Sunday, July 17. 2011
Your comments on the NY-NJ assessment proposal and the OCA's new website are welcome.
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Comments about the OCA.org redesign:
1. The site looks good overall, although the old one wasn't that bad.
2. http://oca.org/about/metropolitan-council has way too many PDF links. Member and committee listings should be in HTML.
3. Searching is poor, probably because of #2. Search on "ethics policy" and see waht you find.
4. There is no mention of how to communicate with the Metropolitan Council, particularly if one wants to make an ethics or similar coplaint. Who does it go to? At which address? What if you want it to go to the all committee members to minimize the chances of it hititng the trashcan?
5. It's not clear that the OCA ethics policy is buried in the best practices document. This document should be in HTML and hyperlinked.
6. Do laity (or clergy, for that matter) have the standing to make complaints directly to the MC?
7. The OCA logo is too large, both in printed versions of pages and the floating thing on the left.
#1 Ted Logan on 2011-07-17 19:54
The statistics are "revealing" in the NY Deanery Resolution For Next AAC Cutting OCA Assessment by 50%.
There's something "wrong" with the picture of a "church" where its administration spends 90% of mandatory "donations" on itself instead of on the "programs" it claims to administer. Who would "give" to a "charity" that was that inefficient? So why do parishes continue to support the "life of the 'poor' rich and infamous" heirarchy?
The report states that during the year 2010 the OCA "Central" Church "Administration" (CCA) spent "90% of revenues from fair share assessments contributed by the participating dioceses", leaving a "an operating surplus of over $450,000", indicating that the "assessments" for 2010 totaled over $4.5 million (unless the "operating surplus" accumulated over multiple years).
The CCA spent 51% ($2.295 million?) "in the form of salary and benefits for Executive, Administrative, Support and Department Offices".
The CCA spent a whopping 2% ($90,000?) NOT JUST FOR CHARITY, but for charity, missions, Church growth, and seminaries (COMBINED!),
and a whopping 3% ($135,000) NOT JUST FOR EVANGELIZATION, but for evangelization, Christian education, Christian service, youth/young adult ministries, pastoral life, vocations, liturgical music/translations, and chaplaincies (COMBINED!).
The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is one where charity and evangelization are the FIRST and foremost priorities, not the modern lives of luxury and comfort of wolves in sheep clothing.
(Editor's note: It's just too easy, isn't it? In this case the stats don't tell the story; or rather, used in this way they tell a misleading story. First, none of our bishops receive outrageous salaries nor live like princes, with perhaps one exception who draws multiple salaries. Secondly, yes, 51% of the budget goes to administration. Check out your parish budget and see what it is there. 80%? 90%? Yes, the amount for charities and programs are small - but then we cut the charities given the recent misbehaviours, and the programs dried up when voluntary giving stopped, given the misbehaviours. You can't have it both ways. Let us rather rejoice the misbehaviours have ended, and we are climbing out of the hole, one small step at a time.)
Let's see, $50 per head in the OCA for funding the central church equates to 94.33 cents per Sunday. What an incredibly stupid plan. Does anyone on this planet think that costs are going down over the next three years? The current assessments are around $90 per head, or less than $2 per Sunday. It's not much to ask of people.
Besides the obvious foolishness of trying to run a church on less than $2 per week per member and then asking to cut it further to less than $1 per week, I find it particularly irksome that this latest proposal once again mentions how little is being put towards other ministries. Folks, it was never meant to cover these other ministries, that was the whole idea behind FOS. It the folks in New York and New Jersey are upset that the OCA isn't spending more in those areas, build up the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards once again.
God bless Melanie Ringa for keeping the books in order and building a surplus. And what is so wrong with having a surplus? The OCA is finally moving in the right financial direction and a bunch of tightwads from New York and New Jersey want to squash the administration further. Bad idea.
#3 Anonymous on 2011-07-18 11:59
The new OCA is just awful. More difficult to navigate, a blah homepage but, then again, you can have a terrible website but if the content is good, you overlook it. Sadly, the OCA website has nothing of consequence content and a flop of a redo. I give it an "F"
As for the NYNJ statement by the deans and chancellors, I give it an A. Looks like Vinogradov and Arida's opinions have been voted down by one Diocese. What about the rest? "So say we all?"
(Editor's note: Boy, someone got up on the wrong side of the web this morning!)
#4 Anonymous on 2011-07-18 12:14
The resolution passed 30 to 21.
#5 Terry C. Peet on 2011-07-19 16:00
Dumb idea to cut the assessment almost in half. Simply keep the metropolitan out of Russia and the OCA should have a profit. Bishop Michael ought to know better; he lived with a shoestring budget for years at St. Tikhon's. Is that what he thinks should be the norm?
If anything the assessments should increase to keep up with the rising costs to administer the church. It's not getting any cheaper to fly to New York.
On second thought, perhaps they should cut the assessment. That way it will guarantee that the current metropolitan and anyone after him will never live in Syosset, NY since they couldn't afford to live there and they won't have enough money to move the headquarters to any other location.
#6 Anon. on 2011-07-19 18:36
You brought out a good point about the assessments that I think many people are missing. The assessments were NEVER intended to be the OCA's funding of particular ministries. The assessment money was to fund the administration of the church. This encompasses legal, accounting, insurance, the Metropolitan, the Syosset estate, etc. The assessment money was never meant to cover such things as charities or education. Yes, under Kondratick things were morphed together and they were frankly a mess.
I personally don't know what a reasonable amount for the assessments should be. I think the OCA should look to its current Treasurer for guidance and defer to her.
#7 Anon. on 2011-07-20 11:15
It seems that most 'archival' materials are unavailable, e.g., anything on past AACs. The materials are either not yet updated into the new format, or they are but the links and the search findings have not yet been updated.
Overall, the design is nice and more straightforward.
I find it odd that the Buena Vista 'King Iakovos Version' of the Bible is used in a photo next to Scripture Readings, but the NKJV by Thomas Nelson publishers (the OSB's NT) is used in the readings themselves.
#8 Ps-Iosifson on 2011-07-20 12:23
Yep, I think we need a re-do on the assessment also. We need every household to tithe 10% of all earnings per year. Then maybe the OCA will have enough $$$ on the programs everyone wants!
#9 Anonymous on 2011-07-20 12:42
Central Church Assessment's were never meant to cover ministry expenses. The expenses of the Church's ministries and departments were meant to be covered by FOS (voluntary giving from us) as mandated by the All-American Council. So, in short, the reason why the budget is so heavily tilted towards administration is because that's really the only thing that assessments are meant to be paying for. People talk and talk about wanting more and better programs and resources for and from our Church. Perhaps its time we start putting out money where our mouth is.
#10 Andrew A. Boyd on 2011-07-20 12:50
The entire OCA should be on a tithing system. Individuals should tithe to the parish, the parishes to their Diocese, and the Dioceses to the CCA. Any other system is problematic from all kinds points of view, the most important being doing it in accordance with the most basic source that we have--the Holy Scriptures. It also makes great financial sense if you think about it: the tithing approach functions as a self-regulator. If the revenues are increasing, you can spend more on the needful things and if they are declining, you can tighten the belt in accordance with spending priorities. This haggling over $1 or 50 cents per head is a shot in the dark from a financial planning perspective, based on zero-sum thinking, and thus is unworthy of a church body.
#11 Carl Kraeff on 2011-07-20 14:20
Sorry, I didn't mean that to be a reply to the comment above me specifically.
#12 Anonymous on 2011-07-20 21:57
The format of the web site is poor. Consider the format of the SVS web site. Information immediately available without searching all over creation.
#13 anonymous on 2011-07-21 05:53
Tithing's fine, if agreed to. But tithing in the OT is an individual act, not a corporate one. The idea of "tithing" as a parish or as a diocese is, to my ear, strange. It certainly can't be considered biblical and, therefore, better than an other system. The scriptures know nothing of parishes and dioceses. But, of course, I don't disagree with the organization of 10%, if that is agreed to by the laity and the synod.
But one doesn't need to invent this idea of its being biblical to advocate for it. And I've seen this done a lot. No good. I personally tithe. But I don't see how my parish, as the receptor of my tithes can itself tithe.
#14 Rdr. John on 2011-07-21 10:57
You said, "Simply keep the metropolitan out of Russia and the OCA should have a profit."
Actually, the OCA had a surplus of $180,000 last year. Metropolitan Jonah could have flown to Russia and back 200 times, and it still wouldn't have put the OCA in the hole. Next time, check your facts!
#15 Cordelia on 2011-07-21 12:38
#16 Anonymous on 2011-07-21 19:59
I've been getting, and reading about the continuing saga of Gerasim Eliel as Bishop of Alaska when he completes his studies at St. Vladimir Seminary. Why they pushing him. What do 'they' have in mind? What's the fix on this. Something unsvory is in the plans there. If we can't chose our own bishop, why can't we just be left alone to govern ourselves...we do just fine now, and left to ourselves, we can, and have, preserved the Orthodox Church up here in the past. As with some of the leaders we've recently had, and have, we won't last long. Why don't they just go to Platina and dedicate themselves there? Leave us alone.
I would suggest, 10% to your church, 10% of church to diocese, 10% of each diocese's budget to Syosset. (not that 10% is the strict definition of tithing) .
Than you need 10 families to support a priest, 10-15 churches top support a diocesan center, and 10 diocese (or 150 churches) to support the metropolitan. Everything on top of that can be given to other churches that dont have enough families, diocese without enough churches, ministries, charity....
It doesn't seem that hard of a concept, why do we always seem to be caught up with money.....
#18 Reader Michael on 2011-07-22 06:49
Diocese of the South
#19 Anonymous on 2011-07-22 11:09
Re: NY/NJ Resolution
While I am certainly sympathetic to the OCA treasurer's position, as expressed in Strategic Plan that suggests that OCA freeze CCA Assessments for next triennium at current level of $105 per capita, (2.7 Million a year), what she fails to understand is that cutting the assessment from the parishes does NOT necessitate cutting the budget commensurately ... they just need to find other ways to raise funds. Other jurisdictions -- the GOA (Leadership 100), the AOA (Order of St. Ignatius), the ACROD (DDD Fund), all have other ways to subsidize their Church.
You have to find ways other than dues to balance the budget, ... we do too now in NY/NJ ...
Even in the Old Administration days, FOS was a viable force ... and found other ways to raise monies.
I hope that the finance committee of MC and CCA will work out a more equitable proposal and MC will do some fundraising initiatives, other than dues.
#20 Alexey Karlgut on 2011-07-22 13:08
Dear Convention Delegates,
Christ is in our midst. He is and ever shall be.
I would like to wish you safe travels from your homes to Chicago for the AOCANA Convention beginning on Monday. I hope and pray that your time there will be spent in spiritual refreshment, fellowship with old and new friends, and truly building the future of the AOCANA.
I urge you to pay attention and attend as many meetings, events, etc. as possible. Take good notes about what you hear, see and observe, including individual conversations with people. Be aware of whether or not the environment is safe and inviting for all of you. Many of you will take your laptops with you or have access to computers in the hotel. Make use of them and keep everyone not there updated as to what is happening, both the good and the bad. Do not be afraid to post - use a fake name or other indentification. No one will reveal who you really are, but those unable to attend need to know from day one what is happening. If things get too HOT inside the meeting room, encourage people around you to just get up and walk out. If many delegates do this, they won't have a quorum to vote on anything. You don't want a repeat of the violence and abuse that took place in Palm Desert.
Some of you may have seen in June posted on the AOCANA website a financial statement. I'm not sure if this is the one that will be distributed and discussed (or not) at the general assembly, but I found some very interesting facts about it:
1. The AOCANA does not publish their financial statments ahead of the convention, or any other time. They are usually handed out the Friday of the meeting, giving people very little time to read it carefully and formulate questions. If you were able to view it and print it, I suggest you use your travel time to review that report one line at a time, make a list of questions, and direct them, without fear, to the Board of Trustees Treasurer, Mr. Robert Laham. You have a right to full information about anything that is not quite clear or raises suspicions. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
2. The report was quite lengthy, I believe over 20 pages. I started looking it over, but didn't quite get past the second page. The cover page was followed by a full size photo of - guess who - you're right - the glorious leader in Englewood, with that mean, powerful, dishonest and troublesome look upon his face. It almost made me sick to my stomach. Since when is a report accompanied or shall I say monopolized by his picture? That really surprised me, and 8 1/2 x 11 - not just a small photo. I think photos like that belong in the WORD or in the Convention Ad Book, but not huge for all to see.
3. It will be interesting to see the updates that are made to the actual report handed out next Friday morning at the meeting. Be sure to compare and contrast anything that looks strange. It will take some time to go thru it, but it is vital to the financial appropriateness of the AOCANA.
4. The next day I wanted to look at it again for something, but it strangely and suspiciously had been removed from the website. Glad I printed it up, but this removal raised my eyebrows. Perhaps it was posted in error, and then quickly removed when the "mistake" was discovered. All of this leads us to question what is going on.
5. If you don't want to approach Mr. Laham during the meeting, contact him thru the Board of Trustees at his home address or tell him in Chicago you want to have a private meeting with him to discuss concerns you have found in the report. If he is truly honest and doing the appropriate thing for the financial health of the AOCANA, he'll meet with you. If he refuses, then you know something is going on, and this should be reported on this website.
God bless you all, stay safe and well, and have a joyous week. Make new friends, get involved, and travel safely back to your homes.
I've already commented on another thread; my personal opinion is some churches should pay more and some less. My opinion is the same for taxes. Those with the wherewithall to pay ought to do so.
For many of us 50 bucks is a joke number; for others it may be asking too much. Forcing churches to play games equating growth with $$ is shameful...don't tell me it doesn't happen.. Why should a parish roster equal a bill? A parish budget ought to, with some caveats for capital items, and some flex by bishops (i.e. a higher percentage for some churches), etc.
Health care costs are a non-controllable item. They have spiraled to a place where socialized medicine seems preferable to many. Want to keep complaining?
I personally must advocate for spreading Orthodoxy (english speaking please) to places in the US where it isn't available close enough for people to get to church on Sunday. I'd like to see the mission grant programs continued, increased, etc. Spend more!
#22 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-07-23 21:39
The new OCA website is very strange. It looks like it's set up like a blog, but its top story is older than several of the stories on the site. Most of the previous information that I looked for is still there. Finding it is pretty much the same process as before. So, I'm wondering why, in tough financial times, it was necessary to make this change.
#23 Scott on 2011-07-25 19:30
Russia has a great Orthodox history; unfortunately it is greatly tarnished. Our Metropolitan continues to work to tarnish himself as well, my point will take a while to develop, but I get there at the end.
Metropolitan Jonah's respect (assumed) for Russian martys and that history could be something all of us in the OCA could have come to really respect.
Metropolitan Jonah failed to be forthcoming about his intent and many of us started believing we were somehow headed back under the MP. This, of course, is a ridiculous notion when you understand the dynamic of the American immigrants-for one.
Furthermore, forgetting entirely about the past, Russian Orthodoxy today doesn't even enjoy total freedom from the state (this might be argued, but we know too well the truths). This is another reason any dialogue with the OCA and MP must not be toward a change in our official relationship. The MP has only enjoyed partial religious freedom from the state their since about say 1990 or so. That means, free from state oppression Russian Orthodoxy is really only about 20 years old!
Metropolitan Jonah needs to forget about +Bart. He really would do very well to tell all of us in the OCA we will never have any parent-child relationship with Russia.
If Metropolitan Jonah wants my respect; he needs to be forthcoming. He can take 3 trips a year to Russia if isn't reframing autocephaly.
As you can see by the poster; he isn't trusted and he needs to regain it. And that doesn't only apply to the autocephaly issue, but also to matters of staff and his attitudes toward homosexuals, i.e., the 'lavender mafia'.
Moving to the latter matter, I noted the July 28 'pastoral' letter and I was very glad to see a mention about how non-homosexuals are expected to treat homosexuals-had that been omitted, I'd be slamming the Metropolitan. I was, however, confused with one of the bullet points, specifically:
'Persons struggling with homosexuality who accept the Orthodox faith and strive to fulfill the Orthodox way of life may be communicants of the Church with everyone else who believes and struggles. Those instructed and counselled (sic) in Orthodox Christian doctrine and ascetical life who still want to justify their behavior may not participate in the Church’s sacramental mysteries, since to do so would not help, but harm them.'
What exactly does this mean? It reads like an law written on the spot by a rogue sheriff. I like to eat too much, and I oftentimes 'still want to justify [my] behavior'. In the context of homosexuals, why does the marriage issue going on in public society now seem to condemn homosexuals from Communion? Are we going to condemn gluttons like me as well? What exactly does this mean?
When someone can explain what Washington or NY or any state's opinion or legal stance on homosexual marriage has to do with that line in an OCA pastoral letter; please do so, because frankly, I don't see any related purpose. If someone publicly defends gay marriage, does that mean you'd be barred from Communion, or is it only gays defending gay marriage that'd be barred?
This guy goes too far.
#24 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-08-02 17:17
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