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17065Preconciliar Commission responds to current questions regarding the 17th All-American Council

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Oct 25, 2012

      October 25, 2012
      Preconciliar Commission responds to current questions regarding the 17th
      All-American Council

      On Thursday, October 25, 2012, the Preconciliar Commission issued
      answers to 21 questions that have recently been asked with regard to the
      17th All-American Council

      The Council will convene on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at Holy Trinity
      Church, Parma, OH.

      While not exhaustive, the responses will assist in preparing for the
      Council. Additional questions not addressed may be submitted to the
      Preconciliar Commission at info@... <mailto:info@...>.

      The questions and responses may be accessed in PDF format

      The contents of the pdf file:

      Responses to Current Questions Concerning
      the 17th All-American Council at Holy Trinity Church, Parma, OH
      on Tuesday, November 13, 2012

      In response to a number of questions that have been received concerning
      the 17th All-American Council, the
      Preconciliar Commission has compiled the following responses. While not
      exhaustive, the responses will help
      in preparing for the forthcoming Council. Additional questions not
      addressed herein may be submitted to the
      Preconciliar Commission at info@....

      1. Why is the AAC being held at Holy Trinity Church in Parma and how was
      the date established?

      The Holy Synod of Bishops instructed the Preconciliar Commission to hold
      the AAC as soon as possible due
      to the requirements of Article IV, Section 4 of the OCA Statute, which
      reads: "When a vacancy has occurred
      in the office of Metropolitan, the bishop senior by rank and date of
      consecration shall convene the Holy Synod.
      After the formal vote declaring the vacancy, the Holy Synod will proceed
      with the election of a locum tenens.
      Within a period not exceeding three months (unless some unavoidable
      necessity forces a prolongment [sic] of
      this period), the locum tenens will convene an All-American Council at
      which a successor shall be elected."
      The members of the Holy Synod decided to convene the AAC on Tuesday,
      November 13, 2012, at their
      August 2012 meeting, the consensus being that this would be the most
      reasonable time to organize and
      gather the Church in council.

      The other instructions included the desire to convene the AAC in a
      church if possible, rather than a hotel
      or other venue, as it would be more in keeping with the nature of the
      gathering. Consideration was also
      given to minimizing the costs associated with the AAC and its delegates,
      since the gathering was an
      unexpected one -- that is, at the beginning of 2012 it had not been a
      consideration. There are only a few
      parish churches in the OCA that are large enough to accommodate a
      gathering of this size. After reviewing
      a number of parish churches, Holy Trinity Church in Parma was selected,
      as it is the largest church building
      in the OCA and its faithful parishioners expressed a willingness to host
      the AAC.

      2. What is included on the agenda for the AAC and why is it limited to
      the election of a

      The agenda may be found in the Delegate Handbook, posted on-line at
      It was decided upon by the members of the Preconciliar Commission and
      approved by the Holy Synod
      based on two points.

      . The first is that the OCA Statute specifies that an election to fill a
      vacancy in the Metropolitan See
      must be the sole agenda item. In the past, similar elections were held
      in conjunction with regular
      AACs, during which the ordinary business of the AAC was suspended, so
      that the Council could be
      declared open for the purpose of electing a new Metropolitan. After the
      election the AAC resumed its
      regular business. In the case of the forthcoming AAC, the sole purpose
      of the Council is the election of a
      new Metropolitan; as such, this is the sole item on the agenda.

      . There is precedent in this, inasmuch as the 12th All-American Sobor of
      1965 -- prior to the granting of
      autocephaly, such gatherings were referred to by the Russian term sobor
      --- had as its sole purpose the
      election of a new Metropolitan after the repose of Metropolitan Leonty.
      This was used as the precedent
      in establishing the agenda for this special AAC.

      As such, the Holy Synod determined that this fit the requirements of a
      single-agenda Council.

      3. Are there any fees associated with attending the AAC?

      The Holy Synod determined that, because the 17th AAC constitutes an
      unbudgeted expense, the dioceses
      would assume the costs. The 16th AAC ended with a surplus of about
      $60,000, which was recently returned to
      the dioceses. The costs associated with convening the 17th AAC are
      approximately the same as this amount,
      so the surplus will cover the expenses for this AAC. Consequently, there
      is no fee for clergy and lay delegates
      for the 17th AAC, although delegates are responsible for their own
      travel and hotel expenses. The costs of
      meals are covered by the diocesan assessment.

      4. I heard that the registration numbers are low and that is why the OCA
      extended the deadline.

      In fact, registration numbers are now close to 600 clergy and lay
      delegates. There are about 65 observers.
      The deadline was extended because of the number of calls and emails
      asking if they could submit their
      registration packet late because they were having parish meetings after
      the deadline. The deadline was
      extended to accommodate them (and this happens at every AAC).

      5. Why is the observer registration limited in numbers?

      Provisions for observers always have been made for AACs. Observers are
      seated in a designated area, but
      they are not permitted to speak or vote or take an active part in the
      proceedings. Members of the Preconciliar
      Commission made the same provisions for the 17th AAC, but they were
      forced to limit the number of observers
      due to space considerations. Since the AAC will be convened in a parish
      church, it was determined that the
      only space available for observers was the choir loft, which has limited
      seating. This determination in no way
      is intended to keep people from attending the AAC; rather, it is a
      simple matter of logistics. Another option --
      simulcasting the proceedings in the church hall -- does not provide the
      same experience as one would have if
      one were present in the church itself.

      At the same time, the AAC will webcast on Ancient Faith Radio so that
      anyone, present or not, can
      participate via the internet.

      6. Why are retired clergy and observers being charged a fee and
      delegates are not?

      In years past, retired clergy and observers were charged a nominal fee
      to cover expenses associated with the
      AAC. The Preconciliar Commission decided that it would continue this
      practice, and that a nominal fee of
      $50.00 to cover administrative and food costs associated with the
      Council again would be appropriate. The
      $50.00 fee also covers a brunch and a dinner.

      7. What is the Preconciliar Commission and what are its responsibilities?

      The Preconciliar Commission is the body established by the Statute to
      specifically organize and run the AAC.
      An outline of the duties of the Preconciliar Commission and guidelines
      for its formation may be found in
      Article III, Section 5 of the OCA Statute. All decisions on the planning
      and operation of the AAC are presented
      as recommendations by the Preconciliar Commission to the Metropolitan
      Council and receive the blessing of
      the Holy Synod. As such, the members of the Holy Synod and the
      Metropolitan Council are fully informed of
      all recommendations presented by the Preconciliar Commission, the
      members of which also have specific
      responsibilities and deadlines to meet in the planning process.

      8. Will there be parking available at Holy Trinity Church?

      There is plenty of parking at Holy Trinity Church, located at 6822
      Broadview Road, Parma, OH. Overflow
      parking will be available at Pokrova Ukrainian Catholic Church, adjacent
      to Holy Trinity Church, which has
      agreed to assist us in this regard.

      9. Will transportation be available between the church and the hotels?

      There are hotel shuttle buses from the airport to the hotels. Delegates
      should look for signs for their hotels
      at the airport. Shuttle buses will be provided on Monday and Tuesday to
      transport people from the hotels to
      the church and back again. Appropriate signs will be posted at the
      hotels and the church. Travel time is
      about 10 minutes. On Tuesday, there also will be a bus to take people
      either back to the hotels or to the
      airport after the dinner. Hotel shuttle buses will make frequent trips
      to the airport.

      10. Are people who are not members of the OCA permitted to attend?

      While outside observers are permitted to attend, as space is available,
      they must be approved by the Preconciliar
      Commission. There are a few individuals who will be assisting at the
      AAC, such as those associated with
      Ancient Faith Radio, certain specialists in administrative duties who
      have assisted the Church in the past,
      and others who have made special requests. While at a regular AAC the
      agenda is more comprehensive, with
      sessions spanning several days, and there is far more space available,
      limitations in the number of requests
      honored have had to be taken into consideration.

      11. Are hierarchs and clergy from other Orthodox Churches being invited
      to attend?

      It was decided by the Holy Synod that the 17th AAC would be limited to
      OCA delegates due to the space
      requirements and in the interest of minimizing expenses. Normally at an
      AAC, certain costs are covered by
      the OCA for visiting delegations; the budget for the 17th AAC does not
      permit this. However, it was decided
      that, with the enthronement of the new Metropolitan in January 2013,
      delegations from all Orthodox
      Churches will be invited to attend and to concelebrate.

      12. Are former and retired hierarchs of the OCA and bishops without a
      diocese allowed to attend?
      What level of participation are they allowed?

      According to Article III, Section 2 of the Statute, "All bishops of the
      Church" are allowed to attend. In the
      past, former and retired hierarchs have attended AACs and were seated in
      an appropriate place. They have
      the same rights as retired clergy, but they are not permitted to speak.
      Former and retired hierarchs are not
      permitted to vote in the nomination process due to their status (only
      active delegates can vote), nor may they
      vote in the election process of the Holy Synod, since only ruling
      diocesan bishops are eligible to vote, as noted
      in Article 1V, Section 4 of the Statute. Auxiliary bishops are not
      permitted to vote in the Holy Synod election
      (This is also true of the proceedings of Holy Synod meetings, at which
      former, retired and auxiliary hierarchs
      are allowed to be present but may not vote on decisions.)

      13. Are former or retired hierarchs and bishops without a diocese
      permitted to be nominated?

      There is nothing in the Statute that explicitly prohibits such a
      nomination. However, it is up to the Holy
      Synod to elect the new Metropolitan according to the procedures of the

      14. Is Metropolitan Jonah still the Archbishop of Washington even though
      he resigned as

      According to the Canons of the Orthodox Church, every bishop must have a
      See. The See of the Metropolitan
      is Washington, DC. The office of the Metropolitan and the See cannot be
      separated. Bishop Alexander is
      presently the locum tenens of the Diocese of Washington.

      15. There is a rumor that there will be armed security in the church.

      There will be no armed security in the church. Parma auxiliary police,
      who are unarmed, will be assisting in
      parking and directions. Because of expected heavy traffic, there may be
      a uniformed Parma police officer and
      a patrol car stationed where the church driveway meets the road for
      traffic control, something common for
      large public events.

      16. There are rumors of disruptions. How is the OCA responding?

      The members of the Holy Synod are certainly aware of such rumors; as
      such, they wish to remind the faithful
      that we are the Church, and that the response to any disruptions will be
      handled in a Christian and churchly
      manner. People are free to express their views, but the Church does have
      business to address, and all are
      reminded to act respectfully in cases of disagreement. Those with
      further questions or issues in this regard
      are encouraged to speak to their parish priest or diocesan bishop.

      17. Is there a preferred candidate at this time?

      The Statute is very clear that there is to be no "previous discussion of
      names" (Article IV, Section 4a). Of
      course, delegates should prepare to vote through prayer and fasting.
      Page six of the Delegate Handbook
      offers helpful advice on how to prepare for the AAC.

      18. Who is eligible to be a candidate?

      Article IV, Section 4 of the Statute outlines the requirements for a
      candidate for the office of the Metropolitan,
      as set forth in Article VI, Section 9:

      . The candidate for the office of diocesan bishop must satisfy all the
      requirements of the Holy Canons
      pertaining to this highest of all ecclesiastical offices. In addition,
      it is preferable that he have completed a
      course of study in a Graduate School of Orthodox Theology and that he be
      conversant in the English
      . If he is not already a bishop, he can be nominated only from among the
      monastic or celibate clergy or
      . If at the moment of his nomination he is a layman or a celibate or
      widowed priest, he shall pronounce at
      least the first monastic vows (rasophoria).

      Also note that candidates, if they have not already been so, are to be
      vetted by the Holy Synod, including
      background checks and examinations as is the current practice of the
      Holy Synod.

      19. What is the difference between the nomination and the election?

      According to the Canons of the Church and the Statute of the OCA,
      bishops elect bishops. The clergy and
      laity nominate a candidate or candidates, whose name or names are
      presented to the Holy Synod for canonical
      election. If, on the first ballot, a candidate receives a 2/3 majority,
      his name is submitted to the Holy Synod
      for consideration. If the members of the Holy Synod do not accept the
      nominee, they must present their
      reasons to the AAC. If no one receives 2/3 of the votes on the first
      ballot, then there is a second ballot, after
      which the names of those receiving the highest and second highest number
      of votes are submitted to the Holy
      Synod for consideration and canonical election. The actual election
      occurs after the name or names are
      submitted to the Holy Synod, the members of which then proceed to vote
      in the altar. The vote is by secret
      ballot, with each active diocesan bishop writing a name on a piece of
      paper and placing it in a large chalice.

      The Secretary of the Holy Synod then tallies the votes. The bishops
      approach the person with the majority of
      votes and ask him to accept. If he does not, the process is repeated
      until the candidate accepts the office.
      20. Where are the procedures specified for this AAC?

      Please refer to the Delegate Handbook, which may be accessed on the OCA
      website at http://files.oca.org/aacs/
      2012-0912-v3-delegate-handbook-17th.pdf, for detailed instructions and
      procedures. There also is a dedicated
      button on the right side of the website's home page that links to a
      wealth of information about the 17th AAC.
      21. What will happen after the election of a Metropolitan?

      Immediately following the election, the new Metropolitan will be
      installed into the office, if he is already a
      bishop. If not, then other procedures will take place. He will be vested
      in the church with the symbols of his
      office by the bishops of the Church. Everyone will have a chance to hear
      him speak and to receive his blessing.
      He will immediately take up his duties.

      He will be enthroned in Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC in
      January 2013. The date and
      arrangements will be announced as they become available on the OCA website.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]