Following months of considering several potential sites for the 13th All-American Council [AAC], the Renaissance Orlando Resort, Orlando, FL, was selected as the AAC site by members of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America at their spring meeting at the OCA Chancery here April 17-18, 2000.
The Very Rev. Myron D. Manzuk, AAC Manager, noted that Conference Direct, a third-party provider that assists in locating appropriate meeting facilities, had worked with him in surveying potential sites in Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Baltimore, Toronto, and Washington, DC, in addition to several other venues in Florida. In terms of rates, amenities, and meeting space, the Renaissance Orlando provides ample facilities for all AAC plenary sessions, liturgical services, displays, and other events and activities.
While the exact dates for the 13th AAC have yet to be determined, it was announced that the Council will be held in July 2002.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, opened the Metropolitan Council meeting by reviewing several issues, including finances, stewardship, and demographics many of the same issues addressed by the Holy Synod of Bishops at its spring session held in late March. He emphasized the importance of proper implementation of the “Fair Share” resolution passed at the 12th AAC held in Pittsburgh in July 1999, noting that “we want to ensure that this resolution is implemented throughout the whole Church, for the good of the whole Church.” He continued by noting that Church finances and responsible support of the Church’s life and ministry are connected to the Church’s changing demographics.
“We are grateful to God for the many years of vibrant Church life which once was experienced in the geographic areas that were settled by large groups of Orthodox immigrants,” Metropolitan THEODOSIUS stated. “However, we must admit that the large, ethnically-based parish around which the rest of community life revolves is an increasingly rare phenomenon.”
Metropolitan THEODOSIUS added that “we are also witnessing the birth and growth of new parish and mission communities which, while younger and smaller, are bringing a new vitality to the Church as she continues her mission of proclaiming the fullness of the Gospel to North America.”
“The reality of the Church’s changing demographics cannot be ignored as we plan and strategize for the future in a way that assures the greatest effectiveness in our mission of proclaiming the Gospel,” Metropolitan THEODOSIUS concluded.
Metropolitan THEODOSIUS also reported that the Holy Synod of Bishops had approved the actions taken concerning the financial audits for 1997 and 1998 and the review of the Primates Discretionary Account for the same years, the latter of which was reviewed and properly accounted for by an independent certified public accounting firm.
After an additional report and discussion led by the Very Rev. Paul Suda, Chairman of the Audit Committee, Metropolitan Council members accepted the audits as presented.
Metropolitan THEODOSIUS spoke in detail about the forthcoming canonization of Bishop RAPHAEL [Hawaweeny], slated to take place during the OCA’s Millennium Celebration at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery May 26-29, 2000. In addition to members of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops, His Beatitude, Metropolitan SAWA of Warsaw and All Poland, who will be on an official visit to the Orthodox Church in America, will be among the concelebrating hierarchs at the canonization. Hierarchs from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America will also concelebrate, as will His Eminence, Metropolitan SERGEI, Chancellor of the Patriarchate of Moscow.
Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, OCA Chancellor, updated Metropolitan Council members on the ongoing work of the Office of Church Growth and Evangelism, the Office of Humanitarian Aid, the Office of History and Archives, and the Education and Community Life Ministries Unit. He emphasized the importance of educating the faithful in the area of stewardship “with all of its scriptural and patristic meanings,” adding that a number of stewardship education resources will be revised and updated in the near future.
Father Kondratick also reported on recent visits to the Diocese of Alaska and the Mexican Exarchate, noting that “only by strengthening and supporting these two distant areas of our Church will be whole Church in North America grow and continue its missionary legacy.”
His Eminence, Archbishop HERMAN of Philadelphia, Acting Treasurer, underscored the importance of developing a clear process for implementing the 12th AAC’s “Fair Share” resolution, adding that work continues on developing a final proposal to be presented to delegates at the 13th AAC in 2002. Archbishop HERMAN announced that the Very Rev. John Dresko, New Britain, CT has been appointed to assist in this process, while the Very Rev. Dimitri Oselinsky, Clifton, NJ, has been appointed to offer general assistance in the Acting Treasurers Office.
Father Oselinsky reported on the clergy pension fund, noting that it continues to experience healthy growth, despite recent market volatility. Reports were also given on the OCA’s life and health insurance plans.
In other matters, Metropolitan Council members were updated on implementation of the Church-Wide Initiatives involving development of a new religious education curriculum and the sponsorship of seminarian interns passed at the 12th AAC. Dr. Constance Tarasar reported that a pilot three-lesson study unit is in the preparatory stage, while the Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs briefed Metropolitan Council members on the internship program. Eight seminarians have been selected to participate in the program during the summer of 2000.
The Very Rev. Joseph Fester, OCA Development Director, reported on the work of his office, as did Deacon Michael Anderson, Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Deacon Anderson noted that candidates for the Youth Worker Internship Program are currently being sought and announced that a CD-ROM for Orthodox youth workers had been prepared by his office and the youth departments of the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses.
Before the close of the meeting, it was announced that the Very Rev. Paul Kucynda, Wayne, NJ, has been named Acting Secretary of the Orthodox Church in America.
The Metropolitan Council works to implement the decisions of the All-American Councils and meets in the spring and fall of each year. Council members present for the spring session included the Very Revs. Vladimir Berzonsky, John Dresko, Vladimir Fetcho, Alexander Garklavs, Joseph Hirsch, Ernesto Rios, Gregory Safchuk, Igor Soroka, John Tkachuk, and Eugene Vansuch; the Revs. John Garvey and Mark Sherman; Igumen Benjamin [Peterson]; Deacon Christopher Rowe; and Mrs. Tatiana Active, Mr. Paul Culton, Ms. Leda Szwonczyk, Prof. John Erickson, the Honorable Harold Kalina, Mr. L. William Peters, Mr. Gary Popovich, Mr. Richard Schneider, Mr. Mark Stokoe, Mrs. Katherine Vitko, and Dr. Alice Woog.