With the blessing of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary of the Orthodox Church in America, issued a memorandum to the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council, updating both bodies on the development of the Church’s strategic vision process.
The development of a strategic plan for the Orthodox Church in America was among the recommendations offered by the OCA’s Special Investigating Committee, which published its report in September 2008. In November 2008, the recommendation was approved by delegates to the OCA’s 15th All-American Council.
“The strategic planning process was discussed by members of the Metropolitan Council at their meeting in February 2009,” said Fr. Eric. “It has also been an ongoing topic of discussion for the Holy Synod since the All-American Council, most recently at its 2009 Spring Session, March 31-April 2.”
Fr. Eric’s memo reads as follows.
“This memo was prepared at the request of the Office of the Metropolitan Jonah to update the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council on the current Strategic Vision process.
“Background material on strategic planning processes was given to both the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council by an initial Strategic Planning Committee (Dr. Dmitri Solodow, Protodeacon Peter Danilchick and Deacon John Zarras) at their December 29, 2008 and February 20, 2009 meetings respectfully. Metropolitan JONAH appointed the initial committee in order that our Church in advancing its work into the future would properly introduce the process of strategic planning for consideration. The Holy Synod accepted this introductory process material. See the referenced PowerPoint for the exact presentation.
“In addition to the aforementioned presentations the Holy Synod has also discussed the Strategic Vision during their meetings in Mexico during the week of January 28, 2009 and again in Colorado Springs in February 24-27, 2009. During these meetings, the vision and theme from the Holy Synod’s perspective was further explored and developed.
“Included in this ongoing process thus far are the papers presented by His Beatitude at different gatherings. These papers are available on both the OCA website and from different meetings. These papers, serving as background material, include: Creativity and Tradition; Where Do We Go From Here; Vision, Vocation, Mission and Identity; Episcopacy, Primacy and the Mother Churches: A Time of Crisis and Opportunity. The last paper was the address to the Metropolitan Council at its last meeting. Currently, there is a paper being worked on by His Beatitude that will build, in detail, on the concepts outlined in the recent Metropolitan Council address. This will be released with other statements following the Holy Synod meeting from March 31 to April 1, 2009.
“Another part of the developing process is a request by the Office of the Metropolitan for the Holy Synod and as many members as possible from the Metropolitan Council, especially the members of the newly created Strategic Planning Committee, to attend the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Summer Institute from June 18-20, 2009. This Summer Institute will focus on the 1917 Council and the Tomos of Autocephaly in 1970. These subjects are very timely and will serve as further background material for the Strategic Planning process. The Holy Synod will be attending as this will be an important part of the discussion on the Strategic Vision. It is hoped that, at the very least, as many members of the Metropolitan Council Strategic Planning Committee also be in attendance at this Summer Institute. The historic 1917 Russian Orthodox Council has served as the foundation of the conciliar structure of our Church that includes clergy and laity in decision-making.
“The Strategic Planning Committee during the course of the Summer Institute will meet to frame the critical issues requiring input from a broad group of ecclesial experts that will further facilitate the strategic planning process. Assistance in formulating the issues and identifying ecclesial experts will be sought from among some of the presenters and attendees at the Summer Institute.
“An outcome of this Strategic Planning Committee meeting will be the call for a second conference to be scheduled in early fall, that will have as presenters, an international group of theologians, canonists, historians, and legal experts to engage with each other the subject of a proper ecclesiology for the Church in 21st Century North America in keeping with the received Tradition of the Church and appropriate for the present modern cultural setting. St. Vladimir’s Seminary can host this conference. It is expected that presenters of papers and participants in the discussions will come from North American experts in the fields cited from the OCA, GOA and AOCA and other Orthodox jurisdictions in America, as well as from Greek and Russian institutions from abroad. This conference as well should have as many members of the Strategic Planning Committee and Holy Synod in attendance as well, scheduling permitting.
“Soon following this second conference at St. Vladimir’s, a second meeting before the fall meetings of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council will be scheduled for the Strategic Planning Committee at which time they will begin the task of assimilating the material from both St. Vladimir’s conferences and refining a process for bringing the Strategic Planning effort forward to the Dioceses of our Church. For proper and meaningful engagement of the entire Church in the process requires a thoughtful framing of all the issues, an assembling of the appropriate study materials and a request for responses back to the Strategic Planning Committee for their further refinement of the process. It is the desire of the Holy Synod that distribution, discussion and communication of materials to and from the parishes and institutions of the Church be facilitated by the Dioceses with the assistance of the Strategic Planning Committee.
“It is expected that the Strategic Planning Committee will deliver a status report to the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council at their fall meetings to invite further discussion and input based on the work accomplished in the initial stages during this summer.
“Hopefully, this systematic and all inclusive preparatory approach to the Strategic Planning Process will serve as a strong foundation for engaging the issues put forth by the SIC and serve as the motivator for the entire process, as we are guided to do the work of the Gospel in the years ahead in our land in accordance with His Will.”
“The following chart basically outlines the process.
Current Methodology that has been adopted
(Refer to PowerPoint presented to Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council)
1. Articulate Vision and Core Values (current step to late Summer/early Fall)
- HS Meetings since December and the recent MC meeting
- Papers by His Beatitude including upcoming paper
- Upcoming HS meeting
- Upcoming SVOTS Institute
- Gathering of MC Committee to discuss issues for the follow up conference in early Fall
- Gathering of identified experts in various areas to address identified issues
- Follow up conference in early Fall
- Second meeting of Planning Committee to assemble information
- This information is presented at fall joint meeting of Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council
- Identify strategy and goals for Diocesan discussion and conference
- This information is to be brought back to the Dioceses for discussion by Diocesan Council and parishes. Possible presentations at upcoming Diocesan Assemblies
- Feedback from this to be brought back to the Strategic Planning Committee for assimilation and presentation to the HS and MC for discussion
2. Design Implementing Goals and Strategies (by Fall)
- By the Summer, there should be a clear idea of the issues that are in need of critical discussion, the needed areas for expert discussion, the procedures for further discussion and the process to move forward
- Meeting of HS to discuss results of discussions through Summer and set goals for the next steps
- Initial gathering of Strategic Planning Committee
- A conference of experts, Metropolitan Council members and Holy Synod
- Gathering of the MC to discuss strategies and goals of the next steps
- Gathering of experts to discuss issues
- Joint session of Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council
- Discussions facilitated by hierarchs and MC at local diocesan assemblies
- Create Underlying Culture and Leadership (Through Fall and Winter)
- Discussions at HS level
- Discussions at MC level
- Discussions at Diocese level and this is the point of discussion for the parishes
- Results are returned through the diocese to the Strategic Planning Committee and the HS and MC.
- Build Structure and Processes
- Major questions that will need to be discussed:
- What is the role and relationship of the Metropolitan
- Office of the Metropolitan (formerly referred to as the Central or National Church)
- Holy Synod
- Metropolitan Council
- All-American Council
- How is each to operate with each other
- How are each funded.
- What are the limits and scopes of each
- How do they relate with one another.
- How does the Statute look to define these
3. Rewrite Statute
- 16th All-American Council for Approval (Summer 2011)”