Sunday, October 1. 2006
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The Council is about 5 years behind in "finding its voice". No offense intended, but these are the people that should be reporting problems to us, not the Metropolitan in a pastoral letter or even Mark's website.
It is encouraging to see them move towards a take charge role.
For a critique of the writeup of the meeting, it is almost reprehensible to think they are now reviewing the 2006 budget.
Typical accounting procedures would not allow this as it is frankly too late. Formalized budgets that are presented to third parties (the website) are not typically 'reviewable'.
Normal accounting procedures would require the administration to bring foreward a forecast for the balance of the year after new information is learned. Not sure if this is a verbage issue or a competancy problem with the MC, but the MC is offbase in this request. It should be demanding a forecast for the 4th quarter at this point that forecast would be late in about 2 weeks. Forecasts reflect the prior months compilations (incomplete), plus future plans. Forecasts are compared to budgets are compared to actual results to see if the administration is meeting its plans for growth, stagnation, shrinkage, etc.
The other thing the MC didn't demand is a compilation report versus budget. A first quarter and second quarter 2006 report are objectively late. The administration had intended a midyear 2nd quarter compilation. A 2nd quarter compilation would typically be worst case delivered about July 31 against a June 30 period end date, so the objective measure is that this compilation would be about 2 full months late today. Also, not sure why a compilation report isn't acceptable. If they mean a third party review is required, etc., I'd understand, but the language again here was confusing. A midyear review is an unusual request, unless it is merited by late reporting, but that was not stated.
Just my objective perspectives for anyone interested. I am frankly still concerned our MC representatives lack the competancies to really support the administration, and the implementation of Best Practices through these issues. This is a tough thing for me to say, but they need tough words from my perspective.
A word to the MC members. Get some accounting people to support you now that are not associated with the administration.
I have one further comment. I'd like to support the previous comment from Fr. Bart Wojcik regarding the transfer of Fr. Kondratick to a different parish. This is a troubling decision by Metropolitan Herman. It has been made clear that a failed 2004 audit is due to the lack of paper and people watched this man shredding documents. I'm more than disappointed the Metropolitan didn't take a different action like suspension with pay, or flat out termination. Actions like these from our Metropolitan have me leaning to support things like resignation requests from parishes. There is something far worse than a resignation request. Boycotts.
In the absence of any other power and a Synod that can agree on tomato soup for lunch, this seems the only solution.
One other question. How do you ask for the resignation and still pray for the guy in Liturgy? And truly, how is this not an oxymoron?
#1 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-10-01 12:21
".. ask for the resignation and still pray for.... oxymoron"
I look at it this way; in the service you salute the rank not the person. Ideally the superior should be both worthy of the rank and the respect.
Here is an additional concern, does the state of grace of the priest factor in to the sacramental duties? "I baptize... I absolve... " yes this "I" is spoken in Christ's name, and the gift of Faith brings us to the sacraments. Considering the shenanigans of 'what did they know, when, and how long" while it doesn't shake my Faith, it does make me wonder -- and oxymoron raises it's head again.
#1.1 J. Murray on 2006-10-02 09:38
One can pray for those complicit in the criminal actions over the past 20 years in our daily prayer under "those who have left the Orthodox Faith and have been blinded by devastating heresies, reuniting them toThy Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" That's where I pray for the Metropolitan and all those clergy who have participated in and are still in denial about their complicity in this truly evil situation.
#2 Alice Carter on 2006-10-01 14:43
On the OCA website, there are some pictures of the Metropolitan Council. Could someone post a "who's who?" of those pictures? It would be nice to put faces with the names.
#3 Christopher Eager on 2006-10-01 16:24
I'm glad the MC is finally doing better. I don't understand why they didn't just didn't go ahead and apoint the planning comittee for the next AAC. As far as I am concerned the Holy Synod's decision to postpone the AAC was a non-decision. They didn't have the authority to make that decision, therefore the AAC was not postponed. The MC should just act like we are having an AAC according to schedule.
I wish I knew how each member voted in that 10-6-1 split. (I hope my remaining MC member was among the 10.) We have to elect these people. We should know how they each individualy vote in those meetings.
And one more thing, why don't we have a "Holy" Metropolitan Council? I'm sure the MC members are as holy or unholy as the Holy Synod members. I think we need to ammend the Statute to make the MC holy, too. Calling the Holy Synod holy but not calling the MC holy give the bishops a psychological advantage they should not have. Christ has made everything holy. Didn't he? Isn't everything in and of the Church holy?
#4 Matt Karnes of Holy Trinity Cathedral, San Francisco on 2006-10-01 22:06
Do a little research. According to the Statute, the Holy Synod may change the date of the All America Council (Article III, Section 3) and the Holy Synod appoints the Pre-conciliar Commission upon nomination of the Metropolitan Council (Article III, Section 5).
As far as the term "holy" goes, wouldn't it be more honest not to call the Synod "holy" right now?
#4.1 Jack Miller on 2006-10-02 06:05
Your research is significantly flawed.
The pertinent part of Article III Section 3 reads: "The time and place of the meeting may, for urgent reasons, be changed by action of the Metropolitan Council with the approval of the Holy Synod." This is pretty straightforward. Only the MC can change the time and place of an AAC; the Holy Synod only has the power of veto of the MC action.
Likewise, Article III Section 5 begins: "At least one year prior to the next All-American Council, upon nomination by the Metropolitan Council, the Holy Synod shall appoint a Pre-Conciliar Commission ... ." Again it is clear that it is the MC that nominates the Pre-Conciliar Commission; the Holy Synod can only act on the MC nominations. It may be open to interpretation, but the most straightforward interpretation would be that the Holy Synod could not appoint someone not nominated by the MC.
In any event, your comment is very misleading and does not correspond to what the Statute actually says.
#4.1.1 Thomas Hamrick on 2006-10-03 07:14
I had no intention to mislead or misinform. I do agree that the Statute places the burden for action on the MC. But the Synod by veto may effectively over turn any action. In effect, that has happened in the delay of the council.
But the MC has the responsibility to set the date for a new AAC and seek approval from the Holy Synod, (once more).
In the long run, in a hierarchical church, the hierarchs can hold up anything. And without their approval, the MC can do little but resubmit their proposal(s).
#18.104.22.168 Jack Miller on 2006-10-04 07:56
Here's some more background on my answer in the Q&A on "applicability of Best Practices to all church organizations in varying degrees of emphasis and detail". My belief is that, at the end of the day, each organization governing board, diocesan council, parish council will need to clearly assess their own situation, adopt "best practices" that they can really call their own, and implement them with all the energy, commitment, dedication and resolve that they can muster. In my opinion, it is dangerous to have a "blanket" set of Best Practices, no matter how well constructed they are, that are considered "100% verbatim adoptable" by any and all organizations. Each board and council must carefully and deliberately review each clause and say "that works for us" or "that doesn't work for us" and justify each step of the way to themselves why they want this and don't want that. [My prejudice of course is that they really need to work hard to say why they don't want that particular clause. For example, I would have a very hard time understanding why any church organization with significant revenues, say above $250,000 annually, would not adopt annual external independent audits - as recommended in the Best Practices.] This kind of intensive and conscious process will help to ensure that their Best Practices are really implemented, rather than just "getting their card punched" by everyone voting "Yes" without in-depth consideration and commitment. That's why the Best Practices were offered well in advance to the OCA MC for pre-review, consideration of comments and then final review again well in advance. I've seen too many times people accepting the "corporate line" without having the freedom and responsibility to adapt to local and valid circumstances -- and the end becomes worse than the beginning because it becomes just a "piece of paper" and "ownership" is not there.
Hope that this clarifies it a bit better.
In Christ, Deacon Peter
#5 Protodeacon Peter Danilchick on 2006-10-02 06:57
Did I read this right?!?
"The administration seemed in no hurry to reimburse the charity and special appeal funds from which the monies had been diverted. Fr. Kucynda stated as the crises were past, there was no 'urgent' need for the monies to be disbursed within the 90-day time frame mentioned in the court filing."
WHAT?!? There is still terrible devastation in the hurricane-hit regions. Our missions still need money. Seminarians are still living on food stamps. Beslan victims are still in desperate need of medical care. But the administration wants to sit on the money even longer?
What is going on out there?
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#6 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2006-10-02 08:26
""Mr. Stephen Lamos, accountant from Lambrides, Lamos and Malthrop, handed out a financial compilation report, saying that there are no receipts from which to do full audits for 2004-5. It was asked why banks and credit card companies could not pull such records to help fill in the gaps. There was no response other than Syosset does not have access to these records."
Oh, come on! What a load of garbage! You call the bank and the credit card company, and they send you past statements. I know for a fact that you can go back at least 3 years. And I'd be real interested to learn how early on in the process the auditors told Syosset that an audit could not be accomplished for lack of records. We were told six months ago that the auditor's would have a report. It sure seems like we were being fed a line.
And now it appears that the MC has still not been given any financial data for 2006. What is going on here? Ten years ago the Diocese of the Midwest gave Syosset $30,000 to purchase an accounting system. Whatever happened with that? If it's not functional anymore, tell us.
And now that they have the cash, there's no plan to pay back the appeals that collections were diverted from? How absolutely and utterly disgusting! I would be ashamed to even say this.
#7 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-10-02 08:29
The reason they do not have access to the credit card statements is that they were personal cards. I recall Protodeacon Wheeler indicating Fr. Kondratick's was a platinum American Express.
We should have access to bank accounts and bank statements, however. To say we don't have access is hogwash -- unless, of course, the discretionary accounts are still, inexplicably, off-limits to anyone but the Metropolitan personally.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#7.1 Marty Watt on 2006-10-02 12:56
Banks only keep records of this nature for 7 years. The time frame the Church is seeking these records for has unfortunately passed this 7 year time frame. Therefore, we must go on with the notion that no records exist.
That being the case, what don't people understand about the statement, "records do not exist". If they don't exist, then what is the next step?
How convenient for the culprits that records no longer exist. Why don't the MC and the Holy Synod ask the former chancellor what happened to all these records?
He had absolute control over everything. Do you mean to tell me he has no clue what happened to these? Should we just believe + Tikhon of the West when he said, the "former chancellor was not the book keeper?" I don't.
That thinking is an insult to everyone's intelligence.
Here's a thought. Perhaps the OCA should ask those 2 clowns in Las Vagas what happened to all of these records?
#7.2 Michael Geeza on 2006-10-03 10:21
But, Michael, some of what we're talking about, certainly what the lesser synod was talking about, is audits for the last four years.
#7.2.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-10-04 11:05
Where does one start? Perhaps Sunday's Gospel is the best place as Christ calls on each of us today to love one another, to do good to those who seek to harm us.
It is sad and distressing and even beyond this to read some of the commentaries being made. We hear Hierarchs, priests and laity talked about with unkind words, with derogatory remarks. Those who do such seem to ignore that the persons of whom they speak have dedicated themselves and their entire lives to the Church. Yes, even the most sincere and the most honest can make mistakes. Yes, even those who do can work to correct them.
This is the Holy Orthodox Church of which we speak. Are there some who have such hostility toward the Church and her leaders that they choose to speak the way they do? Reading some comments, one would think that some do, and that what some may be addressing is there disatisfaction with more than the problems of today upon which they now focus.
Each of us must examine our own lives. Each of us must determine what we can do as followers of Christ to be positive, loving, and forgiving. No, not to ignore problems, but to see that they are corrected and that we all can move forward together in a Christian spirit, in the world but not of it, functioning through God's Grace as best we can.
This is not a company, business or some other simply earthly institution. This is the Church of which we speak and to which we belong. Let our words, thoughts, deeds and attitude reflect this and let us truly love one another as Christ loves us.
#8 Archpriest William DuBovik on 2006-10-02 09:24
The bank loan has closed, but there is no urgency in Syosset for the repayment of funds that were raided for years? I am glad that the MC insisted on immediate disbursement of these funds. Let us pray that happens.
My husband and I changed our giving patterns a few years ago. Aside from paying our assessment to the OCA, we give directly to the parishes we attend and wish to support, as well as directly to Orthodox charitable institutions, including monasteries, OCMC and IOCC. I have no confidence that moneys we might donate to centralized appeals will go where they should. There is still no transparency regarding the financial situation over the past number of years or what is going on today. So many donated to appeals – and where did that money go? We’re still waiting for answers. I totally disagree with calls to stop giving to your local parish. We need to support our parish priest (and his family), and continue to support our mission – the witness of Christ to the world.
I see little change in the administration of the OCA, unfortunately. Fr. Kondratick is no longer Chancellor, but little has changed. How very, very sad. (I agree that the Martin Street property should be sold – as soon as possible.)
The underlying problem is a spiritual problem, one that has developed over the years. I know dedicated priests who are good shepherds of their flock. Hopefully you are one of them or your parish priest is. Others are lost, perhaps in need of pastoral care and guidance themselves (and not getting it), or just clocking their time to retirement (as someone recently posted), or in various ways neglecting their flocks. And hierarchs? Is your hierarch a good shepherd of his flock? God bless you and your hierarch if that is so. Many are not.
I agree that an AAC should be convened in 2008 (if not sooner). I am glad the MC is acting on this, per our statute. There are very great issues to be discussed – in an open way, guided by the Holy Spirit, no longer fettered by a spirit of repression and authoritarianism. Of course, I agree that the venue should be as simple as possible to keep costs down.
I was hoping and praying to see more change, more openness from our church’s administration in the many months since serious problems were made known, since OCANEWS came on line, since some members of our MC began to act and speak out. I continue to pray.
O Lord, save Thy people!
The Metropolitan has been in office for more than four years.
The Acting Treasurer has been acting for more than a year.
They are still in control as in the past.
You can talk as much as you want to about best practices and talk is very cheap, but what are they doing!!!!!!!
#9.1 Anonymous on 2006-10-02 12:57
To think that the administration wouldn't be eager to work out disbursement plans for sacked charities is really sad. I hope that Fr. Paul realizes in order for the OCA to become a charity of choice for any of us, this is not an acceptable attitude or option.
How disappointing that an accountant from St. Paul and a priest from Clayton even feel the need to express themselves on the matter.
If the OCA wanted to do one thing right, they'd immediately put someone like Fr. Chris Wojcik in charge of charitable disbursements if they can't handle it in a timely fashion.
You'd all be sure of one thing, every plug nickel would go to the needy and every plug nickel would have paper behind it. This kind of radical change would be the quickest way to return the OCA to credibility on the matter of special appeals.
I don't support all the things Fr. Chris has said, but if the OCA can't handle timely, charitable giving in NY, outsourcing it to him would be a golden plan.
When will they behave in a fashion that no longer requires my concern?
#10 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-10-02 15:55
I was encouraged to read the news that the Metropolitan Council has taken the bull by the horns and has become more actively involved in the adminstration's legal and financial affairs (particularly with respect to the Proskauer Rose investigation).
To the Metropolitan Council members who had the courage to speak up with conviction -- thank you! My prayers are with you. While it is disappointing that you will need to wait another month to get some answers from your attorneys, the upside is that you have time be well prepared for the meeting.
#11 Robert Vasilios Wachter, Esq. on 2006-10-02 20:32
To the members of the MC ,offered publically for comment from other posters:
Why don't you take charge and fire the auditors and hire your own? You know it is ludicrous to say after how many months, "There are no receipts so the audits have been cancelled." These records can be gotton from the bank. You know that. Keeping pressure on the auditors or the law firm hired by Met. Herman to keep the Central Administration out of legal trouble...let's be honest here....is not working.
Please take charge of this situation or resign and let someone else do it. Please don't continue in the path that got us here. You say you didn't know what was going on, that you trusted. I believe you. But you know now. You CAN'T let someone say, "There are no records so the audits have been cancelled."
We are past the time of "talk" and "pressure". Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the foxes are guarding the henhouse. Do you expect for a minute that you can pressure them by vote to stop being foxes?
And those of you who are priests, remember Who you work for.
#12 Linda Weir on 2006-10-03 10:06
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