Monthly Archives: April 2008

Holy Synod approves Preconciliar Commission proposal for “Town Hall” meetings

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — In addition to other decisions made at their April 17, 2008 meeting the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America approved a recommendation by the Preconciliar Commission to hold “town hall” consultative meetings in preparation for the 15th All-American Council, slated to convene in Pittsburgh, PA in November 2008.

The recommendation was contained in a report by His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston, New England, and the Albanian Archdiocese, who chairs commission for the 15th All American Council.

“The consultative meetings, which will be held in several geographic regions, will provide opportunities for clergy and laity to present their concerns and suggestions to the Preconciliar Commission,” said the Archpriest Andrew Jarmus, OCA director of ministries and communications. “Based on the input received from these meetings, the commission’s members will be implementing the suggestions into the agenda of the 15th All American Council.”

The text of the proposal reads as follows.

“Recognizing that at this time pain and strife exist within the Orthodox Church in America, it is crucial that we find the means to heal and move the Church forward. An important part of preparing for the 15th All-American Council will be to give the faithful of our Church an opportunity to express their concerns and feelings. Addressing this concern before the Church meets in Pittsburgh in November will be essential to fostering a working atmosphere at the Council. In order to provide this opportunity the Preconciliar Commission proposes a series of ‘town hall’ meetings throughout the Church as a ‘living’ study papers preceding the Council.

“It is vital that the whole Church is represented at these meetings, hierarchy together with clergy and laity. These meetings would make this possible as the faithful of the OCA share their concerns, hopes and fears for the Church in the presence of the hierarchy.

“The proposed agenda for these meetings would be very simple. Participants would be asked to offer their responses centered around three themes:

“1. What is working well in the OCA?

“2. What are your concerns and suggestions for the future of our Church?

“3. What would you want to say to the All-American Council

“Meetings would be held on a regional basis, with nine proposed initial sites. At each meeting, a member of the Preconciliar Commission would function as facilitator and ideally there would be more than one hierarch present. The expectation of our hierarchs at these meetings would be simply to listen to the feedback offered by participants. It would be our hope that each member of the Holy Synod would be present for at least one town hall meeting in the series.

“Sites suggested to date include Washington, DC; New England; Eastern Pennsylvania/New York/New Jersey; Ohio; Dallas; Orlando, FL; West coast location; Edmonton, AB, Canada; and Ottawa, ON, Canada.

“The consultation that was called by the Preconciliar Commission with invited participants on April 7, 2008, was truly a breakthrough and demonstrates the value of this type of open discussion. At this meeting people were able to express their concerns, which were at times in opposition to those of others, in a charitable and gracious manner. It was noted at the conclusion of this meeting that all present had the welfare and future of the Church at heart.”

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Preconciliar Commission meets, plans series of “Town Hall Meeting” consultations

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — The Preconciliar Commission of the Orthodox Church in America, charged with planning the 15th All-American Council that will convene in Pittsburgh, PA in November 2008, is planning a series of regional “town hall meeting” consultations in preparation for the Council.

An initial consultation, during which invited participants discussed various issues related to the upcoming AAC and the status of the Church in general, was held on Monday, April 7. This meeting was regarded as a breakthrough by Commission members, who gratefully acknowledged the support, openness, and leadership in this initiative of Commission Chair, His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston, New England, and the Albanian Archdiocese.

 

“The regional consultations will function as a series of ‘living study papers’ in preparation for the AAC. Feedback from these gatherings will help shape the final draft of the AAC’s agenda,” said Archpriest Andrew Jarmus, OCA Director of Ministries and Communications.

 

The regional consultations were discussed at the Commission’s meeting at the OCA Chancery on Tuesday, April 8, 2008.

 

The Preconciliar Commission will present the proposal for the regional consultations to the Holy Synod of Bishops.

 

AAC study papers were another topic of the April 8 meeting. Papers will address current issues in the Church, in addition to the three areas highlighted at the 14th All-American Council — administrative unity, missions and evangelization, and Christian education.

 

It was noted that reservations are now being taken by the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel. Click here for information on reservations and related matters.

 

The next meeting of the Preconciliar Commission will be held on Monday, May 12, 2008.

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Preconciliar Commission holds consultation on 15th All-American Council

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications/OCANEWS.org] — On Monday April 7, 2008, the Preconciliar Commission held a consultation at the OCA Chancery in Oyster Bay Cove, NY. Guests invited to take part in the consultation included Archpriest Michael Dahulich, Dean of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, Protodeacon Eric Wheeler, former OCA Treasurer, Deacon John Zarras, Metropolitan Council member, Dr. Paul Meyendorff, St. Vladimir’s Seminary faculty, and Mr. Mark Stokoe, editor of OCANews.org

Beginning with a review of a draft agenda for the 15th All-American Council, consultation participants addressed many issues related to the Council and to the wider situation of the Church at this time.

Those present agreed that the healing of hearts broken by the recent crises within the OCA is a most important priority for the Church. They also agreed that better communication and mutual accountability between the Holy Synod of Bishops and the membership of the Church is essential. Participants recognized that it was not realistic to assume that the healing of these wounds could be achieved by the 15th AAC alone. However, this council must be instrumental in the broader healing process.

Consultation participants proposed and discussed various AAC agenda items, and initiatives leading up to the Council. These would facilitate greater trust and closer synergy between the various leadership levels of the Church, clergy and laity.

This consultation is the first in a series of meetings being planned throughout the Church to discuss the AAC and its agenda.

Chaired by His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston, members of the Preconciliar Commission include: OCA Chancellor and Acting Secretary, Archpriest Alexander Garklavs; OCA Treasurer, Priest Michael Tassos; Director of Ministries and Communications, Archpriest Andrew Jarmus; Archpriest John Jillions; Resolution Committee Chair, Archpriest John Erickson; David Drillock; Michelle Jannakos; Eugenia Skuby, and recording secretary, Lisa Morris.

The consultation was facilitated by Mr. Brian Strom of the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution, Ottawa, Canada.

The 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America will be held November 10 to 13, 2008, in Pittsburgh, PA.

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Preconciliar Commission continues preparations for 15th All-American Council

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — On Monday, March 17, 2008, the Preconciliar Commission preparing the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America met for its regular meeting at the OCA Chancery.

In his opening remarks, Commission Chair, His Grace, Bishop Nikon stated that the conciliar process begins with the preparation of the Council and culminates in November with the All-American Council itself. He said that two areas of the preparatory process that need continued attention are greater communication of plans for the All-American Council, and the preparation of study papers. His Grace also stated that a crucial part of the upcoming Council will be the resolution procedure.

In December 2007, an email address was set up to obtain feedback from the wider membership of the Church on the upcoming Council. An updated list of submissions, including submissions since the first posting of AAC ideas, can be read here. The Commission thanks all who sent in ideas. Commission members agreed that the intent of the email address was specifically as a means for our members to share input on the All-American Council, not as a forum discussing the general state of the OCA. Ideas that fall within the mandate and competency of the Commission will be considered, with these suggestions being posted on the OCA.org web site.

The Commission discussed at length a proposed resolution procedure. Present for this discussion was Resolution Committee Chair, Archpriest John Erickson. It was again stressed that the AAC agenda must allow adequate time for discussion and open debate of resolutions. The full resolution procedure will be published shortly.

Commission members also discussed study papers in preparation for the Council. Possible themes for study papers include the spiritual preparation for the All-American Council, Church polity, and reconciliation. Others themes will be identified based on the content of resolutions received.

Honoring its commitment to hear feedback on Council preparation from as wide a range of Church membership as possible, the Preconciliar Commission will be planning a consultation to discuss ongoing plans for the AAC. The Commission is also discussing other ideas for consulting with Church membership on Council plans.

The next meeting of the Preconciliar Commission is planned for April.

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Preconciliar Commission discusses AAC Agenda, members’ feedback

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — On Monday, January 21, 2008, the Preconciliar Commission of the OCA’s 15th All-American Council met at the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America.

The 15th All-American Council will take place November 10 to 13, 2008, at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel, Pittsburg, PA. Reporting on the hotel site, AAC Manager, Archpriest Myron Manzuk, said that Council delegates and observers will soon be able to make room reservations at the Pittsburgh Hilton at a special conference rate. Details on hotel reservations will be published as soon as arrangements are finalized.

Reporting on AAC parish assessment invoices, OCA Treasurer, Priest Michael Tassos, said that one challenge has been inaccurate parish census information. Some parishes that have received invoices based on inaccurate census data have informed the Chancery and adjustments to their assessments were made. Fr. Michael also reported that a budget for the Council is now being completed. He said that the approximate cost of the Council is estimated to be $250,000.00.

The Commission discussed the latest draft of the AAC agenda. The agenda consists mainly of business sessions, with short reflections scheduled periodically throughout the meetings. Liturgical services will include two Divine Liturgies, one on the first day of plenary sessions, November 11, and one on the closing day, November 13. The first evening service of the Council on Monday, November 10, will be an Akathist followed by a meditation on the theme of repentance. Discussing the agenda, Commission members emphasized the importance of including question periods as part of each reporting session. For the Council to be fruitful, it must be insured that delegates have the possibility of full participation in the proceedings.

In December 2007, an email address was established to receive feedback from OCA members about the upcoming All-American Council. Responses have come from a broad section of contributors. Emailed comments received to date can be viewed here; these comments are the opinions of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, governing documents or policies of the Orthodox Church in America or the OCA’s Preconciliar Commission. The Preconciliar Commission continues to be open to suggestions and takes them into account as the development of the ACC agenda continues. Comments on the 15th All-American Council can be emailed to ideasforaac@oca.org.

A topic that generated much discussion at the meeting was the issue of resolutions. Resolutions are an important part of the AAC because they are a means by which the wider Church membership has a voice at the Council. Resolutions will be solicited from OCA parishes. Those that are selected to be presented at the AAC will be distributed to the wider membership of the Church well in advance of the Council. It was agreed that the faithful of the Church must be given adequate time to consider resolutions ahead of time, before the delegates address them at the Council itself. Time will also be scheduled during the AAC for entertaining resolutions from the floor.

Preconciliar Commission at workCommission members also discussed preconciliar study papers. These papers will be developed throughout the first half of the year and posted on the OCA.org web site. A compendium of study material will then be published in late summer.

Preconciliar Commission members engaged in a long discussion about the opinion of some in the OCA that this Council will not be worth attending. This sentiment stems from the issue of broken trust in the Church’s leadership. The members of the Commission, which includes the Central Administration’s new leadership team, is committed to creating a program and atmosphere at the Council that will address this trust issue. This will involve efforts, not only at the Council itself, but in the months leading up to the AAC and in the time following it.

Preconciliar Commission Chair, His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston, New England and the Albanian Archdiocese, and all the Commission members agreed that bringing the Church together for prayer, dialogue and fellowship is a crucial part of the healing and continued growth of the OCA. It was stated repeatedly throughout the meeting that the Commission respects and values the voice of our membership, and will continue to listen to member input in the ongoing preparations for the 15th AAC.

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All-American Council Assessment invoices mailed out to OCA parishes

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] – Assessment invoices for the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America have been mailed out to parishes. Invoices were sent out with a cover letter from OCA Treasurer, Priest Michael Tassos. The text of Fr. Michael’s letter is as follows.

“Enclosed with this letter is the invoice for your parish’s assessment for the 15th All-American Council, which will take place in Pittsburgh, PA, November 10-13, 2008. We had every intention to mail these invoices out to you before the end of last year, but the implementation of new software on the Chancery’s computers delayed this for a few weeks.

“The Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council, meeting at their joint session in October, 2007, decided that each parish would be assessed the same amount. That amount was set at $8.00 per member. Your 2007 parish membership figures were used to determine the total assessment. This invoice therefore reflects the amount based on your 2007 census multiplied by $8.00. If for some reason you question the census figure, please contact me at the Chancery (516-922-0550 x 135 or e-mail: mtassos@oca.org).

“The Preconciliar Commission, chaired by His Grace, Bishop NIKON, has met several times and is earnestly engaged in planning for this important Council. Although it will be somewhat shorter and less elaborate than previous Councils, the 15th All-American Council is coming at a crucial time in the history of the Orthodox Church in America. Important matters will be addressed. Equally important will be the actual gathering of the entire Church as it comes together to pray, share and discuss the challenges that we all face. The planning and implementation of this 15th All-American Council necessarily requires the financial and moral support of all of the members of the Orthodox Church in America. With that in mind, your prompt submission of the attached assessment will be greatly appreciated. If at all possible, we ask that you do so no later than February 15, 2008.

“Please extend our appreciation to your entire Parish Council and all of your parishioners for your contribution and support.”

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Second meeting of Preconciliar Commission

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — On Monday, December 10, 2007, the Preconciliar Commission for the 15th All-American Council held its second meeting. Further details regarding Council program and content were discussed. A preliminary agenda will be shared with the Holy Synod of Bishops at their meeting later this week for their input and feedback.

A guest participant at this meeting was Mr. Brian Strom of the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution in Ottawa, Canada. Mr. Strom was invited to attend the meeting by Commission Chair, His Grace Bishop Nikon, on the recommendation of Archpriest John Jillions. Mr. Strom has over 12 years of conflict resolution experience, including with faith-based organizations. He offered suggestions on how Council preparation and sessions could be best structured to create an environment conducive to open communication and reconciliation.

Time was also given to a review of feedback received from the AAC email address ideasforaac@oca.org. Feedback submitted to this point has focused on possible resolutions for discussion at the Council and on ideas for Council governance, sessions and structure. The Commission looks forward to reviewing more feedback at subsequent meetings.

Commission members shared an enthusiasm about the outcome of their meeting. They are confident that the 15th All-American Council has the potential to be an exceptional and edifying experience for all involved.

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