Friday, October 23. 2009
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i give all praise to metropolitan philip and the board of trustees on their recent decisions. it makes great sense and further shows the leadership that this man give us. from what i heard, those that abstained from vote were against any kind of audit at all. i wouldve personally voted against any kind of audit. however, since this is what the metropolitan wants, i will oblige as his visionary leadership is without question. quit your babble mark...you look like a whining child.
#1 Anonymous on 2009-10-23 08:17
1. Fr. George Kevorkian is the pastor of St. Ignatius Mission in Florida, NY. Fr. Elias Bitar is (and has been for many years) the pastor of St. George Church in Little Falls, NJ. Fr. George previously served as Fr. Elias's assistant.
2. The Douglas Skaff who is a member of the Board is not the one who is a member of the WV House of Delegates. (The latter is the son of the former.)
(Editor's note: The information has been corrected. Thank you.)
#2 A Reader on 2009-10-23 09:26
"According to several people present at the meeting, Dn. Emile Sayegh, the new Chancellor of the Archdiocese, as well as several Board members, argued against an external audit of the Antiochian Archdiocese, on the pretext that conducting an external audit would “signal” that the Archdiocese was “being influenced” by Mark Stokoe."
On this statement alone, this fellow should not be Chancellor of ANYTHING! If he does not know that according to "Best Practices" all non-profit organizations MUST be audited by a reputable external CPA firm - PERIOD! Again, the people of the AOCA have been snookered. This is nothing more than the police investigating themselves. Guess what, no crimes are ever committed!
#3 Anonymous on 2009-10-23 09:43
Sounds like, from your post, that you are the one whining. Your +MP bias is very obvious, no audit would be your choice, let the doubtful activities (maybe even crimes, as showed up in the recent OCA mess) continue. Any, rational, non-biased observer of the whole scene, would state the most cogent solution to the whole mess would be an external audit by a 'non-connected' firm. But, typically, those who have something to hide obfuscate and bluster to cover up their tracks. Mr Anonymouse, does this fit anyone that you know?
When the light is turned on, all of the cockroaches head for cover. An external audit is needed to turn on the light in the Archdiocese.
#4 Glad to not be Antiochian on 2009-10-23 11:02
As a Conservative voter who mostly votes Republican (Right-to-Life issues and more), I've found it disturbing that the Obama administration keeps going after Fox News and refusing to recognize them as a true news organization. Metropolitan Phillip is doing the same thing. Mark Stokoe is not expressing his opinions - he is simply publishing news and the opinions of many others.
(editor's note: Thanks, I think.)
#5 Fr Stephen Mack on 2009-10-23 11:22
Adolph Hitler would be proud of how our Archdiocese leaders are justifying not doing an external audit!!
While I am certainly no fan of Hitler, I just finished reading his book, Mein Kampf, out of curiosity. In the book, Hitler states that the most effective propaganda picks out only one enemy to vilify, and uses that vilification to motivate others to support one's position. He advises against attacking many enemies, even if many enemies exist, because it will likely result in people saying: "Hey, can all these people be wrong? Maybe the propagandist is wrong!" Hitler also felt it didn't matter if some of what you said wasn't true, as long as it convinced people to come around to your position.
This would explain why Hitler would advise the leaders of the Archdiocese to not even acknowledge that many Archdiocese members (clergy as well as laity) are critical of them, but rather to focus on only one "devil." In Hitler's case, he blamed the Jews for everything that he felt was wrong in the world - with great effect. Our archdiocese leaders seem to be taking a page out of Hitler's playbook - just substituting Mark Stokoe for the Jews, and pretending that no one in the Archdiocese is upset with them.
So, now, OCANEWS.org readers, you can stop wondering why Mark, and Mark alone, is being repeatedly fingered as the (one and only) bad guy. This is my opinion.
Thank goodness for this website!!
#6 Disgusted Life-long Antiochian Orthodox Christian on 2009-10-23 12:35
"since this is what the metropolitan wants, i will oblige"
Huh...I wonder...is this how the AOCNA has always been run since Phil has been Met? I think this explains a lot.
Anonymous...make sure you drink all of the Met Phil flavored Kool-Aid.
#7 markw on 2009-10-23 12:52
Our esteemed Chancellor is correct. The Board of Trustee's should not in any way give in to Mark Stokoe, no matter what he says how he says it or how correct he is.
What they should "give in to" or seriously heed is the voice of the faithful. You know the one's who send the Archdiocese the money that enables the Metropolitan to proudly proclaim that it is he who pays for the seminary education of our clergy.
Mark Stokoe now becomes a symbol of this growing resistance to over four decades of unaccountability. He is a face and name that can be singled out and attacked. I have no doubt whatsovever every stone will now be turned over hoping to find something on Mr. Stokoe.
Unfortunately for the old guard even if they could utterly destroy Mark Stokoe it would have no effect. The camels nose is already under the tent.
If this resistance was not in fact having a real or perceived effect on the Archdiocese finacially this seeming obsession with Mr. Stokoe would cease immediately.
Again if we want reform we must quit paying the bills... of those unwilling to come into the light.
#8 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-10-23 13:01
That is a terrible comparison good priest. Why?
Fox News is clearly against Obama, for Pete's sake. Which, by your comparison, suggests OCANews is against Metropolitan Philip, which I don't believe to be true.
I've certainly never advocated for the removal of Metropolitan Philip in my dialogue advocating third party audit. I've only advocated audit for those that have doubts, but I've never advocated internal audit. Internal audit is a preposterous notion.
#9 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-10-23 14:01
I would not want to put much trust in making assumptions about why some people abstained from voting. I heard that at least some did so because they were in favor of an external audit, but they were too weak or compromised to vote in favor of an external audit, knowing that it would damage, potentially, their relationship with Metropolitan Philip.
Again, I would not want to speculate much on that, but would prefer for them to speak for themselves. A non-vote is simply a non-vote, unless someone gives an explanation.
It would be interesting to know if any of those chosen for the internal audit actually voted for an external audit.
#10 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-23 14:17
This websites ad hominem attacks against Metropolitan Philip and Bishop Antoun are disrespectful and disgusting. They are true leaders and deserve our credit not scorn.
They are Christians "who walk the walk." They took your advice and put an audit into effect. It is needed and is being done. This is the first step in gratitude to the vocal minority.
The Stokoe new service out of Dayton ,Ohio has infected the world wide web with it's vitriol and self righteousness. Has this service brought anybody closer to the church of Christ? Has it counseled those in need? Has it raised funds for the poor?
Our heirarchs have done this. Many years!
#11 A life -long proud Antiochian Orthodox Chrisitan on 2009-10-23 15:10
#12 Antionymous on 2009-10-23 15:14
What of Bishop Demetri? One of the rumors was that he had been retired again, but I see no official statement to that effect.
#13 pobrecita on 2009-10-23 15:58
This is beyond ridiculous. It’s like having Enron audit itself. Nothing is going to push this through the proper channels unless Caesar (i.e. civil authorities) are brought into the mix. So therefore I ask:
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO “the more-than-qualified New York lawyers who are waiting in the wings to file suit…”?????!!!!
What is left for us to believe that this will get resolved internally or peacefully?
TAKE THE AOCA TO COURT!
#14 BT on 2009-10-23 16:17
So mark now you allow this horrible opinion to be posted? Met Philip is being compared to Hitler? You condone this talk of an anriochuan bishop who has given his life foe the church to be compared to a murderer of 6 million. I am sickened by this and completely outraged! I would hope that this is taken out immediately. Shame on this person doe his diapaefing remarks and you for allowing it to be posted. Even those who disagree with his eminence would certainly not call him Hitler. I really am appauled.
(Editor's note: You would be less appalled if you actually read what the speaker said before being appalled. He was not comparing the Metropolitan to Hitler, he was discussing the technique of scapgoating, citing Hitler's description of the technique in Mein Kampf, and applying that to a contemporary situation. One can question its appropriateness - but don't twist his words into something he did not say.)
#15 Anonymous on 2009-10-23 17:55
Amewn. Amen Amen !!! Glad for Mark Stokoe. Or how else whould we get the Truth?? From our Ant. Website? The WORD?? What a laugh! ...
#16 Anonymous Priest (Eastern Diocese) on 2009-10-23 17:55
ENOUGH on all of this AUDIT business!
NO one is convinced that an Internal Audit will do.
NO CPA in the "Universe" would agree any they ALL know it!!
Yesterday, at a local Orth clergy gathering, a Greek O. Priest said what is this about local Parish Audits ??
We've had rgem for YEARS, a part of the GOA By Laws, no less! Two or Three auditors are elected at the Annual Assembly and are answerable to the ASSEMBLY !
They may go to the Priest if a discrepancy is found OR /AND the Church Council,
COST to the parish $ O 0 0 !!
Same with the OCA, and the Romanian Priest said, "We Too!"
What's the problem only poor leadership! Think on these things ? What makes US different ?!
#17 Anonymous Priest on 2009-10-23 21:02
Oh, there is truth to what you say, but Mark Stokoe is not the only enemy. Metropolitan Philip also told a priest on loan that he was not allowed to serve in any archdiocesan parish and a layman has been threatened with excommunication. We shall learn more of the latter some day, perhaps. Even if not, we know that they will find enemies where they will.....
#18 Phil on 2009-10-23 23:21
This is insane.
1. People all over the place are questioning the ... Archdiocese.
2. Many of them place their questions and comments on this site.
3.This site is in place and monitored by Mark Stokoe.
4. Because the folks in Englewood feel threatened by the people who are questioning and commented, Mark Stokoe is at fault.
My comment, not Mark's: there are some real shallow thinkers involved....
When the lights come on, the roaches scurry.
#19 Glad to not be Antiochian on 2009-10-24 07:58
Are you serious? Your comparing our Archdiocesan structure and hierachal leadership like Hitler? No offense Mark, but I do think this takes it way out of proporation. One your not jewish, two, Hitler was a crazy loon that believed in the superior race and psychotic. I truly believe that this disgusted life-long Antiochian Orthodox Christian really has dyslexia or something because his interpretation is quite skewed.
Maybe one can say OCAnews.org is actually like Hitler trying to pin point wrong doings on the jew. Reversed. Make sense? Not really because this was a terrible analogy.
To #5 poster, please read Neslon Mandela's life and let me know what you think. Sound good? Thanks Mark for posting this.
(editor's note: We are agreed it was not a good analogy. Let's move the discussion forward.)
#20 What? on 2009-10-24 14:46
Oh, the lawyers won't sue. That is considered a last resort and as long as some of them and/or their friends think small doors have been opened (like getting Bishop Basil on that committee), they will not sue.
Let's not kid ourselves. These problems are not going to go away any time soon. Priests still sign anonymously individually. Why not start banding together and signing with real names? Scared. Just downright terrified.
#21 Phil on 2009-10-24 19:23
Fox News IS NOT AGAINST OBAMA !
Only they ask questions like this site does-
#22 sasha reshetar on 2009-10-24 19:37
At the risk of sounding like I am completely on the side of Metropolitan Phillip I would like to say that there is actually some wisdom in not jumping into an external audit.
External audits are extremely expensive endeavors and they should not be entered into without a complete understanding of what is required. Having read many of the posts on this subject and spoken with many people in the Antiochian Archdiocese it is clear that many people have no idea what is required.
External audits by licensed CPAs are not your average internal church audit. They are required to dig significantly deeper. While this may appear to be the right thing to do, and honestly it will ultimately be the right thing to do, it is not something that you can enter into lightly.
One of the first principles of an audit by an outside CPA is that the financial statements are the "representation of management." This simple little sentence means that everyone associated with the financial statements needs to know almost as much as the outside auditors about financial and accounting standards and that they have complied with these standards.
Judging from many of the posters on this website, it would appear that they think that the auditors show up one day and just jump and have an audit. It's just not that simple. The auditing rules and regulations are extremely complex and they are not optional. The Antiochian Archdioces has never had an audit and it will most likely take a tremendous amount of time and effort just to prepare for it. I am not being an apologist for Metropolitan Phillip but a realist.
Take a look back at what the OCA spent in audit and legal fees in 2006 if you think that my analysis is not correct. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with very little to show for it. When you do an audit you need to trace back to original source documents. This includes the articles of incorporation, tax filings, investment statements, donor requests, etc. How many people do you know could find their birth certificates in a day? God bless the OCA for having external audits for so many years and the wisdom to hire CPAs. Unfortunately the Antiochian Archdiocese has not done so yet (I hope that this will be corrected in the near distant future). But in the mean time I will say that I applaud the decision to at least move forward with an internal audit.
To all the detractors, you're right it's not sufficient. But it will start the unraveling of the financial knot. I know several of the people on the internal audit committee and they are neither stupid nor naive. They will do a respectable job. Just a reminder, it was Mr. John Kozey, the head of the internal audit department of the OCA that brought forth many of the financial problems in the OCA.
And one last little reminder. The OCA was mired in financial filth. Money from Archer Daniels Midland Company went missing. Money raised for 9/11 victims went missing. Money earmarked for various other charities went missing. To my knowledge there is nothing similar that has come to light within the Antiochian Archdiocese. Metropolitan Phillip has helped to grow the Antiochian Archdiocese spiritually and financially. There is simply no comparision between the OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese financially. To raise inuendos or suggest that there is a financial scandal where none exists is simply not fair. Like everyone else, I believe that the Antiochian Archdiocese should have an external audit, but not until it can be something more than an accounting free for all.
(Editor's note: Thank you for a reasonable and thoughtful essay. There are several errors of fact, however, that should be corrected. First, an external audit of the Archdiocese, given the amounts involved, would by the best estimates, cost between $35,000-$50,000. Even the OCA can afford that, and we are by no means in the AOCA's financial league, as you point out. To claim cost as a factor is simply disingenuous.
Secondly, Mr. Kozey was not aware of secret accounts until he was informed of them by a Syosset insider. While he had many good questions as an internal auditor, he had no way of knowing the depth, scope or nature of the real financial sheninigans going on. For example, when he blew the whistle in 1999 no one had any idea about misused charity funds, or 9/11 funds, etc. He only knew about a part of the ADM monies - not even all of those. That all came later, and had to be discovered by blood, sweat and tears. And even after he blew the whistle, he was not allowed to audit the "discretionary accounts", which were a major source of the problem. So this is probably not your best example for internal auditing sufficing to expose, all - if any - of the problems that may or may not exist.
Finally, there were never "hundreds of thousands" spent on auditing in 2006, or ever, in the OCA. Hundreds of thousands were spent on Proskauer Rose, for legal fees, mainly, it seems, for the benefit of the former Metropolitan, for which the OCA footed the bill. At the most we have spent a total of of one hundred thousand on auditing bills since 2006 - which is not unreasonable or excessive given what we have achieved since then. We were, as you put it, mired in financial filth - most of which we had no idea we were when we started the process. The OCA is now out of financial filth, and operating its finances openly, honestly and transparently. While not cheap, it was certainly worth it, given that people are again contributing to the Church confident in knowing where their money is going.
Those are the facts. Now I will add an opinion: I would recommend that course - of yearly internal and external audits for every Orthodox jurisdictions. And the sooner it begins, the better off you will be. )
#23 Anon. Orthodox Christian CPA on 2009-10-24 20:09
>>"Fox News is clearly against Obama, for Pete's sake."
The news or commentary? There is a difference. Aren't there organizations that actually track this -- and my understanding is they aren't as bad as is popularly held. Perhaps the "fair and balanced" approach is done by the august organizations like CNN that do fact-checking on Saturday Night Live skits that question Obama's myriad accomplishments. CNN is on the look-out -- just like they were for Republican presidents.
Speaking of news vs commentary -- actually most of the headline stories on OCANews concerning the Antiochian Archdiocese are not terribly positive (regardless of being "accurate" or not). Granted, there have been one or two reflections that defended the current administration but most of the stories are critical. Pro-Antiochian posters can post here, but the main stories generally have a particular view. Of course, since it's a view I cynically share, it doesn't bother me so much.
I understand the nature of news and this kind of news in particular -- the Archdiocese doing something positively noteworthy isn't "newsworthy" or it is reported in the backdrop of the other problems and trying to find motives for doing good works. Or, the Archdiocese would be criticized for tooting it's own horn -- in violation of the Lords direct command. In some ways, if an organization does good work, it just can't win -- Met Jonah has had a heap of criticism from here in the less than a year he has been in place. Because people didn't agree with him.
(editor's note: This site deals with issues of transparency and accountability. There are many other sites that can " toot" the Archdiocese's, or the OCA's, or whoever's, horn for the good works they do, and I encourage people to read them, and honor them for the work they do. But it is not the task of this site.
I agree about the no-win situation, though, as it concerns posters arguing against most of the articles here, calling as they do for accountability and transparency. It is hard to make a cogent case against either - which is why I suspect there are so few. I happily print them, even if I disagree with them.
Finally, I have praised, questioned and asked clarification from Metropolitan Jonah concerning his actions of the past year. One year ago I warned this would be the case, when I wrote it was unfair to nominate him to be Metropolitan for he would be making all his rookie bishop mistakes in the glare of being center stage. That has, alas, proven the case. Let us all hope for the best in the coming year.)
#24 Anonymous on 2009-10-24 20:53
There's that old rule about argumentation and debate -- whoever invokes Hitler or the Nazis has lost the argument. There is a reason for that and everyone can see that here.
Don't do it. Yes, it's nice to plough through Mein Kampf (not a small volume) just for background but it doesn't make for controversial fodder because it will mostly be mis-construed when trotted out. Even if a close comparison between that sorry episode of history and a current problem are similar, the effort to define the distinctions is more trouble than it's worth. If a person drags that whole business into any other arena, the inevitable occurs -- accusations of "you're comparing X to Hitler". What's the point? I was going to just make a point about Hitler -- but I'm resisting the effort because half of the readers might get distracted/misconstrue it.
It's fine to learn some lessons from history and get some background on some of the most significant occurrences of the last century, but we need to make our points on close arguments and not analogies or recollections of some black times of the modern era. If the only way we can make the point is to invoke those names and those times -- then maybe the point doesn't need to be made.
#25 Anonymous on 2009-10-24 21:08
In addition to referring you to my comments made to #9 below, I would add that there is a serious problem in our Archdiocese right now regarding racism/ethnicism.
Bishop Antoun has been rabidly outspoken on numerous occasions recently against converts. One of these occasions was at the recent Synod meeting. In addition, I know a priest who is heavily involved with Englewood who asked a convert priest if the convert priest thought Antioch had made a mistake by accepting in all of these converts.
There are also many converts who are racist against Arabs and who are ignorant of certain acceptable Arabic traditions and practices (I say 'acceptable' because some of the Arabic traditions and practices, like some traditions and practices of any culture are contrary to the Gospel message) that might be foreign to their own expression of Orthodoxy. There are many converts who feel superior to the "stupid" cradle Orthodox who supposedly know nothing about their faith.
Racism is alive and well in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and has been for quite some time. And until we are all willing to look inside ourselves and examine and correct our own prejudices, this problem will continue to exist.
For the most part, however, among the clergy, I find that these racial/ethnic walls have been deteriorating over the years. More and more, clergy are forming into groups not based on ethnicity, but based on their ideals for expressing Orthodoxy in America. This, too, has its problems, but I think it is a step forward since it is based upon principle and not based upon something, like ethnicity, that none of us can change.
#26 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-24 21:09
I do not want to dishonor Metropolitan Philip
His advisors are seeing to that.
I do not want to defame the Church
But when we do not walk in unity we fail to glorify God and proclaim the Gospel
At this point the only reasons for not having an external audit of the Archdiocese are pride or fear of the discovery of wrong doing. The most unifying act His grace PHILIP could offer his flock would be to humble himself and accept responsibility for the unrest that exists in the Archdiocese. I do not think he is solely responsible. I do not even think the majority of the responsibility lies with him. Humility, that most noble of virtues coupled with love for us would allow him to do this without fear.
#27 a concerned Antiochian priest on 2009-10-25 05:02
You make a few good points but lose on the overall argument. One statement you made is flat wrong, you stated we spend hundreds of thousands which Mark corrected you on, but you also stated in the same sentence...
'with very little to show for it'
The audit proved a lot. Without going into great detail, the demand for audit alone was the beginning of the unraveling of the nightmare that was happening in the OCA. The actual audit showed even more.
And although I find your post to be mostly cogent, you conviently leave out every argument for third party audit. You suggest internal audits as a stepping stone. Why then didn't the Board of Trustees say we are going to prepare for an external audit in 2011 by having internal audits done in 2009/10 and by hiring an additional competant accountant that understands audit requirements toward that plan, or by engaging with an audit firm for consultation in 2009 for a 2010/2011 plan.
No, they didn't take that action.
They took what they incorrectly perceive as a rebellious action against Mark Stokoe, which by anyone's standards, accountants or others, is a joke. You, sir/ma'am especially as a CPA ought to find it comical the AOCA would rather rebel against 'Stookey' than follow the practices you preach.
And further, if the books of the AOCA are cleanly kept, an external auditor would be able to audit without great trouble which you also ought to understand as a CPA. Likelihood is, the books are probably a disaster, and funds are traveling to places noone ever expected which would be disclosed in a full third party audit. An internal audit does not need to cover these things. Especially like the 1998 bylaw the OCA passed allowing discretionary funds (which by all standards was a sham).
While I'm not a CPA, but merely a degreed accountant, I understand accounting and human nature to mention these things you conveniently leave out of your message.
And further, financial strength does not indicate the soundness of accounting practices, which you also miss in your arguments. Look at how many years Mr. Madoff ran his business and all the money he had to throw about for an example.
All in all, you are defending the action without looking at the full picture.
The reason for the call for audits it seems to this innocent third party observer is the demand for 10% versus 8% from contributors, and the unusual things going on in the church visavie the Patriarch....like felons getting back into positions of power and the demoting of the Bishops...
#28 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-10-25 06:57
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 which has become an Internet adage. It states: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." The term Godwin's law can also refer to the tradition that whoever makes such a comparison is said to "lose" the debate.
Godwin's Law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread reductio ad Hitlerum form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued, that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.
Although in one of its early forms Godwin's Law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions, the law is now applied to any threaded online discussion: electronic mailing lists, message boards, chat rooms, and more recently blog comment threads, wiki talk pages, and Twitter.
Der OC CPA,
Thank you for your most lucid and helpful opinion. There is no witch hunt here, there is no desire for a "smoking gun" to be found, there is no strong arm tactic. Rather, the internal audit will be done responsibly, it will be done calmly and with care. There is no unrest in the archdiocese; it is sound and has wise leadership. This fiscal responsibility will be acted upon. But do not fool yourself, it will be time consuming and expensive.
May I suggest an internal audit with an independent overseer to allay the suspicions of the skeptical. Someone with gravitas.
#30 anon on 2009-10-25 08:59
I imagine that Mark would like to say a lot more than he does. But, that would be like pouring gasoline on a fire, MP would scream.
Mark is smart, the bulk of the posters are pointing out the problems and I suspect that the end result will be much like what happened in the OCA and is still happening, clearing the decks.
The main battle is against the enemy of our souls and he causes as much trouble as possible using lucre to the maximum. But, at the same time, all of us have to be aware that power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts. Does this resemble anyone we know in this Antiochian mess?
Thank God that we have a website where the dirty linens can be aired. And both sides can post their views although I have noticed that the views of one side are extremely lacking in substance whereas the other side has much to say and is usually very logical. Also, one side is extremely nasty and vindictive whereas the other side seems to be much calmer and as I stated earlier, logical.
#31 Yanni on 2009-10-25 18:09
But, there isn't a real CPA/auditor in the bunch. An internal audit is a no-brainer, the OCA at least had a CPA do their internal audit (and look at what happened to him for doing an honest job).
You stated "There is no unrest in the archdiocese; it is sound and has wise leadership." Are you joking dude, no unrest, sound and wise leadership?" Just the opposite in fact.
As far as the hyperbole concerning the enemy 'Stookey', that is an old trick, find an enemy, make one up if necessary, then scream and holler about that enemy. Get everyone riled up about that perceived enemy and get attention off the real problem, those who scream and holler about the enemy.
Turn the lights on.
#32 Glad to not be Antiochian on 2009-10-25 18:31
In every apple tree you will always have rotten ones that fall off. In this case, I agree there may be issues between maybe 5-10% of the Orthodox I have met across the country that speak of what you talk about, but remember these are issues internally to those individuals. Not caused by our Hierarchs. I am cradle born and I admit I do not know as much as others who have converted. I have nothing against that. It doesn't mean that I am not as devote as them. What it means is that they read more historical readings than I do - that's it. I was taught how to pray within the church setting, I was taught about the church from growing up in the church, not many of us had access to these books until we were adults due to the internet nowadays. However this is beside the point.
What I am saying is that individuals who born/raised or converted doesn't matter. These individuals need to not cast judgement due to their reading the history and others living the history before.
What i do suggest is that we all grab a book and follow their examples and learn the history including myself, but I know they are not more devote than I, that is insulting to compare how faithful you are due to your knowledge. It doesn't matter how much you know, it's about how you live your life in Christ. For Christ did not say "study the lives of the saints and you shall be entered into the kingdom of heaven". No offense to All the Saints, I love them all.
We just need to love one another for the sake of this fallen world we live in. Sin is everywhere and the parish is unfortunately the devil's playground (outside of church though).
#33 What? on 2009-10-26 07:00
I agree you are talking a minority of people. 5-10 percent you said. Maybe more, maybe less, but a minority.
Biggest disagreement with what you said it that this problem exists within the hierarchy. Not all the hierarchs have this problem of racism. But some do, and it goes both ways. There are also a minority of priests that have the problem.
It is a minority, but it's a significant minority and it should not be overlooked. Just because we love someone does not mean we act like they have no sin. We have to talk about these issues if we are to resolve them.
#34 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-26 13:48
I think there is some truth in the comments made by the East Coast priest. However I do not think the convert-cradle rift is truly "racist" based (or even prejudice against "ethnicism"). As an aside, I know of MANY people with Arabic last names who feel the same way many of us converts do about the issues our archdiocese is working through.
I do think converts come to Orthodoxy with different expectations. One of them is that we expect an attempt at holiness from our clergy and bishops and the attempt to conduct our affairs in the spirit of holiness and humility. Another is that we assume Orthodox Christians are to live their lives "Christianly", in word and deed. When this does not happen, or appears not to happen, it disappoints.
In a private letter I sent to His Eminence Philip, I expressed my concerns about a lack of "spiritual unity" evident among our people and especially among our episcopasy (and between laity and episcopasy in some quarters), as well as the evidence of "factionalism" in the recent convention in Palm Desert. I found this shocking.
I begged His Eminence to lead our archdiocese to a season of repentance; I thought this would have been a far better theme at our convention than the "business-as-usual" that was conducted. Pethaps we might (even) have taken a few steps towards reconciliation.
Whether His Eminence thinks there is any thing to repent of or not, the fact is: we are not a united archdiocese in spirit. Is this not something to repent of?
Several convert men in our archdiocese (including myself) have also attempted to "reach out" to cradle Orthodox laity and clergy, who do not see things as some of us do, in the attempt to try to reconcile with our brothers. We have not received any responses from any of our attempts, thus far.
I believe the issues of an external audit and so on are really emblematic of a deeper wound. Until and unless we repent and reconcile one with another in an intentional way, in humility, we will not be a "united" archdiocese, regardless of our external structure. This applies to all of us -- cradle and convert alike. To question now whether it was a good idea to allow converts in, is a moot point. We are here -- and more are coming! There's no going back! What we need is to love one another, repent in humility and stop seeing this archdiocese in human, fleshly and political terms only.
#35 Kevin Allen on 2009-10-28 11:07
I also know many folks of Syrian and Lebanese descent who agree with most posters on this wonderful site. Unlike those posters who support the on-going shenanigans, they do not post or, if they do, they post anonymously. So, the impression is formed that the supporters of Metropolitan Philip and his cronies (95% of whom have Arabic names) are of Arabic descent ... It would be tragically wrong to flatly assert that most Archdiocese members of Arabic descent support Metropolitan Philip and his cronies. I think they are in a minority who, not being afraid of reprisals, yell the loudest to overshadow those who do not descend to their level.
#36 Carl on 2009-10-29 15:42
While sitting amongst my brothers and sisters in Houston, at the latest BOT meeting, I learned who they are that are destroying our Antiochian Archdiocese. An internal audit is comical and insulting to all of the members of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church. Metropolitan PHILIP should rule with Christ in his heart, not by intimidation. He has made cowards out of successful business men and women. The Board members owe Bob Koory and Charles Ajalat gratitude for all that they did for the Church. We also owe them our respect and should follow them out of the door, and regain our dignity!
#37 ANONYMOUS ANTIOCHIAN BOARD OF TRUSTEE MEMBER on 2009-10-31 06:55
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