Wednesday, July 5. 2006
Your comments on the past six months, or the next months are welcome. Please sign your posts if you feel you are able.
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Mark, thank you for your time and effort, to keep us informed. Also thank you for this GREAT SUMMARY of events.
Syosset is still oblivious to the fact that we will find the truth. We will not FADE away into the Syosset sunset!
THIS PROCRASTINATION BY SYOSSET WILL RUIN THE OCA, SPIRITUALLY AND FINANCIALLY.
Thanks to everone who has contributed to this site, whether you signed your name or you were anonymous...
Thank you for such thoroughness and diligence in all your efforts to help us faithful know what has happened with the past and recent events in the OCA.
I have enjoyed your hard work in keeping us informed. I have found that diligence usually pays off. I am sure it will also pay off in this case with what is happening in the OCA.
(Woodward and Bernstein didn't give up seeking the truth in the "simple" Watergate break-in until they found the truth! And is was very yuccky...)
#2 Patty Schellbach on 2006-07-05 15:44
Thank you Mark for giving so much of yourself. Your efforts are to be commended. Not only is OCANEWS.ORG a source of information, but ideas and messages that have been set forth are thought provoking. Your continuing devotion to searching for the truth has the support of many appreciative people.
"You can't fight evil unless good men speak out.". . . unknown
#3 Hopeful on 2006-07-05 17:02
Thank you for a clear summary of where things stand.
I do think that there is room for a bit of optimism, as well as a continuing need for much concern.
The Metropolitan Council appears to be waking up to its responsibilities, even if still passive in the face of the Metropolitan's resistance.
There does seem to be genuine movement to change things moving foward, even though there is also resistance to accepting responsibility for what has happened in the past.
I found myself agreeing both with Fr. Gary's letter and with your response, even though you were disagreeing with each other in some significant ways. Only out of such open and constructive dialogue will progress come. It is sad that it appears that Syosset is not yet ready or able to engage in such dialogue. Perhaps that day will come; perhaps it won't. Time will tell. I believe your continuing efforts will contribute to the likelihood that it will indeed come.
I may not agree with every characterization on this site, but you are serving a needed purpose with dedication and obvious honesty. Thank you.
May God have mercy on us all,
#4 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-07-05 17:24
I just want to say that I honestly appreciate your work on this website and for keeping these issues in view for all to see. While it may be painful to some I personally see no other path to some sort of resolution and frankly these issues are not resolved despite what some may think.
I would like to offer a suggestion and that is if it is at all possible, would you consider also listing the contact information for each member of the metropolitan council. Unfortunately it does appear that the metropolitan feels that most, if not all, of the issues have been resolved by virtue of the bail out loan. It also appears that some bishops and priests also feel this way. What they seem to miss entirely is the fact that the Church is much more than a bunch of people running around with black robes trying to tell others what to do. Sadly and quite tragically, that is all that I see that has been accomplished since you started this website. There is such a blatant disregard for the laity that I am truly ashamed.
I would personally like to hear from some members of the metropolitan council and I would like to know why they haven't been more aggressive about actually wrenching back control of the OCA. They seem to have somewhat passively gone to Syosset, listened to the reports of the metropolitan and the acting treasurer and gone home.
Another relatively simple way to make the point is to truly encourage parishioners to take charge by placing their church contributions into an escrow or trust account. I'm not encouraging an all-out boycott but until the metropolitan's lights are turned out in Syosset or the telephone and cable are cut off, I'm not really sure he or the other members of the holy synod are going to get it. I'm afraid that until some true pain is felt no change can be affected. To use an analogy of an earlier post, the OCA is infected with a disease much like cancer. You can sit back and deny that it is happening to you, you can play with a bunch of silly home remedies to cure it, or you can go to the doctor and begin the painful treatment that may actually save your life.
May God continue to bless your work,
#5 Fr. Michael Tassos on 2006-07-05 20:14
Christ is in our midst!
I think it may be worthwhile to review what was said in the "What You Can Do" page of this site. As suggested on that page, I myself would not recommend a wholesale withholding of assessments; in many places where that has been called for this suggestion has been rejected, it seems (on both parish and diocesan--well, some diocesan--levels), and I think with good reason. A baby and bathwater situation. However, as suggested on WYCD, I think sending appeals directly to the agency involved or a related one (e.g. directly to the seminaries, to local missions, to IOCC), and reconsidering bequests, FOS membership, etc. may have the same effect. Just a suggestion here; hope you'll give it some thought.
#5.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2006-07-06 07:08
Forgive me for reprimanding you, but I don't think that is the right attitude at all! There is a debt to be paid. Let us pay it off and be done with it. Who is responsible does not matter at this point. Interest is building every day.
Do you not love our Church? It pays your bills, does it not? Is it not worthy of your love?
No, I think my idea is much better. We need to channel ***all*** our money in to paying off this horrendous debt before we point the fingers at anybody. Then, maybe by that time, we will have grown charitable enough to not really care "who did it". I mean after all, isn't this all about charity?
Now I know somebody somewhere out there is going to misunderstand my words and say "she said this and she said that and who does she think she is" so if you have any questions about my statement, please ask!
#5.1.1 Olympiada on 2006-07-06 14:33
I don't think it's so much Woodward & Bernstein as it is the White House Press Secretary augmented by Ann Coulter.
It's very interesting to compare the allegations as outlined in Protodeacon Eric Wheelers's original letter. One sample: the accusation of money being improperly channeled through or into the Saint Sergius Chapel account. That allegation has been shown to be officially a false charge twice: once before the Lesser Synod and most recently in the minutes of the Metropolitan Council meeting. That allegation is completely missing from Mark Stokoe's re-write or recomposition of allegations.
No, this is like nothing so much as the insistence recently of there actually being WMDs and that those were not the reasons for conquering Iraq anyhow and that ANYHOW we got rid of Saddam Hussein, who was so fabulously supported by the Previous Regimes of Reagan and Bush I. However, one may read acounts from the WH and those allied with them that are models of the sort of thing that Mark, too, has just coughed up.
It's called Spin a la White House, not Woodward and Bernstein!
Sometimes the days are just too short!
Commending all to Christ's love,
+Tikhon, The Bishop of San Francisco, Los Angeles and the West; The Orthodox Church in America.
#6 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-07-05 23:10
I grant you that there has been a tremendous amount of spin and hyperbole on this website and throughout the numerous posts. I grant you that some of the allegations appear to be both exaggerated and in some cases patently false. I grant you that you of all people probably know more about the financial inner workings of Syosset than most others.
That being said, I have yet to see where you have personally addressed the bail out loan of $1.7 million? Where are the words from you or any of the other members of the holy synod, "Oops. We screwed up. We didn't have proper controls. We didn't have budgets that were worth anything. We robbed from specifically designated funds to pay operating expenses. We didn't have a clue as to how to pay for some items like the all-American council." Where is there even a hint of contrition? As I have said in the past, "the act speaks for itself." We can debate long and hard about whethe the allegations are true or false, whether the word "Russian" should be associated with the Orthodox church in Alaska, or whether or not St. Tikhon's vision for America was the best plan. But what does any of that have to do with the fact that so much money was squandered and none of the leaders of the church has the guts to actually admit it.
#6.1 Anonymous on 2006-07-06 08:45
1. I don't understand why a comment signed by "Fr. Michael" is listed here as "Anonymous." Anyone?
2. No one ever asked me if I approved of going out to get a loan. I thought it was a horrid idea. I agreed with the New York banks that wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. Apart from its financial problematics, it's just too easy a way to get rid of that annoying residence and office so far away from that nice house the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania got for the ruling bishop of their own diocese which is always being unfairly thrown in somebody's face.
3. Obviously, the only way the current powers-that-be (I'm most certainly NOT one of them) could see out of their unpopular position was to go out and borrown money, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald's son was not brought up that way.
4. I still find the presentation of his allegations by Protodeacon Eros Wheeler to be scurrillous and disgusting.
I'd like to point out that regardless of what case may be made, based on NOTHING but personal reflections about "actual original purposes" on the gift to Metropolitan Theodosius of a lot of money, there is something in legal and police work that is called "real" evidence. "Real" evidence is not "what I a remember." It is not even "what everybody but liars remembers." It is real evidence, such as a DOCUMENT. Where is any document which states any other aim but the personal discretion of His Beatitude? I have yet to see it. We have only this 1930s style constant repetition of the "Actual" purpose of the loan, and all kinds of wriggling around the fact that there is real evidence ONLY for the gift of the money as a personal gift. Say what you like: say "I was there and I KNOW". That is not real evidence. Produce a document that allegedly has been shredded. It can't be done. To try to convince Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald's son that Master Hunchak's theory is a fact would be like trying to convince him that he has caused kept all sabre-tooth tigers out of the diocese of the West: the evidence being obvious: there are no sabre-toothed tigers there!
No. I didn't approve of that loan and I don't approve of it. I tried to keep our own diocesan representatives from having their names blackened in Church History by being shown to be easily manipulated and giving their assent to the process and the loan. I am not angry with anyone who wants to think the best of everyone ***under all circumstances*** but I know that is not beneficial for our Church's structure in the world. On the contrary.
At the rate things are going, and looking at the composition of the SVS Dean-Search Committee, I suppose that we may hear less of Monsieur Stokoe or Protodeacon Eros or Archbishop Job in the future: one of them is bound to be selected as Dean! One member of that committee, asked to evaluate the application of someone formely considered a pseudo-Bishop consecrated by pseudo-Bishops from a canonical point of view reported nothing at all from a canonical point of view but only showed that he agreed with the pseudo-Bishop's anti-Toll House positions. The sum total of his canonical evaluation was that the pseudo-Bishop was not guilty of heresy. The chairman is a financial development type. Another is an accountant whose main claim to fame is having slapped together various conventional bookkeeping practices already contained in GAAP, etc., but adding a note of sanctimony by inserting a moralizing)including scriptural allusions) paragraph. I think there's also an end product of the great 19th Protestant missionary work among the indigenous peoples of the Middle East on the committee as well, of whom one Orthodox Learned Monastic, having taught there for a term said something like, "It was awful! I was teaching theology and in his class he was confounding whatever I taught by his own teachings."
So, you've got your loan and you've got your search committee. Don't anyone, please, associate me with either! Ask someone else why those in charge of the Metropolitan Council got it to approve their loan, not me.
+Tikhon. The Bishop of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the West. The Orthodox Church in America.
"Mehr Licht!" (Goethe)
#6.1.1 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-07-06 21:23
In answer to your point #1: the mistake was mine in failing to fully delete the name as requested.
In answer to your point #4: I suggest you re-read the article of February 2 2006 on this site which includes citations from the original grant proposal for St. Catherine's for which the ADM was clearly and explicitly intended. A copy of that document is surely at Syosset; I would suggest that you request a copy to inspect in full should you doubt the accuracy of my quotes from it.
With all best wishes,
#22.214.171.124 Editor on 2006-07-07 11:55
The tax returns of the Andreas Foundation and the ADM Foundation -- which are available to the public -- show that millions of dollars were donated to the OCA during the nineties. These records certainly qualify as "evidence."
Melanie Jula Sakoda
I agree with you here. Regardless of what happened in the past, the 1.7 million loan speaks for itself, and you are right, my bishop has not addressed this and he should. That is what I expect him to do, and it seems you do too.
As I have written two times now I do not care whose fault it is that we are in debt, the fact of the matter is we are in debt and we need to pay it off. I think we all need to pitch in to the best of our ability and pay off this loan. We need to stop giving our money away to the IOCC and every other organization outside the OCA and support our own church. I don't know why we have to have a representation church in Moscow. That seems like a waste of money to me and pride and ego in my limited understanding, unless it is being paid for by Patriarch Alexy II and his church which I do not think it is.
Come on folks, focus your attention at home! It seems the OCA like the USA has a horrible foreign relations policy, yes? Having people homeless at home while fighting wars abroad, yes?
Well, after all, we are an American church, right?
#6.1.2 Olympiada on 2006-07-07 14:07
You and others arer absolutely right. The Loan must be paid, and the lying must be stopped NOW. However, in order to do all that must be done, we also need to know who and how many are responsible, and what responsibility each person carries in this.
Then, far from simply continuing to point fingers at everyone in Syosset, we can hold each individual accountable for his actions; remove all the players, and install a new and honest administration.
So let's do all of the above. And yes, I also agree that we need to convene an extraordinary AAC to bring this to an end.
But I have one question: who will convene it, if His Beatitude refuses to do so?
For as stated in the OCA Statute, Arrticle IV, Section 2, paragraph C, the Metropolitan "Convenes the All American Council, presides over it, and promulgates its decisions;
I see nonthing in either Article 2 The Holy Synod, or Article V, The Metropolitan Council that suggests either body has the power to convene an AAC if the Metropolitan is unwilling to convene it.
Maybe we are about to set a precedent here. So Let's be careful that it is a good one.
Mark N. Sudia
#126.96.36.199 Mark N. Sudia on 2006-07-10 10:57
Well now, just who is Hussein in your analogy - yourself perhaps (or is that something to be hoped for)? This may well seem over the top, but I can't believe your a bishop of anything!
You sir, are an offensive man. I say these words with a clear conscious, because I am have abundant faith they will not be held against me at my judgment. The disdain, the arrogance, in your cavalier attitude to the real concerns we have for the Church is beneath your office, but apparently not yourself. Your office DEMANDS that you refrain from this pettiness which you seem incapable of resisting.
I too found the "Woodward and Bernstein" comparison hallow. However, I have the requisite amount of maturity to stick with the substance. I would suggest you search and pray for the same...
#6.2 Christopher Encapera (OCA-North Carolina) on 2006-07-06 14:06
I think Mister Christopher Encapera would do well to look into the mechanics of the so-called "You" Letter. It is known as of the chief of the anti-Christian devices known as "affixing blame." opr "playing the 'blame game." Otherwise, there's nothing of importance or substance in his message upon which to make comment or to which to frame a reply.
Commending all to Christ's love,
+Tikhon, The Bishop of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the West. The Orthodox Church in America.
"A hen after laying an egg will often cackle as if she had laid an asteroid!" (Mark Twain)
#6.2.1 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-07-06 21:29
More intentional offense ("laying an egg..."), more disdainful arrogance ("nothing of importance or substance"). You speak of "anti-Christian devices" and yet you employ them yourself in the same breath. You sir, are demonstrating your erroneous judgment as to what is a "anti-Christian device" and who uses them. How such gross incompetence has risen to the level of bishop is an important question....
#188.8.131.52 Christopher Encapera (OCA-North Carolina) on 2006-07-07 16:31
Regardless of your opinions of +Tikhon's postings, remember that he alone among the Holy Synod, has had the courage to address the issues in a public forum. Shame on the spineless Bishops who are acting as +Herman's toadies. Bishops in the past, starting with St. Stephen, lost their lives because they stood up and spoke their beliefs. However, these Bishops are either too scared to talk to their flock publicly, or perhaps complicit in the cover-up.
As last Sunday's Gospel lesson stated, "you cannot serve both God and mammon [Money]." My Dear Bishops, you have to decide whether you will serve God and the people, or Money.
Until now, the Holy Synod has been afraid to speak out lest they incur the wrath of +Herman. Why are they afraid? Are not all Bishops equal? Kudos to +Herman for his political acumen. He has brought the Holy Synod to its knees in a very short time. Here's an example: In the Othodox Church this month [p. 13], +Herman stated, in regard to the audit, that the Holy Synod "could decide to pursue the matter with legal counsel, should it appear necessary." No mention of the MC, the body that has fiscal responsibility in the OCA.
Evidently, +Herman has been working hard to marginalize the MC just in case somewhere down the line it sees the light, as Paul did, and decides to fulfill its responsibilities.
What +Herman and his cronies in Syosset fail to recognize is that his "sheep" may not be really sheep at all. He fully expects contributions to pickup if he stonewalls long enough. However, if my hunch is right, the laity will not allow themselves to be led to slaughter like sheep.
Again, I state that I will only contibute to those Orthodox entities that do not support the Syosset gang, either actively or passively. By the way, silence and/or inaction by a parish or diocese certainly supports the current administration and its tactics. Perhaps the silent parties are trying to emulate Peter? Before the cock crows thrice, the laity must regain control. Otherwise, the present administration will bring down the OCA. They are planning to stonewall until the rage abates. Don't give in.
I urge all Orthodox Christians to follow Mark Stokoe's example, to wit:
"And in six months, if the Proskauer Rose report is not revealed, if the audits are not released, if nothing changes beyond more and better excuses, we shall continue for another six months, and another six months after that. There is only one way to end this crisis: and Syosset already knows it, for they are as plain as any words in Scripture can be:
"You will know the truth; and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32).
#6.2.2 Sergei on 2006-07-06 22:50
Thank you for your comment. However, it is not entirely accurate. Long before Bishop Tikhon found his voice, Archbishop Job was asking the questions that have driven this investigation. And as much as Bishop Tikhon has contributed in the way of information, he has done so, and continues to do so, only for the benefit of his own agenda, leaking only those bits that further his efforts to exonerate Fr. Kondratick. One must read him with caution.
Sadly, I can offer no good explanation why our other Bishops remain so silent.
#184.108.40.206 Editor on 2006-07-07 11:46
Excellent writing Mark, very neatly woven.
I can not survive in this culture of silence. I was singled out at a young age for my verbosity and nothing has changed. How can I survive in a church that demands silence of me? How can anybody?
I feel sorrow for all those clergymen who lost their professions as a result of this crisis. And I have to say, for me, it is adjustment to think of clergymen as professionals in the first place. I did not grow up in the church and the church is foreign to me. I have always thought about those outside the church since I began writing on the internet as an Orthodox Christian. What are we showing and teaching them? That there is no professional security for clergymen?
I am concerned that the local parishes are still gathering money for international charity and even charity outside the church at this point. This reminds me of the president of Uganda who gave money to the president of the USA while his school teachers often have to go without lunch. It is obvious to me we need to pay off this debt before we give away money to anyone else.
I am not responsible for this mess these men have gotten us into, but I am not seeing enough action on their part. I hope they all are listening. So my hope for the next six months is that the leaders of our church do what they have to do to pay off this debt. I don't care whose fault it is. That is irrelevant to me. That is moralizing and I am not interested in that. Just pay off the debt and get the church back on track is all I ask. And we all have to pitch in. And we can start by keeping ***all*** our donating and tithing solely focused on the Orthodox Church in America until we pay off this horrendous debt.
#7 Olympiada on 2006-07-06 09:03
Thanks from me too, Mark, for everything you are doing. Someday, maybe even +Tikhon will thank you, who knows?
Being able to exchange and share reflection, editorials and opinions on this site is helpful, but how about this for an idea? Those of us who are concerned with the goings-on in Syosset need to let the administration know how we feel. There is an OCA web site, as we all know (www.oca.org, just in case). We should inundate the place with e-mails telling them exactly how we feel on any number of topics, and God knows there are plenty! These could be anonymous or not. I have recently asked the treasurer, Fr. Paul Kucynda about the Church Planting Grants and why the money being borrowed is not being included in this year's grants. I have received prompt answers from him and from Fr. Eric Tosi. To me these answers were not exactly satisfying (double talk from Fr. Paul), but at least they know what was on my mind and that 1 person was asking questions.
The number of people reading postings on this site is truly impressive and should we all choose to send at least one e-mail to Syosset everytime we log on here, it should make a big impression.
#8 Eugenie Osmun on 2006-07-06 10:51
With all due respect, it's time for you to retire!
If you still believe that monies have not been diverted or improperly channeled, then why is the OCA pursuing a loan of $1,700,000? Can you honestly say that something fishy wasn't going on?
You have even publicly gone on record as to admitting that you were unaware of a 911 Church wide appeal. As a member of the Holy Synod of Bishops in the OCA, I ask, how is that even possible?
Facts are facts Vladyka. There are already plenty known and probably many more to come.
Do you honestly believe that a law firm of this magnitude (regardless of their religious beliefs) would have been hired if nothing was wrong?
Do you simply dismiss any truthful claims which you read and subsequently disregard them as false in your mind because you don't like what you hear, or rather because you simply can't handle the truth?
In closing, I urge you to revisit an email posted during the infancy stages of this investigation. It was written by a Richard Rock of Las Vagas to Fr. Robert Kondratick. If memory serves me correct, in it he exorts Fr. Bob to "stop acting or looking guilty because you are starting to bring attention to yourself." It goes on a bit more.
Please read it and then re-read it.
I'm sure many of us would be curious to hear what your response will be.
One other item. Isn't it true that a "damaging" video tape exists from St. Catherine's in which the Archimandrite and Fr. Bob have an exchange regarding how "things" work financially?
#9 Michael Geeza on 2006-07-06 11:36
By a marvelous coincidence, the Diocese of the Midwest, SCOBA, and the Holy Synod of the OCA all meet this October. One can only wonder...and hope, perhaps.
#10 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-07-06 11:43
Run over budgets for 4-5 years and steal from charities instead of having the humility to tell people you aren't making it and need $12.60 more each year?
To me that's hierarchy with no credibility to be a hierarch.
That's sad, its shameful, and as one priest said, it's evil.
Hey I know, let's blame Mark Stokoe.
#11 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-07-06 16:17
Dear Daniel: You're probably right, and I freely admit to being very. . .uncomfortable anytime I suggest that His Beatitude Herman either retire or resign.
So here, I will adopt your approach of forgiveness, in light of his actions recently taken to correct the problems revealed as the scandal became known.
In fact, I also ask his forgiveness for any of my postings that may have appeared to be in favor of removing him from office.
That said, I wonder if MH would consider proposing the creation of two new offifes within the OCA, to better attend to financial matters.
First, a Church Accounting Office, organized like the US General Accounting Office; run by a Comptroller General, and responsible only for performing regular audits of the administration, and all departments of the OCA.
Then, an OCA Budget Office; like the Congressional Budget Office: which would assume the following duties presently charged to the Metropolitan Council: (c) Establishes the budget for the operations of the Church and examines all financial reports of the Church; (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.
I believe that creating these two new offices would actually assist the MC and the Holy Synod in attending to their feduciary responsibilities more effectively and efficiently.
So, I ask Your Beatitude, would you be willing to consider forming these two executive departments to better serve the financial needs of the faithful of the OCA?
If so, then I will happily and speedily withdraw any suggestions I have posted regarding you either retireing or resigning. And, I suspect that others will withdraw these statments as well.
For me, this posting has provided a more constructive way to vent my frustrations, in asking His Beatitude if he would consider taking these actions to strengthen the church in the future.
I hope reading it will bring a similar response from others.
Mark N. Sudia
#11.1 Mark N. Sudia on 2006-07-10 19:55
All of the things you ask for are unneeded.
If the church provides quarterly financial results versus budget and the other two financial statements, this would eliminate the needs you suggest.
In the absence of full quarterly reporting. If the church develops a short term independent oversight committee elected by the faithful, this would eliminate the trust issues many of you have. The oversight committee can make recommendations only. Unmet beneficial recommendations would essentially mean the administration is failing and then terminations would be called for.
These two suggestions from me would return credibility to the OCA immediately today.
The Metropolitan is not the only person without credibility. It is all governing bodies of the OCA, including the Synod.
It would be great to restore credibility.
#11.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-07-14 20:26
as a former member of the Audit Committee (and a former member of the OCA) I might point out that the Statute of the OCA called for QUARTERLY audits of all church organizations, and yet this was not done. While I do not know what changes have been made to the statute since I left the church, I signed two audits - in 1981 and 1982 - as the alternate member of the audit committee. Those two signatures were probably in violation of the Statute, which made clear that the alternate member was there to PERMANENTLY replace a member who was not available to serve.
Also, my reading of the Statute made clear to me that at a minimum any stavropeghial institution probably also had to have its books subject to the audit comittee elected by the All-American Council. That was never done.
Adding additional offices or positions does not solve the problem of not having those organizations and offices that already exist fulfill their responsibilities.
#220.127.116.11 Kenneth Bernstein on 2006-07-17 15:15
You're exactly right. Do you think that, at the very least it might be time to have specific job descriptions for the future holders of each office?
I hope so. I also hope that you're in the camp that believes that future OCA Chancellors should have less auhority than Fr. Bob weilded for si many years
I agree that quarterly financial statements are mandatory for the smooth operation of the OCA's finances.
If quarterly statements from the Treasurer, Comptroller, and (Proposed) OCA Budget Director could be compared to discover the financial health of the Church, would you agree, at least in theory to creading these additional offices and positions?
I personally believe that if future OCA Budgets could be examined from several different financial perspectives, iwe could become financially stable. After all, comparing two or three different reports would reveal how all of these financial departments are or aren't cooperating to keep the church financially healthy.
I've asked these questions, because I believe that answering them honestly will show that we have gained wisdom frim this scandal, learned from the mistakes, and become stronger in the process.
I would appreciate your answers to these questions, because I truly believe that if properly understood by the readers of this site, and then properly implemented, they will strengthen the OCA Financially, and thus restore our supposedly failing credibility with our sister churches in North America.
Mark N. Sudia
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2006-07-18 10:16
The only exaggeration, rumor and absurdity are coming from those trying to defend the defensible.
#12 Rich on 2006-07-07 06:18
It appears from the OCA's home website that our administration's appetite for international travel has not waned. In spite of the exposure that this unquenchable appetite comes at the terrible expense of the most vulnerable people in our world (together with misisons and seminaries), the travel continues. In spite of the fact that we are facing multi-million doallr debt, the travel continues. In spite of the fact that our Metropolitan was lamenting the shorfall in the Mission appeal, the travel continues. In spite of the fact that even Patriarch Aleksy himself expressed surprise that our Metropolitan would travel such a long distance, the travel continues.
This blurred vision of our current administration is heartbreaking. The lack of contrition for grievous sins against the most vulnerable in our world by those ordained to be their shepherds and protectors is scandalous. The lack of any change in direction is unacceptable.
Metropolitan Herman said that he takes full responsibility for what may have happened during his tenure as Metropolitan, and that he will take whatever corrective measures may still be necessary. I believe, in this case, we must hold our Metropolitan to his word. To be responsible is more that simply trying to cover the past. To be responsible is to accept the outcomes and consequences of one's actions.
We as a Church have been lied to. We were told that the Holy Synod had reviewed the allegations, and that there was nothing to them, and that the matter was closed. This was an outright lie.
We were told that money our faithful and parishes sent to charitable collections would be used to aid those most in need in our world. This was a grievous deception. Metropolitan Herman himself, according to an accountant's report, directed that hundreds of thousands of dollars be diverted from charitable causes to cover other expenses, including no doubt a scandalous external affairs budget.
We have been told to be quiet. We have witnessed the firing and slander of those who showed integrity.
We have seen the continuing attempts at a cover-up of corruption at the highest levels. We know that a videotape exists which in Metropolitan Herman's own words is "damaging," and which witnesses say exposes not only our former chancellor but a whole system of financial corruption. Yet even though Metropolitan Herman viewed the tape, our chancellor was not only not immediately terminated from his position, but even reinstated as chancellor six months later at the last AAC. If the attempted extortion of tens of thousands of dollars intended for terrorist victims, most of whom are children, is not enough to receive Church discipline, it makes one wonder what sins a priest must commit in order to be deposed in the Orthodox Church. Our Lord told us to beware of wolves in sheep's clothing. Perhaps we ought to be just as wary of wolves in priestly clothing.
Many have said that it is time to stop focussing on the past, but to provide solutions for the future. Well, let me be one to share a few suggestions. These are certainly not exhaustive, but are clearly necessary first steps in rebuilding trust and unity.
There is no point in trying to beat around the bush any longer. Many have used euphemisms such as "the removal of people in high office" and the like. If Metropolitan Herman is serious about taking responsibility for whatever may have happened during his tenure, then I will say it straight out, and with all due respect to his high office: it is time for Metropolitan Herman to resign. In spite of his fears that his resignation would cause disunity and confusion, it is clear that his continuing role as Primate is causing more harm to our Church with each passing day. I write this with more pain than anyone might believe, but clearly, this has to happen for healing in the Church to begin. There is simply no way around it.
We need to hold a special AAC soon in order to elect a new Metropolitan, to communicate clearly what has happened in the past, and to set a vision and parameters for our operations in the future. This AAC should not be the blowout, hoopla, "convention-style" AAC of the past, but a working meeting, perhaps at a university or seminary. The audit reports and legal reports must be made available to the whole church prior to this AAC, in spite of any potential embarrassment to the church or its officers.
A re-empahsis on our mission to America and our much-needed attempts to create a unified Orthodox Church on this continent must be at the forefront of our vision. Rubbing shoulders with overseas dignitaries must move to the very bottom of the priority ladder, only accomplished if money is left over after misisons and charities are completely satisfied (rather than the other way around).
Any employee at Syosset in a position of trust must be terminated from his position. I realize that there are some who are only indrectly involved, but the building of trust demands that a whole new culture be set up in that place. This is particularly true since our acting Treasurer has stated that the Chancery is currently full of "spies and thieves." Men and women of integrity should be appointed to fill those positions. (This should not be understood to mean that all those who have worked in Syosset lack integrity, but that we simply need to begin a fresh culture founded on integrity.)
Those clergy directly inolved in the moral crimes against the vulnerable must be deposed quickly. Bishops involved in moral crimes against the vulnerable also ought to voluntarily agree to work out their salvation among the laity.
The new administration should immediatley begin to implemet transparency, and a marked change in the direction and vision of the OCA -- back to missions, charity, and unity. More modest budgets, accomodations, and offices should be hallmarks of a missionary Church.
Cooperation within the Synod of Bishops and between the episcopacy and the rest of the Church must increase dramatically. Boards such as the Metropolitan Council should meet more frequently for the time being.
I'm sure there are other things that could and should be added to this list, but these are the most basic, most obvious, and most foundational changes that must take place for the good of the futrue of the OCA.
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#13 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2006-07-07 10:07
Fr. Chris, thank you for saying what needs to be said, with no varnishing or false humility. Cancers cannot be allowed to remain in the body; they must be removed. St. Paul instructs us to renounce "disgraceful and underhanded ways." This teaching of hardheaded honesty far predates the mentality of feudalism that plagues the OCA on so many levels and prevents it from becoming a true Christian witness in this country.
#13.1 Bill Congdon on 2006-07-07 13:39
God bless you and protect you for the courage, conviction, wisdom, and love for truth and righteousness that you have shown in working work to help the Orthodox faithful and the Holy Orthodox Faith. Your example represents a bright beacon of hope, love, and faith that shines forth for all of us. You are absolutely correct in your analysis and assessment of the Spiritual Crisis at the heart of the OCA and the need for drastic changes in direction and leadership.
I hope your call is heeded by everyone who has still has eyes to see and ears to hear and those that still nurture a passion for the Truth, Christ, and the Church. Too much unethical conduct and avoidance and violation of Orthodox Christian sacramental duties have been tolerated for too long by too many (priests, bishops, and lay men and women alike). The consequences for failing to act and stand up for truth and righteousness have been devastating for too many.
Evil and incompetence will triumph as long as men of faith and courage remain silent and are concerned more about their careers, benefits, and status than speaking the truth, doing the right thing and protecting the sheep and the Holy Orthodox Faith from ravenous wolves in our midst. Christ asks us to follow Him giving our all for His sake. This is particularly important for those with a sacramental calling and duty to serve in the altar and protect the sheep, preach the Truth, and defend the Orthodox Church. It's time for them (especially those in leadership positions) to start acting and living the very words they preach every Sunday. Silence never was and should never be an option in such dreadful conditions and crisis situations. Our ethics requires it, our Faith demands it!
Chris Banescu, Esq
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Nice to know I'm not the only one who was wondering where the heck the money for the Met.'s trip to Russia was coming from?
I'm Antiochian, but have friends in the OCA. Unfortunately, watching this mess has the same morbid fascination for me as following what came out of the recent Episcopal Church general convention.
#13.3 Michele Hagerman on 2006-07-07 21:06
God Bless, Save and Protect Priest Christopher Wojcik's reflections on the crisis our beloved OCA is wrestling with.
His suggestions have great merit, and we should all "cut to the quick" to compel the Holy Synod to schedule an AAC as soon as possible, to deal with the report which should be presented at that time.
The Proskauer Report, at great expense, should be shared equally by all bodies, so that action can be taken as to its content, at that conference. It must not be censored, or altered in its content, and allow the findings to sink in to all concerned. Nothing else will do, there is simply too much already said and done, heavily weighed of Byzantine intrigue.
Only dedicated action by us, should be our highest priority.
God Bless, Save and Protect us all in the months to come!
#13.4 Nicholas Panko on 2006-07-09 12:35
Dear Fr. Christopher:
It seems that you have an extremely-clear vision of what must happen for the OCA to begin to recover from the present crisis.
Regarding the competence of the Metropolitan Council, as stated in Article 5, Section 4, I believe that the following three responsibilities should be fulfilled by the Treasurer, with the final approval of the MC:
(c) Establishes the budget for the operations of the Church and examines all financial reports 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;
And (e) Organizes plans for obtaining voluntary contributions for the satisfaction of the needs of the Church.
This seems logical to me, since these are purely financial duties, and in most organizations, the Treasurer is responsible for all financial matters.
Also, I think we should create a Church Accounting Office, (CAO), like the US General Accounting Office, which like that agency would be in charge of auditing the operations of Syosset and all other agencies of the OCA.
And this leads to the point of creating seperate job descriptions for the future holders of the offices of Chancellor, Comptroller, Secretary, and Treasurer, assigining specific duties to each.
Next, we should choose candidates with specific education and training to fill head each office; and state that when a problem occurs, the Comptroller and Treasurer can't simply change positions, as happened when this began.
And finally, if the Metrolopitan Council is the "Board of Directors" of the OCA, it should also include a repredentative from the FOS, St. Herman's, St. Tikhon's, and St. Vladimir's Seminaries.
Afterall, for the MC to perform its duties effictively, it seems only logical that the entire church be represented.
I hope these suggestions are as helpful as your insightful article, and that all suggestions given in a spirit of Christian love will bring the present scandal to a relatively-speedy conclusion.
Mark N. Sudia
#13.5 Mark N. Sudia on 2006-07-09 14:30
Dear Fr. Chris,
I agree with your analysis and tragic events that have occured in the OCA. I also agree we need a new start.
I agree with your plans of action for the future of the OCA. Seriously, how does one call for a special AAC? Who would be the courageous souls to get the right agenda on board and that it is not deviated from "distractors?"
#14 Patty Schellbach on 2006-07-07 12:39
First, kudos to Fr. Christopher for exemplary courage, and exercising the gift of prophecy. Your words reflect the thoughts of many who have posted on this site.
Concerning the convoking of a special AAC: see Article 3, Section III of the OCA Statute. Our much maligned Metropolitan Council apparently initiates the action which is then approved by the Synod of Bishops. While I suspect that something of the like is already in motion, our best shot at having a new AAC would probably be through the formation of strong alliances within the Synod and the Met. Council. Does anyone know if anything like this is currently a work-in-progress?
The truth of the matter is this: withholding information from any portion of the Church, especially after so much has happened, constitutes treachery of the worst kind. It has become apparent that the assistance of the entire body of Christ is needed for this cancer to be healed (to quote Mr. Congdon). As much as some might like to believe this, a truly synthetic Christian image of the episcopacy is not equivalent to the lifestyle of a middle Byzantine prince or emperor. If the 'image' of the Church (the bishop seated before us, proistamenos or predstoyatel) does not fear God, we cannot follow suit, because Archbishop JOB's question will become reality - God will not bless our endeavors, regardless of the way they are dressed, worded, or positioned.
Let us entreat both the Met. Council and our own diocesan bishops to convoke an AAC and truly gather the Church in one place in order to take real cathartic action.
#14.1 (please withhold) on 2006-07-08 05:44
I would like to see a special AAC be held. Put it this way: I am ready to pay down our 1.7 million dollar debt with a $100.00 donation tomorrow. But with no formal pronouncement to the faithful from our MC or MH, I don't know if they even want it. I am trul concerned that we faithful have not been asked yet to help pay this "thing" off. Interest accumulates on this every day, making it just that much more harder on us faithful and the church to put this new debt to rest.
I would think this money that would be sent to help pay off the 1.7 million dollar loan would go into a special account of some sort to be "overseen" by someone in the OCA. And therein I start having a "trust" problem. I am ready to do it, but without an AAC to "get it right," I might be helping to pay someone's next airfair to Russia.
I want my money to mean what it means" paying down a 1.7 million dollar loan. Can we can an AAC to make sure this money gets to do this? Or better yet, call an AAC so that the faithful might not pay a cent and discuss if this 1.7 mill debt might be payed off by selling off strategic assets, such as the property on Martin St. in Syosset, or Syosset altogether.
Perhaps this might be a wiser plan. So I would like to see a special AAC called so that the best minds from our entire church may help get us to the light of the tunnel in a prudent way.
#14.1.1 Patty Schellbach on 2006-07-08 16:57
"Any employee at Syosset in a position of trust must be terminated from his position."
Father Chris, I agree with much of what you written, but this statement begs for clarification. I don't think we solve problems by whipping out a new pad of pink slips and passing them out like half-off coupons for TGIFridays. We're talking about the careers of people who have given up their lives for the church. A few need to go, but "all in a position of trust"?
#15 Marty Brown on 2006-07-07 18:44
Well, It seems that the old saying is indeed true: "Silence is golden."
With this in mind, perhaps, we should take some of our "golden silence," recieved from His Beatitude and the Holy Synod to the nearest Bank, Credit Union, or S&L, and cash it in to pay some of the as yet unknown debts the OCA has incurred, and continues to incur as the scandal continues.
Or, perhaps more Hierarchs, clergy and laity need to adopt the princilpalled stand of His Eminence Archbishop Job, and even to demand that a full audit of finances be completed for all years from 1993 to present.
Yes, I said AUDIT, for this will reveal exactly what happened.
Then, as each part of the audit is completed, it should be presented to the Metropolitan Council by representatives of Proskauer Rose, and then to the Holy Synod.
And finally, it may be necessary that we the faithfuk of the OCA demeand the convocation of an extraordinary All American Council, where all information is revealed and discussed.
It seems that we are living throught the results ot he ancient curse *may you live in interesting times", where the ongoing scandal is concerned.
Perhaps it is time for us to end the "interesting times," and demand full accountability of our hierarchs and adnministration for their actions.
Until this ends, "God grant us Patients, Right now."
#16 Mark N. Sudia on 2006-07-08 09:22
You say the Metropoltan should resigh...I agree wholeheartedly. However, I am curious about what would happen if +MH continues to stonewall and refuses to resign. Is there some mechanism in place to force him to do so? Would it be the responsibility of a newly assembled AAC? Or the Metropolitan Council? Or the Holy Synod?
Does anyone have the answers to these questions? Isn't it time we stopped the rhetoric about how evil and corrupt the administration has been and TAKE ACTION?
#17 Eugenie Osmun on 2006-07-09 14:24
Let us wait and be patient this week and perhaps next until the surveys, and title searches of the properties are complete. The loan may or may not happen depending on the "clear title" of the Syosset property (Chancery). Even though the Honesdale Bank likes +Herman....they won't like collateral that is not ours to use.
Mark....has this been researched ?
#18 Name withheld by request on 2006-07-09 21:23
If we look back to the beginnings of the churches financial problems, we quickly see they started long before Metropolitan Herman.
The churches governance is severely flawed when a Metropolitan or even a Synod of Bishops for that matter can stonewall accounting practices that are needed for credibility in our modern world, or worse, when the appointed body doesn't carry out its fiduciary responsibilities for lack of governing rules and implementable procedures. For example, if the Administration failed to have an audit completed, what would the procedure be and how would it be implemented? Under MH, it has now become a rule, I'm not sure what the procedure for failure is... This now new rule was a charge of the MC, not the MH, so who should be resigning?
If the Synod passed a rule allowing anonymity and discretionary accounts, but this was clearly a violation of government regulations, what is the rule, who invokes it, how is change implemented, and what are the procedures and consequences for failure?
The lack of rules clearly began under MT and Chancellor Kondratick AND their predecessors, and these footsteps were followed, yes, even since MH was elevated. In fact, I believe the discretionary rule was implemented under MH as leader, but the entire Synod adopted it, probably to clean up another financial mess brought on by other poor governance rules and procedures.
Imagine waking up one day realizing every rule you had learned or been taught by your predecessor or colleague, was wrong. It would be quite a shock. It would be even harder to fight against your colleagues, predecessors, and subordinates to change.
Audits are expensive, and unless MH was well informed about financial statements, he might not have been a great financial statement expert. In fact, he might not have been a great financial manager. Is this his charge in life? Frankly, I consider a priest to be a non-financial manager by nature. I expect most priests by their own mindset should want to give all money to charity, and quite easily this may leave them and their flock unprepared for a rainy day, or unmanaged, let's say 1.7M in the red even.
If we look at a budget of 2.7M, a trip to Russia costing $10,000 is 1/3 of 1% of the annual budget. That's a mighty expensive trip as well. I'm betting the trip could be done for less than 1/2 of that. For each parishoner, let's use 27,000 people, the cost to send our Metropolitan to Russia on a 10 grand plan is 37 cents.
The greater problem isn't the spending. The greater problem is the failure to report against budgets. Why? If travel becomes 1%, then 2%, then 5% of the budget over the course of years, then, and only then you have a valid argument. I have a travel budget. In the last year alone, the budget has been demolished by fuel prices. Back to budgets, how can you say we spend too much on travel when you don't know the rate of spending over the last 5 years, impacting factors, or how it has changed?
The trouble with the OCA is noone knows how the budget has changed. We only know a few things:
We know that MH is the first Bishop that has recognized his failings, and the failings of the Chancellor, and moved in a direction of change. By the way, this was the charge of the MC, not the MH, but the governing means to change may not be in place.
We also know reelected members of the MC clearly failed to meet their fiduciary responsibilities by not reporting the financial problems since 2001 to the laity. And, by the volition of Bishop Tikhon, unless I've severely misread his posts, the entire Synod knew temporarily restricted funds had been shifted since the 2001 compilation report, long before the AAC in 2005, and long before Mark Stokoe put up this site. I'm guessing, quite frankly, that none of them knew how to read a financial statement well enough to be disturbed, or perhaps they hoped for another Andreas styled bailout.
We also know Bishop Job's question "Are the allegations true or false?" implies that he too did not understand the financial implications and was no greater reader of financial statements, or that he, too, hoped for the bailout.
If you ask for the resignation of the Metropolitan, you've asked for the resignation of all of them, including Bishop Job. And far worse; you've solved nothing.
MH has created an environment of change after walking down the same path for many years and for that he should be applauded, and he should be encouraged for greater change. He was asked to resign when he called for an audit! Now you ask him to resign for the travel budget.
The only disappointment I have today in this matter is the fact that the OCA isn't reporting unaudited results against budget on a quarterly basis. If that starts to happen, I'd be a huge supporter of the Metropolitan because his words would not be a bit hollow, and we could all decide whether the church spent too much on travel. By the way, isn't this a primary charge of the Metropolitan to travel to churches across the country? I'm also disappointed the OCA hasn't made any comment about Deacon Wheeler, this is most shameful that the Metropolitan doesn't have the humility to bring him into the light and ask forgiveness in the eyes of the public. What would Christ say about this? I'm guessing he would tell the Metropolitan to invite him back to help with change, or if he was unable to issue a public statement that Dn. Wheeler was 'knowingly or unknowingly wronged' in his termination.
I'm sorry to disagree with you because I know you are a good and pious fellow with a big heart to help the poor; but I completely disagree.
We should all be grateful MH has taken responsibility for the financial mismanagement of the church, forgive him, and help him with ideas to better manage the OCA.
Heads rolling solves nothing unless the heads were in the way of the good path that MH has started us on after so many years of misdirection. And he already did change one head.
I ask you to reconsider your thoughts, move to forgive, and assist by asking for better things even still than what's already been promised change, like an official position from the OCA on the dismissal of Dn. Wheeler, and quarterly reporting against budgets so we can all make a determination in a couple years about whether the church needs to modify its budget.
#19 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-07-10 18:05
Dear Mr. Fall:
I'm afraid you are seeing the tree but not the forest! This crisis goes far beyond financial mismanagement and will not be solved just by better accounting practices, although they are indeed long overdo. Fr. Wojcik is right on target and to be commended for speaking the truth.
#19.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-07-10 21:05
The quest for heads has gone on for hundreds of years in many ways. It doesn't reflect the essence of the Teachings of Christ one bit. It is far easier to take someone's head off or remove them from office than argue with them, or convince them to change.
You want to blame this on overspending, but you don't even have any information to back up that the OCA overspent frivolously. It doesn't help that it was all shredded. Oh, by the way, under the shredding method, reporting against budget on a quarterly basis still requires hitting an expense account.
Attacking the head for traveling overseas reminds me of condemning the woman that rubbed ointment on the feet of Christ. Didn't someone say the same thing to her? Shouldn't you give that to the poor? Instead of attacking, ask yourself if the added cost of a $12.60 added annual assessment would break your own bank, or if it would be two buckets of less ice cream for you each year, or one lunch at a cafe. In Minnesota, 3 pints of beer at a restaurant is about $12.75. I was invited out on St. Patrick's Day. It was $8.00 to walk in the place and $6.00 for a beer.
The Catholic Diocese of Mpls.-St. Paul alone has some 300-350,000 members. Their budget for their diocese is certainly all of $2.7M and they can easily afford a trip to the Vatican.
Fire them all is the easy, quick answer. Consider health care costs; How have those impacted the OCA in the last 5 years? I believe they have doubled for most entities, or tripled even. Consider gasoline, if my memory serves me, it has almost tripled in 5 years. Have the assessments kept pace with this? I don't believe so. What about salaries? Have our dues kept pace with this? The cost of homes has risen greatly in 5 years. Does our national staff not need to live in a home? You call these issues trees, I call this forest. It is the forest.
Facts is facts. Fire the leaders. Solve nothing.
Accept their humility, forgive them for mismanagement, help them manage the church better. That is the high road, but it takes effort, it requires asking them for even more change than they have committed to thus far.
The reason I can't agree with Fr. Chris is because if you fire one of our leaders, they are all equally responsible given they had compilation reports.
Unless you are committing to firing everyone in OCA administration, including the entire Synod, the Comptroller and accounting staff, and the entire Metropolitan Council, you aren't going to get enough of the people that are responsible, and at the end of the day, the new administration is going to come to you with an assessment increase.
I'm sorry to post such a difficult counterpoint to the easy 'fire them all' plan, but I'll stand by it forever unless and until there is criminality. Even if our own Metropolitan committed a criminal act, if he makes it so the next Metropolitan can't make the mistakes he made; we are in a better place.
#20 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-07-11 15:24
It is not good to call for impeachment of the Holy Synod of Bishops, the Metropolitan Council and whomever else is being demanded to put their head on a plate. At the same time these people are responsible, they are our leaders. It is unfortunate, but they are responsible and accountable for their profession, are they not? We are just laity watching this whole affair, are we not?
We need to examine the standard of living of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council and compare it to people of like power and status or age and education and go from there. Are our Holy Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Council living high on the hog or are they not?
In addition, we need to examine all our properties. Do we need them all or can some of them be sold off to pay this loan?
And finally we need to examine our parish life. Do we need so many priests serving so many parishes? That is the hard thing to do, lay people off, but unfortunately, it is reality.
It's time for budget cuts in the OCA folks.
#20.1 Olympiada on 2006-07-11 19:11
Dear Mr. Fall;
Let the record be clear. The only person whose resignation/deposition I have called for is Bishop Tikhon-- for reasons that are so patently obvious...
However, I am rapidly coming to the firm belief that many other personnel changes are now warranted (see the most recent reflection by Mr. Warns). One of my previous posts said that the "eleventh hour" had arrived. Well, it is now 11:59 PM. The whirlwind awaits those failing to decisively act on their last chance!
#20.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-07-12 06:49
Dear Kenneth R Tobin:
Your right, only Bihosp Tikhon of San Francisco should resign. And Thank God, He's declared his retirement date.
Regarding further administrative changes, do you agree that the powers of all future OCA Chancellors should be reduced from those previously weilded by Fr. Bob?
Do you agree that future occupants of the office of Treasurer and Comptroller should have specific duties assigned to them, and that these officers should be full-time employees with degrees and experience equivalent to the office they hold?
Would you also agree that at least in theory, there should be an OCA Budget Office and Accounting Office organized to provide reports for different aspects of the church's finances?
And finally, would you agree that some of the financial duties assigned to the Metropolitan Council should be reassignet to the Treasure, the Comptroller, and the possible future OCA Budget Director?
As I have stated in several previous posts, I believe this, because it seems logical that if each financial division performed specific duties, and then the head of each division delivered a seperate report to the MC, the Holy Synod, and the AAC, (When it convenes), this would provide a more thorough idea of the OCA's financial health; since comparing quarterly reports of the Treasurer, Budget Director, and Comptroller would (theoretically) provide a better tracking of funds than has been present upto now.
Of course, the next question is financing these changes. Afterall, full time positiions require full-time pay. Is the OCA capable of paying the additional personnel. when the scandal has ended?
I truly don't know. But I hope the answere is yes.
Please answer when you are able, as I would appreciate your opinion regarding these matters.
Mark N. Sudia
#20.2.1 Anonymous on 2006-07-18 18:13
Mark, sorry I didn't respond sooner but I had missed your post.
I agree with all your suggestions and think with the necessary reforms money will not be a problem. However, I'm afraid the culture that now rules the OCA will not be receptive, which only underscores the point that we have even bigger problems and issues to address. ( re Fr. Hopko's reflection).
#22.214.171.124 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-07-19 06:55
I appreciate your posts very much. You continue to bring thought provoking and balanced arguments to the table. It is good to hear all sides of an argument and to really think through all that is happening.
I guess the OCA still does not have this $1.7 million dollar loan approved until the end of July or beginning of August.
I still would hope for a special AAC, with a postive and constructive agenda in tow. I don't know how early an AAC could actually take place with enough notice being given. I want to hear from more than just the Synod or MC on all the critical matters that have taken place in the OCA. I want our best minds from all over the country to come together to hear and help solve all that needs to be heard and solved for the good of the church and for our future.
#21 Patty Schellbach on 2006-07-11 19:39
I did not and would not call for the impeachment of the entire Synod; others have. I explained if one calls for the impeachment of the Metropolitan, the rest of the Synod is equally responsible. Bishop Tikhon in his prior posts has shown us that 2002 compilation reports clearly indicated temporarily restricted funds were unpaid. This suggests to me that the entire Synod and the Metropolitan Council and the accounting staff (those that are shown financial statements) all had the opportunity to know the 9/11 appeals were unpaid. Other posts have suggested leadership be fired. I'm saying there is mutual responsibility, so if you fire one, you must fire all. Again, this is not what I would condone one bit.
I also don't believe you read my post thoroughly. I don't believe there have been assessment increases that have matched the changing operating costs in the last 5 years, or perhaps longer.
Calling for budget cuts without knowing performance against budget or impacting factors (like health care costs, gasoline, utilities, etc.) is as irresponsible as failing to have the humility to tell the flock you are severely in the red.
1.7 million dollars is $12.60 per year per 27,000 members over 5 years. This is less than most people pay to go to a restaurant one time a year, and many, many people go to restaurants far more often than that. I believe our assessments to the national church and the diocese are about 200 dollars per year, (mine are paid out of donations), this is somewhere around 55 cents a day per member above, an increase of $12.60 per year is an increase of 3.5 cents per day to 58.5 cents a day.
I am not convinced any of us have done our 'fair share'. The problem is over the last five years, we haven't been shown the truth, so we really don't know. Today, we still don't know performance versus budget. It and the other two financial statements need to be reported quarterly and publicly for effective financial management of the OCA.
#22 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-07-12 06:29
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