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serb1389
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« Reply #90 on: August 19, 2010, 04:41:27 PM »

For those who are more aware of these crisis situations, what can be done to improve the relationship between the Heirarchs and the laity?

It seems there have been 3 main avenues of thinking in this thread.
1. The Bishop is all powerful and the laity must obey.
2. This is America and the people rule.
3. The Church must work together and include ALL of her members in God's work.

If we are all in agreement on #3 as the preferred method then we can move forward to iron out the details. Unfortunately, we seem to still have people arguing in favor of #1 and #2.

I'm in the #1 camp.  

Naturally! You are an honorable person who takes his oaths seriously. In case you wondered, I am in the #3 camp partly to give more responsibility and commensurate authority to the lower clergy, such as priests and deacons. BTW, according to canon 34, no one bishop is all powerfull. And, even though they are the most powerful of the laos because the their special charisma, they should keep in mind the Holy Scriptures (Matthew 23 among others) as well as the astute observation by St John Chrysostom that the road to hell are paved by the skulls of priests and illumined by lamp posts made of the skulls of bishops.

PS: This is the final sentence I had written before I saw your admission that you were promoted: "As an aside, you seem to be safe for now, as I cannot find any similar warnings about deacons--lucky you! Cheesy." In any case, permit me a belated Axios! Which parish are you assigned to? I do not travel much but who knows, I may have the opportunity to visit and finally talk with you face to face and get your blessing.

Canon 34 of what?

I am the assistant priest at the Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland CA!  Come and take a vacation! 

www.groca.org



I have always dreamed of visiting San Francisco and environments. If I ever do, I'll swing by to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Oakland.  laugh

BTW,  I was referring to Apostolic Canon 34: "The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent... but neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all; for so there will be unanimity." So, each bishop is restrained by this canon (among others of course).

Right right right.  This is a basic canonical principle.  the one exists in the many and the many find their unity in the one.  This is also the bedrock of our ecclesiology.  I'm gonna dig up my notes when I get home b/c our professor really explained it very eloquently. 
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« Reply #91 on: August 19, 2010, 04:49:13 PM »

For those who are more aware of these crisis situations, what can be done to improve the relationship between the Heirarchs and the laity?

It seems there have been 3 main avenues of thinking in this thread.
1. The Bishop is all powerful and the laity must obey.
2. This is America and the people rule.
3. The Church must work together and include ALL of her members in God's work.

If we are all in agreement on #3 as the preferred method then we can move forward to iron out the details. Unfortunately, we seem to still have people arguing in favor of #1 and #2.

I'm in the #1 camp.  

Naturally! You are an honorable person who takes his oaths seriously. In case you wondered, I am in the #3 camp partly to give more responsibility and commensurate authority to the lower clergy, such as priests and deacons. BTW, according to canon 34, no one bishop is all powerfull. And, even though they are the most powerful of the laos because the their special charisma, they should keep in mind the Holy Scriptures (Matthew 23 among others) as well as the astute observation by St John Chrysostom that the road to hell are paved by the skulls of priests and illumined by lamp posts made of the skulls of bishops.

PS: This is the final sentence I had written before I saw your admission that you were promoted: "As an aside, you seem to be safe for now, as I cannot find any similar warnings about deacons--lucky you! Cheesy." In any case, permit me a belated Axios! Which parish are you assigned to? I do not travel much but who knows, I may have the opportunity to visit and finally talk with you face to face and get your blessing.

Canon 34 of what?

I am the assistant priest at the Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland CA!  Come and take a vacation! 

www.groca.org



also you might be better served with:


 "But since the bishop ought to be engaged wholly in the work of taking care of
souls and has no time left to look after such things, he ought, with the consent of
all the priesthood, according to Canon X of Theophilos, appoint a steward from
among his clergy in order to manage such property of the church, including
movables and immovables, in order to prevent them from being scattered and ill
spent, according to Canon XXVI of the 4th Ecumenical Synod." (pg 294 of the electronic version of the Rudder)

" Likewise the patriarch is to have permission to appoint a steward to have
charge of the property of the metropolis, in case the metropolitan is unwilling to
appoint him, according to Canon XI of the 7th Ecumenical Synod."  (Ibid)





Actually, this idea of unburdening the hierarchy of worldly concerns started way back in the Book of Acts. You know our faith is not illogical (except when we cling to outdated practices); for example, do you know of any specific requirements related to handling of real estate, finances, investments, nonprofit law, human resources, planning, etc... when one is being trained or considered for the priesthood or the episcopacy? I think the answer would be no, as most people simply do not have the talent, knowledge or experience to be jacks of all trades. When the Church and the State had their VERY close relations, the state functionaries took care of the worldly stuff. Before we became a state religion, it did not really matter as we were expecting not to be around for that long. Anyway, I just visited your website and you live up to your name, which I think may be translated as "fearless." Am I right?

Actually you'd be surprised what kinds of classes we take at seminary these days.  I don't know like SUPER specifics, but we covered every one of those topics you listed in our "parish administration" class for my MDiv.  Also, on a personal note, i'm dealing with all of these things first hand now, and we have parishioners who are very well versed in these fields who are "on the job training" me about all these things (which actually supports your point...but anyway). 

Yes you are correct, my name means "fearless" or "the one without fear" but more specifically i'm named after a Serbian Fold Hero, who is harder to find on Google than typing in the word "and" ...lol (as I just found out). 

Also, I wanted to mention that I found this interesting tid-bit from St. Ambrose of Milan (who I actually wrote a paper about in the articles section of the site btw):

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf210.iv.i.ii.i.html
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« Reply #92 on: August 19, 2010, 04:55:40 PM »

Following your logic of complete obedience to the bishop's office, would you have likewised obeyed the Temple leaders or followed Christ??

Today, do you obey the bishop or Christ. Is your father God in heaven or a man here on Earth?

If your bishop was doing something you know to be wrong ie molesting retarded boys, would you still obey him blindly?

It is easy to make everything out to be black and white and to follow the letter of the law unquestioning. But this is not the message of Jesus in the New Testament.

If you loved your Bishop would you not try to help him be a better Christian? Where is your voice, your tharos, your spirit to speak the truth! It is so easy to be everyones friend and to be obedient to your bishop. But what service do you do them if they lose their souls. 

In math to prove something is true you must prove that it can't be false. Try to take the opposite view point and find a circumstance were it would be true. If there would ever be a circumstance in which you would not obey your bishop then it is not true that you should always obey your bishop. I'm sure you feel this in your heart also.

There comes a time when the temple should be cleaned out. You have an excellent Bishop serving in San Fransisco (who I have had the pleasure of meeting) and thus can't imagine a need to improve. Other regions are not so lucky.

When someone comes to you and says they have a problem with their clergy, bishop, etc. Please listen to them and really ponder their concerns and don't be in such a hurry to find fault with them. That sort of thinking cost the Church dearly in the past and continues to plague the Roman Catholic Church today.

Dart,

Your response here seems very impassioned to me.  If that is the case then I truly am very sorry to have led you into any kind of reaction such as this.  Please forgive me. 

Perhaps I should clarify.  Most of the things that I say, I mean.  However, those who have been posting with me for the past few years have come to realize that every once in a while (well...maybe more often than not) I say things just to have an interesting conversation.  This happens to be one of the times when I am doing both (I know..it can get rather confusing..lol) 

I agree with you that we should have the "tharos" to stand up for things that are right, and to point out things that are wrong.  Believe me...i'm usually the first person to do these things. 

My issue with your model is that people are usually the FIRST to point out your line of reasoning.  Every point you have made is probably made out of examples of where you know bishops or priests to do the wrong thing. 

I am trying to show that:

a)  maybe we should start with learning obedience first, before we can be the ones to point out anything to a bishop or priest (or anyone else for that matter)

b)  There is spiritual benefit to being obedient to our bishops and priests (or anyone else). 

Of course I do agree with you that there are limits, and we do have to live in the real world, but I feel that this is a "decision" or a type of "discernment" that happens only after we have truly spiritually experienced true obedience and the love that obedience can grant us.  This is just my take on it. 

I hope I have clarified.  Again, please forgive me if I have confused you or upset you in any way. 
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« Reply #93 on: August 19, 2010, 05:46:28 PM »

Serb1389,

So you begin with the preconceived notion that I lack obedience before ever getting to know me. lol

This reminds me of the first time I was in California. I was serving in the infantry and we had been sent to NTC for training. The monitors of the exercise posted flags up to simulate land mines that had been deployed by a rocket launch. I was in the lead vehicle and told are sargeant there are mines ahead.
He said yeah I see them too but LT told us to advance.
But sargeant we are all going to get killed.
Yes, we are all going to die. That's LT's order.
The monitor stops the convoy. Look around you guys. Your in a minefield. Your all dead.
Sargeant says, "Not my fault I was following orders."
I died 5 times in 8 days. I was such an obedient soldier.

It could have been worse. It could have been a spiritual death.
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« Reply #94 on: August 19, 2010, 05:58:01 PM »

For those who are more aware of these crisis situations, what can be done to improve the relationship between the Heirarchs and the laity?

It seems there have been 3 main avenues of thinking in this thread.
1. The Bishop is all powerful and the laity must obey.
2. This is America and the people rule.
3. The Church must work together and include ALL of her members in God's work.

If we are all in agreement on #3 as the preferred method then we can move forward to iron out the details. Unfortunately, we seem to still have people arguing in favor of #1 and #2.

I'm in the #1 camp.  

Naturally! You are an honorable person who takes his oaths seriously. In case you wondered, I am in the #3 camp partly to give more responsibility and commensurate authority to the lower clergy, such as priests and deacons. BTW, according to canon 34, no one bishop is all powerfull. And, even though they are the most powerful of the laos because the their special charisma, they should keep in mind the Holy Scriptures (Matthew 23 among others) as well as the astute observation by St John Chrysostom that the road to hell are paved by the skulls of priests and illumined by lamp posts made of the skulls of bishops.

PS: This is the final sentence I had written before I saw your admission that you were promoted: "As an aside, you seem to be safe for now, as I cannot find any similar warnings about deacons--lucky you! Cheesy." In any case, permit me a belated Axios! Which parish are you assigned to? I do not travel much but who knows, I may have the opportunity to visit and finally talk with you face to face and get your blessing.

Canon 34 of what?

I am the assistant priest at the Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland CA!  Come and take a vacation!  

www.groca.org



also you might be better served with:


 "But since the bishop ought to be engaged wholly in the work of taking care of
souls and has no time left to look after such things, he ought, with the consent of
all the priesthood, according to Canon X of Theophilos, appoint a steward from
among his clergy in order to manage such property of the church, including
movables and immovables, in order to prevent them from being scattered and ill
spent, according to Canon XXVI of the 4th Ecumenical Synod." (pg 294 of the electronic version of the Rudder)

" Likewise the patriarch is to have permission to appoint a steward to have
charge of the property of the metropolis, in case the metropolitan is unwilling to
appoint him, according to Canon XI of the 7th Ecumenical Synod."  (Ibid)





Actually, this idea of unburdening the hierarchy of worldly concerns started way back in the Book of Acts. You know our faith is not illogical (except when we cling to outdated practices); for example, do you know of any specific requirements related to handling of real estate, finances, investments, nonprofit law, human resources, planning, etc... when one is being trained or considered for the priesthood or the episcopacy? I think the answer would be no, as most people simply do not have the talent, knowledge or experience to be jacks of all trades. When the Church and the State had their VERY close relations, the state functionaries took care of the worldly stuff. Before we became a state religion, it did not really matter as we were expecting not to be around for that long. Anyway, I just visited your website and you live up to your name, which I think may be translated as "fearless." Am I right?

Actually you'd be surprised what kinds of classes we take at seminary these days.  I don't know like SUPER specifics, but we covered every one of those topics you listed in our "parish administration" class for my MDiv.  Also, on a personal note, i'm dealing with all of these things first hand now, and we have parishioners who are very well versed in these fields who are "on the job training" me about all these things (which actually supports your point...but anyway).  

Yes you are correct, my name means "fearless" or "the one without fear" but more specifically i'm named after a Serbian Fold Hero, who is harder to find on Google than typing in the word "and" ...lol (as I just found out).  

Also, I wanted to mention that I found this interesting tid-bit from St. Ambrose of Milan (who I actually wrote a paper about in the articles section of the site btw):

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf210.iv.i.ii.i.html

May be the problem is in thinking that candidates for the MDiv have the sort of background and experience that would allow them to become trained in parish administration in just one class. Think of it; if this fact was widely known, folks would flock to our seminaries instead of taking 4-6 year degrees in business.  Wink

If as St Ambrose says the main office of a bishop is to teach, why are we having a discussion? Choice #3 is the only way to go. Seriously though, I do not think that anyone here is trying to say that the bishop is not the head of the local church. He is in many ways similar to a CEO/President of a corporation, a military commander, a governor or the President of the United States. Just like the foregoing worthies, he is responsible for his sphere and must have the authority that goes along with the responsibility. However, each of these worthies are bound by law, regulations, and industry standards? Why is that? Because we expect and demand that those who are put in positions of power are not given unrestricted freedom. Perhaps the problem is that those of us who want the Ignatian model to be actually be put into effect strike fear in those who think we represent a reincarnation of the Living Church. It could also be that some (many?) of the laity are perfectly content in sitting back and having the clergy do all of the work. I submit to you that the situation that we find ourselves in will do nothing but engender decay. The laity must be given ministries, must be empowered as partners in the work of the Church, to keep them in the Church. Most assuredly the laity will be the most junior partners one can imagine, but they and the Church will be better off if we all share in the responsibility of discipleship. "Pray, pay and obey" is not indicative of a true Christian disciple.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2010, 06:15:26 PM by Second Chance » Logged

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serb1389
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« Reply #95 on: August 20, 2010, 01:27:11 AM »

Serb1389,

So you begin with the preconceived notion that I lack obedience before ever getting to know me. lol

This reminds me of the first time I was in California. I was serving in the infantry and we had been sent to NTC for training. The monitors of the exercise posted flags up to simulate land mines that had been deployed by a rocket launch. I was in the lead vehicle and told are sargeant there are mines ahead.
He said yeah I see them too but LT told us to advance.
But sargeant we are all going to get killed.
Yes, we are all going to die. That's LT's order.
The monitor stops the convoy. Look around you guys. Your in a minefield. Your all dead.
Sargeant says, "Not my fault I was following orders."
I died 5 times in 8 days. I was such an obedient soldier.

It could have been worse. It could have been a spiritual death.

i'm sorry...maybe I missed something I wrote.  Where did I accuse you of anything?

If you take a look at my language from the post above, you'll see that I left the language specificly open and general, instead of specific, b/c my reflection was meant for everyone, not you in particular. 

Maybe I missed something though...please let me know so that I can address it. 

Also, I was wondering if you would care to elaborate on what other affects that obedience may have had on you.  Were there positive affects of any kind?  kathardic affects?  anything else other than what you described. 
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« Reply #96 on: August 20, 2010, 05:03:21 AM »

I completely agree with you Second Chance. Our Church needs clergy imbued with the Holy Spirit. Prophets, missionaries, evangelists. It seems we are instead getting professionals who are looking for a job. People who want to manage and administrate.

If only our clergy were the vessel of the Holy Spirit that they were meant to be, I would follow them anywhere. Instead, we get beaurocrats.

Where are the children of God to replace these childish heretics?



(If you take a look at my language from the post above, you'll see that I left the language specificly open and general, instead of specific, b/c my reflection was meant for everyone, not you in particular. )
By pointing out a given in an arguement - ie virtue of obedience or clergy being holy, you also imply that in the matter of the discussion it is lacking. And now you are in a double bind.

God's Church is united in brotherhood. Let's work together. We should not divide ourselves into classes. The old testament had the tribe of Levites but in the new covenant we all belong to the royal priesthood.
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« Reply #97 on: August 20, 2010, 09:41:20 AM »

What role should the laity play in selecting a priest for their parish?

 In the Orthodox model, the congregation does not own or run the individual parish or church. The property is the property of the bishop. The clergy are the extension of the bishop. The bishop alone decides who he will ordain and where he will serve.


Actually I don't know that I agree about this being the case in practice. The church property actually does belong to the people. The land and the building belong to the people, the liturgical items do not (e.g. gospel book, chalice, atimens, etc) but the vast majority of the rest belongs to the people.

This is incorrect in practice, in theology, in canon law, and in US law. The parish itself as a corporate entity -- not "the people" -- holds title to the property and acts as a steward (or an administrator) of the property. But its Parish Council, duly elected and approved by the Metropolitan, may only exercise its stewardship when and so long as it keeps, practices, and proclaims the Orthodox Christian Faith pure and undefiled "in accordance with the holy canons, the Archdiocesan Charter and Regulations promulgated thereunder, and, as to canonical and ecclesiastical matters, by the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese," (Article 15 of the UPR).

In all cases that I know of in which the Metropolitan has deemed that the Parish Council has failed to act accordingly, or tried to claim the property and building as its own, the Parish Council (which actually legally ceases to be the Parish Council in such cases) has lost in US courts of law. This is also true of similar cases in many different Christian churches (e.g. Episcopal, Roman Catholic, even Presbyterian).

So, in practice, the Metropolitan can and will dismiss errant Parish Councils and assume stewardship of the parish property under Article 16, as follows:

Quote
Sections 6: Based on the recommendation of the local Metropolitan, that a Parish is in heresy, schism, or defection from the Archdiocese, the Archbishop may declare the Parish in canonical disorder and may assume the administration of the Parish and control of its properties until the Archbishop, in consultation with the Metropolitan, declares the Parish to be in canonical order. In the event that the Archbishop, in consultation with the Metropolitan, determines that the Parish cannot be restored to canonical order, the title to properties shall vest in the Archdiocese. If under applicable law, title may not vest automatically in the Archdiocese, title shall vest in an ecclesiastical corporation controlled by the group of parishioners that the Archdiocese determines remains loyal to it. 
 
Section 7: In the event that a Parish is deemed to be in canonical disorder and title to the Parish properties is vested in the Archdiocese, the Archbishop and the respective Hierarch are authorized to sign any deed or other document as may be necessary.

My question is, what do you do if a bishop assigns a priest to a parish and the parish refuses to pay the priest?

In all cases I know of such issues are agreed upon between the bishop and the parish council before the assignment is made official, so it shouldn't be an issue. However, hypothetically, if an agreement can't be reached, the bishop would need to deal with all parties to come to a resolution. If that can't happen, the bishop has the authority to dismiss the parish council if need be, although I doubt that would happen unless there were more to the story.
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« Reply #98 on: August 20, 2010, 11:07:15 AM »

I completely agree with you Second Chance. Our Church needs clergy imbued with the Holy Spirit. Prophets, missionaries, evangelists. It seems we are instead getting professionals who are looking for a job. People who want to manage and administrate.

If only our clergy were the vessel of the Holy Spirit that they were meant to be, I would follow them anywhere. Instead, we get beaurocrats.

Where are the children of God to replace these childish heretics?



(If you take a look at my language from the post above, you'll see that I left the language specificly open and general, instead of specific, b/c my reflection was meant for everyone, not you in particular. )
By pointing out a given in an arguement - ie virtue of obedience or clergy being holy, you also imply that in the matter of the discussion it is lacking. And now you are in a double bind.

God's Church is united in brotherhood. Let's work together. We should not divide ourselves into classes. The old testament had the tribe of Levites but in the new covenant we all belong to the royal priesthood.

Dart--thanks for agreeing with me. I cannot say that I feel the same way about some parts of your post above. In my personal experience, I have been blessed with Spirit-imbued, non-bureaucratic bishops, priests and deacons. Also, in my personal experience, it has been extremely hard to involve most of the congregation in anything beyond "pray, pay and obey," and this not because of clerical expectations (although I know priests who have given up trying after a while). BTW, the "pay" aspect of the role of the laity must be seriously discussed because many Orthodox are simply not tithing funds as they should or giving of their time and talent (beyond church services) as they should. Historical reasons and inertia aside, at least half of the blame for the current state of affairs in Church governance must be placed at the feet of the laity IMHO (ED: added to satisfy Peter's sensibilities  Cheesy). I marvel at (I am awed by) the work of the Holy Spirit in our Holy Church, maintaining us the Body of Christ in spite of our warts and all.
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« Reply #99 on: August 20, 2010, 11:34:44 AM »

I completely agree with you Second Chance. Our Church needs clergy imbued with the Holy Spirit. Prophets, missionaries, evangelists. It seems we are instead getting professionals who are looking for a job. People who want to manage and administrate.

If only our clergy were the vessel of the Holy Spirit that they were meant to be, I would follow them anywhere. Instead, we get beaurocrats.

Where are the children of God to replace these childish heretics?



(If you take a look at my language from the post above, you'll see that I left the language specificly open and general, instead of specific, b/c my reflection was meant for everyone, not you in particular. )
By pointing out a given in an arguement - ie virtue of obedience or clergy being holy, you also imply that in the matter of the discussion it is lacking. And now you are in a double bind.

God's Church is united in brotherhood. Let's work together. We should not divide ourselves into classes. The old testament had the tribe of Levites but in the new covenant we all belong to the royal priesthood.

Correct, but I did not specify with WHOM it is lacking.  Just that it is (in general). 
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« Reply #100 on: August 23, 2010, 10:45:03 AM »

Quote
It could also be that some (many?) of the laity are perfectly content in sitting back and having the clergy do all of the work. I submit to you that the situation that we find ourselves in will do nothing but engender decay. The laity must be given ministries, must be empowered as partners in the work of the Church, to keep them in the Church. Most assuredly the laity will be the most junior partners one can imagine, but they and the Church will be better off if we all share in the responsibility of discipleship. "Pray, pay and obey" is not indicative of a true Christian disciple.

I'm sitting here trying to think of a single priest, much less bishop, who wouldn't be thrilled by having the laity as partners in ministry, instead of participants in rancorous parish council meetings that last until the wee hours.

The experiences you relate is so different from mine that we might be talking about two entirely different churches!

Most priests, in my observation and experience, are expected to do everything in the parish! And the laity sit back and let them.
Perhaps, and I'm just spitballing here, bishops would be more likely to include the laity if the laity were more likely to be partners in ministry in the parish?
(Also stewardship, as mentioned before, is a major factor, simply because most parishes are not used to the concept, but are rather used to paying the bills by means of the ethnic festival/fundraiser model.)
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« Reply #101 on: August 23, 2010, 11:14:47 AM »

What role should the laity play in selecting a priest for their parish?

 In the Orthodox model, the congregation does not own or run the individual parish or church. The property is the property of the bishop. The clergy are the extension of the bishop. The bishop alone decides who he will ordain and where he will serve.


Actually I don't know that I agree about this being the case in practice. The church property actually does belong to the people. The land and the building belong to the people, the liturgical items do not (e.g. gospel book, chalice, atimens, etc) but the vast majority of the rest belongs to the people.

This is incorrect in practice, in theology, in canon law, and in US law. The parish itself as a corporate entity -- not "the people" -- holds title to the property and acts as a steward (or an administrator) of the property. But its Parish Council, duly elected and approved by the Metropolitan, may only exercise its stewardship when and so long as it keeps, practices, and proclaims the Orthodox Christian Faith pure and undefiled "in accordance with the holy canons, the Archdiocesan Charter and Regulations promulgated thereunder, and, as to canonical and ecclesiastical matters, by the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese," (Article 15 of the UPR).

In all cases that I know of in which the Metropolitan has deemed that the Parish Council has failed to act accordingly, or tried to claim the property and building as its own, the Parish Council (which actually legally ceases to be the Parish Council in such cases) has lost in US courts of law. This is also true of similar cases in many different Christian churches (e.g. Episcopal, Roman Catholic, even Presbyterian).

So, in practice, the Metropolitan can and will dismiss errant Parish Councils and assume stewardship of the parish property under Article 16, as follows:

Quote
Sections 6: Based on the recommendation of the local Metropolitan, that a Parish is in heresy, schism, or defection from the Archdiocese, the Archbishop may declare the Parish in canonical disorder and may assume the administration of the Parish and control of its properties until the Archbishop, in consultation with the Metropolitan, declares the Parish to be in canonical order. In the event that the Archbishop, in consultation with the Metropolitan, determines that the Parish cannot be restored to canonical order, the title to properties shall vest in the Archdiocese. If under applicable law, title may not vest automatically in the Archdiocese, title shall vest in an ecclesiastical corporation controlled by the group of parishioners that the Archdiocese determines remains loyal to it. 
 
Section 7: In the event that a Parish is deemed to be in canonical disorder and title to the Parish properties is vested in the Archdiocese, the Archbishop and the respective Hierarch are authorized to sign any deed or other document as may be necessary.

My question is, what do you do if a bishop assigns a priest to a parish and the parish refuses to pay the priest?

In all cases I know of such issues are agreed upon between the bishop and the parish council before the assignment is made official, so it shouldn't be an issue. However, hypothetically, if an agreement can't be reached, the bishop would need to deal with all parties to come to a resolution. If that can't happen, the bishop has the authority to dismiss the parish council if need be, although I doubt that would happen unless there were more to the story.

You may very well be correct for Greek Churches, but in my experience with ACROD and OCA churches, this is certainly not the case. Churches in these jurisdictions have dissolution clauses which state that if the church dissolves the assets are to be split among the parishioners still in attendance at the time. This leads me to believe that ultimately the property belongs to the members of the parish.

-Nick
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« Reply #102 on: August 23, 2010, 11:19:53 AM »

What role should the laity play in selecting a priest for their parish?

 In the Orthodox model, the congregation does not own or run the individual parish or church. The property is the property of the bishop. The clergy are the extension of the bishop. The bishop alone decides who he will ordain and where he will serve.


Actually I don't know that I agree about this being the case in practice. The church property actually does belong to the people. The land and the building belong to the people, the liturgical items do not (e.g. gospel book, chalice, atimens, etc) but the vast majority of the rest belongs to the people.

This is incorrect in practice, in theology, in canon law, and in US law. The parish itself as a corporate entity -- not "the people" -- holds title to the property and acts as a steward (or an administrator) of the property. But its Parish Council, duly elected and approved by the Metropolitan, may only exercise its stewardship when and so long as it keeps, practices, and proclaims the Orthodox Christian Faith pure and undefiled "in accordance with the holy canons, the Archdiocesan Charter and Regulations promulgated thereunder, and, as to canonical and ecclesiastical matters, by the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese," (Article 15 of the UPR).

In all cases that I know of in which the Metropolitan has deemed that the Parish Council has failed to act accordingly, or tried to claim the property and building as its own, the Parish Council (which actually legally ceases to be the Parish Council in such cases) has lost in US courts of law. This is also true of similar cases in many different Christian churches (e.g. Episcopal, Roman Catholic, even Presbyterian).

So, in practice, the Metropolitan can and will dismiss errant Parish Councils and assume stewardship of the parish property under Article 16, as follows:

Quote
Sections 6: Based on the recommendation of the local Metropolitan, that a Parish is in heresy, schism, or defection from the Archdiocese, the Archbishop may declare the Parish in canonical disorder and may assume the administration of the Parish and control of its properties until the Archbishop, in consultation with the Metropolitan, declares the Parish to be in canonical order. In the event that the Archbishop, in consultation with the Metropolitan, determines that the Parish cannot be restored to canonical order, the title to properties shall vest in the Archdiocese. If under applicable law, title may not vest automatically in the Archdiocese, title shall vest in an ecclesiastical corporation controlled by the group of parishioners that the Archdiocese determines remains loyal to it. 
 
Section 7: In the event that a Parish is deemed to be in canonical disorder and title to the Parish properties is vested in the Archdiocese, the Archbishop and the respective Hierarch are authorized to sign any deed or other document as may be necessary.

My question is, what do you do if a bishop assigns a priest to a parish and the parish refuses to pay the priest?

In all cases I know of such issues are agreed upon between the bishop and the parish council before the assignment is made official, so it shouldn't be an issue. However, hypothetically, if an agreement can't be reached, the bishop would need to deal with all parties to come to a resolution. If that can't happen, the bishop has the authority to dismiss the parish council if need be, although I doubt that would happen unless there were more to the story.

You may very well be correct for Greek Churches, but in my experience with ACROD and OCA churches, this is certainly not the case. Churches in these jurisdictions have dissolution clauses which state that if the church dissolves the assets are to be split among the parishioners still in attendance at the time. This leads me to believe that ultimately the property belongs to the members of the parish.

-Nick

Apparently it depends on the individual parish by laws.

"The Parish Property
The parish or parish corporation is the sole owner of all parish property, assets, and funds. In administering them, however, the parishioners and the officers elected by them must always remember the religious nature, purposes, and goals of the parish and act as trustees of God's, not man's, property. The parish, as the whole Church, serves God and cares for God's work in the world, and all decisions concerning parish property must be inspired by that care and by the spiritual needs of the Church.
If the parish is abolished, its property is disposed of following the provisions of the parish bylaws. If no such provisions exist, the property is at the disposition of the Diocesan Authority. In all cases, the sacred and untouchable items: the Holy Antimension, the Tabernacle, and the Sacred Vessels, must be surrendered to the Diocesan Bishop. " OCA parish by laws
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« Reply #103 on: August 23, 2010, 11:29:17 AM »

With regard to Nick's comment regarding dissolution of ACROD or OCA parishes he is correct in that most of those early parishes of both were 'congregational' in terms of charter and property.  However, in most states, in order to dissolve a not-for-profit corporation, laws exist to prevent the residual assets of a dissolved not-for-profit from benefiting any individuals in their individual capacity. In New York for example, if the church is chartered as a not for profit see http://www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/charities2/faqs_dissolutions_new.html. In the NY dissolution of a religious corporation see https://www.weblaws.org/states/new_york/statutes/n.y._religious_corporations_law_sec._5
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« Reply #104 on: August 23, 2010, 12:35:00 PM »

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It could also be that some (many?) of the laity are perfectly content in sitting back and having the clergy do all of the work. I submit to you that the situation that we find ourselves in will do nothing but engender decay. The laity must be given ministries, must be empowered as partners in the work of the Church, to keep them in the Church. Most assuredly the laity will be the most junior partners one can imagine, but they and the Church will be better off if we all share in the responsibility of discipleship. "Pray, pay and obey" is not indicative of a true Christian disciple.

I'm sitting here trying to think of a single priest, much less bishop, who wouldn't be thrilled by having the laity as partners in ministry, instead of participants in rancorous parish council meetings that last until the wee hours.

The experiences you relate is so different from mine that we might be talking about two entirely different churches!

Most priests, in my observation and experience, are expected to do everything in the parish! And the laity sit back and let them.
Perhaps, and I'm just spitballing here, bishops would be more likely to include the laity if the laity were more likely to be partners in ministry in the parish?
(Also stewardship, as mentioned before, is a major factor, simply because most parishes are not used to the concept, but are rather used to paying the bills by means of the ethnic festival/fundraiser model.)

Seems that this all starts with the selection of the parish priest. If the laity are ignored at the start of the relationship, then ordered to give more money without a basis for trust that those funds are being used wisely, it should be no surprise to then find an uninspired laity. The biggest expense of a parish is generally the Priest and the laity are not given input into this most important selection.
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« Reply #105 on: August 23, 2010, 02:12:26 PM »

The biggest expense of a parish is generally the Priest and the laity are not given input into this most important selection.

Maybe in your parish, but not in most that I've seen, visited, or heard of: the building is expense #1, followed by the personnel (which is more than just the 1 priest).
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« Reply #106 on: August 23, 2010, 02:47:29 PM »

Seems that this all starts with the selection of the parish priest. If the laity are ignored at the start of the relationship, then ordered to give more money without a basis for trust that those funds are being used wisely, it should be no surprise to then find an uninspired laity. The biggest expense of a parish is generally the Priest and the laity are not given input into this most important selection.

YMMV, of course, but the laity are not ignored everywhere. On the contrary, they seem quite willing and able to make themselves heard. Secondly, why assume that, just because someone was not consulted personally about the details of the assignment of a priest, that there is financial dirty work at the crossroads?
If the laity truly want to be partners in ministry, then they should go to their parish priest and offer their time, talent, resources, skills and abilities in the service of their parish. No excuses.
Remember the old "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem"?
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« Reply #107 on: August 23, 2010, 03:07:23 PM »

Stand up here if you know how a coal-field Orthodox church is ran?  Yup, she ain't run anything like your manual may state. 
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« Reply #108 on: August 23, 2010, 04:23:34 PM »

With regard to Nick's comment regarding dissolution of ACROD or OCA parishes he is correct in that most of those early parishes of both were 'congregational' in terms of charter and property.  However, in most states, in order to dissolve a not-for-profit corporation, laws exist to prevent the residual assets of a dissolved not-for-profit from benefiting any individuals in their individual capacity. In New York for example, if the church is chartered as a not for profit see http://www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/charities2/faqs_dissolutions_new.html. In the NY dissolution of a religious corporation see https://www.weblaws.org/states/new_york/statutes/n.y._religious_corporations_law_sec._5


I do agree with this. According to the Federal rules on non-profits the assets must be donated to another charity in order for them to remain tax exempt otherwise they are taxed under the rules reserved for Unrelated Business Taxable Income. In Illinois there is no such dissolution clause as such there is a specific ACROD church of which I am quite familiar which has a clause in its parish by-laws stating that if the parish is dissolved the assets will be split among the remaining members of the parish at that time.

-Nick
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« Reply #109 on: August 23, 2010, 10:08:07 PM »

Let me get this straight. The heirarch assigns a priest. The parish council says, "we will be the ones working closely with this priest so can we interview him and show him around so he understands what our needs are and make sure we are a good match." Bishop says this is the priest you are getting or you can do without a priest.
So priest shows up and doesn't really like how things are running. He insults everyone. Drives the volunteers in the church away. And then wonders why he is the only one working on HIS AGENDA.

Alternate solution. Parish council gets to know priest first and vent out any major concerns. Priest comes on board a GOING MINISTRY which worked just fine before his arrival and eases into things. After adressing major concerns of parish and getting to know the parish he starts to build a consensus and slowly change a few people's minds. Then he builds on those first seeds and accomplishes his goals.

A priest should not be barking orders before he has even learned the names of the parishioners. No excuses.

Our buildings are all paid for. Biggest line item is priest salary for us, 6 figures.
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« Reply #110 on: August 23, 2010, 10:18:49 PM »

Admit to nothing, deny everything, issue counter charges. Very mature and productive response to constructive criticism.

Afraid if you give an inch they will take a mile. Understandably, you are afraid.

So how about humbling yourself to the Lord. "This is the correction of the Lord and He has sent it to heal my vain soul. And so we humbly thank you, honoured guest." Then by your ACTIONS you have demonstrated a willingness to listen to the laity and the discussion is over. But no, the Pope is infallible.

Maybe we should start there. Is it possible for a Bishop to make a mistake? Is it possible that in my personal experience the Bishop did not handle the parish council properly? Is it possible you are mistaken and I have a valid point?

Blind obedience to the infallible Pope......
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« Reply #111 on: August 24, 2010, 12:49:55 AM »

Dart, is there some reason you keep bringing up exceptionally extreme scenarios as if they were the rule?  I have trouble seeing how such extremism makes for constructive discussion.
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« Reply #112 on: August 24, 2010, 04:21:10 AM »

One man's extreme is another's reality apparently. It is just one scenario I have been speaking of, that of my real life situation.
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« Reply #113 on: August 24, 2010, 04:41:15 AM »

Dart, is there some reason you keep bringing up exceptionally extreme scenarios as if they were the rule?  I have trouble seeing how such extremism makes for constructive discussion.

Why does the Church preach about Christ and the Word of God? Seems like an extreme situation don't you think? Like what is that a once in a history of time event.
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« Reply #114 on: August 24, 2010, 05:01:33 AM »

Dart, is there some reason you keep bringing up exceptionally extreme scenarios as if they were the rule?  I have trouble seeing how such extremism makes for constructive discussion.

Why does the Church preach about Christ and the Word of God? Seems like an extreme situation don't you think? Like what is that a once in a history of time event.
I don't see the parallel.  Seems like a reductio ad absurdum and a non sequitur to me to associate the exceptional nature of your parish situation with the exceptional nature of the Gospel.

I'm sorry you experienced what happened to you and your parish, but I can tell you that such extreme situations are (hopefully) quite rare and not worth blowing up as if they were normal.  I'm not sure it's necessary to change the very way the Church does things simply because of one exceptionally abusive parish situation.  Have you evidence that such situations are prevalent in a number of parishes other than your own?
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« Reply #115 on: August 24, 2010, 08:59:42 AM »

When the Church failed to protect the laity against these "exceptionally" normal clergy that make mistakes in the past it cost the Church dearly. Multi-million dollar law suits, lost souls, ....

The survey conducted by Krindatch states 47% of laity and 18% of clergy agree"It is a good idea if Orthodox parishes were to choose their own priest from among available ordained clergy."

Why do so many people within the Church believe we should change? Is not 47% enough people for you to care?

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« Reply #116 on: August 24, 2010, 09:22:05 AM »

I'm sorry you experienced what happened to you and your parish, but I can tell you that such extreme situations are (hopefully) quite rare and not worth blowing up as if they were normal.
As I said before, I can't speak for every bishop and every priest, but based on my own personal knowledge of the OCA and GOA, such extreme situations are not the norm.

Quote
I'm not sure it's necessary to change the very way the Church does things simply because of one exceptionally abusive parish situation. 
Exactly.

Quote
Have you evidence that such situations are prevalent in a number of parishes other than your own?
And I'm certainly not saying that such things couldn't happen, but again it is an exception, according to my observation/experience.

Take it for what it's worth.
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« Reply #117 on: August 24, 2010, 10:11:04 AM »

Will anybody address the facts of the survey? Again, 47% of laity and 18% of clergy in GOA.

Denial does not make it go away.
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« Reply #118 on: August 24, 2010, 11:29:26 AM »

Will anybody address the facts of the survey? Again, 47% of laity and 18% of clergy in GOA.

Denial does not make it go away.

That's not too many, actually.  More than 50% of the laity want things to stay the same, and an overwhelming 82% of clergy want them to stay the same.  Will you address why the 82% of clergy don't want the system to change?  Or will you respond with more exceptional stories?

And to whom is your comment directed at, namely:
"Admit to nothing, deny everything, issue counter charges. Very mature and productive response to constructive criticism.

Afraid if you give an inch they will take a mile. Understandably, you are afraid."
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« Reply #119 on: August 24, 2010, 11:44:00 AM »

Let me get this straight. The heirarch assigns a priest. The parish council says, "we will be the ones working closely with this priest so can we interview him and show him around so he understands what our needs are and make sure we are a good match." Bishop says this is the priest you are getting or you can do without a priest.
So priest shows up and doesn't really like how things are running. He insults everyone. Drives the volunteers in the church away. And then wonders why he is the only one working on HIS AGENDA.

The above does not happen in the vast majority of cases.

Alternate solution. Parish council gets to know priest first and vent out any major concerns. Priest comes on board a GOING MINISTRY which worked just fine before his arrival and eases into things. After adressing major concerns of parish and getting to know the parish he starts to build a consensus and slowly change a few people's minds. Then he builds on those first seeds and accomplishes his goals.

You know, under the current selection system (bishop chooses with input from the parish council) the above does indeed happen many, if not most, times.

A priest should not be barking orders before he has even learned the names of the parishioners. No excuses.

How would you like it if we said "newbies should not be barking posts on this forum before they've even learned about the forum personalities, no excuses?"  I for one am glad we don't have that rule here - this is a discussion forum, and thus a place for open discussion.  If a priest is assigned to a parish, whether he is "hired" by the council or instructed by the bishop, he is the steward of the parish, the representative of the Bishop (who is the representative of Christ) - and so he's supposed to be a good steward.  Sometimes, this requires learning about people and programs before giving advice, and sometimes it requires swift action.  What happened to your parish doesn't usually happen to others, btw.

Our buildings are all paid for. Biggest line item is priest salary for us, 6 figures.

Just because you don't have a mortgage doesn't mean your building is "paid for."  Go add up your electrical, heat, maintenance, etc. and then tell me the salaries are bigger than the building.  But, for clarity's sake, I did mention earlier:

Maybe in your parish
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« Reply #120 on: August 24, 2010, 12:04:57 PM »

Will anybody address the facts of the survey? Again, 47% of laity and 18% of clergy in GOA.

47% of laity and 18% of clergy in GOA agree "It is a good idea if Orthodox parishes were to choose their own priest from among available ordained clergy."

Respondents did not agree that they aren't being consulted in the assignment process, that bishops make unilateral decisions, or any other thing. Further, a survey is only as good as its questions/statements, and this statement is broad, phrased in the subjunctive, and open to a variety of interpretations. More detailed information is necessary before reaching any conclusion -- certainly before speaking about "facts of the survey."

Finally, we should recall that an even higher percentage (56%) of the same sample group said a good Orthodox Christian need not observe Lent or "fasting on certain days." So, my provisional conclusion would be that what we need is better catechesis and spiritual formation, not a change in the assignment process per se, which is already animated by sobornost.
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« Reply #121 on: August 24, 2010, 12:14:42 PM »

Bishops usually know the personal issues of the Priests under them, many of them should not be know to the public and while taking them into the account they can assign Priests to the places they will serve best or at least no harm both to the Parishioners and the Priests.

For example Priests with pedophilic leanings shouldn't tech religion at schools, but they will be OK as chaplains in Monasteries.

People that would know no more than a name of a Priest and how does he look like, won't be able to choose the most proper one.

Mike !  this that you wrote kind of confuses me.......[For example Priests with pedophilic leanings shouldn't teach religion at schools, but they will be OK as chaplains in Monasteries].  Huh Huh Huh

They shouldn't be Clergy at all period ,be it Monasteries,schools or churches or anywhere.........I can understand after being defrocked they are in a monastery as penitent sinners, and join the ranks of the lay.... Any Bishop that allows one to remain a priest,should be deposed... This is a very serious matter...
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« Reply #122 on: August 24, 2010, 12:27:27 PM »

One man's extreme is another's reality apparently. It is just one scenario I have been speaking of, that of my real life situation.

This is the crux of the matter. You have had a bad experience, which is unfortunate (and inevitable). However, since you are speaking of "just one scenario," you shouldn't try to generalize it.

People, animated by God's Spirit and a desire to serve, are the answer, not process. In my job, I deal with lots of (mainly Protestant) churches, most of which have a polity that calls for lay leaders within the congregation to make ALL of the hiring decisions. They write the job description, look over CVs, interview candidates, negotiate salaries, etc. Let me tell you: It does not necessarily lead to a better outcome or a smooth pastoral transition. In fact, I've seen the exact scenario you describe.

So, it's not a "solution" even in a practical sense (which is to say nothing of the theological sense).
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« Reply #123 on: August 24, 2010, 12:32:54 PM »

...I deal with lots of (mainly Protestant) churches, most of which have a polity that calls for lay leaders within the congregation to make ALL of the hiring decisions. They write the job description, look over CVs, interview candidates, negotiate salaries, etc. Let me tell you: It does not necessarily lead to a better outcome or a smooth pastoral transition. In fact, I've seen the exact scenario you describe.

So, it's not a "solution" even in a practical sense (which is to say nothing of the theological sense).

Having been involved in this process as well when I was a Protestant, it also seems to foster a kind of "employer-employee" relationship between the congregation/elders/church council and the pastor.
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« Reply #124 on: August 24, 2010, 01:58:18 PM »

Problem solved (for me atleast). Moving to a different parish.
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« Reply #125 on: August 24, 2010, 03:01:00 PM »

Problem solved (for me atleast). Moving to a different parish.

While it pains me to hear that it is the solution, on the other hand you must indeed do what is best for your salvation.  And if it sends the signal to the priest, parish, etc. that things are going poorly enough to drive people away, then you may have made a greater statement with your feet than with any other medium.  Continue to pray for your (soon to be) old parish, though; if the priest is even half as boorish as you've portrayed him to be, then they need your prayers.
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"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the one who can't read them." Mark Twain
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Ordained on 17 & 18-Oct 2009. Please forgive me if earlier posts are poorly worded or incorrect in any way.
Tags: priests bishops 
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