Archive | Statute Revisions

Canons, Statute Commission releases final report on proposed Statute revision

The Orthodox Church in America’s Commission on Canons and Statutes has issued a detailed final report on the proposed Statute revision in anticipation of its consideration for adoption at the 18th All-American Council in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015.

The text of the report in PDF format, released on Wednesday, July 8, may be downloaded here. AAC delegates are asked to print copies and bring them to the AAC, as hard copies of the report will not be available at the Council.

“A major principle is that the Statute is always a work in progress and requires constant attention and appropriate adjustments,” the report notes. “The many intermittent amendments to the 1971 Statute have left us with a document which is not well organized or integrated in its various parts; the clarity and style problems of the existing Statute are self-evident and these need to be fixed; the parochial focus of the existing statute reflects its origin as a governance document of what was functionally an archdiocese and not an autocephalous Church; and the use of secular, non-religious language in some areas of the Statute is necessary in order to make ourselves understood by civil governments, including the courts. The Statute will always be partly a work in progress and should be updated at regular and frequent intervals. This proposed Statute revision is an improvement over the old one, and not necessarily because it is perfect in its own terms. By the Grace of God, the next version will be even better.”

Discussion on the proposed revised Statute is slated to take place during Plenary Session 2 on Tuesday morning, July 21.

The Delegate Handbook includes detailed instructions on the procedures for consideration of and voting on the proposed revised Statute.

Holy Synod, Metropolitan Council approve revised Finance Resolution

AllAmLOGOA revision of the Finance Resolution, slated to be presented at the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015, has been approved by the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council. The text, which replaces that of the resolution already posted, is now available on the OCA and AAC web sites.

In light of issues that arose with regard to the Finance Resolution presented in the Delegate’s Handbook, revisions had been made to the resolution. Voting on the proposed resolution will take place at the AAC’s Third Plenary Session, scheduled for Tuesday, July 21.

By way of background, at the February 2015 meeting of the Metropolitan Council, a Finance Resolution, to be presented at the AAC, was passed. Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, and Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, immediately began to travel to various Diocesan Council meetings to discuss, explain and garner support for the resolution.

“It became apparent within the first month that the resolution as proposed by the Metropolitan Council would not pass at the AAC, as there was tremendous objection to the ‘floor’ in the proposal,” said Ms. Ringa. “At the Holy Synod meeting in March 2015, the Finance Resolution was revised, with a compromise being reached by removing the floor but increasing the proportional rates and increasing the contributions from the ethic dioceses. This is the resolution that appears in the AAC Delegate Handbook, and is attached as Exhibit A.”

Further movement on the resolution occurred when the members of the Holy Synod met for their annual retreat June 8-11, 2015.

“The Holy Synod again amended the resolution, and it is attached as Exhibit B,” Ms. Ringa added. “The revision in this version was to remove the section regarding increasing the contributions of the ethnic dioceses.”

As a result, according to Ms. Ringa, the financial impact of the resolution before the Holy Synod’s revision was a reduction in the Central Administration budget of $400,000.00 over three years, whereas after the revision this reduction increased to $495,000.00 over the same period.

“Meetings with the Dioceses of the South, West and Midwest and the Archdiocese of Washington, DC immediately before and after the Holy Synod retreat indicated that while there is support for the overall resolution, the cuts to the Central Administration budget over the next three years were of deep concern,” Ms. Ringa continued. “Therefore, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, asked the Finance Committee to propose a revision to the latest Holy Synod resolution, and that this proposal then be communicated to the Metropolitan Council. If the latter agreed to it, it will be presented to the Holy Synod for their blessing.”

During the last week of June 2015, the Finance Committee worked to develop a new proposed resolution, attached here as Exhibit C.

“The resolution had attempted to take all the dioceses down to a proportional rate of 34% by 2018,” Ms. Ringa explained. “While this rate is still our goal, we realized that it is unrealistic to take those dioceses that are in the 50-60% ranges down to 34% in so short a period of time. Exhibit C takes these dioceses down to a maximum rate of 46% by 2018, and the overall proportional rate falls from 46% to 41%.”

A spreadsheet with details by diocese is attached here as Exhibit D.

During the last week of June, Metropolitan Council members weighed in in favor of the new resolution proposed by the Finance Committee. The resolution was subsequently presented to the Holy Synod, which gave its blessing to post it in lieu of the previously posted resolution.

According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, the posting does not need to fall within the 60 day/30 day time frame indicated in the current Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, as resolutions may be received at any time with the Holy Synod’s blessing.

18th AAC Delegate Handbook now available

18thAACThe Delegate Handbook for the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America has been released in accordance with Article III, Section 5 A of the current OCA Statute which mandates the Preconciliar Commission “to publish and distribute the agenda, notices, and arrangements for the All-American Council at least 60 days prior to the established date.”

The complete Handbook may be downloaded here.

“The Handbook contains instructions for delegates, AAC procedures, the proposed agenda, and other pertinent information,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “Also included are two proposed resolutions, vetted and approved by the Resolution Committee and the Holy Synod of Bishops that will be considered in plenary session.

“The first resolution, to be presented by the Metropolitan Council after review by the Chancellors and Treasurers of the OCA’s dioceses and with the blessing of the Holy Synod of Bishops, was prepared by the Finance Committee of the Metropolitan Council,” added Father Eric. “The second resolution, which deals with matters of pastoral abuse, was presented by Holy Trinity Church, State College, PA with the approval of His Eminence, Archbishop Melchisedek.”

The Handbook also includes a copy of the proposed revised Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, which was posted on May 7, 2015 and distributed by e-mail on May 14, in accordance with Article XIII of the current Statute.

Additional reports will be posted on the OCA web site by June 20, in accordance with Article III, Section 5 of the Statute.

“Delegates are reminded to print copies of the reports, as well as the Handbook, prior to the AAC. Printed copies will not be available at the Council, although each delegate will receive a three-ring binder and tote bag when registering,” said Father Eric. “The bag also will include a map, a variety of helpful instructions and flyers of interest to delegates and observers.”

Delegates, observers and youth participants who have not already done so are urged to register on-line at their earliest convenience, and to make hotel reservations. Attendees are responsible for their own transportation to and from the hotel.

Final draft of revised OCA Statute released

2015-0507-statuterevThe final draft of the revised Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, slated to be presented for adoption at the upcoming 18th All-American Council (AAC) in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015, is now available on-line.

The release of the revised Statute is in accordance with Article XIII of the current Statute, which stipulates that all proposed amendments must be released at least 60 days prior to the All-American Council. A detailed introduction to the document will be posted as soon as it is available.

The proposed text of the revised Statute was finalized at a meeting of an expanded Commission on Canons and Statute held at Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, MI April 28-30, 2015. In an effort to make the revision process as open, transparent and inclusive as possible, the preliminary text of the revised Statute had been released for public comment in February 2015.

Under the chairmanship of His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, the expanded Commission on Canons and Statute undertook a systematic review of the preliminary draft, which had been prepared by the Statute Revision Task Force over the course of a year and a half. All comments and suggestions for revision which had been received by e-mail, as well as during several diocesan, deanery and other gatherings conducted by Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Commission Secretary, were carefully considered and incorporated into the text where appropriate. The Commission wishes to express its gratitude to those who submitted comments and suggestions, including the hierarchs of the Holy Synod of Bishops, who provided input during their spring session in March 2015.

“The revised Statute is an extension of a historical trajectory in the life of our Church — that is, our evolution from a diocese of the Russian Church to a freestanding, autonomous, independent, comprehensive and autocephalous national Church, a goal which all of us share,” said Judge E. R. Lanier, a Task Force member in summarizing the meeting and the content of the revised Statute. He added that the revised Statute is “faithful to the admonition in Thessalonians, holding fast to that which is good in the old Statute, preserving intact all of its features which have proven themselves positive and useful: the changes which appear in the revision are more in the nature of a realignment of emphasis than any sort of radical reworking of the old, tried and true provisions under which we have lived since 1971…. The revised text recognizes, supports, and implements our movement toward a more proactive stance for the dioceses and parishes of the Church.”

At their 2015 Spring Session, members of the Holy Synod blessed the Commission, which is mandated by Statute to consider proposed amendments, to invite other participants to its April meeting. Hence, also present were members of the Statute Revision Task Force and consultants. Besides Archbishop Nathaniel, who chairs both the Commission on Canons and Statute and the Statute Revision Task Force, and Father Rentel, Secretary of both bodies, other members participating in the meeting included His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa and Priest Ioan Cozma. Statute Revision Task Force members who participated, in addition to Judge Lanier, included Archpriest Dimitri Cozby and Alexis Liberovsky. Participating consultants were attorneys Michael Cuccaro and Angela Parks. Archpriest John Erickson, a member of both the Commission and the Task Force, was unable to attend due to a previous commitment.

According to provisions governing amendments in the current Statute, the deadline for further revisions has passed. However, questions may be directed to the Commission on Canons and Statute at statute.18aac@oca.org.

Further information on the work of the Statute revision process over the last 18 months may be found at the following links.

Friday, April 17 deadline for submitting AAC resolutions

18thAACBright Friday, April 17, 2015 is the deadline for submitting proposed resolutions for the 18th All-American Council, slated to convene in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015.

Proposed resolutions should be sent via e-mail to resolutions.18aac@oca.org or in hard copy to the Resolutions Committee, 18th All-American Council, c/o the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America, PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791. After review by the Resolutions Committee, they will be published/posted by May 15, 2015—60 days before the AAC per Article III, Section 5, Part E and Article XIII, Sections 1-2 of the current 18th All-American Council, slated to convene in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015.

Detailed information on resolutions may be found here.

Holy Synod issues letter supporting continuation of Statute Revision process

2013-1122-holy-synod-logoIn a letter dated Friday, April 3, 2015, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon shared the intention of the Holy Synod of Bishops to continue the process regarding the revision of the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America and the presentation of the final draft at the 18th All-American Council [AAC] in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015.

The text of the letter may be accessed here.

While weighing concerns that the time allocated for a Church-wide review of the revisions is insufficient, the members of the Holy Synod agreed to continue the current process and to make the proposed revised text available on-line and in hard copy 60 days before the Council’s opening, as required by the current Statute. As previously reported, the revision will be considered as a whole through an “up and down,” rather than an “article by article,” vote by AAC delegates.

Concurrently, the Statute Revision Committee has issued a letter offering an update on its activities and the continuation of the Church-wide vetting process, which is available here. Also available is the text of Article XIII — not found in the current Statute — which addresses the OCA’s monastic institutions.

In related news, the deadline for submitting resolutions is April 17, 2015. In addition to offering comments on the Statute, resolutions may be submitted on-line at http://18aac.oca.org/statute-revisions-resolutions.

Related information may be found here.

Deadline for submitting AAC resolutions is April 17

18thAACApril 17, 2015 is the deadline for submitting proposed resolutions for the 18th All-American Council, slated to convene in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015.

Proposed resolutions should be sent via e-mail to resolutions.18aac@oca.org or in hard copy to the Resolutions Committee, 18th All-American Council, c/o the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America, PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791. After review by the Resolutions Committee, they will be published/posted by May 15, 2015—60 days before the AAC per Article III, Section 5, Part E and Article XIII, Sections 1-2 of the current Statute of the Orthodox Church in America. Resolutions also may be proposed during the course of the AAC itself.

As announced in mid-January, the Resolutions Committee will review all submitted proposals.

  • If necessary it will discuss possible editorial changes with the submitting body.
  • If substantially identical resolutions are submitted, the Committee will consolidate them into a single resolution, again after consultation with the submitting bodies.
  • If, in the estimation of the Committee, a proposed resolution clearly lies outside the competence of the All-American Council, whether on canonical grounds or in conflict with the OCA Statute, the Committee will inform the submitting body of this.
  • In case of doubt, a proposed resolution will be submitted to the Holy Synod to determine whether it can be brought before the All-American Council.
  • If a proposed resolution is determined to lie outside the competence of the All-American Council, the Committee, in consultation with the Holy Synod and the proposing body, will consider alternative ways of bringing issues underlying the proposed resolution to the attention of the All-American Council. After review of submissions, the Resolutions Committee will turn over proposed resolutions to the Preconciliar Commission for inclusion on the All-American Council agenda. Deliberation on proposed resolutions will take place in plenary sessions throughout the course of the Council.
  • Resolutions from parishes normally shall bear the signatures of the parish priest and the president of the parish council; those from deaneries, of the dean and other priests of the deanery; those from dioceses, of the bishop and the diocesan chancellor; those from stavropegial institutions, of the abbot, dean or rector, and at least one other member of the institution in question.
  • Resolutions and proposed amendments to the OCA Statute will be sent to the respective diocesan hierarch, who will sign and forward them to the Resolutions Committee.

Detailed information on resolutions may be found here.

Statute revisions available for comments by Church-at-large

AllAmLOGOThe Holy Synod of Bishops recently blessed the general release of the revised Statute of the Orthodox Church in America for general review by the Church.

The finalized revised Statute will be presented at the 18th All-American Council [AAC] in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015.

The proposed revised Statute, together with a letter of introduction from the Statute Revision Task Force is available. A side-by-side comparison of the old and new versions is included.

“The faithful of the OCA are encouraged to read through the proposed revisions and submit comments for review and consideration,” said Archpriest Alexander Rentel. “Comments may be submitted by e-mail to statute.18aac@oca.org. These will go directly to the Commission on Canons and Statutes for reply or possible consideration for inclusion into the revised text.”

A section of the AAC web site for public commentary is now available. All public comments will be reviewed before posting.

“As required by the current Statute, Article XIII, Section 1, the review process will finish April 21 — before 90 days prior to the beginning of the Council,” Father Alexander added.

Articles on Monasticism, Definitions, and the Effective Date have yet to be completed, but will be posted in the immediate future.

With regard to feedback on the proposed text, all members and friends of the OCA are invited to read through the entire text of the Statute, since it is complex and interrelated, before making comments. All constructive and helpful comments will be considered.

“Major changes to the structure of the OCA will not be considered in this revision process, but should be put forward as future amendments, as such, comments suggesting such things will not be considered at this point,” Father Alexander said. “While the Commission on Canons and Statutes will not publicize the origins of comments received via email, anonymous comments will not be considered. Comments that include hateful, profane, or blasphemous language also will not be considered. Comments should be relevant and specific to the Statute and be of a respectful nature.”

All comments and suggestions will be reviewed by the Commission on Canons and Statutes after the April 21 deadline, at which point Commission members will meet to review and consider feedback and prepare the final draft.

“As required by the current Statute, Article XIII, Section 2, this final draft will be made available 60 days prior to the AAC with the recommendations of the Commission on Canons and Statutes in both the published reports for the AAC as well as in PDF format on the OCA website,” Father Alexander concluded. “This final version will be voted on at a plenary session during the AAC.”

Questions may be submitted to the Commission on Canons and Statutes.

Commission members include His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel; His Grace, Bishop Daniel; Archpriests Alexander Rentel, John Erickson and Dimitri Cozby; Priest Ioan Cozma; Judge E. R. Lanier; and Alexis Liberovsky.

Metropolitan Council concludes spring session

2015-0210-metcouncil1The spring session of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America was held at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, NY, February 10-12, 2015.

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, delivered the opening address, in which he reflected on the theme of the forthcoming 18th All-American Council [AAC], “How to Expand the Mission.”

“Archbishop Anastasios of Albania reminds us that ‘each one of us personally, bears his or her share of responsibility, as a living cell of this organic whole. Interest in apostleship, in mission, is not the specialty of particular groups or individuals, but a definitive characteristic of the Church herself. It is designated as the occupation of the Church. It is the sine qua non of its life,'” said Metropolitan Tikhon. “In this light, I have been trying to emphasis this apostolic work, this apostolic mission which is our common labor — and, I hope, our common love. Last March, I presented a draft statement to the Holy Synod, with the title ‘The Apostolic Work of the Church,’ in which I highlighted the three specific areas that seemed to rise to the top in terms of interest from those various groups and that would seem to be prime areas where our apostolic labors and love might be fruitfully applied.”

In addition to missions and evangelism, Metropolitan Tikhon spoke in detail of the importance of clergy health and our monasteries and seminaries. The complete text of the address will be posted on the OCA web site as it becomes available.

“Since this was the last Metropolitan Council meeting before the opening of the 18th AAC in July 2015, Council members conducted a substantial review of AAC activities and logistics,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “A proposed agenda was approved and will be presented to the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops for their blessing in March. The Preconciliar Commission was pleased to report that AAC is on, or slightly under, budget. A full agenda, instructions and reports will be made available in May.”

Council members also reviewed proposed revisions to the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, slated to be presented at the AAC.

2015-0210-metcouncil3“Archpriest Alexander Rentel of the Statute Revision Committee presented an update on the status of the revision and the anticipated time of release,” said Father Eric. “The revisions, currently going through the final editorial stage with a legislative editor, will be presented to the Holy Synod prior to their public release and commentary.” [See related story.]

“A significant portion of the meeting was devoted to reviewing the proposed financing plan for the OCA, also slated to be presented at the AAC,” continued Father Eric. “Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, presented a proposed plan that has been developed over the past two years by the chancellors and treasurers of the various dioceses. The revised proposal will now be sent to the members of the Holy Synod for their blessing before it is forwarded to the Resolution Committee for presentation at the AAC. Copies of the resolution will be made available with the reports.”

Reports were presented by the OCA’s officers. Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor, discussed a number of issues, highlighting the reactivation of the Pastoral Life Department, which will include representatives from the dioceses who will focus on issues of clergy health and care. He also reported on the work of ORSMA and reviewed current and completed cases.

Father Eric reported in depth on a number of AAC-related issues, plans for the upcoming Mission School, and various matters related to communications, crisis management, publications and estate management.

OCA Archivist Alexis Liberovsky and other members of the Archives Committee presented a report on their progress with regard to archives management and preservation. Ryan Platte, the OCA’s IT specialist, reported on his work with the OCA web site, the new database and future projects, which include an upgrade of the web site in the future. Dr. Al Rossi reported on the work of SMPAC as the policies and procedures continue to be refined.

2015-0210-metcouncil5The Metropolitan Council’s various committees offered reports on their recent activities. Among the highlights was the final report of the Post-Conciliar Committee, which has been tracking progress made since the 16th AAC with regard to the Strategic Plan. Priest John Vitko reported on a variety of successes which will be presented at the 18th AAC. Archpriest John Shimchick reported on the work of the Organization Committee, which has been examining methods of reorganizing the work of the Central Administration and the various boards, commissions, departments and offices. An initial proposal has been approved and will be presented to the Holy Synod for further action.

Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky offered an in-depth presentation on a variety of activities and matters related to ecumenical affairs and Inter-Church relations, while recent visitations and the present state of the OCA with regard to the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA were discussed.

A presentation also was made by members of the OCA Pension Board.

As part of the rotation by various departments and organizations, the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America [FOCA] and the Philadelphia-based Russian Brotherhood Organization [RBO] offered detailed presentations on their work and on ways they might further assist the Church. RBO was represented by Basil Russin, Esq., who spoke of the varied programs the RBO offers, including insurance, scholarships and other forms of assistance. Representing the FOCA were Archpriest Theodore Boback and Dr. John Schulz, who highlighted the organization’s activities and spoke of its national convention, which for the first time will be held in conjunction with the 18th AAC.

2015-0210-metcouncil6During an open session, Council members discussed various topics and concerns, including the Assembly of Bishops; policies for official OCA publications, web sites and social media; the status of theological education; and the general state of the Church in North America.

On Wednesday morning, February 11, Metropolitan Tikhon celebrated the Divine Liturgy.

Minutes and reports from the Metropolitan Council session will be posted on the OCA web site as they are received.

Metropolitan Council to meet February 10-12

The Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America will hold its semi-annual meeting at Immaculate Conception Seminary here Tuesday, February 10 through Thursday, February 12, 2015.

According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, will offer the opening address and report, followed by reports from the officers of the Church. Detailed plans for the forthcoming 18th All-American Council [AAC], slated to convene in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015, also will be discussed. A final draft of the proposed AAC agenda will be reviewed and submitted to the Holy Synod of Bishops for final approval.

Additional agenda items include the presentation of a draft of the OCA Statute by members of the Statute Revision Committee. The draft will be reviewed and revised accordingly before it is released to the Church for general input and presentation at the AAC.

Reports also will be heard from the Archive Committee, IT specialist Ryan Platte, and the OCA’s other committees and departments. Presentations will be made by the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America and the Philadelphia-based Russian Brotherhood Organization.

Finally, a comprehensive review of initial plans for financial proposals slated to be presented at the AAC will be undertaken.

On Thursday, the new Lesser Synod of Bishops will meet to review plans for the Spring Session of the Holy Synod in March.

Minutes and reports from the meeting will be posted as they are received.