The Orthodox Church in America’s Archives Advisory Committee held its first meeting at the Chancery here December 12-13, 2013.
The Committee had been established at the 2013 Spring Session of the Metropolitan Council in order to assess the housing needs of the OCA Archives. At that meeting, a draft mission statement and a proposed roster of members and consultants were presented, and plans for the committee’s first meeting were outlined. Members of the Metropolitan Council expressed their enthusiastic support for the committee’s projected work.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon attended the committee’s first day of meetings and opened the first session by welcoming committee members and blessing their work for the proper preservation of the Church’s archives. He recounted several instances in his ministry as OCA Primate when the Archives provided essential reference material.
All of the committee’s members were present for the meeting, including Archivist Alexis Liberovsky, Archpriest John Erickson, Dr. David Ford, Dr. Jurretta Heckscher, Lisa Mikhalevsky, Gregory Shesko, Dr. Anatol Shmelev, Tamara Skvir and Alexis Troubetzkoy. [For background information on the Committee’s membership see oca.org/reflections/fr.-john-jillions/december-13-2013.]
Also during the opening session, Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor, Archpriest Eric Tosi, Secretary, and Melanie Ringa, Treasurer, offered introductory remarks. In her comments, Ms. Ringa apprised the committee of an annuity endowment, created many years ago, earmarked for a new facility for the OCA Archives.
After reviewing and discussing study and reference materials distributed in preparation for the meeting, committee members identified tasks that should be undertaken for the OCA Archives including the compilation of a concise inventory of the holdings of the OCA Archives and collection development and collection management policies, investigation of possible grant funding, outreach and publicity to make the Archives more accessible for research, preservation assessment of the collections, and the possible engagement of consultants for issues requiring technical counsel and of interns or volunteers for other work. To accomplish these tasks, committee members offered their expertise to assist the Archivist.
The Committee also adopted the following mission statement: “The purpose of the OCA Archives Advisory Committee is to assess the housing, preservation and access needs of the OCA Archives and to develop strategic solutions. The committee will also explore and develop outside sources of funding, including grants, for housing and other unfunded projects of the OCA Archives. The committee members will advise the OCA Archivist in their respective areas of expertise. The committee may include additional experts as consultants, as needed.”
Mr. Alexis Troubetzkoy was selected to be the committee’s chairperson by unanimous decision with Mr. Liberovsky named its Secretary.
A conference call meeting is scheduled for January 2014, at which time the committee will finalize its report to the Metropolitan Council in time for the latter’s meeting in early February. The committee’s next face-to-face meeting is projected for September 2014.
In addition to its members, committee consultants include Sergei D. Arhipov, Matthew Garklavs, Dr. Scott M. Kenworthy, Daria Safronova-Simeonoff, Eleana Silk, and Popadija Kitty Vitko. They will be called upon to lend their expertise as the committee’s work develops.
Providentially, the committee’s meeting coincided with the Feast of Saint Herman of Alaska. Committee members attended Great Vespers and the Divine Liturgy for the feast of America’s first saint. In his sermon, Metropolitan Tikhon reflected on Saint Herman’s poignant immediacy for the Church in North America today, and the fact that the Archives document his legacy. The committee was blessed by the opportunity to pray at Saint Herman’s relics in Saint Sergius Chapel. Following the Liturgy, a Memorial was celebrated on the 30th anniversary of the repose of Protpresbyter Alexander Schmemann, former Vice-Chairman of the OCA Department of History and Archives. Also commemorated at the memorial service were His Eminence, Archbishop Kiprian (Borisevich) and departed members of the Chancery staff, including Archivists His Eminence, Archbishop Gregory (Afonsky), and Serge and Mary Troubetzkoy, who played key roles in preserving the Archives over many decades. After the services, Matushka Tamara Skvir presented to Metroplitan Tikhon for the Archives a copy of some of the diaries of her grandfather, His Eminence, Metropolitan Leonty (Turkevich) that are preserved in the Library of Congress and are now being studied in Russia.