AAC delegates hear reports on External Affairs, chaplaincies, departments

18th AAC

On Wednesday morning, July 22, 2015, the fourth Plenary Session of the 18th All-American Council, attended by 562 delegates and observers, opened with the singing of “Memory Eternal” in remembrance of the late Protopresbyter John Meyendorff, former Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, on the 23rd anniversary of his repose.

The bulk of the session was devoted to reports on External Affairs, chaplaincies, the Strategic Plan, and the departments of the Orthodox Church in America.

External Affairs and Interchurch Relations.  While Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of the Office of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, was unable to be present due to health concerns, delegates watch a video of his report.  He outlined the many visits His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon has made since his election as Primate and spoke of the work being done in the inter-Orthodox and ecumenical arenas.  Following the report, His Grace, Bishop Alexander and Dr. Paul Meyendorff fielded questions from the floor. 

Strategic Planning.  Priest John Vitko reported on the work of the Strategic Planning Committee, noting that all ten areas of Church life that had been identified in the Plan. as adopted at the 16th All-American Council in Seattle, WA, have been addressed.  He reported that the committee, which has completed its work, will disband.

Military Chaplaincies.  Archpriests Theodore Boback and Joseph Gallick reported on the work of the Office of Military and VA Chaplains, emphasizing the important work that chaplains perform on behalf of the Orthodox Christians serving in the armed forces.  In particular, Father Gallick recognized those who had served in the United States military during the various wars and conflicts since World War II.

Institutional Chaplaincies.  Archpriest Steven Voytovich reported on the work of the Office of Institutional Chaplaincies, which supports the ministries of those clergy and laypeople who serve in hospital and institutional settings.

Reports also were given by the following OCA Departments.

Diocesan presentations continued with videos showcasing the Dioceses of the Midwest and New York and New Jersey and the OCA’s Toledo-based Bulgarian Diocese.  His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest highlighted a number of ministries and parish initiatives that demonstrate ways to “Expand the Mission.”  His Eminence, Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey related how parishes and institutions in his diocese are addressing outreach and evangelism on the local level.  His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo described the history of the Bulgarian Diocese, adding ways it is making the transition from a narrowly ethnic community to a broader, more inclusive pan-Orthodox community.

While the Resolution on Spiritual Abuse will not be considered until Thursday, July 23, the Chair invited Dr. Jennifer McClure, the resolution’s author, to address the issue as she will be unable to be present for tomorrow’s deliberations.

On Wednesday afternoon, delegates and observers attended their choice of ten different workshops on topics ranging from Clergy Self Help and Parish Finances to Preaching on Campuses and the Use of the Web.  The workshops will also be offered on Thursday afternoon to allow participants to participate in multiple sessions.

Wednesday’s schedule will come to an end with a reception for current and potential members of the “Stewards of the OCA,” at which Metropolitan Tikhon will address attendees.