The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America concluded its fall session on Thursday, October 17, 2013. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, chaired the session, which opened two days earlier.
According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, in addition to hearing the reports of the Chancellor, Secretary and Treasurer, the members of the Holy Synod took the following actions and decisions.
- The members of the Holy Synod elected Archimandrite David [Mahaffey] as Bishop of Sitka and Alaska upon the recommendation of Archbishop Benjamin. [See related article here.]
- Holy Synod members reviewed the revised Policies, Standards and Procedures of on Sexual Misconduct [PSP] as proposed by the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee [SMPAC]. After making a number of revisions, the PSP was approved as revised. They also reviewed the current SMPAC Charter and made appropriate revision thereto. At the request of Metropolitan Tikhon, the following were approved as interim SMPAC members until the spring 2014 session of the Holy Synod: Archpriests Theodore Bobosh. Alexander Garklavs, John Jillions [ex officio, Chancellor, Chair], and Eric Tosi [ex officio, Secretary]; Protodeacon Peter Danilchick; and Cindy Davis [ex officio, ORSMA Coordinator], Robert Koory, Esq., Dr. Albert Rossi, and Bernard Wilson.
- It was decided that the position of Coordinator of the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations [ORSMA], held by Cindy Davis, will become a full-time salaried position, effective immediately. The recommendation was made by the Director of the ORSMA, Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor. The bishops also discussed various operational issues in investigations and procedures.
- The following were approved as members of the Commission on Canons and Statutes: His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, Chair; Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Secretary; Archpriests John Erickson and David Brum; and Priest Ioan Cozma.
- The bishops heard and approved the request of Metropolitan Tikhon to create a task force to review and revise the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America in preparation for the 18th All-American Council in 2015 and discussed its membership and mandate.
- The texts and order of two memorial services for pre-born infants—one that may be celebrated shortly after death, the other a funeral service—were approved for liturgical use upon the recommendation of His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin.
- The bishops heard presentations by Donna Karabin, who chairs the Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid, and Priest John Parker, who chairs the Department of Evangelization, highlighting recent ministries and activities. Missions and Evangelism.
- His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon was appointed Synodal Liaison for the Legal Committee of the Metropolitan Council. Liaisons for the Metropolitan Council committees remain in effect. The Holy Synod appointed the following liaisons to the departments: His Grace, Bishop Mark, Ministries Coordinator and Pastoral Life and Ministry; Archbishop Benjamin, Christian Education; His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek, Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid; Archbishop Nathaniel, Continuing Education; His Grace, Bishop Michael, Evangelization; His Grace, Bishop Alexander, External Affairs; Archbishop Nikon, Institutional Chaplaincies; His Grace, Bishop Irenee, Liturgical Music and Translations; Bishop Irineu, Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry; and Metropolitan Tikhon, Military Chaplaincies.
- The bishops heard a detailed report by Father Tosi concerning preliminary plans for the 18th All-American Council. The recommendation of the Metropolitan Council—that the 18th AAC be held in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015—was approved. Holy Synod members also offered direction with regard to the AAC theme, program and related events. The following were approved as members of the Preconciliar Commission: Bishop Mark, Synodal Chair; Archpriests Alexander Fecanin, Local Clergy Chair; John Jillions, Chancellor; Leonid Kishkovsky, External Affairs; Myron Manzuk, Council Manager; and Eric Tosi, Council Supervisor; Priest Benjamin Tucci, Council Youth Coordinator; Carol Deerson, Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America Representative; Peter Ilchuk, Logistics Manager; Lisa Mikhailevsky, Metropolitan Council Representative; and Melanie Ringa, Treasurer.
- Members of the Holy Synod reviewed and approved the 2014 budget after a detailed presentation by Melanie Ringa, Treasurer.
- They also heard the report of Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky of the Department of External Affairs on recent occurrences throughout the Orthodox world.
- In response to a request on the part of the Board of Trustees of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, the bishops appointed Bishop Michael as the seminary’s Rector. In a related matter, upon hearing the report of the Board of Theological Education, it was decided upon recommendation of Father Jillions that the Deans of the OCA’s three seminaries be invited to attend appropriate portions of the meetings of the Holy Synod when matters pertaining to theological education and the life of the seminaries are being reviewed. Further, upon the recommendation of Bishop Michael, it was decided that the Chancery staff should do preparatory work to reinstate the paid Parish Internship Program for OCA seminarians entering their senior year.
- Upon recommendation by Father Jillions, the bishops encouraged parishes to support the seminaries by allocating one percent of their budgets for seminary assistance, in line with a resolution to this effect adopted by delegates to the 16th All-American Council.
- The bishops reviewed and approved revisions to a number of documents, including Guidelines for the Ordination, Appointment and Transfer of Clergy; Oath of Allegiance to the Holy Priesthood and Diaconate; Statement of a Candidate for Ordination to the Holy Priesthood and Diaconate; Seminarian Guidelines and Checklist for Requesting Ordination; Guidelines and Checklist for Transfers; Form Letter Requesting Transfer; and Checklist for Transfer.
The members of the Holy Synod hosted His Grace, Bishop David of the Coptic Orthodox Church, for dinner on Wednesday evening. Bishop David updated the bishops on the current situation in Egypt and thanked the OCA for its continued and long-standing support of the Coptic Church in Egypt and beyond.
The next session of the Holy Synod of Bishops will be held March 18-21, 2014.