Monday, February 6. 2006
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The three part series, "The Culture of Fear, Half Truth and Deception, which concluded today, was excellent. Congratulations to OCANews on a job well done!
Let's hope and pray that the OCA's Synod of Bishops are reading these articles as well. If so, perhaps we will finally see an appropriate response.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
My question comes From Part 3 of the Culture of Fear, Half-Truth, and Deception.
I am not tyring to ignore or deny the larger deception of this "Strategic Planning" fund wrongly put into the Metropolitan's discretionary account.
I am rather dumbstruck on a preceding thought:
"It is has also come to the attention of the Holy Synod of Bishops that demands have been made upon the Primate to violate the privacy and confidentiality of the discretionary funds in his care. We unanimously exhort the Primate to deny any form of audit, or any other intrusion into the confidential nature of the funds in the care of the Primate and/or the privacy of the Office of the Primate...."
How in the world did the OCA ever get to the point that the Primate has ANY funds in HIS care?
If the OCA has monies to put into a "discretionary" account, in this day and age of post ENRON, an independent auditor following Best Practices needs to know where each penny is getting spent or what funds they are going to.
A specially appointed council could perhaps have some say in the use of some set amount of monies that are allowed to go into discretionary account that has ethical, moral, and legal parameters of its existence.
Had there not been a comment earlier on our site that the Metropolitan's duty is one of dogma and right teaching and preaching. Why is he neck deep into the financial affairs of the church?
The above practices must be changed. For, as we saw, a whole Synod was duped into believing that this wrongly so called "discretionary" fund COULD go to the Metropolitan's discretionary fund: From Part 3:
A Commission, if anything, will teach the Synod and MC what NOT to do.
#2 Patty Schellbach on 2006-02-06 17:38
I have some question re your Part 3. In the section under.."Deceiving the Holy Synod" you quote July 30, 1999 memo from the Holy Synod essentially agreeing that an audit is not canonically proper and even exhorts the Primate to deny any form of audit.
In an earlier disclosure you disclosed a letter from Protodeacon Wheeler which said that +Theodosius retained the services of a private lawyer Michael Kennedy and Fr. Kondratick retained the services of David Chesnoff, a Las Vegas lawyer through connections that Fr.K had with Richard Rock and William Turbay, Roman Catholic laymen in the garment design business in Las Vegas. Protodeacon W further said that the resolution signed by the Synod on 07/30 actually was prepared by the Metropolitan's legal counsel.
1. What's with the Las Vegas connection?
2. Why is the Chancellor of an autocephalous Orthodox church seeking and taking advice from two R.C. garment makers and a lawyer on how to govern an Orthodox church?
3. Was the memo signed by the Synod on 07/30/99 prepared by + T's lawyer and did the Synod know who prepared the document?
4.Richard Rock's e-mail to "Bobby" (Fr. Kondratick) on Jan.17, 2002 said that ..."The July 30th resolution of the Holy Synod of Bishops is actually a formal Amendment to the Statutes of the Church".
Is this the way the OCA Statute is amended? By back room deals with Las Vegas and New York lawyers and garment designers? If so, why do we need a Metropolitan Counci and why do we need the expense of future AAC's.
Final question: Does this make anyone else as sick to the stomach as it does to me?
#3 Niicholas Skovran on 2006-02-06 18:26
I'm Stephan Wislocki, an Orthodox Christian and parishioner at
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Yonkers, NY.
Thank you for providing us with the information on your website
and the service you perform. I think the suggestions in your "What
you can do" page are right on target.
#4 Stephan Wislocki on 2006-02-06 19:26
I heartily concur with your opinion. This web site and the recent three part series has been a very good analytical appraisal with excellent supporting documents that has raised many excellent questions. The OCA Synod and Metropolitan Council now should be completely accountable to them and us faithful in return.
#5 Patty Schellbach on 2006-02-07 08:52
Mark, After I read Part 3 of your Culture of Fear series, I was struck by the "objectives" listed in the document used to support a grant request from ADM, "Supermarket to the World." Why, just 25 years into autocephaly, is the OCA seeking to spend such time, energy, and resources of all kinds, on furthering "East-West relations of all kinds," examining societal problems in Russia, and all that partnership stuff regarding the Moscow Patriarchate?
This is a church that needs funds and an expenditure of energy and thought for establishing missions in the US and Canada, support for clergy and their families at various stages of life, evangelization, education, and on and on. So, where were the grant proposals designed to support those?
And what did ADM have to gain from this Conference Center and St. Catherine's representational church in Moscow? By 1995, Dwayne Andreas was firmly entrenched in Russia, and in fact, way back in 1980, had been in a position to introduce Ronald Reagan, President of the United States, to Mikhail Gorbachev. Did ADM initiate this relationship with the OCA, or did the OCA make the first gesture?
I am aware that the point of your article was the focus on financial accountability and arrangements for auditing these transactions in an open way, but I am not sure that whole arrangement -- the grant request, and the ADM Foundation's award of millions of dollars to the OCA -- was really all about what it purported to be about. I am inclined to ask what was really going on here, behind the facade? gertie trumbore
#6 gertie trumbore on 2006-02-08 19:20
I would like to offer my thanks and support for this website. Though at times, I find some of the tone to be unnecessarily inflammatory, it is nonetheless the best compilation of news concerning the troubles our Church faces. While many times the internet is used for all kinds of evil, it is refreshing to see it used to shine light on a scandalous "sin against the Church" (to quote the Lesser Synod). Those who hate this website are those who do not want their deeds to be exposed (John 3:20).
I also want to offer my full and unwavering support for my Archbishop Job. He is the only bishop on our Synod who has had the courage to persistently ask but a simple question: "Are the allegations true or are they false?" This simple question has drawn a disproportionate amount of criticism, innuendo, and slander, even from other bishops.
My support for Archbishop Job does not rest merely in the fact that he is my bishop, but more so becuase he has shown integrity, courage, and a commitment to truth and honesty, and this in the face of hostility on the part of some.
I pray and beg that the rest of the hierarchs on our Synod take courage, and unwaveringly pursue the truth in this matter. I also pray that those bishops, priests, and laity who are behind Archbishop Job move up and stand beside him.
May God have mercy on the Orthodox Church in America.
Priest Christopher Wojcik
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church
#7 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2006-02-09 10:29
A Response to the Reflection:
The Call for Financial Accountability has Encouraged Us!
The "cancer" has finally been exposed, in the most thorough, forensic, and factual way that could be presented on a public forum site.
We will soon be entering into Holy Lent, all of us, parishoners, priests, clerics, and hierarchy alike. We will all be seeking that Lenten Spring that the Church so ardently calls us to.
The Lenten Spring will bring us all to a sobriety of personal sins and short comings and to find and continually secure that lost image of Christ in each of us.
The Call for Financial Accountability has Encouraged Us!
The faithful, in patience and tolerance of ten years plus of questionable financial practices now much more fully exposed, in patience and tolerance of time lines, in patience and tolerance of waiting for an audit to be done, in patience and tolerance of a Spring Session of the Holy Synod, pray and hope that the administration of the OCA will seriously reflect, change, and correct that which can be corrected!
With God, all things are possible! This Great Lent can better shore us up, that we all, from faithful to hierarchy alike, depend on looking and turning to Him in this time of great opportunity for the OCA to become greatly stabilized on a firm foundation of financial, moral, ethical, and spiritual accountability.
A Call for Financial Accountability has Encouraged Us!
We will all go through Great Lent. But we cannot go back from unexposing the "cancer." We can't go back. The "Big C" has been exposed. This website is doing its utmost to bring one of the best and lasting healing doctors to the patient's room: Financial Accountability.
A faithful parishoner of the Orthodox Church in America
#8 Name Withheld by Request on 2006-02-09 17:14
Support for Bishop Job who is trying to make a courageous attempt to put this matter foward for its proper analysis and correction is what we need to do.
When people undertake courageous actions, support is what any one needs. Bishop Job must know that his actions to set things straight have been appreciated and supported.
We are undergoing a relative time of silence from our Hierarchy; however, they are taking actions of trying to silence others. Yes, a current audit is buying them time. I hope it also means serious and final surrender to past financial practices that seem to be digging a deeper hole for the financial future of the OCA.
#9 Patty Schellbach on 2006-02-09 19:40
For those of you old enough to remember, please tell me whether the following observation has any validity.
The OCA was moving forward up until the passing of Fr. Alexander Schmemman. However, after his death, an organizational atrophy quickly set in; an atrophy guided by the sickly policy "When in doubt, do nothing" and clothed in an intimidating false piety. Could that atrophy now be manifesting itself variously in coverups, muzzlings, molestations, brutishness, mismanagement, malaise and distrust? Surely Fr. Alexander would not have tolerated such degradation.
With regard to the reflections on autocephaly, autocephaly was Fr. Alexander's baby. Some might argue that he almost single-handedly nursed autocephaly into being. Could Fr. Alexander's charismatic single-mindedness have been both a strength and weakness of autocephaly? Could it be that we have never really learned how to exist as a truly self-governing body because we had, until his blessed passing, such a strong-willed and spiritual intellect telling us what to do, much like an emperor in bygone days?
I guess what I am asking is this: Could it be that our current administrative structure never fully developed otherwise customary accountability mechanisms because Fr. Alexander was always there to rule by personal intervention? And therefore, since Fr. Alexander was such a godly person, his advice was usually unassailable [at least not by mere mortals (and his students)].
Could it be that the autocephalous OCA has never learned to
think for Herself as a conciliar body in America because she always had such a powerful father-figure in Fr. Alexander to make those decisions? Could we be seeing symptoms of this flaw in the form of our non-existent meachanisms of mutual accountability?
To put this question another way: Could it be that the OCA got so used to eating fish from Fr. Alexander's table that she never learned to fish for herself? Fr. Alexander was a theologian extraordinaire, not a manager and administrator. And if the truth be told, I suspect Fr. Alexander believed management and administration to be of lesser importance. Was that a shortcoming that is having an effect now? We can save that for another discussion.
We all have shortcomings. However, given the extraordinary times during which OCA autocephaly was granted (the Cold War), one cannot fault Fr. Alexander for being eager to make autocephaly happen. That said, perhaps the OCA structure never fully formed to adequately thrive in the Americas. Perhaps Fr. Alexander's work was not done....
I propose that we collectively get on with the business of finishing the task Fr. Alexander so nobly carried on his shoulders.
If not now, when? If not you, who?
#10 Someone Interested in a Healthy OCA on 2006-02-09 21:02
The July 26th, 1999 Synod of Bishops extraordinary session, as Fr. Alexey Karlgut has so keenly observed and commented upon on 2-2-06, is still before us today. The matters of poor financial management are too serious, and remain too serious, of a matter to "put behind us."
The Diocese of the Midwest, led by Archbishop Job, now seeks to get answers that go beyond rhetoric and go to the heart of the financial documents that have been set before us all on this web site.
What could the OCA administration possibly want to hide?
We are all still Orthodox Christians who have love and mercy for all. W are trying to get our house in order before others will get our house in order.
Should assets have to be sold to make restitution for mismanaged funds, should certain people have to retire or resign, should major re-organization of the financial structure of the OCA have to occur, should Syosset need to be relocated (or even dissassembed), so be it.
Would not a strong, well-functioning, well-grounded church be what Jesus would really want? We sign AMEN in church every service. Not our will, but God's will. So be it.
#11 Patty Schellbach on 2006-02-11 22:58
So ... what do we do now?
#12 Diane Gloumakoff on 2006-02-16 19:20
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am having a difficult time understanding how all this trouble came to be. I was raised in the Church and my mother was a great source of wisdom and instruction. I am not knowlegeable about the intricacies of who and how the finances of the Church are managed; I do know what my mother taught me.
I had a friend as a child whose family belonged to an organization that was considered to be a secret society and my mother warned me never to consider joining such a group. I asked her why and she explained that as an Orthodox christian it was forbidden. I don't recall her exact explaination for this but I came to understand that God sees all and it is a denial of Him to try and hide ones activities and as a christian we must be an open testimony of Christ.
During Lent one year, my mother was teaching me about fasting and why we fast. She told me what her mother had told her; it is more important what comes out of your mouth than what goes in it.
From this I learned that fasting is more a tool than a rule. It is a way to help one to get closer to God. If we fast but do not watch our tongues then what good is it to fast?
I have no suggestions or opinions about how we are to reslove the problems that face our Church; I have a prayer and a firm faith that God will preserve our One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church unconquerable before the gates of hell forever.
#13 Tanya E. Hoadley on 2006-02-18 10:18
we are americans and not european serfs
#14 daniel f ring on 2006-02-22 07:12
What a WHITEWASH!!!!! They really believe we are STUPID !!!!
#15 G.Barkoukis on 2006-03-07 09:34
Christ Is Risen! The Body of Christ is put to the test and we must not fail with a rush to judgement. Remembering that wherever our individual parish church celebrates the Divine Liturgy there resides the WHOLE church of our Lord and Savior! A personal discretionary account of a Bishop is one thing and a needful thing; however, it is incredibly hurtful and horrific to make a mass appeal to the laity of the OCA and then misappropriate those funds for any use other than what had been stated. That is dishonest and unacceptable no matter who you are. When one's hand is in the cookie jar and you get caught, your only recourse is to admit it, put the cookie back, beg forgiveness and never do it again. Lord have mercy, we are talkin' a lot of cookies!
#16 Leah Paintin on 2006-04-23 16:43
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