Sunday, January 14. 2007
Your comments on the past year, the way forward, etc. are all welcome.
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In your editorial of 1.13.07, you use the term "Special Commission." In the article "The Next 90 Days" of 12.18.06, the term "Investigative Commission" is used. In the article "Sweeping Changes Announced" on 12.14.06, the term "Investigative Committee" is used.
Are these synonymous and do you know what is the official designation?
The terms are synonymous. It is my understanding that "Special Commission" is now the preferred term.)
#1 Nicholas Senio on 2007-01-14 15:33
Are you surprised that the Assembly is being called in a manner contrary to the statutes? Has not the OCA been a "make it up as you go along" operation for years? Old habits are hard to break.
Yes, but like any bad habit, they can be broken if enough people keep pointing them out. The real question is will anyone in the Diocese of the West complain? There are any number of parishes with the possibility of multiple clergy and multiple lay delegates.)
#2 Quiet Observer on 2007-01-14 15:34
I am so very proud of you and the website. You have done a great service to oca. The problems had to be brought to the attention of the people. For too long their was corruption and no accountabliliy to the parishes. I feel if they want money from the people of the parishes they must be accountable as to how the money is spent.
I feel badly that this problem has not be resolved and they have not come forward and been honest and more forthright.
Hopefully in time the problems of the blackmail and money mismanagement will be resolved. I believe truth will set you free.
In the meantime if we hold their feet to the fire so to speak perhaps someone will have the courage to come forward with the proof needed to settle these issues.
Again please humbley accept my thank you for the courage you have to get this matter resloved.
Sincerely, In Christ
#3 John Macenka on 2007-01-14 18:15
You know, it is pretty mind-boggling that MH so blatantly continues to totally ignore the Statute of the OCA. If he does not think it is worth the paper it is written on, why should the parishes?
I am going to make a motion that our parish remove the clause about being under the Statute from our Bylaws.
And he has the audacity to send a letter of advice to the Patriarch of Moscow?
#4 Name withheld on 2007-01-14 21:12
Thank God for you, Mark. Even though I am an anonymous I check this page every day and I thank you for everything you have done. Without you I don't know where we would be today. Keep up your good work and thank you. Anonymous
#5 anonymous on 2007-01-14 21:52
Thank you Mark.
A very well written editorial. A lot has been accomplished due to this website. Thank you for your time, your work and your dedication.
#6 Nicolas on 2007-01-15 11:46
Toward the end of this somewhat self-congratulatory editorial the author's phrasing seems to suggest that when a change of heart, or at least direction, is produced by external pressures, then it authomatically is not covered and cannot be covered by the healing balm of repentance.
If that is what he is saying I disagree. I spent extensive time in a well-known state prison with many people whose hearts had been turned to repentance by a combination of very coercive policemen, judges, and guards. No doubt God prefers us to repent without heavy grinding, but if we look at the scriptures (OT Israel, for example, refusing to forsake idol worship until the invading armies held sway) church history and, indeed, our own lives, there is plenty of precedent for genuine repentance stemming from sudden and decisive applications of heat, pressure and light.
We do neither ourselves, nor the Church, nor those whose repentance we supposedly desire and pray for most, by suggesting otherwise.
#7 Fr. George Washburn on 2007-01-15 18:41
Reflecting on the history of the Church, I am struck by the recurring failures of our episcopal leaders. Perhaps St. John Chrysostoms observations about the failures of our episcopal leadership, and their skulls paving the floor of hades should be taken to heart in the current crisis. Thank God that we are blessed with the service of real saints in our episcopate and presbytery. May God have mercy on us all.
#8 Marc Trolinger on 2007-01-15 20:46
In observation these last three weeks, we are coddling this Metropolitan, and he is telling us HE is running this show.
With the decline in membership in the OCA, it is apparent that the Metropolitan can't get out of his own way.
St. James--Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO.
You are correct, Mark, that observing standards must someday start, and one would hope that +H would lead by example.
However, since the outcome of the assembly is pretty much already determined, is the assembly really more than a formality? It has become the norm to appoint an auxillary to work in a diocese and then once he is settled in, call an election to fill the vacancy, and "guess who?" is elected. When was the last time the OCA consecrated a priest to be a diocesan bishop based upon that priest being elected to fill the position while still a priest? If I remember correctly, 5 of the nine currently serving diocesan bishops followed the "auxillary to diocesan" route, and a 6th is about to be added.
So, perhaps +H was trying to save money in the face of a "done deal". Doesn't legitimize the action, but it might explain it. But still a sad beginning to a "new and better administration".
#10 Quiet Observer on 2007-01-16 11:44
Dear Fr. George:
I fully agree with you, and was suggesting no different in my editorial. My point was that by waiting to be compelled, our leaders has lost a valuable opportunity to lead, not that compulsion cannot help in the healing process. I am sorry if I did not make that point more clearly.
#11 Editor on 2007-01-16 12:22
In looking back over the past year, I'm frankly disappointed. Certainly we haven't been static, but I was hopeful a year ago that more progress would have been made. I would at least like to see some affirmative steps made toward reform. Thus far, we're still auditioning the cast.
Without a doubt there have been moves that will lead to positive results -- the MC finding their role, the resignation of the Syosset insiders -- but we're still in the process of lancing our infection, and not yet turned the corner toward healing.
I had high hopes for Pdn. Peter's plan as a positive first step, and perhaps it will be. We have to stop contemplating and start acting to resolve the situations. As someone who deals professionally in internal control, has the existing treasurer begun implementing internal controls? I haven't heard anything from the finance staff beyond business as usual. They have produced some financial information for public consumption, which is a good thing. Without a strong internal control system, can we trust the information we're being provided accurately and truthfully reflects the financial position of the OCA?
I submit not, simply because we still struggle with ownership of assets and control over disposition of those assets, and the central governance of the church. These issues prevent us from knowing the resources available to the central church, to the dioceses, and (to a certain extent) the parishes.
We still have not delineated the governance and authority of the hierarchs, especially the first hierarch and primate, and without that we have nothing, or I should say nothing of substance.
Hopefully someone is in the process of working with our esteemed clergy, monastics, and theologians to build a model for governance for the OCA that is compatible with accountability (earthly accountability) as well as faithful to the Gospel of Christ and the tradition of two millennia of Christians. This model needs to be developed, promulgated, discussed, debated, modified -- and most importantly, implemented when a consensus is reached.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#12 Marty Watt on 2007-01-16 15:20
Our Metropolitan and President seem to be be a lot alike. Now, we really are the OCA.
#13 An Observer on 2007-01-17 08:43
Ok, I am a member of the Diocese of the West.
We have both a priest and a deacon in our parish.
Here's the question:
To whom do we complain?
#14 Eugenie Osmun on 2007-01-17 11:01
Given the route being followed in the selection of a diocesan bishop for the West I am very concerned for my own diocese (of the South). His Eminence Dmitri has now submitted two individuals to assist him as auxillary; both have been rejected by Syosset. Could this be a desire to wait for His Eminence' repose so a more pliable candidate can succeed him? I fear we could find ourselves lead by another hierarch like His Grace Bishop Tikhon (of Scranton). Though I find nothing objectionable about the man apparently Syosset finds him unobjectionble as well.
#15 Reader Nicholas on 2007-01-17 11:27
Forgive my ignorance, but can the Metropolitan and/or Holy Synod veto the decision of the upcoming election assembly? I suppose if rules on calling the assembly are being ignored then any rules on the actual election of someone could also be ignored, which is not good. But still, I am curious on this matter as to who ultimately has the power to decide who is to be elected bishop. Thanks a lot. And thanks, Mark, for all the information this site has given. Cheers.
#16 Stephen on 2007-01-17 16:18
Your insightful comments are right on point. We have not yet abandoned the mentality of authoritarian clericalism that created this mess in the first place. The Metropolitan seeks to purify the practices of the past without changing the operational model that created the inevitable result. All the special pleading by some clergy on this site for a return to normalcy is nothing but a call for a return to "the good old days" when father/master knew best and no one asked questions.
As has been pointed out on numerous occasions, we are a "lawless" church, where rules and regulations are ignored and abrogated at will by those most charged with seeing that they are observed. To compound this effrontery, the laity is then called to repentance and prayer as if they were the cause of the "crisis" perpetrated by the OCA's leadership.
One is reminded in this hour of dispair and distress of Christ's temptations in the desert by the Devil. When our Lord rejects his offer of authority and control over all the kingdoms of this world, He, as always, sets an example that we would do well to follow, but consistently resist and reject. How tragic, that the heirs of the Apostles, have so often over the centuries succumb to the devil's most successful temptation. Called to be shepherds of the faithful, many have instead become overseers of the Infernal One.
#17 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-01-17 16:49
I would like to thank you for your extraordinary efforts in the last year. Ocanews.org is the light that illuminated the darkness.
For a long time, we as a family felt that we’d been sent into the wilderness. We received support from dear friends and family but our relationship with the church community was much curtailed. Even the priest that confessed our entire family for over ten years never called even once after Eric’s dismissal. Our life remained full with our children growing and new careers to establish. However, there was a kernel of sadness at the loss of friendships, some reaching back to before our marriage. But as the old adage goes, when times are tough you learn who your friends are. We are blessed with beloved friends that have sustained us for a long time and we are fortunate to count you among them.
In the last year the sense of remoteness has lifted as the truth has been revealed. Without your devotion to the truth and the muscle of ocanews.org this would not have been possible.
#18 Alla J. Wheeler on 2007-01-17 18:27
Thank you so much for all of your efforts in the past year with this web site. Keep up the good work. This site is very important to the truth of what is going on. However, you are trying to maintain an objective and factual outlook. This chapter in the OCA is not over; rather, it may have just begun. We are still far off of what can be done quite sensibly for sound governance and the good of the church.
#19 Pattty Schellbach on 2007-01-17 18:33
Perhaps underlying the term "Special COmmission" a few people are thinking or hearing "extraordinary commission," which is "cherezvychajnaja kommissija" in Russian, or CheKa. Hmmm.........
#20 Anonymous on 2007-01-18 08:14
When will I feel comfortable to ask my family and friends to start their contributions to the OCA again? I have NOT seen much to encourage me yet.
What is in process? Scheduled meetings? Lawyer, auditor, etc reports?
Who should be reporting targets and status? It doesn’t look like “prayer” alone is doing the job. The next AAC will be too late.
#21 Ande on 2007-01-18 12:09
Regarding the loan of 1.7 million dollars... I must have missed it, but where are the letters of receipt ? Is it displayed anywhere in the OCA public listings for us to SEE that these funds have ACTUALLY BEEN RECEIVED by the proper charities ? Thank-you notes, recognition, etc... A listing of the amounts and/or percentages collected for these charities on a balance sheet or report doesn't do that. Has the metopolitan council seen these letterhead receipts ? Or has it been communicated to us somewhere that they have seen and read the receipts sent from the 9/11 Foundation, Red Cross, IOCC etc...? It's sometimes hard to find the time to read everything or even skim well over all the information and news found on this site !
#22 please don't list full name on 2007-01-19 08:34
Cyril Jenkins' reflection is outstanding! A must read for all on your site. His tome must have gone through many rewrites, to get his points across so well. Would that I could present such, myself.
I cannot even grasp the depth of his words, and the thrust he provides us all, in the OCA. It was guided, I am certain, by the Holy Spirit. Well done, Mr. Jenkins!
Please keep my name anonymous, Mark!
#23 Witheld Name on 2007-01-19 16:12
The reflection by Mr. C.G. Jenkins gave a concise overview of the corruption that exists at the ecclesiastical castle.
I pray that the Orthodox Corruption in America can once again become the Orthodox Church in America.
Altamonte Springs, Fl.
#24 Paul Hutsko on 2007-01-19 16:14
Mr. Cyril Gary Jenkins
A most wonderfull well written letter. You said so much of what I would like to write but unfortunately I could never do the great job you did.
I remember the days of old the 50's and early 60's when the Metropolitans lived above the 2nd street church. They were just wonderfull men of great spirtual depth. Loved by all because they were true monks, humble and sincere. And they lived so simply.
I totally agree with your idea for selling Syosett and perhaps some of the other lavish places being kept at the peoples expense.
Today if you went to 2nd street you would find that they live very well indeed. All remodeled apartments with the best of everything and a budget to suit. And the sad part to all of this is that the level of spirtual awareness is very low. Power and money seem to be the order of the day in so many churches.
I know it is a hard and long road to becoming orthodox for many people. And now to see what the oca has become must be very dishearting to so many. All I can say is please keep your faith. The faith of orthordoxy is so very rich and we are even richer spirtually for keeping our faith. Orthordoxy is not Syosett or some of the leaders of oca. In time they will have to answer to the trials of the air and will be rewarded accordingly.
I love my faith and realize it is not the leaders of any church that determine your faith.
Perhaps if the parishes withhold the assessments to oca that will help to hasten a resolve to these problems. Only time will tell when the real truth will be told.
In the meantime keep your faith and again I commend you for such a well written article.
My God bless the faithfull.
#25 John Macenka on 2007-01-19 17:37
I can relate to your sense of wandering in the wildnerness. Isn't it interesting how the wrongdoers who stay in power just don't give up the power? And yet, it is the good guys, who try to change corruption, that get targeted for abuse and as if one has leprosy.
Our OCA has so far to go, it seems, but thanks to people like Dn. Eric Wheeler and Mark Stokoe and those with them that have dared to just bring a HIGHER STANDARD to the church, we are slowly getting somewhere. Much more needs to be done.
I think this web site is very providential in timing with our own problems out in the Diocese of the West. God forbid that a bishop or his administration may be making alot of mistakes. Just target the priest and his wife and that will be fine.
Our lack of professionalism has hit bottom level throughout the entire system of the OCA. I must remember (and this is open to anyone to email them) to email the Center for Creative Leadership and see if they can help us out of this unnecessary mess of morality and ethics.
#26 Pattty Schellbach on 2007-01-19 17:53
It has been said that courage is grace under pressure. I am saddened that our church leadership does not have the courage to expose and deal with the truth that you have so doggedly exhibited in your website. Be enCOURAGED and may God bless you.
Disheartened and disillusioned, but still praying
#27 Anonymous on 2007-01-20 08:41
Dear Paul et al.,
Cyril Jenkin's reflection contains within it a proposal which indicates both shortsightedness and either ignorance of or contempt for monastic life, viz., the proposal to move the Central Church Administration to South Canaan.
Has it occurred to anybody out there to ask the long-suffering monastics of that community (and St. Tikhon's was founded to be, first and foremost, a MONASTERY, let's remember) just how much they'd welcome yet another gaggle of non-monastic bureacrats to destroy what little peace, order, quiet and solitude remain to the brethren? And has it occurred to anybody out there to ask the monks of the Danilovsky and Kievo-pechersky monasteries just how conducive it is to monastic life to be saddled with their respective ecclesiastical bureaucracies? People on thise site and elsewhere complain about lack of proper monastic formation and follow-through, then make proposals which continue to undermine and sabotage the life of our oldest monastery. The insanity of it is almost enough to drive one to drink.
Y'all want to cut corners, save money, relocate the Central Church Administration, etc.? Fine. But do it on your turf; put 'em in your back yard; and leave the monastics in peace!
#28 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-01-22 09:33
Wow! If anything would keep me from being a monastic, it's just what you said. We are not 2 bodies, but one.
We (all) are in the world, but not of the world. Just as monastics fight battles in the world system of pride, greed, corruption, and so on so do the lay. In monasteries, one can see and participate in this world even more in fact, because one submits to having his eyes opened to the world of darkness both within and without the monastery. The weapons are the same: our faith, the cross and prayer! We are meant to inspire and pray for one another, and we do that also by being in one another's presence. Monastics are not privileged above lay to have peace and quiet: we all are called to spiritual warfare to establish the Kingdom in our hearts, within a monastery or not, and peace and quiet is not part of the bargain, so to speak.
#29 Karen Jermyn on 2007-01-23 07:47
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