Wednesday, October 4. 2006
Your comments on withholding, the next All-American Council, the way forward, and the role of the Midwest Diocesan Assembly, indeed all the upcoming assemblies, are welcome.
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"The tribe has spoken". As in the reality show Survivor, its time for MH and his henchmen to put out thier torches and depart the island.
The dissent has begun. Now that one diocese has spoken up, expect more to follow suit. As I said in an earlier posting, remove the fuel from the fire (in this case money), you render the thieves helpless. Excuses will not pay the bills and salaries associated with the central church.
I further ask, what good is it being part of a central church in this state anyway? Parish health I would assume is generally fine. Unless you are a mission parish receiveing aid, you can continue to operate without thier input and guidance until such time as this is resolved or whatever the outcome.
I look at this as the people have spoken, and they've had enough of the games, excuses. The OCA administration has a definitive timetable to act; if they do not deliver, it can spell yet another mini-schism within Orthodoxy which could spell certain death for the OCA as it sits today. If MH and the boys don't heed this warning and start to act...they'll be relegated to the role of Captains of a sinking ship.
I congratulate the parishes with the steadfastness and dedication to all things that are right and demanding that this be over. Stay the course good people...resolution is in sight.
#1 Bob H. on 2006-10-04 14:33
Power to the Peasants!
#2 Anne A. Nemos on 2006-10-04 16:24
I read all the resolutions and strongly advocate and support for the St. Paul the Apostle church resolution in Dayton, Ohio, as long as reasonableness and prudence rule. In my humble opinion, this was the best resolution brought forward by leaps and bounds. I would also like to strongly advocate and support for the St. Mary's Cathedral resolutions as I was disappointed [independently] we didn't have more time to discuss or bring forward resolutions, although we have a meeting with our delegate after Vespers this week which may suffice. Our church, though, may have had time to support another resolution, for example. Hopefully, our delegate will.
I'm not familiar with a few of the issues and abstain from commenting on matters brought forward by Fr. Bart Wojcik regarding world councils, etc.
I have one additional comment. I'd like for Bishop Job to report what, if any, financial information he received or was involved with in Syosset during this period. I have been giving him equivalent credit and although he has solemnly asked forgiveness, I don't think it is right for me to group him with everyone else if he truly wasn't given financial information. For that matter, it seems fair that we get a report of who knew what when, otherwise I'll stand by they are all equally responsible and I refuse to support the calls for resignation. Hopefully a few of the people that I have been tough on read this part of my posting.
I also support any churches calling for following the statutes, especially the nominating committee at the assembly re: term limits.
Finally, I do not support an independent panel of Bishops evaluating anything unless qualified, critical thinking laity are on that panel and given equal weight. Our Bishops have not done their diligence for years, we can't give them carte blanche today. I also do not support any resolution calling for the resignation of the Metropolitan. I believe he must be the advocate for change and I believe he can be held to the same standard any leader of any other church is held to.
I would have liked another resolution, that the MC representative provide a quarterly health report on the national churches financial condition, perhaps forever. The audience should be the electing delegates and Bishop, or someone that could force the delegate to resign if that responsibility weren't met.
#3 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-10-04 17:03
Daniel, I hve absolutely no idea what you stand for or against. Your post is very confusing. The only clear message is that you refuse to support calls for the resignation of MH. You see him as an "advocate for change" yet you do not say how someone who has resisted all change can be a leader for change. Leadership in this whole horrible mess has been shown by Bishop Job, not the Metropolitan, who has had several years to inaugurate desperately needed changes. I support the movement to withhold all money from Syosset. They have 1.7 million right now so they won't be hurting for a while. And have the designated accounts been repaid? No.
#3.1 Alice Carter on 2006-10-04 17:55
When will the designated accounts be repaid?
What happens if they steal/lose/misplace the money again, and the accounts are not paid?
Can they be prosecuted if they don't meet the 90 day
#3.1.1 Tania on 2006-10-04 23:19
Alice. I'm crystal clear on my positions, they require no restatement.
And Alice, sorry, but Bishop Job has fallen desperately short of leadership and he has stated as much so I ought need repeat it. Leadership isn't asking a question like, "Are the allegations true or false?". Leadership would have been Abp. Job in 2001 telling all his churches that Syosset had misappropriated to cover operating costs, then again in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005. Didn't happen. Frankly, I don't see a great leader in the bunch. The best thing so far that has happened has been bringing Dn. Peter on board for some professional advice that by my read is close to unbias.
I will grant you that Abp. Job has at least been pushing in the right direction more than any other.
Fr. Thaddeus Wojcik and I are on a very good par on this entire subject matter. I don't believe there is a whole lot of competancy re: financial matters in the entire group that meets in Syosset, but a lot of hopefulness that a ship will come in someday, and that doesn't equal 1.7M in a loan, although it may seem that way to them and that is a grave concern.
I also didn't say MH has advocated for change, he in fact is getting a pretty low grade from me thus far (sorry I feel the need to grade him), but could quickly change that. I said he must advocate for change and he must be held to a fair standard by all of us. He is not imfallible, let's not expect him to be either. I thought that went out with the great schism.
Further, the entire Synod needs to sit or stand in support of our Metropolitan. Until that happens, the people will continue to feel the need to speak and I'd rather not.
#3.1.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-10-05 21:40
OTHER CHANGES TO CONSIDER PURSUING:
1. Require public quarterly financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP.
2. Add a permanent standing Corporate Governance/Legal Compliance Committee to the MC comprising lawyers (at least 4) and which would, going forward, among other appropriate matters: assure the MC and its committees and the Metropolitan and the Synod that their actions (and omissions) in their capacity as representatives of the OCA as a legal entity are in compliance with the OCA statues and applicable laws; be charged with officially liaising with outside legal counsel and assist in selecting (including regularly changing) outside legal counsel; and have responsibility and authority for other enumerated legal matters. The corporate secretary of the MC would be chosen from the members of this committee as would a co-chair of the MC having chair responsibilities over matters non-canonical. Each such Governance Committee members would need to be in communion and otherwise in "good standing" with her or his local parish community. A self-deprecating sense of humor would help but not be required.
#4 Thaddeus Wojcik on 2006-10-04 18:08
Great point about legal counsel for the Metropolian Council, and you could expand it to all of the central administration.
Much of what is put forth publicly by Syosset insiders as the law seems inaccurate to me, and I wonder where they're getting it. For instance, Father John Dresko's recent reflection contained an assumption concerning the common law crime - and tort - of conversion by bailee, the central offense in Syosset's conversion of dedicated funds, which was clearly at odds with the way I learned the topic way back when.
Things could be different in New York, or my memory may have failed me again, but I recall that in this sort of offense, whether or not the converted funds are used to benefit the converter is irrelevant. The offense is complete when the trust of the owner/donor is violated, whether the converter derives any personal benefit or not.
Let's say someone embezzles - and embezzlements are real similar to conversions by bailees - $100 from his employer. State law can vary, but under the common law it makes no difference whether the converter used the money to take himself out for a nice dinner or donated the money to the Salvation Army. The offense was complete when he violated his employer's trust.
The tax code is different. Since taxes are owed on income - an economic benefit, no tax is owed on converted funds unless an economic benefit inures to the converter.
But, not so the common law, not so. The central issue is the violation of trust, not economic benefit.
Which reminds me of a non-economic benefit I'd like to mention. Apparently some of you Midwesterners have not yet migrated to the West Coast, and you are about to have an assembly in Palatine, Illinois. In the adjoining suburb of Arlington Heights, at the southeast corner of Euclid Avenue and Northwest Highway, there was a small eatery named Jimmy's Place which used to have the best hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches on this planet. I think Jimmy's is still there; and, if one of you would test their fare and report back your conclusions, I would be appreciative.
#4.1 Mark Warns, Arlington High School, 1968 on 2006-10-06 00:17
Jimmy's is indeed still there, although even after 10 years as an AH resident I still haven't dined there. But I will in the near future and report back to you.
Btw, the old Arlington High School was closed some time ago and is now Liberty Christian Academy.
Mike Strelka, Maine South, 1969
p.s. the law of bailor and bailee is the same in every state
#4.1.1 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-10-07 18:23
If our diocese withholds next year’s financial support from Syosset, I would like the money (otherwise collected) to stay with our parishes. I am sure they will use the money wisely. Each year, the diocesan can reconsider its decision.
#5 Samuel Osman on 2006-10-04 20:16
To look at the OCA website as I have done every day since the Metropolitan Council met last week, one would have no idea that the meeting ever took place outside of 4 photos!
This is not how innocent people, trying to get to the bottom thing act. This silence is DEAFENING!
As a parishioner in the Diocese of the Midwest, I am grateful for Archbishop Job and our sister parishes who have bravely stepped forward to say STOP, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
While I humbly view the withholding of Fair Share assessments as a last resort, I can honestly see no other way
to get the attention of the central Church administration.
They ignored Father Hopko, seventy senior priests, Archbishop Job, concerned and principled laity, the OCA statute and the Metropolitan Council and most sadly of all the Gospels.
What else is left in the arsenal of the laity, except to choke the cancer financially?
May God have mercy on us all!
Barry A. Sabol
St Nicholas Orthodox Church
#6 Barry A. Sabol on 2006-10-05 04:20
I’m going to come to some radical conclusions. I realize you may not agree with me.
The upcoming Assembly for the Diocese of the Midwest represents the OCA’s last chance to fix the problem itself, before someone does it for the OCA, which would come through the action of law enforcement or God just deciding to end the stupidity and let the OCA fall into oblivion at terminal velocity.
The mechanism for correction needed, right here and right now, is for the Diocese of the Midwest to pass a resolution that chokes off all cash to central administration, and the courage to follow through on it, regardless of the threats, bullying, or retaliation that are sure to follow such an act.
Oh, and before you tell me that any possible retaliatory action from central administration would be uncanonical, against the OCA statute, illegal, or immoral, let me ask you – when has that stopped the Cast of Suspects before?
By the way, I see there is at least one resolution calling for Metropolitan HERMAN's resignation. I assure you, if that resolution passes, but a resolution to withhold funds fails, there will be no effect other than that central administration will waste NO time in retaliating.
Palatine, Illinois on October 10 is the last stop for the OCA self-repair train. After that, a truly unforeseen miracle will be needed to save the OCA, because that’s the only thing that will.
…then again, maybe that’s the point….
#7 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2006-10-05 09:05
What good would come from withholding donations/assessments to our national Church? What is the goal of those who advocate such a course? Perhaps some of this arises from frustration, anger, etc., but certainly more positive approaches can be taken. Our Metropolitan is instituting measures to assure accountability. Will we not trust the primate of our Church? Anyone who knows him knows he is a man of prayer, integrity, sincerity, who has dedicated his life to working in and for the Church? Is this how we would reward him.
Let us be constructive and positive in our approach and avoid emotional responses to situations that present difficulties.
#8 Archpriest William DuBovik on 2006-10-05 12:08
You asked, “What good would come from withholding donations/assessments to our national Church? What is the goal of those who advocate such a course?”
Our church has for years been struggling with issues of administration, leadership and the spending of money. For years the central administration claimed “we” were in financial crisis and for years the only solution "they" came up with was “send more money.” Assessments went up, FOS was created to collect more “voluntary” donations, bequests came in. Income was up, but there was often little to show for it, and the cry “send more money” never ceased. What was not allowed was a discussion of what the true needs of the Church - the parishes. Rather the assumption was that “the Church” meant the central administration and how they wanted to spend the money. The parishes had no say in what they needed from a national church. The central administration however could demand what they wanted from the parishes. This existing system brought us to where we are today.
Now you can advocate “let’s keep doing what we were doing”, but you are going to get what you already got - scandal, crisis, chaos, absolutely no financial accountability, and no support for the Church - the parishes. The very purpose of withholding assessments and donations is to say, “Enough!
What we were doing has produced no good thing and you can know a thing by the fruit it produces (Luke 6:43-33). So let us try something new, different, better.” What we need is to STOP doing what we are doing so that we can do something better. It is time for us to nurture a tree that will bear good fruit. We need to re-evaluate the whole way we think about Church. Instead of having a central dministration look down and tell the parishes what they need from the parishes (which turns out to be money), it is time for the
parishes to look up to the central administration and say, “This is what we need - trustworthy leadership, spiritual guidance, wisdom in dealing with the world, help in ministry and mission, people who lead by example, leaders who imitate Christ, leaders who preach and teach the
What we currently have is not in any way helping us in the parishes. We need something new, and we don’t need to throw away our limited resources to a distant central
administration. Pay attention - BECAUSE people sent money to the central church for the seminaries and other OCA collections and because the central administration squandered these monies, they have had to take out a loan to repay the missing funds and now you and I are going to have to repay the OCA and the bank for the money we originally gave *them*. If we had not given them all these extra monies, we would not now need to repay them. Our giving money to them means we now have to repay them for the monies they have misused. This is very bad stewardship, and I don't believe it to be blessed by God, and that is why I advocate at this point to stop sending them money.
You wrote, “Perhaps some of this arises from frustration, anger, etc., but certainly more positive approaches can be taken.” Please tell us what would these more positive approaches be? I have seen an absolute dearth of other ideas.
You wrote: “Our Metropolitan is instituting measures to assure accountability. Will we not trust the primate of our Church? Anyone who knows him knows he is a man of prayer, integrity, sincerity, who has dedicated his life to working in and for the Church?” I assume you didn’t
intend the last statement to be a question. Whether or not the Metropolitan is a man of prayer or sincerity is something those who know him can decide. It is not the right question. In the current leadership crisis and financial scandal, we need someone who is capable of wise administration and who has the trust and confidence of his priests and laity. We are in a terrible financial, moral and legal crisis in addition to the spiritual crisis.
It may be that someone who is sincere and dedicated is not enough for the task at hand. Our crisis demanded the full attention
of a metropolitan. Our metropolitan chose not to live full time in Syosset and not to be a full time metropolitan. He apparently had other priorities back in South Canaan. I think he has by his choices indicated an unwillingness to give full attention to the problem at hand. We needed someone as metropolitan who was willing to be there full time. He was not willing to give his full attention to Syosset but kept looking back at his past interests. So it seems it might be good for another to put himself to this plow, for the one who puts his hand to the plow but looks back is not fit for the kingdom (Luke 9:62).
#8.1 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2006-10-06 16:16
What's this? A voice of reason? How did you get in here, Father William?
While the loss of millions sickens all of us, finding the path back to solution land is hard. Calls for ouster of our leaders sound more like our domestic political environmental noise than a Christian church.
Thank you, Father William for your post.
#8.2 Marty Brown on 2006-10-07 10:17
Dear Father William,
You asked, "Will we not trust the primate of our Church?" Let us consider this:
“As directed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, the Chancery transferred $62,997 of temporarily restricted funds in 2003, $469,017 in 2002 and $98,461 in 2001 to meet current obligations of the Chancery.”*
These temporarily restricted funds included Mission, Seminary, Charities, The Military Chaplains Fund, The Clergy Care Endowment, The Publications Fund and The Archives Project.
If the statement is true, then, the answer, very sadly, is: No. I will not trust him.
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
*Quoted from “Notes to the Financial Statements” by Konsen & Hostelley in the article Major Diversion of Funds Confirmed By Internal OCA Financial Statement, posted March 10 on this site at http://www.ocanews.org/news/MajorDiversion3.10.06.html
#8.3 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2006-10-07 14:42
In your article about the resoutions to be considered at our 45th Assembly of the Midwest Diocese you state: "Both resolutions sponsored by deaneries, the Columbus Deanery (composed of 10 parishes in Ohio and Indiana) & the Chicago Deanery (18 parishes in Illinois and Wisconsin), advocate withholding, as do resolutions from five of the nine parishes making resolutions."
While I have not studied all of the proposed resolutions, I do know that the Chicago Deanery resolution drafted at an extraordinary meeting of the Chicago Deanery DOES NOT advocate the withholding of assessements to the OCA. Withholding was briefly discussed, but not widely advocated by clergy or laity in attendance at that August 21 meeting.
Please correct your article/release to reflect this.
Fr. Alexander Kuchta
Secretary of the Chicago Deanery
#9 Fr. Alexander Kuchta on 2006-10-06 08:02
Thank you for pointing out the error. We apologize for the mistaken attribution and have corrected it.
With all best wishes,
#9.1 Editor on 2006-10-06 13:46
I read the addendum to Holy Trinity in Clayton's resolutions and I agree with nearly all of them, especially as restated. I was very upset by the original resolution draft and I'm glad to see its been modified away from subjectiveness. I still do not agree with the resignation of MH language in their resolutions, but many of the other, now very objective and clear points, greatly enhanced their resolutions and I'm sorry if I was tough on some people. Thanks for setting clear goals.
I believe the Synod and not the laity must make a decision about whether Metropolitan Herman is capable to lead the church. Metropolitan Herman is not in great favor with me as well, but I believe there is plenty of responsibility to go around for this mess.
#10 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-10-06 18:21
I agree that there is plenty of responsibility to go around for this mess. Even ordinary parishioners such as me had a part in the problem. Many of us ignored clues of fiscal problems at the Syosset office. I know I kept giving to the local parish, which in turn gave to the diocese, which in turn gave to the archdiocese. I did this despite what I knew about money matters at Syosset that raised concerns.
It will take considerable time to put this scandal behind us. God’s grace with will be needed. The proposals the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest are considering merely address our first steps.
I also agree that the Synod is the group that needs to decide if Metropolitan Herman is the one who leads us through this healing process.
#10.1 Samuel Osman on 2006-10-09 07:52
Thus, we have to be very careful that we examine whoever is supposed to be a "geronta" and make sure that we do not trust somebody who tries to emotionally cripple us and make us dependent on him. But, I have to say the same thing about hierarchs. It is also not a good hierarch who tries to cripple you and make you dependent upon him. It is one thing to be a leader, it's quite another thing to be a dictator. The bishop is called upon to be the shepherd of sheep, but the shepherd sometimes, leads the sheep for slaughter. So first of all, the bishop is supposed to be the shepherd and not a dictator, but he not supposed to be leading us to the slaughter, but leading us into the pasture so that we can be nourished by the food of God's Word. The pasture is not just the words written in the Holy Bible, and not just the words of the holy fathers, but the spirit of the Scripture and of the holy fathers. We must, therefore, be diligent in our time, first of all, that we do not become arrogant and think we know everything, and, on the other hand, that we do not become crippled and dependent upon our teachers and would be teachers. We must seek some reasonable balance.
Archbishop Lazar (Puhalo)
October 18, 1998
#11 Marty Watt on 2006-10-08 15:51
Brother and Sisters, Glory to God! We have a way open which can unify us rather than divide us. On Forgiveness Sunday 2007 let us gather around the headquarters of the Orthodox Church in America and hold that wonderful Vespers Service outside. We need to ask each other's forgiveness for the divisions which this crisis has caused "It's not my problem," is one way to separate. Anger divides those who disagree with us, anger with the hierarchs who have not changed anything has divided us from them. We need to repent for them along with ourselves since it is clear they are not able to do so for themselves. We can do this in the spirit of peacemaking, having compassion for ourselves in captivity to a truly desperate situation, and compassion for those clergy and hierarchs who are unable to break the chains of bondage. We have seen that knowing wrongdoing has been perpetrated, knowing that money has vanished, knowing that no one will confess - all this knowing has not resolved the crisis. Truly only prayer and fasting will serve us, and to set out on the great sea of the Fast united in forgiveness will allow the Holy Spirit to dissolve the great hardness of heart which grows daily. Where else should we be at the door of Lent but where forgiveness is needed most, in our own hearts, and at the center of the Orthodox Church in America. Those who would like to work towards this, those who hunger for unity, let us begin. Peace, Alice
#12 Alice Carter on 2006-10-13 06:10
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