Lesser Synod, Metropolitan Council consider Strategic Plan at full-day workshop

Members of the Orthodox Church in America’s Lesser Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Council reviewed a working document on the Strategic Plan during a full-day workshop at the Chancery here Tuesday, March 2, 2010.

One day earlier, the Strategic Plan Committee, chaired by Archpriest Robert Arida, reviewed progress to date on the plan’s development. Concurrently, four other Metropolitan Council committees—the Sexual Misconduct Committee, the Human Resources Committee, the Ethics Committee, and the Finance Committee—met in preparation Wednesday’s Council session, in which members of the Lesser Synod of Bishops also will participate.

As widely reported on http://www.oca.org and other sites, the Strategic Plan Committee has been meeting regularly for several months. Committee members are intent on soliciting input from every level of the Church, beginning with the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council, in formulating a final plan.

“Tuesday’s workshop marked the next step in the conciliar process guiding the plan’s development,” said Priest John Vitko, Strategic Plan Committee secretary. “While there is still much work to do and a wide variety of viewpoints that must be carefully considered, especially as input is solicited from the dioceses and parishes, today’s workshop realized broad agreement on the plan’s spirit and principles as they exist at this point.”

A key concern involved the need to better articulate the OCA’s identity as Church.

“From the very first days of Saint Herman and the Alaskan Mission, the focus has been on bringing Orthodox Christianity to America,” Father John said. “And since the era of Saint Tikhon—the late 19th and early 20th century—the Church has pursued a conciliar approach involving the hierarchy, clergy and laity in its decision making. The same characteristics will continue to guide us as we move into the future.”

Another key element is the importance of developing a common, clear understanding of how the parish, the diocese, the Office of the Metropolitan, and the Church’s other institutions and organs should relate to one another effectively in building up the Body of Christ.

“Lesser Synod and Council members offered a variety of suggestions with regard to the tremendous importance of and best ways to garner input from the dioceses, parishes, and other Church institutions in developing the plan,” Father John added.

Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, provided invaluable insights on the upcoming Assembly of North America’s Orthodox hierarchs and related issues and how they might relate to the OCA’s strategic planning process.

Lesser Synod and Metropolitan Council members ended the day by participating in a retreat, led by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, on the theme of discipleship.

On Wednesday, March 3, Lesser Synod and Council members will worship at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, at which Metropolitan Jonah will preside. The day’s meeting agenda will include opening remarks by Metropolitan Jonah and reports by the Church’s Chancellor, Secretary, and Treasurer. Reports by the Council’s Charity, Ethics, and Strategic Plan Committees will follow, along with reports on Crisis Management and Council Development initiatives. A review of legal issues will follow.

The spring session will end on Thursday, March 4.