Metropolitan Council meets at OCA Chancery

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman addresses the spring session of the Metropolitan Council.

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — The spring session of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America opened at the Chancery here on Tuesday, March 13, 2007, with the address of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman.

The complete text of the address reads as follows.

“This week, we stand at the mid-point of Great Lent. With great anticipation we await the Feast of Feasts, the Resurrection of Our Lord, through which we are granted new life in the One Who is Life Itself—the victorious Savior, by Whose victory over death we are granted yet another opportunity to renew our relationship with God and with one another.

“Similarly, over the past few months, we have anticipated today’s meeting of the Metropolitan Council as an opportunity to renew our relationship with God and with one another and to face, in a most serious manner, the many issues that we have faced, and continue to face. Relying on the Holy Spirit to guide us in discerning the will of God in our deliberations, let us not lose sight of the importance of the decisions we will make “on behalf of all and for all” in our ongoing effort to restore good order to the Orthodox Church in America.

“In light of the “heavy” agenda that is before us, I purposely will offer a brief address. I am fully confident that each and every one of you is thoroughly familiar with each of the items contained therein. Much of what we have been dealing with since the Fourteenth All-American Council in 2005 has been related to issues of organizational structure and finances. Since allegations of financial mismanagement surfaced just months after that gathering, all of us have been involved in the ongoing struggle to discern what is true and what is false. Hopefully, this chapter in our life will soon approach a conclusion, especially as we hear the report of the Investigation Committee, to be presented by His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest, and the proposals from the Reorganization Task Force and Search Committee. Yet, despite our individual and collective hopes in this regard, we cannot blind ourselves to the equally difficult tasks in the months and years ahead: to rebuild trust, to ensure that the sins of the past are not repeated, and to move forward “in faith and love,” in order to emerge stronger and even more dedicated to our calling to proclaim the Gospel and to minister to others in Christ’s name.

“At the Metropolitan Council meeting held on November 9, 2005, I was prepared to authorize an independent audit of the financial records for years 2004 and 2005, due to allegations of financial mismanagement. In addition, during that meeting, it was suggested that we subscribe to “Best Practice” principles as a part of the management policy for the Metropolitan’s chancery. Finally, a resolution was approved authorizing the Administrative Committee of the Metropolitan Council to investigate the possibility of acquiring a loan that would permit total payment of all outstanding debts.

“Protodeacon Peter Danilchick offered to assist with the drafting of “Best Practices.” The Acting Treasurer began the search for a financial institution willing to extend a loan of $1,700,000 to consolidate our indebtedness. The accounting firm of Lambrides, Lamos and Moulthrop, LLP, was engaged to undertake the audits. Later, at the request of the Holy
Synod of Bishops, the independent audit was expanded to include all regular and special appeals income for years 2001 to 2005.

“By March 2006, after receiving the initial findings of the accountants and experiencing difficulties in securing reasonable explanations from chancery staff members, I concluded that, as the Primate of the Church, it was my duty to hire a firm to independently investigate whether or not financial improprieties had taken place and, if they had, how it happened and who was involved. I humbly remind you that I asked the investigators to overlook no one, including myself. Based upon the prerogatives afforded the Metropolitan of the Church in our Statute, I engaged the law firm of Proskauer Rose to conduct the investigation. Their internationally recognized reputation testifies to their competence in such matters.
Ultimately, an Investigation Committee was appointed to delve more deeply into the matter—and I am sure that you anticipate its report this afternoon as much as I do. While what has transpired in addressing the crisis that we have been facing may not please everyone, I am confident that no one can say that nothing has been done, that the crisis has been or is being ignored, or that we are not addressing the issues that have been and continue to face us.

“As the Primate of the Church, I convened other meetings of the Metropolitan Council during the past year: on May 18, June 13-14, September 28-29, November 9-10, and December 11. Reports on many of the projects emanating from these meetings will be reported on today. A number of them will be brought to completion by the decisions you arrive at today and tomorrow.

“As always, your active involvement, insights, and discernment, as dedicated Church men and women, in no way can be doubted, and are deeply appreciated in our common quest to repair the past and prepare for the future. In all sincerity, I offer my gratitude and highest praise to each and every one of you for whatever you have done to build up the Church, despite the pain all of us have encountered during the past few years.

“May whatever we do during these two very important days reflect our prayerful discernment of God’s will for us and the challenging work He has set before us. And may our deliberations reveal our willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, in the Name of Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father.”

The meeting will conclude on Wednesday, March 14, 2007.