Diocesan Chancellors, Treasurers consider finances, Statute revisions

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Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America

Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America

Source: Orthodox Church in America

SYOSSET, NY [OCA]  Despite wintery weather, Chancellors and Treasurers of the dioceses of the Orthodox Church in America gathered at the Chancery here for their fourth annual meeting on February 3, 2015.

The meeting opened with the celebration of a Service of Thanksgiving in Saint Sergius Chapel, after which His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon welcomed those in attendance.

Archpriests John Jillions and John Erickson and Mr. Alexis Liberovsky, Archivist, presented an overview of the Statute revision process, reporting that a final draft, to be shared with the faithful on the 18th All-American Council web site, was nearing completion.

The participants then shared what their respective dioceses are currently doing relative to the existing Statute, specifically Acticle 10, Section 6, which addresses the financial support of the OCA and dioceses. It was revealed that the dioceses approach this matter in different ways.

  • The eight territorial dioceses currently submit their assessments to the OCA based on an annual census of their memberships.
  • The Diocese of Alaska and the Archdiocese of Canada tithe 10% of their annual diocesan revenues to the OCA. The Diocese of Alaska remits a check annually; while the Archdiocese of Canada sets aside the funds in a separate account deposited in Canada to be used to pay for OCA business, usually travel by Metropolitan Tikhon or by representatives of the Archdiocese on OCA business.
  • The three extra-territorial dioceses remit a fixed amount to the OCA—$5,000.00 from the Bulgarian Dioceses, $22,000.00 from the Albanian Archdiocese, and $24,000.00 from the Romanian Episcopate.
  • The Diocese of Mexico does not remit assessment payments to the OCA.

It was noted that the Diocese of the South and the Diocese of the West recently developed proposals for their dioceses to move from the per capita assessment to a proportional giving model. Mr. Milos Konjevich, Treasurer of the Diocese of the South [DOS], reported that in 2009, the DOS had adopted a 10% tithe from the parishes in place of the per capita assessment. The DOS still remitted the OCA assessment based on parishes’ annual census reports, but funded this from the parishes’ 10% tithes. Mr. Konjevich added that, while the diocese initially experienced a decline in revenues, the trend was reversed very quickly and the diocesan revenues have been steadily increasing annually by approximately 8-11%.

The Diocese of the West also has been considering a plan for proportional giving, by which the diocese would require a 12.5% tithe from their parishes, of which 34% would be sent to the OCA during the first year of the new plan. Thereafter, an annual one percent decrease would be put into effect, with a 30% cap. The proposal has yet to be finalized and approved, but will be presented to the diocese in the immediate future.

Similar models are being considered by other dioceses, including the Diocese of New England.

With regard to revisions pertaining to finances in the Statute, it was noted that the revised Statute removes the “per capita language” from the section on parishes and places it in the section on dioceses, as proposed by the Statute Revision Task Force upon the recommendation of the Metropolitan Council’s Finance Committee. A lengthy discussion ensued on the mechanics of transitioning from a “per capita” assessment to a proportional giving model and its presentation at the 18th All-American Council in July 2015. The diocesan chancellors and treasurers agreed that there could indeed be slightly different models in play each diocese, depending on where that diocese is at present in transitioning to proportional giving.

Action items that emerged during this discussion include the following.

  • The OCA Chancellor and Treasurer will meet with each diocese over the next two months to establish specific plans for each diocese. Dioceses can have as many representatives as they desire at such meetings.
  • The plans from each diocese will be presented to the entire Holy Synod if Bishops for approval.
  • There will be a follow-up meeting with the diocesan Chancellors/Treasurers to present the complete plan and the resolution that will be presented at the AAC.
  • The final resolution on the funding method and rate will be prepared in time to meet the 60-day requirement—May 21, 2015.

In addition to Metropolitan Tikhon, Fathers Jillions and Erickson, and Messrs. Konjevich and Liberovsky, others attending the meeting included Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary and Ms. Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer; Priest Raymond Martin Browne, Treasurer of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania; Archpriest Joseph Lickwar, Chancellor of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey; Priest David Cowan, Assistant Chancellor of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey; Archpriest Don Freude, Chancellor of the Bulgarian Diocese; and Priest Nathan Preston of the Albanian Archdiocese.

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