Wednesday, September 13. 2006
Your comments on my Open Letter, or Archbishop Dmitri's New Year's Letter are welcome. You could not have two more different opinions.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
..... Would that those who have contributed for years to the dilemma facing our Orthodox Church in America, could miraculously step aside, resign, etc., then all would be well.
Nothing less is expected.
If that day would somehow come after all has been said and done with, all of us communicants would step up to the plate with our resources and solve the financial crisis we somehow are cursed with.
In closing, sadly Mark ... Reading Archbishop Dimitri's pronouncement as posted was simply too much for this cradle Orthodox to accept. It was shocking, pure and simple. His Eminence should have made a strong statement to correct the fraud, lies, malfeasance, perfidy, etc., of our Holy Church's administration. Their actions are totally indefensible.
Please withhold my name, thank you!
#1 Name withheld on 2006-09-13 23:03
That was very eloquently said.
If we decided through prayer and searching our consciences that withholding is the right next step, how exactly would that work? We would notify our priest and parish councils that our weekly donations do not include an assessment amount? As I understand it our parish (unlikely to make a decision to withhold as a group) pays a designated amount whether or not we pay our assessment to them. So is this a proposal to build financial pressure from the base upwards?
#2 Rachel Andreyev on 2006-09-13 23:38
On your check write on it for the use of your specific parish. That puts you in the clear personally.
#3 Anonymous on 2006-09-14 05:20
Right on Mark! Please excuse a 1960's expression.
However, as Archbishop Dimitri's remarks illustrate, the problem is not just with Syosset! Idle gossip?! Where has his Eminence been--in Russia or Tahiti this past year? Even idle gossip is preferable to idle incompetence or idle mischief!
I conclude this post with an appropriate poem:
Truth forever on the scaffold!
Wrong forever on the throne!
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadows,
Keeping watch above his own!
#4 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-14 06:07
Does anyone know if Fr. Kondratick is still being paid? Full salary? Benefits? Utilities? etc.
#5 Ande on 2006-09-14 07:12
I was always under the belief that the shepherd comes to the defense of his flock, like the Good Shepherd does. I guess my assumption is wrong - we must be good OCA Christians and keep our mouths shut and ignore the continuing travesty while the foxes raid the hen house.
#6 Rich on 2006-09-14 07:51
Very good Mark! I especially like this passage:
"[...] the truth is that poverty will never destroy this Church; the love of money and all its works, and all its ways, nearly has. Better a poor, honest Church ignored by our sister-churches, than a wealthy one, trumpeting our own autocephaly, built on corruption and lies. The world already has many of those - need we be another?"
This is pointing us squarely to a fundamental problem we have inherited from Byzanteum - a desire to be an "establishment" rather than "THE Church of the Gospels", while still clinging to the "name". However, just because we have 16 centuries of bad inheritance, should we not try to built on 20 centuries of good inheritance - the saints, the martyrs, the monastics, the lay servants of Christ, the theologians. It's nevel too late in this life to repent and never too late to rebuild. It may, however, be too late if all we do is lie or sustain the lies.
#7 Inga Leonova on 2006-09-14 07:52
You state "The much heralded 'Best Practices'... are actually only now in the process of being composed." This is misleading. They have been composed since last November, some additions made in the Spring (e.g., Ethics and Conflict of Interest policies), have been reviewed by the MC in June and will be presented for final endorsement later this month by the MC. That's the process. Endorsement of course is totally up to the members of the MC. They may accept it, change it or reject it. That's up to them, not me.
You state the Best Practices "are being compiled by a handpicked group that includes the Acting Treasurer, the woman who loaned the Metropolitan $50,000 to pay for Proskauer Rose, her assistant, and a Protodeacon who, although not an employee of Syosset, answers questions on their website, as if he were...." Why don't you pay proper respect by using people's names instead of "the woman", "her assistant" and "a Protodeacon"? Perhaps because further on you imply that these people are complicit in lies? I am not an employee of Syosset and have made that very clear. Can you understand that some people are willing to be volunteers and don't require pay in order to contribute their talents? I was not hand-picked. I volunteered last November with no prior contact with anyone in the administration. I speak my mind to the administration and say what I think is right, whether they listen to me or not.
You state "you now have an unassailable Metropolitan hand picking a small group of insiders to govern the Church by fiat, and ever more lies, who are withholding information from the Synod and the Metropolitan Council..." I have not lied. Please retract this implication that I have. The notion that I "govern the church by fiat" and "withhold information from the Synod and the MC" is absurd. I find your language concerning me insulting and degrading. I request a retraction and an apology on your home page.
In Christ, Deacon Peter
#8 Protodeacon Peter Danilchick on 2006-09-14 08:08
Thanks again for your insight and setting things straight! Some people are just not very good listeners! In case Mr. Geeza hasn’t noticed, the biggest “complaint” that most of us have is NOT ABOUT THE MONEY as much as it is about the crime committed. Some of our own hierarchs, and now Archbishop Dmitri, tell us that we need to focus on Christ and His teachings…His Gospel, and yet isn’t this a great contradiction? Christ teaches us to be truthful with ourselves and to each other…to forgive and to ask for forgiveness…to repent and change our sinful ways. We can’t just talk the talk…we all have to walk the walk if we want to be true Christians and followers of Christ!
Every January a large group of us from Chicago fly out to Washington D.C. to participate in the “March For Life,” as do a few hundred other Orthodox Christians from all over the country. Metropolitan HERMAN has been a great advocate for this cause to stop legalized abortion in this country and has led the Orthodox faithful as we pray and walk together to be witnesses and to “speak for those who cannot speak for themselves…” (Provers 31:8). I’m sure that you can all understand the disappointment we are all feeling right now, as we watch and wait for our leader to come forth and speak the truth about our own Church’s crimes. We are a family in Christ and we are all in this together. But as it has been said many times already, the first step to healing is confession and repentance. This is also a requirement of our Church and no one who believes and wants to have eternal life is exempt from it...no one!
As today is the Feast of our Savior’s Life-Creating Cross, I pray to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ our God to have mercy on us all and save us! Amen.
Your sister in Christ,
(A “free” parishioner of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, Palatine, IL – More grateful than ever to God for the leadership and guidance of His Eminence Archbishop JOB!)
#9 Helen O'Sullivan on 2006-09-14 08:36
Let me quote you first concerning Matushka Betty.
"Fr. Kondratick, the man at the center of the controversy still resides in the Chancellor’s house six months after his termination, his wife still runs the church’s pension fund (now with additional benefits, thanks to the Metropolitan)"
You've sunk to a new and dispiccable low. You have no right and there is no reason for you to drag her thru your mudslinging campaign. She is one of the finest women I've ever met. You've belittled and damned her husband, leave her out of this. This whole debacle isn't about Matushka Betty. There are far bigger people in the food chain for you to attack.
In closing, as you have paraded yourself as an honest man trying to do the right thing. Recant that statement and apologize to her for your rash editorialization. Shame on you!!
#10 Michael Livosky on 2006-09-14 09:22
I can't begin to express my appreciation for all you have done and continue to do.
I've looked and looked at the statute and still cannot find any role for a "central administration". Of what benefit would even a properly constituted and authorized "central administration" be to the Church?
Why is it that we have names for bodies of believers like "parish" and "diocese" and "archdiocese" but have no word to describe our servants in Syosset? It is not a patriarchate.
So you recall the movie/musical "Little Shop of Horrors"? It seems we have created our own Audrey, Jr., a creation that exists only to suck money (hopefully not blood!) from its creators.
It now seems certain to me that Audrey, Jr. cannot be reformed and must be destroyed. The incessant demands of "Feed Me!" are simply too overwhelming.
The only answer I see is devolution, or home rule.
It seems certain to me that Syosset will not respond to any cry of the faithful. We can no longer anticipate any changes, and will have to figure out where we go from here on our own. Hopefully, Archbishop JOB and the Diocese of the Midwest can show us the path, but I sorrowfully believe the only path is to choke the money supply to Audrey, Jr. and let the beast die. To the extent the Dioceses can stand on their own, I believe they should. If you don't require the services of Syosset, then why pay for them?
If it is possible, we should take the assessments from the Diocese, and:
-replace any lost salary for our Bishop
-give a certain amount to IOCC and OCMC
-pay direct scholarships for seminarians (to include living expenses)
-create or enhance funding for parish education
-establish an outsourced retirement plan for priests and other clergy and full-time staff, fully funded, managed by outside experts
-pay for all travel of diocesean appointees
The Holy Synod can directly oversee, via the related boards, the activities of the seminaries.
No bishop needs Syosset. Devolution! Home Rule! Free the dioceses! Free our episcopacy! Starve the beast. Restore the position of Metropolitan to the holy servant as first Bishop it should be. End the tyranny.
Our Savior cleared the moneychangers from the temple. Certainly we need to pray for that, but we need to act on it as well. God is sending us -- not someone else.
Praying for His Mercy,
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#11 Marty Watt on 2006-09-14 09:38
I contributed to the 9-11 fund through our church because I wanted to make sure the money got to it's destination. I also felt this was a wonderful effort of support being shown by our church.
How wrong was I on both counts!
There must be numerous others that feel the same way.
#12 Anonymous on 2006-09-14 09:50
You have stated with great eloquence why we must continue to apply all pressure possible to discover what was actually taking place in Syosset over the last ten or twenty years. Only when the truth is fully known, can we lay a foundation on which to build a proper central administration.
Unfortunately, I am not encouraged. As the letter from Archbishop Dmitri illustrates, many of our hierarchs believe that their actions should not be questioned by anyone: fellow hierarch, clergy or layperson. The Metropolitan apparently believes he is the sole ruler of the OCA and answerable to no one. (I guess that would make him the OCA Pope!) I am not hopeful that the Lesser Synod meeting next week will produce any useful action. The Metropolitan’s recent flurry of directives calling for new tasks groups to provide a new organization chart and the completion of the Best Practices document, while in themselves not bad ideas, do not go to the heart of the matter and appear to be more smoke.
The foundation on which the OCA central administration is built now has a rotten level made from the dung of the last ten or twenty years of malfeasants, lies and corruption. Until this level has been completely scrapped away, nothing that is built on it can last. As you said, Mark, we cannot continue to live in untruth and build anything good and lasting. The truth must be known before we can go on!
The last chance for the current competent authority in the OCA to begin solving this problem will be the upcoming Metropolitan Council meeting. If the MC begins to take their obligations under the Statute seriously, they can force the issue. This will mean passing resolutions demanding that they be presented with the financial and other information that they require to appropriately carryout the competencies mandated by the Statute. It may mean passing resolutions of censure for those, including the Metropolitan, who refuse. It will undoubtedly mean overruling inappropriate rulings from the Chair aimed at suppressing debate and legitimate motions made by council members. Ultimately, it may mean appointing its own legal council to take civil action to force compliance with the Statute and MC action. Will the MC have the courage to seize its legitimate authority? History speaks strongly against it. We should all pray that the Holy Spirit provide each member the courage and wisdom to do so.
Even if the MC takes actions, I am sure that the Metropolitan will veto any actions as, of course, the Statute gives him the authority. However, the MC will have made clear that it takes its role in the governance of the OCA seriously. This in itself will be major progress. It will also be clear that Metropolitan Herman is determined to rule the OCA autocratically without regard to the Statute. He will have shown again that he intends to continue to stonewall and to live in the world of untruth.
Faith has been very courageous in her attempts to obtain the truth, but she appears to be alone in her efforts. Why have none of the other members entered the debate? This next meeting will, for me, be the watershed event in determining if the current governing mechanisms of the OCA are up to the job of dealing with this scandal. I am not hopeful. What then? Civil litigation? I am not certain at this time but the one thing of which I am certain is that I am unwilling to leave the OCA in the grips of the lies and deceit that now hold sway. Whatever has to be done to tear down this structure of dung that has been created must be done! When we again begin to live in truth, we can build a new central administration and church governance that will prevail against the ages!
#13 Thomas Hamrick on 2006-09-14 10:45
Reading Archbishop Dimitry's letter to the clergy, I was struck by a similarity. That same letter, with a change of to whom it was directed and by whom it was written, could have been written by any Roman Catholic Archbishop to his diocesan clergy during the recent molestation of minors scandal in that church. Indeed, I would be surprised if just such a letter or letters were not part of the general attemp to stilfe revelation of the truth of that situation.
#14 jean Langley Sullivan on 2006-09-14 11:31
After reading the postings on this web site and reading the Metropolitans recent answers posted to the OCA web site. I am dumbfounded by the amount of energy devoted to rumors and unproven accusations by the participants on this web site. No wonder the estimate membership is around 27,000.00 individuals for the OCA according to the participants’ postings. Who would want to be a member of a church where the church body spends more time on accusations then serving the Lord? May be if more time and energy was directed toward serving the Lord and attempting to feed his sheep by the entire body besides the few 5% core of a parish, the membership would grow.
In all far honesty after reading both sides of the story from the Bishops and the Metropolitan, I think both are doing their job and trying to do the best without having a complete breakdown within the church. Every member of the OCA will have to rely on faith that we can resolve this financial issue. After all isn’t faith required to be a Christian? Doesn’t it require faith to believe that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead? Doesn’t it require faith to believe that Jesus Christ was actually born of a virgin? Doesn’t it require faith to believe there is a God, since our limited intellects cannot possibly grasp an understanding of God without His intervention?
My point is that I find it sad, while the harvest is ripe, we spend more time bickering and slandering than serving the Lord. There are many lost souls in the world that need our attention, to be a beacon for their own salvation. For myself, I am guilty of gross negligence in disobeying God’s commands and if wasn’t for the support of the church who knows what shape I would be in? So I making a request for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let us love one another, be patient with each other, and pray ceaselessly to God for the salvation of all. Remember God is watching.
From a Sinner,
#15 Neil Dingman on 2006-09-14 12:49
Well, talk about getting stuck in the middle.....
The administration has been trained by their predecessors who sacked the ADM monies pretty surely. For them to move in a different path is now required.
If that path is not now the path they walk, we should withhold contributions, but that day is not today. Change is always difficult and usually slow. Very few organizations change rapidly unless change is desired. When change is only required, change can become too slow.
The OCA has disclosed its budget. It will no longer be able to guess at the bequest/additional contribution line that I'm convinced got [us] into trouble in the first place. These people, I believe, are well intentioned for the most part, but somehow got lost in hope.
The church should work to grow. It is too small. It can't do this without a central administration that functions well. The latest dysfunction might turn it around, but it can't without fixing the wrongs.
If the OCA doesn't meet minimum standards for financial disclosure, the Synod should make the decision to without assessments and noone else. If they are too weak to do so, they [Bishops] should be asked to resign first.
The Dale Carnegie institute teaches that all of us are leaders. Our leadership needs some revamping, but the loan and assessments need to continue. If the OCA blows its budget or failed to report results against it timely for this year or creates an unmeetable 2007 budget, all parishes should ask all their Bishops to withhold assessments.
Withholding assessments should be conditional upon performance and nothing else.
The OCA needs leaders in clergy, Bishops, and MC members to help turn around a ship that has been in the wrong direction for a very long time.
If MC representative Woog doesn't want Dn. Peter to be an in house financial expert and help, and doesn't want Best Practices, can't anyone else see this problem is indemic at all levels. She isn't in the administration! If Bishop XYZ doesn't want Best Practices, and some didn't, they are in the Synod.
Withhold assessments from her? Can't. From the Synod? Can't. And they aren't somewhat responsible for the loan needed?
Forego the loan? And do what, sell at less than arm's length the headquarters? That'd be financially ridiculous.
Sorry, Mark, but I'm reluctantly on Mike's side on this one until that day when the OCA fails to meet my test of reasonableness. You propose the NO, but not enough solutions to back it up.
Honest reporting, honest budgets, improved accounting.
Blaming or deposing Metropolitan Herman doesn't get rid of endemic problems. He is trying to force change. He couldn't even follow the rules in letting Fr. Bob go.
Not sure why Clayton and the rest of you can't seem to see that the problem is a lot more endemic than one man. Clayton should have been calling for the resignation of our MC representative. She fights against Best Practices and has been there for years past her right. Absurd. Sorry to any of my relatives that approved the letter, the easy answer is always cut off and replace the head, but if cancer remains, what have you healed?
As slowly, or begrudgingly as it may be, the Metropolitan is moving in the right direction and he has my support.
I still think he owes Dn. Wheeler a public apology. From this, and not the Confessional can the OCA begin to heal.
Mark, you didn't back up your NO vote on the loan with a solution for a way out of the mess. You didn't get to root cause, which is probably more overhopefullness than evil, and I don't support your letter.
Your efforts, however, I salute.
#16 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-09-14 13:17
Many have asked, begged , cajoled, placated, offered suggestions and for that many more have been maligned, silenced, taunted, shunned and removed from office.
Many have sworn false oaths and not lived up to statements they themselves have authored. For them, it is "business as usual".
I am afraid the only recourse we have now is with our pocketbooks. I am not ,for one minute ,suggesting we decrease our contributions to our local churches nor to those in need. In fact, I am suggesting we increase our support at the local level and community. I suggest that the central budget be calculated on "dues paying" members that the Bishops purport they have within their dioceses. When those monies are exhausted....the belts tighten in Syosset.
The next financial statement posted should show "zero" balances for the special appeals funds since I would imagine the monies will be given to those for whom it was intended the very first time. If those monies are not dispensed, they will be used for other shortfalls as has been done in the past. When an appeal is made....you don't hold some of it back for YOUR rainy day, do you ?
All the questions have been asked, to Syosset, to Dn. Peter, to the Synod, to the MC, and to the Lesser Synod. There are no more questions left to ask....except why does it seem Fr. Bob continues to be active in Syosset ?
My life began 60 years ago in the Metropolia and this has been more than idle chatter for me. I have read many thought provoking messages on this web site since it began. Why is it that we can not penetrate the wall that surrounds Syosset?
There are many very talented members in the OCA...myself excluded...and none have been embraced to aid in any type of solution. A task force at this point is wishful thinking on Syosset's part. Just more smoke and mirrors, I'm afraid.
The elephant is in the living room and the room is getting smaller every day.
We need to increase our prayers asking that Christ be in our midst and direct us to do His will. Everything else is secondary.
Surely, He will only bless us then.
" Are the allegations true or false?" God already knows.
Please with hold my name !!!!
#17 Anonymous on 2006-09-14 16:55
As one who was consigned to the Syosett trash heap a decade ago and now has no interest in having his/her name dragged through the mud any longer, I must applaud all those who are standing up and speaking out. Keep going folks. Press forward. Your cause is right and just. Mark, your editorial was needed and right on. The idea that people have not been offering solutions for years/decades is ludicrous. Mark is absolutely right when he says solutions have been proferred, over and over again. The problem is the deaf ears at Syosset... and perhaps a majority of the bishoprics.
#18 Name withheld on 2006-09-14 17:43
Thank you again Mark for your voice of reason. It's evident from many of the messages on this list that it's easy to get distracted from the real problem we are facing. May the Lord help us! A joyous feastday to you all!
#19 Andrew Lukashonak on 2006-09-14 17:46
We CAN and MUST build a better OCA. We CAN and MUST be persistent to this end. This web site should all give us the COURAGE to be able to assist with CHANGE TO THE BETTER. We CAN and MUST have an AAC in the near distant future (not the year 2010). PERSISTENCE PERSISTENCE PERSISTENCE!!!! to this end!!! The determination to change our status quo is evident. It can happen.
#20 Patty Schellbach on 2006-09-14 18:03
The interview with Protodeacon Peter shows that His Beatitude is starting to understand that legitimate people are asking legitimate questions. Good progress.
#21 Ed Unneland on 2006-09-14 20:04
Archbishop Dmitri's comments were significant for the future of the Orthodox faith in North America. They were significant because they came from the OCA hierarch whose parishes and missions have had the greatest growth in the OCA in the past decade. And they were significant, not because of their gravity, their recognition of the importance of our present position as a church, but instead by their lack of that recognition; all of which, once again, indicated the dispersal of good sense within our faith, rather than its concentration.
In anticipation of the likely results of the meetings of the Lesser Synod and Metropolitan Council in Syosset this month, and assuming that many OCA parishes are interested more in wakefulness than in the good night's sleep recommended by Archbishop Dmitri, is it too early to ask whether the Diocese of the Midwest would welcome observers from other parts of the continent at its next assembly?
Mark Warns, Poulsbo, Washington
#22 Mark Warns on 2006-09-15 01:23
Just a simple believer ( though Orthodox ) I am...as once told to me by a poker buddy of mine..there are some people who are afraid NOT to be Orthodox...not I though anymore..the stains of prevarication and greed are all about...we are told to trust in Christ and the "guilty" parties, if any, whomsoever they are, have put their trust(s) in gold...Now who will trust the OCA with their gifts much less their faith ? How can I say to someone not Orthodox " Come to my church; be my guest, see if what you have been looking for is here " ? Like a wounded husband I try to retain my faith when all trust is missing...a house without a foundation...built on words and no deeds...
#23 George Cingolani on 2006-09-15 05:05
Dn. Peter obtains his information from someone who lied to the courts, how do you expect people to believe ANYTHING these people say!
#24 Anonymous on 2006-09-15 06:22
Mark - you are a gifted writer and have done more to shine the light on this mess than anyone else. I agree with much of the sentiment that you express.
But I agree with Fr. Peter... sometimes, the brush you paint with is too broad and covers more than your intended path. Not everyone who is associated with Syosset has impure motives. There are several good guys in this, and shades of grey are still distinguishable, even in the fog that covers Long Island.
I know you are courageous enough to recognize you owe Fr. Peter an apology.
#25 Marty Brown on 2006-09-15 08:08
No apologies are warranted--Mr. Livosky, you should apologize, which of course you won't, for your ridiculous rant!
As a Syosset employee in a management position, Matushka Betty is hardly exempt from being referenced or criticized as long as the information is factually correct.
#26 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-15 08:10
$58.62 from each of our 29,000 due paying members is all it would take to cancel the loan. That's $4.89/month for 12 months.
Metropolitan Herman is trying to re-establish trust by answering questions on the OCA website. He has a long, long way to go. He might start out by not blaming "one person", and by being more forthcoming about just exactly what did happen with all the appeals money.
Perhaps it's too late to re-establish trust....+Dmitri "Ukaz"to his clergy does not help.
Most Holy Theotokos save us!
#27 Eugen on 2006-09-15 09:58
Whatever is solved. Whatever is not solved:
I really truly believe that we need a Special All American Council by 2007 or 2008 to help us move forward.
#28 Patty Schellbach on 2006-09-15 10:51
"Not sure why Clayton and the rest of you can't seem to see that the problem is a lot more endemic than one man."
Because they understand the Greek proverb, "The fish rots from the head down!"
#29 Fr. Robert K. McMeekin on 2006-09-15 12:15
You are quite right. I would add that at this point I would say an early 2007 Emergency All American Council (preferably after Pascha) is an absolute MUST. Waiting until 2008 may indeed be too little and too late given the seriousness of the problems and the mounting discontent and lack of confidence of the faithful.
Dear Neil Dingman,
"Every member of the OCA will have to rely on faith that we can resolve this financial issue."
For many of us, the financial issue (important though it is) is secondary and is merely symptomatic of the real moral and spiritual problem which, in fact, created the financial mess.
You also write:
"So I making a request for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let us love one another, be patient with each other, and pray ceaselessly to God for the salvation of all. Remember God is watching."
Thank you: and to this I grant a heart-felt "Amen!"
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
#31 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2006-09-15 16:58
I read some of the communications regarding our Church and cannot believe at times that it is about the Orthodox Church in America.
Please, everyone, pause and pray.
The Church is the Body of Christ--that is what is most important; that is the reason for our being; that is why we are Orthodox.
We try to follow Christ Who taught and practiced forgiveness, love, mercy. And with His teachings too comes honesty and understanding and compassion.
Do we need outside forces to guide us when we have Christ? Are not His teachings superior to any practices or procedures that we can devise? We so much need to draw closer to the Lord--our eternal state is in the balance.
Whatever problems there may have been or may continue, let us correct them and move on. Revenge is not for us as Christians. Nor is judgement. We need not know who did what to whom or this or that if our true desire is to see problems corrected.
Who among us has not sinned?
Who among us has not made mistakes?
Who among us is not through God's Grace and mercy entitled to private forgiveness?
Even Confession is not a public affair.
#32 Archpriest William DuBovik on 2006-09-15 17:16
To answer the problems of our church with a Greek proverb is irresponsible and I think you know that. This issue won't be solved with a Sean Hannity one liner. Complex issues require thoughtful solutions and I expect more from you.
The problem is overhopefulness and it has been for years. It was answered in the past by a large donation, but the head then was still rotten. Have you called for his pension repealed? Just because Metropolitan Theodosius got bailed out; its okay? Our administration believes everything is does must be blessed by God, and has forgotten their free will and donors free wills are important factors.
If we investigate responsibility further, we see failures throughout the system, all the way to us. Yes, you and me.
Our MC representative has not sent a letter to us or the Bishop telling us that she has not seen financial results nor that the results have been bad since 2001. According to this website, her position violates Statutes of the church by term limits. She has tried to prevent a financial expert from advising the administration. Under your proverb, cut off any head, and the rot remains. If the next MC decides to be overhopeful, what has changed with our MC rep? Under your theory, should we widen the blame net? I say, only if the MC representative gets in the way of progress and she is very close, in my opinion, over the top even.
Our Bishop, so endeared by many, has not sent a letter to us or the Synod explaining that the church has been overspending badly for years. In fact, the only thing he has done is asked a question that we all know the answer to. If the next head is overhopeful, has the rot remained because Bishop Job is still there? Our Bishop hasn't demanded the budget be reported; we did. He hasn't proposed any solution, just a question, how cheap..
The answer to his question is very clear to this accountant. It is overhopefulness and overspending and the answer is yes.
So, now I have given you three people independent of the Metropolitan that have failed us. The past Metropolitan, our MC representative, and our Bishop. The Metropolitan, if he were an imfallible leader, wouldn't have erred, but you can only find imfallible leaders in Catholicism. ...
So, now, we are at four, but there is one more.
We must hold our elected representative, our Bishop, and our Metropolitan responsible for responsible budgets, and responsible spending. The pervasiveness of overhopefulness happens all over, all the time. It isn't a sin. We are responsible for this happening, not through cutting off the head, but demanding performance.
The bequest line must not be a floating target. It must be based on history. This is the churches greatest financial error from my perspective.
And you answer cut off the head for overhopefulness, for being a know it all, for acting like the last head?
We are responsible because we have never even asked about the budgets or how well the church is doing.
Until this website, performance hasn't been demanded. Demand performance from our MC rep, the administration, and our Bishop. If you determine what performance is, and performance isn't met, you ask people to resign. Anything less is irresponsible, overhopeful, and more of the same of what got us into trouble. Dependence upon one person...one contributor... flat, dead, wrong.
Thanks, Mark. I still don't agree with your letter to Mike, sorry.
#33 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-09-15 18:21
I would like to say once again that I commend your efforts here. I thought that your letter hit the nail on the head. Based upon the latest post on the OCA website of the task force it is still back to business as usual. By establishing this particular task force (and I don't mean this in any way as a slam against Protodeacon Peter) without fundamentally answering any of the charges that have been raised or offering up any sort of financial report or revised budget is just pathetic.
In my secular work I am the CFO of a large company. If I ran my company into a $1.7 mil deficit and did as little as the OCA has done to come up with a plan to fix it I wouldn't be employed for more than a couple of weeks. Yes, the people on the task force are all competent and successful individuals but as far as I can read none of them is a member of the metropolitan council. This attempt at creating the impression that everything is right or moving in the right direction is at best lipstick on a pig. Where is the loan? Where are the financial statements? Where is the adjusted budget for 2006? Where is the call for accountability amongst the metropolitan council? Where are the answers to all of the questions posed on the OCA website? Nothing.
Let's take a lesson from big business. If a company has not met its objectives, we expect the leaders of the company to either explain what they are going to do to fix the situation or step down. Again, no offense meant towards the protodeacon, who I think is quite admirable for even sticking his neck into this, but he is not the leader of the OCA. Metropolitan Herman where are you? Why do you choose not to actually speak? Metropolitan Council members where are you? Holy Synod where are you? Is it really any wonder that people are so mad that they want to stop supporting the church? When our country is attacked, I really don't want to hear what the secretary of the interior has to say, I want to know what the president has to say. The same is true here. I really don't want to hear or read posts from someone who is not truly in a postion of authority.
Maybe we could learn a thing or two from the management style of Jesus Christ. When He was accused prior to his crucifixion He didn't say, "Go ask Peter, he's waiting outside."
Is it too much to ask that the leader actually step and act like a man of God instead of constantly hiding behind others?
Frankly I think I speak for many people who are just incredibly disappointed by how this is being handled. There is no genuine repentance, there is no genuine love.
I will be the first to admit that I am a sinner and that I don't have all the answers. The thing that has probably helped me the most in my life is one of the great lessons I learned at St. Vladmir's Seminary, telling the truth is a wonderful thing. It is incredibly cleansing. It is the only way to find happiness and joy. Instead of creating lie after lie to cover up the lies you can't even remember any more, you can be at peace with God and with yourself.
I hope and pray that Metropolitan Herman and others will see the light.
#34 Fr. Michael on 2006-09-15 19:05
I AGREE,THE ALL AMERICAN COUNCIL SHOULD CONVENETHE LAST QUARTER OF THIS YEAR, THE SOONER THE BETTER! AGAIN I SAY THE FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS SHOULD BE: THE METROPOLITAIN SHOULD RESIGN IMMEDIATELY.
NO ONE SHOULD APOLOGIZE FOR ANY THING THAT WAS POSTED ON THIS SITE. IF PEOPLE IN POWER WERE TRUTHFUL, NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED. LETS QUIT WASTING ENERGY ON THIS MESS.
MARK, THANKS FOR TRYING TO KEEP THIS FOCUSED ON THE REAL ISSUES.
You would be welcome, but unfortunately you're too late. You have to be registered to be an observer. However, I would guess that Mark will be there, I will be there, lots of people on this list will be there, so you will have plenty of reports from the Assembly.
If you want a foretaste, though, you need only look at the resolutions that have already been submitted by the parish in Wisconsin.
#36 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-09-16 03:38
For the record, Mark is not a member of the Metropolitan Council, and had no vote on the loan.
This ceased to be an accounting and financial crisis when members of the Synod attempted to depose Archbishop JOB back in the early spring.
Primarily, this is a crisis of governance and leadership.
How do you budget a bequest? Is there foreknowledge of when people will die, and how much their estate will bequest? From an internal control standpoint (something I do know a bit about!), they are unsolicited and uncontrollable. You must have procedures in place for approving acceptance of such bequests and gifts, and procedures to acknowledge the gifts, in order to prevent diversion.
One thing is obvious. Syosset has, in the loan documents, admitted diversion restricted assets for unknown purposes. That is fradulent, and fraudulent behavior is criminal. It is why Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, and others were convicted and would have been (or are) serving jail time.
I'm quite sure the government would prefer we handle this mess internally, but as long as the same authority remains in place, satisfactory change may not occur.
It's not too late for repentance - it never is - but it is too late for reform at this point.
My experience in forensic accounting and working with organizations in trouble, which I've done for the past fifteen years, indicates to me that centralization provides an excellent breeding ground for systemic corruption. Decentralization, with a common set of policies and procedures, allows for stronger control. It is more difficult to corrupt a large group than individuals.
Nevertheless, we face a crisis in governance, the symptom of which is financial. In my view, your advice is tantamount to telling a cancer patient to take two asprin and the pain will subside. While true, wouldn't it be more prudent and loving, even if more painful in the short term, to excise the cancer itself?
By the way, how does one go about volunteering one's time and talents to the efforts? I've repeatedly volunteered here and elsewhere, but so far without fruit. Isn't it strange the Metropolitan issues a call with no method to respond?
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#37 Marty Watt on 2006-09-16 08:24
I certainly respect your opinion and passion of the current situation. We are all reading and writing on this forum because of our love and passion for Christ and His Church in America. I did however, notice a few things I felt compelled to point out.
First you say, "Who would want to be a member of a church where the church body spends more time on accusations then serving the Lord?"
Reread your entry and you will find that the answer to this question is many, including yourself. You yourself have made several, general accusations within this entry.
Secondly you say, "After all isn’t faith required to be a Christian?"
Last I checked, it was faith AND works that saves, not faith alone. (Faith alone in God is the premise of many Christian sects which is why they claim they are already saved.)
Thirdly you say, "My point is that I find it sad, while the harvest is ripe, we spend more time bickering and slandering than serving the Lord."
I believe that many are serving the Lord by trying to purge Christ's church of the corruption within. As I recall (without going through a lot of detail), throughout history there was a lot of "heated" discussion and even BLOOD SHED when problems & herisies arose within the Orthodox Church.
The OCA includes everyone, bishops, priests, deacons, laity, and children. We are a spiritual family. And like any family, when a problem arises with a family member(s), most or maybe the entire family becomes involved to help. I can speak like this as I have a very large family that does just this. Why should the members of the OCA be any different than the members of their own biological families?
I personally am most pleased to see so many people concerned with the future of the OCA. Yes, there will be some "heated" discussion, misinformation, miscommunication and unfortuantely there will be hurt feelings (because of our prideful nature), but ultimately our goal is the same, which is very encouraging.
And a very special "thank you" to Mark.
Please understand that out of respest for my Priest of the Diocese of the South, I must reluctantly withhold my name.
#38 Anonymous on 2006-09-16 13:41
Thank you to all of those who are honestly trying to make some good out of this crisis. I believe that thegreatest problem is reductionism - reducing the crisis to mere financial mismanagement, and the solution to best practices.
Mismanaged and stolen funds, along with dishonesty, have revealed the true root of the crisis. And one cannot claim that it is merely moral, but it is ecclesial. It is ecclesial because the OCA does not clearly articulate and practice a vision of being the Church. The Church is not the hierarchy, nor the sum of several component parts. The Church is only Christian if Christ is not obliterated, and if God is at the center of the mission. Just look at what so many Orthodox Churches promote on their web sites, on the front page: a cult of personality that centers not on Christ, but on the head bishop as it were, in our case the Metropolitan. Yes, we are an episcopal Church, but even in our Church the bishop prays with us, and not "at" us when we express our faith in worship.
Real healing will no begin with best practices, or even the signing of a code of conduct by the leaders of a "non-governmental" organization. Real healing will only commence when we can begin to articulate a vision and commence the practice of being God's People within our unique situation, without having to adhere to any spurious structures for the sake of public legitimacy in world Orthodoxy. The OCA has tried that approach, and it has failed miserably.
Metropolitan Herman and Archbishop Dmitri are correct in their calls to attend to mission here. Good...perhaps this can begin with a reprioritization, without unnecessary visits to Moscow - for a "world summit of religious leaders" - and Ukraine - for the 40th anniversary of the exarch's episcopal consecration, and signing a letter pressuring Ukraine's president to favor the Moscow Patriarchate in the schism resulting from the collapse of the USSR. Instead, how about a renewed focus on righting a ship that is quickly sinking due to its many holes. Leadership demands the suspension of foreign pilgrimages. Let us re-establish our legitimacy by truly being the Church and executing Christ's mission here, which is where. After all, aren't all of ultimately accountable to Him?
The solution must be an image of our worship - all of standing and facing the risen Christ together, as one united people. The only way this can happen is if all the people have an authentic opportunity to participate in this poject. May it be so, for God's glory, and no one else's.
#39 M. Denysenko on 2006-09-16 19:17
I have a particular fondness for haiku: the poetic practice of descriptive writing in the least amount of words. I commend it to you.
When the fish rots from the head down, the whole body begins to stink. The deck must be cleared. Ambition and patronage must be set aside for the sake of the Gospel (a theme reminiscient of this Sunday's Gospel). And because we worship a merciful God of "do-overs" I suggest the same from the Metropolitan all the way down to the MC. And why stop there?! This crisis goes to very foundations of Orthodoxy in America as we'll all be taking a long hard look at our vision for mission and how we plan to carry it our in the coming years.
At its heart the problem we face is spiritual and, because the tendency among us is to separate the "business of the Church" from any spiritual implications, we all stand in need of repentance and a fresh Godly perspective to restore the spiritual dimension to its proper place in all aspects of our life. "You run the altar Your Beatitude, Eminences, Graces, Fathers, and we'll run the church." is not going to cut it anymore!
Solutions are plentiful--proffered by many gifted and talented members of the Church (all noted on this website)--what the good priest and people of Holy Trinitiy in Clayton have done is to call attention to the serious spiritual disorder we are facing and to ask our "Primus inter pares" to lead by example, and with courage, dismantle this house of cards so that we truly may again live and flourish in Christ as the autocephalous Orthodox Church in America.
When the dust finally settles and the truth is laid bare for all to see the challenge won't be to rebuild our structures, but to pray and remember the words of the psalmist: "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." (Psalm 127:1)
#40 Fr. Robert K. McMeekin on 2006-09-16 19:26
As a member of the Diocese of the South for nearly ten years, I wish to express my love and support for my beloved archpastor, His Eminence DMITRI. To those of you who think that Dmitri is trying to silence all discussion of this matter, I would invite you to take a second look at his letter he wrote to his diocesian clergy. First of all, NOWHERE did His Eminence forbid the laity of the Diocese of the South to discuss this. I have indeed discussed it with members of my parish and no one has attempted to silence me. Secondly, notice that nowhere in his letter does Dmitri demand that his clergy "be silent" or "cease and desist". The Archbishop has not issued a command, but rather a prayerful suggestion. Those of us who know Dmitri personally and who have met him many times know that he does not run the diocese in a dictatorial way. He certainly COULD if he wanted to. But that really is not his style at all. From what I have seen of Dmitri, he tries to lead by example and gentle persuasion. Take a look at his language in this letter. "We may have an opinion or think that we know the way to solve things our OCA is facing. However, I would encourage you to use that energy and direct it towards the things in your parish that need attention. Thus, that is why I felt it was not necessary for us to discuss our current OCA matters at our Clergy Conference or Diocesan Assembly. Our time together is precious and we need to use it wisely. I am greatful to God for all of you who are following my call on this matter. It shows where our treasure is."
I admire Archbishop Job's bold confrontration with Syosset and in asking the hard questions. I really respect him. But I also respect my own Archbishop's approach and his call on this matter too. And I think both approaches are needed.
St. John of the Ladder Orthodox Church
#41 Tikhon Griffin on 2006-09-17 04:49
I read the letter the same way.
Regardless of how each of us thinks and feels about the situation, it is an unhealthy thing if it becomes an obsession.
Everyone who has conviction and gifts to help clean up this mess should persist until the mess is cleaned up once and for all.
But until then . . . this issue must not consume all of our spiritual energy, all of our attention, all our our discussion with one another.
As bad as the situation is, we have much to be thankful for, much to rejoice in, and a much larger message to proclaim.
#42 Robert VasiliosWachter on 2006-09-17 08:04
When I first read Jean's comment that Dimitri's letter could have been written in the context of the Roman Catholic molestation scandal, it made a connection.
In Jimmy Breslin's book "The Church That Forgot Christ" he describes the shamefull 'argument/ justification' that RC priests would make to the parents of the child victim. Their foul reasoning would run like this " Yes, Father O'Flynn has sinned. Who among us has not sinned. Christ taught us forgiveness. Can't you be Christlike and forgive.... how can you doubt the example of Christ." And BINGO - the families would fall for it.
This would be the abuse of power against, I'll say, simple people. In this context 'simple' meaning naieve, working class, unsophisicacted - certainly no match for the well polished smooth talking RC Monsignori who would have been peddaling this cover-up for decades.
I have reread most of the O C Acountability comments
calling for a similar Christlike understanding, - such as Dimitri's close '.. quick to see the sin in our brother and judge him...' . The appeals infer that if we do not accept, and forgive (blah-blah-blah) that there is something wrong with our Faith. Faith in Christ, and God's gift of grace, yes please.
But faith in these men? I'm not sorry but empowered to have no faith in them. I have faith and hope in Caesar ( US Government- Caesar) as well - the money may have wound up in the old country, but American Law for the citizen parishioners in this country.
Let me end with some double edged quotes from Dimitri "..by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness... whereby they lie in wait to deceive..." Yes, they are cunning, and with shredders, too.
#43 Name withheld on 2006-09-23 19:21
What is it that some want or would see as a resolution--someone's "head upon a platter." That certainly is not the Christian way. We have seen steps taken to correct any problems that may exist--the first being to identify any problems. From there, any changes can be made if problems are substantiated. Let us be happy with that procedure and focus on Christ and the worship in His Church. We don't need names and dates, etc. if what we want is to see any problems alleviated. And before even reports are made we do not need to see disparaging comments about persons be they priests or hierarchs. Let us come together, please, in the light of Christ which elevates all things. This is still His Church and we are still each answerable to Him for our conduct toward each other. There is much work to be done in this world which needs so much to hear Christ's message of love, forgiveness and caring.
#44 Archpriest William DuBovik on 2006-09-24 13:53
The author does not allow comments to this entry