Sunday, February 12. 2006
They signed their names; we should do no less. No anonymous postings from now on.
The fear, deception and half truths have to stop.
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The signatures of 2 additional midwest priests have been added to the priests' letter since the convocation ended.
#1 Nina Tkachuk Dimas on 2006-02-12 20:32
As a member of an Antiochian parish, I am just constantly amazed at what I have been reading about the actions of the OCA leadership. I am very thankful that Archbishop JOB here in Chicago is taking a stance on this and continuing to speak out.
What keeps coming to my mind is the constantly repeated prediction that the OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese will merge within 5-10 years. I wonder what sort of bearing this situation might have on such a "merger." It's no secret the Antiochians have money - for example, the seminary tuition for all our seminarians is paid for by the Archdiocese. I know of no other North American Orthodox jurisdiction that does this.
I can't even imagine the ramifications if the feds began investigating and the entire OCA, parishes and all, lost its tax-exempt status as a result.
This situation is in my prayers daily. I have several good friends at OCA parishes and would hate to see how their life in the Church would be affected.
#2 Michele Hagerman on 2006-02-12 21:27
Does this mean you will no longer allow clergymen who are not in the Diocese of the Midwest to post anonymously? What's the point of that, Mark? There still may be many clergy -- say, in the Diocese of the West -- who would like to speak out in this forum but who run the risk of retribution if they have to post their names. Not criticizing, just puzzled. Thanks.
#3 Christopher Little on 2006-02-12 22:20
Comments on the Normal Orthodox list would like readers to believe that this OCANEWS site is an internet phenomenon, an issue that is not important or one that is being discussed in our parishes. Those who dare to bring news of it to that forum are attacked as sexual deviants, Satan's representatives, or informed that they are destroying the church. This clergy group has been labeled a 'soviet' by Bishop Tikhon in one of his less graceful longwinded posts of late.
That the clergy in Bishop's Job's diocese are listing their names to a call for an investigation shows me that this is no internet one hit wonder. I know this has to be hard, threatening, even, for our priests and bishops to take a stand for opening the books. Some are close to retirement, perhaps unprepared to face it without an all-to-modest OCA pension. For others, it has to be an affront to their pride, their way of life on the upper portions of the hierarchy.
I'm very proud that these clergy had the guts, the humility to underscore the attempt to shine light where it has not shone. If they can do this, then I think I'll muster up the courage to ask some tough questions this Sunday when the FOS rep shows up to pass the hat after Liturgy.
#4 Marty Brown on 2006-02-13 20:35
You make some very good points. The Diocese of the Midwest Clergy had the guts to sign a letter for an investigation. This visceral reaction of "having the guts" to go beyond a very sadly broken status quo has led a Bishop with several clerygy to now try to clear the air for new promise and hope.
Intelligence is not devoid of emotional reaction. They work together.
Bishop Tikhon has just not made much sense in his continuing comments in our call for a Commission. It is rather embarrassing. Does he know something we don't?
#5 Patty Schellbach on 2006-02-13 22:50
I applaud the signing by Midwest clergy of the letter they sent. I am also glad to hear that two other Midwest clergy have signed. I support Archbishop Job wholeheartedly in his call for COMPLETE financial disclosure. If there is nothing to hide, there should be nothing to fear in full disclosure. Until full disclosure occurs, I am saving in a bank account my regular contributions to the OCA. At such time that full disclosure occurs and responsible money management at the OCA is definitely confirmed, I will then forward these saved contributiions to the OCA.
#6 Matushka Pearl Homiak on 2006-02-13 22:59
As a clarification: Fr. Christopher and myself were in attendance at the convocation on Tuesday and participated in the discussion concerning the proposed letter. However, he had to return due to the fact that he works at a "secular" job and so we could not be present for the signing of the letter itself. I had "hitched a ride," so I had to return as well. Therefore, yes, technically, we did ask Fr. John Schroedel to add our names to the list of names after the letter had been signed and sent. However, we both believe that we participated in physical presence and in prayer in a fruitful meeting and in the letter that the others signed.
That's all I wish to say for now. I just wanted to clarify the presence of our names and that we have been in support of the concept of an open and honest hierarchy prior to the posting of the letter on the diocesan webpage.
#7 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2006-02-14 09:27
I was greatly saddened to read Matushka Homiak's remarks, and I believe her proposed actions to withhold money from the Church constitute a type of reverse "corban" scenario (see St. Mark's gospel - ch. 7). Unfortunately, this is yet another proof of how destructive this website has become in the life of the Church. Rather than to edify, build-up, and grow the Church, I believe it only serves to choke the seeds of life out of it by propagating such scandalous, inflammatory material.
Now, because of a snowballing effect, it might be perceived from some of these general comments that the laity should question every aspect of spending within the National Church - from copier paper to toilet paper. Perhaps workers should even provide their own light bulbs, too, as a cost cutting measure.
To withhold funding from the Church is not only wrong, it is sinful. The widow who gave only two pennies was justified by Christ, while those who gave large amounts to the treasury out of their surplus (while withholding the main balance) were not. Also, as we read in the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts ch. 5), withholding funds from Christ even has devastating, deadly consequences.
Such talk and such actions of "withholding money" destroy the very element of Christian stewardship and belay the scriptural aspects of being a "cheerful giver." Even Christ said, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." This suggests that our stewardship, giving, and donating should continue - even if we do not agree with the OCA Chancery’s decision to purchase Charmon toilet paper instead of the more economical "Charmelle - now nearly splinter free."
There is an old proverb amongst priests, "You can always measure someone's true faith by how generous they are in managing what belongs to God in the first place." And those parishioners who "vote with their pocketbooks" (i.e. the old "I'll show you!" mentality so prevalent in the early decades of the last century) are usually very far from the Kingdom of God. I would hope that most Orthodox Christians are mature enough to understand this and be above such childish exploits.
St. John Chrysostom, St. John of Kronstadt, and Fr. Alexander Elchaninov speak widely on the importance of charitable giving - as do all the Holy Fathers of the Church.
Both Kronstadtskia and Elchaninov make mention in the diaries that, with regards to beggars, we are to always give and not to question what they will do with the money - because it is a blessing for us to give. We will not be held accountable for what the beggar chooses to do with the money, but we will certainly be judged as to whether we gave or not in the first place. If they took the time to impart such edifying wisdom about charity given to beggars, does it not stand to reason that this would be that much more compelling with regards to donating to our Church?
In conclusion, it should be pointed out that each diocese is responsible for a per capita head tax and, regardless if individuals do or do not donate money, each diocese must still dip into their treasuries to meet their fair-share obligation. By refusing to donate, placing such monies in escrow, and waiting for a suitable outcome to this situation (which I'm sure will never be "suitable" for some) you end up only hurting your own diocese. Plus, because so many who post on this forum seem to be preoccupied with money, such donations "held in waiting," can not be deducted on your taxes.
Archpriest John Memorich
#8 Anonymous on 2006-02-14 11:11
The distinctions cannot get any clearer and more defined than comparing the words and actions of Archbishop Job vs. Bishop Tikhon in regards to the current crisis.
On one side (Archbishop Job) we have integrity, repentance, courage, ethics, eloquence, maturity, Christian love and leadership, humility and steadfast commitment to the truth, accountability, and selfless dedication to helping the Church through this crisis and healing for the long-term.
On the other side (Bishop Tikhon) you have delusion, vitriol, crassness, intellectual dishonesty, egomania, hatred, selfishness, rage, condescension, avoidance of truth, cowardly conduct, and complete lack of accountability to anything or anyone.
This is the perfect test case for showing us what the OCA administration and hierarch is really all about and how serious they are about their sacramental roles and responsibilities. Since I believe that the current financial crisis is merely a symptom of a much more serious and deeper spiritual crisis, how the Metropolitan and the other Bishops deal with this situation and whom they support in this critical spiritual battle, will speak volumes about what's really going on deep inside the leadership of the OCA.
These are indeed grave times in the history of the OCA and the decision to act or not to act will have significant long-term consequences for the future of the Orthodox Church in America and all of us. Silence is NOT an option!
From an article on the OCA website, February 17, 2002, entitled: "Enron and Lazarus".
"There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate” (Luke 16:19)
"Enron demonstrates that it requires an ability to ignore the needs of all others if one is to succeed in the pursuit of wealth. Jesus Christ put it so succinctly: 'You cannot serve both God and Mammon [money]' (Matthew 6:24). Choose one or the other."
From another article, same website, dated December 2003 entitled "Prophetic Initiatives":
"Woe to him through whom scandal comes!" (Matt 18:7). The scandal is the comfort in which we have accepted to live; it’s our Pharisaic contentment with things as they are. …It is our refusal [to seek] and to take the risk of love for our brother. …What will it take for us to admit that our divisions render the Lord unrecognizable, that they "divide Christ" (1 Cor 1:13), and that they are contrary to His clear will to have us become one "so that the world might believe" (Jn 17:21)?
…Let us be clear: this is no appeal for syncretism or convenient compromises. It is a call to renounce fear, anxiety, calculated self-interest, that is, our way of thinking against one another. It is a call to love each other within the framework of our differences, to learn to discern what is essential and what is secondary, and to decide, once and for all, to work together, in order to fulfill together our common vocation as servants. True love banishes fear. It does not hesitate to suffer for the beloved. Those who love truly are willing to die to themselves, …to love the other as themselves (Matt 22:29), and to assume the other as a sacrament of union with God and with the brother.
But for that to happen, we need to free ourselves from our ages-old complexes, our inhibitions, our desire always to be "right." …We need to be attentive to the other, to reject whatever might embarrass or constrain the other. We need to look for the best in the other, and to convince ourselves that other truly is a brother, since in Christ we are both adopted children of the same Father. Let us put no conditions on our love, for genuine love is wholly unconditional.
"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others," St Paul admonishes the Philippians (2:4). This is how the first Christians sought to live. We have no other solution than to live in the same way with other Christians. And we need to do so not in words but in acts, acts which enable us not only to walk together and live together, but to grow and to bear witness together, urging each other to be ever more worthy of the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).
In Orthodox belief, isn't the laity the ultimate arbiter of Truth? Does the consecration not require our cry of "Axios!"? Will we keep our mouth shut and follow our Bishops, even down the road to hell?
Thank God for Abp. JOB and the clergy of the God-protected Diocese of the Midwest.
Where do the other members of the Holy Synod fall on this issue? Does the Synod have the right/responsibility to discipline wayward bishops at the request of the primate? I know Rome operates that way -- I thought Syosset was Orthodox, not Roman. Does the silence of the other heirarchs indicate assent with the Metropolitan?
I'm sickened. We are damaging the Church, the Body of Christ, and Christ Himself. The focus of the Synod must be a return to the pastoral care of the faithful and preaching of the Word.
The Apostles couldn't be bothered with such mundane administrative tasks. Why is it our apostles, the Synod of Bishops, is dealing with this? Let the Metropolitan Council fulfill its role, and take unhindered control of the administration of the Orthodox Church in America, freeing our Heirarchs to perform their pastoral responsibilities instead of arbitrating disputes about the "distribution to the widows" (Acts 6:1-6).
Your Grace, Bishop TIKHON, help me understand the spiritual basis for your concern for brother heirarchs. Help me understand the apparent fear involved in disclosure. Help me understand the spiritual risks of understanding the difference between a lie and the Truth. I'm reminded each week, especially as we approach Lent, that repentance and confession are the only road to peace. Is that message wrong?
Here's what I think:
If there were a mea culpa issued from Syosset, and a public, transparent change in the administration (and Administrators) within the central Church, you would see the outpouring of love, forgiveness and reconciliation that is bottled up in the faithful, waiting to be released. My guess is the Church would experience increased donations at all levels, because the faithful and others would see the good being done in the name of the Church (and by extention, in the name of the faithful, embodying Christ).
What's done is done. It is time to expose the facts, issue repentance and reconciliation, and move forward. If such action does not take place at the meeting of the Holy Synod, I fear greatly for the continued existence of the Orthodox Church in America as a viable expression of Christianity in North America.
#10 Marty Watt on 2006-02-14 11:26
So now a simple question has now turned into unsupported accusations and calls for sanctions (even deposing?) at the highest levels of the Church? Are we now borrowing administration tatics from Washington politics?
I applaud and support Archbishop Job for taking the courageous step to ask a simple question. I pray that the Holy Synod and this Church finds a righteous (if not civil) path to the truth of the simple question being asked.
Protection of the Virgin Mary Church
#11 Sergei Ely on 2006-02-14 13:26
Dear Fr. John,
I'm pursuaded that Acts 5 is relevant here but see the application differently from you. The Holy Apostle Peter told Ananias that his land and the financial proceeds were his own, but that when he and his wife decided to decided to offer false accounting of the proceeds, it resulted in dire consequences.
It seemed to me Matushka Pearl in keeping with this scripture is being utterly up-front about what she is doing with her money and emphasizing how critical it is that the OCA to do the same.
#12 SymeonJekel on 2006-02-14 15:26
To accuse Matushka Homiak of what you do, Fr John, shows simply how insensate and destructive you are. Don't blame that on the website. I dare say that as a clergy widow, she has already given above and beyond most of the rest of us ever can or ever will.
Simply answer the question: Are the allegations true or are they false?
#13 Jack Miller on 2006-02-14 16:06
To Chris and Marty and all those supporting an investigation,
Thank you for your courage to speak out! Well done good and faithful servants!
There have been many atrocious, unnecesary things that have happened to us clergy and their wives at the expense of poor OCA leadership out here in the "trenches" that may even pale in comparison to what we are enduring from Syosset. As Chris said, it is all part of the same symptoms of an ailing OCA.
But that may be for another blog site!
Now we concentrate on the heart of the problem, the OCA administration and how they go about doing things.
We must adopt sound spiritual, moral, ethical, and financial principles. We must get our house in order. It is not an option.
WE EMPLORE Syosset to help us get our house in order. As we pray for a higher order of Christian witness, does anyone know how the Antiochians and Greeks manage their money at the top level and how they fund their central administration and church? Do they do it any better? I have heard from a certain source that both the Greeks and Antiochians are light years ahead of the OCA in knowing how to run their finances.
All of Best Practices in financial matters are there too, to implement.
WE EMPLORE a Synod who is willing, above all, to allow the full healing to begin instead of relying on make shift means that dig our hole even deeper.
WE EMPLORE other Bishops out there in our OCA who will also do what Bishop Job did and ask the Metropolitan and Synod for a full investigation. They can establish a date and can have an emergency meeting for their own clergy to meet and pray and discuss and sign a letter such as Bishop Job and his clergy did.
WE EMPLORE a heartfelt cry to the sanity to our other OCA Bishops: Please let us have a Commission so we can move on to our higher calling of service to Christ.
#14 Patty Schellbach on 2006-02-14 18:52
I have now read the full text of Deacon Eric's October 17th letter. Father Deacon Eric's testimonies and analysis is a cathartic reading since I have had dealings with Father Kucynda, the Metropolitan(s), the Bishops and Father Kondratick. This group has treated me as an "expelled member of the family". I felt quite alone in my understanding of the church administration and the handling of my affairs until my recent trip to Russia. My new Russian friends named these dealings 'the Sodom and Gomorrah state of events'. I have had some relief from your website knowing there are others at work in America trying to pray and understand through their prayers what to do to help us from this cess pool, to administer the church through Gospel standards, to have concern and love for clergy families with less use of economia and more use of economic truth and good faith standards.
My support to Bishop Job has been long term. I have prayed he would not fall into the seemingly bottomless pit of tyranny and darkness, and would be free from entrapment. I wrote in 1998-99 a duet arrangement of the 23rd Psalm published in my college art journal. This 2 part, a cappella arrangement allows the male and female voice an equal share of the melody. The voices begin in turn taking fashion. The voices then unite in the ending, supporting each other in new harmonies, and continue to an infinite Alleluia!
I imaged when I wrote this arrangement of the 23rd psalm there would come a day I would sing this with Bishop Job. If there are interested parties to this music wishing to pray for the leadership of Vladyka Job, that he will not be pulled down, but will help to pull us out and up, and into the light as the good shepherd, I will send this music to them as some small part of sharing in the repentance with my resources and gifts.
In the love of Christ,
Matushka Carol Klipa Bacha
#15 Matushka Carol Bacha on 2006-02-14 18:59
The fundamental logical flaw in Father John's argument is equating the OCA with the Church. The OCA could pass away tomorrow--and you know, that might not be such an awful thing--and the Orthodox Church would survive, believe it or not.
Given the threats and bullying, it seems more and more that you can take the OCA out of the Soviet Union, but you can't take all of the Soviet Union out of the OCA. A bit of Bolshevism still lives, apparently.
#16 Nicholas Dujmovic on 2006-02-14 19:09
This one takes the cake. Over $4 million from ADM, over $200,000 from the 9/11 Appeal, plus some odd dollars from other Appeals was spent on something mundane like... *toilet paper*. Either a lot of guests are passing through the Chancery office or there's a pocket of super-high inflation on Long Island for paper products.
#17 Richard Mason on 2006-02-14 20:12
Dear Matushka Pearl,
I understand the value of your withholding. As a "unwilling" clergy widow I know a widow's mite is very important. For those that understand the Gospel value, it is more than those that give out of their abundance. It is has both power, honor, and 7X77 X power.
When I want to support a project, I give all I have to give. I have seen success for those projects when my gift amount would not buy a fast food meal or even a (4 roll) pack of what the others say you must bring for yourself to work.
I remember after my cancer surgery having no money for electric or water. Father Kondratick turned me down for any assistance. Then I did not have the medication I needed to live. I was close to death and had a seizure because my OCA insurance card supposedly good was invalid.
When I had this problem I had two former physical neighbors, both bishops. Both of whom I had worked for as an employee separate from my clergy husband, that they were now allowing to divorce me. Neither one of my neighbors could help me with one penny.
My Jewish new neighbor, did what she could, though at risk to her own finances, helped me with some food and medication for the missing gland I lost in surgery on 9-11-91.
After that time Father John Meyendorff, promised to help me in the upcoming Sobor of 1992 in Miami. He died unexpectedly and from this side could not help me. Again now without an advocate and facing divorce, I went to my place of original mission work and support, Miami for the Sobor to plead my case for my family.
I was threatened, silenced, and I was so hurt... because I never expected to be treated by the chancery office in some KGB like fashion.
I had already suffered abuse. My husband had said he "would pull out my tongue, if I talked".
But here I am today. Surviving cancer wrapped around my vocal chords, thanks be to God.
There are other "unwilling widows" like me, that have been silenced in one way or another.
Yes Matushka Pearl,
you bought crosses from me at the Orthodox Book Center in Miami. We did those things which we thought could increase our 5 loaves to more. If we could, we did.
Now it is time to say NO, NO, NO MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
St Paul speaks about the women who was "used".How she was profited on with some of her gifts used deceivedly.
Now I know there are more victims, and victims like myself who continued to be victimized.
I remember when Father Gregoriev was the "Godfather" of our new Southern Diocese. In its conception, it was to include him in Washington as the 3rd cathedral of the Southern District.
He as Matushka Homiak should be respected....
Pray for those who have been victimized and too afraid to get the help they need, and for which there is little help to be had.
The outcome of these finances and money flow will determine if we continue as a 'sect' or as a body of Christ. Think where people get their income from and if that income has the value of Matushka Pearl's.
Remember the widow ..
and if you are a widow ...
remember how the widow with the Prophet Elijah gave the last of her measure of grain to bake for this great Prophet of Repentance but was spared hunger and saved as was her son.
Perfect love casts out fear.
I am with Bishop Job. I will write you again about how our my path and his have crossed and how he has helped me, maybe even saved my life on this earth.
In the love of Christ and in the sweetness of the flowering of repentance,
Matushka Carol Klipa Bacha
#18 Matushka Carol on 2006-02-14 23:16
Dear Matushka Carol,
My heart cries out and my soul is saddened by the experiences you endured and the stones you received when you sought truth, comfort, help and assistance from those whose very sacramental duty it was to protect and help the innocent and assist those in need.
"Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?" Matthew (7:7-9)
A clearer and clearer and consistent picture continues to emerge from many first-hand accounts and witnesses that something is indeed terribly wrong in the very core of the OCA administration. These experiences match my own encounters and exchanges with the OCA administrative machine and ruling hierarch of the West (Bishop Tikhon) that could care less about truth, Christ-centered leadership and love, proper sacramental duties of clergy and bishops, evangelization, helping people in real need, and healing and saving an entire community.
This same OCA administrative body (especially in the Diocese of the West) did care about money, maintaining silence, attacking or ignoring the messengers who dared ask for help and assistance, insulting and degrading the parishioners, maintaining the status quo, refusing to admit any mistakes, ignoring truth, and ignoring pleas from dozens of Orthodox Christians in real need of spiritual guidance and care (my experiences as member of the parish council and parishioner at St. Innocent Orthodox Church, in Tarzana, CA).
The spiritual battle we're facing has much more serious issues we MUST face than just the unaccounted for millions of dollars in a few discretionary accounts. In my opinion, real lives and real people have been affected by an OCA administrative ethos that hides a serious spiritual problem inside the ranks of the Church that has been allowed to continue unrepented and uncorrected for many years. We are only just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg regarding the "fruits" of this deepening problem.
This is the sad reality of what I have experienced, seen and heard. And on that conviction and following my calling as an Orthodox Christian to be salt in the world, I now stand with Matushka Carol and also say: NO MORE!!!
"You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:16-21)
- Chris Banescu
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Let us pray that the special upcoming meeting of 2-28 and 3-1 of the Holy Synod will pray, discuss, reflect, and produce fruits worthy of the kingdom.
Two days is not a long time.
Let us hope and pray that this meeting will not continue destructive self interest but to courageously enact a solid future for our church.
#20 Patty Schellbach on 2006-02-15 18:45
I am so thankful for Archbishop Job. If anything happens to him, i.e., a forced retirment or removal, I am done with the OCA indefinately. Also, it would help a lot to see Bishop Benjamin, whom I know and trust, replace Bishop Tikhon.
#21 James Fisher on 2006-02-15 21:35
I wish to respond to Fr. John Memorich, who I have known well for many years.
You have completely misunderstood what I said. My "withholding" of money involves only contributions to the OCA Chancery directly. I would never think of withholding money to my local parish, who pays my assesments out of my donations. (By the way, "my" money is not mine; it is God's, as is the money of all of us. I only use what God gives me). However, fiscal irresponsibility is fiscal irresponsibility, and until I see some indication of fiscal responsibility on the part of the OCA Chancery, (i.e., open disclosure and transparency of all matters past and present, which is all we're asking), I am simply saving in a bank account what I would normally give. I hardly would call that "withholding." The OCA will still get it all--just at a later time--along with any interest it might accrue. I'm just saving it until everything is open and above board.
The irony of all this, as some else mentioned, is that truth and honesty will produce more giving that anyone could ever imagine.
#22 Matushka Pearl Homiak on 2006-02-15 21:49
That we wait with baited breath to see whether the bishops will do the right thing and demand thorough audits, that people are scared of retribution if they write a letter to OCANews.org, that parish councils are not allowed to discuss the scandal, all are sad, sad commentary on the state of affairs in the OCA. Know that many in Alaska support Archbishop Job and the Midwest diocese in their courageous action of calling for accountability from Syosset.
#23 Kathleen Carlsen on 2006-02-15 22:58
While I agree with Fr. John that withholding money from the Church is wrong and sinful, I respectfully disagree that parishoners should continue to donate just as they always have. I am convinced this will only perpetuate the problem. While it may be true that the giver is blessed even when he knows or suspects that the recipient will misuse the funds, I think that it is better to give the same amount -- better yet, to make a point of giving more -- to a part of the Church that has modeled good stewardship.
There are many options. People can make earmarked donations at the parish level where finances are transparent. They can give the money to the seminary or the seminarian scholarship fund. They can give the money to the IOCC.
The response we should hope and pray for is that people will be even more generous than ever before, but that they will also donate responsibly and give full support to those ministries in the Church where the light of accountability shines the brightest.
#24 Robert Wachter on 2006-02-16 04:23
Last Sunday I missed divine services at our little mission in Quincy, Illinois. Our priest therefore had to fill me in on what has been happening last night at midweek Vespers.
Father feared this might shake my faith.
I came out of the Episcopal Church (glory to God for His deliverance!), following the leading of the Lord into the fullness of faith and truth in Orthodoxy. I see that fullness still, even in the midst of this financial scandal. While I am sure there are things that could shake my faith, believe me I have seen far, far worse than this.
But even so...
I am saddened by this evidence of our fallen humanity. On the other hand, while my heart weeps at how this financial issue affects us, my faith in the perfection and purity of the Church as the Body of Christ does not waver.
I am deeply saddened by the words and actions of Bishop Tikhon, with whom I have had much spiritually profitable conversation in past years by way of the old Indiana Orthodox list. On the other hand, this also does not challenge my faith in Jesus Christ and His Perfect Body, no matter the imperfection of its individual members.
All of that said, it is time and past time for accountability at the highest levels of the OCA.
The money involved is of two sources: from God, through His people. That means that yes, even priests and bishops and archbishops and Metropolitans have a responsibility to the laity that provide the money from what God has given.
Please, most eminent hierarchs, the hard path will be to open the books, but it is also the right path. Please do not allow whitewash, coverup, and vengeance on whistleblowers, and do take action against those who attempt to do so.
Truly, it is the narrow path, the hardest way on which you must lead us. It will hurt, it will cause pain and tears, it will result in expulsion of some from positions of power, and it will result in a temporary setback for the OCA...but it will be the right, purifying, cleansing thing to do.
Silence and sweeping problems under the rug will not benefit the church at all.
My greatest fear, and what I saw (and see) far too much of in my former church home, is the taking of our private problems into the American legal system, and the resulting destruction that would cause. And believe me, it WOULD cause destruction in the OCA.
I also do not want to find myself in the position, as a reporter, of having to explain in a news story what has happened in the governing body of the newest mission in Quincy, Illinois. What kind of witness is that to the truth of the Orthodox Faith?
I will pray with all my heart for this issue to be resolved in a forthright and honest manner, and that our hierarchs will act to restore our trust, so that we can freely pour the blessings God gives us into the hard work of the church to reach out to the world on behalf of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ work upon all our hearts, inspire us with a sense for justice and truth, fill us with love even for those with whom we disagree, and drive far from us any thoughts of unrighteous anger or lust for revenge.
#25 Kevin Nikolai Payne on 2006-02-16 11:13
Let the truth be known, without rancour or personal animosity, without intimidation or defensiveness. While it is important for all of us to support an honest enquiry, we do even better to pray for ALL parties, asking God to help each one according to HIS knowledge of the truth of the matter and of each man's mind and heart, for the salvation of each. However this matter ultimately resolves itself, all are in great need of prayer.
All Saints of North America, pray to God for us!
#26 Mark Harrison on 2006-02-16 13:50
I applaud the Midwest Diocese clergy for having the courage to speak up. Thank God that some are willing to stand up for principle.
Bishop Tikhon's autocratic letter is an outrage. Like many OCA laypeople, I will be watching the upcoming Synod meeting with great interest. Will our hierarchs have the integrity to answer the questions truthfully, and order an audit that will put the matter to rest? Or will we have to rely on the Federal Government to safeguard us against alleged graft?
One thing is certain -- I will not be relying on the syrupy-sweet "Orthodox Church" newspaper for information. OCAnews might be a bit "gossipy," but it should be applauded for actually reporting something other than just good news.
#27 Greg Denysenko on 2006-02-17 10:10
It is all very simple:
Are the allegations true, false, or mistaken as to fact?
What happened to the September 11, 2001 appeal? Is it true that this money is being withheld from people like the families of Chief Feehan and Captain Stackpole? (If true, this is a sin that would cry out from the very Earth.)
Will there be real audits, according to generally accepted
Will the decisions from 1999 and 2000 referenced in the Lesser Synod's statement be posted on the website; perhaps in the form of a hyperlink in the release announcing the Lesser Synod's agreed statement?
Our strength lies in our logic, reason and passionlessness. Let us remember work to these stengths in our advocacy.
#28 Ed Unneland on 2006-02-17 21:10
Being a country boy from Missouri I found out a long time ago that a fish dies from the head down. So will the Holy Orthodox Church in America if the other Bishop's do not stand with Archbishop Job and declare in a loud voice that the truth, and nothing but the truth, be forthcoming from the Central Administration of our blessed church.
For Bishop Tikhon of the West to demean an archbishop of our church is beyond the pail. He alone is showing that "love " is not in his body for his heart speak hatred and malice toward a man who has the guts to stand up and be counted. Archbishop Job, even though I have had my problems with him regarding certain hierarchal fiats, have found my self in total admiration of his "guts" as some have called it. I have never questioned the fact that he was a man called by God and a man of deep conviction to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Archbishop Job has never met with me or the parish I attended with out exhorting "Love" as foremost in healing the afflictions of our souls.
Bishop Tikhon, most likely, should be brought before the Holy Synod and questioned about his failure to "Love" instead of hate. After all Bishop Tikhon is in a diocese that labels him as "the 17th century bishop!".
Our little mission station in Kansas City North, Missouri back Archbishop Job and love him for the stand he has taken and we will pray for him continually until it is resolved.
May God Grant Archbishop Job many years as our Hierarch
Northland Orthodox Christian Community
Kansas City, Missouri
#29 William Sullivan on 2006-02-19 13:15
What continues to amaze me in what has transpired is the seeming lack of responsibility and accountability of the Metropolitan Council. As I read the Statute of the OCA, the Metropolitan Council is more responsible for the budget and other aspects of the administration than the Holy Synod, yet one reads little to nothing regarding any role being played by the Council. One wonders as to what function this Council serves!
#30 Peter Melnik on 2006-02-19 20:46
In light of Luke ("There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known"), Richard III's 1st Murderer seems engaged in an exercise in futility ("Now must I hide his body in some hole, until the duke take order for his burial: And when I have my meed, I must away; For this will out, and here I must not stay.") Secrets, denial, in the Church? Hmmm; in company w/ Judas, Pilate, Ananias (& for that matter, Pres. Nixon & Clinton). Embezzlement, too, will out. Better here & now, than There & Later. If the Church is escatological, if Truth is the steadfast becnhmark, if we can learn anything from certain other churches' own Watergates, (much less Richard III or the Nun's Priest's Tale), then lets learn from St Luke ... and King David, as well. Or rather, lets teach our bishops what the, by example, should be teaching us: fortitude and naked responsibility.
#31 Anon on 2006-02-22 00:32
If in fact this is true...The Metropolitan and Fr. Kondratick should step aside for the good of the church. And for what he has been put through and the guidance and leadership inthe face of adversity, Bishop Job should be elevated to Metropolitan and clean house and restore FAITH to the members of the OCA.
While I am former OCA parishoner, I and many others left when we had question in our own parish around a financial matter and a blind eye was turned.
If it does not get under control, it marks certain death for the OCA, as member parishes will steer clear and detach from the OCA.
#32 Robert Holowach on 2006-02-22 17:31
We left the OCA last year over financial issues and the callous treatment of volunteers on certain OCA sponsored projects. We had other issues with the focus of the OCA and its inability to unbind itself from the Moscow line on many issues at odds with other Orthodox Churches. What amazes me is that despite being 30 minutes from the National Cathedral, the OCA community in the Washington DC area was totally in the dark concerning these issues, whereas churches a thousand miles away were in the forefront of demanding accountability from the greedy and self-serving administtrators of these donated funds. The word is FRAUD, and it is a CIVIL and CRIMINAL offense. Those responsible should be brtought to task in the CIVIL and CRIMINAL arenas. Those who provide them cover are Accesories to the CRIME. Accesories are enablers and should also be held accountable for their actyions or inactions. If the leadership cannot understand these facts and provide a truthful course correction...then there really is no reason for the OCA to exist anymore. Russians should go to the Russian Church, Ukrainians to the Ukrainian Church, Serbs to the Serbian Church, Greeks to the Greek Church, Arabs to the Antiochian Church, and so forth. Only intellectual and spiritual integrity can save this creation, and if the leadership is incapable of providing this integrity...it is not leadership but a self-serving bureaucracy at the steering wheel of the vehicle careening down the roadway. Good luck and I hope you find your way home.
#33 George Melnychenko on 2006-03-01 20:30
What ever happened to "Give us this day our daily bread"?
#34 mark holscher on 2006-03-01 21:17
I appreciate your letter. I am offended and appalled by the non-action of the not so Holy Synod of the OCA. One wonders what kind of a beating Archbishop Job received when they slammed those doors shut at Syosset?
The threats of Metropolitan Herman against his clergy sound all too Vaticanesque. There must be plenty to hide and if Fr. Kondratick really took $300,00 to renovate his house he ought to be defrocked.
I have been a lay delegate to several AAC's and if the rumors are true these guys deserve an OSCAR.
Monroe S. Causley
#35 Monroe S. Causley on 2006-03-11 12:38
Have you ever heard, (DO NOT GIVE GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD MONEY?) This would only prove that our leaders have snookered us!
#36 Steve Babish on 2006-03-12 13:05
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