The spring session of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America was held at Immaculate Conception Seminary here February 10-12, 2015.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, delivered the opening address, in which he reflected on the theme of the forthcoming 18th All-American Council [AAC], “How to Expand the Mission.”
“Archbishop Anastasios of Albania reminds us that ‘each one of us personally, bears his or her share of responsibility, as a living cell of this organic whole. Interest in apostleship, in mission, is not the specialty of particular groups or individuals, but a definitive characteristic of the Church herself. It is designated as the occupation of the Church. It is the sine qua non of its life,’” said Metropolitan Tikhon. “In this light, I have been trying to emphasis this apostolic work, this apostolic mission which is our common labor—and, I hope, our common love. Last March, I presented a draft statement to the Holy Synod, with the title ‘The Apostolic Work of the Church,’ in which I highlighted the three specific areas that seemed to rise to the top in terms of interest from those various groups and that would seem to be prime areas where our apostolic labors and love might be fruitfully applied.”
In addition to missions and evangelism, Metropolitan Tikhon spoke in detail of the importance of clergy health and our monasteries and seminaries. The complete text of the address will be posted on the OCA web site as it becomes available.
“Since this was the last Metropolitan Council meeting before the opening of the 18th AAC in July 2015, Council members conducted a substantial review of AAC activities and logistics,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “A proposed agenda was approved and will be presented to the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops for their blessing in March. The Preconciliar Commission was pleased to report that AAC is on, or slightly under, budget. A full agenda, instructions and reports will be made available in May.”
Council members also reviewed proposed revisions to the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, slated to be presented at the AAC.
“Archpriest Alexander Rentel of the Statute Revision Committee presented an update on the status of the revision and the anticipated time of release,” said Father Eric. “The revisions, currently going through the final editorial stage with a legislative editor, will be presented to the Holy Synod prior to their public release and commentary.” [See related story.]
“A significant portion of the meeting was devoted to reviewing the proposed financing plan for the OCA, also slated to be presented at the AAC,” continued Father Eric. “Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, presented a proposed plan that has been developed over the past two years by the chancellors and treasurers of the various dioceses. The revised proposal will now be sent to the members of the Holy Synod for their blessing before it is forwarded to the Resolution Committee for presentation at the AAC. Copies of the resolution will be made available with the reports.”
Reports were presented by the OCA’s officers. Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor, discussed a number of issues, highlighting the reactivation of the Pastoral Life Department, which will include representatives from the dioceses who will focus on issues of clergy health and care. He also reported on the work of ORSMA and reviewed current and completed cases.
Father Eric reported in depth on a number of AAC-related issues, plans for the upcoming Mission School, and various matters related to communications, crisis management, publications and estate management.
OCA Archivist Alexis Liberovsky and other members of the Archives Committee presented a report on their progress with regard to archives management and preservation. Ryan Platte, the OCA’s IT specialist, reported on his work with the OCA web site, the new database and future projects, which include an upgrade of the web site in the future. Dr. Al Rossi reported on the work of SMPAC as the policies and procedures continue to be refined.
The Metropolitan Council’s various committees offered reports on their recent activities. Among the highlights was the final report of the Post-Conciliar Committee, which has been tracking progress made since the 16th AAC with regard to the Strategic Plan. Priest John Vitko reported on a variety of successes which will be presented at the 18th AAC. Archpriest John Shimchick reported on the work of the Organization Committee, which has been examining methods of reorganizing the work of the Central Administration and the various boards, commissions, departments and offices. An initial proposal has been approved and will be presented to the Holy Synod for further action.
Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky offered an in-depth presentation on a variety of activities and matters related to ecumenical affairs and Inter-Church relations, while recent visitations and the present state of the OCA with regard to the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA were discussed.
A presentation also was made by members of the OCA Pension Board.
As part of the rotation by various departments and organizations, the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America [FOCA] and the Philadelphia-based Russian Brotherhood Organization [RBO] offered detailed presentations on their work and on ways they might further assist the Church. RBO was represented by Basil Russin, Esq., who spoke of the varied programs the RBO offers, including insurance, scholarships and other forms of assistance. Representing the FOCA were Archpriest Theodore Boback and Dr. John Schulz, who highlighted the organization’s activities and spoke of its national convention, which for the first time will be held in conjunction with the 18th AAC.
During an open session, Council members discussed various topics and concerns, including the Assembly of Bishops; policies for official OCA publications, web sites and social media; the status of theological education; and the general state of the Church in North America.
On Wednesday morning, February 11, Metropolitan Tikhon celebrated the Divine Liturgy.
Minutes and reports from the Metropolitan Council session will be posted on the OCA web site as they are received.