OCA “Town Hall” Meeting Notes: St. Vladimir’s Seminary, July 12, 2008

The Town Hall Meeting at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY, was held Saturday, July 12, 2008, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.

The meeting opened with the singing of “O Heavenly King.”

His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston, New England, and the Albanian Archdiocese attended the meeting. OCA Chancellor, Archpriest Alexander Garklavs served as facilitator. Also taking part in the meeting were the other three members of the OCA Chancery Administrative Team: Secretary, Archpriest Eric G. Tosi; Treasurer, Priest Michael Tassos; and Director of Ministries and Communications, Archpriest Andrew Jarmus.

His Grace, Bishop Nikon, briefly greeted all present and thanked them for coming.

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Chancellor, Archpriest Chad Hatfield, welcomed participants on behalf of the Seminary. He said that these meetings are significant in directing us in our renewal and that St. Vladimir’s Seminary is very happy to be part of this process.

Fr. Alexander pointed out that this is the first Town Hall where all four members of the new OCA Chancery administrative team appeared together.

Fr. Alexander also noted that our upcoming AAC will be one unlike any other in the OCA. He spoke about the origins of the Town Hall meeting concept and said that this is an opportunity for people to speak out. It is an opportunity for those who have gathered to speak to the administration and especially to the hierarchs of our Church.

Fr. Alexander went on to outline the ground rules set for the meeting:

  • No attribution of comments
  • Respect for each other
  • No judgment
  • Balance of air time for all participants

He then asked participants the first question of the meeting.

How do you feel about the situation in the Church today; what do you feel has brought us to this crisis?

If we could have dialogue – a real exchange with bishops – it would go a long way for moving things ahead. So far this has not happened. One “geographical” issue is that bishops sit on a stage and the clergy and laity somewhere else. Being able to have a “back and forth” exchange with the leadership of the Church seems to be necessary.

==

I absorbed the vision of the OCA in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I also heard the bits of gossip about who attended what dinners and who received or paid what money. At that time I saw the Church vision and this gossip as unrelated. Somehow I managed to disregard this until I read Dcn. Eric Wheeler’s letter about the scandal and his call for accountability. Until that point, I thought it all didn’t matter to me and to my parish. When I read that letter I realized we can’t ignore these issues because the vision of the Church taught by Frs. Schmemann, Meyendorff, and others was completely incompatible with the extravagance and mismanagement in Syosset and throughout the Church. We cannot ignore these things. We cannot go forward unless we repent, and we cannot repent unless we are honest about what happened.

==

What happened to the OCA’s vision? What happened to the inheritance of St. Tikhon and of the first Sobor in Mayfield, PA, in 1907? St. Tikhon expected this jurisdiction to adapt in some way to American standards of “doing business.” How does the Holy Synod, and especially the Metropolitan regarding this? What is the vision of the hierarchy regarding the life of the Church? What should our Church in the US look like and what kind of accent should it have?

We seem to have a massive diversity of opinion about the goal and structure of the day-to-day operation of the Church, especially the relationship between hierarchs and lower ranks of clergy together with the laity. This difference seems to have gotten wider and wider and we now experience a serious clash of expectations.

==

We have had sobors that called for accountability and transparency and every time there has been an opportunity for transparency it has been ignored. We had issues of the misappropriation of funds in our diocese and we were told to ignore it. The same is happening in the Church. We need to know are we truthful or not, are we transparent or not?

==

I left another jurisdiction to join the OCA because I saw for the first time a Church that had vision and direction to bring Orthodoxy to America, to bring Christ here. With that background, these events have been incredibly hurtful and devastating. Dialogue and accountability are important, but first and foremost, we are people of God and God is a God of those who repent. We are a Church of repentance. Those who do wrong need to confess. When wrong has been done publicly and openly then repentance must be done publicly and openly.

I am certain that our people are the kind of people to say, “We forgive you.” As long as that confession is still forthcoming any dialogue is fabricated and is not authentic and not of God. This has been stated in many ways, including some very wrathful and angry ways. But it needs to be stated again, because those who have done wrong need to know that they will be received back if they ask for forgiveness. And then real dialogue can happen.

==

You hear the rumors and these rumors are embarrassing. Then influential people in your life reveal that these things are true. This is more than embarrassing. It becomes difficult to tell your friends about the Church, because if you bring them, what are they going to see? My question to the hierarchs is will there be accountability? What will you do with the authority that has been given to you, and will the Holy Synod police themselves? Where are our bishops? What is the plan for handling this crisis? Who will be accountable for reaching out to the wider membership of the Church?

==

Fr. Alexander Garklavs said that one of the common comments at these Town Hall Meetings is, “We want to know what happened.” Although we all have our theories, there have yet been no conclusive answers to the question of what went wrong. Currently the Special Investigating Committee is working on this and a lot is riding on their work and their report. What has been communicated – which thus far has only been their objectives, not their findings – is that they want to do what everyone is asking: to outline as best as they can how we got into this crisis. Their report will be ready in early September and will be made public after it is presented to the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council.

==

There has not yet been a frank admission of responsibility. One Archbishop has written that these are relatively small matters and that criticism is “patricide.” Many in the New York / New Jersey diocese were told to sit down and shut up because there would never be disclosure of financial mismanagement there. We see that same thing in the Church and we are hoping that we will see openness for the Special Investigating Committee, but we are not sure that it will.

==

One of the problems is that many feel that it is not within their place to question what the bishops are doing. We speak a great deal about the conciliar nature of the Church. There exists a kind of papalism with the idea that the bishops are in charge and we are in no place to question them. We no longer have a reality that the bishops are shepherds who know their sheep by name. Suggestions that questioning a bishop is patricide are in error. We need to reexamine our ecclesiology so that priests see themselves as co-shepherds with their hierarchs.

==

Is the role of the bishop to be king or steward? St. Ignatius has the image of a monarchial role. It seems that sometimes we have a reversal — instead of a monarchial episcopate we have an episcopal monarchy. This idea is not only prevalent among the hierarchs. The notion that any given person in the Church is beyond questioning should be alien to us. Without accountability we are not functioning authentically as Church. The headship of Christ in the Church is manifested by Him dying for the Church, of husband in the family is by his dying for the family, and therefore the headship of the hierarch is through dying for the faithful.

==

What went wrong was that the bishops were not in charge. Another managerial structure was in place that took the authority away from the bishops. The new administrative structure at the OCA Chancery has been established to ensure that such a situation never happens again. When my parents came to the OCA, they did so because they embraced an American vision for the Church; to see the Church in this predicament so many years later makes me very sad. There are many to blame for the situation that we are in, but knowing something and taking part in it are different. To Bishop Nikon I would say that once the Special Investigating Committee report is complete it must go out to the people in its entirety. The report is not just for the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council but it belongs to everyone, no matter how hard it might be to read what will be in it. Without this step we will not have accomplished anything.

==

Another problem is a perception that we have had a self-perpetuating Synod. Synod members select their own peers. It is important that the whole diocese put a particular bishop in their particular diocese.

What specific suggestions or recommendations would you have for the AAC or what would you like to see come out of the Council?

In response to a question about how many 501 [c] 3 organizations are part of the OCA, Fr. Michael Tassos said that this matter is still under review and it needs to be addressed at the All-American Council. He added that the last Metropolitan Council meeting affirmed a decision of the 9th AAC regarding just this. But it is not something that can be resolved in a 30 or 60 day time frame; it must be approached in a methodical manner.

Fr. Michael went on to say that there has been a great deal of work accomplished cleaning up the bookkeeping in the central administration, but we are yet to address administrative issues. For example, we have to present a budget at the Council but without a vision it is hard to know how to prepare a budget. One of the most pressing challenges for this AAC is what is the vision of our Church and what can we reasonably fund, given our size? Before we can make major decision about the Church, its holdings, work and expenses, we have to know the vision that drives these changes.

==

We are hiding our treasures from Syosset because we do not know who you are and what you will do with it. The problem is that there is an expectation to “forgive and forget,” but this is not authentic. Our feeling is that all the Metropolitan is interested in is that we pay our dues. How can we have a vision of the future if we cannot clean up something that happened three years ago? We come and speak. We try to find a solution. But what is going to change? We want to feel a fatherly attitude from our hierarchs. Instead we feel like part of a franchise. What my parish wants to know is will the Metropolitan resign? We feel that this will bring positive changes.

==

Part of dialogue is being able to ask questions. At our diocesan assembly this was not allowed. Maybe one idea is to decentralize work and perhaps we need this in the Church. Another issue is being able to ask questions and not be demonized for doing so as we were for many years in our diocese.

==

Acts of repentance at the AAC are essential. But to have this happen there needs to be a heartfelt admission of guilt form those who had complicity in the event. Instead the blame is always passed to someone else or we hear that “it was for the good of the Church.” The Church is complex and wrong things happen for the good of the Church but not to this extent. There has to be some accountability for what went wrong, and specifically this must involve the Holy Synod and the Church administration. We have an entire culture that went astray and the leaders that when astray must accept responsibility for this. There have been calls for a mass resignation from the hierarchs, whether this would be effective or not is unknown, but what there should be from the Holy Synod is a resignation of denial.

==

The question is not just what went wrong but what is wrong; what are the lingering problems that have to be dealt with? This discussion has to be conducted in honesty and openness so people can ask questions and receive a straight and genuine answer. Many times I see authority without responsibility; I would hope that the AAC would have a forum where tough questions could be asked and tough questions would be answered. We need to think about the responsibilities of our legacy and what it means to us. I would like to speak with my bishop as a father but I cannot. I would like to see my leaders connect with the faithful in a meaningful way. This is what I would like to see come out of the Council.

==

My fear is that the AAC will be a spewing of vitriol and then we will all go home angry. After an act of repentance, we have to go home with something positive that we can focus on, an identity. We need to hear a voice that can speak to us and will help us feel good about who we are; the bishop who is currently the greatest defender of the OCA’s identity is Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) from Vienna; he should be at the Council. We also have to get the video tape of Bishop Basil of Wichita that was presented at the 14th AAC. In that video he gave us three things we should do, we should hear from Bishop Basil again because he has given us something concrete and proactive to work on.

==

We need to be reminded of who we are and to be enthusiastic again. And our budget needs to reflect our identity and our mission. Our budget needs to reflect an emphasis on evangelization.

==

We need to elect a new Metropolitan and we need to spend the balance of time at the AAC evaluating what happened. Then we need to take the next three years to reflect on our vision and our work. We can come out of the AAC with a sense of having turned the corner on this, but then we need to give it time to rebuild in a genuine, prayerful way. We need to define our Church, not by the worst in us, but by the best in us.

==

There is tremendous build-up to this AAC. It’s clear that there is more work than can be done up to this Council. One thing that should come out of this Council is involving the Church as a whole in that work over the three years following, not just having people go home and wait.

==

These Town Hall meetings are very important. I hope the Preconciliar Commission will come out of them with major issues in the Church and that the AAC agenda be dedicated to these key issues. These should not just involve discussion but also resolutions. Some key ideas include – in no particular order:

  • Financial accountability (practical transparency from Syosset to the dioceses / dioceses to parishes) to ensure that this doesn’t happened again.
  • Hierarchy vs. Monarchy
  • Recapture the vision of the OCA as it was articulated when we received autocephaly.
  • Implementation of the decisions of the Special Investigating Committee – how will this be done?
  • What does conciliarity mean – in very practical terms – in the life of the Church.

==

We have talked very little about the word grief in this entire process. The people involved were people we have loved and respected. As the truth came out about these events, we experienced a death in our relationships with these individuals.

The other thing is that it is important to take what is on paper and actually do some of it.

Finally, there are many in the Church who have a difficult time separating the Church from the leadership; the Church is about more than the people in it, it is about Christ. Our great concern is proclaiming the Gospel in America; this is the only thing that we need to worry about.

==

As far as structural issues go, there is too much to do at this Council. On a spiritual level, though, having a sense of vision and unity and a sense of spiritual leadership is reachable at the Council.

==

Fr. Michael Tassos commented that we speak about the truth coming out regarding the scandal. We have to be ready for the possibility that all of the answers will not be achievable. There are gaps in the records that we simply cannot reconstruct in the amount of time that we have. We want as perfect a report as possible, but it will not be without gaps and we have to be willing to accept this. We do not have all the answers because perfect answers are just not there. Hopefully, by God’s mercy we will have enough.

==

At the AAC we must not be afraid to get down and work and do the work until it is done, without worrying about when it is time to go back home. Those who are delegates need to voice their opinion and not be afraid to say how they really feel. All participants at the AAC must take their role seriously. Also in past Councils the people spearheading discussions were the Archpriests; I hope that we will again see them leading us at this Council.

What would/should the OCA be like as it moves forward?

Fr. Alexander Garklavs commented that the OCA is unlike any other Orthodox Church in the world. In our current experiences we have been humbled and in dealing with these issues opened ourselves to the world. While there is some level of humiliation in this, on the other hand there is also a great desire for openness, dialogue and conciliarity within. These discussions would be unheard-of in a historic Eastern European Orthodox setting. Because we are able to do this, it speaks to our vision and our ability to grow in a healthy way.

==

Scandals are in the Church and we are trying to deal with these scandals in an open and direct manner. The tradition of sweeping these things under the rug has not only existed in the Old Country, but also in Orthodox jurisdictions in America. In the way that we have been addressing our troubled we are potentially making a contribution to greater openness, greater conciliarity in Orthodoxy as a whole. Orthodoxy on a global level is getting more and more vulnerable. If we in a small, modest and humble way can bring forward greater honesty and openness this will be a contribution to Orthodoxy throughout the world.

Another important issue is vision; there are subtleties regarding vision. Much of what we envisioned for our Church in the early days of the OCA has been fulfilled (English-speaking hierarchs, AAC’s with a Eucharistic focus); however, the fruit of these changes did not come to us. For example, we have dealt for years with isolationism where people focus on their parish communities but not beyond. We need a vision that will lead us beyond where we are at this time and also where we were in the past before the scandal.

==

I am a recent convert to Orthodoxy. My vision for the OCA is that it is a Church that is well equipped to fulfill its role as “fishers of men.” But it has to be a Church that has purified itself through repentance and has taken up the call to holiness, being the pure Bride of Christ. The OCA has to be a Church that can cast a great net and draw into it those who are not yet Christians, regardless of their background. The Church is not a democracy; however, integrity, accountability and disclosure are values of our culture that will not be neglected by its people. The Church has to be one that reflects a conciliar model of governance.*

(*This is a summary of a written statement prepared and read by Judith Komline. Her full statement is posted in the comments section below.)

==

If things get too complicated they fall apart. Things have to be kept simple and this will help with the solutions. People don’t know who we are as Orthodox; we have to take our identity as Orthodox Christians in America. We need to identify with the American people and guide them into what the Church is about. We are God’s people gathered together for the purpose of doing God’s work, this has to be our guiding principle; when we are true to this the gates of hell will not prevail against us. To achieve this it is necessary that we are well educated as Orthodox Christians, and to be well educated we need to have sincere teachers.

==

Some of what I have heard has made me a bit more anxious than when I arrived, but most of what I have heard has been very encouraging. The only way that knowing the full truth could destroy us is that it had either criminal or civil implications that would bankrupt us or jeopardize our tax-exempt status or ecclesiastical implications that make vulnerable our status as an autocephalous Church. I hope that the Special Investigating Committee report will show that none of these are in jeopardy.

It seems that our early vision was based on a process of indigenization, independent governance and unity with all the other Orthodox here. In some sense we have abandoned our role in these things. In North America we have one declared autocephalous Church whose autocephaly is not recognized by all other autocephalous Churches and one autonomous Church here (and possibly two with the Romanians). This is an ecclesiological issue that has to be part of our work in the future.

Also in hierarchical Church where there are problems with the hierarchy, the Synod of Bishops can deal with this by removing said hierarch; this is within the purview of a Synod of Bishops.

==

What is the place of the OCA in the Orthodox world? How relevant is the OCA, especially in North America? In my perception the Antiochian Church has done more to function as the Church of America as far as mission in America. Do others have the impression that we are irrelevant? Our course for the future has to involve this question.

==

I have heard of many problems throughout the years and I have closed my eyes to much of what has been going on over the past several years in the OCA. If we look at the Church as a family, we will see that in a family you have to be honest with each other, treat each other with respect, acknowledge your problems, and center your life in Christ. In the last number of years I have seen less cohesiveness within the Church. For example, the hierarchy of late has been much more distant from the presbyters and the laity. We need to work first on our fundament identity as a family with Christ as the center.

==

The integrity of the Church is important to me. We have to be able to pass on to our children a Church that they can believe in. I find myself hiding discussions with my wife about the Church from my child. I don’t know how to explain to her what is going on in her Church. I find this disturbing, embarrassing and difficult to live with. I hope that we find a way to restore trust in our Church so that we can pass on to our children a Church that they can see as their spiritual home.

==

The Church has been treating this situation as an administrative and financial issue. When we focus on Christ, we will realize that we have fallen short morally. If we come to the AAC is solely focused on finances and management we will have missed the mark.

==

Fr. Alexander Garklavs said that everything that has been articulated here about the Church’s healing, renewal and the restoration of vision is shared by the four members of the Chancery’s Administrative Team. In spite of our sins, we have pledged ourselves to doing the best that we can to achieve these goals. In a short period of time a lot of damage can be done and it takes years to restore, especially when what has been broken is trust. He invited all present to come a visit Syosset to see the work that we do. For example, Fr. Michael Tassos has done an amazing job of cleaning up and modernizing the financial operation of the Church. We are all looking forward to the Council. Having gone through a communal process of grief and catharsis, we can move forward with a strengthened vision and purpose.

In his closing remarks, His Grace, Bishop- Nikon said that this AAC has to be different than other Councils. “We have three days. The darkest day in human history were transformed into the brightest day in human history in three days. I pray that in the three days that we have we can have a healing process and be revitalized in being the Orthodox Church in America.” He said that in the meetings he has attended he has heard many things about our hierarchs and some of it is true. “But when I look at my brother hierarchs I do not see men that do not care about their priests or about the members of their dioceses. Perhaps we were not as on top of things as we should have been and we are responsible for this, but we too were lied to.” He concluded by stating, “It is amazing to others that our people do not leave. We still know that for all of our flaws and all of our sins this is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that possesses the fullness of Truth.”

The meeting closed with the singing of “It is truly meet.”

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5 Comments

Filed under Orthodox Church in America 15th AAC, Town Hall Meeting Notes, Town Hall Meetings

5 responses to “OCA “Town Hall” Meeting Notes: St. Vladimir’s Seminary, July 12, 2008

  1. Statement read by Judith Denton Komline at the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Town Hall Meeting:

    Father Alexander, you spoke of the tolerance of the OCA in its being willing to hold these Town Hall meetings to listen its peoples’ expressions of feelings, thoughts, and hopes. I thank you, the other members of the Preconciliar Commission, and Your Grace Bishop Nikon for your tolerance, and ask that you extend that tolerance to my words. Many would think that it is presumptuous of me to be here at all, and certainly for me to speak. I received the sacrament of chrismation only this year, on Lazarus Saturday, after years of exploring the Orthodox faith. I have come to the vineyard only at the ninth hour, or perhaps even the eleventh hour. But the Owner of the vineyard has called me.

    My vision for the OCA, ten years from now, is that it will be a Church which has equipped itself to be an effective fisher of men.

    Today, the OCA is able to draw into its fisher’s net people who, like me, have been in churches all of our lives, and who are quite hardened to the sinfulness that is rampant in church life. I envision a church, however, which has purified itself, not just in words, but in repentance, in metanoia, in turning around. I envision an OCA which has moved into the rich truth of the call to holiness offered by our Orthodox faith. I envision an OCA which has grown closer to being the pure bride of Christ, pointing the world to our holy God.

    Today, the OCA is able to draw into its fisher’s net people who, like me, look for a Church that is liturgically correct, and for a Church that is historically correct, and even for a church that is Biblically correct. I envision an OCA which can also draw into its net the fish who do not yet know our Lord and God. Little fish like me have been scooped with a teeny tiny net out of one aquarium and put into a much richer, deeper, truer pool. I thank God for this; I really do. But I envision a Church which is equipped to launch out into the deep to cast a big net, a church whose net will enclose a great multitude of fishes. I envision an OCA which is prepared to draw into its net those who are not yet Christians. My own experience in sharing the Gospel with secular friends is a very common one: their shallow soil considers the good news; the message is appealing; but their deeper soil has been hardened by the sins committed in the name of religion, by what they call the Church’s hypocrisy. I envision an OCA whose actions give no such offense.

    In my own limited experience of its parish life, today the OCA is able to draw into its net many immigrants, some faithful cradle Orthodox, and some who, like me, are so strongly drawn to Orthodoxy that the ethnic divisions pale in significance. But I envision an OCA which has returned to one of its founding goals: to embrace the good gifts brought by people of various backgrounds while striving to overcome ethnic parochialism, to become a Church home to Americans, whatever our particular backgrounds. Most of us Americans are not delusional enough to think that God’s holy Church is a democracy. This being said, integrity, disclosure, and accountability are things that we Americans value very highly even in our corporate and government spheres. We will not tolerate less than this in the Church. I envision an OCA which embraces as a norm regular external audits of all Church accounts, as well as full reporting to the larger public which has granted us the privilege of tax exempt status. I envision an OCA which lives out a great gift once embraced by the Orthodox Church: conciliar governance. May we go forward in love, in respect, and in concord.

    May the Lord have mercy on us all, and may the Lord equip us to be faithful to His call.

  2. Joe Zralik

    I appreciate the information, and I believe good business accounting practices will help improve financial transperency. Please continue your work and all of us can move foward with the healing process. I am looking forward to the report in September. Thank-you St. Gregory of Nyssa, Columbus, Ohio.

  3. Archpriest Chad Hatfield

    It was a great honor for SVS to host one of the Town Hall meetings. This seminary has always played an active part in the formation and support of the OCA. I write now as a member of the presbyteral college of the OCA and not as the voice speaking for SVS.

    During the Town Hall meeting there was a portion dedicated to reflections on what we can do at this AAC to “move on” so to speak so we can leave Pittsburgh with a sense of renewal and commitment to be what the OCA was born to be – The Orthodox Church in America.

    I made two simple suggestions that were not included in this official report. The first was that we invite His Grace, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria to speak to the assembly or even to give the keynote address. Those of us who admire this energetic bishop know that he has become the global voice that is constantly reminding others that we exist and should be included in all pan-Orthodox events as the American Church. He understand our past and he knows the need for us to be strong and vigorous in the future. He can paint the vision that, I believe, we must once again find if we are to survive.

    The second suggestion was a reminder that there was only one bishop at the Toronto AAC who brought us all to our feet and he came to us on a large screen. The bishop was His Grace, Basil of Wichita. He gave us a plan of action in Toronto. I suggest that we hear him again and then take, this time, act as the OCA is expected to respond – pro-actively and not passive.

    Archpriest Chad Hatfield

  4. Mark Harrison

    I was one of those who heard Fr Chad’s suggestions, and I’d like to echo them. Bishop Basil received votes in 2002 for the primacy of the OCA, and I continue to think that he would be one of the best bishops we could have now: he is capable, and has not been weighed down.

    More importantly, however, Fr Chad is pointing to the fact that others in the Orthodox world are expecting us to ACT LIKE AN AUTOCEPHALOUS CHURCH! One could easily guess that Bishop Hilarion’s support of the OCA comes in response to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s recent actions in inviting members of its Estonian eparchy, whose canonicity is extremely dubious, and the EP’s general behaviour that resembles more a papacy than a first-among equals.

    I myself asked the question: what is the relevance of the OCA in the Orthodox world? Although there are more serious issues I could have mentioned, I pointed out that, as glorious and as joyful an event as it was and is, the reconciliation between the MP and ROCOR was effected in a way that did not take into account the fact that ROCOR is headquartered in the canonical territory of a local church to which Moscow itself granted autocephaly. What does that say about how seriously Moscow takes that autocephaly? If Moscow were to revoke our autocephaly (which is highly doubtful I am advised), what standing would we have? None! However, the real question, in the end, is what are we going to do ourselves to make the OCA a REAL partner, voice, presence, in the Orthodox world? That, it seems to me, is the question on the minds of both Russians and Antiochians.

  5. Comment submitted to the SVS Town Hall Meeting by email:

    Hello SVS,

    We cannot attend today’s town hall meeting (Fr. Paul Schellbach SVS ’96 and his wife Patty SVS ’90).

    However, can you pass on to the meeting the following idea:

    Have each diocese hire a full time certified CPA to manage the finances.

    We only know the credentials of Fr. Michael Tassos who is a CPA.

    The credentials of each treasurer of each diocese should be published on the OCA website.

    There should be a concerted effort to make sure these treasurers have valid credentials are are at least CPAs and become full time employees and are of unquestionable character. These positions should not be volunteer or without benefits.

    Each CPA of each diocese, in conjunction with the OCA treasurer, Fr. Michael Tassos, should work up a financial plan for that diocese for each and every financial aspect that could cause question:

    For instance, policies should be in place if priests sign checks or not (at our previous parish the priest was permitted to sign checks and the signers didn’t know they were signing blank checks; such was his deceit; and he spent that money as he wished).

    Other things need to be discussed in conjunction with Fr. Michael Tassos, such as policies on regular audits for each church should be established.

    These full time CPA treasurers for each dioceses should be having meetings at the same time, both separate as CPAs, and joint with the Synod of Bishops, to share ideas and to make sure financial practices are becoming one in mind and spirit.
    Thanks for passing this on for discussion for today’s Town Hall meeting. If it can’t be discussed could you make sure that someone at the Town Hall can pass this on to the OCA administration.

    In Christ,
    Patty and Fr. Paul Schellbach

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