The fall session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America was held at the Chancery here October 21-23, 2014.
On its opening day, the Holy Synod elected His Grace, Bishop Irénée to the vacant Episcopal See of Ottawa and Canada and Igumen Paul [Gassios] to the vacant See of Chicago and the Midwest. Igumen Daniel [Brum] was elected Bishop of Santa Rosa and Auxiliary for the Diocese of the West. [See related story.]
Bishop Irénée will be enthroned in Ottawa on November 28-29, 2014, while Bishop-elect Paul’s consecration and enthronement will take place in Chicago on December 26-27 and Bishop-elect Daniel’s consecration and enthronement will be celebrated on January 23-24, 2015 in San Francisco and Santa Rosa.
In his opening address, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon addressed the newly elected and reviewed the current status of the Church.
“We offer our expressions of ‘Axios’ to the newly elected members of the Holy Synod and welcome them to our fall session,” Metropolitan Tikhon said. “I think that I speak for all the brothers and for the entire Church in expressing our great joy. I offer our prayers and hopes for fruitful ministries in your dioceses and in pastoral and administrative work. In addition, we also know that, at least in the cases of Canada and the Midwest, each of your flocks has been waiting patiently for a shepherd to guide them, and I would exhort each of you to approach your new responsibilities with sobriety, humility and above all, love for your flock.
“I am also very pleased that, with today’s elections, there remains only one vacant diocese in the Orthodox Church in America—the Diocese of the South—and it is our hope that the nomination of a new bishop for that diocese will take place next February,” Metropolitan Tikhon continued. “In any case, it has been a long time since we have had so few vacancies, and I believe that this gives expression to the continuing establishment of stability in the Orthodox Church in America and offers the foundation for all of us to fulfill the Apostolic work of Christ.”
After offering congratulations to His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel on the 35th Anniversary of his Episcopacy, Metropolitan Tikhon reviewed his work since the Holy Synod’s spring 2014 session, highlighting the contacts he has had with the retired bishops. He spoke of the recent work of the Holy Synod, Chancery staff, and ORSMA, and addressed a number of legal and pastoral issues and matters of external affairs. He also reviewed ongoing projects, including drafts of the Holy Synod handbook and the Instructions and Procedures for the Selection, Nomination and Election of Bishops.
According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, the members of the Holy Synod
- appointed to the Lesser Synod, chaired by Metropolitan Tikhon, were His Eminence, Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh; His Grace, Bishop Mark of Philadelphia; and His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York.
- heard updates from Ms. Cindy Davis of the Office of Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations [ORSMA] and Dr. Albert Rossi of the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee [SMPAC].
- heard a review of the work of the Department of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations by Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, Director, and Priest Nazarii Polataiko.
- reviewed the report of Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor, in which a plan for the renewal of the Department of Pastoral Life was presented. It was agreed that each bishop will appoint a priest to attend a consultation, convened by the Department, in 2015. He also spoke of the ongoing work and meetings of the diocesan chancellors.
- heard the report of Father Eric Tosi, Secretary, who updated the hierarchs on plans for the 18th All-American Council and sought guidance on a number of matters, including speakers, agenda items, and special events. He presented a plan to reestablish the OCA mailing list, which the hierarchs approved, and sought input on the reprinting of new metric books, in which parish sacramental celebrations are recorded. He also offered an update on the work of the Archive Committee.
- received the proposed 2015 budget, which was presented by Ms. Melanie Ringa, Treasurer, who reviewed the current budget in detail and presented the positive results of the most recent internal and external audits.
- heard reports from Prof. Dr. David Drillock of the Department of Liturgical Music an Translations and Archpriests Theodore Boback and Joseph Gallick of the Office of Military Chaplains.
- directed the Legal committee to search for and retain a lawyer licensed in the State of New York as General Counsel for the OCA in response to the report of Judge E. R. Lanier, Chair of the Legal Committee.
- unanimously approved Church Plant Grants for five mission communities. [See related story.]
- approved Father Tosi’s recommendations on the OCA’s departments and instructed the Chancery office to contact the Reorganization Task Force of the Metropolitan Council to continue its work.
- heard the reports of Archpriest Dr. John Behr and Archpriest Dr. Chad Hatfield, Dean and Chancellor respectively of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, and Archpriest Dr. Steven Voytovich, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka delivered a report on Saint Herman’s Seminary. The hierarchs heard the report of the Board of Theological Education and approved several candidates who had completed Diaconal Vocation programs for ordination.
The members of the Holy Synod will address a letter to all seminaries and formation programs restating their insistence that all candidates must be members of the OCA for three years prior to their acceptance into programs leading to ordination. The hierarchs conveyed their gratitude to Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov, Director of the Diaconal Vocations Program, for his work in preparation for the Board of Theological Education’s meetings.
Bishop Mark presided at the celebration of Thursday’s Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Apostle James, after which Bishop-elect Paul and Bishop-elect Daniel were elevated to the dignity of Archimandrite. Prayers were also offered for the late Mr. Gregory Sulich, a long-time Chancery employee, on the first anniversary of his repose.
Minutes, reports and related resources will be posted as they become available.
A photo gallery may be viewed on the OCA web site and Facebook page.