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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7 Comments

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

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

  1. Mark C. Phinney

    When will the Preconciliar Commission announce the dates, actual locations, and specific venues for the “Town Hall” meetings? Will the hierarchs instruct their pastors to announce from the ambo the date, location, and specific venue of the nearest “Town Hall” meeting for the three (3) Sundays prior to the meeting to make sure that as many of the faithful in each parish, mission, mission station, and monastic community know of these meetings in a timely manner?

  2. Charli Riggle

    In addition to this blog and the proposed town hall meetings, there’s an email link on the OCA main page that allows one to “Send us your thoughts about the 15th AAC.” I did so on April 9. I have heard nothing back from anyone.

    Is there any intent to respond to people who send in their thoughts?

  3. Charli Riggle

    Is there any intent to respond to people who post questions here?

  4. Mark C. Phinney

    Charli,

    It seems obvious to me that the members of the Pre-Conciliar Commission (PCC) don’t have an understanding of the potential importance of this blog site to make the planning for the 15th AAC easier and less confrontational. It appears that more than 3 weeks has passed since the last response from anyone associated with the PCC or the Central Church Administration (CCA). And they wonder why the laity hold the PCC and the CCA in such low esteem …

  5. Christ is Risen!

    The PCC does, indeed, see the value of this blog. If they did not, it would not have been created. In response to a couple of the above questions:

    (1) proposed and confirmed sites for town hall meetings can be found in the May 20 blog posting on the May PCC meeting. How these meetings will be publicized in the various locations is beyond the control of the PCC, except to ask that local clergy and lay leadership in the various regions to encourage the faithful there to take part in them.

    (2) AAC emails are received off site – i.e., not at the Chancery. Normally, the PCC is sent a digest of emails on a monthly basis. I will check to see what happened with the April 9 email.

    In our Risen Lord,
    Fr. Andrew Jarmus

  6. Charli Riggle

    Thank you for the reply, Father Andrew. I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you on the April 9 email.

    In the mean time, might I be so presumptuous as to offer a suggestion? If this blog is indeed important, would it be possible to respond to comments and queries here more often? If an answer to a query isn’t available, an immediate response saying, “I don’t have an answer to that, but I’ll find out and let you know” would be more encouraging than silence.

  7. Mark C. Phinney

    Fr. Andrew,

    Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

    Creating a blog site only shows intent; responding to postings in a timely manner shows value and courtesy.

    I understand and agree that no responses should or would be posted from Lazarus Saturday through Bright Monday, but that period came to an end two weeks ago. Are you the only person who has the authority to respond to postings on behalf of the PCC? If so, it appears that your workload is currently too great and you should ask His Grace +NIKON to bless the delegation of responding to these postings to other members of the PCC.

    Waiting up to a month to receive an email is unconscionable disrespect for the sender. A major point to using email is to avoid the delays inherent in traditional mail. It would take less time to write a traditional mail message, send copies to the members of the PPC via USPS, and receive the traditional written responses via USPS than the current PCC email set up as you have described it. Why solicit input to the PCC via email if it is going to take potentially a month or more before the sender receives an acknowledgment of receipt of the message, let alone a response to the substance of the message? It appears that the members of the Central Church Administration, as well as the members of the PCC, have very little understanding of the capabilities of the communication technologies available to assist them in their efforts. This situation does not bode well for the preparations for the 15th AAC, the proper administration of the national church, or the healing of the OCA.

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