Delegates to the annual assembly of the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of New York and New Jersey at Holy Assumption Church here December 3, 2003 adopted a far-reaching proposal to address the administrative and financial difficulties brought about by “poor bookkeeping and the lack of administrative oversight.”
At the center of the discussion was the diocese’s failure to remit $126,000 in parish assessment payments to the Orthodox Church in America’s Chancery in Syosset, NY. Diocesan officials explained that, due to the lengthy illness of His Eminence, Archbishop Peter of New York and New Jersey, the diocese had experienced a number of administrative challenges and unforeseen financial expenditures.
It was also noted that approximately $105,000 had been spent on unexpected expenses surrounding Archbishop Peter’s care and emergency repairs to the diocese’s Bronxville, NY offices and episcopal residence. With no significant savings or endowment from which to draw funds for the extraordinary expenses, these expenses were paid by the diocese out of assessment revenues received from diocesan parishes.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, who presided at the assembly, urged the 44 clergy and 31 lay delegates to resolve the situation and adopt procedures that would prevent similar occurences in the future.
In response, assembly delegates authorized the diocesan council to borrow up to $80,000 to cover assessment payments to the OCA. It was noted that some 20 parishes owed slightly over $50,000 in assessment payments and that this, combined with the loan amount, would be sufficient to cover the outstanding balance. Meanwhile, an austerity budget was adopted to reduce diocesan spending over a four-year period, maintaining the diocesan assessment at $40 per adult member.
A resolution calling for an annual audit of diocesan financial records by an outside CPA, beginning in 2004, was also adopted. Parishes will receive monthly diocesan financial statements, while the district deans will meet with Archbishop Peter at least once every six weeks and the diocesan council will meet quarterly in an effort to monitor the diocese’s administrative procedures.
Metropolitan Herman pledged to work with Archbishop Peter and the diocese’s administrative organs to monitor and resolve the current concerns.
For nearly two years, Archbishop Peter had faced numerous health problems, which forced him to be hospitalized on several occasions. He thanked the delegates for their ongoing prayers and expressed his enthusiasm for returning to active ministry. To assist him, he announced that Igumen Joseph [Hoffman] was appointed Acting Chancellor of the diocese.