IN THE NEWS: AAC liturgical services and music, youth program, new publication

Liturgical services at the 18th All-American Council.

The liturgical services are at the heart of the 18th All-American Council. On Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 6:30 p.m., participants in the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America’s national convention and those arriving early for the AAC are invited to attend a pan-Orthodox Great Vespers at Atlanta’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, hosted by His Eminence, Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta. Transportation will be provided from the hotel.

The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, at which His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and members of the Holy Synod will serve, will be celebrated in the hotel’s grand ballroom at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 19. Faithful from area parishes will join AAC and FOCA participants. All services throughout the week will be celebrated in the same venue.

Daily Vespers will be celebrated on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 5:00 p.m. Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 6:00 a.m. [Tuesday morning Liturgy will be sung by a male choir.] On Tuesday, July 21, the Akathistos Hymn in honor of the Wonderworking Sitka Icon of the Mother of God will be celebrated at 7:30 a.m. On Wednesday, July 22, the Akathistos Hymn in honor of the Wonderworking Icon of Saint Anne also will be celebrated at 7:30 a.m. On Thursday, July 23, the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 7:00 a.m., while the Akathistos Hymn in honor of All Saints of North America will be celebrated on Friday, July 24, at 7:30 a.m. Daily Compline will be celebrated for youth program participants at 9:30 p.m. Opportunities for confession, sermons and scriptural reflections will be available as announced.

Attention all singers!

For those wishing to participate in the Council Choir, a rehearsal will be held on Saturday, July 18 at 4:30 p.m. According to Prof. David Drillock, who chairs the OCA’s Department of Liturgical Music and Translations, daily rehearsals also will be held. Times and locations will be announced throughout the week, and all singers are invited to “sing praises to our God!”

Liturgical music for various services, including the Akathistos Hymns on Tuesday and Friday morning, may be downloaded in PDF format.

In a related “musical note,” a limited pre-release draft edition of A Common Book of Church Hymns: Divine Liturgy — the first major music publication in decades available from Saint Tikhon’s Monastery Press — will be make its debut at the AAC. The 238-page anthology, compiled and edited by Benedict Sheehan, includes practically all the hymns, unchanging as well as variable, necessary for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy set to melodies that allow for an aesthetically pleasing and stylistically unified rendition by a single chanter or a small group of singers. As Mr. Sheehan writes in the volume’s preface, the collection “is the first volume in English that attempts to rival the existing Slavonic obikhods in terms of comprehensiveness and as well as easy adaptability to small ensembles or solo chanters.”

The draft edition of A Common Book is being released in softcover format at the AAC for a “trial period” in preparation for final publication. Purchasers will be invited to submit feedback to STM Press. Those who purchase the draft edition will be eligible to purchase the final hardcover edition at a discount. Copies will be available in the AAC display area at Saint Tikhon’s Bookstore and Musica Russica.

Youth — a vital part of the AAC.

OCA Youth Director Andrew Boyd reports that 70 youth and 20 volunteers are on their way to Atlanta to participate in the AAC’s exciting youth program.

“In our morning sessions, youth will learn how the saints of our Church expanded it’s mission in North American and globally, connected with the larger theme of the council,” said Priest Benjamin Tucci, who is managing the youth program. “In the afternoon, we’ll have time for fellowship and fun at local water parks and attractions like the Georgia Aquarium.”

“I’m delighted to announce that we’ve been able to offer financial support to over 20 youth participants to help their families cover the cost of attending this unique event in the life of the Church,” said Mr. Boyd.

Other highlights of the youth program include a breakfast with the Holy Synod, a youth banquet at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and time for the youth to make a presentation to delegates during a plenary session.

“As someone who grew up in a smaller parish, any opportunity for me to be connected to the greater Church was simply invaluable to strengthening my faith,” added Mr. Boyd. “Every opportunity we have to connect our youth to each other and to the Church serves as an opportunity to make them stronger witnesses when they return to their home communities.”

Registration for 18th All-American Council closes

Registration for delegates, observers and youth planning to participate in the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015, will close on Friday evening, July 10.

“Those who have not registered for the AAC, but who still may wish to do so, must contact the OCA Chancery directly at,” noted Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “All requests for late registration must have the blessing of the participant’s respective diocesan bishop.”

In related matters…

  • All clergy are asked to include the following petition in the Litany of Fervent Supplication at all services between Saturday, July 11 and the AAC opening on July 20.

“Furthermore we pray that the Lord, our Almighty and Eternal God, Source of all wisdom and understanding, will be with us as we prepare to gather in Council, that in striving to serve and glorify Him, we may be enlightened with right judgment and good purpose, for the building up of His Holy Church to His eternal glory: we pray Thee, O Lord, hearken and have mercy.”

  • Delegates are reminded to bring their own copies of the AAC Delegate Handbook and reports to the Council. Copies may be downloaded as posted here.
  • Registration will be held on the hotel’s second floor.
  • Directions to and from the MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) Peachtree Station and the Atlanta Hilton are now available on-line. Hartsfield-Jackson Airport runs MARTA’s “Gold Line” to Peachtree Station, which is within walking distance to the Hilton. The short walk can be completed indoors for those who so desire.

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.

July 10 marks deadline for AAC registrations

18thAACParticipants in the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, slated to convene July 20-24, 2015 in Atlanta, GA, are reminded that the registration deadline Is Friday, July 10.

“Registration must be completed by that date to ensure a place at the Council,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “Registrations that arrive after that date will require special approval by the Preconciliar Commission and the registrants’ diocesan bishops.”

The on-line registration procedure may be completed here.

In related news, the Atlanta Convention Bureau has created two special web sites through which AAC participants will find special discounts at Atlanta-area attractions and venues.

The “City Pass,” valid for discounts at the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca Cola, CNN Tours, Zoo Atlanta, the Civil Rights Museum, and a host of other venues, is available here.

The “Savings in the City Card,” customized for AAC participants and good for discounts at numerous attractions, restaurants and stores in the Atlanta area, also is available here.

Pension Board holds quarterly meeting, announces AAC events

Members of the Orthodox Church in America’s Pension Board held their quarterly meeting at the Chancery here on Tuesday, June 23, 2015.

The Board finalized plans for the upcoming 18th All-American Council. The Board will host an Open House from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, July 20, 2015 . The informal session is open to all clergy, Church workers, members, nonmembers, and spouses to visit at any time during the session with questions or to learn more about the Plan. The Board will present a formal report to the entire Council during Plenary Session III on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 21, 2015.

The independent auditors of the Plan, Saslow, Lufkin and Buggy, presented an unqualified audit report for the year ending December 31, 2014. Interested parties may contact Maureen Ahearn, Plan Administrator, at to receive a copy of the report in PDF format.

Finally, Board Chairman John Sedor was honored and appreciated for 20 years of dedicated service to the Pension Plan. Mr. Sedor’s term as a Board Member will expire at the upcoming All-American Council. To ensure a smooth transition, Priest Gleb McFatter was elected Interim Chairman.

The Orthodox Church in America Pension Plan serves over 325 active participants and more than 125 retirees, widows, and beneficiaries. The Plan is the only approved retirement vehicle for OCA parishes and clergy. Participation is expected of all clergy and is available for all full-time Church workers. Information and resources concerning the Plan are available here.

Pension Board Trustees include His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon; Archpriests Matthew Tate and John Zdinak; Priest Gleb McFatter; and Messrs. Theodore Bazil, Barry Gluntz, and John Sedor.

AAC reports now available; hotel deadline June 26

18thAACIn accordance with the current Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, Article II, Section 5e, reports in preparation for the 18th All-American Council are now available on-line.

The reports, which are now available include

Printed copies of the reports will not be available at the AAC, slated to convene in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015. Delegates may print out copies of the reports and place them in the three-ring binders they will receive at registration or bring them in electronic form to AAC sessions. Similarly, delegates are asked to print out copies of the Delegate Handbook, which also may be placed in the binder. Upon registration, delegates also will receive tote bags and delegate badges, which must be worn in order to gain entry into AAC plenary sessions.

The credentials and final registration process is being completed by the AAC staff. Please note that AAC registration will close on Friday, July 10. Registrations received after this date will have to be secured through special permission from the diocesan bishop.

In related news, the Atlanta Hilton is sold out, while the overflow hotel, the Hyatt Regency, is rapidly selling out. Delegates and participants are urged to make hotel reservations by June 26, 2015. The Hyatt Regency’s special AAC rate—$124.00 per standard guestroom, per night, plus applicable taxes and fees—is available from July 17 through 24. Reservations may be made on-line or by phone at 1-888-421-1442. Request the “Orthodox Church in America” Group Rate.

A Layperson’s View: “Remembering… with Thankfulness”

by Mary Ann Bulko

“This is My Body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” [Luke 22:19].

Ah yes, remembrance – in the biblical sense it means a “reliving” — not simply recalling — of a particular event. When we are receiving the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ is actually present with us – it is not a mere recollection of Him and His words. A memory, however, is a wonderful gift that God has given us. True, there are occasions or events that we might prefer to forget – a traumatic or disastrous situation such as war or some calamity, for example. Yet even in these circumstances, there is a possibility or potential for healing, be it physical or emotional; and with God’s help and mediation, spiritual healing can occur.

In anticipation of this year’s 18th All-American Council, I pondered the archival summaries of councils and sobors from decades ago, so conveniently available through technology. For me, it became a walk down memory lane. In the late 1970s, the subject of “women delegates” to the AAC was a matter of much debate. At the Fifth AAC in 1977, “observers” were permitted to take part, including women. It wasn’t until November 1980 that the issue was finally resolved with the passage of a Statute amendment allowing women to represent their respective parishes as AAC “delegates.” Later in the 1980s, I was called upon to actually address the AAC on a serious issue concerning clergy widows. It was a matter that deserved particular attention before the entire Church body.

On another matter which I discovered in a personal archive, I found this simple yet delightful excerpt from a letter written in December 1974. “I have begun publishing ___’s articles. I believe she’s one of your ‘finds.’ Can you get her to produce a photograph of herself so that I might give her the same ‘visual’ coverage that I give all our male columnists?” That request was made by Father John Meyendorff, then Editor of The Orthodox Church newspaper, to a young priest named Father Thomas Hopko. Father John was referring to a 28-year-old “writer” who was a fairly new member of Father Thomas’ parish of Saint Gregory the Theologian in Wappingers Falls, NY.

In a truly insightful article published in TOC in 1999 titled “Finding One’s Calling in Life,” Father Thomas makes several key points. “Everyone is called to serve God and his fellow human beings in some form of life which God wills. This ‘form of life’ is not necessarily a job or profession.” He continues by citing those with disease or affliction or being an object of another’s care or disdain. “This is their vocation, and they are particularly blessed by God and loved by Christ in its acceptance and fulfillment.” He goes on saying we are called to love, know, serve and live as God does. Each person has his or her own life to sanctify and will answer for what he or she has done. And each must discover one’s own way, and thereby glorify God. All one needs to discover God’s will is “the pure desire to see, to hear, to understand and to obey. God does the rest.”

“We also need His help as it comes to us through others,” Father Thomas continued. It is here that I share my personal remembrance of him, as he was instrumental in showing me that by being “faithful in the little things of life,” one inherits much more. “Accepting who we are, where we are, how we are… struggling to sanctify our state of existence by the grace of God” is what he prescribes for all.

On the 20th anniversary of Father John’s repose in 2012, Father Leonid Kishkovsky, TOC Editor, wrote, “He knew that an educated and informed clergy and laity were necessary for a healthy Church.” Father John valued the possibilities of an experience in American Orthodoxy, having come to the United States from France. In truly appreciating the universality of the Orthodox Church, he without hesitation agreed to accept a woman’s view or perspective on Church and contemporary matters. It was because of both Fathers John and Thomas that I was given a blessed opportunity to express my love for the Church with observations on life in commentaries through a column titled “A Layperson’s View” for 30-plus years.

I’ll always remember with gratitude and humility their example as mentors and conduits to help others discover a way to serve in the name of Christ. May their memories be eternal!

AAC hotel fully booked, additional venue now available

2015-0605-hyattDue to the unexpected number of registrants for the Orthodox Church in America’s 18th All-American Council here July 20-24, 2015, the Hilton Atlanta Hotel is fully booked and an additional hotel — the Hyatt Regency — is now accepting reservations for council participants, according to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary.

“While a June 26 deadline for room reservations at the Hilton had been announced, the entire block of reserved rooms had already been booked by June 4,” Father Eric said. “Initially, the number of rooms booked was based on attendance at two previous councils in 2011 and 2008. We did not anticipate the surprising, sharp increase in the number of faithful planning to attend this year’s AAC.”

The Hyatt Regency, located at 265 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, is conveniently connected to the Hilton via Skybridge through Peachtree Center Mall.

The Hyatt Regency’s special council rate—$124.00 per standard guestroom, per night, plus applicable taxes and fees—is available from July 17 through 24. Deadline for registration is June 26, 2015.

“Those who have yet to book rooms for the council must make their reservations by June 26 to receive the quoted special rates,” Father Eric added. “All requests received after this date will be subject to availability.”

Reservations may be made on-line or by phone at 1-888-421-1442. Request the “Orthodox Church in America” Group Rate.

In related news, the deadline for submitting ads and greetings for the commemorative book to be published in conjunction with the AAC and the 89th annual Convention of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America is June 15. Detailed information and ad forms may be accessed here.

AAC hotel reservation deadline fast approaching

Hilton, Atlanta, GADelegates to and participants in the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America are urged to make reservations at the Hilton Atlanta as soon as possible.

The AAC will convene on July 20, 2015 and end on July 24.

“Room reservations for the AAC and the 89th annual national convention of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America are filling up quickly, and may be sold out before the June 26 deadline,” according to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “The Preconciliar Commission is exploring overflow hotel options, which will be announced on the OCA web site and Facebook should the need arise.”

On-line hotel reservations may be made here. The discounted nightly rate of $124.00 plus tax is guaranteed from July 18-24.