Saturday, September 16. 2006
Two reflections, both from the Midwest, expressing very different views of the state of the OCA. Your comments on one or the other, or both, are welcome.
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Father John, how can a person keep putting trust in a person that continually betrays and lies blatantly to people that believe all is well? This has been going on for over twenty years.
If the Metropolitian, would have come clean, on the wrong doings, when he was still a Bishop, we wouldn't be in this mess.
Don't blame the people; all the clergy and the hierarchy have known for years of this mess. WE CAN PRAY ALL WE WANT AND IT "AIN'T GONNA WORK". ST. JAMES SAYS, PRAYER WITH WORK, AND WE CAN DO MANY THINGS. IT'S TIME TO PRAY AND WORK TO GET US OUT OF THIS MESS.
Also in the State of Missouri we have a license to operate as a not for profit bussiness. It doesn't say we can do what ever we want want to do. I'm sure all other churches have similar papers to operate their churches as we do.
"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
#2 Fr. Robert K. McMeekin on 2006-09-16 17:04
With due respect to Father John, where is the love in allowing my brother (or father) to continue unrepentent when the sin is so obvious?
Where is the "mea culpa"? Where is even the admission of sorrow that something wrong occurred? How are we to tell the orphans, widows, and victims that they should be fine now, because we have "reformed our financial procedures"?
No, we must repent. Even in repentance, Archbishop JOB has been a model for his brother bishops. How was his example received? Not with love, that is certain.
Again, how are we to forgive and love the unrepentant? Is it not our obligation, as written in the Scriptures, to disassociate ourselves from the unrepentant? Is that not Christ's direct advice on how to deal with this issue?
Mt 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."
Hoping for a miracle,
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#3 Marty Watt on 2006-09-16 20:09
Having read Fr. Chris Wojcik's brilliant exposition and update on our OCA crisis, it brought tears to my old (80) eyes and provided a lump in my throat!
He is blessed with an ability to assay our dilemma and the magnitude of all that troubles our national church! I pray for him and his brother priests who are willing to stand up for truth and right, and risk their very holy orders as clergy in our OCA. Courage!
Finally, I read the countering position of Fr. John Memorich and learned a new word: SOLIPSISM.
It may be that Fr. Memorich has been living in some other place, and can somehow ignore so much that has occurred already, to be able to sweep it all away with such blatant SOPHISTRY.
His "take" on what is so clear to most of us, is plain baloney! What plagues our national church has to be reconciled and dealt with, hopefully within our own church's arena, and not within civil courts.
I fear that may occur, sadly and I pray that the perpetrator(s) come to their senses and are contrite and admit their guilt, and resign.
Blessed Theotokos, "She who is quick to hear," Save us!
Please withold my name!
#4 Anonymous on 2006-09-16 20:21
The curious thing about Fr. John Memorich's "support" of the OCA administration is that, as of last month, his parish had not paid any of its 2006 assessment. Are they withholding as an act of resistance? Or is this just fiscal sloppiness? In any case, the Diocese of the Midwest is paying the monthly assessments to the Central Administration for them, and the Diocese needs the money to maintain its own cash flow.
#4.1 Fr Tom Mueller on 2006-09-20 01:03
This comes under the heading of "DO AS I SAY NOT AS I DO". I apologize for posting inaccurate information about assessment payments from Archangel Michael in Broadview Heights, OH. for 2006. I erred in saying a couple of days ago that they had not paid any of their assessment as of last month. I'm sorry for the overstatement. I should have gotten "my information straight." The facts, as stated to me from Diocesan records as of this morning, are as follows:
Archangel Michael Church owes $69,840 annually, based on 388 members; the monthly payment should be $5820. Archangel Michael made payments of about $11640 in May and a payment of $7760 posted on 7/31. (This represents the amount due for the first quarter of the year plus a bit more.) The total received by the Diocese of the Midwest as of this morning was $19,400, leaving the parish with a balance due of $50,440, which is to say that they are $32,980 in arrears for the first nine months of the year. Despite my previous inaccuracy, the point still remains that the Diocese must make monthly payments to the OCA to keep it afloat. When any of our parishes fail to keep up with our monthly payments, we cause cash flow problems for the Diocese. Were the Diocese to take the same approach and make its payments late, the OCA's financial crisis would be severely aggravated. Wthholding of diocesan payments will certainly be a topic at the coming Assembly in October. Those whose want to argue against this type of action need to be meticulous in making their own monthly payments. Some parishes have already decided to withhold. This is premature and unfair because it only causes financial difficulty for the Diocese which has continued remitting the OCA assessment FOR EVERY PARISH on a monthly basis to the OCA, as mandated by past All-American Council legislation. If the Diocese should decide to withhold assessments, it has to be a decision of the whole Diocese, since the Diocese asa whole is the remitter of these funds to the OCA.
#4.1.1 Anonymous on 2006-09-21 12:41
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It is most unfortunate and appalling that Fr. Thomas Mueller chose to publish confidential diocesan information upon this list with little regard to its overtone, the embarrassment it caused, or to the consequences which may result from his action. Not only because he had no explicit or sanctioned “authority” to do what he did, but it appears to have been disseminated in a blatant attempt to slander the credibility of Archangel Michael parish.
I will not speak further as to Fr. Thomas’ irresponsibly deplorable actions for I fear that the powers that be will be addressing that issue forthrightly. However, since my parish was in a sense “defamed,” as its priest and pastor I feel obligated to come to her rescue and defense.
It is true that our parish is partly in arrears with regards to its assessment balance, however, let me first state for the record that we are NOT withholding funding from the Diocese of the Midwest or the National Church. Unfortunately we were caught in a bit of a crunch situation with our General Fund and have come to find that, although our financial records show we were paying our assessments all along, because of the lack of funding, our treasurer was simply writing those checks, recording them in our records, and then “holding them back” until sufficient monies were available to cover those payments. Obviously our parish council has set about to rectify this situation.
With a parish as large as ours, and one that operates a successful Party Center and Catering Business, owns as much real estate and property as we do, and maintains two oil and natural gas wells, it might seem hard for anyone to believe that a parish with such resources could ever become financially strapped. However, like most other parishes within the OCA, it unfortunately does. It is not that we are not fiscally challenged regarding stewardship (we have those same “dollar a week” people like everyone else), but so much of our money is also tied up in various funds and restricted accounts.
Because Fr. Mueller chose to air another parish's “dirty laundry” for public display, allow me to air some that is “clean.” In my decade as rector of Archangel Michael parish, I am proud to say that the philanthropic spirit and charitable levels of giving have increased greatly. Over the past ten years this parish alone has given out more than $253,000 in charitable donations (most of which were to Orthodox churches, charities, and institutions) and over $170,000 in scholarships for college students and seminarians. Please be advised that all these donations were the result of Parish Council actions and were taken from the parish’s treasury. These figures do not even begin to reflect what our parishioners give during times of special appeals and collections put forth by the National Church, Diocese of the Midwest, Seminaries, IOCC, or any other charitable association we deemed worthy. Nor does it take into account what our parish’s various clubs and organizations (FOCA chapter, Junior Chapter, Men’s Club, Women’s Club, Pre-Teen Club, 55+ Club) have donated either.
In addition, besides the above mentioned figures, we have given such magnanimous donations as $10,000 for an iconostas in a parish in Slovakia, $15,000 to St. Innocent Parish in Olmstead Falls, Ohio to build their temple and hall, $5,000 to St. Thomas Church in Springfield when they needed to purchase property, as well as a $10,000 donation to the Diocese when Archbishop Job approached my parish for a special “private” appeal and a $3,000 icon of Christ-Not-Made-Of-Hands which now adorns the inside of Christ the Savior church in Chicago. This list could certainly go on were I to scour our records.
Besides the monetary offerings we continuously give, we also donate the use of our facilities and only charge the merest of food costs for the many retreats, fundraisers (including ones for this diocese), meetings, and convocations we host. We even managed to make a $3,000 profit for the diocese when we hosted the 39th Diocesan Assembly in October of 1999 – something never before seen then or since!
All of this prompted our respected Archbishop to express his sincerest gratitude with a diocesan Gramota which in part reads, “…for being an example of Christian Stewardship, supporting charitable and philanthropic endeavors of the Orthodox Church in America, supporting local charitable organizations, and demonstrating love, concern and support for the Diocese of the Midwest.”
My sole intention for posting such information should not be construed as a braggart's show of pride; for this parish believes that, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” However, since Fr. Thomas did in a sense “air our dirty laundry” for everyone to gawk at, I felt compelled to speak up for the integrity of this Holy Parish.
Over the last three years our parish underwent a huge $600,000 renovation/beautification project which certainly helped to deplete our funding (even though during this same time we still managed to maintain charitable giving in the amount of $67,000 - not counting scholarships). We also just finished redoing our entire parking lot to the tune of $40,000.
It certainly might be considered “poor stewardship” to have given out such huge amounts of money in Christian charity instead of simply saving it in our coffers for a “rainy season” like this particular one, when so many bills and responsibilities need to be met, but I’d like to think that all those whom we have so graciously helped - and continue to help- would think otherwise.
Archpriest John Memorich
#18.104.22.168 Fr. John Memorich on 2006-09-23 08:08
Well, what a contrast, but it is all too clear who is right and who is wrong! No shades of gray--right and wrong!
Fr. Memorich condemns himself with his own words refering to the faithful as "the masses!" His "pious" exortations to silence and obedience would serve him well as a bureauocrat in an authoritarian state. He furthermore stands condemned for condemning those seeking truth and reformation of the OCA.
Fr. Wojick, on the other hand, is utterly fearless in speaking the truth and seeking a moral resolution to our crisis! No more need be said--many years!
#5 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-16 20:36
Maybe, we(the site or some lay group) should get together to organize a funding drive for missions, seminaries, seminarian interniship, etc. We should never quit are quest truth but never forget that our union in Christ is bigger than a few mistakes can alter. These projects could be a rallying point for a church divided.(Show that we can still function as a church while a scandal goes on)
#6 Reader Michael on 2006-09-16 21:10
I do believe that Fr. Chris is hammering the nail on the head with your courage to name the sins in the OCA. Thank you Fr. Chris. I am behind you all the way with your great courage!!! I am not sure, however, that we should withold funds. I DO believe we can start a movement to get an AAC on board!!! I REALLY think we DESPERATELY need a special AAC by 2007/2008.
However, we must seek to become that perfection that Christ mandated all of us to become: "Be ye perfect." The highest level of moral, ethical, spiritual, and financial modeling is within the OCA's grasp. For we DO have SO MUCH talent in the OCA to turn this around. The OCA CAN become a stronger and more upright example to the world.
Where I am currently living, there is a group of Protestants who are seeking to become Orthodox. They are not far from an OCA church and we have not heard of their desire to join the OCA. These people probably are steering clear of the OCA right now. They are looking at the Antiochian Archdiocese with a sister church that is further from them. The fallout from a poor, sinful OCA administration is having its dire effects.
I truly pray for an ACC by 2007/2008.
#7 Patty Schellbach on 2006-09-17 05:59
Fr. Wojcik is utterly irresponsible calling for the resignation of the Metropolitan, unless he asks for the resignation of the MC reelected members, and the entire Synod elected since 2005, including Job at the same time. In his letter, he addresses these bodies as other failures, in his resolution, they are all abdicated? This is utter nonsense. Ultimatums are always answered by neither, Fr. Wojcik should know this..
When will this church stop expecting one man to save or destroy the day? We are church, act like it. From clergy to Metropolitan's, quit with the one man concept baloney.
No Andreas bailouts, no Theodosius unanswered audits, no mansion contributions, no Saint Herman land sales, no Metropolitan Herman resignations, no all powerful administrator the MC doesn't hold accountable will solve the day. Just a church grinding out the details, that is all.
Effective governance, modified governance, remedial action for failure, working together.
Love, with accountability. Love alone isn't enough Fr. Memorich. Overhopefulness and love are too close to the same thing.
If catchy one liners are Christianity, I missed the message a long time ago Fr. McMeekin.
The June compilation report against the budget and reported against a June forecast are 49 days late.
If the Synod fails to hold an AAC in 2008, not one church should pay its assessments.
People should resign or leave if they cause problems against the churches new direction.
#8 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-09-17 10:13
"If catchy one liners are Christianity, I missed the message a long time ago Fr. McMeekin."
There are ten catchy one-liners that I like particularly. Lately number 8 is my favorite, apropos of this crisis, "You shall not steal." (Exodus 20:15) It really is as simple as that. This is not about one man--even though that one man bears the responsibility for allowing the situation to get to this point--it is a spiritual problem rooted in a cynical and ungodly system of management. God help us if we replace it with another one just like it!
#8.1 Fr. Robert K. McMeekin on 2006-09-19 22:48
Ladies and Gentlemen; We are not alone with issues of "corporate level mismanagement". While the issues seem to stem from improper practices in "human relations" and not from the "mis-use of money", the discussions are similar to ours: that is (in)competency of "top level mangement". Reference the brouhaha over actions of the Hewlett-Parkard (HP) Board of Directors at .
I make no other comment at this time!
#9 William Kosar on 2006-09-17 11:24
So many long winded posts. I'll keep it short:
Christ was so upset with the moneychangers that he physically threw them out of the temple. Why are we having so much trouble following that example?
#10 Wendy Cwiklinski on 2006-09-17 16:58
Archpriest Nehrebecki's "Reflection" posted on 9-18-6, displays great courage and provides a prescription that we must follow, ASAP. He indicates an AAC should be called for, in 2007.
If we all joined Fr. in this appeal, we may see an AAC held in 2007. Only then can all delegates to it, as well as our heirarchs, members of the MC, those in various administrative posts within the OCA, enact what must be done overall to solve all our problems. No other solution will reconcile our crisis.
The sole agenda of this AAC would be to focus on each and every facet of our Holy Church's operations. Then and only then, will we see a light at the end of our tunnel of problems. All business brought before this AAC should be unfettered and without being declared "out-of-order."
Every communicant of the OCA has a fiduciary responsibility to assure sound business affairs of our Holy Church, entrusted to us by our forefathers.
We, all of us, have a MORAL obligation as well, since we, the laity, along with our heirarchs and all priests, deacons, etc., make up the Body of Christ's Church on earth.
Blessed Theotokos Save Us !
#11 Nicholas Panko on 2006-09-18 09:21
IF WE WAIT UNTIL 2008 THE OCA WILL BE DEAD! LETS NOT PROLONG THIS AGONY! WE SHOULD HAVE AN" ALL AMERICAN COUNCL" THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2007! WHY SHOULD THAT BE SO HARD?
Love is indeed the goal of our lives. The love of God and the love of neighbor are the chief aim of those who would be like Christ. Fr. John it seems would give a pass to those who rule over us and place a blame on the masses. In this he misses the point. Those who are ruling are to be examples of holiness and godliness. By their faithfullness these leaders should be counted worthy of double honor (by the masses) in the Holy Church. Yet St. Paul has something to say about-what is observed in Syosset. St. Paul answers the question about what to do when those who rule over us are not doing it according to the pattern of Christ. That is what are we to do when holiness is not observed in the hierarchy. Firstly, St Paul says that no accusation can even be received against a Presbyter (and by extension to the arch-priests, and metropolitan) except by the testimony of two ar three witnesses. Yet we are dealing with more than two witnesses and accusations have mounted over time as summarized by Fr. Chris. Those who are sinning are to be rebuked publicly so that all of those who rule in the Church may fear. St. Paul goes on to say that this is a command and that it must be done without prejudice and partiality. There are in these words of Paul no room for a coverup, a quiet investigation, or an excuse that for the good of the people we should keep these things quite. Paul says different! I would respectfully ask that Fr John and the other clergy supportive of His position on the basis of Paul's Words in 1 Timothy 5:17f deliver to the Church a plan to: deal with the accusations against those who rule over our souls(not some perceived sin concerning the "masses"), The plan should actually rebuke the guilty in the presence of all for the good of the Church. Lastly, the plan should do this without prejudice or partially as the Apostle commands us to do. If those like Fr. John who what no assessment withheld can come up with a plan to actually deal with the problem and not make the Holy People of God the problem then Fr. Chris's suggestions might not seem so reasonable. Lastly, we can give double honor where there is faithfulness in our Metroplolitan's actions toward us. Where this sadly fails, then Paul's words are all we are left with, so that we can stop being diverted by those who rule over us, from learning to love.
#12 Fr. Andrew on 2006-09-18 10:25
A really helpful way to go for all of us in the OCA, Father John Memorich, would be to begin to rebuild the liturgical life of the Church by having weekly vespers and Saturday Vigils. So many parishes have reduced the liturgical life to Sunday Liturgy and an occasional Saturday Vesper service. No wonder we have a hard time dealing with this crisis. That said; I believe Father Chris is right in calling for withholding our Fair Share, perhaps putting the money in a designated account until the way is clear.
#13 Alice Carter on 2006-09-18 13:29
Father John must have had a revelation. A handful of years ago I was a council member in a parish questioning a bit of financial hide and seek by the rector. Fr John was called in by the rector, (Fr. John being our Dean) and we were read scripture for 90 minutes, telling us how bad we were for questioning our rector.
I've since fully forgiven my rector, the scandal and the same folks teaching him...how did he know financial accountability was expected by the membership?
It is high time for Herman to take the final step and bow out before he gets indicted. Im my opinion, we should put the OCA under temporary adminsitration of another Metropolitan, until a full criminal and forensic investigation can be completed. By selecting a new adminstration, I think we'll find that many of those folks knew but never said anything...which makes one equally guilty.....
Some priests now, in my opinion, are posturing a bit. They know changes are coming, so offering their opinions online or in public to get them some bit of respect. The same folks (in this case) supported wrong for so many years.
I would not be surprised if Fr. John is snooping for a job in the next iteration of the OCA adminsitration. He sure is saying the right things...but why didn't he step in years ago when folks asked for help and work with the clergy to come clean about a misappropriation of cash?
It's just keeps getting better and better.
Fact is...they still STOLE YOUR MONEY.
#14 Bob H. on 2006-09-18 15:02
Fr. John is NOT saying the right thing, unless you mean he is trying to curry favor with "the powers that be." Your illustration of Fr. John in action from the past shows where his heart lies.
#14.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-19 05:51
There is more than one Reflection posted by more than one "Fr. John." When writing, please, clarify your Fathers John for the rest of us.
#14.2 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2006-09-19 15:39
This is precisely why I prefer using surnames!
My comments, in response to Bob's, were meant to apply to Fr. Memorich. If Bob's info is incorrect I retract them.
#14.2.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-20 06:17
Get your facts straight. Fr John Memorich was never dean of anything. You're thinking of the wrong Fr. John.
#14.3 Fr Tom Mueller on 2006-09-20 00:55
Fr. John was the dean of the of the New Jersey Deanery until his retirement sir. I was thinking of the correct Fr. John.
#14.3.1 Bob H. on 2006-09-20 09:15
No doubt you know to which Fr. John you are referring, and I also happen to know (because I was there!), but it is still not clear to general readers of the forum whether you mean Fr. John Memorich or Fr. John Nehrebecki. Each has recently posted reflections.
#22.214.171.124 OCA_NJ on 2006-09-21 04:03
Fr. John Nehrebecki was the person I was referring to.
#126.96.36.199.1 Bob H on 2006-09-21 09:44
So...I'm at a loss.
However, looks like when a particular group was demanding accountability in the church, apparently we were not off base.
As I said initially, I harbor no issue at all with my rector in that situation. We was tought the ropes by folks who assumed they could never do any wrong. He never had a chance at making sure this never happened in his parish, he was given bad advice and mentoring, and acted according to how he was taught. I know by whats unfolded here, he knows better today.
We really miss not being part of our old parish, but given these circumstances I don't know how I could in good faith allow a thin dime of my money to go to Syossett until this is resolved. It's just throwing good money after bad. If it's not resolved soon, it could mean a great change in the existence of Orthodox Parishes in the US, as many are growing tired of empty promises. And not that I have an ounce of respect for Fr. Bob Kondratick, but its a crying shame they are painting Fr. Bob to take the fall for this.
#188.8.131.52.2 Bob H. on 2006-09-21 10:12
If it were as simple as stole your money Bob, that would be great because you could prosecute for that. It isn't clear at this point whether anything anyone did was criminal.
Mismanagement is not prosecutable, neither is overhopefulness. Fact is, the administration was hoping for a big cash drop to cover their mismanagement; it didn't happen. It still isn't quite that simple either.
The only way to deal with the mismanagement is by requiring the administration to behave responsibly and to not overestimate giving in the budgeting cycle. Only the Synod is an authoritative body in the OCA and it must be done by them. I don't care what the statutes say, the MC has p
The bequest line for 2006 is over 500k. I'm guessing it won't be met. Typically, what most organizations do is forecast against their budgets. For example, if bequests were only at 100k in a June compilation, the church would forecast down to 200k and then have to cut 300k out of the last 6 months of the budget. Not an easy thing to do my friend, but it must happen. The OCA probably doesn't like the concept of laying people off, even that isn't a free enterprise, not sure on the details, but most nonprofits self fund unemployment (means they pay it). So for all you know it alls out there, try managing that effectively. The only way is through borrowing and layoffs.
It is apparent Fr. Kondratick/Metropolitan Herman kept hoping for the big check, tried to keep the staff they had, and for way too long. Usually non-profits plan on attriting their staff when revenues/contributions come in too low; not sure what the OCA did in that regard, but I'm guessing they replaced attriting employees as well.
#15 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-09-19 07:02
..the MC has proved it has no authority...
#15.1 Daniel e. Fall on 2006-09-19 14:06
Of course mismanagement is prosecutable ... it is breach of fiduciary duty. It may or may not be criminal, but it is certainly prosecutable.
What the OCA has witnessed for two decades is, in my view, fraud. Fraud is defined in Websters as:
"a: intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right b : an act of deceiving or misrepresenting"
Which is what I call making appeals for victims and diverting funds to other uses. In this case, I believe the fraud is criminal in nature.
As a former CFO at a $30 million not for profit, I can categorically state that you do not plan for or budget bequests until the will is through probate. The accounting rules governing the recording of a bequest are complex, and the bequest is considered restricted, and funds unavailable for use until the will is probated. I'm afraid I'm not following your logic here. Perhaps you are confusing bequest, which is the disposition of property according to a will, with a donation or gift.
Also, there is no verb form listed in Websters for "attrit". I'm unsure what you are indicating should have occurred. Most businesses and organizations, regardless of for-profit or not-for-profit status, have to cut staff when income falls. Some do this through unpaid leave, some through reduction of hours, some through pay reductions, some through layoffs. I'm not sure what your comment means.
Devolution is still the answer, in my view. We do not need a "Syosset". Everything can be handled quite nicely at the diocesean level. Decentralization (Devolution) will provide for a much stronger internal control environment, as there will be less opportunity for collusion.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#15.2 Marty Watt on 2006-09-19 19:47
It has become harder and harder to take a constructive and positive view of things. It's not that I ever thought all was well with the administration. Indeed, for better or worse, I've always given a good deal of credence to the accusations. But I did think that constructive engagement and repentance and real change were possible and tried mightily to see the positive side in the mini-micro-steps that have been taken over the past 10 months.
I do believe that some people of genuine good will (such as Fr. Dcn. Peter) are engaged in efforts to improve things. But increasingly I fear that their good will is abused, that no real change is intended, and that, sadly, key people simply cannot "get it" that this isn't something they can put a lid on or control or get past unless they really *change*.
The interview with Metropolitan Herman was depressing.
If they haven't woken up yet, will anything wake them up? The time is passing. They seem constitutionally unable to come clean, admit error, and set out on a genuinely new path. They act for "the good of the church" but understand that strictly as preserving the status quo at all costs.
Change is terrifying, but sometimes the alternative is death. Repentance is terrifying, but the alternative is damnation.
I'd love to think that widespread withholding of assessments would make a difference (although until recently I opposed such withholding), but I'm not sure I believe it could make a difference.
True leadership, true faith, true humility can make a difference ... but where is that going to come from????
#16 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-09-19 11:10
To Father Christopher's reflections- AMEN.
During the early part of World War I scandal came to the great Church of Russia - aided and abetted by the royal house. But, within a month after Nicholas II abdicated, all but one member of the Synod of Bishops were replaced to form a new, untainted Synod. And those clergy of the Rasputin party were made to resigned or were retired. Fortunately Russia then could call upon a large number of capable candidates for the new Synod. We, unfortunately, are not so blessed. But, I sure that there are capable candidates among our unmarried clergy.
We should now prepare immediately for the All American Council that must be held within the year. The clergy and faithful of Russia only needed six months to convene the ill-fated council of 1917.
#17 William Kosar on 2006-09-19 17:18
The groundwork for the "ill-fated Council of 1917" began in 1903, believe it or not.
#17.1 Gregory Orloff on 2006-09-20 13:26
With all due respect to Fr. John Memorich, his reflection is ridiculous. It is this kind of staunch absurd allegiance to the hierarchy that has caused this calamity. This insistence that you must be 100% committed to the ideas and opinions of your hierarchs or somehow you are not faithful to the church is awful.
Fr. John just as a reminder, the body of Christ is made up not just of the hierarchy. Yes, priests, deacons, subdeacons, readers, chanters, choir members, parish wardens, parishioners, they too have a voice. They are members of the body of Christ, they are not just the living checkbooks that pay the bills for the church. Their voices count just as much as any bishop. It is incredibly painful to read statements like yours. Let's stop all the religious hyperbole .... and get down to the truth.
The truth is that many thousands of dollars were stolen from hardworking Orthodox Christians who made contributions with their faith in the hierarchy of the OCA that they would be good stewards of these contributions and use them for their intended purposes. Another fact, the money was squandered and not used for its intended purposes. Another fact, the OCA is now going into hock to "fix" the problem. Another fact, not one of the hierarchs of the OCA has ever stepped forward to even acknowledge the truths I have just mentioned. There have now been numerous veiled remarks like, "we're beginning best practices," or "we've started a new committee." Come on, this is a joke, this is not standing up and admitting the mistakes.
When Jesus Christ went to the money changers at the temple he didn't mince words. When He met the Samaritan woman at the well He didn't mince words. Is it just too much to ask that even one bishop step forth and simply acknowledge the truth and stop hiding behind empty words like, "Obedience," "loyalty," and "faithfulness." When has it ever been disobdient, disloyal or unfaithful to say the truth in love?
Once again, I would just like to see even one bishop come out and tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Lord, have mercy!
#18 Fr. Michael on 2006-09-19 18:19
Dear Fr. Michael,
AMEN to your above comments. I would add but one thing. The money was not stolen from the hard working Orthodox Christians after-all, they gave it away. It was stolen from the most vulnerable victims of terrorism, orphans, and others in desperate need. When it is done unto them it is done unto Christ! Those responsible have stolen from God! The faithful who gave these funds heard the Word of Christ and made sacrifice. Some of those placed over us did not heed this Word of Christ and committed acts of self-love and self-indulgence while others watched and thereby gave their passive approval. This and this alone is the sole reason that the faithful and those who stole and/or misappropriated are now in a head on collision. At issue is Christ! You have it right Fr. Michael, Fr. Chris W. has it right unfortunately there are not a few like Fr. John M. who see this as a matter of obedience albeit blind obedience. I am not sure if they see Christ being abused by these actions of some in Syosset. God have mercy on us.
#18.1 fr. Andrew on 2006-09-20 06:38
Just as parents set examples for their children, so do the heirarchs and clergy of the church. The lies and deceptions we have endured are an indication that these are not good examples to follow. The continuing distortions and side-stepping tell me it is my moral obligation to remove myself from this atmosphere.
The time is approaching to read scripture and pray at home where I can shelter myself from immoral behavior.
#19 withhold by request on 2006-09-19 18:24
I am a parishoner at Holy Trinity in Clayton. That being said, these two reflections are very interesting to read. Prior to Fr. Chris, Fr. John Memorich was our priest and several years prior to that, Fr. John's beloved mentor Fr. Karp Pateyuk. I am too young to remember Fr. Karp, but I know Fr. John and Fr. Chris and have great respect and admiration for them both.
Our small parish took the news of this scandal very hard. My immediate reaction was "at least it is a financial issue, nothing worse". In my heart, I truly believed that the leadership of the OCA would promptly right the ship by coming clean with the truth in order to restore faith in the church. I was wrong.
In Mid-August, I sent an email to Fr. Chris and my fellow council members after reading Archbishop Job's letter that was sent out days earlier. In my email, I voiced my concerns over how this whole scandal was (or wasn't) being handled at the very top level. I went on to question whether my sending assessments to the OCA is a misappropriation of our parish's funds (I am Treasurer). After that, our council had a meeting to draw up and approve the resolutions that have now been published on this web site. Let it be known publicly that Fr. Chris does not speak only for himself. We as a council, voted by our fellow parishoners, authored and unanimously approved the resolutions- not just Fr. Chris. The rest of us in Wisconsin are perfectly capable of forming our own opinions (I'm sure Fr. John remembers well!). None of us want division in the church. None of us want to withold assessment. At the same time, none of us feel we should have to be talking about this in the first place.
I am not a "crazed parishoner" nor am I Christ-like. I am a sinner, just like all of you reading this, all of those who have submitted reflections/responses on this web site, and all those involved in the scandal. I fully recognize that this is not a 'business-world" issue. This is an issue of how our church is led by example.
Fr. John, you ask us all to lead by example. Our parish's resolutions are simply asking our own Metropolitan and Metropolitan Council do the same. I truly believe you hit the nail on the head when you wrote the following:
"However, from this moment onward, whether we choose to grow out of this stage, or simply succumb to its withering affects, will ultimately depend on how humble, how prayerful, how forgiving, how compassionate, how merciful, and how God-like we, as a Church, can be."
Our humbleness, forgiveness, compassion, and mercy are alive and well in the intent of our resolutions. Our prayer is present each and every day that this matter will be resolved. We strive to live a Christ-like life with all of our brothers and sisters in faith. We have faith that through God, we will again be a unified church.
#20 Dennis Fall on 2006-09-19 21:39
Thank you for your kind words and for reading my reflection in a correct light. What I wrote was simply an "even-handed, bi-partisan" reflection about the necessity of love, unity, and forgiveness amidst this crisis. I was not currying favor with any particular faction, nor was I campaigning for any higher position other than the simple parish priest I am now.
Unfortunately I have come to find that many on this list have not been so generous in their comments as you and have disregarded my humble reflection as being "utterly rediculous."
To any one who devines Holy Scripture, this attitude is sad.
It was not my intent that Mr. Stokoe withhold publication of my reflection until Fr. Christopher Wojik could write one also. To my eyes, this made it seem as if we were being paired off to "spar" against each other, which was not the case.
Though I thought it rather humorous that so much confusion ensued over which "Fr. John" was who, and that I "was" a dean, then "wasn't," then "was to!," and then "...he's never been the dean of nothing!", I was also quite saddened that my words aimed at love, unity, and forgiveness have fallen on such deaf ears; and the worse, were seemingly devoured in a most ravenous fashion.
Fr. John (Memorich)
#20.1 Fr. John Memorich on 2006-09-23 09:48
Dear Fr. John:
On the contrary, Fr. Wojick's reflection preceeded yours by several days. It was his that I withheld from publication, as I dislike posting too many reflections lest they be lost... However, yours arrived just as I was to post Fr. Wojciks - so I took the opportunity to publish both together to highlight the opposite viewpoints. It is serendepity, from my viewpoint, rather than an attempt to diminish your contribution, which I sincerely appreciated.
With all best wishes,
#20.1.1 Editor on 2006-09-23 11:48
There seems to be a lot of confusion over what constitutes Christian love. I have seen this matter bantered about endlessly on these forums. To me, one of the most loving acts a person can perform is to be perfectly honest and truthful. The light of truth exposes the works of darkness, but also invites the wrath of the enemy. When the messengers of truth are attacked for speaking the truth, we can be sure the accusers are hiding something. I cannot for the life of me see how one can love another person by overlooking and excusing their sins. Where there is no repentance, there can be no forgiveness or mercy. First the person needs to repent, but the mercy of Christ can forgive, heal and restore. The very people who preach that we must repent, need to repent themselves. It is difficult for the Church to maintain a position of moral and spiritual superiority, if our leaders are unrepentant. In fact, I see no humility at all coming from the top- just carefully worded rationalizations. I see dictatorial and totalitarian tendencies practiced at the highest level, leaving limited freedom for good priests and laity to speak the truth without fear of retaliation. This is not good, no, not good at all. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. How can we fulfill the Great Commission, when our leadership is entangled in schemes to conceal wrongdoing and apply band aids to gaping wounds? Lord have mercy upon us.
#21 Rich on 2006-09-20 11:25
I don't know GAAP for bequests and I have been intertwining contributions and bequests in my dialogue here. I bet the OCA has as well, especially in the budgeting cycle. Marty, I'd recommend you use the gifts you have and check the 2006 budget and ask Dn. Peter if the bequest line has been pledged or if it was estimated in the budget cycle. It might help them meet GAAP better.
Attrition is just reduction in staffing through terminations. My point is salaries are the greatest budget buck in the OCA. If you need to cut, there is one place you would first.
Bishop Tikhon cited a 2002 financial statement (in accountant's language) that clearly stated Temporarily Restricted Funds had been misappropriated way back in 2001. I've referenced this a lot because it tells a lot.
I have a question for my cousin, who eloquently posted here recently. Why would we call for the resignation of the Metropolitan and not the resignation of Alice Woog? If the administration hadn't provided her with financial reports since 2001, what stopped her from telling all the churches she represents of this gap? She needed no whistleblower protections. If they had given her statements, why didn't she report the problems back to us like Tikhon did on this website? It doesn't make sense to me, not one bit.
Our MC reps should have all been talking to us. The only way they wouldn't have is if the compilations were flat out false. If this is the case, what compilation would Metropolitan Herman have seen that wasn't false?
The only other option I can see is pure incompetence and not understanding the language of "temporarily restricted funds" in a compilation report by all of them.
So, as a professional accountant, under every scenario I can draw, if you call for the Metropolitan to resign, you must call for all of them, from MC to Synod, anything less is irresponsible. Trouble is, its a lot to ask for, but it would be the only right thing.
Our MC representative has never addressed the churches she represents. She has never told us anything, never indicated one problem. No letter, no copies of financials, just nothing.
My apologies to my cousins in Clayton, I just can't do the same math they are doing, and Fr. Wojcik's letter supports my thinking, but not the resolutions they passed.
#22 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-09-20 12:30
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