Members of the Metropolitan Council and the Lesser Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America held their fall session at the Chancery here Tuesday through Thursday, September 25-27, 2012.
The meeting was chaired by His Grace, Bishop Michael as the Administrator of the OCA.
According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, the following were among the highlights of the meeting.
- On Monday, September 24, the Finance Committee, which prepared the 2013 budget which must include a proportionate reduction in the the assessments as mandated at the 16th All-American Council, met, as did the Internal Governance Committee and the Post Conciliar Committee. Members of the latter committee discussed their presentation of the work of the strategic plan after the All-American Council.
- The first session opened on Tuesday morning, September 25, following the celebration of the patronal feastday Divine Liturgy at the Chancery’s Saint Sergius Chapel, at which Bishop Michael presided. In his opening remarks, Bishop Michael focused on the work of the 17th All-American Council, slated to convene at Holy Trinity Church, Parma, OH on Tuesday, November 13, 2012. A discussion ensued on the recent events surrounding the resignation of Metropolitan Jonah and the use of executive sessions, the need to limit the number of such sessions, and the importance of recording discussions held during such sessions. It was decided to limit the use of executive sessions and provide confidential minutes on the discussions.
- Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky gave a presentation on external affairs. He updated members of the Metropolitan Council on discussions held in Kyiv, Ukraine, during a recent trip there and related areas of interest for the OCA. A discussion also was held concerning the work of the Assembly of Bishops.
- Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, provided an update on his work, especially in the area of sexual misconduct. The revised Policies, Standards and Procedures [PSP] is now being reviewed by legal concerns before general release. Because of the confidential nature of issues, Council members engaged in a lengthy discussion on current cases and procedures and issues affecting the life of the Church in executive session. This was directly followed by a report of General Counsel Thaddeus Wojcik and the Legal Committee, since a number of issues overlapped. The Committee provided an overview of the legal issues within the Church.
- Protodeacon Peter Danilchick facilitated a three-hour planning session with Metropolitan Council members to discuss the priorities and issues facing the OCA. Council members divided into six working groups and gave presentations on their work. A discussion on reorganization and budgetary issues that could be implemented as a result of this exercise followed.
- On Wednesday, September 26, Father Eric offered a report in which he highlighted personnel changes, including the new assignment of His Grace, Bishop Mark of Baltimore. He spoke in depth about communication issues as well as the updating of the web site.
- Father Eric also presented the Department of Evangelization’s 2013 Mission Grant Proposal, which was approved by Council members. He further offered a detailed presentation on the planning and operation of the 17th All-American Council. It was decided to announce a special collection from the Church to help fund travel expenses for Alaskan and Mexican delegates. Plans in this regard will be announced in the immediate future.
- Various committees offered reports. There was an extensive discussion on the Crisis Management Team and procedures. The Internal Governance Committee reported on operations within the Church, while the Post Conciliar Committee gave an extensive report on its work. [A detailed release in this regard will be posted as additional information is received.]
- Ms. Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, and Priest Gleb McFatter led a discussion of the 2012 financial report and presented the 2013 budget. There was an extensive discussion on salaries and budget priorities. After considering a number of alternatives, it was decided to reduce the assessments in 2013 from $105.00 to $95.00. There was a discussion on progress being made with regard to moving the Church to proportional giving and a stewardship model, an issue that will be presented at the 18th All-American Council, slated to convene in 2014.
- A policy was adopted to ensure the continuation of temporary and permanent restricted funds and their use for intentions detailed in the bequests.
- On Thursday, September 27, the Pension Board offered a presentation on its work. Two proposals—on amendments to investment policy and a clarification on wording in the Pension Plan—were passed by Council members.
- Mr. Alexei Krindatch offered a presentation on his recent research, focusing on statistical facts involving the OCA and perceptions of Church life. [The presentation may be viewed here.] Lengthy discussion followed.
- Metropolitan Council members thanked their outgoing peers for their work, dedication and service.
- After adjournment, members of the Reorganization Task Force, charged with considering ways to properly divide responsibilities between the Central Church, the dioceses, the deaneries and the parishes, met. They also discussed models for more efficiently prioritizing and funding the work of the Church.
Minutes and reports will be posted on the OCA web site as soon as they become available.