- His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, retired Primate, were honored by hundreds of participants in the 76th National Convention of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America [FOCA] held at the Radisson Hotel here August 29-September 2, 2002.
The event marked the first time Metropolitan Herman attended a national convention as Primate of the Church. He was elected to the primacy on July 22, 2002, upon Metropolitan Theodosius’ retirement, during the 13th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America. Also present was His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Baltimore, Auxiliary to the Metropolitan, and Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, OCA Chancellor.
Newly-elected FOCA Executive Board members include John Kruchok, 37th National President; Dr. John P. Schultz, Vice-President; Kathy Lazor, Recording Secretary; and Michael Bowan, Treasurer. Sandra Fedorko becomes Immediate Past President, while the Very Rev. Eugene Vansuch continues as National Spiritual Advisor.
More than four hundred members and guests attended the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and Grand Banquet on Sunday, September 1st. During the banquet, at which Metropolitan Theodosius was honored for his 25 year tenure as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, the video tribute shown at the 13th All-American Council was presented to the audience. A standing ovation of more than five minutes followed the video.
In addition to plenary sessions, the convention featured an extensive agenda which included Vespers on Saturday evening and a Friday evening Panakhida. On Thursday evening, the Washington D.C. Male Slavic Chorus performed for conventioneers, while dances were held on Friday and Sunday evenings. Special activities were conducted for Juniors/Youth, Young Adults, and “Golden Agers,” while many participants chose to visit Hershey Park, attend a minor league baseball game, or enjoy a boat cruise. Following closing ceremonies and prayers, the convention concluded with a luncheon at Christ the Savior Church in Harrisburg.
The convention theme “the Spirit of the 76th” was clearly evident throughout the weekend, both in the hospitality and professionalism exhibited by the sponsoring committee and in the enthusiasm and commitment of the members and guests in attendance.
Future FOCA national events awarded during the convention include the 2004 National Basketball Tournament, to be hosted by the Northside “R” Club, chapter #1, Pittsburgh, PA; the 2005 National Basketball Tournament, to be sponsored by St. Mary’s “O” Club, chapter #94, Minneapolis, MN; the 2004 National Bowling Tournament, to be hosted by St. Andrew’s “O” Club, chapter #220, Maple Heights, OH; and the 2004 Summer Sports (Golf) Tournament, to be sponsored by the Frackville “R” Club, chapter #150, Frackville, PA. Sponsors for events in 2003 presented final plans for the 77th National Convention in Williamsburg, VA, to be sponsored by the South River, NJ “R” Club; the 2003 National Bowling Tournament, to be hosted by the New Jersey District; and the 2003 National Summer Sports Tournament, to be sponsored by the Weirton “R” Club.
Thirteen $1,000 William Fekula and John Klimkosky scholarships were awarded to FOCA members during the convention. Two $1,500 missionary grants in support of the work of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center were approved. More than $30,000 was raised in the annual FOCA United Fund drive, which offers assistance to youth programs, seminaries, missionary work, the St. Vladimir’s (Ohio District) Camp, and the William Fekula scholarship fund. A $9,000 pledge made annually to the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards to support youth ministry efforts by the Orthodox Church in America also is provided through the United Fund program. A goal of $15 per member was set for next year’s United Fund drive.
Delegates also approved study and review of future FOCA charitable appeals and renamed the FOCA’s “Heartbeat Sunday” humanitarian appeal to “Gifts of Love”. The convention body selected funds raised to be earmarked for Alaska.
Goals approved for the present and future include the production of membership videos, brochures, posters and other promotional tools and working for the common goal of providing fellowship and service activities for all youth of the Church in North America.
Established in 1927 as the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs, the FOCA was recognized as an official arm of the Church by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America in the mid-1990s, at which time it adopted its present name. The FOCA maintains junior and senior chapters in many parishes across North America.