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 firstname.lastname@example.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.