Friday, September 1. 2006
Apparently there are at least 1,959,000 of you OCA'ers hiding out there. Please feel free to join the rest of us at liturgy this Sunday, or failing that, feel free to write in here about the loan, the process, or the way forward...
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Cut Fr Kucynda a break! He misunderstood the question - he thought 'members' includes those in cemeteries. (Let's hear Deacon Danilchick spin THAT best practice).
The precise figures on the loan application (like $270) suggest the audit was completed some time ago -- perhaps as was the PR investigation?!
Thus, more official silence at this point is deafening and smells reeeeally bad.
Some questions: Is Martin Drive still occupied? Will MH eventually move in? Will it be put up for sale? Will there be a discount price for OCA people? Why can YOU give more answers than Syosett?
#1 If they can say 2-million, I can say "Anonymous" on 2006-09-01 17:42
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Let us not lose our perspective during this crisis. Remember that we are in spiritual warfare with the evil one. He, like any competent general, knows that the most effective way to defeat your enemy is to attack the command and control structure by seeking to decapitate the leadership. Because our bishops are such prime targets for Satan’s attacks, we pray that our Lord will preserve and protect them every time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy.
Let us also remember our own history and recount the episcopal failures of the past. If we do not hold our bishops accountable, we can also be defeated by the evil one. If Satan has been successful in spiritually capturing our leaders, we must avail ourselves of the Church canons that provide for replacing those that have fallen.
#1.1 Marc Trolinger on 2006-09-02 07:46
Dear Mr/Ms Anonymous,
I wouldn't dream of it, i.e., "the spin". I do recognize that "spin" is sometimes in the eye of the beholder, however.
Hopefully, answers to some of your specific questions will be going up on the OCA.org website shortly. We've started the answering process as you may know but appreciate your bearing with us.
In Christ, Deacon Peter
#1.2 Protodeacon Peter Danilchick on 2006-09-02 09:10
Dear Protodeacon Peter,
I have checked out the “new section” of the OCA website (http://www.oca.org/QAindex-finance.asp?SID=3) and I have to say I’m again very disappointed! Is this the best Metropolitan HERMAN and the OCA Administration can do? Can you honestly say that you have said what YOU really want to say? At least on this website, people are more open and honest. Is the OCA administration too good for us low-life parishioners? Why can’t they respond on THIS website? We would all love to hear from them…just like we heard from His Eminence Archbishop JOB. Christ visited and ate with the tax collectors! He is God and He didn’t have a problem with it…does the OCA administration believe that they are better than God Himself?
I just can’t believe that we are being ignored so badly! Thank God that He is more patient than the rest of us. God never gives up on us…and I’m really trying my hardest to do the same…but, you all are sure making it difficult! BTW…you’re “answers” sure sound a lot different on the OCA website and actually sounded more like excuses trying to buy some time! I’m sorry because I get the feeling that you are sincerely trying to make a positive difference…but this my honest opinion, for whatever it’s worth.
God bless you Fr. Peter! I will keep you all in my prayers!
(A low-life, with freedom of speech, parishioner of the Midwest)
#1.2.1 Helen O'Sullivan on 2006-09-02 12:08
HOW CAN ANYONE BELIEVE IN BEST PRACTICES WHEN THE TREASURER OF THE CHURCH, AN AVID SUPPORTER, IS GUILTY OF A FELONY (SIGNING HIS NAME ON A DOCUMENT WITH INACCURATE INFORMATION AND PRESENTING IT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK). IT'S TIME TO GET A NEW BROOM AND SWEEP THE CHURCH CLEAN. WE CAN NO LONGER BLAME SYOSSET, SINCE THE PRIMATE NOR ANY OFFICER REALLY OCCUPIES AN OFFICE IN SYOSSET.
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2006-09-05 11:17
THERE'S NO SPIN. BLACK AND WHITE. FR. KUCYNDA LIED TO THE COURTS!!!!!
#1.2.2 Anonymous on 2006-09-07 12:48
How can anyone believe anything coming from that website?
Give me a break!
Dn. Peter, save your energy. After Fr. Kucynda lied under oath, there is nothing you can say that will mean anything!
#1.2.3 Anonymous on 2006-09-08 14:48
I really take issue with your constant distortion of the facts regarding the eligible number of voters as it relates to the MC and how many individuals actually voted on the loan.
I will try my best to explain my point of view.
There are only 8 territorial Dioceses which vote with 2 members from each. Alaska, Canada, the West, the South, the Midwest, W. Pa., E. Pa. and Washington/NY. That is a total of 16 people.
Only ONE ethnic, non-territorial Diocese votes, that being the Albanians. The Roumanian and Bulgarian Dioceses have NEVER had a delegate or voting members in the history of the MC.
So now we are up to 18 people.
We need to add into the equation the 6 members elected by the AAC. That leaves us with 24 members.
For your information, at the time of the vote for the loan, previous to the meeting a member from the Diocese of the West resigned her position which was not filled. So we are now down to 23 eligible voting members.
Keep in mind that if we were to count officers of the Church, (the Metropolitan, Chancellor, Treasurer and Secretary) that we give us 4 more potential voting members for a grand total of 27 eligible voting members.
[Please note that alternates have no voting priviledge and to my knowledge, normally don't even attend a session].
However, since there is no current Chancellor and the positions of Treasurer and Secretary are held by one person, Fr. Paul Kucynda, then if my elementary mathematic skills still exist, that leaves us with 25 potential, eligible voters.
We both know that the Metropolitan and Fr. Kucynda did not vote, so that reduces the amount of eligible voters to 23.
(I think it is important to note that since Fr. Kucynda was chairing the meeting, he chose not to vote, but could have voted simply by turning over chairmanship of the meeting to the Metropolitan)
I think it would be a safe assumption that both the Metropolitan and Fr. Kucynda would have definitely voted YES to the loan had they had a vote in this matter.
Now, it is my understanding that only MC members in good standing at any given time is the number dually authorized to participate in a vote at the time a vote is actually taken.
It is also my understanding that it is required by state law that one half of those eligible to vote must vote in favor of whatever is being voted on.
It has been already made public that out of 23 eligible voting members (EXCLUDING OFFICERS), 13 voted IN FAVOR for the loan.
The Ex-Officio issue was brought up by Dr. Faith Skordinski who was insistant that the Metropolitan and Fr. Kucynda not vote.
Well, they didn't, and the loan vote still passed.
My question is, what numbers are you talking about when you insist that 30 people were eligible to vote?
Are you using "paper" numbers or the number of bodies eligible?
You talk about Fr. Kucynda distorting the truth and making absurd assumptions, yet you are very misleading and constantly enjoy distorting the facts on this issue. You rile up the masses then walk away.
How about playing fair and getting the facts straight?
#1.3 Michael Geeza on 2006-09-02 09:52
You are omitting those members of the Metropolitan Council, clergy and lay, who are elected at-large by the AAC.
#1.3.1 Jack Miller on 2006-09-03 09:49
Sorry, Michael. You did include the at-large figures. My mistake. My apologies.
#126.96.36.199 jack miller on 2006-09-06 06:57
Whatever the actual number is, the fact remains that the process has been abused and manipulated to achieve a desired result. Even if the number is 24, 13 is hardly a consensus or anything but a tortured, very tortured majority! Keep in mind the coup d'etat executed on the old diocese of Washington now absorbed hook, line and sinker into the Diocese of New York along with all its money!
The masses are indeed riled Mr. Geeza--and with good reason. You and your "aristocractic?!" friends have really messed things up and the peasants are at the castle door!
#1.3.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-03 12:20
Whatever happened to the need for public disclosure prior to the application being submitted? If Faith was able to obtain a copy from the Atty. General's Office, why aren't we privy to the information presented? Now that Faith has discovered the misrepresenation, what happens next? This is serious! How can we the people trust the current administrators?
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2006-09-13 12:21
Michael Geeza's posts here these past months have generally been spirited defenses of the actions of Metropolitan Herman and Fr. Paul Kucynda. But his latest missive is flat-out wrong, even embarassing. He ends by demanding of Mark Stokoe, "How about playing fair and getting the facts straight?"
Fair enough, Michael. Now let's see who has the facts straight.
Mark's latest story concerned two statements made under oath, in writing, two weeks ago by Fr. Kucynda:
1) His averment, in support of the loan request, that the OCA that would be repaying the $1.7 million loan had 2,000,000 members, when the actual 2006 census numbers for all financially supporting numbers (from the 2006 budget) are a little over 41,000, which includes the "territorial" "Fair Share" paying membership of about 20,000, plus the so-called "ethnic" dioceses and others who do not pay Fair Share, but only nominal amounts. With regard to this important representation, it was either a monumental goof by the chief financial representative of the Church, or it was a lie.
But somehow, Michael, you didn't even mention or challenge that important aspect of the story. You complained solely about Fr. Kucynda's second statement under oath:
2) His averment that the positions on the Metropolitan Council ("MC") of the Metropolitan, Chancellor, Treasurer, and Secretary are "ex officio" and historically non-voting.
Michael, you claim that Mark's "constant distortion of the facts" regarding the eligible number of MC voters and how they voted is not playing fair. You then set out your own tortured interpretation of the facts. But Michael, you are dead wrong.
The whole point of your little exercise was an attempt to show that there were only 23 "eligible voters" (your term) on the MC, and since 13 voted for the loan, Mark's numbers are a distortion/lie and, more to the point, Fr. Kucynda was not mistaken or lying in his sworn statement.
Here's how Michael reaches his magic number of 23:
Eight territorial dioceses, each with 2 MC members: MICHAEL'S TOTAL:16.
Well, you got off to a bad start, Michael. You forgot our brothers and sisters in
New England: CORRECT TOTAL:18.
You note, and I agree, that the lay representative of the Diocese of the West formally resigned from the MC days before the June meeting, and no replacement had then been named by the Diocese, so we reduce the number of eligible voters by one: MICHAEL'S TOTAL: 15
CORRECT TOTAL: 17.
Michael then correctly adds in the Albanian Diocese's two MC reps, but suggests that "never in the history" of the MC have the Bulgarian and Romanian Dioceses had MC delegates or voted. It must be clear, however, that those Dioceses have the right under the Statute to each have two such delegates; in recent years, their Dioceses have simply not been electing representatives. It is my recollection that the Romanians may have had representation many years ago, but I'm just not certain, and I could be wrong. In any case, Michael and I agree that two votes were eligible for the Albanians:
MICHAEL'S TOTAL: 17
CORRECT TOTAL: 19.
Michael correctly adds in the three clergy and three lay elected by the AACs:
MICHAEL'S TOTAL: 23
CORRECT TOTAL: 25.
(Michael here correctly notes that the AAC-elected MC alternates don't have a vote --- true --- and normally don't even attend a session --- false. Over the years, numerous alternates have attended the MC sessions, participating in discussion without the right to vote --- but that doesn't affect the vote tally here.)
Now, here's where it gets really crucial for determining whether or not the necessary majority of the MC votes were cast for the loan. We know from the Minutes that 13 voted in favor. If there were only 25 (or 23) eligible votes, then this is all a tempest in a teapot, because a majority of those eligible voted "aye". Worse, if that is the case, Fr. Kucynda did not err or lie in that part of his sworn statement, and Mark is clearly guilty of distorting the facts regarding this vote.
Which brings us to the remaining votes on the MC. As Mark's article correctly points out, the OCA Statute unambiguously states that the Metropolitan, Chancellor, Treasurer, and Secretary of the OCA are members of the MC, with the Metropolitan as Chairman, but only having a vote in case of ties.
Michael says correctly that the Chancellor's MC seat is vacant, and that one of the two MC seats for OCA Secretary and Treasurer is vacant, because Fr. Kucynda is presently filling both of those seats. I agree. And since the Metropolitan votes only in the case of a tie, his vote should not be counted among the eligible votes on MC.
So where are we? The CORRECT TOTAL had been 25. You add only one additional eligible vote for the Treasurer/Secretary. and the CORRECT GRAND TOTAL is 26.
And so we have a problem.
Approval of this loan, by law, needed a majority vote in favor. Nowhere in America, including the OCA, are 13 votes considered to be a majority of 26 eligible votes; you would need 1/2 plus one, or 14.
That poses a real problem, it would seem. But Fr. Kucynda had no problem in declaring under oath to the court that all the MC seats listed in the Statute for the officers --- the Metropolitan's, Chancellor's, Treasurer's, and Secretary's --- are "ex officio" and without vote. Or, if that's not good enough, Fr. Paul has assured us that he traditionally "didn't vote", so I guess that solves it: no additional eligible votes were to be counted, a majority approved, end of story. And by the way, Mark, you're guilty of yet 'another of your constant distortions.'
Michael readily embraces this flaccid reasoning of Fr. Kucynda, concluding that the Metropolitan and Fr. Kucynda don't vote, so that reduces the number of eligible voters to 23."
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a lawyer to see that Fr. Kucynda's sworn position is wrong or disingenuous, as is Michael's. As stated in Mark's article, the OCA officers on MC have voted before; there is not one word in the Statute that suggests an "ex officio" interpretation is supportable; and the proposition that Fr. Kucynda did not vote on this loan, which somehow magically makes his vote a non-eligible vote, is the silliest argument of all. And if someone would like to offer an opinion from an attorney to the contrary, let's hear it.
I have agreed with a number of points made by Michael Geeza in his earlier postings, and it is a little difficult for me to publicly challenge a Geeza, any Geeza. But it was not fair for Michael to write here to Mark, "What numbers are you talking about when you insist that 30 people were eligible to vote?" A review of Mark's article shows that he never insisted or advanced or agreed to that number of "30". The reference to "30" was not Mark's: it was quoted only in the OCA's loan documents and the affidavit of Fr. Kucynda. It is Syosset's number, and no one else's.
Michael closed with this shot at Mark:
"You talk about Fr. Kucynda distorting the truth and making absurd assumptions, yet you are very misleading and constantly enjoy distorting the facts on this issue. You rile up the masses then walk away. How about playing fair and getting the facts straight?"
Yeah, how about it, Michael?
Gregg Nescott, Pittsburgh
#1.3.3 Anonymous on 2006-09-03 12:25
You are right. I should have never ended my post with my shot at Mark. I'm man enough to publically apologize and say I am sorry.
As for alternates usually not attending an MC meeting, you once again are right, I meant they didn't have a vote, but I was wrong in verbalizing my thoughts.
On another note, would someone care to answer as to why certain MC members left the meeting prior to a second vote being taken?
Are these people who left early supposed to count if they were not present for the second vote?
How about those who chose to abstain from voting? I think that is kind of defeating the purpose of having an MC isn't it? Quite frankly, those individuals should be ashamed of themselves.
Thanks Gregg for your comments.
#184.108.40.206 Michael Geeza on 2006-09-07 14:36
How about any public posting of the affadavits?
How about polling the Metropolitan Council Members prior to the paperwork was finalized?
How about the fact that Faith had to request a copy from the Atty. General's office?
It is very transparent that the acting treasurer is incompetent.
With all the legal advice that the OCA is paying for, this paperwork should have been completed properly, but it's not the attorney's fault, he was lied to as well!
I agree, the OCA needs a new broom.
It's time to sweep up and start over.
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2006-09-09 02:20
Dear Michael and others who may hold this understanding of "eligible" voting members:
That various members of the MC may choose not to vote (or have not "historically" voted) does not make them ineligible to vote; it makes them abstaining. This choice to not vote does not remove from the number of eligible voting members (whether for purposes of determining a quorum or determining the %-age of votes cast on a given matter at a duly held meeting) those who so choose.
The statutes are clear. So is the law, as well the customary practices among NFP corporate entities generally and religious organizations specifically; all members of an NFP's governing body may vote on matters properly brought before the body except to the extent the by-laws (the "statutes") or the charter of the NFP or the governing law of the jurisdiction under which the organization was formed (here, NY State law) provide otherwise.
Given the plain English of the OCA statutes, and given NY State law, the only accurate (in fact, the only legally reasonably possible) construction of the relevant provisions of the OCA statutes is that these "historically" non-voting members are, in fact, eligible to vote notwithstanding there historic reticence to take a position by casting votes otherwise permitted them. OCANews' headline ("Misleading" submission) was too forgiving, perhaps; it is hard (though, obviously, not impossible) to conclude anything other than that the documents submitted to the court could have been so submitted absent either a fraudulent intent or gross negligence.
Those who were responsible for this submission to the court will be fortunate, indeed, if they are not brought before the judge again for a determination of whether any level of subjective culpability should be applied to them. The OCA will be equally fortunate if that does not occur, since it would likely foot the costs and expenses of the attorneys representing those so responsible (perhaps even for the expenses for attorney's to represent the attorneys who, mindbogglingly, approved of the contents of these documents.)
#1.3.4 Anonymous on 2006-09-04 04:54
Perhaps I am missing something, but is not the relevant majority the majority of those present (assuming the presence of a quorum). That is what the Statute provides (under "Quorum and Voting"), and that is normal parliamentary procedure. Mark is right in pointing out that thirteen is not a big number that reflects an overwhelming consensus, but it is certainly legally sufficient.
(Editor's Reply: While it is sufficient unto the Statute, it is not sufficient unto New York State Law, which explicitly requires, in this context, a majority of the entire board, not just a majority of those present, or a plurality of the quorum. In this instance 13 was not legally sufficient; hence Syosset's insistence that the "ex officio" members are four in number, and do not vote.)
#18.104.22.168 Ed Unneland on 2006-09-07 20:11
Ah, I see, under §509 of the New York Not For Profit Corporation Law. My mistake.
The reading regarding ex-officio members is just plain silly. Ex-officio members are simply members; they are not honorary, they actually do vote.
My suspicion is that the Attorney General's office and the Supreme Court in Nassau County just treated this as a routine request and did not take the time out to examine the matter carefully.
#22.214.171.124.1 Ed Unneland on 2006-09-07 20:32
Apparently the OCA can't get to the bottom of this despicable situation our church is in.
Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, was a catalyst in stirring up the Red Cross when they held up 9-11 funds. Perhaps he could expedite exposing the worm, or worms, in the apple here.
#1.4 Anonymous on 2006-09-02 17:01
Quote from G. K. Chesterton: "Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead."
Apparently, there's a LOT of tradition behind this filing!
You must have a lot of tradition behind you to publish differing membership figures that differ by TWO ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE.
"You only gave $2 to the parish this month - you usually give $200."
'It's OK - I'm within two orders of magnitude..."
#1.5 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2006-09-05 23:53
Metropolitan Herman has been in office for more than four years.
What has he accomplished? What is his vision? More lawyers and accountants?
He does not occupy the residence in Syosset, there is no chancellor, no secretary to the metropolitan, no treasurer, just an acting treasurer, no youth director, even the groundkeeper in Syosset has left....
He needs to find another job in Pennsylvania where he resides.
The truth will never be known because all we have heard for fours years is lies, lies and more lies.
#1.6 Anonymous on 2006-09-07 18:13
Who needs Best Practices?
The current officers of the church write their own rules.
They do not follow the OCA Statutes.
The Metropolitan does not follow the sacred canons of the church.
Now they are above the law.
Dn. Danilchak, forget about it. Who would believe one word these people utter.
#1.7 Anonymous on 2006-09-08 10:58
““3. The Church is currently comprised of approximately two (2) million faithful and has approximately 700 parishes, missions, monasteries, and institutions located throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.”
3a. Owed to each of the 700 parishes, missions, monasteries and institutions of the Orthodox Church in America: 2,828 members accounted for - but strangely missing.
I suppose once you abrogate the 8th Commandment can the 9th be far behind?
#2 Fr. Robert K. McMeekin on 2006-09-01 18:37
In this case, Father, breaking number nine led to breaking number eight, no?
#2.1 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2006-09-02 09:34
Do you know the latest status of the Martin Drive property?
In March Fr. Kondratick was given to 1 June to vacate the property. This has now been extended until August 31st. 2006.
#3 Anonymous on 2006-09-01 21:12
In private correspondence with Fr. Paul Kucynda I became convinced that he was one of the good guys. It is hard for me to read his lies. I haven't shed any tears over this scandal since I first read about it in the Washington Post. But here are these tears again. I can not even begin to tell how dissapointed I am.
Let's keep in mind that this is simply a document that gives the OCA permission to apply for a loan from an out of state bank. The loan process itself will involve much more detailed documentation, including membership numbers and Fair Share dollars. A loan will not be approved simply on information supplied without supporting documentation.
#4.1 Paula Brkich on 2006-09-05 10:49
Dear Brothers and Sisters In Christ
At long last the evil we are dealing with has revealed itself. Although this document seems to deal with the financial crisis, by the fact that Churchmen and attorneys for the Church have attested it's truth before God and Man, we the people know that they have attested to lies. (1) We do not have any count approaching 2 million souls by the wildest stretch of anyone's imagination, nor have we ever even approached half that number.
(2) In the article written, the items listed for payment are not honestly presented, but rather they are waltzed around, side stepped and shuffled. Nowhere are they called what they are, thefts, pure and simple. If our leadership cannot or will not speak plainly, and honestly, for whatever reason, they are in fact liars. All the fancy words cannot say otherwise. They have mishandled the Church's Money, They have lied to each other and to us.
What does it mean? It means that these men cannot believe in the Holy Gospels, they cannot believe in Jesus Christ, They in fact cannot believe in the Church. The problem at it's root is a spiritual problem – not just a financial problem. When men can falsely swear to the truthfulness of a document before the civil authorities they demonstrate a total lack of integrity, and honesty. I am betrayed, you, each and everyone are betrayed. Our leaders mislead us, they do not believe as they tell us we should believe. They are accountable to no one. Apparently not to the civil authority, not to us, and apparently not to God. The time of facades needs to be over. The emperor still has no clothes. All is being revealed.
When the body is diseased the body tries to fight it off and is sometimes successful. If not stronger measures are tried until cure is achieved. If this does not work, stronger measures are again tried, but in the end surgery is the only remedy left because the diseased part must be removed. If not the body will surely die.
Brothers and sisters we are the body of Christ that is the Church and we are DYING.
We can no longer waltz around the problems and pussyfoot around the problems. Plainly we have thieves and liars among us. We have decievers and misanthropes among us. We have men who would tell us everything is fine, and we know in our hearts it is not fine.
So what is the solution? The solution is to follow the word of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let our yes be yes and our no be no. Let us be righteous, Let us be Holy. Let us follow the way that everything we know tells us to be. Truthful. honest, firm in our faith, generous of nature, honest in our dealings with all men, guardians of those less fortunate, protectors of those who need protection. We need to pray constantly so that we indeed become holy in fact.
We have appealed to our Bishops to lead us out of this mess and they have failed us. Our priests cannot help us because they too are under the bishops. We have appealed to our metropolitan, and he has failed us. ...
The status quo cannot prevail. Holiness must return, Honesty must return, truth must return, for if we do not put the house in order, why would God help us? Why will the Holy Spirit guide us? The Chuch will remain, because Our Lord has promised that, but we may not remain in it. For the sake of all of us let us pray, let us do what is needful.
#5 G Vurik on 2006-09-01 22:25
REMARKABLE! Clearly, malfeasance and perfidy is found in the application of the OCA loan from the Honesdale Bank, as approved by the NY State Attorney General's office. Added is the blatant falsehoods expressed, and some more startling events are cited, of hitherto unknown facts up to now.
One only has to marvel as to the extent of our Blessed church's scandal. What else should we know, and what else will be revealed?
Only if by some divine miracle those who are responsible for their actions would come forward, be contrite, ask forgiveness to save face, and to avoid civil actions resulting from their malfeasance and perfidy, will our OCA survive! They should come clean of their misuse of discretionary funds, given to our church by well-meaning persons and/or firms, etc.
Asking that the principals be deposed, to resign, or somehow being called to be removed from august positions would be highly unlikely. It may be asking a lot from our Holy Synod, who in the main are silent. Somehow, pressure should mount, for the above to take place and we can pray that it will.
IF that happens, and those principals involved are finally gone, no matter what high station they hold in our OCA, then there will be healing, and no need for taking out a loan. Our church will survive and each of us will open our purses to pay our fair share and somewhat more, to settle accounts.
Further, a Metropolitan Council... firmly in charge of our OCA accounts, assets, facilities and land, all our resources, completely ... should be assurred, once and for all. Then and only then, can our OCA see the day as predicted by His Beatitude Tikhon of Blessed Memory, while he was still alive and Patriarch of Russia. That charge as he saw it then, was One Holy Orthodox Catholic Church in North America.
IF the above DOES NOT occur, sadly ... The demise of our OCA will begin and parishes, one by one, will seek to transfer themselves under one of the other canonical Orthodox jurisdictions. What other option is open to us?
Blessed Theotokos "She Who is Quick to Hear," Save Us!
Please withhold my name, thank you!
Does out and out lying by the OCA administration shock you? After all, they have mismanaged your money, showed you no respect and refuse to provide you any explanations.
This to me, is the coffin nail for the OCA Adminstration. Its time to give Met. Herman the axe, defrock him and allow him to answer to a jury of his peers. Preferably, OCA members. And the same dose of medicine for the rest of the dirty scoundrels.
The OCA continues to leadership continues to bury their heads in the sand.
A bit of advice to them...prisons have concrete floors.
#7 Bob H. on 2006-09-02 05:01
Well, as the old children's nursery rhyme goes: "Liar, liar your pants are on fire--your tail is as long as"--the Devil's?
Really, this is the final straw as far as the Treasurer is concerned--fire him now! Should not the Court be contacted and informed of possible legal fraud as well? Finally, how about a letter writing campaign to the Bank to inform them that they are about to go into the real estate business?
Shame! Shame! Shame!
#8 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-02 05:48
Dear KRT...I was thinking the same about a writing campaign. I am SO DISAPPOINTED with the MC and everyone in the OCA that supposedly has any authority, as stated in the statutes and canons of our church. Why on earth are we letting him (Met. HERMAN) have his way with getting this loan?!? What stops Met. HERMAN and whoever else from taking the $1.7 million and making a run for it? Nothing seems to phase them anyway...they've come this far...what's a little more stealing and lying?
How absolutely sad! I love the OCA...minus this mess that is! So many have worked so hard, given their lives to and have done such a wonderful job to bring so many converts to the Orthodox faith through the OCA Church. It is such a shame! We have to do something to save OUR CHURCH!
SOMEONE PLEASE DO SOMETHING OR INSTRUCT THE REST OF US ON WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP...PLEASE!
I pray for the Lord's help and mercy!
(A worried and disappointed parishioner of Holy Resurrection Church, Palatine, IL)
#8.1 Helen O'Sullivan on 2006-09-02 07:14
As Fr. Thomas has made clear in his last reflection, we retain everything we truly need to grow in our faith and overcome what ever adversity we might face. For this we should always remain thankful as we strive to be good and faithful stewards in our personal and parish life.
As Fr. John has made clear in his last reflection, we also have a shared responsibility for our leadership. As to what we can do: Prayer should always be our first priority. We should pray for our bishops often because they are such high value targets of Satan and his demons. We should also try to communicate with them more often. They need to know that we are supportive of them and that we want them to be effective leaders even if that means disciplining their peers. We also need to let them know that we are concerned about their personal spiritual welfare. It is certainly much better for a bishop's own soul if he were to resign as an act of humility or repentance, than to retain his episcopal office for selfish and sinful purposes. It is truly horrible to contemplate the fate of a bishop who could be so deceived by the evil one.
Your Brother in Christ,
#8.1.1 Marc Trolinger on 2006-09-05 14:17
I agree with you. What can we, the people who are the church, do to turn this around.?
#8.1.2 Lillian Blome on 2006-09-06 11:49
In parishes where the priest is receptive to collective action, corporate prayers should be offered for all of our bishops seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance for the entire episcopacy of the Church. Additionally, a written letter of support and concern should be drafted and signed by parishioners and sent to all the members of the Holy Synod. If your parish priest is not prepared to help, then it is up to the individual to pray and communicate.
Perhaps some of our concerned Fathers who have offered comments and reflections in this forum will provide us with appropriate prayers and letter drafts.
#126.96.36.199 Marc Trolinger on 2006-09-06 20:18
Believe me the bank knows it is going into the real estate business; vultures are always attracted to carrion !
#8.2 john M on 2006-09-02 07:52
MY MATH SAYS THE BANK IS $7.3 MILLION AHEAD IN THIS TRANSACTION.
REMEMBER, WE CONFESS THROUGH THESE CONFESSORS. NOW I WILL SLEEP A LOT BETTER TONIGHT.
I'M GLAD THAT I AM NOT WEARING THEIR SHOES WHEN I MEET MY MAKER!
THIS SHOULD END "THE BEST PRACTICE" SUGGESTIONS.
"THIS SHOULD END "THE BEST PRACTICE" SUGGESTIONS."
Really? Why? We should, what? Give up trying to fix our problems, proceed directly to indictments, criminal prosecution, hard time at the big house breaking rocks? And that is going to help what? Whom? How?
The Bank is NOT ahead in this transaction. Banks do not get to keep the entire proceeds of a forced sale when they reposses collateral.
We will all be wearing our own shoes, as you put it, Steve, when we meet our maker. Those shoes will be filthy enough from our own missed marks to worry about someone else's attire.
#8.3.1 Marty Brown on 2006-09-03 14:50
KRT, I have a gut feeling that letters to the bank won't work. The talk on the street has it that Met H has a link to someone at the bank.
#8.4 Disgusted on 2006-09-02 08:51
Who is paying Proskauer Rose? Where is the money coming from? I understand the cost is $100,000 plus, @$625/hr, depending on how long the investigation goes on.
The 2006 budget published on the OCA website has a $30,000 item for legal fees, this must be for ordinary legal fees - not P/R.
The loan has no item for paying off P/R's bill.
Does anyone know the answer to this question?
#9 Eugenie Osmun on 2006-09-02 10:43
I think the 2,000,000 OCA members quoted by the "establishment" to be, shall we say charitably, wishful thinking. But I have an even GREATER problem with the repeated claim of only 20,000 (paying?) members put forth by some of the anti-establishmentarians. What is the basis of the latter? I am a lowly parishioner in one of the backwaters of the Diocese of the South, and between several local parishes I personally know of maybe 200 supporting members of the OCA. I think it is highly unlikely that I could be acquainted with as much as 1% of the total OCA membership. This website has raised many necessary and useful questions. But anyone who makes such claims, which require me to believe that I am so well connected, has little credibility in my eyes. The sword of BS cuts in both directions.
#10 Michael V. Gregory (not the MC member) on 2006-09-02 16:42
Would that it were not so, but if you know 200 supporting members of the OCA, you do indeed know 1% of its contributing membership from the geographical dioceses. The particular figure of 20,000+ is taken from the first quarter 2006 budget statement recently prepared by the OCA. Since that document is not publicly available, I suggest you contact your Metropolitan Council representative for a copy.
This number should come as no surprise though: the OCA has reported for the past three AAC's that our contributing membership was declining every year. In 1995 The Treasurer reported the OCA had less than 30,000; in 1999 less than 27,000 contributing members in the geographical dioceses; in 2005 less than 24,000. Those figures are available in the papers of those respective AAC's.
#10.1 Editor on 2006-09-06 06:45
Michael Gregory calls the OCA sworn figure of 2,000,000 members "wishful thinking," but then criticizes OCANews for referencing a figure of 20,000 "Fair Share" paying members. Michael says, "I have an ever greater problem with the claims of only 20,000 (paying?) members put forth by some of the anti-establishmentarians." He then says he gives "little credibility" to those making such claims, and asks "what is the basis of" this number.
A fair question, Michael.
In "The Guns of Will Sonnet", a short-running TV series of my mispent youth, character actor Walter Brennan used a catch phrase to make clear that he was speaking the truth: "No brag, just fact."
So here are the facts, Michael. The OCANews membership (census) figures were completely accurate. I am looking at an OCA document entitled "Fair Share Support as of March 31, 2006". The first column lists the dioceses paying "Fair Share" (the old name was "assessment") in 2006: Eastern PA, Midwest, New England, South, Washington/NY, West, and Western PA.
The next column is "2006 Census", and lists a total paying membership of these seven dioceses of 20,899. (Although these census numbers are kept secret in some dioceses, for at least a decade, they have been publicly disclosed in my diocese.)
Below this subtotal are listed the remaining dioceses --- Alaska, Albanian, Bulgarian, Canada, and Romanian --- plus the stavropegial church institutions (and Australia, a relic from the past), which, by agreement, either contribute nothing per head under Fair Share or offer token annual contribution. The 2006 census figure listed for these dioceses is 20,646.
The total membership of the OCA typed on the document in front of me is 41,545, which includes the 20,000+ who pay the Fair Share, and the additional 20,000+, who contribute nothing or a token to the national church.
So those are the facts, Michael. I could discuss the fact that historically some parishes may be scrupulous in reporting and paying for every member, while others are not completely honest in reporting their actual number of "members", lying to their diocese and the national church about the numbers of financially supporting members --- a problem well-known in the OCA --- but that is not really the issue here. (Anecdotally, I vividly recall an incident about 20 years ago when I was diocesan treasurer, and one parish reported a census of 89 members for about 10 straight years, although everyone suspected its size was double that. I happened to visit that parish of "89" members one Sunday, and counted nearly 200 people, and their weekly bulletin listed over 125 people who had purchased vigil candles just the previous Sunday.)
Michael, when you refer skeptically to the OCANews census numbers and conclude that "the sword of BS cuts in both directions," please turn off your BS-meter here: the 20,000 and 40,000 numbers are facts.
Gregg Nescott, Pittsburgh
#10.2 Anonymous on 2006-09-08 07:16
I stand corrected (also by our esteemed webmaster). So there are only, at most, about 45,000 of us? And here I thought that there were thousands and thousands and thousands of us believers. Maybe that PR machine, for which we have been paying and paying, HAS been effective after all? Fooled me. How deflating. In a recent story on the arrest of the bigamist-in-chief of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints sect, the AP wrote that the FLDS had 35,000 members. Surely in the life of America, we can't be only incrementally more important than THEM. It must be time for me to go back and reread my well thumbed volume of Fr. Seraphim Rose's "Not of This World". Gulp.
#10.2.1 Michael V. Gregory (not the MC member) on 2006-09-11 15:03
Why in the world is the Church mortgaging a $7.8Million property AND a $600,000 property to secure a $1.7Million loan? That is outrageous. The loan is way overcollateralized. Anyone with any business sense would see that as a terrible business deal. Nobody in their right mind pledges $8.4Million in collateral to secure a $1.7Million loan.
The Administration had to know that the court documents for the loan would be part of the public record. They had to know that people would scrutinize the filings. One would think that if they were paying any attention at all to any of the criticism over the last 8 months, they would make sure that all of the documents were true and accurate. If the best this Administration can do is to distort the facts and say that the OCA has 2 Million members -- while everyone is watching -- I am terrified to know how fast and loose they play with the facts when nobody is watching. Sinner that I am, I at least have the common sense to be a little more careful when I know everyone is watching me.
No business sense and no common sense. Unbelievable. This Administration is in way over its head and it needs a lot of help.
Deacon Peter, your latest appeal on the OCA page is "Lastly, if you have any expertise that can be offered to the central church administration – please volunteer it."
I am here to volunteer. Without hearing the Administration's side of the story (are they telling it to anyone???), my initial advice is "Clean up this mess. Ask for help. Henceforward, do everything by the book. Don't pledge more than you have to to borrow money."
Surely there are many of us who are ready to step forward and help. The question is "Does the Administration really want any help to clean everything up and start doing things the right way? Or do they just want to go on with business as usual?"
#11 Robert Vasilios Wachter, Esq. on 2006-09-03 07:45
Since the answer to your question is, unfortunately, self-evident, I assume this is a rhetorical question?
#11.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-06 06:15
Really, this is all so simple. If a 2 million member church needs a loan of $2 million, just ask everyone to send in a buck, cancel the loan, and be done with it.
#12 Fr John Reeves on 2006-09-03 15:08
A new treatment for cancer is to cut off its supply of blood. If matters aren't cleared up soon, parishes should either leave the OCA or stop sending Syosett ANY money.
Why don't we sell Syosett? Pay off all our depts. Build another place in the Diocese of Washington and New York.
And cut Fr. Paul some slack. He was only off by just under 2 million. Or maybe he misplaced a few decimal points.
Has it struck anyone else who attended the Orlando AAC that the Holy Spirit DID speak, but the Holy Synod didn't listen? The votes of the clery and lay delegates were overwhelmingly for Bishop Seraphim. On the second ballot he got over 2/3 of the votes.
And it took the Synod FOR EVER to reach a decision. They were probably back there trying to figure out who could orchestrate the best coverup.
I am very jaded now. God please do something. Please.
#13 Linda Weir on 2006-09-04 10:55
An excellent point concerning the Metropolitan's election/selection, which I have not seen referenced before on this site. It might explain his insecurity and reflexive distrust of any "democratic" expression of will by anyone but himself.
I seem to remember a quote from him upon his selection by the Synod, in which, when asked by the media what changes he contemplated making he replied: "None!" How prophetic!
I know very little about Metropolitan Herman and would be interested in hearing from people on this site who know him or know about him. His biograhical information seems sparse.
#13.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-06 08:04
Perhaps it was mentioned in a private email to me, but back in the late 70's, the AAC voted overwhelmingly for Bp. Dmitri to be the next Metropolitan. Lo and behold, the Synod goes behind closed doors and out comes Met. Theodosius. As Yogi Berra said, "It's deja vu all over again."
#13.1.1 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-09-08 12:27
I too am wondering who is living in the Martin Drive property. Does anyone need to be living in it? Why could it not have been sold BEFORE a loan was taken out to cover a portion of the debts owed and significantly reduce the interest that would be owed in the end?
I am also curious about the discrepency in the numbers on the MC, between what Mark Stokoe and Michael Geeza report. I don't believe that Mark was deliberately misrepresenting anything, but a clarification would be helpful in terms of understanding the situation.
I am amazed that we haven't heard about legal intervention already. Yes, somebody who can back up their facts, should report to the Court and to the bank, regardless of their gut instinct about whether it will make a difference in the latter case. However, impugning sworn testimony will require solid evidence. i can't believe the OCA has or ever had 2 million members, or even that number including all of the departed, but I couldn't make my case in a court of law. Someone who can needs to do it.
Eugene asks a good question about the P/R bill.
Before we blast the MC, however, I'd like to point out that there are people on that council who are acting in good faith, based on the based information they have. They too may be in doubt of what they are being told, but are, at the same time, trying to act for the best to save the OCA. I know I couldn't advise them what to do at this point, and I am glad I am not in their shoes.
On the diocesan/parochial level, what are our options? Our priests are canonically bound to their bishops; can entire parishes leave the OCA is that is what they wish to do? Yes, the laity could, but that may mean in many cases leaving the priest behind, especially in DOW and DOA. It seems that Abp JOB is the only one who cares about his parishes, both the priests and the laity. Amidst all of the rest of this, I have been disappointed by the silence of the majority of the hierarchs of the OCA. Vladyka JOB said they have been kind to him, and I am glad for that, but what is going to happen in their dioceses if things really do fall apart? What happens i the cases of parishes that have parish mortgages to pay and depend on certain lay members, if those lay members leave the parish? (That's a question I've always had even before this crisis came up.)
It strike me that if we wish to make a choice about where we are going to go, we need to be thinking about it now; otherwise, a choice may be forced upon us by default. Many in the OCA would prefer to work with the Antiochians, who share a vision for an indigenous Orthodox church in North America. Others will be more attached to the Russian history and prefer ROCOR or the MP. Both alternatives have pros and cons. BUT, if we don't work on a plan sooner, we may be forced back into the Russian Church later. Being in the Russian Church certainly is not a bad thing in itself. In many ways I'd personally prefer it, but at a certain point, we may lose the chance to choose. I hope people outside the Midwest are thinking about that.
#14 Anelevtherios on 2006-09-04 12:32
Is it time for fasting, prayer and sackcloth? Who is our prophet and leader?
#15 Jane Cap on 2006-09-04 15:59
Has there been ANY progress at all in getting a special AAC for the summer of 2007? No matter what has, or has not, been solved by that time, I truly doubt that everything will have been solved and, at the very least, a special AAC can encourage open communication and strides towards healing.
#16 Patty Schellbach on 2006-09-04 16:38
Here's a thought: What would happen if some faithful just stood outside when the Holy Synod meets in October. Just stand, pray, read Psalms.
#17 Christopher Eager on 2006-09-04 20:47
DOES ANYONE KNOW IF
FR. KONDRATICK IS STILL AT THE
216 MARTIN DRIVE PROPERTY ???
#18 Anonymous on 2006-09-05 09:47
Fr. Kondratick is still in residence at 216 Martin Drive in Syosset. He continues to serve as head priest at the Metropolitan's Chapel in Syosset on Sundays.
#18.1 Editor on 2006-09-06 06:04
(from Orthodox-Forum yahoo group) today
Stop and pray.
In the beginning there was unity through baptism and faith -
Now there is "unity" through recognition.
In the beginning there was simplicity -
Now we have royal titles.
In the beginning there was persecution -
Now we have government appointed/approved patriarchs and bishops
In the beginning there was zeal for Christ -
Now there is zeal for "churchianity" and authority
In the beginning we were equal -
Now it's them against us
In the beginning we had shepherds -
Now we have Church employees
In the beginning we shared with those in need -
Now some live like kings, while fellow Christians live in extreme poverty.
In the beginning we reached the world with the gospel -
Now we fight over control and jurisdictions.
In the beginning we were proud to be Orthodox -
Now this title is under "copyright" by a corrupted establishment.
In the beginning we called them brothers -
Now we divide them to "canonical" and "un-canonical"
What happened to our Orthodox Church?
What went so wrong? Are we now blind?
Praise God, some are still left just like in the beginning -
The last will be first and the first will be last.
[+Spyridon, Orthodox Bishop, Japan]
Could it be better said?
Stop and Pray
#19 G Vurik on 2006-09-05 11:09
Well, I'm glad the OCA got the loan, but I'm not pleased that the OCA attorney didn't meet the simple request of the New York Atty General [timely] and I'm not pleased that Fr. Paul had to take the attorneys advice; but I certainly understand the reasons given so many people naysayed responsibility.
Yes, that's right, a NO vote naysayed responsibility. No matter how you slice it; the loan was needed. Overdue responsibility implemented with a NO vote on need is not responsibility either.
Does anyone know how many Orthodox people live in the US? If it were 3% of 250,000,000, it would be 7.5 million, so how about 1% of the US population is 2.5 million.
It is certainly misleading to say 2 million faithful in the OCA, but at the same time, you'd think the NY Atty General and the judge would find it curiously strange the church couldn't get out of debt with 2 million faithful contributing 85 cents each. The saddest part of the statement is that falling numbers of members are going to make it hard to operate the church in Nassau, where salaries must be higher and many other costs are higher than other places in the US and lying to [ourselves] won't help.
I find it curiously strange the budget is now a link on the OCA website and the church will provide a 6 month compilation versus budget, but no discussion here about the budget. The church, for the first time since autocephaly that I know of is working towards a path of better behavior; it should be applauded. Reporting the membership and financial health of the church is an imperative. If everyone had understood better 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 year ago, this wouldn't be as big an issue/amount.
When children get sick, they can become more immune to similar health problems in the future. I'm hoping reporting fair share publicly and financial condition helps the church, even if it is somewhat painful and I'm trying to keep all of this in a positive light. I think all of us should work toward that end.
#20 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-09-05 13:55
When I first began to read about this mess I couldn't understand how the administration could have strayed so far from obvious fiscal responsibility, and for a while there hoped the answer lay somewhere between organizational sloppiness and a lack of professional financial training. Things seem a lot bleaker than that 8 months later. As Eugenie Osmun pointed out, where in this budget is any item for the lawyers and accountants for this investigation? And how do we reconcile the Diocesan Fair Share figure in the budget with the membership numbers reported by the treasurer under oath? I'd like to say that the published budget has done something to restore my trust in the administration but it really hasn't. What will they say to get that perfect balance? What will they say to get that loan approval? I once attended a diocesan assembly where a budget was presented with some very curious items. In a room full of respected priests, competent lay people, nothing was challenged. I am afraid the "budget" in that case was a formality and a cover. It doesn't look like this budget is much more than that.
#20.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2006-09-06 11:31
Well said.... there has been a lot of tough news delivered on this site. The reactions of some are child-like. Yours was a breath of fresh air.
#20.2 Marty Brown on 2006-09-07 15:00
I expressed my disgust concerning the conversion of donations in a "Reflection" posted here in July. I have the same objections now, and I won't waste your time by repeating them.
However, buried in the Court's depressing recitation of the list of victims, with the amounts converted, there was an interesting fact, a fact I can't explain.
The OCA is borrowing $1.7 million from Honesdale Bank and is pledging both our national headquarters in Syosset, New York, and the home of the OCA Chancellor on Martin Drive in Syosset as security for the loan. The appraised value of the headqarters is about five times the total amount of the loan, which is three times the security usually required where I work on the West Coast, even for loans to churches.
So, why pledge the Chancellor's residence? Unless underwriting guidelines for commercial loans are very different on the East Coast from the ones I'm used to on the West Coast, which I doubt, there seems to be no need to pledge the home.
Did Honesdale require it? Did the OCA not shop around enough to avoid it? Is the OCA trying to complicate a claim against the Church for the residence by the Kondratick's. Given the years it will take to work through this mess, does liening all the OCA's major assets offer some benefit, some insulation against new creditors?
Your wisdom would be appreciated.
#21 Mark Warns on 2006-09-05 17:36
"Fr. Kondratick is still in residence at 216 Martin Drive in Syosset. He continues to serve as head priest at the Metropolitan's Chapel in Syosset on Sundays."
Dear Mark, Not only is this true but Fr.
Bob is daily at the Chancery, still speaking with the staff and in some cases directing affairs and giving advice. He has not been reassigned.
Apparently he and the Metropolitan are locked in the status quo. For all those who thought the removal of Fr. Bob was the beginning of something, we will have to wait until he is actually removed to find out. .... Neither of these men are willing to let their pride be killed for the sake of the Holy Church.
Mark, please do not print my name.
#22 A priest in the OCA on 2006-09-06 08:25
This is unbelievable! We were told things would change – and there is no real change. The ex-chancellor is still living in his supposed ex-residence, taking an active role in the running of the Church, serving in the chapel of our church headquarters. We were promised that communications will be more open and transparent, but we get smoke and mirrors. Instead of a spirit of repentance, forgiveness and love, we have defensive posturing, recriminations, and ego building. Who would give a child a stone when he asks for bread? Those in power in Syosset, it seems. How very sad. I have little hope that our ship will aright its course, albeit I know good clergy and laypeople who are trying to make a difference. My hope is in the Lord!
THIS IS BULL....
WHY IS HE STILL LIVING AT THE MARTIN DRIVE OCA PROPERTY?
“The Martin Drive property is not vacant. In March Fr. Kondratick was given to 1 June to vacate the property. This has now been extended until August 31st.”
“Fr. Kondratick is still in residence at 216 Martin Drive in Syosset. He continues to serve as head priest at the Metropolitan's Chapel in Syosset on Sundays.”
I KEEP READING PAGES AND PAGES AND PAGES OF SMOKE, SMOKE, SMOKE!!!!
#23 withheld on 2006-09-06 09:24
While I know no one has exact numbers regarding members of the various Orthodox jurisdictions, Alexei Krindatch has collected lots of interesting information. His work can be found here:
The link to table 1b takes you to the US numbers by jurisdiction.
The 2 million figure in the filing is so bizarre.
#24 Liz G. on 2006-09-06 11:59
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
#25 Nicholas and Marie Senio on 2006-09-06 15:25
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