Annual Report January 2016
Submitted by Lee Kopulos
Diocesan Delegate Report
Father Andrew and I spent the entire week at this very good Council of our Orthodox Church in America. The Council had in excess of 500 participants, including bishops, priests and lay representatives from around the USA, Canada and Mexico. The fact that we are the only autocephalous (self-governing) Church in North America means that the church can move forward unencumbered by another authority from a foreign land. In effect, our Church and its governing body understands the American way of life of its members in consideration of the varying demographics of the faithful, democratic way of government and special institutions of government and higher learning. A perfect example of the benefits of self-governing status was at the 2011 Council, when we were faced with a myriad of difficult financial and leadership problems. It was a most difficult Council. However, our new leadership brought to fore and publicized those serious problems and issues fully in documents before the Council began. The clergy and laity delegates took active participation in the decision-making process with the help of legal, accounting and other specialists’ reports from the Central Administration. We had to cut expenses and manpower and get through difficult legal problems in order to get our Archdiocese on good footing.
This 2015 Council was quite different. While we are still cutting costs and have reduced our headcount at the Archdiocesan office, we now have a good handle on our financial problems and administrative future. Our Treasurer, Melanie Ringa, explained the process of getting our financial costs under control. Unfortunately we had to reduce our headcount at the Central Administration from 35 to just 10. With the healing process almost complete, she indicated that in about a year or so we should be in a position to build back some of our administrative structure. Monday of the Council concentrated on the great need of updating our Statutes. No changes had been made in this document since their inception in 1970. Under the guidance of Archbishop Nathaniel and his commission of experts in Canon law and USA law, certain important changes were made. Given the changes over the years in local, state and national laws, we needed to update the Statutes to reflect our American society and its propensity for lawsuits, changes in taxation and social definitions, even on marriage. This will affect our local church documents as well. Tuesday, Treasurer Melanie Ringa, presented the process of solving our budget problems since 2011. She has set a number of good controls on costs and as indicated reduced the number of personnel at the Central Administration. Included in this presentation were alternative ways and means of funding from the diocese to the national church. The funding agreed upon was based upon head count again but one alternative is to take a percentage of the diocesan budget. This appears to be what the Central administration would like to implement next time. Actually, the head count funding came out to be a reduction from $105 per member to now only $90. Most of us were surprised by the reduction and could not see why we should give less. Wednesday, was a day of presentations by the various staff functions. We learned who headed these staff functions, background and some highlights of their job descriptions below: Archdiocesan Chancellor: Archpriest John Jillions: Cooperates with the Metropolitan on Administrative matters; completed a study with Diocesan Chancellors on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to our autocephaly; works closely with the Sexual Conduct Policy Advisory Committee (SMPAC).
Secretary: Archpriest Eric Tosi
Archives: Alexis Liberosky
Treasurer: Melanie Ringa
Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations: Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky
Thursday, was dedicated to Orthodox charitable functions. Both the OCMC and the IOCC had representatives giving very well done video presentations on what they have been accomplishing for the betterment of humanity. In my view, one of the great events of this All American Council happened after a video presentation by the IOCC showing the terrible exodus of Syrians in whole or part of families to Jordan. How these poor people were living in tents with nowhere to go, yet at least having good food sources. However, our Midwest Diocese Chancellor, Fr. John Zdinak couldn’t take it and went to the mic asking everyone right now to take $20 out of their pockets and give to IOCC. The Deacons came down each row and ended up collecting $11,800 whereby it was made $12,000 even!!! Now this money converts to 7 X that amount as the IOCC has other matching sources for a real total of $84,000. In just 10 minutes!!! What a great spontaneous event.
Wednesday and Thursday, were days to go to workshops in the afternoon. There were 10 workshops available and we hoped to get to a few. I went to 35 ideas for a Mission Minded Church by Fr. John Parker. This was a fine forum with good ideas. I was able to present our Greeter Program and many wanted copies of our written program at St. Luke’s. I have sent this to Fr. Parker for distribution. “Send Me O Lord” Expanding the Mission through Matthew 25 by Professor Al Rossi. The part I monitored had to do with addictions of alcohol, drugs and sex. Professor Rossi of St. Vladimir’s seminary told of his own alcohol addiction and then proceeded to be very candid about the problems in the church and our American Society. Excellent presentation and discussion showing how difficult and yet how huge these problems are in America. Also, a number of Diocese presented videos of their parishes and charitable works. All very well done.
Friday morning, was taken another highlight of the Council with a presentation by the youth group that was meeting separately all week long. The group from ages about 8-16 presented their view on what the church should be and do; presented Metropolitan Tikhon with a long paper roll of the Saints of the Church along with their fingerprints. But the best was the choir who sang so well together of a few famous hymns from Compline. I mean beautiful!!! By the way this youth choir was trained this week by Michelle Jannakos, Fr. Paul’s wife.
One other good feature of this week was the demeanor and comments by His Beatitude, Tikhon. On so many occasions during the week, one thing was for sure with him: he would give us a good laugh. His staff members all spoke so highly about working with him. He has good spirit within him and he appears to be a fine leader.