors. They are remembered "among the first" in petitions in the liturgy, they take the first place in everything and have betrayed the trust placed in them. It's time to fire the lot. Time for them to get actual jobs. Time for elections. Real elections. There's room in Australia for lots more of them.
#11 anon on 2008-08-12 22:12
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