Second day of 15th All-American Council: Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The second day of the OCA’s 15th All-American Council, Tuesday, November 11, 2008, began with a hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South, Locum tenens of the Metropolitan See, together with His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania and Locum tenens of the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania, and His Grace, Bishop Alejo of Mexico City and the Exarchate of Mexico. At the end of the Liturgy, in honor of Veterans Day in the USA and Remembrance Day in Canada, both of which fall on November 11, hierarchs and military chaplains celebrated a Memorial Litiya for all of those who had fallen in battle and all veterans of military conflicts who have gone to their rest.

Later in the morning, Council participants were saddened to learn of the repose that morning of Archpriest Stephen Karaffa, rector of Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Burr Ridge, IL, who was attending the All-American Council at the time he fell asleep in the Lord. A Memorial Litiya was served for Fr. Stephen at the beginning of the Council’s afternoon session by His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania.

Council sessions during the day were devoted to a review of the report and recommendations of the OCA’s Special Investigating Committee [SIC] that was charged with looking into past failures in leadership and in responsible financial management at the OCA Chancery. His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, SIC Chair, and other members of the committee lead these sessions, during which other hierarchs sat among the faithful rather than at a head table. Council participants engaged in a frank, open and respectful dialogue about the SIC’s work, which can be read in their report here. The SIC’s reports to the All-American Council can also be heard on Ancient Faith Radio, the OCAs official media partner for the Council, here.

In the evening, All-American Council participants heard reports from three of the four OCA Chancery administrative team members—Chancellor, Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, Secretary, Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, and Director of Ministries and Communications, Archpriest Andrew Jarmus. Each chancery officer gave a summary of their written reports to the Council, which can be read here. The report of the fourth administrative team member, Treasurer, Priest Michael Tassos, is scheduled for the afternoon of Wednesday, November 12.

Audio recordings of the Special Investigating Committee and Chancery administrative team reports by Ancient Faith Radio may be downloaded on the 15th All-American Council web page.

At the end of the day, hierarchs responded to questions that had be formulated the previous evening during a discussion of the Town Hall Meetings that were held in preparation for the Council. His Grace, Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth addressed a number of the questions on behalf of the Holy Synod. He emphasized that in the OCA the days of leadership by intimidation were over. Christian leadership, His Grace stressed, is based in love, and obedience to leadership is cooperation out of love and respect. “Authority is responsibility. Authority is accountability. It’s not power,” Bishop Jonah stated. His Grace also said that members of the Church must put aside feelings of bitterness, acknowledging that these emotions are harmful to oneself and to others—especially to those who are closest. Instead, Bishop Jonah said, the Church’s clergy and faithful must choose to move forward in love. His Grace, Bishop Jonah’s presentation to the All-American Council can be heard on Ancient Faith Radio here.

Among the other hierarchs giving responses to delegate’s questions was His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston, New England and the Albanian Archdiocese who spoke of the need to nurture unity within the Church, stressing that this unity was critical before unity with other Orthodox jurisdictions could be built. His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romain Episcopate spoke about ongoing dialogue between the Episcopate and the Patriarchate of Romania, examining the possibility of uniting all Romanian Orthodox in North America into one autonomous Church body. In a short concluding statement to this session, His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania stressed that the most important ask before the clergy and faithful of the OCA was to “seek the light and allow the Lord to act.” Recordings of these presentations will also be available shortly on Ancient Faith Radio.

The 15th All-AMerican Council of the Orthodox Church in America will continue the morning of Wednesday, November 12. After a hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Grace, Bishop Jonah, Council delegates will convene in special session for the election of a new Metropolitan of All America and Canada.