The Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America concluded its fall session on Thursday, September 24, 2015.
As reported earlier, the session opened on Monday, September 21 with a one-day retreat featuring presentations by Dr. Mary Ford, Professor at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, and Archpriest Dr. John Behr, Dean of and Professor at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary. Planning and business sessions began on Tuesday morning.
In his opening address, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon reflected on the work on the 18th All-American Council and introduced his ongoing work on his “The Apostolic Work of the Church: Building the House of the Lord in Our Lands,” which will provide a “guiding framework for the Orthodox Church in America” during the next triennium and beyond. Using the image of the four pillars of the altar table at the consecration of a church, he proposed that the Orthodox Church in America build its apostolic work on the “the foundation, which is Christ,” and the pillars of the spiritual life, stewardship, evangelism and outreach and external relations. [Read the text of Metropolitan Tikhon’s opening address.]
Archpriest John A. Jillions, OCA Chancellor, updated Council members on his work and the work of the Office of Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations [ORSMA]. He also spoke of progress made by the newly revitalized Department of Pastoral Life and shared its future plans.
The Secretary of the OCA, Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, reviewed responses to a survey distributed to and completed by 18th AAC delegates, discussed various aspects of the Council, and solicited recommendations for the 19th AAC. Council members enthusiastically approved a plan for two new publications—a monthly PDF news digest that will feature highlights from the OCA web site, to be electronically delivered to parishes for printing and distribution; and an annual, hard copy journal that will be sent in bulk to all parishes. Each edition of the journal will feature articles and reflections on a specific theme, the first of which will be devoted to evangelization and mission.
Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, presented the reports of the Internal and External Auditors, adding that the search process for qualified candidates to serve as internal auditors, as mandated in the OCA Statute, continues. [See related story. She also reviewed the 2015 year-to-date financial report, projecting a positive end-of-year balance, and reviewed matters related to the 18th AAC. Together with the Metropolitan Council’s Finance Committee, she presented the proposed 2016 budget based on the new funding plan adopted at the 18th AAC. Council members passed the proposed budget, which will be forwarded to the Holy Synod for final approval.
In other Council actions…
- In his report on the work of the Office of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky highlighted future plans for trips, consultations and initiatives with the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA and sister Orthodox Churches.
- Members of the OCA Pension Board presented a report on the financial health of the plan. Council members voted to accept a proposal that would allow retired clergy on pensions to serve for a limited time under certain conditions in OCA missions while still receiving their pension in order to share their experience and help develop fledgling communities.
- Council members selected missions that qualify to receive Church Planting Grants in 2016. The names of the qualifying missions will be forwarded to the Holy Synod for approval.
- Angela Parks, Esq. Chair of the Metropolitan Council’s Legal Committee, reported on legal issues during a closed session. She also shared the results of the search for a new General Counsel of the OCA, which will be sent to the Holy Synod for approval.
- Raymond Boyd reported on the work of the Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America and ongoing plans for the immediate future. The Finance Development and Charity Committees also discussed their work and plans for developing stewardship and charitable giving in the Church.
- Judge E. R. Lanier reviewed the new Statute of the OCA as approved at the 18th AAC. The new Statute will take effect on November 1, 2015 and will be posted for general release in October. He reviewed the obligations of the dioceses to enter into compliance with the new Statute over the next two years.
- Cindy Heise reported on the work of ORSMA.
Planning sessions focused on the work of the Metropolitan Council with regard to its various committees and their effectiveness. The committee structure will be reviewed and recommendations will be presented by the Internal Governance Committee for approval at the next Council meeting. A general edit of the current Metropolitan Council Handbook is underway.
Minutes and reports of the Metropolitan Council fall session will be posted on the OCA web site as they become available.