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Annual Report January 2013

Submitted by Lee Kopulos

51st Midwest Diocese Annual Assembly and the 17th All American Council
Cleveland, Ohio
Nov. 12-14, 2012

The 51st Midwest Diocesan Assembly, Monday - Nov. 12
Archangel Michael Church, Broadview Heights

Fr. John Zdnik, Diocesan Chancellor opened the Assembly with prayer. He introduced Archbishop Nikon of New England as our spiritual leader for the day sent by the Holy Synod to observe and report on the issues of the diocese. This was followed by Fr. John Jillions the OCA Chancellor who is very familiar with the process of Sexual Misconduct (SM) as established by the OCA and this particular problem of Bishop Matthias.

Session 1

We all recommended and it was agreed that this first session of the Assembly cut to the chase on the bishop issue!

Chancellor Jillions’ comments:
No matter the issues in the OCA there is a lot of activity going on in all the parishes in North America. The SM process is built on a high quality response team who take this issue very seriously. The accused and accuser are interviewed by a special SM Team - lawyer, investigator and specialist. The three wrote a 100 page report and issued their decision to the Holy Synod. Bp. Matthias is convicted of Sexual Misconduct (SM).

Archbishop Nikon’s comments:
The Synod decided to follow a Sexual Misconduct policy to the letter, no favoritism! Bp. Matthias has accepted the decision of the Synod in this regard. Nikon claims the US society has different ideals of SM. Matthias is going to a Greek Archdiocese program for healing and correction. Presently there is no decision by the Synod on this matter yet.
Chancellor Zdnik commented that he reporte4d the problem up the line to Chancellor Jillions not verifying anything. Fr. John Z. noted that all SM’s are very difficult to be a part of in his experience. He never alluded to a possible resignation or asked for such. No resolution pro or con will go forward from his perspective.

It was opened to the floor for comments and many commented. Many speakers were mostly against retaining the Bishop including the complete Board Members of our St. Luke Parish and St. Paul in Dayton, Ohio. Both Parish Priests and Delegates of these parishes spoke against the bishop. Many commented on the fact that this is not the proper actions of a bishop and seriously diminish his credibility, respect and ability to manage the diocese. Many speakers commented that most women are appalled at this bishop’s actions. Most, if not all, the women of St. Luke Parish, this writer heard in meeting or otherwise, spoke with great displeasure at what this bishop has done and are dead-set against his retention. Unfortunately, those few favoring the bishop had the bishop’s son, a Priest in Columbus, Ohio speak in his behalf. He gave a long talk for his retention. We were all saddened by this presentation. However, in this writers opinion, and many others, were not happy that the floor him to speak for obvious reasons.

A few other noteworthy comments were:
A Fr. Moore who commented that one can be forgiven but this is an issue of being an icon of Christ.
A priest from Fargo, N.D. and teacher in computer sciences said that today’s young people see the text messages or e-mails on internet as the truth.
Another person commented that if you have zero tolerance in your SM program you must follow through with a change of leadership of our diocese.

Session 2 (Official Count 62 Clergy and 54 Lay Delegates)
The budget for 2013 was approved without the increase of 6K for the bishop.
Sam D’Fantis of Detroit was elected to the Metropolitan Council for another term.
The Diocesan Council reps who were elected for another term: Fr. Nicholas Finley; Mike Herzak (Cleveland); Dennis Garlick (Chicago) and Ann Mercerer (Cleveland)
The Archbishop Memorial Fund for Seminarians was approved and funded initially with $12,500, a rebate from the 16th All American Council in 2011 at Seattle.
A motion by the Minneapolis parish of St. Mary to require all parishes to give 12% based upon their total unrestricted money per year was defeated. The Diocesan Council was asked to make this a high priority study for possible implementation next year.

The 51st Assembly officially adjourned at 3:30pm ET

The 17th All American Council Notes for Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012
Commemorating: St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople
Held at Church of the Holy Trinity - Parma, Ohio
Divine Liturgy celebrated by Archbishop Nathaniel, Locum Tenons
Homilist: Fr. Thomas Hopko

Purpose of the Council and Agenda - Elect a new Metropolitan of North America

Archbishop Nathaniel’s opening remarks gave us the purpose for meeting according to the OCA Statute: we must elect a Metropolitan who has responsibility for heading the Holy Synod meetings.

The whole Council was lead in Akathist Prayer to the Holy Spirit and Saints of North America.

663 present and 590 official voters 2/3rd required to elect or 394

First Vote: 205 Bp. Michael; Archbp. Tikhon 118; Bp. Melchizedek 96; Archbp. Nathaniel 49 and many others.

Second Vote: Bp. Michael 355 and Archbp. Tikhon 317

Tikhon was then chosen by the Holy Synod in a vote behind the altar.

Some personal observation on the Metropolitan Tikhon:
When I first saw him speak at the Detroit Colloquium for Episcopalians in 2007, he was a quite calm and unassuming. When asked to speak he was good and short in his comments, very humble and ended with some humor.

I asked a few priest of the 16th All American in Seattle about him and they said he was a good administrator, humble and overall a very good bishop.

At the All American in Seattle when all the bishops talked about their inability to function as a Synod, Tikhon made some of the funniest comments about himself and to some degree “tore-the-place up.” Seemed to be a “good egg” as we sometimes say.

Thanking the Parish for taking care of our accommodations at both of these important events.
May the Holy Spirit Guide us!!!