Monday, June 5. 2006
The Metropolitan Council should know all these kind of things, shouldn't they?
They meet on June 13th. What do you want them to do about the note? the loan? the scandal? Proskauer Rose? the Audit? They represent you, let them hear what you have to say!
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Based on all of the reading, this won't be sorted out for years. I think we're beginning to learn that at least the last two administrations were guilty of financial misconduct. Anyone getting the feeling that the reported "heath issues" were not the real reason for Theodosius retirement...moreover he stepped aside to dodge a bullet when the questions became too hard to answer?
If this is indeed the case, and they are all dirty, it might be time for the OCA to look for a new "mother church" as they cannot seem to guide themselves in the right direction.
The OCA is quickly losing ground with its membership, as witnessed by the horrible showing at St. Tikons on Memorial Day. It was funny as there was a red Corvette parked next to the Monastery church....it begged the question...is this Metropolitan Hermans getaway car??
Keep asking the hard questions...make them come clean!
#1 Bob H. on 2006-06-05 15:08
"O Lord, grant us the courage to change;the things that we can change"
A minor change to line 2 of the serenity prayer.
Dear Bob: Just how horrible was the showing at St, Tikhon's on Memorial Day weekend?
Should (We the Faithful) of the Orthodox Church in America demand that an extraordinary All American Council be convened to discuss this problem?
As an agenda Item, should we then also demand that His Beatitude and several senior Archbishops retire?
Should we then resolve to relinquish Autocephaly and request that the Mother Church accept us under its care as an Autonomous Exarchate?
Would all of these actions taken in conbination help to resolve the present problem?
I personally believe that they would.
Cui Bono? Who would benefit from these actions?
I believe that all of the failthful of the Orthodox Church In America would benefit from them, as the engineers of the cover ups would be retired, and then, the truth would be fully-revealed.
And it might also be a major step toward a final reunion betwen the OCA, the Patriarchal Parishes, and R.O.C.O.R.
And then, the resulting catharsis would heal the opened wounds of the scandal, and allow us to face the future as a stronger People than we have been up to now.
As it says in the serenity prayer, "O Lord grant me (us) the serenity to accept the things I (we) cannot change: The courage to change the things that I (We) Can, and above all, the Wisdom to know the difference,
May God grant us all the courage and the wisdom that we need to act to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion.
Mark N. Sudia
#1.1 Mark N, Sudia on 2006-06-05 18:07
Oh, please don't tell me - as a convert and an American from a Catholic background - that this whole thing is being used as another tired attempt to strip the United States of its autocephalic Orthodox Church! I remember attending a banquet of the Carpatho-Russian Archdiocese many years ago and hearing a representative from the 'Ecumenical Patriarch' declare that one could not be an 'Orthodox Christian' if one wasn't under that See. As Colonel Potter of M.A.S.H. would have said, "Horse hockies!" Indeed, that 'See' is a bigger scam than anything that could possibly have gone on in Syosset! Just how many Christians are under the Patriarch, I wonder! For those who think that the OCA pads the membership numbers, 'Constantinople' has been doing that for ages!
Pray tell me, what character trait is so lacking in Americans - not to mention Canadians et al. - that we are worthy of nothing but remaining forever an adjunct to some foreign 'National Church'? Yes, this culture is non- and even *un*-Christian, but then, so is just about every other culture in this world at the present time. Russia - released from its three score and ten yolk of Communism is only beginning a journey back to a Christian culture. At least in the United States there are still those who defend Christian values - although, alas, not too many of them are 'Orthodox'.
So we are to 'give up' autocephaly and return to the 'Mother Church'. Ah, but the question then becomes, which 'Mother Church'? The Russian Orthodox Church? But doesn't the all-holy Synod believe that that Church is corrupt? Indeed, someone on another thread made the same claim. And if the OCA is to relinquish it's independence, why not demand that the Russian Orthodox Church do the same and return to the Ecumenical Patriarch. After all, I believe that worthy is anxious to become the 'Eastern Pope' and a return of all the National Orthodox Churches to 'the fold' of the E.P. would insure that!
Yoiks! Some people want to throw the baby out with the bathwater! Oh, and just a little thing to consider, just how much 'accountability' would people in this country get from the 'hierarchs' if the Chancery were in Moscow or Constantinople rather than Syosset? Hummm? Honestly!
M. Valerie HUGHES Protopapas
#1.1.1 Matushka Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-06 14:40
Christ is in our midst!
I am honestly perplexed on the logic underpinning any argument that advocates the OCA abdicating autocephaly as a consequence of this current crisis.
As we suffer through this raw, sinful, and very human trial, we need to be wary of making an idol of a sister Church overseas. Anyone who believes that the Moscow, Ecumenical, or Antiochene Patriarchates are better equipped to govern our church is seriously misguided. Having received the gift of autocephaly, our Church (not just our bishops) stands as an equal with our sister Churches overseas.
Autocephaly is not something one simply gives away because of a crisis. Who here knows enough about the modi operandii of the aforementioned patriarchates to assure us that their governance is flawless? Indeed, controversy has surrounded the Ecumenical Patriarchate (have we forgotten the ongoing travail of our Greek brethren here?) and the Moscow Patriarchate (not to mention Jerusalem). Voluntarily seeking a return to the "Mother Church" constitutes a reckless and immature move. God has given us everything we need to rise up out of this crisis, and be restored as His beloved bride.
Even in the midst of this crisis, we absolutely must exercise the evangelical mission with which we have been entrusted in this country. The Holy Spirit continues to reconcile people to His Church, even when they know about the scandal!
So instead of giving up, let's really be "grown children," and lift ourselves out of this mess - with God's help. The process will be slow and painful, but as a young church, we have to learn how to handle it now. If we don't, then we are not fulfilling our vocation to be God's Church in this country.
#1.1.2 Dn Nicholas Denysenko on 2006-06-07 05:30
To use this scandal as a reason for relinquishing autocephaly is preposterous. If we cannot resolve the crisis, then there might be an argument that we cannot govern ourselves. It would be total folly to use the financial misdeeds of a few members of our administration and hierarchy to perpetual the far graver scandal of multiple orthodox jurisdictions on the American continents.
As for Christian cultures, the last time I checked Constantinople is now called Istanbul by the Muslim government and nation in which it exists. Likewise, the ancient churches of Antioch and Alexandria exist in Muslim nations. Jerusalem exists in states either Muslim or Jewish. In fact, as I look over the list of 15 autochephalus and 4 autonimus churches the only ones that can hoestly lay claim to being in an even somewhat Christian culture is the OCA. Greece and, perhaps, Cyprus and Finland. The rest are either Muslem, pagan (Japan) or, until recently, official atheistic. To which would you go?
Of course, it would agree with the apparent agenda of the Eucumentical Patriarch if we all gave aumege to him. He seems intend to replicate the mistakes of the Pope of Rome, which righly earned him excommunication and antethemism.
#1.1.3 Thomas Hamrick on 2006-06-08 03:18
No. Do not even think of giving up autocephaly in the midst of this crisis or as a result of it. This crisis. whatever the outcome, must result in a deepening commitment in the OCA to stand on it's own two feet and solve it's own problems. If there is embarrassment and scandal, it can be overcome in humility and increased wisdom from the experience.
Even if Herman, Theodosius, Kondratick or others were tried and convicted of fraud, there would certainly be a way to use those scandalous occasions to work for ways to repair the damage and forge a new church polity that would strengthen the OCA for the future. The culprits, be they ever so highly placed, are not the church. The people are the church, and those in Holy Orders are ordained to serve them.
When Holy Orders become exclusively synonymous with hierarchy, patriarchy and autocracy, the possibilities for the misuse of power and dramatically increased, especially without a system of checks and balances.... Whatever toehold Metropolitan Leonty allowed for lay and clerical balanced participation in the development of what was to be the OCA, it has surely not been enough.
OCA church polity has lagged way behind the development of OCA as an indigenous, independent Orthodox church. To be quite frank, Americans are not used to being treated as ethnic peasants. The time for that has long past, except perhaps in the thinking of those in charge at Syosset. Because of that, the way forward is not to be found in regression to an independent but subservient relationship to some foreign patriarcate with a magic wand to solve all local problems.
#1.1.4 Anonymous on 2006-06-13 21:41
Sorry to disappoint you but Metropolitan Herman's car is a humble black cadillac convertable.
#1.2 anonymous on 2006-06-07 20:56
Thank you for keeping us up to date.
I, like everyone else, am appalled at what has transpired.
I humbly urge, actually beg members of the Metropolitan Council to demand some form of statement be made with regard to the findings of the audit and investigation.
If the Church is to begin the process of recovery, the truth must be told no matter how painful, embarassing or hurtful it might be.
Each and everyone of us is taught at a very young age to tell the truth, no matter how bad it may seem.
I think once and for all, it is time for the truth to be told.
The posting of Part Two of the ongoing Three Part Series reveals much.
After reading this particular post, how anyone can defend the despicable actions of a certain few is beyond my comprehension.
If you have any doubts, I urge you to go back and re-read the interview with Mr. Paul Hunchak as well as Protodeacon Eric Wheeler's statements and pay NO attention to Bishop Tikhon's rants.
Why would these two men have any reason to lie?
What could they possibly have to gain? Certainly not a high paying position within the Church!
Yes brothers and sisters, it is time for the truth once and for all.
Let's not allow a wonderful opportunity like the forthcoming Metropolitan Council meeting pass us by without some form of statement being made. You don't even have to get into too much detail, but please for the love of God, just say already whether the allegations are true or false.
Silence surely is no longer golden.
#2 Michael Geeza on 2006-06-05 16:23
Furthermore, the governing authorities of the OCA, whatever they are or whoever they may be individually, would do well to remember Lord Acton's dictum that " All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely!" Perhaps the Faithful would subscribe to a fund to inscribe this truism on over the entrance to the OCA headquarters.
#2.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-06-06 05:19
This disclosure of the Kondratick housing allowance is very painful for me to read. Father Kondratick wrote me the brand new 2 bedroom townhome for $550 per month I sought help for to rent to own when I had no car and found a place I could walk to work, was too high a price for me to get any OCA help. It comes in the year of my greatest trial, 1991 after my surgery for cancer and same Fr. Kondratick supporting my husband in the divorce issues which left me homeless, destitute, without insurance and medical care, and dishonored, and without missionary support in the diocese I was once a fundraiser and employee.
I pray more investigations will look into this 1991 year....
I hope in this time of the Feast of Pentecost to receive the strength needed from the Holy Spirit to not only make a full come back by having some resolution to my most difficult and trying housing situation to date, but to be also be able to be a source of renewal and support for other clergy families and women and children left out of the clergy support system.
It was also in 1991 I first began the St. Paraskeva House Association with the help of my spiritual mother Mother Alexandra and spiritual father Father Innocent of Alaska to address charitable needs not being addressed by other groups.
Father Innocent, then in Alaska was well aware of the dirty linen of what was happening in various adminstrative centers of the OCA. He advised me to "fight evil with good" and read Psalm 37/38 EVERY DAY.
With hope and prayers to receive renewed strength to do good,
#2.1.1 Matushka Carol on 2006-06-06 21:16
You bring up a good point Matushka. What is the OCA doing to help victims of divorce? Absolutely nothing! It spreads its funds abroad while its faithful at home are suffering and forced to turn to secular authorities and heterodox churches for assistance. Where are the OCA's priorities? Certainly not it's destitute women and children. No we are told to stay in our abusive marriages and the church doesn't do divorce.
#126.96.36.199 Olympiada on 2006-06-07 19:33
Yes Olympiada, a church that "doesn't do divorce".
It's quite a phrase.
For a confessional church, a community church of believers, a merciful and one with the singing of the Beautitudes each week in our Holy Liturgy, it is still difficult for us to confess our sins and acknowledge them. Real charity in this land or through God's world in any land. will create network's to soften hearts. Sin that stays hidden, concealed, and foolishly protected and unconfessed is sure to keep the heart, a heart of stone and cold into ... This is the greatest sadness, and why I mention this record of these injustices, with hope Christ like love will by chosen over a false protectionism.
"Chesti", clean is a good feeling. in any language or culture; the result of meaningful charity and love not used for an agenda, with Holy Wisdom, Sophia, as Mother will be the one nurturing us back to the forgotten and obscured image for which I pray will happen to each fallen leader.
Yes, this is one reason at St. Paraskeva House we reach out to the divorced, abused, and forgotten in a way in which each day God takes what resources we have at hand to give, and it is not money given, but understanding, and beg His 'sheltering wing'.
#188.8.131.52.1 Anonymous on 2006-06-08 18:51
The clergy are sent off to recovery when they fall, but the laity are left to die. Where are the OCA's priorites? Certainly not at home. Forget Russia! Let Russia take care of herself. What about our sick and wounded? We shoot them.
Thank you for your good work and thank you for announcing it. I am really disappointed in my church. It is backwards on social issues, backwards, I tell you. And in San Francisco of all places. What a church.
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Olympiada on 2006-06-09 07:34
It looks like Father Robert Kondratic owes the OCA 24,000 per year plus interest(7 percent by his estimation). for the time he mistakenly received housing allowance.
#3 Anonymous on 2006-06-05 16:42
Please, I can not believe all these figures and accusations that 2 disgruntle x-employess are saying- let me see something in black and white!! This is all hearsay! Before anyone believes these accusations- see it in black and white first.
#3.1 Sarah on 2006-06-08 15:09
Sarah..did you miss the part where the administration published all the thousands and thousands of dollars which need to be repaid to the various charities and appeals??
NO- I did not miss that. I am saying people are eager to point the finger at Fr. Kondratick however, where is it a fact that he did all this wrong- there are no facts against him yet- only the evil and jealous people making horrible judgements!
#220.127.116.11 Sarah on 2006-06-09 17:54
It is evident that, barring an unforseen epiphany on the part of the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan Council will have to lead the way out of this sinkhole in which we find ourselves.
One item that should be explained: Audit does not mean the verification of each and every reciept, like a tax examination might imply. It means the accountants develop evidence to either support or oppose management's assertion that the financial statements fairly state the financial position of the organization. It is the wrong tool for this job. The correct tool is the forensic examination; one that allows the accountants to express to their client (typically the attorney) the reality of the facts.
At this point, I suspect the deceptions have gone too far. How much of our future is being used for security for this debt? Will there be any effort to have funds identified as missing repaid? Trust is broken, possibly beyond repair. The church is under new ownership -- the Honesdale National Bank. Can new management be far behind? Our shepherds have sold us into slavery. We are security for our heirarch's pawn.
What needs to occur is the Metropolitan Council, as the statutory governing authority of the Orthodox Church in America, should be the client of the investigating law firm. The Metropolitan Council should receive the report, not the Metropolitan. Consideration of the legal and accounting investigation (NOT audit) should be done by Council members who are NOT part of the management of the OCA (i.e., Heirarchs, employees, officers). Just like the audit and compensation committees of a publically traded company have independent directors (not members of management) who staff those particular committies, so too should employees (including Heirarchs) be precluded from serving on such oversight boards.
Management (heirarchs and staff) may bring proposals, but the decisions in this regard (transparency and compensation) belong soley to these committees, with the approval of the full Council based on this committee work. There must be immediate, frank and thorough disclosure of the past to both the Metropolitan Council and the church at large, as well as complete transparency in the future. Sadly, I believe if the Bishops had been up front all along, I would bet that every single thing they wanted to do would have been approved. Perhaps there would have been some curtailment from time to time -- but the significant issues would have fallen in favor of the Synod/Metropolitan, I feel sure.
Not knowing how much the Metropolitan Council knows or doesn't know, I feel certain that the lay members of the council itself need their own legal counsel sitting with them during meetings. I feel certain that there would be some advisors, both legal and accounting, who would be more than willing to assist the Council. I know I would. It's time for open meetings, adequate notice, and revival of the old "sunshine" laws that most governments operate under.
We must stay on task, or we risk losing the next generations of the Church. Are the allegations true, or false?
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#4 Marty Watt on 2006-06-05 21:30
Great suggestions, Mr. Watt!
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Lets stop asking if the allegations are true....THEY ARE. With all of these questions, if they were not, they would have put this to bed. This is all political posturing.
The showing at St. Tikhons was horrible. Usually many buses and all of the fields are full with cars, the church is overflowing with people. After you took into account the clergy, their families you didn't have too much more to look at, other than some of us who go annually.
Its time to wipe the slate. Kiss your money goodbye, you'll never see it again. It is time to hold those accountable for their actions. If they are guilty, they need to be dismissed, defrocked and charged with a crime (if that's the case, of course).
This is killing the OCA as the word spreads.
COME CLEAN NOW! DON'T KILL THE CHURCH.
#5 Bob H. on 2006-06-05 22:05
This makes our Church look really bad to the public. This disclosure of our Church's poverty is quite alarming. Couple this with what is going on in ROCOR, and the MP's children seem to be really suffering. Moved away from home too soon?
What does the Patriarch of Moscow have to say about this matter...Anyone write to His Holiness about this? The OCA is not a rebellious young daughter of the Patriarch of Moscow is she?
This better not be a matter of "I told you so but you wouldn't listen would you?" in regards to the OCA's autocephaly.
#6 Olympiada on 2006-06-05 22:36
All I want to say in this regard is that
1. I definitely think that knowing the truth is important and essential for us all.
2. I definitely think that all people who were related to financil misconduct in any shape of form should retire.
3. I am extremely grateful to the staff of ocanews.org and all people who asked and continue asking tough questions. What you do is very important for us all and I would like to thank you for that.
#7 Andrey Lvovskiy on 2006-06-06 07:33
I realize that the OCA church originated from the Russian church, so for those people in the OCA that have Russian roots it might be fine to “go back”…but, what about all the converts and those of us with other ethnic backgrounds that joined the OCA because we felt it was more important to be in a church where our Orthodox Faith came first and the ethnic “stuff,” although important, took a back seat? I was born in Greece and attended the Greek Orthodox church for more than 40 years, but when I discovered the OCA church and heard the whole Liturgy in English and was surrounded by so many people from ALL walks of life…I thought “THIS is it…THIS is where I want to be!!” If the OCA church disappeared and we were forced to join another jurisdiction, many of us would probably go back to our own ethnic churches (or find one with more English in their services). Not being Russian…why would I go to a church that will have the “ethnic thing” going on again and one that I would be even more lost in than in the one of my own heritage?!?
Let’s not give up so easily! Yes, we have some serious problems to work out, but I think that most of us feel that it will be worth the effort!! We have so many wonderful clerics and so many wonderful laypeople in our OCA church…let’s not let the few rotten apples take us down!! Where would Christ’s Church be if the Apostles said…this is just too hard! Let’s just forget about this and go back to fishing!!
This web site is very helpful and great for all of us to voice our thoughts and prayers! I think that we can survive this if the Hierarchs and the church administration (and whoever else need to) come clean and start to practice what our church teaches! Confess all and don’t leave anything out…ask forgiveness…accept what is handed down (God’s sentence will be much more severe!)…and please allow the OCA church to continue to God glory! Amen!!
May the Lord have mercy on all of us and help us to get through this together!
(Parishioner of Holy Resurrection Church in Palatine, IL,...a parish grateful to be under the care of the Most Reverend Archbishop JOB!)
#8 Helen O'Sullivan on 2006-06-06 08:11
I too applaud Archbishop Job for the principalled stand he and the priests guided by him have taken. Pray to God that he remains firm in his convictions. The way it appaears to be going, before long, a new All American Council could gather to elect His Eminence as the next Metropolitan of All America and Canada.
Although, I wouldn't wish the responsibilities of the position on any bishop at any time, he may be the wisest candidate to choose at this time.
#8.1 Anonymous on 2006-06-08 07:17
Much as I agree with you concerning my personal feelings for His Eminence, Archbishop Job, I DO think that it is WAAAAAAAAY too early and out of line to be naming anyone as successors to His Beatitude (BTW--my diocesan bishop!) or even positing the situation where that would occur.
I don't think--I hope not, anyway--this is what this website is for. Let's try to keep focus on the question His Eminence himself has brought up: "Are the allegations true, or are they false."
Meanwhile, you and His Eminence please forgive me.
+Fr. Dennis Buck
#8.1.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2006-06-09 07:44
How do we get in touch with the Metropolitan Council?
#9 Eugenie Osmun on 2006-06-06 09:05
Their contact information is public on the OCA website. Most have addresses and phone numbers posted, a couple have email addresses also.
Might be worth noting (and not as a defense of anything) that the pattern that seems to exist with the Metr. Council acting as rubber stamp and all information controlled by the Syosset staff is similar to the dynamics in many organizations between the staff and the board of directors. It's hard for a board to find its backbone and assert itself, but this kind of circumstance is exactly when that's needed.
And a question -- all the references to the need for reform of the Statute and that the next AAC can't be held until 2010 to provide time for drafting of a new Statute that will conform to cannonical norms better ... where's all this going? Is it aimed at demoting the Metr. Council or disenfranchising the AAC? Speaking for myself, the current mess hardly makes those attractive alternatives. Are we about to be force fed a new Statute like the Greeks were? Perhaps not coincidentally, that mess happened on the back end of their own financial mess.
#9.1 rebecca Matovic on 2006-06-06 19:51
What's this about "someone" taking money from designated funds?
It's very clear from the Annual Financial Statements that are attached to the minutes of the Metropolitan Council's meetings that all those transfers "from temporarily (sic) restricted funds" were approved by either Metropolitan Theodosius, when Wheeler or Metropolitan HErman was the Treasurer, or by Metropolitan Herman when Kucynda, Oselinsky, etc. were Treasurer. It's clearly stated in black and white in those statements. I'm not going to post one here. Many of you, in frustration at reading actual and official documents, on record, go so far as to accuse me of making them up or altering them. Go get them from your Metropolitan Council representative. Probably Mark Stokoe or Protodeacon Eric Wheller could get them from the Acting Treasure, if they care about it, for you...
One eager beaver just curled his toes with delight at catching the mistake: "ATM" instead of "ADM," as if the mistake were significant. Guilty of missing a letter! Busted! I confess!\Others are content with the slimey, 'Something just doesn't sound right," or "Something there is fishy" or "He says I didn't keep a copy for himself but in another place he says there ARE other copies." Ooooh. Obviously a crook, confidence man, liar. First he teels a lawyer that he's a vain poppycock, then he confirms that a matushka's programs make her husband look not "AS dumb as a pail full of hammers, but MORE dumb than a pail full of hammers!" Obviously, I am evil, evil, evil, and not just the slimebag I always claim to be. (Or I could be crazy, crazy, crazy, and not the slimebag I always claim to be!)
Lots of people must have dirty hands from throwing their dirt. There's an awful lot of mud coming in my direction from the Green Party and on CB Radio, most of it really old mud, and no substitute for intelligence. Still, when I go to bed at night I can console myself that I'm not they and they are just stuck with themselves, no matter how they may try to hide it with their expressions of righteous indignation
The Statute? That document that assigns responsibiliity to a Chancellor? That document that tells WHO can collect assessments, but doesn't state that anyone MAY or SHALL levy assessments? That document that separates administrative and legislative from canonical? God forbid that anyone would touch THAT sacred cow, even if she does have mad cow disease!
#9.1.1 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-08 19:12
Werent those collections "borrowed" from, and now needing repayment taken after Deacon Eric's removal? I dont think he was still there after 9/11, or at a time he could have rescued the Beslan funds, even if people would have listened to his concerns.
Your Grace, you DID indicate that you gave away your only copy of a letter, and also said you have copies..so, it gets a bit confusing to try and find a truthful person.
#18.104.22.168 Anna T on 2006-06-09 08:05
sent to OCAinfo 6/5/06
Dear Father Matusiak, After I finished graduate school I did not find work right away and had credit card debt from living expenses accrued while in school. I had to declare bankruptcy. I felt this was a real sin. And still do. When the judge asked me how I had gotten into debt, I told him I spent more money than I had during school and didn't have a job after graduation which would allow me to make payments. Can you tell me if anyone in Syosset is prepared to make a similar statement? Why do we have to hear that "accusations are being made?" Why can't someone step up and take responsibility for all the spending that has us so in debt that we had to borrow another huge amount to stay afloat? Yours very sincerely, Alice Carter
#10 Alice Carter on 2006-06-06 13:14
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today I wrote the following e-mail to the OCA official website:
"I would like to know how to get in touch with the Metropolitan Council.
Here is their reply:
There is no e-mail address for the Metropolitan Council, as it is made up of
some three dozen individuals who live in various places. If there is
something you wish the Metropolitan Council to receive, however, you can
send it to email@example.com and we'll try to pass it on as appropriate. Or you
could contact the Metropolitan Council representatives from the diocese to
which you belong, asking that they share with the other members whatever it
is you wish to share.
Father John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director"
There is much I would like to "share" with the Metropolitan Council, as I am sure many of you do. This website is urging us to contact them, as they represent us. The OCA website has a list of all Met Council members and their addresses. There is not much time before June 13th, but individual lettes, phone calls and e-mails (where possible) might be in order.
#11 Eugenie Osmun on 2006-06-06 22:47
When all of this first began, with everyone else I wondered "Are the allegations true or false." But now I believe that it makes no difference. Even if the allegations all turn out to be false, many things must change.
Obviously it is a scandal if someone was dishonest or misappropriated money -- and the investigation should contnue until the truth comes out. But even if someone was dishonest, that is something that I can easily get over.
What I think is the much bigger scandal is that there is so little documentation of how the church was spending money for so many years. That is an outrage, especially considering that responsible people who were doing their jobs complained about the problem for YEARS, but those in charge did nothing. That is an outrage, and in my mind that is a bigger outrage than whether someone was dishonest.
There are dishonest people in the world, and there is not much we can do about it. But when a problem is called to your attention over a period of years, there is a lot you can do. Even if you disagree with the criticism, there is a lot you can do to clean things up, document things properly, and make sure that there is a paper trail for your accounting. Even if there is no reason to believe anyone is being dishonest, it makes good sense -- and it is a sign of responsible stewardship -- to do things the right way and to have everything documented.
If the Chancellor is not a file clerk, that means you have to hire a file clerk.
I think everyone is putting way too much emphasis on whether anyone did anything illegal or dishonest. At this point, I think that is a secondary issue.
If those on the Metropolitan Council genuine desire to serve God's Church, they must not shirk their fiduciary responsibilities. Their job is to make sure things are done properly. Given that the Holy Synod has known about this problem for years -- years during which this problem has only festered -- years during whcih the Holy Synod has shown no inclination to lead the Church with respect to this issue -- that means the Metropolitan Council needs to be a lot more assertive. Respectful? Yes. Deferential? To the appropriate degree, of course. Flexible with respect to how change is implemented? Yes. But at the end of the day, they need to be assertive, they need to make sure that things get done, and done properly. Unfortunately that puts them in the uncomfortable position shere they might need to step on some toes. I pray for God's grace and wisdom to guide them.
#12 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2006-06-07 05:46
I'm not sure why people keep talking about jumping ship and getting on board with another jurisdiction. The faith, handed down from Our Lord and His apostles, is the priority here.
I agree with the posting above that speaks of the true beauty of our church here in America: speaking the language of the people so that all may participate and understand. I have been following this site since it began, and there have been times I believed folks were getting carried away, but when I'm in church praying, I forget it all, totally.
This whole scandal is a storm at sea. Keep the faith, and we will weather the storm. I also believe that whoever knows the truth about this whole mess should just come forward and tell it so we could right the ship and quit wasting time trying to figure things out! The one thing I always stressed to my children was to tell me the truth, no matter what they had done, so we could work at making things right again, rather than lie and waste time dealing with untruths.
#13 Jane on 2006-06-07 11:33
Back in the Summer of 2004, I individually mailed a ten page copy of brainstoming solutions to each of the 34 or so members of the Metropolitan Council, scatttered throughout America and Alaska, to consider developing a Crisis Intervention Team for troubled churches (I did not know at the time the extent of our troubled OCA administration...)
I did not recieve ONE, NOT ONE, formal reply to me, personally, from anyone on the MC towards my efforts and my concerns about troubled OCA churches that may benefit from a Crisis Intervention Team to turn them around with more timely, talented, and agressive intervention. (Some troubled OCA churches just kind of hang there and wither on the vine, for years...)
My husband received a few snide remarks a whole year later about my effort from some DOW administrative clerics (who could not talk to me directly) at the Toronto AAC. I received much positive feedback from the courtesy copies that I sent out, including Fr. Tom Hopko. Someone from the MC might check their archives and see if this letter is still around. Many of the brainstorming ideas would probably be appropriate for the current mess the OCA administration has been found to be in for years (let alone the small, forgotten, struggling OCA churces out there)!
I can't say, under the way things are run right now, how effective the MC will be in any of the current crisis. I only hope they WILL be effective and come to a deeper level of committment to making an efffective OCA administration.
Whether the allegations are true or false, the OCA needs a major overhauling.
#14 Patty Schellbach on 2006-06-07 12:43
Dear Patty: I would like a copy of your brainstorming. Mark has my permission to forward my email address to you. And God bless you for your efforts.
#14.1 Michael Strelka on 2006-06-08 08:20
Perhaps you would consider posting your list of ideas here on this page?
I think we in the laity need to start working on and offering up more constructive ideas for solutions to our many problems. I very much appreciate the hard work of Mark S. and others in bringing these issues to light. As the OCA, we need to grapple with this mess and get it cleaned up. However, moving forward, we are going to need more than just the investigation and adjudication of things past. We are going to need practical measures to be put in place that will prevent such problems from being repeated in the future, and that will strengthen and build the OCA.
Many have offered ideas along these lines. Let's build on them. Perhaps we could do so under certain categories. For example, the actual financial bind we are in could be one such category (spiritual recovery, ethics, transparency, etc. could be others). Several people have suggested that we look into moving the OCA headquarters to St. Tikhon's. This is an idea worthy of serious examination. If there really is a possibility that Syosset could be sold (and, contrary to popular opinion, this may be the case), then making a move to St. Tikhon's even temporarily (until we make an assessment of where we're going long-term or with the issue of unity in this country) might make a lot of sense. If enough of us got behind these ideas in a positive rather than rancorous way, I think we could make an impact on the future of our church.
The MC is no-doubt overwhelmed with everything going on right now. We must remember that these individuals have other very full-time jobs and are not able to devote their full energies to solving our problems. If we contribute good ideas in a constructive way, we will be helping and not hindering the cause. As we approach Pentecost, let us ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit in this--and seek the strength from God (if it be His will) to rebuild our church!
#14.2 Cathy Tatusko on 2006-06-08 08:27
Have you ever thought of simply dissolving the Metropolitan Council, and transferring most of its duties to other departments of the Church?
The Holy Synod is the Higest canonically-authorized body charged with overseeing the affairs of the Church. If the Diocesan Bishop is the Archpastor and highest representative of a given Diocese, then do we need an additional "Council" to further assist them with their responsibilities?
It seems that the answer is a qualified "Yes", for Article 5, Section 4 of the OCA Statute, entitled "The Metropolitan Counci, Competence,l" authorizes this body to do the following:
"(a) Implements the decisions of the All-American Council and of the Holy Synod in the areas of its competence; "
My understanding of Church order is that once the AAC and the Holy Synod have met, the implementation of their decisions rests with the Diocesan Bishop, and His Diocesan Council.
So why then do we need a second body, also consisting of representatives from each diocese and church department to implement these decisions?
Many of the MC's financial duties could be better handled by the Treasurer of the OCA. They include the following; Item C, Part 1 Establishes the budget for the operations of the Church: (d) Supervises the collection of the assessments and fees established by the All-American Council and determines the allocation of such funds; (f) Provides for the maintenance of the central administrative bodies of the Church and for the allocation of the general Church funds; (g) Decides on the purchase, sale, or mortgaging of property of the Church, except in cases covered in Article X, Section 8; and (h) Maintains an inventory of all properties of the Church.
Item C Part 2 "examines all financial reports of the Church"
sounds to me like the responsibility of either an Auditor or a Comptroller.
Item (e) "Organizes plans for obtaining voluntary contributions for the satisfaction of the needs of the Church;
and (i,part 1) Provides for the establishment and maintenance of institutions of charity." could be better handled by the Department of Christian Charities.
Item I part 2, "Provides for the establishment and maintenance of educational institutions, as well as for publications for the propagation of the Orthodox Faith;" (repharaing mine); Could be handed to the Department of Christian Education.
And all decisions of these departments would then be approved by the Holy Synod.
In other words, the Metropolitan Council is the permanent executive body ofthe church administration that exists to carry out duties that ciould be handled more efficiently by several different administrative organs, each of which already exists.
So why do we need to retain this irrelevant super-diocesan administrative body?
So, lets write to our respective Diocesan Bishops, ask them to either find a valid reason to retain this relic, or to dissolve it immediately.
Perhaps this will go a long way towards seeing that a scandal like this never occurs again.
Mark N. Sudia
#14.2.1 Anonymous on 2006-06-08 22:30
Are you Mark Sudia or Anonymous ? I'm a bit confused.
So you would disolve want amounts to the Board of Directors of the OCA leaving all power with the Holy Synod? I would seem that this is already the de facto case and hasn't it worked well!
While it is true that the Boards of Dircetors of many corporations (and, please, don't forget that the OCA is a corporation duly chartered under civil laws) do not have effective control over their corporations and are merely the dupes of the executives of the corporation, that is not to say that this is desirable. The Board of Directors is supposed to be the representatives of the owners of the coporation (i.e., shareholders) and their duty is to ensure that that the owners' interests are protected. I would maintain that the "owners" of the OCA is its collective membership and the MC's responsibility is to protect the interests of the whole church as it relates to the workings of the OCA as a coprorate entity. I do not feel that the Holy Synod serves this purpose as it is in reality part of the paid executive of the organization.
Yes, let's do away with the MC and the AAC while we are at it. After all, it is the Bishops that truly own the church and their decisions and actions should never be doubted! Maybe that works well for those in communion with the Bishop of Rome but, as I understand history, Orthodoxy rejected that a milliem ago.
#22.214.171.124 Thomas Hamrick on 2006-06-11 10:27
I'll yeild to your analogy of the MC being like a Corporate board of Directors. But I still think that some of their duties should be handled by professionals.
So why not begin to change the System? Consider this: Most corporations have professional accountants and managers as members of their Boards of Directors.
Shouldn't the MC be the same, provided some simple changes are made? First, as I suggested, create specific job descriptions for the Office of Chancellor, Secretary, Treasurer. . .etc. Write them so that none can overlap, and each answers to the Metropolitan, the MC, and the Holy Synod independently.
That means that the Chancellor has no power to authorize spending, or act directly in financial matters. The Treasurer, has control of most of the financial matters, as I enumerated in my earlier article. And the Comptroller is only in charge of auditing the individual departments, and the Church Aministration as a whole.
How does that sound, as far as a balanced approach?
Furthermore, Let's start hiring people to fill these positions on a full time basis, so all are present at once during the five day work week. And, let's demand that each have the appropriate education to fullfill his or her duties. Isn't this how corporations work?
As far as Item C, Part 1, "Establishes the budget for the Operation of the Chruch", after some reflection, that would be better-mandled by the MC, than by the Treasurer.
I guess what I should have suggested in my previous posting was that the Metropolitan Counci's duties should be re-worked, so that as the "Board of Directors", its members are better able to discharge their duties.
As for disolving the AAC, I never suggested that, nor would I. Instead, it might be wise, as a cost saving measure to convene it less frequently. Also, from the standpoint of its decisions being implemented, it might be that longer intervals would provide "wiggle room", i.e. more time for decisions to be implemented within the several diocese of the church.
And, I'm still a bit confused on how the MC can assist individual diocese in implementing these decisions, unless they suddenly start attending individual Diocesan Assemblies.
I suppose the same could be said for the Lesser Synod, but I won't open that can of worms here, even though I've just mentioned it.
I hope this clarifies and relieves your concerns regarding my previous comments.
Mark N. Sudia
P.S. I too am sometimes confused by how postings are signed. But that is irreleven, compared to the issues being discussed on this site.
#126.96.36.199.1 Anonymous on 2006-06-16 09:04
My faith in God is strengthening, but not in the OCA. Not only are certain heirarchs' behavior an embarrassment, but a block to growing orthodoxy. My spiritual advisor tells us it is our obligation to bring people into the church. At this point in time, it's not possible. A select group of heirarchs have manipulated the laity through lieing and cheating for their material gain. Instead of setting things right, showing remorse and correcting their ways, the manipulation continues. How can we bring new people into the church and convince them this is the true faith when our leaders remain oblivious to the teachings of the church?
#15 Anonymous on 2006-06-08 09:16
Dear Father Matusiak,
Thank you for your reply to my question. "One cannot demand years of investigation and audits and then expect them to be completed in a few days or weeks." However, someone took the money from the designated funds we sent from our parishes and that someone can come forward without any audits or investigations being completed. That person can take responsibility for his or her actions, just as the least of us must do, and should be able to speak the truth without fear of punitive actions intended to silence the truth. I know from my own experience that being a "thief" and then repenting - need not turn one into a liar. Very truly yours, Alice
#16 Alice Carter on 2006-06-08 13:06
It would seem that since Met. Herman was the Bishop of Eastern Pa. that an audit of that diocese should be initiated. If he misdirected funds on the national level he may have done so in his position as Bishop of Eastern Pa. and Philadelphia. How much money was recieved by his diocese of eastern Pa. for the seminary and how was it used?
#17 Anonymous on 2006-06-16 06:27
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