Monday, October 6. 2008
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The Diocese of the Midwest has sacrificed much during this crisis, especially emotionally and spiritually. I pray they are willing to make one more sacrifice: that of their beloved +Archbishop Job as our next Metropolitan!
#1 David Barrett on 2008-10-06 07:31
Dear Fellow Orthodox Faithful,
The Oct. 4th letter of Fr. Andrew Moore of St. Thomas the Apostle in Springfield, MO, was a thoughtful call for a positive change. I don't know anything of or have an any opinion on his recommendation for Metropolitan, but his letter misses a very important point... to me, at least.
The Metropolitan should lead the flock. He should devote his entire being and energy to make the church closer to GOD.
Being in charge of the purse is a serious distraction. After all, our leaders are only men, and as such are weak and imperfect.
Financial checks and balances and should replace the antiquated fiefdoms, throughout our church! The money should be overseen by professional staff with regular and open audits and reports distributed to all interested parties!
What do you think?
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
Bob Russell, parishioner
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
God help us, (Not to make the same mistakes again.)
#2 Bob Russell on 2008-10-06 09:03
This is in response to Fr. Andrew Moore's Reflection. First of all, His Holiness Patriarch Alexei wil be 80 years old in February and there are health issues. Bishop Hilarion is a possible successor. Secondly, without fore knowledge that the Patriarchal Synod would release him and without fore knowledge that Bishop Hilarion would even accept, it seems to me that the Fr. Moore's reflection is well meaning wishful thinking. Such wishful thinking could result in a disunified vote, with no one receiving 2/3, that would throw it back to the Synod. Everyone needs to get behind one person that everyone can live with to avoid that possibility.
In addition, Archbishop Job made his announcement about retirement when he was under immense emotional distress over the whole mess thinking there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and that is understandable under those circumstances. Why do people assume that the new circumstances will not give him renewed vigor to say, if the call comes: ďHere am I! Send me.Ē Isaiah 6:8.
Finally, it was Archbishop Job who acted with steadfastness and incredible courage these past several years which has brought us near to the light at the end of the tunnel. Some seem to take his "expression" of repentance for his own perceived shortcomings as evidence that he is as culpable as the perpetrators of the problem. I take it as a great act of humility -- not culpability. It is his steadfastness and courage, coupled with his humility, that makes him the most worthy.
Everyone who cares about the OCA should unite behind Archbishop Job and then pray that he follows Isaiah's lead and accepts and then, under the guidance of the Spirit of Truth, that he leads us out of the turmoil that he did not create.
#3 Nick Katich on 2008-10-06 09:12
No comments section for Fr. Moore's article?
(editor's note: Sorry about that. An oversight on my part, as I thought I had created it. It is now open.)
#4 Fr. John A. Peck on 2008-10-06 09:45
I think the majority will be behind + Seraphim. He's the one as a long-term bishop. Again, + Job is a nice fellow, but please examine his past in NE. All the bishops are guilty for doing too little too late regarding the financial scandal.
(editor's note: You presuppose that one needs a "long-term" Bishop. What would be the disadvantage of electing a short term one, and then waiting 3-6 years, as we elect a minimum of 4-5 new bishops in that time. There are lots of vacant sees that need occupants, doubling our present pool of potential candidates. Secondly, to what are you referring about in the Archbishop's term in NE? Now is the time to speak openly, or forever hold your peace, as the saying goes....)
#5 Anonymous on 2008-10-06 16:11
If Ab Job is God's choice to be our next Metropolitan, will he support the deep cut in the OCA assessment to no more than $50? Dire scenarios are being sent to members of the Holy Synod warning that if the $50 assessment is passed by the AAC it will mean no full-time chancery staff in Syosset. Only the most basic functions will be accomplished.
I don't believe these "Bush-like" scare tactics. Rather, like all households, when times are tough, we do with less and survive.
The Holy Synod will hold a conference call on Wednesday in which they will talk about a cut in the assessment to $90. They believe a cut must take place but not the $50.
So, Syosset is still trying to hold on to as much money as they can. More than we had to pay before Toronto so life can go on. Maybe not with the excesses but with paying a Chancellor $130K+ a OCA Secretary in excess of $110K+ and Communications Directors in excess of $100K+ and no real plan to pay the Metropolitan less then the combined salary of the OCA and the his diocesan salary.
The Diocese of the Midwest said it very clearly which was stated also by WPA and the DOS, let the money stay local and not spent in Syosset. A million dollars for Syosset is enough. If it isn't then Syosset change YOUR PRIORITIES not those of the parishes and dioceses of the OCA.
Metropolitan Job, can you run your chancery in New York on a million dollars per year? If you can, you will change the direction of the OCA for the better.
If all politics are local, surely all church life is local too, the person, the parish, the diocese and then the national church.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-10-06 17:41
The notion of grabbing a 50 dollar amount from the sky as the assumed fair budget for the cca is as shameful as the scandal itself.
If the budget of the cca is wrong, or spends in places where the dioceses could, this is to be taken point by point in any responsible budgeting effort.
Stop the knee jerk reactions, and this ideology that a federal government/central church is unneeded, neither are valid responses to the scandal. I find these notions extremely irresponsible, and very political.
I challenge the priests and laypeople proposing the 50 dollars to provide the full basis for how they arrive at that number, or I submit to the Holy Synod that this resolution must be tossed out on its merits, which at face value appear to be none.
I will pray for a higher degree of responsibility and a full evaluation of the strategic mission of the central administration.
#7 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-10-06 19:47
I agree with Mark Stokoe regarding the call for an explanation of the insinuations of +Archbishop Job's episcopal pastorate in New England. There was no scandal involved, there was no inappropriate behavior on his part. In fact, when parishes that had a history of being troublesome had a pastoral vacancy, +Job took his time and made sure that the new priest was a good match for the parish and would lead them forward a little further towards the Kingdom of God!
Again, I have to say that it is really a cowardly act to make insinuatory remarks about someone and hide behind the skirts of anonymity!! It smacks of little toddlers who are afraid of people and hide behind their mother's skirts! We keep talking on this website about honesty, forthrightness, and being above board by putting all the cards on the table! Yet, some people, who won't sign their names, spew inflammatory gossip about! Please, as a believing Orthodox Christian who is supposed to follow Christ, Who is the Truth and Who said, "Whatever you have whispered in rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops!", I implore you to come forward, *for the good of the Church*, and forthrightly tell us what is objectionable about His Eminence! I say, "for the good of the Church" because, if there is some quality of his that would preclude him from being a good Metropolitan, then all of us should be made aware of it! And, if not, if it is only a personal vendetta that you have towards him, please be honest and courageous enough to say so! I have posted many comments, as well as Reflections, on this site, and many people have spoken to me about it, pro and con! And, as one priest whom I respect said to me recently after he rebuked me for one of my posts, "At least I can speak to you about it, because I know that you wrote it and were honest enough to sign your name to it!" We should all follow the way of the Gospel, rather than the fallen ways of "this world" if we expect our Church to resolve these issues, heal, and move forward to continue proclaiming the Gospel of Christ here in America!!!
#8 David Barrett on 2008-10-07 08:41
We need someone who is not from the current crop. I have some reservations with Job because there's a lot that's on his mind about this that hasn't come out. He's still got one toe in that old mentality.
But again, why do we limit ourselves to a current bishop? When they needed to get a new Supreme Court Chief Justice, where did they go? Outside of the court to bring in new blood to lead. Likewise we need to do the same here. Everyone of the guys on the Synod has some degree of taint and, to be honest, we don't trust any of them. We're confining ourselves to a selection of the lesser of a bunch of evils. And there's no reason for that, look at all possibilities of those within the Church.
Let us not only choose a new Metropolitan, but the people to choose a new bishop as well, what a concept!
#9 Anonymous on 2008-10-07 10:54
The bishops, the central administration are praying for you, they really are.
The $50 assessment is a good idea for a few reasons. One of which is its a grassroots movement to trim down what is a tremendously wasteful organization, even more so lately, believe it or not. Its a reaction to people who got too big doing too little. You have to realize the situation. Look at the current numbers. The central administration uses about 5% of what it takes in on works of the Church, the rest is used to keep themselves running. What a tremendous waste that is, even you can agree. On this point, what the people are saying is that if this money is only to allow you people to tread water, then you can tread water with a lot less because you do nothing useful with what you have now Ė and we have the numbers to prove that. Look at the amount of overhead charged on all the appeals, its nearly criminal. Just think about it, $5 out of that $100 you give is used for works of the Church. The charities to which I contribute have a top amount of 8% for administrative costs. I donít understand why this organization is completely backwards in that respect. Itís a sign that maybe weíre doing too little with too much and that it can be trimmed back greatly.
Second, itís a value that people are placing on the administration. What weíre saying is that for what is done with the money and what is gotten in return, $100 is a lot of money compared to the value if the money is used at a lower level the value of that money is greater because the people handling it are closer to how it will be used. Does a Syosset dignitary need to be in the photo when handing over a check to a charity? Thatís basically what youíre paying for, provided it really goes to where you wanted it to go to. In this day in age when people complain about $4.00 gasoline, youíre willing to throw away as much money as you do on the central administration of this church? Itís a terrible value, so we do not see the need to give more to an organization that is very, very poor is fiscal responsibility. People gave $100 when they felt it was worthwhile, now we know the truth, and thereís no value in that $100. We price the value of their function at $50. Donít say that we need to support the work of the Church, we DO, but we donít have to do it but supporting a valueless administration in Syosset.
Lastly, it gives the central administration motivation. In the current scheme of things, they can do nothing, absolutely nothing, and in fact have done nothing good for the Church, and they are assured of all their creature comforts and money. Its nuts. If we cut down the money sent in, itís a shot across the bow that says, if you want more, the answer is growth, not choking those that are already here in a dying organization. They will be directly responsible for the revenue they deem is necessary, not making us responsible for a figure they feel they need for them to be comfortable. When we look at the MILLIONS robbed from us, we ask, what could we have done with that money and then we look at maybe we were sending too much in that we were fairly content with what we got out of them, meaning those millions did not need to go to the central administration anyway. It could be kept at a lower level and used wisely.
Dan, you are wedded to the classic liberal thinking that ever more higher authorities above you know how to use your money better than you do. In your case you feel that this necessary that the central administration takes the money and does what they want because you, at a lower level, canít make good and Godly decisions. I disagree. I feel that the people who are closer to a problem know how better to use it. Local charities that help people and give visibility to our Orthodox faith. The central administration is looking at big items, when the real charity occurs at a level that you see every day that are nowhere on the radar of the administration. Thatís a very powerful reason to use our money for Godly acts that have the greatest impact and value with regards to what our values are. In addition, those who handle the money who are closer to the sources of the money will treat the money with greater respect and result in less waste. They will carefully consider how its used, something the administration still hasnítí grasped. Hell, I donít recall a 2007 audit yet.
You asked for a justification of that number. To that I have two responses. First, how do you value what something is worth to you and what will cause you to be parted, for a good reason, from your money? Why do we take bids on jobs? Letís just go with the first one that comes along because heís got a number. We donít care how he got to it because heís proud of his number and you like how it looks because he told you all the wonder things he can do with that money. What makes you say that one person asking for $100 to bring you a pizza is a bad value compared to one for $15? How do you make that call? I would say you go through an analysis, quick though it be, that says that $100 to bring you a pizza is a waste of money considering the ingredients, effort expended to make it, and the distance to travel to bring it, unless of course the meat on it was Kobe beef. Maybe youíre so wealthy that $100 doesnít matter to you, your value of that sum of money is less than one who isnít wealthy who looks for good value. If the $100 is a small amount to you then you have less value on it because you have a lot of those Franklins around. Other people value that $100 like itís a child because they have precious few. This is how people place value on things. What they get and what it costs them to get it. We seek to optimize our value with our money. The central administration has a track record of being an horrendous value for the money paid. People have placed $50 on the value of what the administration does and their comfort with giving away $50 of their money for that value. The administration will have to make due until they have shown us there is more value, then more will come in.
Secondly, we turn your question around to you, what justification can you give for $100 a person? What justification for $2,600,000 a year to do what? Thatís what I am really interested in hearing, maybe you can provide us with the reasons.
#10 Anonymous on 2008-10-07 14:36
Many, many congratulations on your election to the Metropilitan Council. And many, many thanks for what you have done. Countless thanks. Do you grasp the magnitude of what you've done? Could the collapse of the administration have happened without your dogged efforts, and in the face of discouragement, venom, and betrayal? Please know that your work is appreciated and your example is a living inspiration. May God bless you in your work in the Metropolitan Council. May God bless you in all things.
(editor's note: Thank you for your kind wishes, but I must make it clear that this website, and the changes undertaken and underway, were not my work as much as many, many others: some great people you will most likely never hear of, others you have heard of - on the MC, Synod, and in Syosset itself; and many, many, many more scattered throughout the OCA archipelago, unwilling to give up. It is to them that your thanks are due, and as they read these comments, I hope they take yours to their hearts, where it justly belongs.)
#11 Thomas Di Martino on 2008-10-08 18:13
If you are man enough to state your name, I'll be glad to respond to your offensive post.
#12 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-10-08 18:59
In reply to your objection to reducing the assessment to $50 I would like to share with you something that was expressed at the recent Midwest Diocesan Assembly. There are some bottom-line, necessary, positions for the national church in order to meet charter requirements and in order to operate at a minimal level. These can be met with a $50 per capita assessment. To go forward with all the old positions and departments in place but reduced in the amount allocated to them is to fail to rethink what is truly needed and effective at the national level. It is to stay in the same mindset, pattern and attitude that was so comfortable in Syosset and to hope that things can build right back up to an approximation of what they have been, excessive as they were.
Reducing the assessment to $50 ushers in a wonderful opportunity-- permission to (*think*), to determine what is best handled at the parish level, at the diocesan level, and then eventually at the national level. Parishes under-report membership or have had to drop or have failed to begin important ministries or have been unable to meet the guidelines for priest's compensation packages. When a $50 per capita assessment is in place these things can be rectified and the national church can think through and present to the faithful any petitions deemed worthy, with convincing evidence, if such exists. Many of the church's ministries are better done at the local or diocesan level.
Correction is manifestly in order, and funding the national church so it continues unchanged, though in reduced circumstances, is not going to effect correction. One need not think of this resolve to reduce the assessment to $50 as punishment or a knee-jerk response--it gives a base amount to fund the essentials of the national church and then thought and honest, tough evaluation can determine what, if anything, else is realistic and appropriate. As someone else has pointed out, growth will bring in more money for the national church and growth will occur with parishes able to expand evangelism locally through ministries they cannot now afford. The Synod of Bishops has written to all of us of the need to take up the cross, now, in moving forward. I submit that the humble acceptance of a reduced assessment to $50 per capita is one way in which the cross can be borne.
#13 Anonymous on 2008-10-10 17:53
I've no idea whether you are the same anon that basically told me I think I'm stupid in the prior post, but I'll gratify the last post which was entirely objective with a response.
I will forever be disappointed with the head tax. It doesn't promote honesty and in fact equates people with revenue. Probably a dangerous concept in a Christian context. Wonder what Christ would say about our little membership fee plan.
Churches ought to be tithing to the administration. I can't tell you the percentage and am only using tithing loosely, not 10%. The percentages could be determined by the Diocesan Bishop with some underlying guidance. This is the first step in getting away from equating people with a revenue stream.
The report of the SIC suggests the church needs a strategic plan. In any well run organization, the strategic plan drives the budget process. For the WPA and now the DoM to have determined a budget, it would mean that they have developed the strategic plan. How is this even possible for these two dioceses to develop the strategic vision for the central administration? This is not something that happens in a week or two process, so let's face reality and realize that no strategic plan has been the basis for determining the amount. While we can agree the OCA central administration hasn't been a well run organization for years, we can also certainly agree that establishing the strategic plan hasn't happened. Is the Orthodox Church newsletter part of the vision? In the budget? Just one example. The DoM decided the Vigil was no longer needed if I recall. Is this your decision for the central church as well? Was this collectively decided by the group of people that are developing the strategic plan?
The notion that reducing the head tax allows someone to think is really quite off, in my opinion. The thinking is supposed to lead the budget, not vice versa. Anytime a drastic cut such as the ones proposed by WPA and supported by DoM is put in place after a scandal, sorry friend, it is a knee jerk concept.
You suggest in the closing paragraph that by reducing funding to the central administration, it is increased elsewhere perhaps in evangelizing the church. How come then the proposed resolution doesn't require each church to escrow the reduction under evangelism, or require it to be sent to the diocese and escrowed there under evangelism? It is as good as beer money for me.
The Honesdale loan, I believe is running at about 8% and would roughly cost 67 dollars per member to pay off. Why didn't the resolution suggest an early payoff of Honesdale in 3 years? Certainly, you don't expect the Honesdale loan servicing costs to be borne out by paycuts to current staff? An early payoff would cost each member of the church or the current budget about 25 bucks a year for 3 years. Was this forgotten?
You keep suggesting things done at the national church can be done better locally. I understand that smaller can be better. It would be rather unwise for each diocese to manage its own pension though, for example. This, however, goes back to the strategic planning, which we can agree, has not happened. The strategic planning itself must be done by a group outside the administration or it is destined to fail, we can probably also agree on that one.
If you were the original poster, you have forgotten a few basics about winning friends and influencing people. First of all, you don't start off by calling me stupid. I allowed that poster to ruin a perfectly good pork chop dinner. That poster suggested I believe I'm dumb and I believe a big governing body knows what is best. Quite to the contrary....
There are certain things that a federal government must accomplish, however. Unfortunately, setting laws that govern banking hasn't been one they've done much on since tricky Dick. In fact, the laws have been steadily loosened since FDR and the 1933 crash recovery efforts. After last week's market crash, the last thing I needed to hear was how we don't need any government [regulation]. I will credit laissez faire policies and we both know who prefers those. The OCA had a government, but it was nearly a monarchy and the Metropolitan Council (elected) members didn't answer to the Dioceses that elected them. It is easy to have an attitude that government isn't needed after what the OCA has done, but government is needed. In the absence of government, our lives would not be the same. And let me tell you, they would not be better. There are places where there is no government and people are killed there daily without anyone looking for the reasons. If the government didn't own the roads, you couldn't afford the tolls. Just what exactly the government of the OCA ought to be responsible for was a recommendation of the SIC, and had nothing to do with our political views.
In closing this up, you started off by offending my political views, and then you offended my work as a budget analyst, and then you expected me to agree with you that we don't need government with your comparisons of the OCA and the federal government of the US. I guess you would have agreed with the 1998 OCA resolution that said discretionary accounts were off limits for audit since that would be an unnecessary expense and a lot of overhead cost for the OCA. Interestingly enough, that didn't work. Ultimately, all of our petty squabbling over this 50 dollar number is supposed to be avoided when organizations have a strategic vision and follow it. Pretty clearly, the OCA doesn't. I'd say this is a terrible time to determine its course through contraction by contrition.
If we were truly members of one another in Christ, we'd probably have had resolutions to quickly disburse of the Honesdale debt. Sadly, we aren't.
#14 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-10-13 14:02
Different poster from the first Anonymous, Daniel, and I hope not guilty of forgetting the basics of winning friends and influencing people that you cite. Sorry if disagreement is being seen as being disagreeable. Of course we are one in the Body of Christ. I didn't intend to offend you, but to state reasons reasonably.
#15 Anonymous on 2008-10-13 18:29
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