Wednesday, October 8. 2008
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Everybody who is in, or was in, the OCA, both clergy and laity, needs to stop, repent, and learn to do good.
(Editor's note: Well said, but it applies to everyone - not just those of us in the OCA.)
2801, Newman Rd, RR#5, Spencerville, Ontario, Canada
8 October 2008
TO THE FAITHFUL OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF CANADA
Dear Brothers, and Sisters,
Christ is in our midst
In early September, the Orthodox Church in America experienced a culmination,
of sorts, of a long period of anxiety: the report of the Special Investigative Committee, the
leave-taking, of Metropolitan Herman, the interim appointment, by the Holy Synod of
Bishops, of Archbishop DIMITRI as Locum Tenens of the Metropolitan See (and of the
OCA), and me as Administrator, not to neglect the matters in Alaska, the changes to the
fiscal management, the personnel, and the administration of the Central Office of The
Orthodox Church in America, and the preparation for the All-American Assembly.
In the wake of this, I have been trying, as your Bishop, to find the words with which
to write about all of this to you, the faithful in our Archdiocese, in order to respond to the
questions that must be in your minds, and. to try to give some kind wisdom about the
time that we are in.
This is all impossible challenge at many different levels. My days, and each
moment of them, my heart, and my mind, are overwhelmingly overwhelmed. To
respond, in a comprehensive way to your concerns, to respond about the past, present,
and future, and to respond, in these circumstances, pastorally, as your Bishop,
is difficult in the extreme. As to the past, the number of concerns, moments, conversations,
information, perceptions, and dynamics of relationships is, simply, the " expanding universe".
The questions, and concerns, are so many, and so broad as to be impossible to address fully in
anything less than a book. As to the present, my motive for this letter now will certainly
be questioned. As to the future, my status, as with many others, is in question, I cannot
change these reactions. I also cannot abandon my position as your Father.
There has been a real sense that it would be better that I simply say, and do nothing.
But of course, this is, in a sense, the major thrust of your concerns about the past. While
I am not unaware of your concerns, nor to your response to what, I write here, and, in the
face of my concern that this may produce more harm than, healing, I take the risk of writing
this, as your Bishop, in pastoral response.
In August when the Holy Synod made a general confession of our weaknesses, and
failures to act in response to what had been going on, there was criticism that this was too
general, too little, too late, insincere, and self-serving. There are so many issues of time,
knowledge, communication, perception, relationship, process, and resultant consequences,
as I said earlier that it is simplistic, naive, and too-quickly condemning to be a healthy
response by the faithful. Furthermore, it was a sincere confession, even in the face of the call
for specifics, a sincere confession of us all together, and at the same time of each of us.
What was this "'general" confession? I speak for myself. You know who i am. I do
not quickly jump to confrontation. I do not like confrontation as a response to life, nor to
the gospel. I am, l suppose, a contradiction to the core -- a "Viking", and a would be
gentleman. So my crime is this: I let things happen. I believe in people's being the image
of God; l know the weaknesses in the character of Man. I know my own. Is there a need
to identify these weaknesses, one by one ? How did l respond, in, all these circumstances,
given that you know who I am, that is such a surprise to you? It is a different matter,
however to critique the make-up/weaknesses of a person as opposed to his/ her integrity,
You must know the expression "discretion is the better part of valour". It is,
admittedly, my way, often to a fault. lt is possible that this discretion overtook valour, or
that it overcame the obligations of my office. Although I do admit the trouble this
characteristic causes others, and the sorrow it causes, I do not accept that it means that I
lack integrity, or am therefore weak. I accept responsibility, nevertheless, for the negative
consequences of my actions, and/or inactions, and I will, by your holy prayers, do what
I can to overcome the negative characteristics of my personality, and the sin.
There was an obvious need for accountability, and transparency about fiscal matters.
This has been responded to. There are larger issues regarding relationships -- the
Metropolitan, the Holy Synod , the Metropolitan Council, the All-American Assembly,
decision-making, communication about matters involving the life of the Church, and its
members, pastoral needs, and of processes of conflict resolution. In this sense, the
"culmination" that I mentioned earlier, is an opportunity to enter into a God-breathed,
important, life-giving process of reconciliation, and transfiguration. This, can be, if we
want, a great opportunity for dialogue.
And to you, the faithful in our Archdiocese, I voice my lament, not only about my
failures, and limitations, but also, and even primarily about my inability to be present
amongst you, to be with those that I love, to be more fully father. There is nothing more,
whether with you the clergy or with you the faithful, by which I am more fulfilled.
As your Bishop, transcending my limitations, and sinfulness, may I exhort you to
work, and to pray together as “members of one another in Christ”, heeding the words of
the Apostle Paul to Ephesians, which is the theme of the up-coming 15th All-American
"4:25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, let each one of 'you speak truth With his
neighbour, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry, but do not sin; do not
let the sun go down on your anger, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let the thief
steal no longer steal, but rather, let him labour, doing honest work with his hands,
so that he may be able to give to those in need, 29 Let no evil talk come out of your
mouths, but only such as is good for edification, as fits the occasion, that, it may
impart grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in
whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31. Let all bitterness, wrath,
anger, clamour, and slander be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind
to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as, God in Christ forgave
Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.
I pray that I, we, together, will be able to live more, and more in the context of
Christ’s love, and in imitation of him. I pray that we will be, able to let Him turn us to
Him, to His Way, and that we will be able to give our hearts truly, and fully to Him. May
the Lord protect us, and save us,
Asking your holy prayers, I remain, in Christ, yours,
Archbishop of Ottawa, and of Canada
#1.1 my crime is this: I let things happen on 2008-10-11 17:06
What a pathetic response--both stylistically and substantively!
Signing himself "unworthy" is only half the story--incompetent and morally tone death should be added to his resume.
#1.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-13 09:27
"morally tone deaf"
#188.8.131.52 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-13 14:49
I agree completely.
Let us also not forget that Seraphim is well known , in some Canadian Parishes , for his hair trigger response... then his Viking roots truly show and the mighty hammer of Thor descends upon the innocent Parish!
I would like to hear from more Canadian Parishes to see how they have been treated .
James , worst of sinners
#184.108.40.206.1 Canada James on 2008-10-13 20:45
Your characterisation of Archbishop Seraphim's dealings with the parishes of this Archdiocese is utter rubbish. I've never known His Eminence to discipline a parish undeservedly. If anything, I've frequently complained about him (to his face, by the way, so that he knew who was criticising him) for not kicking butt hard enough or often enough. The last time I can recall that he disciplined a parish was some 12 or 13 years ago, when he put a group of rural parishes under interdict (to use a Latin term, sorry) for treating their priest and his family thoroughly rottenly, unjustly and cruelly. And again, the Archbishop only forbade the conduct of divine services; he did not excommunicate the worst offenders (thereby automatically removing them from their parish council positions), much less anathematise them, as they well deserved, for holding (admittedly, mostly in ignorance) heretical opinions. In other words, as usual +Seraphim pulled his punches and opted for the minimum rather than the maximum discipline.
#220.127.116.11.1.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-10-14 15:16
Citing personality traits and personal weakness is off limits to bishops by virtue of the fact that they are endowed with graces to lead courageously in truth. Now if they choose to reject those graces for whatever reason, then it must be called by its real name: sin. To whom much is given, much is expected. Calling oneself a Viking and a gentleman in order to justify one's inaction just doesn't cut the mustard in my opinion.
#18.104.22.168.1.2 Ever and anon. on 2008-10-15 05:57
Dear Mr. Tobin,
Respectfully, I must disagree with you (I believe for the first time). Archbishop Seraphim tried the best he could to explain why he failed to act as a Bishop should have had. He sounds like a lovely man, a kind soul, a great confessor, and a good priest. However, by his own admission, he has a ways to go to become a better overseer of his flock.
And, so we see yet again that we cannot look for perfection in man, whether it is inborn, acquired or granted by the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul is right: we all have failings, as well as different talents and gifts.
The problem for staffing any endeavor is to match the requirements of the project to a carefully crafted position descriptions; to find a number of candidates; to select the right persons; to help those persons grow in the job; move folks around or adjust, as necessary, and finally to let go of those who are hurting the endeavor. We have failed to use our God-given abilities in approaching the staffing problem in selecting our bishops.
To those who might object to the above process and criteria as being secular, I must point out that the Holy Scriptures and the Apostolic Canons have already done most of the work for us.
Mission: Various places in the Gospels and the Apostolic letters.
Position Description: 1 Timothy 3.
Organizational context: Acts, Epistles, and writings of the early fathers.
Candidate pool: Great variety and a large pool early on (married and unmarried), followed by progressively smaller pools of eligible men (married but celibate and unmarried and celibate, to monastics only).
Selection: Transformation from the local churches selecting the successful candidate; to the local churches recommending 2-3 candidates to the powers-that-be; to bishops essentially selecting other bishops either overtly or through manipulating the nomination process.
Training, growth and mobility: This is something that the early church could not address as it lived in expectation of the last days almost constantly. Later, the exigencies of the Empire dictated this matter. Today in the heterodox New World, there are not many possibilities for this to happen because of the paucity of bishops.
Termination: The Holy Scriptures are full of prescriptions on how to take care of problematic leaders. Nowadays, the Holy Scriptures are almost completely ignored in favor of Holy Canons. In any case, action is taken only in extreme cases and only after much damage had been done.
Here is the irony and tragedy of + Seraphim and others like him: Through no fault of their own they are thrust into situations that are above their heads and they are expected to muddle through on their own, with help only from the Lord and their peers. It is like selecting a Fine Arts major as the Chief Financial Officer.
When the state and the church were very close, the bishops could count on specialists to assist them (indeed, certain mundane administrative and financial matters were taken from their hands). They cannot count on that today for they are bound by antiquated traditions that expect them to be masters of everything in their sees. The smart ones, however, do what every successful leader does: hires/recruits experts in those areas where the bishop is not, and makes sure that finances are taken care of in an above-board manner (separation of powers and responsibilities).
They are expected to be decisive but also meek; disciplinarian but also servant-leader; monastic but live in the world; obedient even if it does harm, etc.. The contradictions are so numerous that they are bound to produce problems, errors, sins, and sometimes crimes. There are also so few bishops that there is no margin for error.
So, I do not blame any bishop personally--certainly not +Seraphim. I blame the system.
#22.214.171.124 Carl on 2008-10-13 19:33
I really can't take issue with most of your thoughtful post, except to say that by your own criteria Archbishop Seraphim is not up to the job of fulling the duties of his current office, let alone another more "exalted" one. I think his written communications make this abundantly clear, as do his actions or inaction as a member of the Synod.
I do not doubt that Archbishop Seraphim is a decent human being. But is that really the only basis on which to judge his fitness to serve as a bishop of the Church? Having been made a bishop does he continue to hold office as a matter of entitlement? Is his continued obtuseness, with respect to the scandal and those responsible for it, not a disqualifying mindset for one charged with leading the OCA out of its current morass?
Since the Archbishop is, for all practical purposes, accountable only to God and his own conscience, I ask him to reflect, as has Archbishop Job, on whether or not he is fit to continue in office. That should constitute a true test of his discernment and judgment.
#126.96.36.199.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-14 14:42
For once, I have to disagree with Kenneth Tobin.
For better or for worse, this letter strikes me as an honest reflection of a good man who is unfortunately still somewhat perplexed by how things have turned out. He knows his own heart, but perhaps does not fully appreciate how his own desires and the results of his non-actions can end up in contradiction.
There's a lot of too quick and too easy sharing of guilt going around -- we seem to have gone from no one is guilty to everyone is guilty in the blink of an eye. Finding the right balance on this is very, very hard. I keep struggling in my own mind to articulate where the balance is and fail -- I hear a sermon here or read a comment there and think "no, that's not quite it," but can't articulate exactly why or how these things are missing the mark. BUT recognizing and acknowledging that there's some stuff that's off-key in much of the communication floating around from official and semi-official sources isn't the same thing as jumping to attack and undermine every imperfect attempt at communication.
It's too simple to just say everyone's guilty and move on, but we do need to recognize that we are all most certainly imperfect and we will all continue to be imperfect. A solution is not one that throws out all our imperfect leaders in favor of ones that look better [but, being human, will inevitably turn out simply to be imperfect in new and different ways]. Rather we need to acknowledge and bear with one another's imperfections -- not by tolerating and ignoring them, but by balancing and controlling them.
Abp. Seraphim has a reputation as a loving pastor. He also has, as he acknowledges, flaws. Like any human being of good heart he is struggling to understand his flaws. Attacking him in broad terms will not help him or us come to terms with anything.
Personally, I think the flaws revealed in this mess make Abp. Seraphim a poor candidate for Metropolitan, but he remains a loving, pious, well-loved, balanced, thoughtful, reflective, admirable, and worthy archpastor for his flock.
We are come upon a very difficult time -- ready or not, we need to begin to transition to building for the future. If we do so by burying the lessons of the past, we will fail. But if we do so only by focusing on the faults of the past, we will also fail.
#1.1.2 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-10-14 12:02
The name at the bottom of your post struck a chord with me. In reflecting on your brief post I thought of these words:
"No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from."
Congratulations Mark on your election to the Metropolitan Council. With you and Gregg Nescott on the Council, I feel better already. Just one more item, I mentioned before, the President of the Council should be a member of the Council and not the Metropolitan or Chancellor. The term should be for no more then two years. Again congratulations and you have my full support. Peter J. Sredich
(Editor's note: Thank you for your best wishes. There are many wonderful people on the Council, as their work over the past two years, on all our behalf, testifies. I am honored to be counted among them at this time.)
The events of September do give cause for hope. With the preliminary SIC report released to the Church, and with Metropolitan +Herman's retirement, a shift has begun away from the cover-up of Byzantine Politics and Old World cronyism to accountability. The clericalism of the previous administration has been retired --or has it?
His Eminence Archbishop +JOB's hopeful address, describing "light at the end of the tunnel," will come to fruition only to the degree that we follow through with what has begun. I refer most immediately to continuing the preliminary special investigation, to public confession and apology of those most involved in scandal, to ecclesial discipline, and to the renunciation of perversion. On the positive side for our future, I refer to reordering our Church so as to truly reflect our pastoral ecclesiology, to planning and action toward "non-territorial" unity in the OCA, to vision and actually taking concrete steps toward jurisdictional unity in America (and turning away from the unfair, old "head tax" system of corporate funding).
We are not through the tunnel, only glimpsing light at its end. We still have to go through it.
I've already stated that ecclesial discipline is an essential act of love for a properly functioning Church. Private letters of reprimand, or a letter of thanks, or localizing hierarchical celebrations, isn’t ecclesial discipline for those most involved in scandal. If we won't correct our own leaders (or worse, if we rely on the world's courts to correct them), we are abdicating our role as a functioning Church, and certainly do not deserve autocephaly. For others involved, if an active bishop is shown to have, by silence or by active intimidation, not protected his flock from embezzlement, they should apologize specifically and publicly or be reprimanded, not given additional leadership. If someone refuses to speak with the SIC, they have refused to communicate with the Church, and have themselves broken communion.
I've also already advocated that all those named in the SIC report (as well as all our bishops, Syosset leaders and Administrative Committee members) be asked to address the upcoming AAC, admitting their involvement and apologizing or explaining themselves. This is essential for both trust and resolve to begin. Anything less would be to continue to ignore the sin in our midst. Our corporate goal is to "walk in the light, as Christ is in the light, having fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus covering our sin." But in order to have fellowship, and in order to have our sins covered, we are to walk in the light. Truly, "If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth... but if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us and cleanse us." I believe this is as true for the OCA corporately as it is true for Christians individually.
Another uncomfortable but necessary step is to continue our special investigation, to the conclusion of answering all of Protodeacon Eric Wheeler's allegations.
The SIC report of its own admission is a preliminary report. It was admittedly limited in its scope and focus. For instance, specific allegations of homosexual conduct and blackmail have not been fully investigated. This is glaring omission on the part of the SIC report. What the SIC report uncovered was hardly what one leader described as information which, if known publicly, would “destroy the Church.” As one blogger put it, “There's a mountain of information that has not been revealed and they are working their duffs off to keep it that way.” Even the original SC states, “Several key questions remain to be answered...for the completion of the investigation.” As a starter, the original SC exhibit HH, Statement of the SC, Jan 31 +2007, which outlines questions that need to be answered before the investigation can be finalized, should be released.
+Theodosius' huge “discretionary” accounts must be looked into. Embezzlement under +Peter must be investigated. Robert Kondratick Jr.'s direct involvement is proven by the SIC, yet he hasn’t even been interviewed. Wayne Sova must be found; our P.R. file must be obtained. The SIC states they were “unable to find documentation for the Saint Sergius Chapel account funds” and they “remain untraceable,” but this is not true. Besides the cash transactions, it was a checking account, and checking accounts are traceable. "Perks” to Administrative Committee members who were complicit with Kondratick should be investigated. The original SC recommends a transcript be made of the Moscow tape. Alaskan land needs to be accounted for. We should be looking closer into the roles of Fr Joe Fester and Fr David Brum (Bob's best friends and “inner circle,” full time Syosset employees all through the fraud perpetrated by Kondratick). We should request the civil authorities investigate Richard Rock for fraud in creating a false paper trail for the ADM monies. The direct involvement of non-Orthodox and Orthodox in Las Vegas, including Rock and Turbey, has yet to be investigated.
As a guideline, we should use His Eminence's question, “Are the allegations true, or false?,” referring to each allegation in A Call To Accountability, as a minimal measure of whether the investigation may be considered complete, and the investigation should go wherever the facts uncovered lead. The most basic of questions, “Who all knew about funds outside of the financial reports provided the administrative bodies of the church?,” has yet to be answered. “Who all knew about large caches of liturgical items procured from trips to Russia being offered for sale to OCA clergy and parishes at a high markup and the profits be unreported?” has yet an answer. “What are the endowments / bequests which the OCA has received, and their total value, and who all knew about them?” has yet to be investigated. What checks did +Theodosius make out from his multi-million dollar “discretionary” fund? What about gifts to relatives and “friends of Syosset,” such as the allegation about +Theodosius giving a car to a family member?
If we consider the preliminary SIC report to be the end of it, we are deluding ourselves. And if we think Metropolitan +Herman's retirement takes all the cover-up away, we're simply using him as a fall guy, just as he sought to use Bob as his fall guy. ﻿As one post stated, “The 'forgive-and-forget' approach...is one that is practiced with regularity in dysfunctional families, of which the OCA is just one
example. This view is rooted in denial, because it misunderstands the essence of forgiveness.”
We are not out of the tunnel. We have only begun to turn around, so now we can see the glimmer of light in the direction we must go to leave the tunnel and enter the light.
The darkness of clericalism continues. Witness the letter to Metropolitan +Herman, which doesn't even acknowledge the true reason for his retirement, and the Holy Synod's expression of “thanks for primatial service.” Witness various Deans demanding clergy read +Seraphim's inaccurate letter in the churches, against their conscience. Witness the elevation of SIC-named episcopal enablers. This is the same old dishonesty and coverup, and we are allowing it to continue in our midst. As another blogger put it, “The effect of moving on at this point, is we will have left the cancer in it's place.”
The events of September have given me hope, too, but only if we continue our investigation, as unpleasant as it may be, to its conclusion of answering all allegations.
Father Mark Hodges
When is it enough ? Are you out for blood Father ? This church is dismantled and seperated because of people like you. Why don't you go after these people yourself ? You hide behind this website .
#3.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-08 16:50
More than Fr. Mark want the cancer excised. Without full disclosure, our murky life living between the lines will only continue. Hiding behind this website? The problem with you all is that you love to shoot the messenger in order to obscure the message, especially when it is shining a light in dark corners. We are on to your tactics and cannot let the OCA live in those dark corners any longer.
#3.1.1 Anon. on 2008-10-08 20:36
Thank you Fr. Mark once again, extremely well stated! I haven't spent much time on this site; usually just glancing at headlines. However, when I've wanted to add a comment, I usually see one of your postings and just keep nodding my head in agreement.
You again provide clarity and meaningful rationale. There is still a great deal of work and you (among many I hope) have not lost site. The OCA didn't get this dysfunctional in 2 or 3 or 10 years. The conditions have evolved for over 20 years as we have now learned of the misappropriation (theft) of Armenian earthquake relief funds back in 1988. As I've stated before, money is the easy thing to track, the difficult issue is when did the moral decay begin?
The true problem is the immorality that you clearly seek to address. The immorality helped to fuel the financial malfeasance, not the other way around. It will take time to uncover the deep rooted, underlying problems. While MH, MT and BK are essentially gone from active duty in the OCA, they still exhibit strong underlying influence and are only 3 pieces of the puzzle. There are many obstacles that remain. There is still a very tight knit group that is doing everything they can to keep the silence. Look out for the old guard returning delegates to the North American Council seeking to just move forward without digging out the roots of this problem. Just like in the mafia, where members claim allegiance to “the family”, we have folks who will protect their “families” at all costs. Unfortunately, “the family” is even ahead of the Church. How one can justify putting “the family” ahead of the Church, I do not know, but God will not allow it to stand. It is the Church that gave the family, not the family that provided us with the Church.
It will take a significant amount of time to clean up the OCA, especially when there are senior clergy telling their parishioners that Met. Herman retired as he was ailing with a medical condition. North American Council members don't let that one go down in the history books as it is currently written! What nonsense! That is like saying that Enron went bankrupt because they couldn't meet their financial obligations. Yes, a true fact, but only true for a lawyer or a Pharisee. The real truth of Enron's bankruptcy was moral decay, greed, theft and corruption. The same raunchy theme echoed by Syosset.
Peace, strength and furtherance to you Fr. Mark and those like you, who seek the truth and look to move forward from the lies and deception. Get this House cleaned up and the OCA faithful may not only rest, but they may also begin to grow.
God give you peaceful rest, Fr. Basil Slimak. I will forever remember your simple words of Jesus Christ at your Matushka’s funeral. May we also remember your longtime shouts for the police and request for a quick end to the OCA scandal. Memory eternal.
#3.2 Ken Kozak on 2008-10-08 17:09
Confined to the parameters that Father Hodges outlines, I don't see how this constitutes a "witch hunt" or a lust for blood. Perhaps in exchange for a full and complete "confession" and cooperation by those involved, we could arrange for no civil or criminal prosecution? Is that sufficiently forgiving and merciful? But I leave those details to Mr. Nescott.
Father Hodges is absolutely right that the underlying clericalism that created this mess must be fully exorcised. Until it is, it's only a matter of time before we get round 2 of corruption, cover up and clericalism run amok.
#3.3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-09 05:51
His Beatitude is gone. The SIC report is in the hands of the Nassau County, NY, district attorney. If they find evidence of criminality, they will present it to a grand jury. The process takes time, and they only received the report 10 days ago. How about a moratorium for a little while on the hysterical demands that heads roll?
I don't believe anyone will be well served if we take this kind of frothing at the mouth to the AIC. We need cool heads focusing on how to move our church forward. The patient is still in a very weakened condition, as it were, and it doesn't help our chances of recovery to have people (especially priests) running around in the recovery room shouting for retribution.
Just my two cents.
On another topic, I was very surprised to read that the cost of maintaining the Syosset estate runs to $26,000 a month. I'd be really interested to know what this means exactly. Surely, simply maintaining the physical plant can't cost this much? Or maybe I ought to say shouldn't cost this much. What else besides basic upkeep is included in the 26K?
(Editor's note: The figure was mistated at the Diocesan Assembly of the Midwest. The actual figure is $17,700 a month. )
#3.4 Morton on 2008-10-10 06:08
I personally think the people of the OCA deserve to know the truth. And, I believe that is what Fr. Hodges is calling for. Not blood, but truth. In the light darkness (evil acts) will disappear. Not acting and knowing, according to Bishop Seraphim's words, which he says he is quilty of, is compliance. Silence is agreement. So the churches delegates to the aac and the Synod of Bishops will elevate a new Metropolitan in a few weeks. I do not have faith in the present Synod of Bishops to make a good choice for the selection of the next Metropolitan.
#3.5 cbshinn on 2008-10-14 07:02
One can only hope that the demonstrated leadership and decision making ability of the Diocese of the Midwest will be contagious and carry over to the AAC.
#4 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-08 12:55
Indeed. Passing a deficit budget and expecting a decrease in membership from 6000 to 5250. Excellent models to follow.
Hogwash. The Midwest diocese is on a downward spiral. They report a loan as income and try and pass it off to reflect a fiscal statement as positive when it is negative. They only send assessment money to New York of which they collected and not what they were responsible for under the "fair share agreement."
Let us take off the rose colored glasses here and be transparent and honest in what the Midwest is reporting.
#4.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-13 09:39
"Indeed. Passing a deficit budget and expecting a decrease in membership from 6000 to 5250. Excellent models to follow."
Not very good models to follow I agree; however, how are the other dioceses making out? I'm quite sure ours in the east is also decreasing in membership. Attending my church each week, I can see the decrease in my parish. Maybe we need to face facts and the truth. Maybe we need to downsize our involvement outside the church (NCC) and concentrate on our involvement inside the church!
(Editor's note: The OCA "involvement" consists of maybe one, two people, several times a year. If you think their presence outside their own parishes would be of help to yours, I am sure both would be willing to visit if you asked.
People, stop blaming others for our problems.
We are declining in numbers not because we talk to others, but because we don't talk to each other enough and can reach no consensus when we do. As many have pointed out, is not heterodox Gospels that are the problem with the OCA - but that the OCA doesn't follow the Gospel it preaches sufficiently. In short, we have the fullness of the Faith - but it is foolish to to think we have all the answers to every question. So in this regard, I would suggest we might could learn something from our Christian, albeit heterdox, brethern , since it seems to me we continue to learn nothing from our own mistakes)
#4.1.1 Anon. on the east coast on 2008-10-13 18:15
I would like to noted that according to the report given to the last Metropolitan Council meeting in September, the operation cost for the Chancery is $17,750 a month As a comparison, the rental of a facility in any metropolitan area of 2/3 the size (8000 square feet compared to 12,000 at the chancery) at $40 a square foot (excluding any additional costs) is $26,600 a month. This was confirmed by Dn John Zarras and Fr. Michael Tassos. This may have been a mistake in the presentation to the Assembly.
- Fr. Eric Tosi
#5 Fr. Eric Tosi on 2008-10-08 14:47
Ah.... ah.... that's still a whopper for an organization of this size.
Imagine what we could do, and you should know since you were the lead in Missions before going to Syosset proper, what we could do with missions for that money. Just imaginee, Fr. Eric, just imagine...
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-08 16:17
Dear Father Eric: Your comment with respect to the cost of running Syosset, as compared to renting space in a metropolitan area, is seriously flawed. I have over 30 years experience as a commercial real estate attorney in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. I work on commercial office space leases on a regular basis, and negotiated space for my own law firm. First, excellent space next to the city with expansive views of the Potomac River is available today for $33 per square foot. I am working on just such a lease today. Space in the Northern Virginia suburbs (closer to Dulles Airport and thus more convenient for travel) is readily available at $27-$29 per square foot. Second, and perhaps more importantly, by staying in Syosset, the Central Administration is sitting upon an asset worth approximately $7 million to $9 million. Taking the lower number and investing it in safe bonds and certificates of deposit, one could easily yield 4.5% interest, or $315,000 per year ($26,250 per month). This is the hidden cost of staying in Syosset, along with the third factor, the very high cost of living as compared to other areas. If part of the sales proceeds of Syosset were used to pay of the exising Honesdale Bank loan, this would save funds at a much higher rate than 4.5%, at least as to the first $1.2 million of proceeds.
#5.2 Wayne Tatusko on 2008-10-08 17:43
Selling Syosset is necessary as a symbolic change alone, even if sold at a loss (which it would not be). As admitted here, the annual cost for Syosset maintenance alone is $213,000.
$6.5 - 7 million was the supposed value, a real estate company suggested it would have to be sold for a lot less, perhaps less than $5 million.
Our OCA treasurer said selling it AND REMAINING IN THE AREA is financially costly, but there is no need to remain in Long Island, among the most expensive real estate in the world.
An entire housing complex with land, easily converted to administration offices, could be purchased in several of the ranking 300 metropolitan areas of the U.S. for less than a year and a half of Syosset maintenance alone.
The current, "new" administration seems to want to simply go back to the way it was, minus embezzlement. But that vision of a central administration is what we must reject.
Instead of trying to hold on to the past, and all its excesses and facade of OCA world importance, our new administration should be thinking in terms of how to best serve our future vision of an American, united Church. Instead of trying to figure out how much they need, our new administration should be thinking in terms of how LITTLE we need for a functioning national administration. Thinking of an administration that SERVES local needs, rather than points to its own importance.
I submit we don't need a twelve thousand square foot mansion on Long Island, or eight thousand square feet in New York City for that matter, to minister to the needs of local parishes. As for $40 a square foot in rental, those may be New York City prices, but come to the heartland and you'll find otherwise. In fact, I contacted an excellent, reputable, long-standing commercial contracting company here in Ohio, and they will BUILD you a custom facility for between $28 - $36 a square foot. That's owned, not rented, to your specs, not needing modification. And that can be finished in three months from the time you submit archetectural drawings (which can be done for free by Orthodox faithful).
Selling Syosset and relocating elsewhere would garner more than enough to put the OCA completely out of debt, including distributing all stolen charity, and have plenty left over.
But most importantly, selling Syosset would confirm to us all that we are indeed making a complete break with the corruption and concern for image of the past, and beseeching God for a new start.
Father Mark Hodges
To Fr Mark Hodges and all others who have visited the Chancery in Syosset in person, as I have: Please confirm with the rest of those who view this website the accuracy of the following: As Fr Eric Tossi stated, the Chancery complex is about 12,000 square feet. However, the size of the St Sergius Chapel, in ratio to the rest of the facility, is miniscule in size!!! This topographical reality manifests a very interesting spiritual perspective on the part of our Church "leaders": apparently, the offices, dining facilities, archives, etc., are more important than what should be the spiritual center of the Chancery; they seem to be more important than the church building/chapel, where we gather as Church to worship God, proclaim the Gospel liturgically, and witness to His Kingdom! For this reason alone, I support the idea of selling the Syosset property and relocating elsewhere, where a church building/chapel can be built large enough in proportion to the rest of the facilities (offices, etc.) to show what is really important, "the one thing needful" that our Lord proclaimed!!
(Editor's note: It is not the size of the chapel, but what is done there that matters. We do not need big buildings or chapels to show we are Christians. We need bigger hearts, deeper faith, and wider perspectives to do that more successfully.)
#5.3.1 David Barrett on 2008-10-09 08:46
True! What I should have clarified (and which you have given me an opportunity to do now, thank you) is not that we need a big, cathedral-size chapel for our Chancery/OCA headquarters, but rather, smaller, more humble space for the day-to-day workings of the Church administration! Why do we need such grandiose facilities and grounds for this work to take place! Again, I am not calling for a Gothic-sized chapel; it's just that the St Sergius Chapel, in relation to the humongous, not-needed size of the rest of the Chancery, seems small in comparison! My apologies for not clarifying that in my original post! And, thanks again, Mark, for your honesty in noticing these small, yet essential, details!
#188.8.131.52 David Barrett on 2008-10-09 12:52
Please note that the footage that David mentions speaks nothing of the large land footprint. This is not a house, or mansion, that has a 50 foot space from road to door. While people have centered on the house itself, the amount of land on which it sits is very considerable and requires a good deal of costly maintenance and to what end?
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-10-12 09:21
Here's a better idea. Sell the Syosset property for the $6-7 million it's worth. Take a portion of that money to expand the Cathedral in Washington to accommodate the administrative offices of the OCA. Then move there. The remaining money can be endowed for missions with the interest supplementing the Mission Planting Grant Program.
As for the Metropolitan, the OCA could buy a modest home or rent an apartment for his use in one of the many areas outside the District of Columbia. Even if we had to use some of the remaining revenue from the sale of the old HQ, we would still have a significant endowment left.
That's how a church with a Godly vision for mission would act. Oddly, if such a vision were cast and followed, I would venture a guess that we would not have to worry about money on a national level. What is it they say, "Money follows mission?"!
As always, a comment of reason from you, father. How the OCA deals with this will say much. The mission thus far, in some ways, perhaps many ways, has been to puff up the top of the OCA to look like an autocephalous Church should. Perhaps more money can be spent acting like an autocephalous Church should. I will be praying for all of you at the AAC.
#5.4.1 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2008-10-09 15:52
The only post of yours, good Father, with which I have not agreed. Selling such valuable, usable land is getting rid of a stream of income that can be used into the future. Moreover, do we really want to put 6 mil into the hands of the OCA leadership? Perhaps, but not until they are proven. Bu in ancy case, this land can be used to make money for the OCA on a regular basis. Don't sell.
#5.4.2 Anonymous on 2008-10-09 20:16
Interesting proposal, Father. Our last diocesan bishop, along with his family, donated the land and much of the money to build a beautiful "Old People's Home" (we aren't as politically correct as the US) on prime real estate here. It's a lovely complex of studio apartments, each with a veranda overlooking the harbor, a dining facility, library, physical therapy facilities and the like. The chapel is beautiful. Any elderly, needy resident of the area is eligible to live here at no cost.
He then occupied a very small apartment in the complex and took his meals, when in town (he was mostly on the road visiting parishes), with the residents of the home. His successor also uses this modest apartment and dining facility when here.
But then, we are culturally quite different from the US.
#5.4.3 Overseas Observer on 2008-10-11 01:45
For a small organization with our problems, the best cost per square foot is ZERO. Let's pack up the artifacts in the museum above the bookstore at St. Tikhon's and use that for national headquarters. We can go down to Office Depot and buy some cubicle dividers, and voila! Instant national headquarters!
#5.5 Peter McElvein on 2008-10-11 06:57
NOW we can be assured of having COMPLETE and accurate accounts of what has gone on in the MC!
I will reserve further comment for later time.
(editor's note: I don't know whether to be pleased or offended - or both! Are you suggesting that my reportage these past three years was less than accurate or complete? Hmmm....)
#6 Anonymous on 2008-10-08 16:18
Oh, no, not at all. But now the observer is part of the, well, observed. Will the transparency that has been the goal of this site be maintained now that you are part of the, for lack of a better word, ruling class?
What's the line between the journalism and the responsibilities with respect to the reported now be?
For instance, the 6 month lag between the Velencia letter and the lawsuit in which the entire MC and Synod knew what had transpired, will that be transparent as well now?
With the seat on the MC comes a lot of expectations that might not be possible to meet to a degree that people would like.
(Editor's note: The reality is not that I will often disappoint, but that sometimes I succeed. As for the Koumentakos case, there was no time lag in my reportage as the case was being investigated - and I have never reported on internal investigations of priests that are not connected with the scandal. When the court case was finally filed, it did indeed become a public issue, and given the amounts involved, part of the financial realities of the OCA in a time of scandal, and thus a story. In the future, should the OCA fail to report on such things, you can be sure that OCANEWS.org will. My hope, and goal, will be that OCA.org will break all these stories, and become a credible source of news again.)
#6.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-12 09:25
Mark, I do not fault you for the lack of transparency on the Velencia case, not now at least. Rather, it was the silence of our MC and the Synod which I feel is tragic. Six months to investigate, it results in a law suit, and the good old Fr. Velencia recieves an award while we're on the hook for 6 million more - that's what I'm peeved at.
By the way, there was a motion to add more defendents on the part of the plantiff. Does anyone know who they are?
#6.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-13 17:02
"The following morning's meeting began with elections. Two lay women - Ann Marie Mecera (OH) and Alexa Geeza (IL) - were elected to the Diocesan Council, while Mark Stokoe, editor of OCANews.org was elected as the lay delegate to the Metropolitan Council."
That is all great news! Congratulations to all of them!
Mark, now you have a vote, and now you can participate in the AAC besides reporting to us. Good luck!
(Editor's note: Always planned to, Patty. I was elected as my parish's delegate to the AAC months ago. So that part doesn't change.)
#7 Patty Schellbach on 2008-10-08 16:24
Thanks for the clarification, Mark.
Good luck and keep us posted on the "whole story!"
#7.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-10-08 18:37
And HOW did we get into spelling Met HERMAN (caps) keeping Jesus Christ (upper/lower)? No wonder the Protestant relatives laugh at us !
#7.1.1 anonymous on 2008-10-08 21:36
Congrats on getting elected to the MC.
Now, can you just stop referring to bishops as +Job and +Nikon?
(Editor's note: On the day they cease capitalizing their names. )
#8 Billy Van Strosslehoff on 2008-10-08 17:15
What if the light at the end of the tunnel is a freight train headed your way?
(editor's note: As I remember, Bugs turned and outran that train. God knows I am trying to outrun your cliche....)
#9 Anonymous on 2008-10-08 18:01
"Bugs?" As in "Bunny?" Bugs Bunny is your inspiration?
No wonder the OCA is so Looney Tunes!
(editor's note: Of course, Bugs Bunny! I am an American child of the 60's and grew up watching pn Saturday mornings. It's how I, and millions of others, were first exposed to classical music. (Who can forget Bugs as the Barber of Seville - or Elmer Fudd as Siegfried?) But the OCA is not Looney Tunes, friend. They were funny, this is not.)
#9.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-08 22:25
Bugs is a fine analogy and the cartoonish character of the OCA hierarchy as well , just as long as we don't get Porky Pig at the end, poking his head through the *glass darkly of the OCA crisis*, saying dbdbdbdbdb...That's all, folks!
#9.1.1 Ever and anon. on 2008-10-09 06:09
I don't buy the SELL SYOSSET stuff. Don't get me wrong, I above most people here would be in favor radical treatment of those involved. However, the Syosset property is a serious asset, and historical to the metropolia and the oca. We have never been smart about property, assets and history. The Syosset property should not be sold, and in fact should be historically encumbered so that it can never be sold by a group of angry lay people, righteous or not. Let us make now memories there, money isn't everything... folks.
#10 no name on 2008-10-08 19:23
Ultimately, I don't know if it's smart or not to sell Syosset. There are very good arguments for a sale, but also reasons to hold back.
But I do know that right NOW or during the next 12 - 18 months is the worst possible time to sell Syosset even if that is the wise long-term decision. This doesn't have anything to do with our internal crisis, but to the external realities of the real estate market.
#10.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-10-09 07:59
It seems to me that inquiries should be made as to whether the property can be subdivided to provide a stream of income. It may not be possible as that stretch of Route 25A seems to have a pretty large minimum lot size.
#10.1.1 Edmund Unneland on 2008-10-13 19:48
To put a proper end to the past - sell Syosset, modify the upper level of administration - that should cut at least one half million dollars and really begin anew. Only humble beginnings can lead to greatness and great people are usually humble.
A new metropolitan, chancellor, secretary, treasurer and all other officers is the only way for a complete new beginning.
(editor's note: we have a "new" chancellor, and treasurer, both of whom have proved their competance and integrity in the past year. We have a completely new secretary, and the entire chancery staff is new. We are awaiting a new Metropolitan. I don't know how much more
"new" one could ask for....)
#10.2 MP on 2008-10-09 13:00
Your version of new and others is very different.
#10.2.1 MP on 2008-10-10 06:53
Congratulations, Mark. Thank you for the tough, unrelenting and thankless reporting you've done.
Does this mean the end of ocanews.org? Will the website be changing hands, now that you're on the "other side". How do you plan to deal with the potential conflict of interest?
(Editor's note: What conflict of interest? I have never revealed confidential legal or personnel discussions from the MC; I don't plan to start now. On the other hand, I have always expressed my opinions openly on this website - only now I can do it in person in Syosset twice a year as well.)
#11 Victor Borzkowski on 2008-10-08 19:36
Mark, please understand, I'm on your side. You are a hero in this horrid scandal. But speaking strictly in terms of this website and journalistic ethics, once you are on the MC, there will be a conflict of interest. You are no longer "independent". You don't see Dick Cheney being the chief White House correspondent for the New York Times. (all political jokes aside)
I'm not saying this website can't/shouldn't continue, but much like every time CNBC reports on General Electric, it would be incumbent upon you to splash a disclaimer regarding your position on the MC.
(editor's note: no offence meant, none taken. But there is only one side here - that of the OCA. If you think a disclaimer is needed, would be helpful, or clarifying, I will indeed put one up when I begin my service.)
#11.1 Victor Borzkowski on 2008-10-09 06:56
A good point Victor, I wonder what Mark's vision is long term, even more importantly than any potential conflicts of interest, but those are real and become even more real go forward.
Mark, if you are a council member and you disagree with a direction the council takes, you sure have a great forum to develop support for your position. I'd say that is a conflict of interest. And to suggest your position is always certainly correct has a rather odd sound to it, although this is human nature.
I think Victor is right in suggesting you do have the opportunity to cause problems. I'm not suggesting you plan to, but I do see the potential as well.
Over the last few years, this website has picked the biggest fruit from the bottom of the tree. Yes, its cliche, but I'm spot on. No audits, unauditable discretionary accounts, graft of millions, etc. All pretty big stuff.
In the next few years, the fruit to pick from will get smaller. The arguments will become pettier and pettier as time goes by...or they will age like sour wine, never getting any better, just perhaps a bit worse for time.
We have already turned that corner. Two dioceses of the church have already decided to short the central church 50 bucks and pass it on to Exxon Mobil instead. I mean really folks, I can get about 180 miles on that 50 bucks and so to tell me they (cca) are wasteful is pure comedy to me.
Someone told me a couple threads back the OCA is a bad charity because its overhead costs are way over 8%. I've got news for that fellow. My priest is our chief overhead cost in our parish and we are running right around 50% or so for his salary and benefits. Almost no matter what we do, someone somewhere else can do it cheaper. Is that what the scandal will have us relegated to...always wanting to have effective use of our charity dollar? News flash, not one OCA charity buck will beat the 8% guys, not today, not tomorrow, not unless we become bigger than the big guys, which sure as hell won't happen on a reduction of contributions...
That same fellow told me the 50 bucks would be better used locally. I challenge any parish to establish the 'we can do it better than Syosset' escrow line item in their annual budget and put the 50 bucks in that line and spend it more wisely. Okay, someone might, but most won't and you all know it. That 50 bucks is beer money back home. Its like 2 1/2 cases of good beer!
The fruit from here will be harder to pick and the arguments will become pettier, most likely.
I haven't heard Mark's latest editorial condemning the actions of the DoM and the WPA for deciding to support the 50 dollar plan after the recommendation of the revered SIC was to develop a strategic plan for the central administration. Most folks would expect the strategic plan would be the basis for the resource requirement. As a member of the Metropolitan Council, you'd think that portion of the report would be as important as its recommendation for the resignation of +Herman, but I haven't seen that editorial from Mark.
Victor, you are right about potential problems. I have been glad for all that Mark has done, but I see how his choice of editorial comment could become the guiding force of OCA directions and the DoM is the first group to follow. Had Mark condemned the WPA for the 50 dollar idea in the context of the SIC report, the DoM would have probably never followed suit.
That fellow in the prior thread also suggested the Bishops are praying for me after I called for them to pray about this 50 dollar resolution. I believe the Bishops are reading and although Bishop Job is a pious man and tries to live on meager means, I hope he understands that it costs about 6 bucks for a good pint of ale here in Saint Paul and Chicago and that is only 8 glasses worth we'd sacrifice to stay at the hundred. Hell, most of us pay around 50 bucks a month for internet access to chatter along here.
For years, I have relied on the church to be my sanctuary. Getting a copy of 'The Orthodox Church' newsletter in the mail from time to time kept me involved, and even though it was tangential, I was always grateful because I knew I was a part of it. TOC is certainly not profitable and would be immediately gone under the resolution. The newsletter could go full subscription, but then people like me would have just drifted further easier.
What's worse, the 50 dollar amounts aren't even fair. Here I go again with my liberal, equitable attitudes fellow from two thread back. Don't you all agree that a church in a remote village in Alaska with a budget of 20k and 40 members is a little bit screwed paying 6000 bucks (100 to DoA and 50 to cca), that 30% of their budget. Comparitively, a church in Minnesota with a budget of 100k and 60 members would be paying ~12k today and ~9k under the proposed resolutions. Tithing by either church would result in 10k from the Minnesota church, and 2k from the poorer church in Alaska. By the way, today, that church in Alaska is forced to lie under this great head tax methodology of our church. But I digress, lying is okay at a local level.
Mark, I think there is a serious potential for your editorials and commentary to take the church in the direction you deem appropriate. This power might have been a necessary evil at the outset of the churches problems, but taken too far, you have the ability to do damage and influence things the wrong way.
If you recognize it, that could be positive. If you don't, then the Synod will need to ask you to stop.
So far, I've only been disappointed that you haven't spoken out against the 50 dollar resolutions. They clearly do not meet the recommendations of the SIC.
I'd rather not spend the next 10 years trying to be the Mark Stokoe watchdog for fair and balanced budget objective reporting!
In fact, that 50 dollar baloney doesn't even suggest what the cca do with the money. I thought the objectives of the cca were to carry out the goals of the aac (too much acronym fun for one nite!). If the cca were smart, they'd all sit back and collect their salaries and bonus themselves the rest. Oh, wait, that's kinda what happened before.
No, the aac is supposed to tell the cca what it is supposed to do. Like establish another 100 OCA parishes in 10 years.
Somehow, in the midst of the darkness, we have lost sight of the prize. We have decided that money will guide us.
#11.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-10-09 20:41
Selling the Syosett property would be akin to selling the goose that lays the golden egg. Whether the OCA central administration should be officed there, or elsewhere, or even in existence as such, is a separate question.
But, this property could be a source of regular income and selling it would be arguably an exercise in poor stewardship of the highest order.
#12 Anonymous on 2008-10-08 21:36
How, pray tell, would selling a piece of property that costs some $25,000 per month to simply keep up be "poor stewardship"?
And as to Fr. Tosi's argument that we need 8000 sq feet for four staff to have offices -- well, that's beyond logic. (Sorry, Fr. Eric, but I disagree with you on this one. BTW, how are the wife and kids? [Fr Eric was a friend and classmate of mine at seminary])
Let's just remember that St. Paul established Christianity in an awful lot of places without a mansion to head back to at the end of each day. Perhaps our bishops should rethink what apostolic succession really means.
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#12.1 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2008-10-09 06:33
There is one major component of the OCA at Syosset that could actually use more space than it has and should be faithfully addressed, and that is the archival holdings. They simply sit in boxes. Alex Liberovsky has neither the time nor the budget to do what needs to be done. I know, it's not high on many people's lists, but since the OCA is evaluating everything, perhaps we could take note of how little we seem to value our own history here in America.
#12.1.1 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2008-10-09 15:56
The report of the SIC if I recall stated the OCA needed a strategic plan or a vision, if you will.
Rather than starting the strategic plan with a dollar amount, it seems prudent the church decide the role of the central administration.
As you all my well know, I'm saddened by the 50 dollar proposal. It doesn't suggest keep an archive, it doesn't suggest have a department of evangelizing, it just says heres 50 bucks. It doesn't say move to Pennsylvania, it doesn't really say anything at all and if I recall correctly, the mission of the MC is to carry out the goals set forth by the AAC. It doesn't say pay down Honesdale early, and if I continued, I could go on for days about what it doesn't say.
Here is 50 bucks isn't a goal.
The two priests above, both of whom I respect, provide possible tactics to meet a strategic vision, but the vision is absent.
If the vision were to use our resources to the best of our abilities to build 100 new Orthodox parishes in ten years, for example, then spending a ton of money to maintain a base in New York doesn't really meet the vision. If the vision were to maintain the OCA in its current format, based in the East Coast of the US, then Syosset would meet that vision. If the vision were to keep the costs of the administration as low as possible and do as little as possible in the central administration, other tactics would be required. Even under the original hypothetical, the real estate market isn't superb right now and an implementation to selling Syosset might be years off, but that is still a tactic to an overall plan.
I guess I'd like to see the vision before I see the tactics.
Businesses and people and I guess churches flounder when they don't have a vision. Are we a church just going through the motions each Sunday in the Liturgy? Is the political landscape of the OCA so strong in the northeast than Syosset is the right place to call home and no goals are even needed? Is this why Robert Kondratick abused his office? Because we had no vision and no goals to meet?
I guess I'd like to see the discussions elevated well past here's 50 bucks, see what you can do with it to meeting the goal of the SIC and developing a strategic vision.
We know the central administration is needed. That was established and reestablished as recently as the removal of the diocesan bishop in Alaska. Is this their only purpose, to oversee Diocesan Bishops and to pressure the Synod from time to time?
I see the OCA as a ship with a clear steering problem.
Removing the fuel doesn't mean it will steer correct, it might mean it has to slow down while the course is being set, but the 50 dollars won't be getting escrowed by local churches to send to Syosset when the course is laid. That 50 bucks will be thrown to some other unworthy purpose like beers on the town or gas in the truck and I'd rather employ someone in New York working for the church than blow the 50 bucks on beer money.
My wife is very good at this sort of thing in the business world. She always relates back the tactical planning to the overall vision. In the absence of a vision, the tactics are scattered depending upon the perspectives of the folks in charge. Rather than financial reporting, reporting against how well the church worked towards meeting its underlying vision is the job of the Chancellor if you ask me.
...my thoughts, wandering as badly as the OCA has wandered in the past 20 years...
#220.127.116.11 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-10-10 08:07
I would consider it a more higher priority than others would. The past 20 years with the corruption of this bunch of miscreants should not be the time period we concentrate on. There were better, much better, times past that we should reflect upon and having an accurate and well kept history is essential towards that. Unfortunately when it comes between Socks Galore and the archives, the archives lost out. When the moral problems are ironed out, this should be towards the top of our list of areas to expend some effort.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2008-10-12 12:56
I agree that it ought to be a concern. Of course, I could easily be dismissed as biased--a historical theology Ph.D. writing a dissertation on intra-Christian converts to America. Yes, I'm biased, but so be it. Orthodoxy in America has had many difficulties throughout her history, not just the 20 years of OCA financial problems. However, if we're going to have an American Church of any kind, we would do well to know our own history and actively reflect and build upon it.
As for vision, Dan, I would say that vision needs to be built on realizations of what has to be done. The two ("tactics" and "vision") go together. You're right, though, that I have not articulated a vision here on this website. However, I hope that every once in a while, I raise an issue or aspect thereof that could help the OCA develop a vision collectively (if the OCA is not yet past that point and even if she is, I think a "vision" of what should then happen to the OCA would need to be developed).
#22.214.171.124.1 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2008-10-13 17:24
My bad, padre Cristoforo, for not completing or better clarifying my thought. I don't think it should necessarily be used for the OCA's administration at the cost of $25K per month. I meant to say the property has potential to be a revenue source, instead of a cost.
Zoning laws permitting, that property could be segmented ("subdivisions"), a small section perhaps used for modest offices for the CA IF that were even necessary (it may not be, or not -- I don't know), and the remainder rented to church groups or even corporate groups for retreats. It could be leased to a college that needs an annex. Or to a community group or theatre. Or all of the above, plus
I am not a real estate guy, but the general concept seems to make sense to me: viz, use the property as a cash cow, not as a loss leader.
For example, if someone, lets call her Rosa, wanted to rent the property for a 2 week corporate retreat, we should at least look into what the FMV of that rental would be. And if someone else, lets call him Gino, wanted to use much of the estate for a year for university purposes (like some schools have annex campuses for unanticipated growth), we could take in money rather than expense it, while the real estate market stabilize or grows.
Those may be bad specific examples, or not. I don't know. But I think the property has potential to add value to the OCA's balance sheet, and help it pay its obligations over time as they come due. Does the OCA really need to have its principal offices there? Doubtful. They can be anywhere. (And if I'm not mistaken, they are actually required by law to be in Ne York City, but I could be wrong.) But why not look into what value the property can bring on a regular basis (rather than a one time sale)? God isn't making more land, but He is making more people, so over time land values will always increase. Esp in that part of L.I.
Time may stand still for those in love, but in the cold world of real estate, there should be no Rush to take off, lest we put grace under pressure trying to remain closer to the heart. Right now, finances are in the camera eye and its easy to think of the most immediate needs, but selling such potential could be a distant early warning to a farewell to a king's ransom. Selling may bring some good, but before we determine it to be Xanadu, I just think we should consider all the possibilities: keeping it could be a financial Jacob's ladder, after all. But lets exercise our freewill with a heart full of soul, lest, in the end, we obtain something for nothing. It may be time for an OCA Bastille Day, after all ... but all I'm saying is first maybe we should see if we can eat bread and have cake.
But, entre nous, maybe I'm wrong.
#12.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-10-09 20:49
Your points are well taken. But before we rush that property into the public limelight, you better make sure that you know What you're doing. The trees may look nice there, but running real estate is a far cry from running a church.
And what if Gino, Rosa, and Hinga rent from us, and set up these theaters and bookstore shelves and fill them with immoral or anti-Christian material? And what if we get stuck with some fly-by-night organization.
In any event, it's one little victory at a time. i'll start with a new world vision for the CCA and go from there.
#126.96.36.199 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2008-10-13 10:33
Hmmm, excellent points. In the end, financial stewardship does need to be checked by moral stewardship, which can be done I would think by contract (like a contract limiting the activities on the premises for example). And the OCA could have a management company do the work so OCA doesn't end up in the day to day working man world of real estate but does have the benefit from the Billings. But its just a concept -- it may be workable, or not, but the OCA can learn about all that from people with the right expertise in the various relevant fields. There's too much detail to consider in this forum ... I think I'm going bald thinking about all the possibilities.
I stand corrected re my firm language re poor stewardship; it may not be, but I would just say that before we address the problem with hatchet, axe and saw we should at least consider all possibilities before we just take off.
#188.8.131.52.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-13 23:42
The argument against opulence could be made in many locales besides Syosset. Do we really need big churches with gorgeous--and expensive--icons and furnishings? Do we need brocade robes and jeweled crosses for our priests? Do we need rectories or retirement accounts, tuition allowances, and health insurance for priests and their families? None of the Apostles received that kind of "compensation." St. Paul was lucky most days if he ate a decent meal and slept indoors. (As was Our Lord.) Anyone on this site could name parishes that are far richer than Syosset, as well as some with multi-million dollar endowments that just sit in interest-bearing accounts, serving no discernible missionary or charitable purpose.
I imagine most Orthodox yearn for what we picture the early church to have been--somehow purer, more disciplined, closer to Our Lord. (As I read the texts, it was also plagued with endless squabbling, back sliding, disputes over who has the true doctrine...) It doesn't seem too helpful to me to point out that St. Paul had only the rags on his back, unless the people doing the pointing are willing to live that way, too. Or do live that way. A return to that time doesn't seem possible, however attractive it may appear in the abstract.
We seem almost afraid of anything that isn't small, simple, or shabby. (Except for some of our churches, as noted above.) That fear could also entail a desire to evade responsibility. Rather than fear something big and beautiful, like the Syosset property (or our big, beautiful churches, etc.), couldn't we perhaps instead see it as a gift from God? I realize this is pretty obvious...In that case, our discussion would be more about how to use the gift wisely than about how to make it go away as quickly as possible. If this challenges my comfort level, so much the better.
As to the argument over whether the "head tax" would be better off in the coffers of the local diocese--or parish--or held and managed by the central administration of the church, the scriptures give us a simple model in Acts 2:44-47 (RSV):
"And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people."
#12.1.3 Morton on 2008-10-14 06:48
Selling the Syosset property may or may not be wise. First, in the deed, I believe it states that the property can't be sold for certain reasons. This must be checked. Second, with all the property there, the property could become much more than the residence of the met.; a conference center, etc. If the property were sold, the met should remain in the NYC area due to all the other churches located in the NYC area. The 2nd St. Cathedral has plenty of room and once their building program is complete, more room will be realized. Bottom line, keep Syosset and develop it into a real center of the OCA.
(Editor's note: The deed, which is of public record, says no such thing, and contains no such restriction.)
#13 Anonymous on 2008-10-09 05:26
Unfortunately, Syosset can never be the center of anything. It is in the center of Long Island, and that is all that it is center to. Anyone who has been there knows that Syosset is very difficult to get to, not being near any major highway/parkway and the one main road leading to it from the parkway is continually congested with traffic. Even from any other of the 5 boroughs it takes an hour or more to get there (depending on the time of day and traffic). I'm sorry, but its quite inconvenient location makes it impossible to do anything with it that would involve bringing people in, people simply won't go, its not worth the hassle.
Some people have also suggested subdividing the lot and building a conference center, etc, there. Besides its poor location, I'm not sure if the municipality would even allow us to do that. The Syosset residence is surrounded by other residential mansions, I'm sure the neighbors won't like us trying to build noisy buildings which bring in a lot of traffic.
The easiest solution is to sell Syosset, move the offices to the Cathedral, have the Metropolitan live at the Bronxville property and drive in to the office, and move the archives/library somewhere else. We could attach it, for example, to one the seminaries, so that our bright graduate students will be able to work with the materials to do original research with them, or if they are into information science gain experience by doing the archival work. Such a solution would make both the offices and the archives accessible and public. The Cathedral, for example, could become a place to hold conferences and workshops on various subjects which are of interest to the public, helping to make Orthodoxy more known to the general culture.
But yes, Syosset needs to be either sold or rented out. Just the cost of cutting and maintaining the lawns is probably thousands of dollars a month (did I mention that the property is huge?). These are unneeded expenses, and we should get rid of them as soon as possible.
#13.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-13 10:41
If you are proposing moving the offices to the Cathedral as real solution, you should know that the Cathedral is incorporated entirely separate from the national church, so moving there would be as complicated as moving into any other parish in the diocese with 'extra space' (aren't here at least a few in the diocese with now empty parochial school buildings?).
And currently the Cathedral parish has signed a letter of intent with a developer to build an 8 story 34 unit condominium above the Cathedral.As someone pointed out a few threads back, it is the perfect metaphor for where the OCA has just found itself. I compare the condominium plan with your idea of an Orthodox cultural center, to Overseas Observer's description of the home for the elderly, to Fr Oliver's wish that we value our history more, and I am very, very sad.
#13.1.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-10-14 07:01
"I compare the condominium plan with your idea of an Orthodox cultural center, to Overseas Observer's description of the home for the elderly, to Fr Oliver's wish that we value our history more, and I am very, very sad."
I'm confused by this comment. When did I ever suggest an Orthodox Cultural Center? What I suggested was that the Cathedral become an integral part of Orthodoxy of not only the OCA, but Orthodoxy in general, and all of America. Just thinking about all the Orthodox people I know, and I don't think a single one of them has ever been to the Cathedral, even OCA clergy! I suppose people who live in NYC might go to church there, but I never hear of them doing anything which "opens their doors" to do anything which would in any way suggest that they are one of our major "flagship" cathedrals. If we are the Orthodox Church in America I would expect that the major cathedral would somehow interact with both Orthodoxy and America in some kind of tangible way. SCOBA meetings should regularly take place there. There should be icon exhibits which are open to the public. It should be holding concerts which are open to the public. These events should have press releases sent to the major New York newspapers. A "cultural center"? Hardly.
Like a previous poster said, we lack a vision. We lack a vision which sees a Cathedral as being a center for reaching out to one of the major cities of this planet. We lack the vision to put paying mission priests over mowing acres of lawn on Long Island. We lack the vision to actually reach out to America in a meaningful way. What are we concerned about? A mansion on Long Island which looks pretty and gives us a vague feeling of being like the Vatican? Really, is having our own little Vatican our vision?
Our Metropolitan should actually (gasp!) be a part of his Cathedral. Be there, work there, and make the Cathedral a "headquarters" of activity, learning, and outreach. Like St. Martin of Tours whom we celebrated yesterday, who built a lean-to on his Cathedral in Trier to live in, and spent his days receiving people and giving spiritual advise. Maybe then parishes across America could look to the Cathedral and have a model for what a healthy parish can do and accomplish. If our Cathedrals (especially the one where the Metropolitan is to sit and pastor) aren't healthy, vibrant, growing, and active in the community, how we can expect the parishes to be healthy, vibrant, growing and active? Can the Metropolitan really hold parishes accountable for not doing these things when his own household (the Cathedral) is also failing?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming the Cathedral itself for its nearly non-existent state of being. I am blaming the Metropolitan who was completely absent from it and the vision which said that that was okay. A vision which discounted involvement in the community as mere "cultural" activity. A vision which says that archiving our history is "mere academics". A vision which sees housing the needy as being useless. The problem is not that we lack a vision, it is that we have a very wrong vision. Yes, building condo's is a misplaced vision, but it is a mere symptom.
What is a good vision, a good meta-narrative, for us to strive for? To start with, I would like to see some more involvement in America from the OCA. Nothing fancy, like meeting with the President, but to put our name out there in practical and accessible ways to the local community. I would also like to see more respect for learning, nor just seminary education (which is important) but also facilitating the ways lay-people can use their gifts in the Church, whether it be technology, ethics, education, philosophy, politics, etc. We need to stop trying to micromanage these things and just let them grow from the grass-roots. If we want to become the center of Orthodoxy in America than we need to do it, put ourselves out there, take the risks, and actually do things. What would happen if, for example, we started archiving not just OCA material, but all American Orthodox material, and lots of other associated religious material? We would become the place where everyone would come to better understand Orthodoxy in America. Are we scared of that? Is that why we sabotage this project at every turn? So what is it that we really want?
I hope that our next Metropolitan will be someone who has a good vision of a good meta-narrative for the OCA. Someone who is hands-on, and facilitates activity and growth. Is that too much to ask?
(Editor's note: Meta-narrative? Wow. Someone is thinking big, and has the vocabulary with which to do it. Is anybody listening though?)
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-10-14 17:45
>>I'm confused by this comment
#220.127.116.11.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-10-14 20:17
Now is NOT the time to sell any property. The real estate market is very depressed. If income is needed, assess the property at Syosset and see who could use it to bring in more income. How about growing organic vegetables with a store? How about a cell tower for rent? How about a homeless shelter with state support? How about a golf driving range? etc.
(editor's note: Clearly, anonymous is not from Long Island. The ability to develop property, in any form, on Long Island, is severely restricted and controlled, much as it is on Cape Cod. One needs a permit to cut down a tree - let alone raise a cell tower, or take in the homeless, or start a driving range. The latter would also most likely cause the property tax exemption to be lost. I appreciate anonymous's enthusiasm in trying to think outside the box, but sometimes, we are trapped inside one not of our own making.)
#14 Anonymous on 2008-10-09 12:58
Well! Mark Stokoe on the Metropolitan Council!
Clearly a sign not all is as it once was. Already I read above those fretting Mark has been had by an old chestnut in the Byzantine playbook where the promotee finds he's accepted limitations on sharing knowledge of events.
That sort of thing only matters if there is reason to suppose the institution will survive if the new group at the helm fails.
So much is at stake with such little remaining resource that if this new group can't make it go it isn't likely there will be enough left for Byzantine shananigans to matter. Best to put the most able where they can do most. Even if it means less reason to presuppose the neutrality of an outside observer on this website.
After all, for what we all paid to read it, Mark could refund our money 100x and still not be lose more than the price of a cup of coffee.
(Editor's note: Thanks, I think. But I have never pretended to be an "outside" "observer" who was "neutral". I have always been committed to the success and future of the OCA, and remain so. That being said, if anyone thinks my new position automatically requires me to be a "cheerleader" for the administration, think again.
The OCA does not need cheerleaders. It needs to be able to field a team that can play again, and a Metropolitan who can help it do so.)
#15 Harry Coin on 2008-10-09 14:35
Mark, you have taken on a mission that has been more journalistic in nature. Of course in our current times, all journalists do have a bias in their reporting, fortunately its been on the right side with you.
We do have concern that the much needed function you provide us with these days will be compromised when reconciled with your new MC role. While we do not have any questions as to your abilities and your qualifications, we do question whether your effectiveness is more suited to this endeavor exclusively. While there are many that can serve, and serve well, especially from the Midwest, on the MC, there are precious few that can provide what you have provided us in the past 3 years - you are unique in that respect. Leadership does not necessarily mean one who has a formal power to influence, but one who makes clear what is happening and opens the eyes of those that do not know. Vision can be as much given in writing as in administrative function.
While we do not fault electing you to the MC in the slightest, we do feel a loss as its going to be difficult, in our eyes, for you to maintain the effectiveness you have heretofore maintained in the call to accountability. Effectiveness fueled by a disconnectedness from the internals. May not one be diminished by the recognition of your contribution to all that has happened by your election. In any event, we wish you godspeed!
(Editor's note: Thanks. It was not my idea to be elected to the MC, I was asked and was obedient (Gasp!) in allowing my name to be put forward. That I was actually elected, over several equally good candidates, speaks not so well of me, as of the wonderful people we have in the Midwest, as you point out. And yes, we fully agree as the role of leadership not requiring formal position. However, my presence on the MC will ensure, de facto, if not de jure, a level of transparency that the administration is already moving towards. Backsliding will be less and less of an option now - and for the next three crucial years, that will be a good thing.)
#15.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-12 13:11
I believe that Mark S. being elected as a lay delegate to the Metropolitan Council is a conflict of interest in being editor of this website.
To sell Syosset does not appear to be in the best interest of the Church in these depressed real estate market. Also, I was once told that Syosset does not truly belong to the Church, but donated to the Church with the stipulation that if it was no longer being used by the Church the property had to be returned to the donor. Is this correct. Large overhead in running diocesan offices and residences for the bishop and his staff is not just a "Syosset or central Church problem." This is the reality of the OCA. This type of mentality -- large, expensive locations housing diocesan offices to oversee their Orthodox parishes and missions is just wrong. The OCA overhead is too large whether it is the central church or local diocese. Why can't diocesan business and the aac business be done at a university or retreat center (on the off season) to cut costs and run a more efficient, downsized convention or diocesan assembly. The entire attitude of "keeping up with the Jones" (RC, Espicopalians, etc) needs to be eliminated. Perhaps the new Metropolitan would stay within his own diocese (if elected from one of the diocesan bishops) and run his own diocese as well as be the Metropolitan of the OCA. Yes, according to statute the Metropolitan is the bishop of the NY, NJ, WA diocese. But perhaps the statute could be changed. Future aac should focus on changing the boundaries of diocese to make them more manageable. Some are very small and other too large.
#16 cshinn on 2008-10-13 09:49
"I believe that Mark S. being elected as a lay delegate to the Metropolitan Council is a conflict of interest in being editor of this website."
Just the opposite, no conflict of interest at all. In fact maybe he can inspire clearer and timely reporting on the oca web. Now that would be an accomplishment.
#16.1 anonymous on 2008-10-13 14:46
Conflict of interest? Hogwash!
I'm sure we can play that game with most of the OCA's leadership. At least the Diocese of the Midwest knew exactly who it was electing--nothing hidden, no subterfuge.
If you really want to play the conflict of interest game how about asking all clergy in positions of OCA leadership if they are truly free agents or operate under the thumb and control of their respective bishops and the Metropolitan. Now that is a conflict of interest worth complaining about!
#16.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-13 15:04
Conflict of interest? No way. Mark has performed this service by his own good graces. His interests are aligned, unless of course, you consider being interested in a vital spiritual life a "conflict". In that case, every member of the Church interested in following Christ is conflicted. To accuse Mark of a conflict is to akin to accuse a doctor practicing the healing arts of a conflict because he is committed to seeing patients healed, or an engineer of a conflict because he makes accurate calculations, or a mother of a conflict because she disciplines her children. We are pretty messed up if we start labelling caring as a conflict. The problem is that we have too many in this Church playing politics with our spiritual health. Enough.
#16.3 Name withheld on 2008-10-13 16:55
"Yes, according to statute the Metropolitan is the bishop of the NY, NJ, WA diocese."
Read the Statute again, carefully. It says no such thing.
#16.4 Michael Strelka on 2008-10-14 12:46
There is indeed no reason in the OCA's Statute requiring our first hierarch to be the bishop of Washington DC or anyplace else.
From the outset -- and just as an ancillary issue -- it should be known that the eparchy of DC-NJ-NY has not been allowed to elect its own bishops for generations, and this is unjust.
This particular problem was exacerbated by combining all three just a few years ago, since NY-NJ had previously not been permitted to elect its own bishops for fifty years or so before that regrettable shifting of diocesan boundaries. One way or another, we here have suffered greatly from the reign of badly selected bishops imposed on us since Met. Leontiy died in 1965.
All these years, we've suffered from the papal pretensions of some bishops, and the otherwise flawed ecclesiology of others -- both sort of inherited from the Church of Russia. But then there's the attestable mental illness and moral unsuitability of the last few.
In accordance with the ancient canonical tradition of the Church, our OCA's first hierarch does no more than consecrate the Holy Myron and preside over the Holy Synod and serve first among the bishops in liturgical rites, and arbitrate matters which cannot be resolved within one of our eparchies. He is the 'first among equals' locally but in last place internationally, since we are the youngest of the autocephalous churches.
In order to serve in any of these capacities, the first hierarch of our OCA metropolia/metropolis (our first hierarch is, oddly, styled a 'metropolitan') may quite normally retain the throne to which he was elected to occupy as bishop when he was first called to that high and holy office. It is not only unnecessary, but contrary to the canons that bishops be 'transfered' except in the most extreme circumstances; election to chairmanship of the Holy Synod -- even on the patriarchal level -- isn't such an emergency. It was a serious canonical misstep, e.g., to declare Philadelphia 'vacant' so that Met. Herman could abandon that throne for a 'move up'.
All of this could, of course, be resolved by electing as our primate a man who is not already an incumbent bishop. Given our present woes, this is an attractive option.
As an aside, I'd like to go on record once again to state that New Jersey, with two dozen active and healthy OCA parishes, is well qualified to be a separate eparchy.
Additionally, since the OCA straddles three countries, making the capital of one of them the metropolitan throne (please don't say 'see' -- that's a different religion) is disrespectful to the other two. If Ottawa and Mexico City aren't realistic options, than Washington DC shouldn't be, either.
It's my opinion that New York City -- an international metropolis if there ever was one -- ought to be our administrative center. The first hierarch's district would include only our few parishes in NYC and Long Island, and even that assumes that we'll keep our central offices at Syosset.
But it's a good enough fix for now. We can work out the details later, but we also need to prioritize the relocation and conservation of our OCA's archives, our most precious physical resource and treasure.
#16.4.1 Monk James on 2008-10-14 16:56
I agree Monk James - and the Metropolitan should live in his diocese as prescribed by the canons.
#18.104.22.168 MP on 2008-10-15 10:46
A few thoughts are here re conflicts of interest, but no actual conflicts have been proffered by anyone. Some re speculative potential conflicts .... but all trustees and directors of corporations have potential conflicts. Even if there is a actual conflict, as may happen now and again, the person with the conflict and the OCA can remedy that by full disclosure and the person abstaining from votes on the issue, where a vote is called for, or by resigning, or being removed, or by the person with the conflict actually choosing to let the OCA's interest win out against his own interest (that does happen in real life, believe it or not).
Merely having a public forum is not a conflict (everyone today has that option available to him). Using such a forum in a way that conflicts with the OCA's interest would subject the person to removal, perhaps, but having an opinion different from a majority of the MC would not be a conflict of interest, nor would airing it publicly (not saying that Mark or anyone would do that ... lets not ascribe our own character flaws to everyone else). At the end of the day, the concept of a MC member having a conflict of interest is a legal one and would be taken care of that way ... but at least lets wait til it happens before getting all jammed up about it.
#17 Anonymous on 2008-10-13 23:56
You said "At the end of the day, the concept of a MC member having a conflict of interest is a legal one and would be taken care of that way ... but at least lets wait til it happens before getting all jammed up about it."
I am a planner: I plan for failure, not to fail but to overcome possible challenges. So, it is hard for me to resist jumping into this discussion.
At the end of the day, the appearance of a conflict of interest is almost as bad as having an actual one. It may be at some time in the future, Mark may find himself having to make a choice between keeping quite in public or publishing the facts. Either way, he will probably be subject to criticism.
You are correct that we should not get ourselves all worked up over something that has not happened yet. However, there is actually one approach that Mark could take to proactively: simply recruit one or two partners to contribute to the running of this wonderful and very important site. This approach would also have the side benefit of freeing up some time for Mark to do what he likes in addition to contributing to the mission and wellness of the Church.
#17.1 Carl on 2008-10-14 18:36
There is a clear potential for a conflict of interest, but its in our favor, that is the OCAs favor.
If Mark voted in a public losing vote and came back and editorialized all the reasons the vote were wrong, this would be a conflict-or would it?
If he didn't have as wide an ear and were only sitting around the table at church after coffee hour and spoke the same words, would that be a conflict-hardly.
The great difference between the coffee table and ocanews.org is Mark has a lot more people around the table, if you will. So, if Mark voted against the rest of the group and revisited those decisions of the MC after the fact and went on and on about it in an unrelenting fashion, he would be working to undermine the decisions of the church, which is a conflict of interest. That would be where Mark's interest in the church going in a certain direction and the churches interest were different.
Interestingly enough [almost a pun], he has already been doing just that while not a member of the MC. I could certainly cite many of the decisions, but a big and clear decision was the church stopping audits of discretionary accounts in 1998. This was where we spent, or rather RSK and MetTheodosius spent, or rather we spent, wheee!, some 80 grand to make the coverup of RSKs and the MetTs misdeeds almost perfectly legal and unauditable.
Had Mark been on the MC, he would have been removed and OCANEWS would have probably continued which would have been to the benefit of the church.
Today, if Mark got kicked off the MC, unless it were for disagreeing with the strategic vision of the church (still to come), it would be a pretty big red flag that things were not going well with the church.
One thing that I've never understood about our Metropolitan Council is how they fail to speak to the people that elect them. If I were an elected council member and had allowed the church to misuse temporarily restricted funds or had not been given financial statements dating back to 2001 or 2002, you can bet I'd have written a letter to the people that elected me. Sadly, it seems that forum is not available. OCANEWS.ORG establishes that forum, but it needs to be a part of the overall vision of the church if you ask me and not a third party operation. That is, where elected MC members have the right to send a letter to the body that elected them to speak to the overall health of the administration.
A question that was never answered by the SIC was why didn't our council members inform us of the misuse of funds dating back to 2001. Many of you may scoff, but history is prologue. What has changed besides the heads?
Every elected MC member has the responsibility to behave as OCANEWS does. Today, it doesn't appear any such structures are in place where an MC member can report to their elected body without fear of retribution or removal by their diocesan Bishop. Fr. Searforce [sp.] would be on such example on the record books as recently as a few months ago.
Our Bishops lofty letter must have totally forgotten about that one. The MC must be independent and not be fearful of termination when they speak. I suppose some Bishop that may read this might consider that I'm being far too intellectual here.
The Bishop that removed Fr. Searfoorce [sp.] really deserves a reprimand and should be ordered by the Synod to reinstate. The MC should be demanding it.
#18 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-10-16 08:09
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