Annual Report January 2012
Submitted by Lee Kopulos
My report last year gave a full description of the election process for a Diocesan Bishop in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA); we are a conciliar church and elect our bishops by representatives of each parish with clergy and laity having one equal vote. Last November in Minneapolis we elected our new Diocesan of the Midwest, Bishop Matthias.
This year our travel took us to the Pacific Northwest for the All American Council. Father Andrew and I landed in Seattle on Sunday October 30. The schedule called for us to have a Diocesan Assembly on Monday the 31st with our new Bishop Matthias and then Tuesday thru Thursday the All American council representing all parishes in the USA including Alaska, Canada and Mexico. Our meeting with Bishop Matthias on Monday was just the Midwest Diocese. A discussion ensued regarding a resolution to decrease the diocesan fees to the National Church. Our Diocese did not agree with this resolution and decided, if it passed, that we hold to the current fee structure until this issue was resolved. As it turned out the resolution failed, and later in the sessions on Wednesday, no agreements were reached with regard to funding the National Church. However, a serious effort is being made by the Administration of the National Church to reach a proper Christian way of running the Church including the diocese and the local parishes. I believe a Committee has been assigned this task, but I had to leave early before its conclusions. In addition, our Bishop reported that Christ the Savior Church will be merged with the Diocese, for they share space there including their financials. This will solve the problem that arises many times as to ?whose cost or income is it?? Our bishop made many favorable comments on his travels to many of our parishes before his consecration took place. He commented that he even has a parish, (our Parish of St. Luke) that feeds, houses and entertains the homeless in the parish facilities.
On the All American Council I can report that there were no major issues from the parish or diocesan standpoint but from the Holy Synod much had to be said. And, the problem known to many is the dysfunctional nature of the Holy Synod. This dysfunctional problem was brought right to fore by Metropolitan Jonah in his opening remarks. He admitted his frailties, asked for forgiveness, and received a strong round of applause. In setting this mood of openness and forgiveness Jonah offered each bishop an open forum to speak. Most of the Synod’s fellow bishops spoke of their problems working together including some real funny stuff. According to Fr. Andrew, he has never seen this kind of real openness in his 35+ years of church experience. Bishops actually admitting error? It was a good and welcomed catharsis for all of us, and we responded with strong applause.
Not to dodge this critical dysfunctional issue, we must remember, however, that the Holy Synod is basically brand new. Six of the nine presently are new and there are still two openings – Alaska and the Diocese of the South. So there is not a lot of experience here.
At the national level there are two important new hires. Fr. Jon Jillions is the new Archdiocesan Chancellor and the new Financial Secretary is Melanie Ringa. Melanie reports that the OCA has received less money over the past five years going from $3.2 million in 2005 to $2.5 million in 2010. Our income is projected at $2.3 million in 2011. Thru six months of 2011 we have $1.5 million in income and $1.1 million is expenses for an excess of $368,000. This All American was aired in its entirety by Ancient Faith Radio. This kind of openness and access by Ancient Faith is a credit to our Church; we have become the Orthodox Church in America functioning with a transparency so necessary today. No longer can we or any of our fellow Orthodox jurisdictions operate without complete open access. We all will suffer great indignation with our Savior and the American community of Christians who look to us as the Ancient Church of Christ, the Apostles and Martyrs if we are not forthright in taking action especially in the critical problem areas of sexual and financial misconduct that has become so prevalent in today’s America.