Monday, April 7. 2008
The press release was published simultaneously on both this and the OCA site. Your comments are welcome.
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OCA meets with Stokoe and Wheeler?! For shame!!!!!!!!! If you cant beat 'em... Join 'em!!!
#1 Anonymous on 2008-04-07 19:19
So much for the commandments, the passion of Christ, the Gospel, the writings of the saints. Mr. Strom is going to bring this organization together!
It is BEYOND me to comprehend the SENSE or the VALUE of bringing in a conflict resolution expert, that has what, 12 years of experience to resolve a conflict that the Gospel of Christ can't. If we can't resolve this with our eyes, alledgedly on the Gospel, is this really anything to salvage?
What Nikon and the pushers of this Mr. Strom think is that thereís a middle ground between theft, immorality, and Godlessness and those that push for the Gospels, openness, and accountability. If you REALLY want to have a harmonious AAC then get Herman and his cronies to COME CLEAN. Until then, this is an act of desperation trying to fool the faithful, yet, again, into thinking they want resolution, when to those that can see through it, itís an admission of failure, of the inability of the bishops to do whatís right and lead, leaving it up to a secular, I presume non Orthodox, person to do what the Gospels canít. I canít believe it!
Christ, move aside, we need Mr. Strom to bring us together!
(editor's note: Let me be blunt: You are an ignorant person to speak of things of which you know not. Mr. Strom's faciliatation was professional, helpful, insightful and remarkably light-handed. I, too, was a bit skeptical of the idea, but quickly understood the value of having such a moderator of a discussion when it involves lay men, lay women, priests and bishops, of very different opinions, on very difficult topics. What Mr. Strom accomplished was to ensure that everybody got a chance to speak their mind, and share their ideas, and do so in a constructive manner. I have spent thirty years in church meetings, and anyone who has knows that all too often good ideas and exchanges are squelched because priests defer to Bishops when present, lay men to priests, and lay women, alas, to all of the above. We need everybody on board to bail this ship, and Mr. Strom's skills and presence as a moderator got everybody bailing. Now some might say there were those bailing water and tossing it on the person next to them, but at least we were all participating. So, please, if you are going to criticize have the common sense to speak of things which you know or have experience. The Gospel was not compromised by having someone help; and kudos to Fr. Jillions for suggesting it, the PCC for requesting it, and Bishop Nikon for agreeing to it. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help when you need it. It is a sign of repentance. And that, anonymous, is a sign of hope, not failure. )
#2 Anonymous on 2008-04-07 19:25
This A.A.C should conisider putting the Native Heiromonk on the Agenda for Alaska...Tell them not to tonsure Monks if they're not gonna consecrate them as Bishops...He would make history in Alaska...
#3 no name of names in ALASKA on 2008-04-07 19:48
Thank God, we have had a series of good news lately: the statement of the SVOTS faculty; the SVOTS alumni petition; reconsideration of the Alaska situation (with the release of the various reports); the honorable and competent work by the Chancellor and the Treasurer; the nomination of Father Tossi for Secretary; and the consultation of the Preconciliation Committee with you, Father Deacons Wheeler and Zarras, Dr. Meyendorff, etc.. I think that the tipping point may have come when the majority of the long-suffering clergy in Alaska stood up against +Nikolai and we all owe them our thanks, admiration and support.
I hope and pry that these developments are a true harbinger of things to come, even though there may well be disappointments along the way.....
#4 Carl on 2008-04-07 20:04
Ah, now I understand the delay in posting your Metropolitan Council report; you were in New York! It is delightful to see that you're being brought into the process--keep 'em honest!
#5 Zach Borichevsky on 2008-04-07 22:59
This report, beyond giving lists of who attended this "consultation", provides no meaningful information concerning what agenda items and "initiatives" were proposed, who proposed them, or the responses of the members of the Preconciliar Commission. Did anyone ask why the draft agenda has not been made available to the members of the OCA for review and comment? How can the AAC be considered "instrumental in the broader healing process" when no one outside of those attending the PCC meetings and "consultations" has any unfiltered knowledge of what is happening or what is considered? Does no one involved with the activities of the Central Church Administration understand that continued use of the "Mushroom School of Management"  only reinforces the situation of suspicion and mistrust of CCA persoonel on the clergy and laity of the OCA.
 Mushroom School of Management: keeping the subordinates in the dark and feeding them manure.
(editor's note: The meeting was a first step towards doing just that, and a rather inclusive plan was discussed. We shall all just have to wait a bit to see what they come up with.)
#6 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-04-08 03:14
"Conflict resolution?" That's what they think will solve all this, a mediator? Someone from "conflict resolution" won't work. The CHURCH has given us all the tools of what IS needed. How about all the hierarchs prostrating themselves before the entire AAC at its beginning asking for forgiveness and CONFESSING the cover-ups and real sins? THAT'S WHAT'S NEEDED! Followed by all their resignations!
#7 Anonymous on 2008-04-08 05:31
I would see this as a positive thing. However, there is a very, very long and upward climb ahead for the Holy Synod and the Central Church administration if they are to regain credibility. This is no one's fault except their own.
We have seen our hopes raised many times before, only to have them dashed to the ground so callously that we are forced to conclude that our hierarchy has no understanding of, or concern for, the laity of their own Church.
Second, it is painfully obvious that the truth has not been told, and no credible evidence that it will be told. I do not believe that trust can ever be established in an environment where the Synod continues to cover up for its current and former members.
At this point, words are no longer of any use. No one can seriously expect to say, "It's different now", and have it accepted as truth. We need actions; Actions that make it unequivocally clear that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the true head of the OCA, and that our Synod is guided by the Holy Spirit, not their own will.
I say this with love. I am not under the Omophor of Bishop Job, I am under the Omophor of Metropolitan Herman. Vladika, please forgive me if I have offended you with my remarks.
One more comment. I believe that the current, crying need of the OCA and American Orthodoxy as a whole is more good monasteries and monastics. The Church is like a three legged stool, and the legs are (1)the clergy and hierarchy, (2) the laity, and (3) the monastics. All three legs need to be firm and sound, providing proper support.
We have the clergy and hierarchy, but they have suffered because the laity have in the past largely ignored their responsibilities; This may now be changing. We are making some progress in monasticism, and those who labor in this field are to be commended. But much more labor is needed. A strong monastic presence and a strong lay presence make for a strong and virtuous clergy and hierarchy. A strong monastic base will build and prepare truly worthy candidates for episcopal consecreation.
Please forgive me,
Fr Andrew Moulton
#8 Fr Andrew R Moulton on 2008-04-08 05:57
How can the church heal with Herman still in office? He is a lawless man. He is guilty of exactly what he accuses Nikolai of - and more. How about the ipetition? Has this ever been discussed at any managerial level?
The only road to recovery is by going to the AAC to elect a new primate, revisiting church demographics (we probably do not need as many hierarch as we have) and then MAYBE move toward rebuilding spirituality, love, compassion, faith and hope.
As long as Herman sweeps all of the issues under the carpet, the mound just get bigger. He refuses to address any of his issues, he is a master as focusing attention on someone else. He is bankrupt of any integrity and unfortunately so are most of his brothers.
#9 MP on 2008-04-08 06:02
What a great group of people to bring together.
Kudos to the OCA.
It would be my hope that Kishkovsky would be heavily involved in all these meetings. I have not met the man, but based on the article I read from him, I believe he would help greatly.
The report of the 2nd and politically inferior SIC must be provided with reasonable time and commentary before the AAC. What I'm concerned about is whether the politically inferior SIC will ask those questions I would ask and how I'd consider their work if they don't. Also, if they don't provide compilations and distribution lists, I won't consider their work valid.
If the AACs main theme is healing and a touchy feely getting back together type of thing, what a pathetic waste I would find it to be...
An analogy for you.
A ships engines are badly damaged by an incompetant engineer. He is removed from duty. The crew of the ship are upset with the captain for not listening to their concerns that he would damage the engines. A full report is given that credits mainly the engineer and his incompetance and even the captain's failure to respond to other failures the engineer had along the way. The engine is repaired. A meeting is called and the people are still upset with the captain and ask him to give up his command and he does. The shipmen rejoice that all is well again.
I contend that all would not be well. I contend that the only way all is well is if the shipmen put in place methods and rules that help create a process by which they can express their concerns sooner and a means to remove the engineer or the captain, lest the ship be dashed upon the rocks.
Moving the analogy back to the OCA. The church is currently providing compilation reports to everyone. What if the next Metropolitan decides he doesn't like that? What do we have in place to require it? Or audits? Or meeting budgets?
Power must be balanced and structured differently. The org chart change reducing the powers of the Chancellor only centralized more power with the Metropolitan.
The laity and the Metropolitan Council need some type of influential or real power in our churches governance structures.
We saw influential power the other day in its letter, but influential power is subjective to the quality of the Council members, their politics, etc.
Real power for the MC would be the ability to remove a bad Chancellor appointed by a Bishop, for example.
Real power for the people would be voting up or down the MC member.
If our ecclesiology affords only Bishops real power, OCANEWS.ORG will never go away and as much as I appreciate Mark's efforts, I'd prefer that this website (influential power) isn't needed forever.
#10 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-08 06:54
A couple of thoughts for the pre-conciliar commission:
1. I believe there is to be an Akathist (hopefully the one by +Job, for the salvation of our Church) on the evening before the AAC. It should be mandatory for all delegates to be at that Akathist in order to participate at the AAC. Following the Akathist there should be the rite of forgiveness, as someone previous has suggested.
2. The resolutions and statute amendment considerations should be immediately after the Metropolitan's address, not as some sort of afterthought.
3. As I looked back at the minutes of previous AAC's, I found all these people doing various tasks. Who ARE these folks? Could we have some very short bio's, and also some discussion as to how these people are chosen?
#11 Michael Strelka on 2008-04-08 07:44
That was wonderful news that both Dn. Eric Wheeler and Mark Stokoe are involved in the PreConcilliar meeting. Both of their input I am sure has been and will be highly regarded.
That is great news that these two men are being brought in more to the fix-it process!
(Editor's note: There were several others involved as well, including Dr. Meyendorf, Fr. Dahulich, Fr. Kishkovsky and Dn. Zarras. Each contributed greatly. It is not clear that Deacon Eric or I can "fix" anything; but willingness to help is a first step, and all these gentlemen are to be commended for that willingness. )
#12 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-08 08:48
It would be interesting to hear your take on this meeting. A common tactic in corporate risk management is an attempt to co-opt the opposition.
While this may be the case here, I wonder what are your thoughts?
(Editor's note: I shall be writing about it a greater length in the days to come. However, let me say, no one was coopted, nor was any attempt at it made. No one compromised their principles or beliefs in the discussion. Everyone was allowed and encouraged to speak their minds and share their thoughts. At times, it was difficult for many to listen what others had to say. That is normal given the events of the past two years. Yet, we all reaffirmed that we are all trying to work for the good of the OCA, even if we understand that in different ways at times. Or even most times. We clearly have a long way to go. This was a baby step - no more, but no less.)
#13 Barnabas on 2008-04-08 10:12
Thanks be to God!
and to those who are busy rebuilding bridges and encouraging travel across them. This is so very much needed if we are ever to see the healing of this part of the Body of Christ which is the OCA.
May God richly bless the efforts of this Commission as it works over time - not only planning the AAC, but taking action with constructive ground work to make sure it will be effective.
May we the laity at large do our part.
"Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead," let us faithfully and fervently support such action with prayer and encouragement:
- for the work of the commission;
- for the spread of such attitude and energy throughout the hierarchy and indeed the whole membership.
- especially for our leaders who are, like the rest of us, in need of God's grace and help to be and do what He calls us to, but who by virtue of their high profile are so very vulnerable to the evil one who "prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour".
Let us make sure we not helping with that process of devouring, but let us stand with them in the full armour of God, encircling them with our prayers, and giving them the back up they need to fight the accuser and destroyer of the brethren.
Lord have mercy!
ssg - Annunciation Cathedral, Diocese of Canada
#14 Susan Gander on 2008-04-08 14:42
I agree with Zach and others who find this recent meeting of the PCC with guests such as Dcn. Eric and Mark Stokoe a very good sign! My thanks to the PCC for being open to such a move, and to all the people who participated (including the facilitator). It had become a deep concern to me that the OCA seemed to be turning into two separate churches, content to go their ways in some parallel universe sort of existence: one group wanting to pretend that nothing is wrong and that we should all just move on without dealing with the issues--another group convinced that we must confront the issues if we are to survive.
I am so delighted that these two groups in the OCA are now speaking and working together on the upcoming AAC! Now if the Synod can deal effectively with +Nikolai, and if +Herman will announce his retirement, I feel that there really is some hope going forward. I also feel that under these circumstances, the AAC in November can be a time of Spirit-filled renewal and real blessing from God.
Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy!
#15 Cathryn Tatusko on 2008-04-09 05:33
Personally, I'm tired of endless talk, demand for evidence,
turning to outside secular authorities, but most of all I'm tired of not tuning (or turning) to the Holy Spirit for discernment. It is the bishops that should lead in this, but when they fail, it does not mean the Holy Spirit has left the Church.
Until we can stand fast and seek to discern by the Holy Spirit as a Church and individuals in the Church we are doomed to playing the devil's game, acting like a club that casts out unruly members that don't fall in line, or placates them by enticing them into the clubhouse with promises and flattery. Let's get rid of the evil spirits; lets' entice people to tell the truth, let the Church not be reorganized; let it be delivered.
I read 2 Scriptures that came home to me last night:
and I thought of you.
John 8: 14-20. Read it for yourself: Jesus says when accused of testifying on his own behalf
Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I am come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet, even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is NOT I ALONE who judge, but I and the Father who sent me....
2 Timothy 1:12-14 tells us also ...for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I committed to Him until that Day...Hold fast [then] ... that treasure (some translations say truth I believe) which was committed to you, keep [it] BY THE HOLY SPIRIT who dwells in us.*
Many have admired you for you are like Timothy who has taken up the banner for Christ and for truth in hardship and suffering. Please assure us that you are not laying down that banner.
With respect I write from my heart.
(Editor's note: and it is precisely of those hearts I spoke in Syosset. All flags are still flying, and the battle for the truth goes on. I would hope the skirmishes become fewer though....)
#16 Karen Jermyn on 2008-04-09 07:01
I misspoke. +Job wrote a MOLIEBEN for the salvation of the church. That is what we should be doing on the eve of the AAC.
#17 Michael Strelka on 2008-04-09 08:32
It sounds as if this meeting did bring together many talented people. It does sound like step in the right direction!
#18 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-09 08:44
I prefer that it does stay. Nikolai's actions might never had become known, and the little problem of embezzlement may have continued to be hidden from all of us. What are you afraid of if this site remains? I actually am asking you that question (that is, that was not meant to be a nasty remark towards you at all). But what would be the problem if this site stays? Of course when there are forums like this, most everyone gets their say. The most critical information is the news that is put on this site.
#19 A sad state of affairs on 2008-04-09 09:31
Kudos to the editor for a comment I agree with fully and the people in charge that brought someone in.
Its about time we gave some credit to the new [and old] management of the OCA for a very new way of trying to do business.
Including, but not limited to or implemented properly by my standards:
Whistleblower protections (Sidebottom failure)
Public org chart (though it needs the MC in it with power)
Preconciliar commission making every effort for the best AAC possible under the circumstances.
(editor's note: Rather than make every effort for the best possible AAC "under the circumstances", why not just change the circumstances and make it a success?)
#20 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-09 14:59
If the OCA manages itself publicly, as transparently as legally possible, fairly, etc., there should be no need for a public bitch station.
In fact, the day Stokoe archives this site is the day Metropolitan Whoever can go home and feel right about things.
That is the day when Whistleblower protections are followed and reported by the OCA, not a third party. Sidebottom affair.
That is the day when the MC realizes its influential and possibly real power and starts taking the requests/complaints/concerns of laity and clergy seriously. And has a means to address them or at least speak to them. Sidebottom should have gone to them after he got fired and they should have kicked in the protections everyone signed onto, for example.
I worked for a company that published complaints when someone would find dated sandwiches in a vendor's (not the companies) vending machine with a response from management like, "this will be followed up on with vendor". It did this without mentioning names and violating confidentiality concerns.
Why we would need this website forever is beyond my wildest nightmares. And I'd be willing to be the editor would rather not spend every waking moment of his life screening our posts for appropriate bitch content.
When the OCA has governance systems in place that are public and transparent and balance power and are followed; this website should go on a hold mode.
A MAJOR problem with this website is that it can address an issue far faster than a bureaucracy can. It can also blow an issue up to much larger than it need be, although most of the issues brought here have been relevant. Another problem with this website is the church management is getting confused over whether the noise is worthy of any effort.
You see, if those 41 priests had written to the MC and the MC had forwarded the letter to the Synod and then nothing were done, the MC could have published the letter on the OCA. ORG website.
Why does Oleska need Stokoe? Its because he doesn't have the MC.
You are touching on the very deepest root problems in the church. Good governance doesn't require protest by innocent thirds.
#21 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-09 15:24
Wow, you sound angry. I don't know you, obviously, but your comment sounds really angry.
You can't demand another person to ask you for your forgiveness, no matter how much you think that you deserve it. That's not how forgiveness works.
Face it, Syosset feels that they are under vicious attack by a bunch of angry irrational people, and reading your posts tells me that this is a reasonable assumption on their part. The point of this meeting (as I understand it) is so that people of various viewpoints can get together and express their concerns. Maybe then the bishops will see that the people here who question their decisions aren't, actually, a bunch of crazies. That what we want is actually constructive and for the good of the church. If it takes a professional mediator to facilitate getting that message across, what is it to you?
I'm sorry, it just sounds to me like you are carrying a lot of bitterness, and that you want to bring that bitterness to "justice" when you can finally "win" by making your enemies bow down before you. I'm sure if I was that bitter I too wouldn't actually want my enemies to change their ways before I had a chance to smoosh them under my feet either.
#22 Anonymous on 2008-04-09 18:27
"And I'd be willing to be the editor would rather not spend every waking moment of his life screening our posts for appropriate bitch content."
"And I'd be willing to be," or did you mean bet?
Your choice of words exhausts us and leaves much to be desired. Maybe you should stop posting on this site, then its editor would find some rest....
#23 Anonymous on 2008-04-10 05:46
Usually when people can't win an argument, they attack the character of the person. In this case, my well known longwindedness. Or my typographical error missing the letter T in my post. We have seen these tactics and they will not work; especially from anonymous people. The editor and others have noted this as the norm from entrenched power, now we see it from the other side of the river.
A good governance system doesn't need Mark Stokoe and co protesting until eternity; its that simple.
The OCAs governance system is flawed.
#24 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-10 09:03
Anger and bitterness seem quite understandable emotions to feel given the well documented dereliction of the hierarchs.
Doesn't the demand for repentance of each hierarch follows the teaching of the Church regarding what each of us is required to do for our salvation?
Why employ a secular specialist in conflict resolution when the appropriate aspects of Holy Tradition seem to not yet have been tried, let alone found wanting? Many of the problems of the OCA have a spiritual source. Deal with the spiritual source(s) of the underlying the problems and the problems will disappear. (The effects, the byproducts of original problems will most likely not disappear, but dealing with them will be easier because we will be dealing the true source(s) of the problems, not just the symptoms.)
The Synod and the Central Church Administration have had more than sufficient opportunities to see that those who criticize their actions of commission and omission are not irrational people.
#25 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-04-11 03:40
You miss the point. Your miss spell was a fun critique, at which you lost it. My point is your choice of words "bitch content" corrupts what you say. Your comments about "real power" stray from the core issue i.e. the truth. Truth is powerful all on its own and one one, neither Metropolitan nor Metropolitan Council has to have power to tell it, nor least of all you, through inappropriate comments like yours.
This website continues to serve a purpose, but not your misguided comments.
#26 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 15:48
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