Source: Orthodox Church in America
SYOSSET, NY [OCA] The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America concluded its Spring Session at the Chancery here on Friday, April 1, 2016. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, presided at the sessions.
Highlights of the meeting included the following, according to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary.
- His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, delivered his opening address on Tuesday morning, March 29. He prefaced his address by reflecting on the funeral of a young girl who had fallen asleep in the Lord after a battle with cancer, at which he presided at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Washington DC on the preceding day. He spoke about her intense faith in the face of serious illness and the lessons inherent therein, adding that the Church exists precisely to minister to the faithful and to bring them into a closer relationship with God. He also reflected on the “Four Pillars” guidelines for the future of the Orthodox Church in America.
- The reports of the OCA’s Officers—Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor; Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary; and Melanie Ringa, Treasurer—were received. The positive financial status of the OCA was noted.
- In their report on the OCA Pension Plan, His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska and Maureen Ahearn, Plan Administrator, reviewed suggested changes involving the “In-Service Benefit Option” and the definition of “spouse” in the Pension Plan wording. Proposed changes will be presented at the Fall 2016 meeting of the Metropolitan Council.
- Members of the Office of Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegationsand the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee shared current issues and reviewed current cases. The hierarchs will undergo a training session on sexual misconduct prevention at their June 2016 retreat.
- Members of the Board of Theological Education—Archpriests John Behr and Chad Hatfield of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Archpriest Steven Voytovich of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, Archpriest John Dunlop of St. Herman’s Seminary, and Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov, Director of the Diaconal Vocations Program—offered recommendations with regard to candidates for ordination to the diaconate and priesthood. The Holy Synod also discussed with the Board possible “alternative” methods for priestly formation for individuals unable to attend residential programs.
- The OCA General Counsel, Judge E. R. Lanier, reported on the current status of various legal issues. He reviewed issues related to the recent Obergefell decision and the documents slated to be issued to defend the Church’s position. In his report, Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs, spoke of Metropolitan Tikhon’s recent visits to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and theOrthodox Church of Finland, reviewed the current status of Orthodox Churches worldwide, and addressed matters related to the Great and Holy Council, slated to convene in Crete in June 2016. He also discussed the current status of the OCA’s Representation Church of the Great Martyr Catherine in Moscow, Russia and the positive work conducted by Archimandrite Alexander [Pihach].
- In a closed session, the Holy Synod reviewed a number of clergy issues. As reported earlier, the hierarchs unanimously elected His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese to the vacant See of Dallas and the South with the title “Bishop of Dallas, the South and the Bulgarian Diocese.” The formal Service of the Election of a Bishop followed the celebration of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on Wednesday, March 30.
- The Holy Synod blessed the publication of the corrected edition of the 2003 OCA Metrical Record Book for parish use. Likewise approved was the process for updating the OCA web site.
- Three new Internal Auditors—John Skrobat, Dimitri Pletz, and Matushka Theodora Blom—were approved.
- Reports on the work of the OCA’s departments and commissions and individual dioceses were presented.
- The Holy Synod reviewed and approved recommendations for clergy awards and elevations. The Saint Romanos Medal was awarded to Dr. Vladimir Morosan and Aleksei Shipovalnikov in recognition of their outstanding contributions in the field of liturgical music.
- Plans for the second annual OCA Mission School, slated to be held in the summer of 2016, were reviewed and approved. Also approved were plans for the Holy Synod’s June 2016 retreat, which will include an in-depth discussion on theological education and, as noted above, training on sexual misconduct prevention.
- His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest reported on the impending work of a committee formed to address the prevention of spiritual abuse, in response to the directive of the 18th All-American Council.
- His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa offered a report on the membership and work of the Standing Committee on Canonical Procedures.
On Thursday evening, March 31, the members of the Holy Synod met with graduating OCA students from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY. After sharing a lenten dinner, the hierarchs and seminarians engaged in an informative discussion and question and answer session that touched on a wide range of topics and concerns.