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OCANews: News From Around the OCA

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  • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
    2.7.07 News From Around the OCA • Bishop Benjamin Nominated to See of San Francisco In a meeting barely an hour-long, held in Las Vegas on January 31st, the
    Message 1 of 7 , Feb 7, 2007
      2.7.07
      News From Around the OCA

      • Bishop Benjamin Nominated to See of San Francisco

      In a meeting barely an hour-long, held in Las Vegas on January 31st, the Special Electoral Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of the West nominated Bishop Benjamin of Berkeley to be the new Diocesan hierarch, replacing the retired Bishop Tikhon. The vote was 95-0, with 5 ballots being declared invalid. Although he is locum tenens, Metropolitan Herman did not attend the Assembly. Rather, Bp. Seraphim of Canada presided. No other business took place.

      The overwhelming vote was a reflection of both the Bishop's popularity in the Diocese and the rules under which the election was held. Delegates were told there was only one nominee and only the name of that individual could be written on the paper ballot -- all others would be declared invalid. (A search committee, consisting of the deans and chancellor, had met earlier and proposed only one name: Bishop Benjamin's.) A nomination could be made from the floor, but only if that person was present and agreed to have his name placed in nomination. Fr. David Brum (former secretary to Metropolitans Theodosius and Herman) was nominated, but Fr. Brum declined. Someone asked if a person who was not present could be nominated if he were to fax back his acceptance. Bishop Seraphim said he would allow that. Someone then tried to fax the chancellor of the Alaskan Diocese, Fr. Isidore (Britan). However, no response was received, and the delegates voted.

      The Holy Synod meets in March and presumably will canonically-elect Benjamin the Bishop of San Francisco at that time. Bishop Benjamin is a member of the independent Special Commission investigating the various financial scandals in the OCA.

      • Metropolitan Appears at St. Mark's, Bethesda Despite Fender-Bender
      Less than two hours before the Metropolitan was scheduled to appear in a pre-Vespers public Question and Answer session at St. Mark's parish in suburban Bethesda MD, the parish send out the following email:

      Dear Friends,
      I have just received a call from His Beatitude who is on the way to St. Mark. There has been an accident and a truck has hit the car. Presently hey are waiting for the police to come and they are not sure that the caris drivable. Everyone is all right, but there is a good possibility that he will not be here for the scheduled 3:30PM visit.

      In the end, the Metropolitan was able to make the event, as the accident was not serious. According to first hand reports, the Metropolitan answered about about a dozen questions in the hour long meeting. Some questions were read from index cards, some were taken from the floor. The Metropolitan was difficult to understand, defensive, and distant overall. He consistently encouraged parishioners to 'wait until all the investigations were done.' In short, he said nothing that was not already known. The meeting was not taped at the request of the parish authorities, who stressed this was only a 'pastoral visit' by the local Bishop.

      • Commission Meets in New York
      The independent Special Commission met in New York on Monday, February 5th. No statement was issued.
      -


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    • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
      .19.07 News From Around the OCA • New OCA Secretary Candidate Announced In a posting today, the OCA announced that Mr. Paul Bodnar has been nominated by the
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 19, 2007
        .19.07
        News From Around the OCA

        � New OCA Secretary Candidate Announced

        In a posting today, the OCA announced that Mr. Paul Bodnar has been nominated by the Metropolitan Council as the new Secretary of the OCA and his name has been forwarded to the Synod of Bishops for confirmation. Mr. Bodnar is described by the release as having "extensive experience in non-profit management activities and possesses in extraordinary quantity and quality the skills required of the position." Mr. Bodnar's brother, Fr. Peter Bodnar, is an OCA priest in Gary, Indiana.

        The announcement of Bodnar's nomination, by agreement of the Council, was to have remained a secret until the Holy Synod had approved the hiring. This was because the announcement of the previous nominations of the Fr. Alexander Garklavs and the former treasurer candidate on the OCA website last March, while the Council meeting was still underway caused such turmoil. Those premature announcements led to headaches - for Fr. Alexander, whose parishioners had to read about it on OCA.org before he could break the news to them; for the former candidate for Treasurer who was announced as being hired before he could discuss it with his current employer; and for the Synod of Bishops who never had the chance to review either nomination before they were announced.

        Unless, of course, this announcement was not unintended, nor premature. The announcement does state: "His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, has met with him, as have members of the Task Force and the Very Rev. Paul Kucynda." Does the Synod have no say?
        (Read the Press Release in full here)

        � Liturgical Texts for "Day of Prayer and Fasting" Posted by Midwest
        His Eminence JOB, Archbishop of Chicago and the Midwest has asked all parishes in the Diocese of the Midwest to observe a day of prayer and fasting on June 25. The text entitled "A MOLIEBEN FOR THE SALVATION OF OUR CHURCH AND THE APPEASING IN IT OF DISCORD AND STRIFE" is now available on the diocesan website. (Download it here) This Molieben has been adapted from one printed by St Tikhon's Seminary Press, which was itself adapted from one printed at the time of the All-Russian Council of 1917, calling for the salvation of the 'Russian Dominion'.

        � Monk James Silver Reveals Details Of Kondratick Trial, Accuses former Metropolitan Theodosius, Archimandrite Zaccheus (Woods) of "Thievery"

        In a posting on Yahoo's Orthodox Forum today, Monk James Silver of New Jersery, who was present at the June 11 session of the trial of Fr. Robert Kondratick as one of his advisors, makes the following charged comments:

        "....The fourteen accusations which MetH (formally Dr Faith Skordinski) brought against FrRK *mostly* reference actual events, but they're almost completely falsified.

        "As an example, FrRK is accused of "creating secret discretionary accounts"; this is just a lie. Those accounts -- including the ADM millions -- properly, belonged to the OCA, as Protodeacon Eric Wheeler rightly noted when he first raised objections to the way they were handled, and they should have been handled better in spite of Dwayne Andreas's letter giving Met. Theodosius complete and unaccountable authority to use that money as he pleased. Only MetT used that money; FrRK had absolutely no access to that money, and spent none of it.

        "Then there's that videotape of FrRK's conversation with Archimandrite Zacchaeus in Moscow, discussing the disbursal of funds to survivors of the Beslan masacre. I have a copy of that tape, and it's worthless as evidence since it's been tampered with: AZ edited out a great deal of material. Only an integral version of that tape would be worth considering, but it seems there isn't one anymore.

        "AZ made that tape to make it look like FrRK was on the take, but in reality it was just his clumsy attempt to create a sort of insurance policy: AZ would use the edited tape to blame FrRK for his own thievery in an attempt to cover his tracks, but it was well known among us *in advance* that FrRK's visit to AZ was intended to draw AZ into admitting that he'd pocketed at least some of the Beslan money. During their meeting, FrRK had no idea that a recording was being made, but it won't take much more time before AZ's sleaziness (it's worse than just theft) is exposed for all the world to see."

        Silver's defense of Fr. Kondratick is remarkable, in that he simultaneously claims Fr. Kondratick met with Archimandrite Zaccheus "to draw (Zaccheus) into admitting that he'd pocketed at least some of the Beslan money", but that he, Kondratick, had "no idea the recording was being made". Why would one travel across the world to extract a confession without arranging to bring back any evidence it was given? On the other hand, why would the other arrange to record a conversation, incriminate himself, and then distribute it? One can not judge the veracity of Silver's claims about the trial (Syosset remaining silent on the issue) but one can begin to see, though, why the Synod of Bishops found the explanations provided by Fr. Kondratick at their March session "were neither credible nor persuasive."

        - Mark Stokoe

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      • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
        http://www.ocanews.org/news/News10.19.07.html 10.12.07 News From Around the OCA • Diocese of Western Pennsylvania The Diocese of Western PA will hold its
        Message 3 of 7 , Oct 12, 2007
          http://www.ocanews.org/news/News10.19.07.html

          10.12.07
          News From Around the OCA

          � Diocese of Western Pennsylvania

          The Diocese of Western PA will hold its assembly on Saturday, October 13th at St. Andrew's Church in Mingo Junction, Ohio according to an announcement on the diocese's new website at www.ocawpa.org

          The meeting, to be held under the chairmanship of Metropolitan Herman, locum tenens of the Diocese since the recent falling asleep of Archbishop Kyrill, will consider several resolutions regarding diocesan life, assessments, and the current crisis of the OCA. The texts of the proposed resolutions were not available before the meeting.

          � Diocese of New England Assembly

          The 44th New England Diocesan Assembly will convene on October 26-27, 2007, hosted by Sts Peter & Paul Orthodox Church in Meriden, CT. The current crisis of the OCA is at the top of the agenda of the meeting, when following Bishop Nikon's opening report, Metropolitan Council members Fr. Mark Sherman and Dn. John Zarras will report, followed by a "Discussion on the Current Problems in the OCA". The Metropolitan Council position, currently held by Fr. Mark Sherman, will be filled for a three year term as well.

          Withholding will certainly be a topic in the discussion at the Assembly. Last year the New England Assembly adopted the following "Statement" suggesting withholding was a real option:

          "We the Diocese of New England are deeply saddened and concerned by the scandal affecting our Church. We acknowledge that such financial scandal and attendant leadership crisis are intolerable. In addition, we believe that significant legal risks to the Church, including this Diocese, will result from continued failure to take decisive action. To remedy the situation, we urge the immediate compliance with the Statutes of the OCA and all applicable Federal and State law and full fiscal transparency and compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting principles and rules of corporate and fiduciary behavior. We further urge expeditious action by the Metropolitan Council to resolve the crisis and protect Church assets. Absent such actions, we resolve that the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of New England, subject to the consent of it's Bishop, acting at it's next Special or regular meeting, act to consider all appropriate remedies required to protect Church
          assets, including the placing in Escrow of all assessments pending satisfactory resolution of the matter. Finally, we urge any and all appropriate parallel and or supplementary action by the Holy Synod, all in order to protect the property, spiritual values and good name of our Church in this time of crisis, and urge the full and complete co-operation of the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council in resolving these matters."

          The Minutes of that earlier meeting where the above "Statement" was adopted are even more revealing:

          "National church financial crisis has become for many an all-consuming concern for the clergy and faithful of our church. A good deal of truthful and less-than-truthful information is now widely available, tearing at the very fabric of our church. Questions that have been raised have yet to be fully answered. Questions of procedures, mismanagement, and other concerns remain open. Proskauer Rose law firm gave preliminary report. The limited report could not be shared at this time, though the Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod will be receiving this information in a meeting to be held in December. Other dioceses have issued resolutions expressing concern about this ongoing crisis and we need to as well. Trinity of bishop, priest, and laity need to be reflected locally, and at diocesan and national church levels. No decision has been made to withhold the assessments from our diocese. With information from a well-informed attorney, with consensus from
          lawyers at national church level, we should continue to send assessments. However, if crisis remains unresolved and we continue to send assessments, we could be seen as duplicitous to the financial issues/concerns."

          (The Statement and the full minutes may be found on the Diocesean website at www.dneoca.org)

          As the questions in the Minutes and in the Statement raised have yet to be fully answered, even a year later, and as the crisis has not been resolved, but has only deepened in the past three weeks with the resignation of the Special Commission, the threat of New England joining the Archdiocese of the Midwest in withholding its assessments is not idle. In anticipation of such a move, those overseeing the 2008 budget for Syosset have created three different budget scenarios - depending on whether the Midwest continues withholding or releases its escrowed monies, or whether New England joins the Midwest in withholding.

          � Metropolitan Council Meeting, Synod of Bishops Meeting

          Syosset's current financial woes are on full display in the preparatory materials for the Metropolitan Council and Synod of Bishops meetings scheduled for October 16-17 in Syosset. For example, the Department of Evangelism reports:

          "The Mission Appeal fell dramatically short in 2007. As of last report, it only collected $35,000 which is again below the last appeal (around $65,000) and well short of the goal of $115,000. Despite the shortfall and with the return of loaned funds, the department recommends continuing at the current level of five missions on the grant....."

          The report concludes on a very serious note, pointing out the problem is not only money:

          "It is fully understood that the current 'crisis' in the OCA has taken its toll on the Department's work. Much of it has stalled due to the lack of funds and the reorganization. Requests have been tabled often and communication has been difficult. But in order for us to put the best 'face' forward for the upcoming AAC, there must be some changes. This includes Departmental meetings and prioritization. There needs to be funds available for work to be done and the Department needs to have access to them. One of the clearest messages at the last AAC was a focus on evangelism. While some strides have been made, in reality very little concrete items have been accomplished. .....

          Another point has to do with accountability. Over the past years, budgets were submitted and it was very difficult to receive feedback either in spending or charges that were put on the Department's budget. Any request that I made was often deflected or not answered in full. In the end, expenses were charged which were not approved by myself or the Department. This made an unrealistic budget in which I had no way of accounting.
          Requests have been made throughout the Summer for accounting of not only the Department's budget but also the Mission Appeal. Only some were answered satisfactorily. It is very difficult for this Department to present a prioritized budget when we have no idea what was spent or even available. The Department wants to cooperate fully with the Central Church and supports their work, but there must be accountability and transparency from both sides. Otherwise it is a fake budget with no goals. The basic axiom that the vision drives the budget not the other way around is the way this Department desires to operate and has been unable to work. We again ask for help and support in this regard."
          In an announcement last week, Syosset suspended all "episcopal and departmental stipends, together with most departmental expenses, through the end of 2007 in an attempt to maintain a balanced budget."

          � National On-Line Petition

          The national petition asking Metropolitan Herman to resign reached over 1,000 names earlier this week.

          You can read the petition here.
          http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/MetropolitanHERMAN/index.html

          And finally, a personal reflection on the petition:

          Started three weeks ago by a discussion group at St. Mark's parish in Bethesda MD, the petition has been debated widely in parishes throughout the land. Some see it as an attack on the hierarchy or hierarchical principles, an attempt to reduce the Church to a "democracy". That, of course, is absurd. Those who suggest such things are fighting battles that ended long ago. The petition was not launched with the idea that Metropolitan Herman could be "forced" to resign. (As Archbishop Job explained to the Midwest Assembly when it passed its own resolution calling for the Metropolitan to "step down", no body has "authority" to force the Metropolitan to do so - least of all a petition.) As Metropolitan, Herman must come to that realization for himself, that in the present circumstances to do so would be "for the good of the Church".

          The petition is, however, a grass-roots attempt to begin to change the dominant culture of fear that operates in the OCA. Every time someone signs the petition the culture of fear is weakened, one name at a time. This is the power of the petition. It has no statutory power, its power is manifested in its very powerlessness. It has only the power of people speaking truth to power, of finding the courage to express what they think, to speak what is in their heart, and believing that the Church is a community where that should, and must, be allowed to take place. That is its authority.

          More than 1,000 people have been so empowered in the past 21 days. They may be marginalized in a parish whose priest does not allow free discussion to take place; they may be priests signing anonymously because their Bishop does not allow free expression in his Diocese. But they now know, in ever greater numbers, they are not alone. They are no longer prisoners of the culture of fear. "Free men and women" are rising up across the OCA - not just in the Midwest. No matter when, or whether, Metropolitan Herman resigns, the victory is theirs already; and the entire OCA is stronger for it.

          - Mark Stokoe
          __________________________________________
          On Monday: News From Alaska



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        • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
          http://www.ocanews.org/news/Dunlopletter.html 11.9.07 News From Around the OCA • Syosset, New York With the statement of Diocesan Treasurer, Larry Tosi, at
          Message 4 of 7 , Nov 9, 2007
            http://www.ocanews.org/news/Dunlopletter.html

            11.9.07

            News From Around the OCA

            � Syosset, New York

            With the statement of Diocesan Treasurer, Larry Tosi, at the Washington-New York diocesan assembly that revealing of facts of the scandal would "kill the OCA", Orthodox internet sites have been full of new allegations and explanations this past week as the OCA scandal continues to widen.

            Interestingly, many of the allegations and explanations were offered not by principals in the scandal, all of whom remain silent, but by various "spokespeople" for those most involved. Three examples:

            1) Michael Geeza, who often speaks for Fr. Paul Kucynda, departing Acting Treasurer of the OCA, wrote alleging sexual misconduct lays behind many of the financial misdeeds. Geeza also hinted that despite Syosset's reassurances to the contrary, all is not well with the immigration status of OCA Secretary Paul Bodnar. In fact, Bodnar's photo has disappeared from the OCA website.

            2) Monk James Silver, who often speaks for Robert Kondratick, wrote that the recent letter of Kondratick to the Synod of Bishops was not "threatening" in any way, but merely an attempt to "open lines of communication" with the hierarchs as they consider Kondratick's appeal of deposition from the priesthood. Silver declined to make the letter public.

            3) An "anonymous" poster, who often details events inside the chancery itself, posted earlier today that yet more staff has been let go from Syosset. The latest person dismissed was Lydia Luddeman, circulation director of the OCA news magazine.
            Others, however, did speak for themselves.

            It was revealed this week that Archbishop Nathaniel told the Metropolitan Council at its joint meeting with the Synod of Bishops that the "Summary of the Preliminary Report" which briefly appeared on the OCA website, only to be removed, had been prepared "weeks ago".

            And in response to a question directed to him online, a question occasioned by Tosi's comments (about whether disclosure or non-disclosure was preferable at this time for the Church, given potential federal and state entanglements), Metropolitan Council member Gregg Nescott answered with one word: "Disclosure."

            � Bethesda MD

            The online petition requesting Metropolitan Herman to resign picked up more than a hundred signatures from his own diocese following the recent Washington-NewYork assembly. The total is now closing in on 1200 signatures. You can read the names here.

            � Kodiak, Alaska

            An explosive letter written to Archbishop Job last July by Fr. John Dunlop, the Dean of Students at St. Herman's Seminary, newly released on the Orthodox Forum, offers even more testimony of recent events in Alaska. Citing "fear" and "intimidation" which leads him to characterize the diocese as being "surrounded by an iron curtain of fear", Dunlop's letter reads:

            July 4, 2007

            Your Eminence:

            Master bless! Here is an account of the events of Ascension day involving Archimandrite Isidore. On Wednesday, May 16th in the morning (7:00 AM) I served Divine Litrugy for the Leavetaking of Pascha with Fr. Isidore. The Liturgy began with a slight altercation between Fr. Isidore and the choir director about the starting time for the service. The Archimandrite started the service before the choir director Philip Majkzak arribved. Philip was late and the two exchanged heated words. I think the argument upset Fr. Isidore. At the end of the service Fr. Isidore mentioned that he had been made Rector of the Seminary. This was essentially his first pastoral visit to the seminary as Rector.

            I was scheduled to accompany the Archimandrite to the village of Karluk later the same day for their patronal feast of Ascension. We could only fly if the weather was good. Following Liturgy, Fr. Isidore disappeared into the Bishop's apartment. We were to meet about 11:00 a.m. and drive to the airport with Fr. Innocent and a student name Ishamel Andrew who was to help read for the services. When Fr. Isidore appeared he smelled strongly of alcohol. We drove to the airport. There was increasingly cloudiness and high winds and when we arrived the airline ( Servant Air) state that it would be a very bumpy flight but they could probably make it. Fr. Isidore decided to cancel the trip. Fr. Isidore then took myself, Fr. Innocent and Mr. Andrew out to lunch. At lunch the Archimandrite made several strange remarks and generally acted intoxicated.

            We returned to the Seminary. The Archimandrite went to the Bishop's apartment and I went to work on papers. I next saw Fr. Isidore at the Vigil for the feast which began at 6:oo p.m. Fr. Isidore was again visibly intoxicated. During the service he stumbled while walking and swayed while standing in place. During the reading of the Gospel he heavily slurred his words. There was alcohol on this breath. Many smelled it during the anointing at the veneration of the icon.

            Fr. Innocent, Reader Paul and others expressed their concerns. After the service Fr. Isidore left with two Russian reporters ( I did not know where they were going) and Fr. Innocent asked to have (me) hear his confession. After the confession, Fr. Innocent and I left the altar and were greeted by Reader Paul and Philip Majkzak the choir director. They were trying to decide what to do about the Archimandrite's behavior. Fr. Innocent as Cathedral pastor later called the Bishop to tell him what had happened. I made myself available as a witness. Paul, Philip, several students and parishioners all emailed the Bishop with their concerns about the visibly intoxicated Archimandrite. Fr. Innocent and Paul left the Church to make calls and located Fr. Isidore. I returned home very concerned about the position of the Seminary and its new Rector.

            The next day for the Liturgy of the Ascension the Archimandrite did not serve. He appeared about 9:00 a.m. During the service, he sat on the side and went into the sacristy several times. Later, I saw that the decanter of communions wine had been taken there and was being sipped from. Fr. Isidore left the liturgy early. After Liturgy I went to the Seminary office and at some point was invited by Fr. Isidore into the Bishop's apartment where Fr. Innocent was seated. Fr. Isidore told me he was an alcoholic and this was an ongoing problem. I suggested that he enter a treatment program. We talked briefly and then I left without seeing him again. He left a little later on his flight to Minneapolis with Fr. Innocent where he was to enter treatement.

            As an aside note several times when cleaning the Bishops' apartment containers of vagisil lubricant were found in Fr. Isidore's room. Fr. Chad, the seminary Dean, once showed me this on the Archimandrite's bedside table.

            In 2005 I witnessed Bishop Nikolai violently push Subdeacon Mark Harrison in the altar during Divine Liturgy. The Bishop pushed him aside nearly causing him to fall. After this incident Mark was forbidden to serve as a Subdeacon. Subdeacon Sergei Lekanof was also suspended from serving earlier this year becuse he somehow looked the wrong way at the Bishop. I have seen him verbally abuse other students and have been verbally abused myself and called " Father Nobody" and other things. Hierarchical Liturgy itself becomes an excersize in not "making mistakes" and is filled with terror at recieving a rebuke. Making liturgical mistakes may also lead to compulsory prostrations.

            Generally speaking, there is a climate of great fear and intimidation in the Diocese.

            Why don't people speak up? The clergy are afraid of being suspended or deposed or moved. Their family lives can be totally disrupted at the Bishop's slightest whim. I have already been moved once. I myself have been threatened with suspension as have many others. Our crosses can be taken at any time for any reason because we "serve at the Bishop's pleasure".

            During his last visit the Bishop said I would be made island Dean - but then said if I "messed up" I would be deposed. Disobedience, particularly disobedience to the Bishop, is the gravest sin. Obedience is constantly hammered in our heads.

            Why haven't we resorted to the wider Church? We feel cut off the from the wider Church and surrounded by an iron curtain of fear. Will we be protected and supported? I ask you to keep the contents of this letter confidential. If called upon I would testify to the veracity of its contents. I fear for my family and I hope to remain a priest because I feel deeply called to serve the Holy Church. I want to fulfill the vocation which I believe God has called me to fulfill. I have served this Seminary for over ten years and I don't want to lose it all. At the same time I want the truth to be known and to defend our Holy Faith.
            Everything I have written is true. I was blessed to spend the weekend of July 1 serving at Monk's Lagoon.

            May God, through the prayers of St. Herman have mercy on us all and protect our Holy Orthodox Church in Alaska.

            I ask for your Archpastoral prayers, for myself, my family, and our wonderful seminarians.

            Your Servant in Christ,

            Priest John Dunlop
            Instructor in Liturgics and Old Testament
            Dean of Students
            St. Herman Seminary"

            - Mark Stokoe




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          • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
            http://www.ocanews.org/news/NewsFromAroundtheOCA6.18.08.html 6.18.08 News From Around the OCA • Syosset, NY The Special Investigative Committee moved toward
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 18, 2008
              http://www.ocanews.org/news/NewsFromAroundtheOCA6.18.08.html


              6.18.08

              News From Around the OCA

              • Syosset, NY
              The Special Investigative Committee moved toward completing its work
              last week with three days of personal and telephone interviews. Among
              those interviewed were the editor of OCANews.org, Mark Stokoe,
              Metropolitan Theodosius, and the current primate of the OCA,
              Metropolitan Herman. A full report from the Committee is expected at
              the joint meeting of the Synod and Metropolitan Council in mid-August.

              • New York, NY
              In 1970, in recognition of the autocephaly of the OCA, the Moscow
              Patriarchate withdrew from membership in the Standing Conference of
              Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). On Friday, June 13th, SCOBA
              announced the following:

              "The formal request of the Vicar of the Patriarch of Moscow and All
              Russia, who is also the Administrator of the Moscow Patriarchal
              parishes in the USA (33 in number), Bishop Mercurius of Zaraisk to be
              included on SCOBA was presented by the Chairman, Archbishop
              Demetrios. He noted that the Moscow Patriarchate, through its
              Exarchate, had been one of the original signers of the SCOBA
              Constitution. After the Archbishop's presentation of the matter,
              there was immediate unanimous agreement, in a spirit of fraternal
              welcome, by all SCOBA Hierarchs to welcome the Representation of the
              Moscow Patriarchate in the United States, in the person of Bishop
              Mercurius, to full membership in SCOBA."

              • Grass Lake, MI
              The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America (OCA) announced that a
              Proposal to unite the two Romanian eparchies in North America under
              the Church of Romania would be presented to the Episcopate Congress
              July 4-5 at the Episcopate headquarters in Grass Lake, MI. The press
              release stated:

              "...the Episcopate Council voted that it (the Proposal) next be
              presented to the annual session of the Episcopate Congress on July 4-
              5 at the Episcopate headquarters in Grass Lake, Michigan. His
              Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel has stated that he will place it on
              the agenda for discussion at the Clergy Conference, on July 3. The
              complexity of a potential unity of the two bodies, which have existed
              separately for some 60 years, will necessitate that practical, legal
              and financial matters, etc., also be studied and agreed upon."

              The press release noted:


              "It was clearly stated that the JDC (Joint Dialogue Commission) had
              not been in Romania in February to discuss a return under the
              Romanian Patriarchate, and that any future relationship would have to
              be recognized as a step forward toward the inevitable, unified
              Orthodox Church in North America. At the same time, His Beatitude,
              Patriarch Daniel made a far-reaching proposal which the JDC
              considered to be a step in that direction. It therefore discussed the
              matter with its counterpart in the ROAA (Romanian Orthodox
              Archdiocese of America) on April 14, 2008. This resulted in a
              detailed 'Proposal to Establish a Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate
              of North America' into a single entity, in canonical relationship
              with (not under) the Romanian Orthodox Church. The archbishops of
              both eparchies, NATHANIEL (Popp) and NICOLAE (Condrea), have given
              their blessings to forward this proposal."

              • Detroit, MI
              The Bulgarian Diocese of the OCA will be holding its Diocesan
              Assembly June 20-22nd at St. Paul's Cathedral in nearby Dearborn
              Heights. Metropolitan Herman, Locum Tenens of the Diocese since the
              death of Archbishop Kyrill one year ago, will preside. Among the
              topics to be discussed, either openly or quietly, will be
              possibilities for a new bishop (the diocesan by-laws require the
              bishop to be Bulgarian) and the financial windfall, reportedly in the
              millions, that Archbishop Kyrill left the small Diocese of 19
              parishes and missions in the US and Canada.

              • Australia

              The former Bishop of Sitka, Nikolai, has left the United States and
              was reported in Serbian-language newspapers as having been present on
              June 14th at the funeral of a priest held at St Sava Serbian Orthodox
              Monastery, near Elaine, in the southern state of Victoria, some 80
              miles West of Melbourne.

              The Chancellor of the OCA, Fr. Alexander Garklavs, is also in
              Australia. According to the OCA website: "Since Australia does not
              form a part of the territory of any autocephalous Orthodox Church,
              and out of concern for the spiritual welfare of several isolated
              communities of Orthodox Christians, the Holy Synod of Bishops has
              extended its canonical protection to these communities until such
              time as church life in Australia is regularized in accordance with
              canon law."

              Widespread internet speculation has it that the three parishes under
              OCA protection are about to be transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate
              through its ROCOR diocese in Australia. Fr. Andrew Jarmus,
              Communications Director for the OCA responded to the speculation by
              stating that: "At this point, to my knowledge, any talk about
              transferring the OCA parishes in Australia to the ROCOR diocese there
              is still just that, talk. As far as I am aware, there have been no
              formal proposals from either the OCA or ROCOR, nor has there been a
              formal request from the OCA parishes in Australia to transfer
              jurisdictions."

              Fr. Jarmus continued: "He (Fr. Garklavs) is there with the blessing
              of Metropolitan Herman and at the request of one of the OCA parishes
              there to assess a pastoral matter in that community that the parish
              felt required direct (meaning 'in-person') involvement."

              -Mark Stokoe

              --- End forwarded message ---
            • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
              http://www.ocanews.org/news/News7.3.08.html 7.3.08 News From Around the OCA •Anchorage, Alaska Documents from the First National Bank in Anchorage, revealed
              Message 6 of 7 , Jul 4, 2008
                http://www.ocanews.org/news/News7.3.08.html



                7.3.08

                News From Around the OCA

                •Anchorage, Alaska

                Documents from the First National Bank in Anchorage, revealed to
                OCANews.org, confirm Bishop Benjamin's assertion that the former
                Bishop of Sitka, Nikolai, left the diocese with more than $900,000 in
                outstanding mortgage debt. According to these records the Alaskan
                Diocese currently owes $212,134 and $112,605 on two mortgages taken
                out on St. Innocent's Cathedral properties; as well as $213,842 on
                the Sitka Cathedral property. While the former Bishop has
                acknowledged the Sitka mortgage in his recent letter from Australia
                (read that letter here) he cited the Anchorage debt at $140,000, not
                $324,000. Moreover, the former Bishop failed to mention that the
                Anchorage cathedral had been mortgage-free when he arrived in 2002.


                The former Bishop also wrote: "And the residence at 740 Hunt was
                bought. When the property on Old Harbor was bought the property at
                Hunt was placed in escrow for $350,000.00. This loan would be paid
                once the purchaser's credit was at a higher rate." What the former
                Bishop failed to fully acknowledge was that the $363,341 mortgage on
                the property, the home of his former choir director, remains the
                legal responsibility and obligation of the diocese.


                The total of these four mortgages, as Bishop Benjamin asserted, is
                indeed $906,225.

                • Syosset, New York

                The times and dates for two additional Town Halls have been
                announced, while others have been changed. The Bethlehem PA Town Hall
                will now be held in the morning, from 10 AM-Noon, rather than in the
                evening, of July 19th. The new Western Pennsylvania Town Hall will be
                held Carnegie, PA (near Pittsburgh) on July 31st, and a new New
                Jersey Town Hall will be held in South River, on August 2nd. A full
                schedule of the Town Halls, now 15 in number, may be found here.

                Preliminary dates for the joint Synod and Metropolitan Council
                meeting at which the Special Investigative Committee report will be
                issued have been pushed back yet again. The report is now being
                scheduled for release at a joint meeting to be held in September,
                after the last Town Hall has met, and long after the deadline for
                resolutions to the All-American Council (August 15th) has passed.

                - Mark Stokoe

                --- End forwarded message ---
              • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
                http://www.ocanews.org/news/news7.11.08.html 7.11.08 News From Around the OCA • Los Angeles, California The Special Investigative Committee (SIC) held its
                Message 7 of 7 , Jul 11, 2008
                  http://www.ocanews.org/news/news7.11.08.html

                  7.11.08

                  News From Around the OCA

                  • Los Angeles, California

                  The Special Investigative Committee (SIC) held its final series of
                  scheduled interviews this week. Among those appearing were
                  Archimandrite Zaccheaus, Rector of the OCA's representation Church in
                  Moscow. Fr. Zacchaeus appeared together with his lawyer, Mr. Vladimir
                  Berezansky Jr., Esq. You can read Mr. Berezansky's recent letter to
                  the SIC here.

                  • Syosset, New York

                  Fr. Eric Tosi has begun his service as the new Secretary of the OCA.
                  A former parish priest in Las Vegas, Fr. Tosi has served as the
                  Chairman of the OCA Missions Department for the past seven years. You
                  can read more about Fr. Tosi here.

                  Syosset also announced this week a revised schedule for the OCA's
                  Town Halls (read it here) and published notes from the last two (read
                  those here). The next Town Hall will be held tomorrow (July 12) at
                  St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York, with another in Cleveland on
                  July 17th, and a third a week from this Saturday in Bethlehem PA.

                  • Ottawa, Ontario

                  Archbishop Seraphim has written an Archpastoral message in the latest
                  edition of the Canadian Archdiocesan magazine, The Canadian
                  Messenger. In it the Archbishop discusses "our relatively small
                  crisis" in the OCA by writing:



                  "Our current crisis has had mainly to do with administrative
                  difficulties. Our structure, as an Autocephalous Church, does not yet
                  properly support the way we should be living our ecclesiastical life.

                  As a result, there is vagueness of responsibility, which allowed for
                  big mistakes to be made, and at the same time, made it difficult for
                  them to be seen until it was far too late. True, the Holy Synod of
                  Bishops is always in the end responsible for everything ' for good,
                  or for bad'.

                  At the same time, both the Holy Synod of Bishops, and the
                  Metropolitan Council (both of whose specific responsibilities need
                  refinement in the Statute) depend upon the clear presentation of
                  facts, for them to make proper decisions. Both bodies not only had
                  unclear information presented (although it appeared to be clear), but
                  they also lost the needed personal connection with each other. And
                  when questions latterly began to be asked, or even accusations made,

                  it was difficult for some time to comprehend what needed to be done.
                  One must understand that, at the regular meetings of both the Holy
                  Synod of Bishops, and of the Metropolitan Council, there has been a
                  flood of information being presented through all kinds of reports.
                  When such reports are seen for the first time when they are
                  presented, and with very little time before the next report, few
                  persons have the gift of spiritual, mental, and intellectual acuity
                  to catch things that can be developing problems. Bishops are human
                  beings too, and they often have their limitations. In the end, we
                  have not been able to account for the movement, and destination, of a
                  rather large amount of money. For some of it, recent investigation
                  seems to reveal a bit more."

                  The Archbishop continued:

                  "The results of all these very painful events have been both good,
                  and bad. They have been bad in that there developed a rupturing of
                  trust, and of communication, between old friends, relatives, and co-
                  workers ; there have been many fantastic accusations made by one
                  person or another, and against others in authority, based on shadows
                  of fact; and there has been spread the poison of bitterness. As an
                  extension, some began to express doubt that our Orthodox Church in
                  America could survive. They have been positive in that it became
                  clear, at least to an extent, what had happened; that there has been
                  a deep internal examination of our structure, and an extensive repair
                  undertaken in our administration; that there has been put into action
                  repentance - a turning about, a righting of wrongs, a correction of
                  direction. Some of our older, and experienced parishioners have said
                  something to the effect that it is only money, after all, and we
                  never did have much anyway."

                  The Archbishop concluded his remarks on the scandal with:

                  "Still, there seems to be remaining forgotten, to some extent. the
                  basic need to turn to Christ first in everything. We have taken many
                  concrete and necessary. steps towards the reform and renewal of our
                  administration. Yet seldom does one see. or hear reported from
                  various meetings, evidence that we are very well remembering the
                  Lord - that it is His Church, that He is in charge. that we are
                  exercising our responsibility in harmony with, and in consultation
                  with Him. It looks as if we are determined to repair things
                  ourselves. Sometimes I hear that references to the Lord, and to the
                  Gospel, and to the Way are not well accepted by participants in some
                  meetings. We are in a phase of blaming someone else, perhaps anyone
                  else. And the worst of it, from my perspective, has been shown in
                  some dark, verbal attacks against our Metropolitan. This is
                  completely against both the Gospel and our Tradition. It can be seen
                  as a kind of spiritual patricide. As a result, we are still in a very
                  dangerous stage of our recovery. Without direct, constant reference
                  to the Lord, and without our deliberately and specifically referring
                  to Him, we are lost. The work of the adversary, the divider, the
                  father-of-lies, is evident amongst us, and it is crucial that we turn
                  away from this, and allow the Lord to heal us."

                  • Bucharest, Romania

                  The Romanian Patriarchate corrected its earlier statements by making
                  the following announcement this week:

                  "The Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate Rejoices in the Progress toward
                  Union of the Two Romanian Orthodox Eparchies in North America

                  The Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate has received the official decision
                  of the Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas,
                  clarifying the earlier reports on the votes taken by the two Romanian
                  Orthodox Eparchial Congresses. Held from 4-5 July 2008, at the same
                  time as the Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate, the
                  Archdiocesan Congress unanimously approved the work of the Joint
                  Dialogue Commission and authorized it to continue its work, as
                  quickly as possible, to realize the unity of the Romanian Orthodox in
                  North America. According to the same communique, the Archdiocese
                  received official notice from His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel and
                  the Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America that they
                  had similarly approved the work of the Commission and urged it to
                  move forward.

                  The Romanian Orthodox faithful of North America have been divided for
                  over sixty years, and the Romanian Orthodox Church, as Mother Church,
                  has been constantly concerned and vigilant in assisting a healing of
                  this division. His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel has urged both His
                  Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate and
                  His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese
                  to work toward healing the division as quickly as possible. His
                  Beatitude has assured both the total support and cooperation of the
                  Patriarchate in this effort. He has assured them that the
                  Patriarchate's only concern is that the Romanian Orthodox faithful
                  have the spiritual protection and canonical support of the Romanian
                  Orthodox Church.

                  His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel expressed his joy at this first step
                  toward resolving a decades-long division. He said that the member
                  Hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church wished
                  only what was best for the Romanian Orthodox faithful in North
                  America. His Beatitude also expressed the desire of the Romanian
                  Orthodox Church that there be a strong and healthy presence of
                  Orthodoxy in North America, looking forward to that day that all
                  Orthodox Christians in North America would be united in such a way
                  that the witness of Orthodox Christianity would be a vital and
                  transformative presence there."

                  At the same time the Synod of the Romanian Church announced in its
                  Minutes:

                  "The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church met from 8-9 July
                  2008 in working session at the Patriarchal Residence in Bucharest
                  under the Presidency of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel. Among the
                  decisions taken were:
                  ....


                  - The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church took joyful note of
                  the decision of the congresses of the two Romanian Orthodox Eparchies
                  in the United States of America and Canada to approve the proposal of
                  the Joint Dialogue Commission, and to authorize this Commission to
                  continue its work toward the realization of the unification of the
                  two eparchies in a single Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate of North
                  America, in direct canonical and spiritual communion with the
                  Romanian Patriarchate.

                  - The Holy Synod congratulates the clergy and other delegates of the
                  Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas, headed
                  by His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae, and also, the clergy and other
                  delegates of the Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of
                  America, headed by His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel, for this
                  historic decision, and it also expresses its hope that the effort
                  toward legal and administrative unity will be crowned with success."

                  -Mark Stokoe

                  --- End forwarded message ---
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