Friday, August 25. 2006
Feel free to reply to Fr. Reeves, or Fr. Hopko, or add your own thoughts to their reflections.
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Your Heading, "Wither the OCA" -- is this the intentional
choice of words on your part, or a "typo"? To pun poor Shakespeare, "To whither or not to wither, that is the question!"... Quo vadis, Domine?...
A typo, I assure you! Thanks for pointing it out, as well as for the clever Shakespeare pun.
All the best,
#2 Editor on 2006-08-25 12:33
Before making any replies, please know that this person is not well-informed in regards to the extraordinary details of this financial/moral affair. This forum is in part an open invitation, so I am merely accepting this written request for an opinion.
Most people do their ‘thinking and doing’ in accordance to what their conscience prescribes. We count on our leaders to assist us up the spiritual ladder and hope that they have no intentions of knocking us down. RIGHT NOW my eyes are seeing and my ears are listening to both Bishop Job and Father Hopko. They are the leaders who have provided me with the most practical and sound spiritual delivery.
As an equal leader amongst the Holy Synod, only Bishop Job has convinced me that his actions do speak the truth and the way to proceed through this web of fear, dissipation and unrest. His actions also demonstrate a realization that the Holy Synod can not act alone without the aid of the entire Holy Orthodox Church. To do otherwise would only confound the many issues at hand. The right hand needs to know what the left hand is doing. He faithfully and effectively continues to lead his flock by means of direct and ongoing open communication. He provides an exemplary and much needed unprecedented plan for spiritually discernable direction.
This example sets the stage for his clergymen to do the same within their own individual parishes. He sternly warns and cautions them against the dangers concerning fingerpointing or casting blame.
In an undisputable way, Bishop Job has in essence, ‘risked his life’ for his flock by making his oppositions within the Holy Synod public. Bishops have been deposed before, so we now know that this practice has already been attempted recently. Regardless of who knew what and when, that risk has always been apparently quite real to each and every bishop and might very well explain the reasons for much of the ‘silence’ over the years.
Metropolitan Herman has also made a stance, however his plan of action does not yet appear ‘practical’ nor very clear to me. The other bishops are silent. Why? Is it the fear of deposition or simply the fear of being wrong? It’s not at all uncommon to fear ‘fear’. Fear reinforces itself with inaction alone. If every priest in every diocese followed their conscience, then why are they not collectively making their concerns known to their respective bishops? The bishop may or may not refuse to listen to a priest or group of priests in a literally, audible way, that would be his own prerogative. However, it would be undeniably irresponsible for any bishop not to read their messages. All it takes is a piece of paper, ink and signatures. The precedent has already been set. The Mid-West has already found the way and initiated a means to tackle this chaotic blunder. With this kind of consensus , how on earth could any threat from any one bishop possibly hold sanctified water? How could any one bishop possibly make a righteous, well-thought out decision to depose that many priests calling for accountability?
More importantly, as I see it, the bishops are being defensive for no valid reason. I feel that some of them are overlooking the fact that many of their priests are trying very hard to receive their proper blessing. This disaster is too complex for any group of 12 bishops, let alone one metropolitan to solve by themselves.
Understanding one another’s required needs are necessary to function effectively as well as amicably. Without this and ongoing communication no one is going anywhere and the confusion grows much more fierce each day. The church adamantly refuses to leave anyone behind; those left behind do so because of their own choosing. Not unlike a strengthening hurricane, those who do not prepare themselves properly, die. The survivors lose almost everything and are forced to start anew from scratch. The bishops are supposed to keep each other in check. The church’s outside attorneys and accountants are needed as consultants to the inside attorneys and accountants to keep them in check. They have to keep order set forth by the decisions of the metropolitan council in regards to all monetary affairs. Formulating budgets, money flow charts, and all other relevant tasks require their expert opinion and guidance. No one with any other credentials should ever be the sole decision-maker.
Similarly, the metropolitan council needs their direct input as well as the input from the laity from the various dioceses. The financial team is counting on the council to act quickly, clearly and competently. If competence is lacking, the church expects and demands each member to seek education from those persons exceptionally knowledgeable to assist. The consulted persons should only be those the council has unanimously agreed upon.
Who’s going to figure out which people do what, where they do it, when it needs to be done, how it should be done and most importantly, why it must be done? To prolong the necessary only hurts the church. I think that any sensible person would agree that it’s been beaten up badly enough already. To do nothing would be the same as leaving the church to struggle against itself in an unabated, sardonically inclined, masochistic manner.
The Mid-West Diocese has already started the train’s engine and the wheels have already been slowly, but surely set in motion. It’s obvious that the co-operation of the other dioceses is required and necessary. There’s no other way around it.
All of Fr. Tom Hopko’s letters have collectively summed up our problems which have led to this current crisis. He has also meticulously explained and provided guidelines of what should be done. Bishop Nathaniel thanked him for his concern and sound advice. That’s a good sign. From an optimistic viewpoint, it allows me to believe that he’s still struggling, contemplating, and is possibly mastering a concurring plan of his own.
From my standpoint, Fr. Hopko's recommendations are desired and sorely needed. I’m praying for him to devise additional recommendations for improvement and change. Trusting in the goodness God bestows on each and every human being, I’m counting on the entire synod’s sincerity of heart and am asking them to have confidence in their concerned priests and laypeople who love them. Their desire is to correct flaws when and where it’s possible. It’s also a good time to improve on what has been working well. Our good works need to be constantly sharpened in order to slay the evil one’s works of darkness leading to death. Father Hopko has made his appeal for all of us to choose life.
Speak the Truth and embarrass the devil.
About a year ago, there was a bizzare article in the press:
(07-08) 18:59 PDT ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) -- Friday, July 8, 2005 450 Sheep Jump to Their Deaths in Turkey
First one sheep jumped to its death. Then stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff, Turkish media reported. In the end, 450 dead animals lay on top of one another in a billowy white pile, the Aksam newspaper said. Those who jumped later were saved as the pile got higher and the fall more cushioned, Aksam reported."There's nothing we can do. They're all wasted," Nevzat Bayhan, a member of one of 26 families whose sheep were grazing together in the herd, was quoted as saying by Aksam.The estimated loss to families in the town of Gevas, located in Van province in eastern Turkey, tops $100,000, a significant amount of money in a country where average GDP per head is around $2,700."Every family had an average of 20 sheep," Aksam quoted another villager, Abdullah Hazar as saying. "But now only a few families have sheep left. It's going to be hard for us”.
We all know that in various places the Bible makes reference to animals which are intended to be analogous to people. Many of them are not intended to be complimentary. Could it be said that when it comes to disasters, we sometimes emulate some of the worst characteristics of Sheep? Sheep are known to be dumb animals. Usually they follow the leader, even if their path of choice is one that could conceivably lead to their demise.
Accepting what is thought as impossible to acheive is only motivation for defeat. It is possible to treat any dysfunctional being or entity. A highly dysfunctional church is no exception. It’ll take many talented people from all the dioceses to come up with the best plan and test it over and over until it’s perfected to it’s best possible degree. The sheep follows what has gone before, even when that has been proven to be unworkable.
Pray that the truth be known and dealt with accordingly.
Father Reeves and many others have made many references to the teachings of Fr. Alexander Schemman. I remember a couple more: www.schemann.org/byhim/reflectionsonconfession ( Paper discussed at the Alumni Retreat, St. Andrew’s Camp, June 20-June 22, 1961 and Confession and Communion ( Report to the Holy Synod of Bishops, Accepted and Approved in the minutes February 17, 1972 ) I also remember a much more recent article written by a Greek priest( in general, the first two paragraphs.)
Why haven’t we been adhering to Fr. Schemann’s advice? I look for the answers to start from the top and then on down to the lay people.
Again, I’m only expressing my opinions and it’s not to be intended as advice. I’m counting on the leaders that I can trust.
Lastly, Daniel, keep the budget issue ongoing. The OCA can’t survive without it .
You can't make cookies when you haven't got the dough.
#2.1 P.A. Jospehine Kush - Patron Saint: St.Josephine Bakhita on 2006-08-30 18:49
Wither or whither? Whatever! Amen to the reflection!
#3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-08-25 14:24
Well put Fr. John. A book called Built to Last (1994: Harper) evaluated common traits of organizations that had lasted through multiple leadership transitions. Judged against the Built to Last findings, the OCA's experience would seem to fall into the "charismatic" model. Charismatic organizations tend to rise and fall with their charismatic star(s). Such organizations rarely put in place the types of practices and work ethic that can survive the departure of their superstar. Arguably Fr. Schmemann was such a superstar, as Fr. John discusses. The decision making processes in such organizations tend to revolve around "doing what I am told" rather than around taking personal responsibility and working as a team and community. Put another way, around eating fish rather than learning how to fish.
Fr. John is rightly encouraging us to stop being spoon fed our fish and start learning how to fish.
#4 Anonymous on 2006-08-25 20:11
And speaking of Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great, here is a quote from a recent interview he gave in "Christianity Today." This speaks volumes about our own failings to carry out our mission in America:
Q: [CT] How do you define "greatness" in a church?
A: [Collins] Greatness does not equal bigness. Big is not great and great is not big. In fact, the bigger you become the harder it may be to remain great.
For my purposes, an organization must have three things to qualify as great:
1. Superior performance relative to its mission in the world.
2. A distinctive impact on its community. So you'd say, "If this church disappeared, it would leave a serious hole in this community."
3. Endurance. Making an impact over a long enough time, so that it's not dependent on the personality of one leader. If a church is effective during one pastorate, it may be a church with a stellar pastor, but it is not yet a great church.
And for those of you who have a distaste for businessmen and Protestants we should learn the lesson of Balaam (Numbers 22).
#4.1 Fr. Robert K. McMeekin on 2006-08-29 07:22
I recently took advantage of the opportunity offered on the OCA website to submit questions. I submitted 20 of them. Reproduced below:
Dear Protodeacon Peter,
May God bless you in your work!
These are my questions in no particular order of priority:
1. What is the status of the loan? Has the Metropolitan Council officially approved the loan?
2. When will the audit results be released?
3. When will the results of the legal investigation be released and to whom and in what level of detail?
4. When will a new Chancellor be appointed?
5. Are donations to the OCA down, up, or the same as last year? What about all special appeals?
6. What is the OCA budget for 2006? Are income and expenses in line with the budget to date?
7. How likely is it that criminal indictments will follow the investigation?
8. Does Metropolitan Herman currently have a discretionary fund, and if so, what is the balance of the fund and is this fund subject to audit?
9. Does a 2005 budget exist, and if so, did the OCA end 2005 with a surplus or a deficit?
10. How many full or part-time employees are currently on the payroll of the Central Administration?
11. What is the current market value of all property owned by the OCA?
12. Has Metropolitan Theodosius been interviewed by Proskauer Rose?
13. Is there any truth at all to the assertion that significant sums of money have been spent in blackmail payments to cover up indiscretions on the part of Metropolitan Theodosius or others in the Church?
14. Does the videotape in the possession of Archbishop Job clearly show Father Kondratic attempting to re-claim funds designated for the Beslan appeal or not?
15. Has Father Kucynda yet managed to consolidate all church financial records into one secure place--rather than some in his office, some in his car and some at home?
16. Does Metropolitan Herman believe that it is crucial to restore the broken trust among the Clergy and Laity? If so, what does he propose?
17. What are Metropolitan Herman's views/response to the letters received from Father Thomas Hopko? From his senior Clergy? Will he or the Holy Synod of Bishops ever respond to these pleas?
18. How much money has been sent to mission churches in the US and Canada from 2001 to the present? How much money has been spent on overseas travel/lodging/meals/banquets/cars over this same period?
19. Since a budget usually reflects the priorities of an organization and since there has been no published budget for 2006, what are the spending priorities of the current administration--seminaries, mission churches, faltering existing parishes, youth education, monasteries, outreach?
20. What plans does Metropolitan Herman have for admission of wrongdoing(in the Orthodox Christian, not legal, sense) by himself or others directly involved in breaking the trust of the faithful of the OCA, repentance and the seeking of forgiveness? Does he believe that trust can be restored without a change of leadership?
I know these are rather pointed questions and I do not envy your position in this matter. I feel similarly to Father Hopko that the current scandal is a spiritual crisis that has manifested only the tip of the iceberg in financial wrongdoing.
May God give us all the patience, discernment, humility and love to restore the OCA to its visionary promise in North America.
I will let you know if any response is received. Just so you don't worry--I am not holding my breath.
Barry A. Sabol
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
#5 Barry A. Sabol on 2006-08-26 06:02
I have read and reread both Fr. Hopko's and Fr. Reeves's reflections and for me, there's no contest. Fr. Reeve's reflection expresses the views of many of us who read this website. It's well thought out, very well articulated and tells it as it is.
There is no way that I can see a one day AA council consisting of a prepared statement by the First Hierarch with no comments, discussion or questions to be followed by an election/appointment of a new administration which includes those who participated and covered up the present scandal.
What could Fr. Hopko been thinking? The differences between Fr.Hopko's first letter to the Metropolitan and the second (recent) letter are difficult to reconcile as coming from the same person. How do we develop new leaders when the election of bishops/metropolitans is stacked against us?
Sorry, Fr. Hopko. You've done better in the past. I don't buy your second reflection at all.
#6 nicholas skovran on 2006-08-26 08:45
Fr John Reeves's reflection should serve as a prophetic call to all of us.
I have heard from some close to Syosset that the situation is worse than could be imagined, but I have not, as yet, thought of a scandal that is best solved by continuing this wall of silence. Large sums of money, the widows' mites, have been misappropriated, or worse. Small fortunes have now been spent on legal and accounting counsel and investigation. These are funds that were not "internally" provided, but rather represent a portion of the wages of the faithful, given to support the Church. The faithful really are owed the results of what they paid for: the legal and accounting summaries of what has taken place. This is true no matter how ugly, how embarrassing, how painful, or how unlawful the activities have been.
If immorality is found among the leadership of our Church, then let the canonical and civil penalties apply. How can we, especially the clergy of the Orthodox Church in America, live with ourselves if we have turned a blind eye to the looting of funds intended to promote the Gospel, if we have shirked our responsibilities as clergy and laity, if we have continued to support sin itself thereby?
Perhaps Joshua 7 should inform our attitudes about what we can expect for failing to reckon with those who have stolen what is properly God's.
#7 Priest Basil Biberdorf on 2006-08-26 10:07
I completely agree with your assessment of a lack of effective leadership and the premise that our bishops are not above thoughtful reproach.
For leadership to emerge, we need a national forum beyond this "blog." I have no idea to what extent these postings are "moderated" or the intentions and reasons behind the administrators of this dialogue, even if I do find the writing thoughful and genuine. I frankly find "anonymous" postings suspect in every case.
Once satisfied with the validity of this forum it could be used as a clarion call to meet in convention. Not a 1 or 2 day orchestrated retreat, but a series of meetings with representation from all regions and vocations to prayerfully consider options for the future and to allow motivated leadership, and prehaps a plan, to emerge.
For me "What can we do" boils down to this... almost anything else is both uninformed and in support of the status quo.
Kansas City, MO
#8 Alex Kreicbergs on 2006-08-26 11:32
Thanks, Fr. Reeves. I was inrigued by your reference to the NT Church, specifically the Church in Jerusalem after Pentecost as our model.
I am glad you said this because the Orthodox Church is the true pentecostal church. The Holy Spirit has not abandoned it! There is hope!
Come Holy Spirit that we may drink of your waters and be cleansed, renewed and restored, invigorate our liturgies, enlighten our minds, fill us with the joy of the Lord that we may be the light set upon a hill once again, and all in your time according to your will.
#9 Karen Jermyn on 2006-08-28 08:12
Dear Fellow Orthodox Christians,
On August 22nd, a new section on the official OCA website was opened. Protodeacon Peter Danichick has volunteered to answer any and all questions, as far as he is able, concerning the financial situation, past and present, in the OCA.
This morning, August 28th, Father Deacon Peter posted on the OCA website that he has received "about 2 dozen e-mails". These e-mails did contain a great many questions which he summarized and he has asked for more time to prepare his answers.
Two dozen e-mails? Come on folks! Considering the number and length of posts on this website, this is just sad! How is the administration to take the discontent and lack of trust seriously, if only 2 dozen people even bother to ask them a few questions? It becomes easy for them to then attribute the above to just a small number of malcontents, people with an axe to grind. How many of us are out there? 30,000? 400,000? Whatever, it is more than 2 dozen!
*Please*, get to your computers and bombard the administration with e-mails containing your questions, whether you expect a truthful answer, or no answer at all. Here is a chance to let the administration know how you feel, to let them know that there are many,many people out there with very serious concerns. They have, I am afraid, been living in a bubble.
Just in case, here's the address: www.oca.org.
And thank you, Father Deacon Peter, for taking on this thankless and difficult job.
#10 Eugenie Osmun on 2006-08-28 11:36
Okay, guys. So the bishops have been running the church finances all along and been giving the laity in the form of the Sobors an allowance. Obviously, like an adult child, the OCA has been pretending to be an independent adult jurisdiction; while secretly living off the Alaska patrimony given by the mother church. The OCA has been several different groups scotch-taped together anyway; Alaskan natives, Carpatho-Russian coal miners, refugee Russian intelligentsia. So what -- there's a new $2 million building at St. Tikhon's. Is there really theft or just dysfunctional family???
#11 R. "Andrew" Berry on 2006-08-28 16:31
If we give to widows and orphans via the hand of the Metropolitan then we should expect that it will not be spent somewhere else. I do not care if the money was used for purposes of self indulgence, for payoff or some other budget item I will not give the Mettopolitan who has proven himself unable to help the widow and orphan the second chance to take from them. We must not ever be satisfied with disfunction when it is orphans and widows, students, sick priests and their families, victums of terrorism that are bypassed by the Metpopolitans non published budget items. To the question is there really theft? Ask the widow who was given a gift by the faithful of the OCA but never received it!
#11.1 Anonymous on 2006-08-29 08:09
Well, unfortunately, the reflection by Fr. Reeves alienates his most important audience. He starts by attacking leadership by saying there hasn't been any, then he says that we must hold our bishops accountable.
Fr. Chris salutes the reflection by Fr. Reeves, but at the same time Abp. Job is holding copies of this allegedly damning tape and that is leadership? I don't get it.
One way to be sure not to get anyone to listen is to first attack them.
Maybe Fr. Reeves needs to attend a secular Dale Carnegie course on Winning Friends and Influencing People.
I've agreed with much of what he has said here, but not this approach. Maybe I missed the message.
#12 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-08-29 10:43
Fr. Reeves spoke from his mind and heart. I have completed Dale Carnegie courses. After attending the courses, we would be writing homilies like Frs. Danielchick and Hopko
to satisfy our superiors.
Several years ago Fr. Reeves wrote several articles in the Orthodox Church. The one article was, if you can't agree on something, form another committee.
His article reminds me of the drought we were having in the Midwest for about forty five days, then, we had several rainfalls. In the last three days everything came back to life, and so did this website. A real fresh breath of air.
SAINT JAMES-Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
I don't "write homilies to satisfy my superiors" -- and I sorely doubt that Fr Tom Hopko does either. I don't understand where you get that from. I would be grateful if you told me (and everyone else here) the specifics in my case.
In Christ, Deacon Peter
#12.1.1 Protodeacon Peter Danilchick on 2006-08-30 19:37
And your obsequious mollycoddling of the leadership--what good has come that?
#12.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-08-29 14:33
Yes, and St. John the Baptist "alienated" Herod. Yesterday we celebrated that event because the Church remembers that as a good thing.
More often than not, the right thing in the Church is not the safe thing. But it is the faithful thing. The Dale Carnegies in our Church forgot that, and look what happened.
Fr. Reeves is right on!
#12.3 Baba Lou on 2006-08-30 12:44
The OCA 2006 operating budget is now posted on the OCA website. I sent Mark the link, maybe we'll see the URL here.
#13 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-08-29 10:47
Ever since I read your post I have been scouring the OCA website, with no success. Please post the link. Thanks.
Barry A. Sabol
#13.1 Barry A. Sabol on 2006-08-29 12:53
Either on last Saturday or Sunday, Vatican Radio on its Russian Program mentioned Met. Herman, the OCA's new website section, Mark, and some of the possible issues at hand.
Great fan and respect for Fr. Schmemann. We should all know what's right and wrong. No need for complex expositions.
It's shameful to all especially the youth.
#14 Anonymous on 2006-08-29 19:19
Reprinted with permission of the authors.
Ramifications of the OCA Crisis
(Open Letter to the Holy Synod)
August 20, 2006
Your Graces, we ask your blessing for our humble efforts offered in the name of Christ, for the good of His Church.
Please forgive our perceived need to speak forthrightly. While understanding that the work of the Lord must be the priority of the Church regardless of the cloud we labor under, we must ever be mindful that when we stray from His path we embolden those who seek the Church’s destruction or marginalization and make the work of those in the Church more difficult.
The first author serves the function of chairman of our parish finance committee, reporting directly to the parish council. Both authors are key contributors in fund-raising efforts. We are concerned about the financial condition of the OCA and the negative affect that the current scandal will have on our parish as well as on all OCA parishes and the entire OCA.
The increase in our parish’s Diocesan and OCA fair share contribution from 2005 to 2006 is 23.8% after factoring out increased membership. While our parish usually manages to achieve positive cash flow at the end of the year, future increases of this or greater magnitude could cause it to become negative and threaten our parish viability as well as that of others.
But before getting into the matter, we ran across some well-suited comments referring to mutual fund manager performance: “When something goes wrong or the unexpected happens, people appreciate direct, honest answers. We expect to be told what happened and why, and most importantly what is being done to address the problem.” (Marketwatch.com). How applicable to our situation! Implementing “Best Practices” only address the last point, not the others, -- and addressing those is critical to re-establishing credibility that is now sorely lacking. To admit “mistakes have been made” only begs the questions -- “What mistakes? Why? Are the allegations true or are they false?” Answers to these questions are needed.
It has been alleged by the former treasurer of the OCA that funds were not properly handled and were misappropriated. His claim was corroborated by another person. The whole matter has received national attention. Previous attempts by some, urging action to look into the financial problems, were squelched. Even now only limited scope investigations have been initiated, ignoring longer-standing problems.
Further, the OCA is borrowing $1,700,000 to pay for audits, legal expenses, and to fulfill financial commitments that should have been paid for by actual donations from OCA parishioners responding to charitable appeals. It is conceivable that more than the borrowed amount will be needed since investigations are extending beyond original target dates. The www.OCAnews.org website notes that Metropolitan Herman has stated that contributions to the OCA other than for “fair share,” have diminished greatly (See the Editorial of 07/05/06 “The Next Six Months.”). Hence, future increases in fair share amounts may be anticipated. They will only breed skepticism and resentment. So, rapid resolution of this matter is critical to minimizing costs as well as curtailing further embarrassment, demoralization, and loss of members.
In the May/June 2006 issue of The Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Herman said: “It is my conviction that, if all issues are not addressed squarely, firmly, and appropriately, and dealt with openly and forthrightly, we will face an even deeper crisis than we presently experience, one that will take years, if not decades, to reverse.” (Underlines added by authors. We humbly note that the words are all subjective, a matter of degree, and open to interpretation).
John 8:32 states that “you will know the truth; and the truth will set you free.” It is our conviction that the word “truthfully” should replace the five underlined words above. That indeed would satisfy the faithful and “free” us more rapidly than might be imagined. The truth is absolute. Without the truth there will never be a resolution to the growing crisis. With this breath of fresh air the faithful might be relied upon to respond with support necessary for the survival of the Church – not requiring years or decades. Also, determining the truth about church matters should not require outside paid investigators; it should be made known or confessed by those who know it!
It certainly seems that new talent is required to help manage the “talents” that the faithful have entrusted to the OCA not simply to do proper accounting. In The Parable of the Talents (Mt. 25:14), two servants accomplished multiplication of the “talents” entrusted to them by their master and were held in high esteem by him. The third servant protected the value of the “talents” entrusted to him by burying them in the ground. In contrast, “talents” given the OCA have apparently greatly diminished or disappeared. The servant who buried his talents was called wicked and lazy, and certainly would never be entrusted with such responsibility again even though he returned what was entrusted to him. Should not those who did not even do that well be replaced or at least augmented by well-qualified clergy and laity?
Radical changes have to be made in how the OCA functions as a local church. Naturally, the sooner this occurs the better off we will all be. Then we can concentrate on the primary mission of spreading His Word and growing His Church.
And let all servants of Christ remember the words St. Paul once spoke to the Corinthians: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon (I Cor: 3:10).” To those who claim that the Church is not a democracy in order to hide actions from the faithful, we offer Isaiah 29:15: “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?’ “
Surely, after over 2000 years mankind knows the Lord’s commandments, statutes and precepts. But the need to follow them has been disregarded with satanic-like results. Let us pray that there is enough of a foundation left to support a renewed OCA structure that will receive Christ’s blessing. The remaining foundation will be strengthened by identification of the mistakes made that weakened it. In our view this can only be achieved when the whole truth is known.
As those vested by the Lord with authority to lead, we pray that you call for illumination of all matters contributing to the current crisis, regardless of character or time of occurrence. Anything less would not be in accord with the Lord’s precepts.
Nicholas and Marie Senio
#15 Nicholas and Marie Senio on 2006-08-30 16:32
Illusions keep us from the truth. It is not rocket science that if we want the truth, we should work to break down the illusions where ever they exist.
#15.1 John Lickwar on 2006-08-30 19:02
This is a beautifully written and cogently reasoned plea for restoring order and morality to the OCA. Every parish council in the OCA should consider endorsing it as soon as possible. Kudos to its authors!
#15.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-08-31 10:05
The OCAs 2006 operating budget is located at http://www.oca.org/PDF/finances/2006budget.pdf
Fr. Matusiak offered this URL to be shared publicly.
I have comments about the budget, but I will wait for an appropriate forum.
#16 Daniel E Fall on 2006-08-30 17:55
Thank you Daniel. I would be most interested in your comments on the budget--not being a CPA myself.
Barry A. Sabol
#16.1 Anonymous on 2006-08-31 06:07
Having Daniel to thank for putting the link to the 2006 budget on this site, I did some quick math to try to come to an objective understanding of the priorities of Syosset as evidenced by where the money is being spent in 2006:
CATEGORY PERCENT OF SPENDING
Benefit Programs 19%
Administrative Offices 17%
Executive Offices 7%
External Affairs 7%
Property Support 7%
Holy Synod 6%
St. Catherines(Russia) 6%
TOC Magazine 4%
Public Relations 4%
Debt Reduction/Loan Interest 4%
Development/Fund Raising 3%
Youth/Campus Ministry 2%
Pastoral Life/Ministry 2%
Christian Education 2%
The total amount budgeted for travel/lodgings/meetings totaled $382,100 or 10% of the total budget.
This budget suggests to me that spiritual priorities are way out of whack! But maybe as a simple member of the laity I have come to the wrong conclusion. Please feel free to correct me.
Barry A. Sabol
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
#17 Barry A. Sabol on 2006-08-31 10:43
Barry, to suggest that the priorities are way out of whack implies that you have a better sense of how the money should be spent. Please share with us how you would allocate the money.
Cut travel? Or, in other words, isolate the central administration of the church even further from the laity? I dislike frivolous spending on T&E, as it's called in my corporate life, as most, but don't chain the Syosset folks to their desks. That makes no sense.
Were you thinking we should cut benefit programs? And who, Barry, are the people covered by those benefits? Most likely your priest and mine. Perhaps your priest is better heeled than most, but the benefit plans these servants of God have are far from plush and generous. Most priests I know have working wives who have full time day gigs that supplement their health insurance and retirement programs. Cutting benefits? That makes little sense either.
Administrative office expenses too high? Hard to tell, from the limited information. Having met some of the staff, I can only add that they have lives to live, families to support, and don't live on air, good vibes or our fondest wishes. If we OCA members want a robust web site, a well-managed benefits plan for our clergy, and resources for growing our parishes, alot of this depends on how well we fund our central administration.
But these are my thoughts. What are yours? How should we spend our money?
#17.1 Marty Brown on 2006-08-31 21:02
Barry, I think you're right on in your conclusions. To spend 7% on "External Affairs" (more trips abroad) and only 1% on Evangelization (growing and revitalizing our parishes) should leave no one scratching their heads in wonder when we hear that the OCA's actual membership numbers are around 29,000... and falling!
With all due respect to our first hierarch, all this mess is playing out like a third-world dictatorship on the brink of a coup with the president-for-life keeping a car running in the parking lot while holding the last plane ticket for Buenos Aires.
What the Metropolitan may not realize is that the OCA will survive in spite of this mess and in spite of his own episcopate. The local parishes will go on being Orthodox and doing what they do faithfully week in and week out: worship God in His holy Church. His Beatitiude can either rally us all to assist him by being open about this crisis and letting us fix it together once and for all, or he can continue to stonewall and go down with his ship. Either way these local parishes will still be here.
If he does realize all this and still won't budge, then it is quite sad really... and cynical... and downright evil.
Pray without ceasing, my brothers and sisters in Christ, that the Lord may have mercy on us all.
#18 Fr. Robert K. McMeekin on 2006-09-01 07:34
How ironic it is that Metropolitan Herman's communication on the new ecclesiastical year is on the subject of time since a select few will probably be doing some in the not-so-distant future.
#19 Anonymous on 2006-09-01 11:29
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