Metropolitan Tikhon celebrates Service of Prayer at opening of the Metropolitan Council Spring Session.
The Spring Session of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America closed on Thursday, February 23, 2017.
As reported earlier, the semi-annual gathering opened on Tuesday, February 21, as His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon presided at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Chancery’s Saint Sergius of Radonezh Chapel. Also in attendance were His Eminence, Archbishop Michael and His Grace, Bishop Paul, both of whom are members of the Standing Synod of Bishops.
Metropolitan Tikhon opened the first session, which was held at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, NY, following Tuesday’s Liturgy. According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, Metropolitan Tikhon reflected on his years as Primate of the OCA in his opening address, noting that it constituted a “time of transition” as he grew into the position. He went on to speak of the relative peace in the Church, which now allows for a more proactive and forward-looking vision. He also spoke about the spiritual dimensions of serving the Church on all levels, which should always be the focus of our work as the Church. He added that he is looking forward to the planning of the 19th All-American Council [AAC], slated to convene in Saint Louis, MO in 2018, and reflected on the direction of and possible themes for the Council. Finally, he thanked those who serve the Church and recognized the outgoing and incoming members of the Metropolitan Council.
Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor, presented his report, in which he outlined the major areas for which he is responsible. He focused attention on the work of the Department of Pastoral Life, specifically with regard to clergy compensation guidelines, clergy guidelines, and a number of areas related to clergy and pastoral issues. He reported on the work of both SMPAC and ORSMA and updated Council members on current and ongoing issues.
Father Eric Tosi reported on work being done within his areas of responsibility. He presented a gift acceptance policy and a corporate signing policy, both of which were passed by Council members. He also presented a series of necessary Chancery building improvements, which Council members voted to fund, and updated the Council on the work of the Archives Committee and impending web site redesign. Finally, he presented an update on progress made with regard to plans for the 19th AAC, which included a theme presentation, a logo and a proposed agenda. These will be presented to the Holy Synod of Bishops for approval at their Spring Session.
On Wednesday, February 22, Judge. E. R. Lanier, General Counsel, offered the report of the Legal Committee, which included a review of current and ongoing legal matters. Representatives of the Metropolitan Council’s various committees also presented reports on ongoing work within their respective areas. In her report, Melanie Ringa, Treasurer, presented an overview of the Church’s current financials, noting the success of the transition to proportional giving. She also discussed several budgetary issues for the 2018 budget and spoke on some restricted funds, sharing the work she is doing to finalize them, together with some recent bequests.
Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak reported on the work of the Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America [SOCA], highlighting the success of the recent fundraising campaign as well as various initiatives slated to be undertaken in the future. Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, presented an overview of recent external affairs matters and interchurch relations.
An extended discussion on refugee issues resulted in a number of possible recommendations that will be presented to the Holy Synod. Also discussed were ways to increase effectiveness in the planning and operation of the Metropolitan Council. Other matters on the agenda included a resolution for releasing funds from a restricted Archives Fund for the purpose of improving the current space housing the OCA Archives, which Council members passed unanimously.
The minutes and reports from the Spring Session will be posted after they are approved by the Holy Synod of Bishops.
Archbishop Michael with attendees at 2015 Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black Conference.
His Eminence, Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey will head the lineup of speakers at the 24th annual conference of the Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black October 6-8, 2017.
The conference, titled “Closer to Christ, Closer to Each Other”, will be held at the Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow Church, Princeton, NJ.
Other speakers include Archpriest Moses Berry, Hieromonk Alexi [Altschul], Priest Jerome Sanderson, and the Nun Catherine [Weston].
A pan-Orthodox organization, the Brotherhood embraces individuals committed to multi-racial, Orthodox Christian fellowship and study of the Church’s ancient roots and to bringing Orthodoxy to the African American community as a means of “expanding the Mission.”
In a letter dated February 15, 2017, the Board of Commissioners of the Association of Theological Schools [ATS] informed Saint Tikhon’s Seminary that the school has been reaccredited for seven years, with no notations. The news came as a result of the seminary’s periodic reaccredition review that occurred November 20-23, 2016.
“This is great news for the seminary, following several years of consistent and intensive preparation,” said Archpriest Steven Voytovich, STOTS Dean. “We wish to express gratitude to all who assisted in this effort!”
Father Steven chaired the Self-Study Leadership Team directed by Dr. Paul Witek, Assistant to the Dean for Academic Affairs, and Dr. David Ford, Professor of Church History, who also served as Self-Study Editor. His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, STOTS Rector, chaired the Self-Study Steering Committee, while Prof. Sergei Arhipov served as committee Secretary and respondent on behalf of the school’s library. Michael Skor was one of several seminarians engaged in the self-study process—including those who had served as Student Government chairs in recent years—who continued to be integrally involved in developing the study’s final draft well after his graduation.
“Our goal for this review was for all dimensions of the seminary community to be engaged in and able to speak to the self-study process with the site visit team,” Father Steven added. “Thanks be to God, it is wonderful to see such a strong outcome following our collaborative effort.”
The seminary also expressed gratitude to its new Accreditation Liaison, Dr. Barbara Mutch, and the site visit team that conducted the review.
The Spring Session of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America opened at Immaculate Conception Seminary here on Tuesday, February 21, 2017.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Saint Sergius of Radonezh Chapel at the Chancery, Syosset, NY, on Tuesday morning, after which he, together with the members of the Standing Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council, gathered for the Council’s opening session at the seminary.
Following his opening address, Metropolitan Tikhon will engage Council members in a strategic planning session. The remainder of the day’s agenda includes reports by Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor; Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary; and Alexis Liberovsky, Archivist. Judge E. R. Lanier and Angela Parks will report on legal matters and present a compliance report on the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, which was approved at the 18th All-American Council in July 2015.
On Wednesday, February 21, Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak will offer a detailed report on the Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America [SOCA], after which reports on the ongoing work of the Metropolitan Council’s committees will be given. Archpriest Alexander Kuchta will report on the work of the Charity Committee, while Archpriest Thomas Moore will offer an update on the Ethnics Committee’s activities. Lisa Mikhalevsky will offer a report on Human Resources, after which Archpriest Chad Hatfield will update Council members on the work of the Internal Governance Committee.
Melanie Ringa, Treasurer, will offer her report on Wednesday afternoon, while Archpriest John Dresko will report on the work of the Finance/Investment Committee. Reports also will be given by Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs, who will update Council members on a variety of current issues. A second strategic planning session and open discussion with Metropolitan Tikhon will follow.
Matushka Mary Buletza will update Council members on the status of the OCA Pension Plan on Thursday, February 22. The work of two departments—Christian Education and Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid—will be highlighted in reports given by Matushka Valerie Zahirsky and Donna Karabin respectively. Council members will participate in a final strategic planning session before adjourning in the afternoon.
Reports and minutes of the Spring Session will be posted as they become available.
The Metropolitan Council is the permanent executive body of the Church Administration which exists for the purpose of implementing the decisions of the All-American Council and continuing its work between sessions. Members include the Metropolitan, who serves as Chair; the Chancellor, the Secretary, and the Treasurer; one priest and one layperson elected by each diocese; and three priests and an equal number of laypersons elected by the All-American Council.
His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa chaired the third meeting of the Orthodox Church in America’s Standing Committee for Canonical Procedure at Saints Peter and Paul Church, Phoenix, AZ February 8-10, 2017.
Pursuant to Article XV, Section 9 of the OCA Statute, the Committee was established to develop general rules for canonical procedures for use and application in Ecclesiastical Courts. The Committee’s work is subject to the Holy Synod of Bishops’ approval and adoption.
The Committee once again considered the practical necessities of Ecclesiastical Courts, particularly ensuring that the guidelines under development will maintain court proceedings that are conducted decently and in good order, as well as assigning particular supporting documents for each member to develop over the course of the next two months prior to meeting again.
Committee members will continue their work separately over the next months and will meet together again at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY before Pentecost to finalize the various documents and ensure harmony with other Synodal documents prior to presenting their work to the members of the Holy Synod for their consideration.
Other members of the Committee include Judge E.R. Lanier, General Counsel for the Orthodox Church in America; Ms. Angela Parks, Chair of the Metropolitan Council Legal Committee; Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Professor of Canon Law at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary; and Priest Nicholas Roth, Secretary of the Committee.
The annual Conference of the Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black will be convened on 6-8 October 2017 in Princeton NJ. The theme is: "Closer to Christ, Closer to Each Other." The Brotherhood is a pan-Orthodox organization committed to making the Orthodox faith available to the African American community in America.
The Annual Diocesan Lenten Teen Retreat is scheduled for 10-12 March 2017 at Saint Basil Academy located at 79 St. Basil's Rd, Garrison NY 10524. Teens in grades 7-12 are encouraged to attend! There is no charge to participate in this three day event. Participants may begin arriving for check-in on Friday, 10 March, beginning at 6:30 PM. The theme will be “The Challenge: Who Are We Called To Be?” Guest speaker Greg Fedorchak will have candid discussions addressing participants’ aspirations and suggest ways in which they can keep God and the Church in their lives while in pursuit of their goals. Additionally, as a Diocesan sponsored event, Archbishop Michael will be in attendance for part of the weekend. Saint Basil Academy sits on the Hudson River across from West Point Military Academy, approximately an hour north of New York City. During their free time participants will be able to take advantage of the center’s indoor gym/basketball court and quaint chapel. See "Upcoming Events" on this webpage for information, details, and registration.
As in years past, Orthodox Christian hierarchs, seminarians, clergy, and faithful from around the country participated in the annual "March For Life." While in the nation’s capital, Metropolitan Tikhon attended the Vigil at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Other hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in America participating in the march included our own Archbishop Michael, along with Archbishop Nathaniel and Archbishop Melchisedek. Other Orthodox hierarch in attendance were: Bishop Maxim of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Bishop John of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, and Bishop Dimitrios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. “Gathering together in a peaceful way to give voice and raise awareness to the sorrowful effects of abortion and its legalization is very important,” said Priest Andrew Bartek (Rector, Saint Panteleimon Church, Summit IL).
The 2017 Distinguished Diocesan Benefactors initiative is up-and-running, with many already enrolled as members! Soon, the first listing of DDBs for this year (the “Honor Roll”) will be published on this website. The complete listing of last year’s DDBs may be found here >. To learn all about this year’s DDB and discover how easy it is to join others in offering vital financial support to diocesan ministries, please visit “Vision for Our Future” or go here >
On 28 December 2016, Father Paul Shafran celebrated his 69th anniversary of ordination to the Holy Priesthood and, on 27 November, he and Matushka Mary celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary at Saint Vladimir Orthodox Church in Trenton NJ (where Father Paul is Pastor Emeritus). The parish sang “Many Years” for both of them Sunday, 1 January 2017, in honor of Father Paul’s ordination anniversary; unfortunately, Matushka Mary unable to attend. “Many Years! Father Paul & Matushka Mary!”