Holy Synod, Metropolitan Council address finances, committees, procedures

During their third full day of business sessions, Thursday, September 24, 2009, members of the Orthodox Church in America’s Holy Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Council met in joint session.

A series of budget revisions were passed for the year 2009. Out-going OCA Treasurer, the Rev. Michael Tassos, noted that with these revisions the Church should end the year with a surplus of approximately $170,00.00. This surplus will likely go towards mounting legal costs.

The Metropolitan Council also passed a 2010 budget that is projected to yield a slight surplus. However, it was noted that without a clear idea of the total legal expenses for the coming year, it was difficult to ascertain a final fiscal outcome for 2010.

In response to the report of the Pension Board, the Metropolitan Council approved the restructuring of benefits earned after December 31, 2009. This restructuring is aimed at making the Pension Plan more equitable for all participants while remaining financially sound to secure the retirement of its participants.

Present for the discussion on finances was the newly appointed OCA Treasurer, Melanie Ringa. Ms. Ringa, who is also Associate Chancellor for Finance at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, will begin her duties as Treasurer before the end of 2009.

In other business, members of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council heard reports from Metropolitan Council committees, approving the charters of several. In related work, they reviewed a draft handbook for Council members that outlines the structures and work of the Metropolitan Council.

Also on the day’s agenda was the approval of proposed members of the OCA Auditing Committee, which will include Deacon Martin D. Watt, CPA; Michael S. Strelka, CPA, CVA; Karen L. Simons-Durkish, CPA; and Vera Bozko-Summer.

The Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council engaged in a long, candid discussion about the OCA’s sexual misconduct policies, which are currently under review. It was stressed that a pastoral approach to the issue of sexual misconduct is a multidisciplinary approach, involving spiritual issues, clinical issues and other areas of concern. A major challenge with these policies is that of consistent implementation in all cases and at all levels of Church life. These policies and procedures must be embraced by the whole Church in order
to be effective.

The 2009 Fall Sessions of the Holy Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Council will conclude Friday, September 25, 2009.