Members of the Orthodox Church in America’s Statute Revision Task Force held their first face-to-face meeting at Saints Peter and Paul Church here January 16-17, 2014.
Established by the Holy Synod of Bishops in October 2013, the Task Force is undertaking a comprehensive revision of the OCA Statute, slated to be presented for adoption at the 18th All-American Council in Atlanta, GA in July 2015. The need for comprehensive revision of the Statute—which was originally adopted at the Second All-American Council in 1971—has been recognized at all levels of the Church for many years. In fact, a draft revision of the Statute had been prepared a decade ago and presented to the Holy Synod for review, but this project never reached its completion.
Task Force members began their work in November 2013 with a preliminary conference call meeting. A digital reference library which includes previous versions of the Church’s Statute, including those predating autocephaly; documentation concerning all previous amendments of the OCA Statute; statutes and other governing documents of other Orthodox Churches, as well as those of their dioceses in North America; and relevant academic articles and other documentation has been assembled for use by the Task Force. New items are continuously being added to the library.
The two-day Phoenix meeting was opened by His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, who chairs the Task Force. At its opening session, the Task Force agreed that the Statute revision process must be as open, transparent and inclusive as possible. Once an initial draft is completed later this year, it will be forwarded to the Holy Synod for comments and input. Similar input from clergy and laity across the Church will be solicited through presentations of the draft at diocesan assemblies and town hall meetings prior to the 18th All-American Council. The draft Statute also will be made available on-line to facilitate submission of additional comments. The final draft, which will incorporate modifications based on input received, will be released 90 days before the 18th Council, in accordance with Article XIII of the current Statute. The text of the revised Statute will then be presented to Council delegates for adoption.
The Task Force agreed to use the 2004 draft of the Statute as its starting point, incorporating amendments to the Statute that have been adopted by All-American Councils since then. During the meeting, Task Force members also discussed a variety of methodological and broad issues pertaining to their work and reviewed documents that had been prepared by its members, as delegated during the telephone conference in November. The Task Force then began careful, systematic and detailed discussion and redaction, moving point by point through several articles of the 2004 draft. At the conclusion of the meeting, Task Force members were assigned to redact other articles of the 2004 version in preparation for a thorough review at future meetings. A telephone conference meeting has been scheduled for late February and a face-to-face meeting will be hosted by Archbishop Nathaniel in the Detroit area in late April.
Other Task Force members appointed by the Holy Synod include Archpriests David Brum, Dimitri Cozby, John Erickson, and Alexander Rentel (Secretary); Priest Ioan Cozma; Judge E.R. Lanier; and Mr. Alexis Liberovsky, OCA Archivist.