Strategic Planning Committee meets in DC area, identifies goals and objectives

Members of the Orthodox Church in America’s Strategic Planning Committee met at Saint Luke Church here April 13-15, 2010 to develop an initial draft of special goals and objectives for the Church as it moves into the future.

In the absence of the committee’s chair, Archpriest Robert Arida, the meeting was chaired by Archpriest Alexis Vinogradov. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah participated in the summary session on the final day.

The meeting opened with a review of the OCA’s strengths and weaknesses for the purpose of identifying specific opportunities and needs. Objectives for accomplishing 11 major goals for witnessing within the local parish community, the “greater” Church, and the world at large were then identified.

With regard to the local parish community, committee members stressed the importance of replacing a “business-as-usual” mentality with a vision rooted in the Gospel. The revitalization of parish sacramental, liturgical, and devotional life and ministry and the need to reenergize the bond between the hierarchy, the clergy and the laity, were also emphasized. “Investing” in the parish’s young people was seen as critical to building up the community.

In the area of witnessing on the Church-wide level, the organization of effective parish/diocesan/territorial interactions and administration was seen by committee members as critical. The establishment of personal working relationships with other Orthodox Churches with the intent of realizing a united Orthodox Church in North America also was seen as a key element in this regard.

Intensifying continuing education for clergy and laity alike, coupled with addressing the needs and issues that preoccupy today’s cultural and moral climate, were identified as central to witnessing to the Church’s witness in the world. The importance of fostering evangelization, outreach, and ministry on all levels of Church life was seen as crucial in this area.

Committee members concluded the meeting by outlining specific things that could be done to accomplish these and other identified goals.

“This first draft of potential goals and objectives for the OCA is only a starting point for soliciting input from the Church as a whole—the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan Council, the dioceses and parishes, and ultimately the All-American Council,” said Archpriest Eric Tosi, OCA Secretary. “During the meeting we looked for ‘early wins’—objectives that can be accomplished quickly, say in the next year, or that could have a major impact. One example of this is telling ‘Our Story’— the story of each of our parishes and our forbearers who made them possible—as well as completing a video project on the Alaskan saints. By looking at our past, we get a better understanding of who we are and of how with faith our forbearers were able to do things that to man would seem impossible, yet with God are indeed possible.”

In addition to Metropolitan Jonah and Fathers Alexis and Eric, Archpriests Theodore Boback and Michael Oleksa; Priest John Vitko; Protodeacon Peter Danilchick; Deacon John Zarras; and David Grier attended the meeting. Eleana Silk participated by phone, while Dr. Dmitri Solodow participated via e-mail.