As widely announced, the Council will be held in St. Louis, MO July 23-27, 2018. Hotel registration at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel must be completed separately.
Registration packets will not be mailed to parishes, as in years past, according to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, who released a number of important AAC-related announcements during the first week of January 2018.
Selection and registration of delegates. Please review the procedures for selecting clergy and lay delegates according to Article III, Section 2 and 7 of the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America. The assessment process has changed this year, in that parishes will not be directly assessed by the OCA. Rather, it is the responsibility of each diocese to collect and submit AAC assessments according to their own established procedures. [Please see related article.]
According to Father Eric, the assessment covers AAC-related expenses for parish clergy and lay delegates, excluding travel, hotel and food costs. The cost of the AAC’s Thursday evening formal dinner is included in each parish’s assessment payment. If approved by the rector of each parish, observers also may register, but they are responsible for their own expenses to attend the AAC. The online registration process will indicate the different options with regard to daily and weekly costs, as well as the option for observers to attend the AAC formal dinner.
Delegates and observers are responsible for the cost of their meals, other than the formal dinner, and transportation costs to and from the AAC. Travel arrangements may be made through FOS Tours and Travel.
Registration of delegates. In order to register for the AAC, a valid email address is required. It is through this address that the system will identify and communicate with delegates. Registrants are urged to save their assigned registration numbers in order to log on to edit any information should the need arise.
Parishes are permitted to send their assigned clergy and an equal equal number of lay delegates. Deacons may register as lay delegates unless specifically assigned and financially supported by the parish in a manner approved by their respective diocesan hierarch. For example, if there is one priest assigned to the parish, then one lay delegate is permitted; if there are two priests assigned to the parish, then two lay delegates are permitted. Attached and retired clergy do not qualify as “assigned,” as this term refers to clergy who have been assigned to the parish by the diocesan hierarch and are financially supported by the parish in a manner approved by him.
The online registration program will guide prospective delegates through a series of options and questions required for registration. Options from which delegates may choose include selecting which of the six AAC forums each delegate would like to attend and the formal dinner meal selection. [AAC forums will count as Continuing Education credit for clergy.] All choices and questions must be completed before the system will finalize the registration process. A confirmation will be sent via email to the address provided.
The registration process will be completed when confirmed by two critical steps. The AAC team first will ensure that the registration is legitimate. Once this has been confirmed, the names of the delegates from each parish will be sent to their respective diocesan hierarchs for approval. Once these two steps have been confirmed for each delegate, emails will be sent indicating that the registration has been approved. Additional instructions for checking in at the AAC itself will be sent at that time.
Registration of observers. Father Eric explained that there are plenty of opportunities for observers to participate in the AAC. [Please keep in mind that the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America will hold its 92nd annual National Convention in conjunction with the AAC. [See related story.] Each observer must be approved by his or her parish priest and diocesan hierarch. Observers will be seated in a special section, but they do not have the right to speak or vote. Observers may register for the entire week, for a single day, or for a series of days. Costs for observers may be paid online through the registration program or by check sent to the OCA Treasurer. Daily observers also may pay to attend Thursday evening’s formal dinner. The fee for weekly observers, as well as retired clergy, includes the cost of the formal dinner. Retired clergy may sit with the delegates during AAC sessions. While they have a voice, they are not permitted to vote. Observers also are responsible for their own travel, hotel and food costs.
Registering for the AAC as an observer is similar to registering as a delegate. Simply follow the instructions and register in one of the several observer categories and answer the series of questions. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address provided. Registration will not be completed until confirmed by two critical steps. The AAC team will ensure that the observer fee has been paid by the observer, either online or by check to the OCA Treasurer. Once this has been confirmed, the observer’s name will be forwarded to the diocesan hierarch for approval. Once these have been confirmed by the AAC team, an email will be sent confirming that the registration has been approved. Additional instructions for checking in at the AAC itself will be sent at that time.
Six AAC Forums. There will be six forums held on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons during the AAC. These forums will be based on the document authored by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, titled “Of What Life Do We Speak? Four Pillars for the Fulfillment of the Apostolic Work of the Church.” This document will serve as the study guide for the 19th AAC and will be sent to all parishes and institutions well in advance of the AAC. Parishes and institutions may utilize this in preparation for the forums. The forums will be open to all delegates and observers. Delegates are asked to select one forum for Tuesday and a different one for Wednesday.
Each forum will be led by at least two bishops and a panel selected by them to examine in-depth the topics and to present recommendations and initiatives to be considered by the AAC and the Holy Synod. The titles of the forums have been announced, with in depth descriptions, on the OCA web site. They include
- Forum 1: Spiritual Life – How Can We Improve Our Personal Relationship With Christ?
- Forum 2: Spiritual Life: - How Can We Better Care for Our Clergy?
- Forum 3: Stewardship – How Do We Properly Steward What God Has Entrusted to Us?
- Forum 4: Relation With Others – How Can We More Effectively Communicate And Interact With The World, North America, Non-Orthodox Groups and the Community?
- Forum 5: Evangelization – How Can We More Effectively Establish Missions And Revitalize Our Churches?
- Forum 6: Evangelization – How Can We More Effectively Reach Our Parishioners?
Finally, additional information with regard to registration for the AAC youth program will be forthcoming.