The Lesser Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America met at the Chancery here Tuesday, February 21, 2012.
In attendance were His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon; His Grace, Bishop Nikon; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin, and His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek.
After hearing reports on current operations from Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor; Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary; Melanie Ringa, Treasurer; and Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, External Affairs officer, the hierarchs
- discussed the November 2011 All-American Council, its resolutions, and the implementation of same.
- reviewed plans for the consecration of Bishop Elect Alexander [Golitzin] in Toledo, OH May 4-6, 2012.
- discussed the agenda for the meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops in Rives Junction, MI May 7-9, 2012.
- reviewed plans for the consecration of Holy Chrism at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA during Holy Week. [See related article.]
- reviewed communication and ordination policies as the new implementation of background and psychological evaluations are required for all candidates for ordination and for those wishing to be received into the OCA.
- The hierarchs also met with members of the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee [SMPAC] to review updated policies and procedures, job descriptions and mandates, and ongoing cases.
- On Tuesday evening, members of the Lesser Synod met with the members of the Metropolitan Council. Prior to the meeting, Father Tosi, Thaddeus Wojcik, OCA General Counsel, Gregory Nescott and Dr. Dmitri Solodow held an orientation for new Metropolitan Council members.
The members of the Metropolitan Council
- heard the report of Metropolitan Jonah, which noted improvements in the working relationships in the Chancery and Synod of Bishops. He also reviewed his upcoming schedule.
- Father Jillions presented an overview of his work and an in depth discussion on sexual misconduct issues and the work of the Office of the Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations [ORSMA]. Members of the SMPAC then addressed the Lesser Synod and Metropolitan Council on their work in executive session.
On Wednesday, February 22, Metropolitan Council members
- heard a report by Father Tosi on his work and held an in depth discussion on the work and needs of the OCA’s departments.
- heard Father Tosi’s analytical reflection on the recent All-American Council. An in depth discussion on the gathering’s successes and shortfalls ensued, which included recommendations for the next Council. Father Tosi also reviewed all resolutions and amendments passed at the Council and offered a status update on their implementation.
- heard a lengthy presentation by the implementation teams of the All-American Council, reviewing each working group’s vision and progress.
- heard reports from each committee. Highlights included the reconstitution of the committees due to a high turnover, a plan for the review of the policies and procedures, and a review of charitable contributions. A committee, consisting of Archpriest John Shimchick, Maureen Jury and Jan Van Duyn, will work with the officers and the Lesser Synod to determine the allocation of work between the Central Church and the dioceses, deaneries, and parishes. They will review all department work in light of the results of the recent meeting of the diocesan chancellors and treasurers. [See related article.]
- appointed, in accordance with the Statute, a new internal audit committee for the next triennium. Deacon Marty Watt opted not to continue. It was unanimously agreed to reappoint the committee in order to build upon the progress made during the past three years. The new committee will consist of Michael Strelka, Karen Durkish and Vera Bozko-Summers.
The remainder of Wednesday evening was spent in a detailed review of legal issues during an executive session.
On Thursday morning, February 23, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Jonah, assisted by Fathers Jillions and Tosi, after which
- the Finance Committee presented an overview of its work and a review of the budget. Extensive discussion ensured on the recommendations of the All-American Council resolution and the meeting of the diocesan chancellors and treasurers. The committee is developing recommendations for financing for the 2013 budget.
- revisions to the current 2012 budget, which will include increased funding for the new position of SMPAC coordinator, were considered.
- a motion was passed to use unrestricted bequest funds to help pay down the current Honesdale bank loan.
- an extensive discussion on the AAC resolution on financing the Church, which is being worked on for presentation at the next Metropolitan Council meeting, was held.
- an update on the OCA Pension Plan was given. There was also an update on the Orthodox Health Plans [OHP] and the implications of recent HHS rulings. Father Tosi informed the Metropolitan Council with regard to actions being taken jointly by all representatives on the OHP.
The minutes of both meetings and the reports delivered therein will be posted on the OCA web site as soon as they are received.