The first years of the primacy of Metropolitan Tikhon inaugurated a period of peace and stability in the life of the Church, which enabled reflection and action on long-standing issues. One such matter was the OCA Statute. The need for comprehensive revision of the Statute, in effect since its adoption at the Second All-American Council in 1971, had been recognized at all levels of the Church for many years. In fact, a draft of a revised Statute had been prepared in 2004 and presented to the Holy Synod for review. The hierarchs provided some feedback, but the complexity of revision and intervening subsequent events stalled the project. In October 2013, the Holy Synod of Bishops established a Statute Revision Task Force charged with preparing a comprehensive revision of the Statute to be presented for adoption at the 18th All-American Council in Atlanta, Georgia in July 2015.
A second significant issue that had been studied and deliberated for decades was church funding and the need to shift from per capita assessment to proportional giving. Though this matter had been widely discussed for many years, no viable solution had yet been put forth. After careful deliberation by church-wide governing bodies and consultation with the dioceses in the months leading up to the 18th All-American Council, a workable funding formula was presented for adoption at the 18th Council.
With these two weighty issues before it, the 18th All American Council was convened July 20-24, 2015. “How to Expand the Mission” was chosen as the Council’s theme, reprising the theme of the First All-American Sobor in 1907. After a video presentation on the theme, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon delivered his inspiring keynote address, titled “The Apostolic Work of the Church,” in which he outlined his vision for the Church, formed with the input he had received from administrative bodies and other gatherings over an extended period. This was followed by reports of the Chancellor and the Secretary, which echoed the vision expressed in the Metropolitan’s address.
At the second plenary session, the revised Statute was presented for adoption. It had been drafted during the two previous years in a transparent manner through the solicitation of discussion and input at all levels of the Church. After introductory remarks from members of the Commission on Canons and Statute, the body statutorily mandated to recommend amendments to the OCA Statute, a resolution to approve the revised Statute surprisingly yielded a nearly unanimous vote of 473 in favor and only 15 opposed. Thus, the revised Statute, effective November 1, 2015, replaced the Statute adopted at the Second All-American Council in 1971, giving the Church a clearer governance structure and reflecting the realities of the Church’s current life.
After the Treasurer’s report, the carefully prepared resolution on funding was presented for a vote. This resolution was adopted with an unexpected overwhelming majority of 451 votes for, 14 votes against, and 17 abstentions.
The Council heard numerous reports from the Metropolitan Council, the Church’s departments, boards, offices and several pan-Orthodox organizations. A new element at this Council was the delivery of reports from each diocese, many in the form of video presentations, which illustrated the diversity of Church life in the Orthodox Church in America. For the first time since 2005, a youth program was held in conjunction with the Council. This was the first Council to be held concurrently immediately following the annual convention of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America (FOCA), an official organization of the OCA since 1994, which served to further strengthen its affiliation and collaboration with the Church. A highlight of the Council was the presence of a special guest, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onufry, Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who delighted the Council with his uplifting and witty speech, which he delivered in English at the formal dinner.
The significant decisions of this Council, especially the ratification of the Statute and the financial resolution, charted long-awaited new directions in key areas of Church organization and stewardship. While the adopted measures would prove to need future emendation to match the ever-developing life of the Church, they ultimately brought about lasting positive change in Church administrative polity.
Written by Alexis Liberovsky
OCA Archivist, Director of the Department of History and Archives.
Council Addresses and Sermons
Address to the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church
by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
- New OCA Statute becomes effective November 1
- Metropolitan Council concludes fall session, passes 2016 budget
- Metropolitan Council fall session to be held September 21-24
- 18th All-American Council Minutes, PowerPoint presentations, posted
- "Quick Guide to AAC Media" now features 360° panoramic tours
- 89th FOCA Convention an "historic first!"
- Youth share their "Dream for the Church" at closing AAC Plenary Session
- Metropolitan Onufry recalls St. Tikhon's ministry during banquet address
- AAC delegates express solidarity, support for suffering in Middle East
- Metropolitan Tikhon addresses OCA Stewards
- AAC delegates hear reports on External Affairs, chaplaincies, departments
- Keeping up with the Council: Audios and videos available
- Delegates pass Finance Resolution by vote of 451-14-17
- AAC delegates adopt Statute revision in 473-15 vote
- Metropolitan Tikhon, OCA Chancellor and Secretary, address AAC opening plenary session
- 18th All-American Council formally opens Monday, July 20
- IN THE NEWS: AAC liturgical services and music, youth program, new publication
- New Ministry Resource article deals with addictions beyond alcoholism
- Registration for 18th All-American Council closes
- Canons, Statute Commission releases final report on proposed Statute revision
- Holy Synod, Metropolitan Council approve revised Finance Resolution
- Pastoral Life Colloquium synopsis available
- July 10 marks deadline for AAC registrations
- Pension Board holds quarterly meeting, announces AAC events
- AAC reports now available; hotel deadline June 26
- Holy Synod concludes annual retreat
- AAC hotel fully booked, additional venue now available
- AAC hotel reservation deadline fast approaching
- June 15 deadline announced for placing ads in FOCA, 18th AAC commemorative book
- 18th AAC Delegate Handbook now available