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Author Topic: OCA Financial Scandal  (Read 18367 times) Average Rating: 0
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Robert
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« on: November 08, 2005, 02:28:52 PM »

From the Indiana Listserv:

Former OCA Treasurer Breaks Silence:
Old Scandal Resurfaces Amid Fresh  Allegations & New Details

by Mark Stokoe

Stunning new  allegations of financial corruption and personal misconduct, as
well as insider  details of a cover-up have been leveled against the current
administration of  the Orthodox Church in America by its former Treasurer,
Protodeacon Eric  Wheeler. In a series of three letters dated October 15 to
November 1 sent to  Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the OCA, members of the OCA's
Holy Synod, and  finally, members of the OCA's Metropolitan Council,
Wheeler demanded the  Orthodox Church in America "clean house".

The Scandal

Many of  Wheeler's allegations, including the existence of secret
discretionary accounts  totalling millions of dollars, first surfaced in 1999 when the
former chairman  of the OCA's Audit Committee, John Kozey, balked at signing the
1997-98 official  audit. When Kozey revealed the problem of "Discretionary
Accounts" to the OCA's  Holy Synod, and later, Metropolitan Council, Kozey was
summarily dismissed, at  least one member of the Metropolitan Council was
forced to resign and Wheeler  was "reorganized" out of his
position as Treasurer.

Now Wheeler, who  had a stellar career in the administration of the OCA,
first as an administrator  at St. Vladimir's Seminary, then as Secretary to
Metropolitan Theodosius from  1988-96 and finally as OCA Treasurer from 1996-1999,
has broken his long silence  about
these matters in a confessional mea culpa that has the OCA  administration in
an uproar, the OCA hierarchy splintering, and the Orthodox  cyberworld abuzz
since major excerpts of the three letters were posted on 
[log in to unmask]

Financial and Personal  Misconduct

In his climatic third letter which details the origin, nature  and scope of
the corruption, as well as the ensuing cover-up, Wheeler explains:  "The
prevailing financial climate at the (OCA)
Chancery was always one of  concealment. Everything pertaining to money had
to be handled in a secretive  manner since the bishops were not interested in
the financial needs of the  central church, the Metropolitan Council and church
bodies lacked, or rather,  could
never be given real control over the money and the masses were not 
spiritually mature enough to handle the truth." Given this atmosphere, Wheeler  writes,
funds were needed "to safeguard the church from scandal, to cover 
embarrassing credit card debts incurred by the Metropolitan, to provide family  members
who leached off their relatives with a steady stream of assistance, to  pay
blackmail requests and to provide the means to entertain with dinners, trips 
and gifts of cash the visiting foreign dignitaries and "friends of  Syosset".

According to Wheeler, secret bank accounts were established in  the Roslyn
Savings Bank, funded by undisclosed donations to the OCA by the  Archer Daniels
Midland Foundation (as well as personal foundation of ADM's  founder, the
Dwayne Andreas Foundation) totalling almost $5 million, as well as  off-the-book
sales of merchandise and liturgical items from Russia to OCA clergy  and
parishes. Wheeler details how Temporarily Restricted Funds, the
OCA's  Annual Mission, Seminary and Charity Appeals - were looted to cover
operational  expenses in an extensive shell game meant to cover financial
irregularities. "On  a regular basis", Wheeler writes, "petty cash checks were cut
from these  accounts in the amounts of $10,000 with the cash being given to
Father  Kondratick. A review of the financial records of the church during this
period  will show a deficit in the Charity Appeal Fund of close to $275,000
dollars."  Additional monies, according to Wheeler, were diverted from Church
Planting  Grants as well as the Department of Chaplains Bibles for Russia 
campaign.

Wheeler's insider description of the financial chicanery at  Syosset
occasionally borders on the comic as he explains how a proposed visit to  the OCA's
Representation Church in Moscow, St. Catherine's by ADM's Dwayne  Andreas
threatened to bring down the
house of cards. Having diverted Andreas'  annual gifts for a conference and
communication center in Moscow for years to  secret accounts, Wheeler writes:
"The greatest fear was that Mr. Andreas would  want to view the nonexistent
conference center. A plan was put into place to  present the offices of the law
firm renting property within St. Catherine's  complex as the `Andreas
Conference Center' the only thing to be changed were the  signs on the outside
of the building."

The Scandal  Breaks

Wheeler's tone changes, however, as he begins to detail the events  which led
to his own dismissal in 1999. Wheeler writes: "As the All-American  Council
neared in 1999 I felt it essential to present an audited financial  report for
the years 1996-1998. Not to mention the fact that the plenary session  devoted
to finances was to be four hours in total presentation, with 45 minutes  of
open questions for the Treasurer."

With neither Metropolitan  Theodosius nor Fr. Kondratick willing to address
the unethical behaviors or  financial irregularities, Wheeler himself balked.
"On June 20, 1999,"  Wheeler
writes, "I finally broke down and explained the entire financial mess  to Rob
Taylor, a partner of the CPA Firm responsible for auditing the accounts  of
the Church." Taylor, however, only
informed the Chairman of the OCA  Auditing Committee, John Kozey, of the
secret accounts. Kozey, in turn, informed  all members of the Holy Synod and
Metropolitan Council in early July, 1999 of  the secret "discretionary accounts".


The Cover Up

"It is telling," continues Wheeler, "that within a week  ... Metropolitan
Theodosius retained the services of a private lawyer, Michael  Kennedy, and
Father Kondratick retained the services of
David Chesnoff, a  lawyer from Las Vegas provided through the connections of
Richard Rock and  William Turbey." In order to contain any potential scandal
before the  Metropolitan Council's meeting, the Holy Synod met and voted to
officially allow  discretionary accounts, as well as to prohibit audits of them.
Now Wheeler  reveals that: "The resolution signed by the Holy Synod during the
All American  Council in 1999 calling for the Metropolitan to deny any type
of audit of the  `Discretionary Account' was actually prepared by legal counsel
for the  Metropolitan."

Wheeler continues: "This scandal would not be resolved, at  least from the
standpoint of Metropolitan Theodosius and Father Kondratick,  until the Spring
of 2000 with the Metropolitan's Report to the Holy Synod.  Richard Rock,
formerly of Martinez & Murphy,
would run the `cover up' and  worked with Father Kondratick to construct an
entire paper trail for the  `so-called' discretionary account from 1996 to
1999. The discretionary account  would end up footing the bill for the personal
attorneys for the Metropolitan  and the Chancellor and the accounting fees for
Heinz and Associates for their  review(not an audit of financial statements) of
the paperwork created `after the  fact' by Richard Rock."

In the wake of the successful cover-up, Kozey was  dismissed and several
members of the Metropolitan Council who had passionately  argued for greater
financial accountability and transparency forced to resign,  as neither the
Bishops, nor clergy would confront Syosset. The affair seemed  finished as
Metropolitan Theodosius reported to the 2000 Spring Session of the  Holy Synod that "...
an external audit is not a canonical requirement and is an  expensive and
unnecessary exercise which causes internal turmoil rather than  good order." The
cover-up was complete.

Charges Continue

Charges  of financial irregularities, however, continued to be leveled
against Syosett.  Most recently, widespread questions arose regarding the dispersal
(or rather,  non-dispersal) of the more than $275,000 collected specifically
for the 9/11  Charity Fund. In response to these questions, and at the urging
of his Diocesan  Council, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest,
representing the OCA's  largest diocese, sent a letter in June 2005 asking for
a "broader explanation  of church finances and accounts" at the All-American
Council in  Toronto.

In a response dated June 30, 2005, the Chancellor of the OCA  maintained that
it would be "inappropriate" to release additional financial  information to
the All-American Council "without the prior approval of the  Metropolitan
Council and the blessing of the Holy Synod, claiming that the  Metropolitan Council
"is provided with all pertinent information  concerning
finances." This refusal caused one prominent Metropolitan Council  member
from the neighboring Diocese of Western Pennsylvania, US Attorney Greg  Nescott,
to resign in July 2005 citing the "...continued lack of openness in the  OCA's
chancery and central administration."

Wheeler Breaks His  Silence

Wheeler offers no single or dramatic reason for breaking his  silence at this
time. He does acknowledge that writing these letters "has been  cathartic".
His sole hope, he writes is "by
conveying my side of the story,  and by attempting to explain the financial
abuse that has taken place over the  years, we can affect a change in the
approach to financial stewardship and  accountability in the Orthodox Church in
America."

Responses  Vary

Clearly, Wheeler's letters have reopened the book on the many  scandals that
have plagued Syosset for the past six years. Publicly, Syosset has  been
silent on the charges. Privately, Syosset supporters dismiss Wheeler's  allegations
as the work of a "malcontent", saying "the issues have been resolved  long
ago".

Not surprisingly, other members of the Holy Synod, however,  seem to have
taken Wheeler's charges to heart. Although rebuffed before the  Council,
Archbishop Job held an emergency
meeting of all his Deans on  Thursday November 3rd in Chicago to discuss
Wheeler's revelations. No official  announcement has yet been made but sources
close the meeting indicate that  unless significant actions are taken, the
largest Diocese in the Orthodox Church  in America may be contemplating withholding
funds to Syosset until remedial  actions are taken.

[Mark Stokoe is a free-lance journalist and author  living in Dayton OH. A
graduate of St. Vladimir's Seminary, Stokoe served as the  General Secretary of
SYNDESMOS from 1982-88, and as the first Director of the  OCA Department of
Youth and Campus Ministries from
1988-1991. He is the  co-author of "Orthodox Christians in North America 
1796-1996."]
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Beavis
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2005, 03:14:47 PM »

ohh, dear Undecided
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2005, 05:37:18 PM »

First reaction:  The OCA has "millions of dollars"?

Second:  Ditto, what Beavis said.

Robert,
Do you know where this was published besides the Indiana List?

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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2005, 05:46:51 PM »

Ummm....Nacho?  This could explain some things.
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2005, 07:07:17 PM »

First reaction:ÂÂ  The OCA has "millions of dollars"?

Second:ÂÂ  Ditto, what Beavis said.

Robert,
Do you know where this was published besides the Indiana List?

My googling didn't produce any links-- no reference at all.
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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2005, 07:37:17 PM »

My googling didn't produce any links-- no reference at all.


A scandal in our church,  now I feel normal.

JoeS
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2005, 09:52:10 PM »

My googling didn't produce any links-- no reference at all.


Hmm, strange, I wonder why your blue letters spell out nik.  I can't seem to figure that one out...

Anyway, I am the one who sent Robert the link, as I found it on the Indiana list here: https://listserv.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/wa-iub.exe?A2=ind0511a&L=orthodox&F=&S=&P=13848  and https://listserv.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/wa-iub.exe?A1=ind0511a&L=orthodox#13

As you can see, it was posted by Melanie Sakoda of Pokrov fame.  Perhaps she can inform us where it is derived; she is a member of this site.

Anastasios
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Robert
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2005, 10:09:41 AM »

While this article may cause some feelings of incredulousness, I see no reason to doubt its veracity.

Having said that, I don't see how any due-paying OCA member could continue to contribute money towards the many programs that the OCA runs.  I find the notion disturbing that money contributed in good faith by the faithful is winding up in the pockets of a few upper echelon OCA officials.  Furthermore, it seems that the OCA hierarchy doesn't really find it essential to perform regular audits of their finances. Hence, not only are these folks potential thieves, but they also want to sweep their actions under the rug.

This is disgusting.

Robert

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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2005, 10:31:30 AM »

Well, in ECUSA we've been through this-- Google on "Ellen Cooke" and "Episcopal" if you really want to know.

What surprises me is the utter lack of attention to this in the media.
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2005, 12:32:40 PM »

Well, in ECUSA we've been through this-- Google on "Ellen Cooke" and "Episcopal" if you really want to know.

What surprises me is the utter lack of attention to this in the media.


The OCA is probably too small to notice.

Robert,
While I am rather disappointed, MY parish still needs to function.  Now, if our priest would stop sending money to the diocese, that would send a message.  But then, the Bishop would probably "send a message" back and discipline said priest.  Tough situation.
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2005, 01:52:55 PM »

The article speaks of the internet being set on fire (or some such thing) by the scandal, but it's (fortunately or unfortunately, I don't know which) the first I've heard of this. I do remember other charges of financial skullduggery, such as with missing funds for Tsunami victims, but that was a while back and I never heard anything serious happening as a result of the charges. I'm not a part of the yahoo group discussed, so I'm really not seeing a lot of the information others are. How is the OCA administration responding to this?
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2005, 02:43:00 PM »

Good question, but I think it's within every OCA member's best interest to write a letter to the Metropolitan and their hierarch.

This will get swept under the rug and your monies will be funding personal agendas unless action is taken.

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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2005, 02:53:48 PM »

Quote
Ummm....Nacho?  This could explain some things.

This is just the tip of the iceburg..... Roll Eyes If people only knew more of the BS that goes on behind the scenes of the OCA they would be shocked. I really hope we get a new Metropolitan soon, that would solve the majority of the problems. Maybe Archbishop Job or Seraphim, umm you know someone that wouldn't push their weight around as if they were the Pope & cause financial stress on the rest of us... Roll Eyes
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« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2005, 03:14:13 PM »

If these allegations are true, this is really shocking.
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« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2005, 03:24:40 PM »

Good question, but I think it's within every OCA member's best interest to write a letter to the Metropolitan and their hierarch.

If you want things to happen, attract the attention of the NY Times.
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« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2005, 03:53:55 PM »

(The first of 4 letters sent to members of the Metropolitan Council.)


ERIC ALAN WHEELER

November 1, 2005

The Most Blessed HERMAN
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All-America and Canada
P.O. Box 675 Syosset, NY 11791-0675

Your Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN:

It was my hope that the enclosed letter and report would have
initiated a call on behalf of the Holy Synod during its Fall Session
to re-institute an independent audit of the financial statements of
the Orthodox Church in America — something not done since December
31, 1996. However, upon reviewing the Statutes of the Church, I took
note that the Metropolitan Council examines all financial reports of
the Church and provides for the allocation of the general Church
funds. I therefore felt it appropriate to forward the information
provided the Holy Synod, along with an article entitled
Accountability Matters, to members of the Metropolitan Council in
preparation for its November meeting.

From my earliest days at seminary, I took to heart St. Paul's charge
to "Let all things be done decently and in order." (1 Corinthians
14:40) I have always understood good order to apply to all aspects
of our life in the Church and not just to our liturgical and
ceremonial functions. During the time I served the church as
Treasurer, I labored to bring about good order to the management of
the church's financial resources understanding that funds were
entrusted to our care to advance the mission of the Orthodox Church
in America.

To this day, the absence of an unqualified audit of the church's
financial records causes me great concern, especially given the past
history of financial mismanagement. With this letter, I am humbly
requesting that you seek the concurrence of the Metropolitan Council
in re-instituting an independent audit of the finances of the
Orthodox Church in America for the sake of good order.

Vladyka, please understand that the compiled report, balance sheet
and income statement prepared by Konsen & Hostelley is nothing more
than a compiled financial statement based upon information provided
by the very people handling the finances of the Church. If
management decides not to forward certain financial information to
Konsen & Hostelley because of mismanagement of church funds, or
worse yet, fraud, the very governing bodies responsible for the
financial integrity of the Orthodox Church in America will never
receive a clear picture of the financial health of the Church. I
would even venture to say that if Gregory Hostely was asked whether
or not the reports presented to the Metropolitan Council are
adequate or befitting a national church with an annual budget of 3
million dollars, he would say no, and I propose that you request
that the internal auditors of the church verify this.

The purpose of an independent audit is to verify that what the
people handling the finances of the Church are reporting to the
governing bodies (All-American Council, Holy Synod and Metropolitan
Council) is in fact true —that's why they call it independent. It
also independently verifies that the funds being reported on paper
are in fact backed up by actual cash values and securities. An
independent audit further verifies that the management of the
finances is in keeping with generally accepted accounting
procedures. It also provides assurances to the countless number of
faithful Orthodox Christians that their financial stewardship is in
fact being used to support the work of the Orthodox Church in
America.

While the Metropolitan Council will review and adopt the operating
budget of the Orthodox Church in America for the 2006-year at the
upcoming meeting, it must also be understood that the review of the
cash flow budget is only one small aspect of being stewards of the
funds entrusted to the care of the Church. Without the benefit of an
independent audit -- a current independent audit -- and its
accompanying managerial reports and comments, there are a number of
questions, which may go unanswered for the body responsible for the
financial integrity of the Church.

Based upon the Treasurer's Report to the 14th All-American Council
one has to question how the 1.8 million dollar deficit was funded.

• What part of the general fund balance of the church was used to
fund the deficit over the years?

• What is the principal balance of the outstanding loan if indeed a
loan was taken out?

• Is the unrestricted general fund balance of the church currently a
negative number, borrowing from special appeal and endowment funds
to fund operating expenses?

As posted in the Report of the Treasurer to the 14th AAC, one of the
goals of the Fair Share Resolution stipulated: "Debt elimination by
annual reductions must become a line item in the annual budget of
The Orthodox Church in America." The resolution adopted at the All-
American Council provides for approximately $600,000 in additional
annual assessment income beginning in 2006 to assist in Funding the
Vision.

• If a loan or line of credit was secured to cover the total or
partial amount of the deficit, what provisions are being placed in
the 2006 budget to provide for its repayment?

• If there is an intention to repay the existing deficit, or the
loan that was taken out to fund the deficit, does this mean that the
increase in assessments of 1.8 million dollars over the next
triennium intended to Fund the Vision was really intended to Fund
the Deficit?

During the time I served as Treasurer, Metropolitan Theodosius and
Father Kondratick maintained so-called discretionary accounts
disproportionate to the annual operating budget of the Church. The
reason that an unqualified audit could not be produced for the
Orthodox Church in America for the periods ending December 31, 1997
and 1998 was because of the refusal to include these funds in the
financial reports of the Church. Asking the parishes of the Church
to increase annual assessments by $600,000 in the coming year when
off-books accounts may be carrying a balance equal to or exceeding
this figure would not seem appropriate or ethical. An independent
audit would not permit funds to be maintained off-books, requiring
the Officers of the Church to provide written confirmation that all
funds have been presented for review.

• Are bank accounts being maintained by the Orthodox Church in
America that are not being reported to the Holy Synod and the
Metropolitan Council in its financial reports?

• If discretionary accounts are being maintained what are the
current balances of these funds?

If past performance is any indication of present practice, one has
to question if any part of the Temporarily Restricted (Special
Appeals) and Endowment Funds were invaded to cover any part of the
deficit. Without an independent audit, one does not have independent
verification that the funds are being used for their designated
purposes.

• Are funds for the Special Appeals segregated and protected from
invasion by the operating account?

• Are procedures followed to adequately record the distribution of
Special Appeal Funds so that they are distributed for their intended
purposes?

• What provision are being placed in the 2006 budget to repay the
Charity, Seminary and Mission Funds and other Special Appeal funds
if in fact they have been invaded to provide for the 1.8 million
dollar deficit?

During the time I served as Treasurer, Special Appeal Balances,
Temporarily Restricted Funds and Endowment Funds were maintained in
an investment account. An independent audit would provide a
reporting of these investment accounts on the balance sheet and
statement of cash flow and provide recommendations on its
management.

• If these Funds are still being maintained in an investment
account, what is the current value of the investment account?

• Are the Endowment Funds secure in the manner in which they are
being invested?

• Is the total of the investment account equal to the reported value
of the designated funds (special appeals) and endowment accounts?
• Has the performance of the investment account been keeping pace
with the various financial indices?

• Does a Finance Committee review the performance and asset
allocation on a regular basis?

• Does a Finance Committee exist?

The Orthodox Church in America currently maintains a number of
Charitable Trusts for individuals. An independent audit would be
able to provide advice whether the benefactors are receiving the
full benefit of their contribution and whether the Church is
complying with the complicated federal laws governing Charitable
Trusts.

• What is the current value of the Charitable Trusts entrusted to
the care of the Church?

• How and where are the Charitable Trusts being maintained?

• What is the future financial benefit for the Orthodox Church in
America for each of the Charitable Remainder Trusts?

• Is the Church complying with federal law governing the
distribution funds?

It is currently understood that the church is experiencing cash flow
difficulties, recently reporting that expenses have been trimmed by
$250,000. With a triennial deficit of almost 2 million dollars one
has to question the financial management skills of those in charge
of church funds. An independent audit provides indicators on future
performance based on past history and would be able to warn against
potential deficit spending before it begins to occur.

• Are the financial reports provided the governing bodies adequate
to keep those having a fiduciary responsibility for the funds of the
church aware of its financial health?

• Are the current actual revenue and expenses presented alongside
the 2006 budget based on a cash basis or an accrual basis?

• If the current operating expense/revenue report is being presented
on a cash basis, what is the total amount of accounts payable as of
this date?

• Has a year to date operating report of revenue and expenses been
presented at all in relationship to the proposed 2006 operating
budget?

• What is the current indebtedness of the Orthodox Church in America
factoring in the deficit for the 2005 operating budget, external
loans owed financial institutions, operating funds borrowed from the
special appeals and endowment accounts and loans owed to staff
members of the chancery?

The answers to the above listed questions may be able to be provided
by the staff at the chancery, but the current model of financial
accountability recommends that the answers be provided directly to
the governing bodies of the church without being filtered by the
very people ministering the funds. This provides for a system of
checks and balances required today in our post Enron financial
environment.

Given the previous lack of response to my request to re-institute an
independent audit leads me to conclude that some members of the Holy
Synod chose to attack the messenger and not listen to the message.
It is my hope that the Metropolitan Council will look at the re-
institution of an independent audit as a means to begin the healing
of the tarnished financial image of the Orthodox Church in America
and not address issues pertaining to the messenger. As far as the
messenger is concerned, please understand that I stand ready to
provide you with more complete information on the issues I have
raised if you need further clarification. I repeat once again that a
terrible injustice has been done over the past years to the clergy
and faithful who have taken to heart the call to support the work of
the Orthodox Church in America. They deserve a better system of
financial accountability than they have been receiving.
Unfortunately, the church finds itself in debt due to financial
mismanagement and not because of the pressing needs to function as
an autocephalous Church. The institution of a real independent audit
is the first step towards giving the faithful a reason to continue
to financially support the work of the Central Church Administration
of The Orthodox Church in America.

May God Bless your upcoming meeting with fruitful results.

In Christ,
Protodeacon Eric A. Wheeler

cc: Holy Synod of Bishops
Metropolitan Council
Audit Committee
Konsen & Hostelley, LLP
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« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2005, 03:54:22 PM »

(The 2nd of 4 attachments sent to members of the Metropolitan Council.)




ERIC ALAN WHEELER



October 17, 2005

The Most Blessed HERMAN

Archbishop of Washington and New York

Metropolitan of All-America and Canada

P.O. Box 675

Syosset, NY 11791-0675



Your Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN:



As the All American Council was approaching this past summer, the focus of

discussion on the internet lists centered on financial accountability, budgets,
assessments

and overall matters dealing with funding the work of the church. And while I
have

refrained from posting any comments on the internet since I was removed from my

position at Syosset in September 1999, I felt that I could no longer stand by
without

expressing my observations and experiences with regard to finances of the
Orthodox

Church in America.



Putting down on paper what transpired during the years I served the church as

Treasurer and Secretary was in and of itself quite cathartic. However, upon
completing

my missal, I was not convinced that the best place to post the final product was
the

internet. Over the years I observed how controversial topics relative to church
finances

generated a flurry of temporary internet activity without any effectual result.

As you well know from our discussions prior, and subsequent to my removal, it

was never my intention to expose the Church to scandal. If my only objective was
to “get

my story out and clear my name” I would have long ago joined the internet fray,
being

fully capable of setting up my own web site. You are well aware that my only
goal was

to safe guard the funds of the Orthodox Church in America — funds that were not
being

adequately accounted for by Metropolitan Theodosius and Father Kondratick.

Throughout the period of time I served as Treasurer I struggled long and hard to

correct the financial mismanagement of the church in a manner befitting my role
as a

deacon — one who serves. In our Orthodox Tradition, we are called to be obedient
to our

leaders because our leaders are obedient to Christ. So too, we are called to
practice

Christian stewardship because the leaders we are forwarding our alms to are wise

stewards of the funds entrusted to their care. But what if their actions are not
befitting

good stewardship? What then is our responsibility? I sought an answer to these

questions while working for the Church, and continue to have a nagging sense
that

something more has to be, and can be done to correct these problems.



Since being forced to leave the employment of the Orthodox Church in America I

have been contacted throughout the years, fortunately or unfortunately, by
almost every

individual in the church who has been discarded, dismissed or treated by members
of

your administration and the previous administration in a manner not becoming
Christian

behavior. I have also been made aware, and have been informed that you are
aware, that

the pattern of behavior in the handling of church finances, especially with
regard to the

temporarily restricted funds for designated purposes (special appeals), has not
changed

since the time I served as Treasurer of the church. This has been quite
disheartening to

me.



In our Orthodox Tradition, we are called to stand up for the Truth even if we
end

up standing by ourselves. Likewise, we will be judged for our actions. However,
if we

firmly believe we are upholding the Truth, we have the responsibility before God
to

speak out. Our Orthodox history is full of these servants -- some saints and
some big

sinners. I bring these concerns before you at this time because I firmly believe
that what

I am doing will serve to correct a terrible disservice that has been done, and
continues to

be done to the clergy and faithful of the church, who spiritually and
financially support

the work of the Orthodox Church in America.



My concerns were brought before Metropolitan Theodosius and Father

Kondratick on countless occasions while I was employed by the church — and
nothing

was done to bring about financial transparency. These same concerns were brought
to

your attention on September 21, 1999 when Father Kondratick and I met with you
in

South Canaan. Unfortunately, again, nothing was done to correct the lack of

transparency with regard to the church’s financial structure. I am therefore
copying

members of the Holy Synod of Bishops on this letter hoping that the highest
canonical

body of the church can rectify this problem that has for many years deceived
clergy and

faithful who took to heart pleas to support the activities and departments of
the Church.

The inability or blatant refusal to be transparent with regard to church
finances indicates

that the leadership of the church has relied more on earthly wisdom which seeks
to

conceal, divide and ultimately destroy.



The chancery does not have a good track record in the area of financial

stewardship -- restricted funds being drained to fund the operating budgets
during the

financial crisis in the 1980's, questions concerning whether or not special
appeal funds

are being distributed for their designated purposes, and discretionary accounts
balances

equal to annual operating budgets in the 1990's, temporarily restricted funds
for

designated purposes being mismanaged, and 9-11 funds being distributed through
IOCC

(or not) during the 2000's, and on and on and on.,,,,. While an independent
audit of the

financial statements of the Orthodox Church in America will not serve to solve
all of

these problems, it will provide a model for a transparent approach to the
financial

administration of the church. It will also begin the process of healing the
tarnished

financial image of the Orthodox Church in America.



Unfortunately, the status quo is rooted in our Orthodox psyche -- a church
rooted

Unfortunately, the status quo is rooted in our Orthodox psyche -- a church
rooted

in ritual. It seems today that many are more than happy to blindly follow their
leaders

without question just because of the office they hold. And anyone who does
question the

status quo is viewed as a malcontent. We have made the living Church we received
from

our elders into a museum relic that we strive to preserve, using the form of our
Church to

hide a multitude of sin, which continues to deceive the faithful of our Church
in America.

We have lost the living spirit of the Orthodox faith. The life needed to
proclaim the

Gospel has been stifled. If unchecked, the depletion of life will result in
death! I do not

wish this legacy on your watch and call upon you to act in a manner befitting
your office

to address this ongoing scandal.



In Christ,





Protodeacon Eric A. Wheeler



cc: Archbishop Kyrill

Archbishop Dmitri

Archbishop Nathaniel

Archbishop Job

Bishop Tikhon

Bishop Seraphim

Bishop Nikolai

Bishop Nikon

Bishop Tikhon

Bishop Irineu

Bishop Benjamin

Bishop Alejo
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« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2005, 03:55:05 PM »

(The 3rd of 4 attachments sent to members of the Metropolitan
Council.)

A Call for Accountability

While it would be impossible to put into the space of this post all
of the details of the financial corruption perpetrated by
Metropolitan Theodosius and Father Kondratick during the years 1988-
1999 while I was an employee of the Orthodox Church in America,
serving as Secretary to the Metropolitan 1988-1996, Corporate
Secretary 1992-1996 and Treasurer 1996-1999, I do know that from my
arrival in Syosset in 1988, I was always aware of the funds which
existed outside of the normal operating budget of the Orthodox
Church in America — funds which existed outside of the financial
reports provided the administrativebodies of the church.

My first educated guess as to the source of the off-book funds was
the sale of merchandise brought back from Russia. With the frequent
travel of OCA delegations to Russia beginning with the celebration
of the millemium in 1988, return voyages would yield large caches of
liturgical items which in turn would be offered for sale to OCA
clergy and parishes. These liturgical items purchased for dollars in
Russia were resold by Father Kondratick to our parishes in the USA
for hundreds and thousands of dollars. I understood that
these "profits" were part of the funds used to provide for "friends
in need".

The prevailing financial climate at the chancery was always one of
concealment. Everything pertaining to money had to be handled in a
secretive manner since "the bishops were not interested in the
financial needs of the central church, the Metropolitan Council
and church bodies lacked, or rather, could never be given real
control over the money and the masses were not spiritually mature
enough to handle the truth". Funds were needed to safeguard the
church from scandal, cover embarrassing credit card debts incurred
by the Metropolitan, provide family members who leached off their
relatives with a steady stream of assistance, pay blackmail requests
and provide the means to entertain with dinners, trips and gifts of
cash the visiting foreign dignitaries and "friends of Syosset".

The foundation of these funds during the first part of the 1990's
came from two main sources. One source was the numerous bequests
that were: (1) never reported to any church administrative body; (2)
not provided to the auditors for review and reporting purposes in
the annual financial report; and, (3) deposited into accounts which
either the Metropolitan or Chancellor controlled. These bequests
were never earmarked by the donors for discretionary purposes, nor
was there any discussion by any finance or audit committee as
to where these funds should be directed. Father Kondratick would
randomly deposit these bequests into either the account he
controlled known as the St. Sergius Chapel Account or give them to
the Metropolitan for his "discretionary account". As a good
estimate, I would state that half of the bequests that came into the
chancery during the 1990's were never placed "on the books".

The second source of the funds needed to support the "operation" was
the temporarily
restricted funds — the Mission, Seminary and Charity Appeals. On a
regular basis, petty
cash checks were cut from these accounts in the amounts of $10,000
with the cash being
given to Father Kondratick. A review of the financial records of the
church during this
period will show a deficit in the Charity Appeal Fund of close to
$275,000 dollars; a

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seminary appeal depleted to a point where no funds could be
distributed to any of the three seminaries during one of the years;
and, prior to the establishment of the Church Planting Grants, a
Mission Fund used not just for funding mission parishes.

During this same period of time, funds were given by the US
Department of Chaplains for bibles for Russia in the amount of
approximately $67,000 and the bibles were never purchased and sent.
A wealthy donor, interested in assisting the Church of Russia, gave
two installments of $50,000 for Russian assistance -- the first
installment was actually used to lift the Charity Fund out of its
deficit and never used for Russia support. The second installment
was never placed on the books of the church but deposited into the
Metropolitan's discretionary account. Another donor, the Archer
Daniels Midland Foundation (before hitting the big time with support
for the representation church) donated $25,000 for general purposes
which was placed into the Seminary Fund in order to replenish the
funds depleted through the petty cash deployment system.

In addition, during this same period of time, the infamous External
Affairs line item in the budget was tapped for regular payments to
cover Father Kondratick's personal Platinum AMEX card in the amounts
of approximately $5,000 to $12,000 per month with little more
than comments scratched on the cover sheet of the statements such
as "Help for Russia, Armenian Earthquake Relief, Assistance for
Czechoslovakian Seminary Students, etc".

During the years 1990-1995, Father Paul Kucynda served as the
Treasurer of the church. Unfortunately, being present at the
chancery for approximately two days per week did not give Father
Kucynda the opportunity to monitor the finances of the Church on a
regular basis. The weekly tirades and outbursts when he would
discover American Express bills being paid with little or no back-up
and petty cash checks signed and cashed (in the amounts listed
above) without his knowledge and approval fed a great deal of
internal tension. Adding to this the looming deficits in the appeal
funds and the operating budget, Father Kucynda searched for some way
to control the finances. Unfortunately, he lacked a solid foundation
in accounting practice and had limited computer skills in the area of
financial software programs.

Father Kucynda's proposed resolution to the financial mismanagement
that was taking place was to outsource the finances and computer
operations. The popular "Syosset man of the day" was Michael T.
McKibben of Planning Works Inc from Columbus, Ohio. Michael had
extensive computer and financial skills, was loyal to Father Kucynda
and was able and willing to be the recipient of the financial
outsourcing. Probably my deepest frustration was knowing that Father
Kucynda and I wanted to accomplish the same financial and
administrative goals, but the pact between Father Kondratick and
myself to maintain secrecy "to protect the church from scandal"
necessitated that control of the finances remained "in-house".

No one understood the need to keep the finances "in-house" more that
Father Kondratick and the Metropolitan. The first installment of
$250,000 from the grant from the Archer, Daniels Midland Foundation
arrived in June of 1995, and Father Kucynda, with the help of
Michael McKibben, was posing to create a segregated account to
handle the St. Catherine

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Embassy Church and Andreas Conference and Communication Center
Project. The Metropolitan in turn did not propose the re-appointment
of the positions of Secretary (me) and Treasurer (Father Kucynda)
after the 1995 All American Council. The solution derived from
Father Kondratick and Metropolitan Theodosius was to have Father
Kucynda and I switch positions — I would serve as the Treasurer, and
Father Kucynda would serve as the Secretary.

Before agreeing to accept the position of Treasurer, I had Father
Kondratick affirm and reaffirm and re-affirm that the current
financial practices would stop and that general accounting
principles would be followed. Father Kondratick sat in my living
room where my wife prophetically informed him that "Eric and you
will not be on speaking terms within 24 months if he is appointed
Treasurer" — it actually took 22 months. The gold mine that was the
Andreas Foundation and the Archer Daniels Midland Foundation (money
came from two sources and not one) was just getting ready to be
excavated. And I was responsible to the Church for its financial
integrity.

A written grant requesting funds to support the "Strategic Plan for
the (Russian) Orthodox Church in America regarding St. Catherine's
Embassy Church Moscow, Russia" was submitted to Dwayne Andreas with
an initial request of $1,500,000 — there was never any mention in
the written grant of funding discretionary needs. The grant was
approved by Mr. Andreas and the first $250,000 arrived in June 1995.
By September 1997, $1,000,000 was received "on the books" of the
Orthodox Church in America in support of the project and an unknown
amount "off-books".

Contrary to any claims made by the Metropolitan and Father
Kondratick after 1999 stating that the funds received from the
Archer-Daniels Midland Foundation and the Andreas Foundation were
for the Metropolitan's Discretionary account, the original
intention, as stipulated in the grant and subsequent requests for
funding, was to use the money for the restoration of St. Catherine's
Embassy Church and attached facilities, and the creation of the
Andreas Conference and Communications Center (to be located on the
grounds of St. Catherine's Church). The response from Dwayne Andreas
in 1999 stated that the funds were to be distributed at the personal
discretion of the Metropolitan for projects requiring financial
attention that the Metropolitan had made him aware of (there was
never any mention of funding a discretionary account).

Reports were prepared by me for Father Kondratick's signature and
submission to Dwayne Andreas, twice a year, for the years 1996-1997
describing the progress of the project, accounting for the funds
received and requesting additional funding for ongoing expenses.
The reports were quite detailed on paper, but in reality, a good
part of the expenses were backed up by the same system of petty cash
disbursements, and credit card statement vouchers mentioned above.
Actual costs in Moscow for renovations, repairs and church
appointments were either cheap, acquired through the barter system
or provided through the regular income coming from the parishioners
of St. Catherine's Church and rental use of property. The greatest
fear was that Mr. Andreas would want to view the conference center
and a plan was put into place to present the offices of the law firm
renting property within

-4-
St. Catherine's complex as the Andreas Conference Center — the only
thing to be changed was the signs on the outside of the building.

In October 1997 I discovered for the first time that a $250,000
check from one of the above mentioned foundations was not deposited
into the audited bank accounts of the Orthodox Church in America. I
consequently refused to prepare any further financial reports on the
St. Catherine's Project for Mr. Andreas and prepared a confidential
memo for Metropolitan Theodosius, Father Kondratick and Father
Strikis — a memo which in hind-site cemented my removal. The memo
detailed the consequences of not recording the grant money into
the audited accounts of the church, and concluded with the following:

"While I overlook a great amount of indiscretion with regard to the
accountability of the finances of the Church, I cannot and will not
tolerate a blatant disregard for our system of checks and balances.
Further, while I recognize that Protopresbyter Robert S. Kondratick
is my direct superior, I, as the Treasurer, am still responsible,
before the All-American Council, the Holy Synod of Bishops, the
Metropolitan Council and the faithful of the Church for reporting on
the financial integrity of the Orthodox Church in America. Your
action compromises my ability to truthfully report on the financial
integrity of the Church."

The tension only continued to grow over the coming year as no
improvement was shown in the area of financial transparency. Each
requisition for a petty cash check and each American Express
statement without adequate back-up turned into a shouting match and
door slamming event with Father Kondratick. I further refused to
sign off on the financial reports of the Orthodox Church in America
for the years 1997 and 1998 and while the audits still took place,
only draft reports were submitted to the administrative bodies of the
church. I was further forbidden to include in my reports to the Holy
Synod and Metropolitan Council any mention of the managerial
comments made by the auditors during this period of time. And, I was
still driven by the idea that I could solve this
problem without taking it "outside of the family".

As the All-American Council neared in 1999 I felt it essential to
present an audited financial report for the years 1996-1998. Not to
mention the fact that the plenary session devoted to finances was to
be four hours in total presentation with 45 minutes of open
questions for the Treasurer.

In December 1998 I asked to see the Metropolitan — the first time in
10 years that I actually took an issue impacting the internal
administration of the chancery to him. I remember stating that the
problem was now one that affected my spiritual life and that I was
coming to him not only as my "boss" but as my bishop. He listened,
said he would speak with Father Kondratick, and I waited. I spoke to
him again in February 1999 and again I waited — and actually waited
while absolutely nothing changed.

On June 20, 1999 I finally broke down and explained the entire
financial mess to Rob Taylor, a partner of the CPA Firm responsible
for auditing the accounts of the Church.

-5-
Within days, a meeting was convened with Jonathan Russin, the legal
counsel for the Church, the Audit Committee and the Officers of the
Church. It is ironic that after working for the church for over 20
years, surrounded by priests and bishops, the first real confession
of "everything" that transpired over my ten years at the chancery is
given to a lawyer — Mr. Russin and I actually joked about this in my
meeting with him. In subsequent meetings, Mr. Russin worked out a
strategy in agreement with Mr. Taylor and the Audit Committee to
address the issues of what now had become the
Metropolitan's "Discretionary Account".

It is telling that within a week of this meeting, Metropolitan
Theodosius retained the services of a private lawyer, Michael
Kennedy, and Father Kondratick retained the services of David
Chesnoff, a lawyer from Las Vegas provided through the connections
of Richard Rock and William Tarbey of Martinez and Murphy fame (a
google on David Chesnoff is really fun reading). The resolution
signed by the Holy Synod during the All American Council in 1999
calling for the Metropolitan to deny any type of audit of
the "Discretionary Account" was actually prepared by legal counsel
for the Metropolitan.

It should also be noted that during this meeting of the Holy Synod
during the All American Council, Metropolitan Theodosius falsely
accused me of wanting control over the "socalled" private accounts,
and the only reason he did not remove me from my position much
earlier was because of his compassion for me and my family. For the
record, I never, never wanted to see any individual records of the
accounts — what I did want was an accounting and audit of the funds
by an independent auditor, showing total funds received, total funds
expended and balance of account. An independent audit would also
make sure that accounting procedures were followed, that no one was
utilizing church funds for personal use and the audit would provide
the Boards (Holy Synod/Metropolitan Council) with management
recommendations.

This entire scandal would not be resolved, at least from the
standpoint of Metropolitan Theodosius and Father Kondratick, until
the Spring of 2000 with the Metropolitan's Report to the Holy Synod.
Richard Rock, formerly of Martinez & Murphy, would run the "coverup"
and worked with Father Kondratick to construct an entire paper trail
for the "so-called" discretionary account from 1996 to 1999. The
discretionary account would end up footing the bill for the personal
attorneys for the Metropolitan and the Chancellor and the accounting
fees for Heinz and Associates for their review (not an audit of
financial statements) of the paperwork created "after the fact" by
Richard Rock. Since the first concern of the legal counsel for the
Orthodox Church in America is the protection of the Church, and not
its individual parties, Jonathan Russin was not invited to be
involved in the final resolution. And while the focus is on the
discretionary account of the Metropolitan, no mention at all is made
of a review of the St. Sergius Chapel Account maintained at the
Roslyn Savings Bank and controlled by Father Kondratick, where
probably half of the "off books" Andreas money was deposited. To
this day there is no official record of the total amounts received
from the Andreas Foundation and the Archer, Daniels, Midland
Foundation estimated to be anywhere between three and five million
dollars. The last unqualified audit of the books of the Orthodox
Church in America was for the period ending December 31, 1996, and
the Metropolitan informed the Holy Synod of Bishops at

-6-
the 2000 Spring Session that an external audit is not a canonical
requirement and is an expensive and unnecessary exercise which
causes internal turmoil rather than good order.

My final observations are that too few people had and continue to
have too much control over too much money with no overseeing body to
affect reform. During my years at the central church, I experienced
a total abuse of power with no concern for accounting practice nor
aspiration for accountability both internal and external. It is
interesting that even though the Sarbanes-Oxley Act applies
primarily to public companies, the majority of nonprofits today are
voluntarily complying with its directives. They are doing so because
it provides an instrument to convey financial transparency to its
supporters on an annual basis. An audit, conducted by an independent
firm, places individual liability on those responsible for being
stewards of the church funds. It provides audit observations and
recommendations to avoid possible conflict of interest and fraud. An
independent audit creates an atmosphere of accountably and trust for
those who financially support the organization's mission.

The administrative bodies of the church must make themselves aware
of the types of audits made available to companies and non profit
corporations. The requirements and objectives of the different types
of financial statements are detailed below.

• Audit Financial Statements - Audit financial statements are the
highest level of financial reporting available. This service is
provided by CPAs and is used when owners desire a higher level of
assurance in their financial statements. This includes testing
transactions, invoices, confirmations to third parties and other
procedures. This service is used for year end reporting, to comply
with loan covenants, bonding requirements, to obtain a contractor's
license and other reporting requirements. These financial statements
require full financial statement presentation and footnote
disclosures.

• Review Financial Statements - Review financial statements do not
involve the testing like the audited financial statements. The focus
in a review is analytical procedures, trends and analysis and other
procedures. These financial statements require full financial
statement presentation and footnote disclosures.

• Compiled Financial Statements - Compiled financial statements
reflect the representations of management that are compiled into the
correct format for reporting purposes. These financial statements
can include full financial statement presentation with footnotes, or
include only the compilation report, balance sheet and income
statement without footnote disclosure.

• Management Reporting Financial Statements- Management reporting
financial statements are presented for management use only and are
not for disclosure to the public or third parties. The financial
statement presentation in these reports reflects the reporting
requests of the owners and managers of

-7-
the company. These reports are often used for interim financial
reporting since they are typically used internally.

The current size of the budget of the Orthodox Church in America
demands an Audit of the Financial Statements — not a review, not a
complied statement and not a managerial report, but a real audit
conducted by a real accounting firm preferably not associated with
the firm of Dewey, Cheetum & Howe. An in depth audit includes a
managerial report that would be presented to the Holy Synod and
Metropolitan Council, who has the fiduciary responsibility for the
finances of the church. The managerial report will recommend systems
of checks and balances to lessen the possibility of fraud and
enhance the organizations accountability among its constituents. It
would be hoped that the administration would begin to put into place
the audit recommendations and would report back to the Metropolitan
Council and Holy Synod on its progress. It would begin building a
level of financial trust and integrity between the various church
administrative bodies. Integrity, disclosure, accountability,
procedures, transparency are by-products of working with independent
auditors. As this culture of accountability begins to resonate
throughout the central church administration so too would other
bodies be affected -- dioceses, institutions and parishes. And, so
too would all other aspects of church administration be affected.

I conclude as I concluded my Report of the Treasurer to the All
American Council in 1999:

"For a brief time in history, those of us placed in positions of
administrative leadership are given the awesome responsibility of
being wise stewards of the material resources of the Church. We will
be held accountable before God for this. But we are also accountable
to you, the clergy and faithful who provide us with the prayerful
support and material resources to carry out the work of the Church.
I hope our work is found well pleasing to God and to each and every
one of you."

I hope by conveying my side of the story, and by attempting to
explain the financial abuse that has taken place over the years, we
can affect a change in the approach to financial stewardship and
accountability in the Orthodox Church in America. I have always
stated that when the administration works well, it is invisible. I
give the example of walking into a clean church on Sunday mornings --
no one really stops to say "my, this is a clean church" -- they
just set about beginning to pray. Now, if the church is cluttered
and messy -- everyone has something to say, and even when the
service begins, everyone is still fussing about the messy church.
Given our current approach to finances, it is no wonder that we
just can't seem to settle down and pray in The Orthodox Church in
America.

Protodeacon Eric A. Wheeler
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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2005, 06:00:49 PM »

Oy Vey Sad Embarrassed

The Protodeacon (if he still has the title) does seem to have sincere intentions though.
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« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2005, 02:30:02 AM »

Quote
Oy Vey

The Protodeacon (if he still has the title) does seem to have sincere intentions though.

I'll just add that I'm OCA only out of necessity due to the fact that there aren't any Antiochian Churches in the area. Our current Metropolitan is taking the OCA backwards, not forwards. His opposition towards converts becoming priests is despicable. He definitely wasn't the choice of the people. (Not that the people's choice is a necessity.) Many of the OCA people I talk to including myself believe that Archbishop Job or Seraphim should be the next Metropolitan. Given the OCA's past history, it's probably unlikely........ Roll Eyes

The Antiochians are the only ones with a clear vision for Orthodoxy in America.

Met. Phillip God grant you many years! We love you!
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« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2005, 02:52:32 AM »

I'll just add that I'm OCA only out of necessity due to the fact that there aren't any Antiochian Churches in the area. Our current Metropolitan is taking the OCA backwards, not forwards. His opposition towards converts becoming priests is despicable.

Nacho,
I don't doubt the situation you mentioned to me was wrong, but I'm hesitant to agree with your statement above.  I know several convert priests in the DoW and if Met. Herman was that much against convert priests, I'm sure he would've butted in in these situations.
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« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2005, 10:20:42 AM »

Nacho, don't forget about the ROCOR - they have some very missionary minded parishes in North America as well.  The Serbs are expanding their missionary presence as well; pluse some English oriented JP parishes.   
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« Reply #22 on: November 10, 2005, 01:00:02 PM »

Oy Vey Sad Embarrassed

The Protodeacon (if he still has the title) does seem to have sincere intentions though.

Yes, he's still a Protodeacon serving at St. Andrew's in Dix Hills, NY.

Protodeacon Wheeler's letters have been causing a stir in a couple of other fora as well.  Unfortunately, I'm pessimistic any substantive actions will be taken at the chancery level to settle these rumors once and for all, which have in fact been circulating for years.  This nonsense and utter silence from the inner circle in Syosset has to come to end, if for no other reason that to allow dear Schmemann a rest from rolling in his grave...
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« Reply #23 on: November 10, 2005, 01:15:06 PM »

Well, I'm already in the process of sending out certified mail to several OCA hierarchs.  In addition, I have attempted to contact Fr. Matusiak, director of OCA communications, but he has yet to send a reply.

Until the OCA issues a release AND also begins conducting yearly independent financial statement audits, I implore the faithful to contribute their monies only to their local parish and priest and NOT to these megalithic OCA campaigns.  It saddens me to see so many poor OCA priests that could clearly use these supposed misappropriated funds.

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« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2005, 01:43:08 PM »

Sounds like they need to move the office to Istanbul. That way he could hide with the EP. All he would have to do is relocate about 50 of his flock there. Works for the EP.
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« Reply #25 on: November 11, 2005, 12:01:38 AM »

A scandal in our church,ÂÂ  now I feel normal.

JoeS

It's interesting because now with the internet, it doesn't take long for word to spread to millions!  Scandals have always been part of the church... but were much easier to hide when communication was not so good.  Since Orthodox issues tend not to be front page newspaper sellers, usually they go unnoticed.  People might be interested in this article from the Orthodox Christian Laity site "Due process or Cover up"  -
http://www.ocl.org/Valone%20Due%20Process.htm
It talks about a financial cover up at the parish level and the removal of the council treasurer (who wanted to set things straight) from the PC- by the hierarch- All I can say is that I've seen it at the parish level more than once.

 I get deeply involved in church committees etc about once every 10 years, then I kick myself because each time I find this kind of stuff ongoing- no matter whether OCA or GOA- and then I say "never again"... ! When Christ turned over the tables at the temple... he really meant it... do away with the money handling in the name of His church....!  It's so tough to start out feeling you are being a good steward by giving time and talent to help the church only to find corruption within and inability to operate with honest Christian spirit.. and then you get really turned off. 

In XC, Kizzy
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« Reply #26 on: November 11, 2005, 01:38:03 AM »

Why hasn't this story been printed in a mainstream newspaper?

Peace.
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« Reply #27 on: November 11, 2005, 04:04:07 AM »

Quote
Nacho, don't forget about the ROCOR - they have some very missionary minded parishes in North America as well.  The Serbs are expanding their missionary presence as well; pluse some English oriented JP parishes.   

Hmmm, sounds very interesting. I don't know too much about ROCOR except the fact that they are very traditional. The only ROCOR I have ever been to was Holy Virgin in San Francisco. I didn't know they were missionary minded at all, thought they basically just served the Russian comunity for the most part. That's very interesting you point that out, I hope they do well with thier missions & all, God knows Orthodoxy needs it in America.... Roll Eyes
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« Reply #28 on: November 11, 2005, 04:14:05 AM »

Quote
Nacho,
I don't doubt the situation you mentioned to me was wrong, but I'm hesitant to agree with your statement above.  I know several convert priests in the DoW and if Met. Herman was that much against convert priests, I'm sure he would've butted in in these situations.

Really? Well, if there are some he 'approves' of that's a step in the right direction. I just know that he has tried to stiff - arm many convert priest in the midwest here & tried to do everything in his power to stop their ordinations. Thank God Archbishop Job told him to mind his own business & stop meddling in our diocese affairs. I guess that didn't work too well seeing Archbishop Job can no longer ordain priest thanks to you know who... Roll Eyes I'm surprised Archbishop Job hasn't resigned yet, who has heard of an Orthodox Bishop that can't ordain priest for crying out loud?   Huh
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« Reply #29 on: November 11, 2005, 12:09:56 PM »

Nacho, yeah the ROCOR has more to it than just some traditional Russians.  The parish here (which is the parish I attend) does over 90% English and has a good percentage of converts.  The OCA here is the other jurisdiction in town that does missions.... the Antiochians are sort of in turmoil here with Arab vs. convert infighting.
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« Reply #30 on: November 11, 2005, 02:47:07 PM »

Really? Well, if there are some he 'approves' of that's a step in the right direction. I just know that he has tried to stiff - arm many convert priest in the midwest here & tried to do everything in his power to stop their ordinations. Thank God Archbishop Job told him to mind his own business & stop meddling in our diocese affairs. I guess that didn't work too well seeing Archbishop Job can no longer ordain priest thanks to you know who... Roll Eyes I'm surprised Archbishop Job hasn't resigned yet, who has heard of an Orthodox Bishop that can't ordain priest for crying out loud?  ÃƒÆ’‚ Huh

I really don't know much about His Eminence's diocese out there, except for meeting him and attending the cathedral for two services when I was in Chicago for a business trip 3 years ago.  I have no idea of other issues.  The truth could lie somewhere in between what is apparent to you and whatever are Met. Herman's views.  All I know is that I know plenty of convert OCA priests and haven't heard of many roadblocks from Syosset to their ordination.  If there are, it is usually from the ruling bishop (i.e. Bp Tikhon).
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« Reply #31 on: November 11, 2005, 02:57:08 PM »

All I know is that I know plenty of convert OCA priests and haven't heard of many roadblocks from Syosset to their ordination.ÂÂ  If there are, it is usually from the ruling bishop (i.e. Bp Tikhon).

Sorry, but which Bp. Tikhon? We just have so many Tikhons in the OCA  Tongue
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« Reply #32 on: November 11, 2005, 03:13:51 PM »

Sorry, but which Bp. Tikhon? We just have so many Tikhons in the OCAÂÂ  Tongue

The one out west...of San Franciso, Los Angeles and the West. Tongue
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« Reply #33 on: November 11, 2005, 03:22:13 PM »

The one out west...of San Franciso, Los Angeles and the West. Tongue

Ah, ok, that is my bishop. I've not met him, though he seems like a very neat person. (My parish priest is a convert as well)
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« Reply #34 on: November 11, 2005, 07:43:17 PM »

Ah, ok, that is my bishop. I've not met him, though he seems like a very neat person. (My parish priest is a convert as well)

2005.11.10 AP: Senate approves bill requiring churches to disclose
finances
WHDH-TV


BOSTON (AP) -- Churches and other religious organizations would be
required to disclose their finances like other nonprofit groups under
a bill overwhelmingly approved by the state Senate on Wednesday.

Supporters of the bill, which has met opposition from the Catholic
church and other religious denominations, say there's no reason to
exempt religious groups.

They say secrecy helped the Roman Catholic church in Massachusetts
hide the burgeoning clergy sexual abuse scandal from public view, even
as church officials shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish.

One way to prevent a repeat of the scandal is to bring the finances
out into the light, backers of the bill said.

"We have a law that enables that darkness," said state Sen. Marian
Walsh, D-Boston, chief sponsor of the bill, which was approved 33-4 in
the Senate. "Moral transparency and financial transparency are
inextricably linked."

Critics and parishioners have demanded greater transparency since the
Boston Archdiocese began paying out sex abuse settlements. The sexual
abuse crisis that struck the church worldwide started with the release
of court documents in Boston in 2002.

Protestant and Orthodox denominations have also lined up to oppose the
legislation, saying it would allow the government to intrude on
private affairs of the church.

The House has yet to take up the bill, but plans to do so, according
to a spokeswoman for House speaker Salvatore DiMasi. The Legislature
ends its formal session on Nov. 16, but pending bills will carry over
into the new year.

Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley last month pledged "full disclosure"
of the archdiocese's finances, including the sources of all clergy sex
abuse payments and the fiscal health of every parish, comparing the
self-imposed rules to the disclosures required of public corporations.

Critics applauded the move, but said voluntary disclosures aren't good
enough.

Under state law, charitable organizations are required to file the
reports to show how the money donated to the groups is being spent.

Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, issued a statement
after the vote criticizing the Senate for pushing through the measure.

"We oppose the legislation. It crosses church-state lines and is an
affront to the constitution," he said. "If passed, this legislation
will cost the Archdiocese $3 million to implement. What programs would
they like the Archdiocese to cut?"

Other religious leaders said the bill could put financial strains
small, struggling congregations by requiring every congregation,
Christian, Jewish, Muslim and others, to pay for financial audits and
fees to report their finances to the Attorney General.

The Rev. Dr. Diane C. Kessler, executive director of the Massachusetts
Council of Churches, criticized the Senate for rushing the bill to the
floor for a vote on the same day that they debated a complex overhaul
of the state's health care system.

"It is ironic that those advocating transparency would resort to these
tactics which are far from transparent," Kessler said in a statement.

Senators said the bill wasn't meant to punish religious groups, but to
put them on an equal footing with the state's other 30,000 registered
charities such as the Little League that must file the disclosure reports.

They also said the bill was designed to protect people who made
donations to the groups to make sure the money was being spent
responsibly.

"All of those institutions and the Catholic church as well are still
going to exist. Are they going to have to be a little more open? Yes,"
said Sen. Brian Lees, R-East Longmeadow. "Why would you want to hide
what people are giving you? What's the purpose of that?"

The new disclosure policy outlined by O'Malley was developed by the
archdiocese's Finance Council, an advisory committee made up of church
officials and lay people. In the first quarter next year, the
archdiocese will release consolidated audit reports for 2004 and 2005,
including "full disclosure and explanation of the Archdiocese's
organizational structure."

Also in early 2006, the archdiocese plans to reveal the sources of all
payments to sex abuse victims. In November 2006, each parish will
release an unaudited report of its finances. External audits will be
completed on each parish every three years.

The archdiocese is also in the midst of a consolidation that includes
closing about 80 parishes. Some parishes have staged around-the-clock
vigils in protest, saying their churches were still vital.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

© 2005 MSNBC.com
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« Reply #35 on: November 21, 2005, 03:38:24 PM »

I see the OCA has begun to respond to the allegations -- and seemingly, to begin addressing them.

http://www.oca.org/News.asp?ID=873&SID=19
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« Reply #36 on: November 27, 2005, 12:12:30 AM »

I see the OCA has begun to respond to the allegations -- and seemingly, to begin addressing them.
http://www.oca.org/News.asp?ID=873&SID=19

It still looks too fuzzy to me.  We need to pray.  I'm afraid that I don't like the tone his Beatitude takes in this article.
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« Reply #37 on: November 27, 2005, 04:59:05 AM »

Move along folks....nothing to see here... Roll Eyes
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« Reply #38 on: January 11, 2006, 01:25:12 AM »

* bump *
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« Reply #39 on: January 11, 2006, 01:33:47 AM »

I bumped this thread up so that I can add a link that Fr. Deacon Nikolai put in the Shoutbox earlier today - thank you Fr. Deacon for making us aware of this website, as I think it is good that there are people out there who have not forgotten about this (because I know I had) and are  providing information about further developments.

Here's the link - Orthodox Christians for Accountability

Quote
The Purpose
of this Website

• To inform members of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) of the origins, nature and scope of allegations concerning financial misconduct at the highest levels of the central church administration of the OCA by providing news and supporting documentation about the scandal;

• To enable Orthodox Christians to share information and thoughts on these allegations and the events surrounding them;

• To encourage Orthodox Christians to take action to resolve this scandal which threatens the financial and moral integrity of the OCA. The clear way forward is a full and independent audit of all the OCA's accounts from 1992 to the present. Only in this way may the whole truth be known, and those responsible held accountable for their actions, or inaction.
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« Reply #40 on: February 22, 2006, 08:16:18 PM »

I think reading what we've read here and looking at another website detailing the scandal.  I would not be suprised to hear that Theodosius actually stepped aside due to this scandal figuring this would blow over if he stepped aside.   I would look for Fr. Kondratick to be held accountable legally and criminally if and when the IRS does step in.  

We left the OCA due to a financial scandal in the parish that Fr. Kondratick had no concern even hearing about.  

This could cause the OCA to lose many of thier parishes that are not happy about other happenings within the OCA.


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« Reply #41 on: February 22, 2006, 08:20:26 PM »

Has anyone heard if there has been "progress" (read: simple change in the situation from what it was in Nov/Dec) lately?
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« Reply #42 on: February 22, 2006, 08:25:58 PM »

I don't know about "progress."  Certainly, Bishop +Tikhon has been vigorously defending Fr. Kondratick, on what the Onion Dome rather brilliantly refers to as "The Gehenna List."  
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« Reply #43 on: February 22, 2006, 08:36:12 PM »

Oh, I didn't know the Dome was back to publishing... thanks for the info.

It is sad that there has been no movement yet, but I had unfortunately expected as much.
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« Reply #44 on: February 23, 2006, 04:55:11 PM »

I think I can guess what at least one of the "number of issues facing the life of the Church" is.


Holy Synod of Bishops to hold special session  
 
Article posted: 2/23/2006 11:40 AM  

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America will meet in special session at the Chancery here on Wednesday, March 1, 2006.

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, called the session to review a number of issues facing the life of the Church.

The Holy Synod's regularly scheduled spring session, slated to be held at the Chancery immediately before the annual Memorial Day pilgrimage to Saint Tikhon's Monastery, South Canaan, PA, in May, 2006, will be held as announced.

In addition to Metropolitan Herman, who chairs the Holy Synod, the ruling diocesan hierarchs who will participate in the special session include His Eminence, Archbishop Kyrill of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania and the Bulgarian Diocese; His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South; His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the West; His Grace, Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada; His Grace, Bishop Nikolai of Sitka, Anchorage, and Alaska; His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston and New England and the Albanian Archdiocese; and His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania.
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« Reply #45 on: February 23, 2006, 04:56:14 PM »

Oh, I didn't know the Dome was back to publishing... thanks for the info.

Sidebar:  A new issue was posted about a week ago, the first since October.  And there was much rejoicing.  Grin
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« Reply #46 on: February 23, 2006, 05:06:25 PM »

I think I can guess what at least one of the "number of issues facing the life of the Church" is.  

Let's see what they say in the post-meeting period; it will be interesting to read what kind of "official" statements come out of it, or if there are guidelines set for the regular meeting later...
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« Reply #47 on: February 23, 2006, 05:15:35 PM »

What angers me greatly is that Bishop Tikhon calls for Archbishop Job to be suspended, deposed, or retired for his "schismatic behavior" when Archishop Job is tirelessly working for the good of the Church, missionizing, spreading the word, etc.  Bishop Tikhon, on the other hand, seems to be online most of the time.  Makes me angry, to say the least.

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« Reply #48 on: February 23, 2006, 05:24:19 PM »

What angers me greatly is that Bishop Tikhon calls for Archbishop Job to be suspended, deposed, or retired for his "schismatic behavior" when Archishop Job is tirelessly working for the good of the Church, missionizing, spreading the word, etc.  Bishop Tikhon, on the other hand, seems to be online most of the time.  Makes me angry, to say the least.

Anastasios

+Tikhon FITZGERALD has said this?  When/where?  That is VERY disappointing.
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« Reply #49 on: February 23, 2006, 05:30:22 PM »

+Tikhon FITZGERALD has said this?  When/where?  That is VERY disappointing.

It's on that ocanews site, in the letter Bp Tikhon (Fitzgerald) wrote to the Metropolitan.
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« Reply #50 on: February 23, 2006, 05:58:26 PM »

It's on that ocanews site, in the letter Bp Tikhon (Fitzgerald) wrote to the Metropolitan.

Thanks - I'll check it out.

It is disheartening to think that a call for being financially responsible in your own household - something that has almost NOTHING to do with the faith on theological or dogmatic grounds - is being viewed as "schismatic".  Please.
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« Reply #51 on: February 23, 2006, 08:21:26 PM »

If I understood His Grace's letter and related Web postings correctly, his anger (for lack of a better word) is directed at what he sees as Bishop +Job's "unchurchly" behavior, i.e., taking a non-conciliar approach to the situation.  I may have this wrong, but my basic understanding is that +Job wrote a letter to his flock that said something like, "I tried, but they wouldn't listen to me."  

I don't know who's right here, but that's at least how I understand the situation behind the letter.  Does anyone have more/better info?
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« Reply #52 on: February 23, 2006, 08:47:11 PM »

If I understood His Grace's letter and related Web postings correctly, his anger (for lack of a better word) is directed at what he sees as Bishop +Job's "unchurchly" behavior, i.e., taking a non-conciliar approach to the situation.  I may have this wrong, but my basic understanding is that +Job wrote a letter to his flock that said something like, "I tried, but they wouldn't listen to me." ÂÂ

I don't know who's right here, but that's at least how I understand the situation behind the letter.  Does anyone have more/better info?

So he (+Job) should be deposed or something for being untactful.....riiiiiiiight. Roll Eyes

And ftr, +Tikhon is MY bishop and I think this is further support that HE should be the one to retire and let his auxiliary +Benjamin take over the diocese.
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« Reply #53 on: February 23, 2006, 08:58:06 PM »

So he (+Job) should be deposed or something for being untactful.....riiiiiiiight. Roll Eyes

That is essentially what the Patriarch of Jerusalem was deposed for...not that I support such a thing, but lack of tact does seem to be sufficient excuse Wink
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« Reply #54 on: February 24, 2006, 12:31:36 AM »

What angers me greatly is that Bishop Tikhon calls for Archbishop Job to be suspended, deposed, or retired for his "schismatic behavior" when Archishop Job is tirelessly working for the good of the Church, missionizing, spreading the word, etc.  Bishop Tikhon, on the other hand, seems to be online most of the time.  Makes me angry, to say the least.

I'm with you on this 100%, Anastasios.  It's absolutley ridiculous.  A very sad situation really....VERY embarrassing for the OCA, but even worse than this, it means that the entire jurisdiction could implode in upon itself if discerning action isn't taken soon by those in a position to do so.....those with influence have to throw off their fear and stand up for the truth.  This culture of blind obediance cannot continue.
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« Reply #55 on: February 24, 2006, 12:46:31 AM »

So he (+Job) should be deposed or something for being untactful.....riiiiiiiight. Roll Eyes

And ftr, +Tikhon is MY bishop and I think this is further support that HE should be the one to retire and let his auxiliary +Benjamin take over the diocese.

Like I said, I don't know the whole story.  Sounds like no one here really does.

I'm a member of the same diocese.  From what I've been hearing for the last year or so, your latter sentiment is widely shared!  I have never so much as seen Bishop +Tihkon.  To paraphrase Will Rogers, all I know about His Grace is what I've read on the Internet and heard from friends.  Bishop +Benjamin visited our parish last summer, and my impression was very, very positive.  But +Tihkon is still my diocesan bishop.

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« Reply #56 on: February 24, 2006, 02:17:25 AM »

That is essentially what the Patriarch of Jerusalem was deposed for...not that I support such a thing, but lack of tact does seem to be sufficient excuse Wink

I'd say that you're downplaying that situation just a tad.
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« Reply #57 on: February 24, 2006, 05:07:23 AM »

Very sad news for the OCA.....Have a feeling something big might happen soon and hope that it's not the Met. trying to depose Archbishop Job for trying to 'clean' house behind the scenes and make those in the 'old boys network' more accountable. My priest last Sunday for the second time has said something to this effect and that if 'those put in the highest places in the church can fall, then all the more it is with the faithful who must pray daily to overcome the power of the demons.' They have already stripped Archbishop Job of his power to ordain priest which is ridiculous, what's next?  The Met. is acting more like the Roman Pontiff than and Orthodox hierarch. What's funny is that Archbishop Job's territory by far has seen the healthiest growth in the OCA by the same priest that the Met. did not want to see ordained. I guess he wants the old school ethnic priest or those trained at St. Vlads that burn out in 5 years or bring some kind of scandal to the church... Roll Eyes Yea, we had two like these brought in by the Met. in my area, but thank God we have a good priest for the last 7 years thanks to Archbishop Job. Lets hope unlike the previous Hierarch, that this one will be more forthcoming with the financial scandal at hand.
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« Reply #58 on: February 24, 2006, 09:25:09 AM »

I'd say that you're downplaying that situation just a tad.

LOL...I'm just saying that everything is steeped in politics first and ecclesiology second, ultimatley just being realistic.
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« Reply #59 on: February 26, 2006, 04:59:36 PM »

So I get home from Church today and Dad says, "well son, I just read about your Church* in the newspaper."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/25/AR2006022501266.html

(* Of course he doesn't know about the administrative divisions in the Orthodox Church, so no, I am not suddenly an OCA member lol).
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« Reply #60 on: February 26, 2006, 08:11:14 PM »

So I get home from Church today and Dad says, "well son, I just read about your Church* in the newspaper."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/25/AR2006022501266.html

(* Of course he doesn't know about the administrative divisions in the Orthodox Church, so no, I am not suddenly an OCA member lol).

If your dad is Roman Catholic he will surely understand that it isnt the church but the churchmen who are at fault.

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« Reply #61 on: February 26, 2006, 08:24:41 PM »

If your dad is Roman Catholic he will surely understand that it isnt the church but the churchmen who are at fault.



Nah, he's Lutheran. But yes, he does know that. I just cringe whenever Orthodoxy is put in a negative light--especially by our own people! LOL

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« Reply #62 on: February 27, 2006, 11:58:01 PM »

After all is said and done, who will we trust with our hard-earned money?  It will take many generations to get this scandal behind us because we have been burned.  Perhaps we are living in http://hell!
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« Reply #63 on: February 28, 2006, 12:01:10 PM »

After all is said and done, who will we trust with our hard-earned money?  It will take many generations to get this scandal behind us because we have been burned.  

It will take time to heal the broken trust, true... but if this matter is investigated by the CHurch itself, that will do a lot, I think, to reassure people that different leadership is in place...

Perhaps we are living in hell!

Eh, this isn't even 1/1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 of what hell is like... but it sure feels terrible, don't it?
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« Reply #64 on: February 28, 2006, 01:15:49 PM »

Quote
Eh, this isn't even 1/1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 of what hell is like... but it sure feels terrible, don't it?

Never been to Arizona during the summer, eh?  FWIW it has been like 120 days since we last had any rain in Phoenix.... it is just getting ridiculous.  
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« Reply #65 on: February 28, 2006, 01:26:32 PM »

The best I've gotten is a very humid 108 in Greece, with no A/C.
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« Reply #66 on: March 02, 2006, 02:28:55 AM »

Some news...

http://www.oca.org/News.asp?ID=946&SID=19

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« Reply #67 on: March 02, 2006, 02:41:15 AM »

Interesting decision by the synod... it is worth mentioning that it does not provide for review pre-2001, which is when many of these allegations say the worst of the problems happened...
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« Reply #68 on: March 02, 2006, 03:01:23 AM »

Interesting decision by the synod... it is worth mentioning that it does not provide for review pre-2001, which is when many of these allegations say the worst of the problems happened...

Exactly....seems to be just status quo unfortuntately.
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« Reply #69 on: March 02, 2006, 07:48:14 AM »

I still wonder if anything substantial will be found in the contemporary time period; but I think the bishops are a bit smarter than that.  I'm sure they know that there are no real serious irregularities in the period in question (2001+).  

Even if they do adopt best practices and whatnot, and make some actual steps to making sure this kind of thing can't happen again, they still need to address the alleged problems with the 1990's and what is probably a substantial amount of money.
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« Reply #70 on: March 02, 2006, 12:26:47 PM »

I still wonder if anything substantial will be found in the contemporary time period; but I think the bishops are a bit smarter than that.  I'm sure they know that there are no real serious irregularities in the period in question (2001+). ÂÂ

Even if they do adopt best practices and whatnot, and make some actual steps to making sure this kind of thing can't happen again, they still need to address the alleged problems with the 1990's and what is probably a substantial amount of money.

Yes, from the chronology of the site, there seems to be a couple million in a +Met discretionary account(s) that they continue to refuse to address....the whole point of the scandal.  Doesn't make sense.
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« Reply #71 on: March 02, 2006, 01:49:05 PM »

I can't wait for the IRS to pull the plug on tax-exemption!  Who will take the next title of Orthodox Church in America??

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« Reply #72 on: March 02, 2006, 03:30:02 PM »

I'm going to get a petition going for the IRS to investigate the OCA.  If enough people sign, perhaps we can force the government to intervene and take care of the criminals who were involved in this scam.

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« Reply #73 on: March 02, 2006, 03:34:42 PM »

Would that cause harm to the rest of the Church, though?  I don't know if the IRS would hold only the individuals responsible without trying to sink the whole ship....
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« Reply #74 on: March 02, 2006, 03:42:26 PM »

From the IRS point of view, Orthodox is no different than Protestant....they're all considered not-for-profit.  So I wouldn't think this would ruin it for the whole batch, seeing as how many churches and NFPs there are in the US.  Plus, no one has anything to be worried about if they're keeping relevant and reliable financial information. ÂÂ
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« Reply #75 on: March 02, 2006, 08:16:31 PM »

I wonder how many people will leave the OCA because of this, not that I would blame them.
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« Reply #76 on: March 02, 2006, 08:21:52 PM »

I don't know - while on one side, I would be incredibly distrustful, on the other hand, if this drives people from Orthodoxy then how strong was their faith to begin with?
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« Reply #77 on: March 02, 2006, 08:25:53 PM »

I've been reading through people's responses to the statement of the Synod of Bishops on the Orthodox Christians for Accountability website and the following comments from readers seem to be right on the money:

Quote
More stalling. More of the same. Why should we have expected differently? They continue to take the tack of pretending the decade of the 1990's never happened and hoping that the current cries for accountability will subside. This statement oozes with false piety. It is arrogant of the Holy Synod to so flagrantly ignore the outcries for an audit of the 1990's and then turn around and exhort us with references to the Gospel.

#2 Name Withheld By Request on 2006-03-02 07:48


Quote
Unfortunately, the statement failed to address the most important years in question, 1995 through 2003, were not addressed and no independent audit recommended! So much for restoring trust, accountability, ethics and integrity to the OCA.

Furthermore, the Synod failed to address whether the serious allegations made by Deacon Wheeler (and supported by others) are TRUE or FALSE?

Somehow, I'm not surprised.

This is known as the "Ostrich System of Management" perfected in the OCA. Burry your head in the sand and hope it all quietly goes away by itself. Better still, they will use the Great Lent to help silence further debate and cquestions and they will remind them that during Lent we are not supposed to "judge" or "cause trouble" or "speak out" against the hierarchy.

If this is what passes for "leadership" in the OCA in this day and age, we are in deeper trouble than some financial shenanigans. I said it before and I will repeat it again, there is a serious and deep spiritual crisis in the very heart of the church hierarchy and administration. Until the truth comes out, there is true repentance and accountability, and a genuine initiative to clean house and change course, things will continue to degrade and descend into darkness. Lord Have Mercy!
#3 Chris Banescu, Esq. on 2006-03-02 09:00
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« Reply #78 on: March 02, 2006, 08:28:33 PM »

I don't know - while on one side, I would be incredibly distrustful, on the other hand, if this drives people from Orthodoxy then how strong was their faith to begin with?

I was just wondering how many people would leave the OCA, for another jurisdiction - not leave Orthodoxy altogether, although I could see that happening.

Lots of people have left their respective churches when some scandal broke - Catholics, protestants, etc., why wouldn't the same happen to those of the Orthodox faith?
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« Reply #79 on: March 02, 2006, 08:32:51 PM »

I was just wondering how many people would leave the OCA, for another jurisdiction - not leave Orthodoxy altogether, although I could see that happening.  

Right, right.... sorry I didn't see that originally, it was in front of my face.
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« Reply #80 on: March 02, 2006, 08:53:38 PM »

Right, right.... sorry I didn't see that originally, it was in front of my face.

It's cool.  Cool
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« Reply #81 on: March 02, 2006, 08:55:37 PM »

Nice avatar man.
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« Reply #82 on: March 02, 2006, 08:59:04 PM »

Gracias.   Grin

The option to search "images" on google is priceless.  Wink
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« Reply #83 on: March 02, 2006, 09:02:48 PM »

The internet: helping promote fiscal accountability, and the dissemination of photographs!
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« Reply #84 on: March 02, 2006, 09:07:33 PM »

The internet: helping promote fiscal accountability, and the dissemination of photographs!

haha, indeed.  Cheesy

[Back on topic]

I'm wondering if we shall hear any more from Archbishop Job on the scandal, as he seemed to be the lone voice amongst the hierarchs?

I'm betting on "no", though I am hoping that I am mistaken.  Undecided

[/Back on topic]
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« Reply #85 on: March 02, 2006, 09:17:44 PM »

Normally I'd say that any bishop who likes to talk will continue, but if the synod decided in session that the above plan of action is the best way to go, he may tone down while they put it into action...

But if he doesn't like the progress, don't be surprised to see him start up again...
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« Reply #86 on: March 02, 2006, 09:26:37 PM »

I wonder how many people will leave the OCA because of this, not that I would blame them.
As a member of the OCA, I for one am not planning to "jump" jurisdictions.  However, this just confirms my belief that respect is something that is earned and not something that is due to one because of a title.  Also, it will be a very long time before I even consider contributing to an appeal sponsored by the OCA.
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« Reply #87 on: March 02, 2006, 09:32:39 PM »

I guess that's the only way to approach it for the moment...
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« Reply #88 on: March 02, 2006, 10:08:10 PM »

Nah, he's Lutheran. But yes, he does know that. I just cringe whenever Orthodoxy is put in a negative light--especially by our own people! LOL

A.

It is good to understand that if we, the faithful, dont bring this to light who will?  The faithful only want what is best for the Church.  Hiding this scandal under the rug is no way to administer God's house.  Better now than later.  We are big enough to handle the outcome and whatever the results of an independent audit.  Postponing any investigation will only compound problems.

I am OCA and will remain so.  This scandal is about men not God and not our faith.

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« Reply #89 on: March 02, 2006, 11:09:29 PM »

Quote from Arystarcus: " I wonder how many people will leave the OCA because of this, not that I blame them."
 ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚Â
 ÃƒÆ’‚ Hmmm.... I know that OCA bashing is somewhat popular on this forum, but I pray that your comments are not a thinly veiled attack .

 ÃƒÆ’‚ When one`s house has suffered structural decay and is in need of repare ,do you move out or call a carpenter?
 ÃƒÆ’‚ When someone in your family is suffering from dysfunctions , do you disassociate yourself from that person or try to help that family member in need?
 ÃƒÆ’‚  To those that feel the need to leave the OCA over this issue........" The Church of Christ is guided by the Holy Spirit and cannot err" .....but those (people) in the church can(err) and almost always will.It doesn`t matter which Orthodox Church you go to ...there are always problems , big and small.
 ÃƒÆ’‚ It is unfortunate that Americans are applying their instant gratification needs to this situation and possibly considering leaving the OCA rather than making the hard decisions that are necessary and many shy away from these days. I have no respect for those that want to run away from this issue in our jurisdiction...I consider you weak and you probably run away from your personal issues as well.
 ÃƒÆ’‚ For once , stop your running , and deal with the problem and let`s get our house in order.
 
 ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚  Moses
 ÃƒÆ’‚  
 
 ÃƒÆ’‚  
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« Reply #90 on: March 02, 2006, 11:24:41 PM »

Quote from Arystarcus: " I wonder how many people will leave the OCA because of this, not that I blame them."
     
  Hmmm.... I know that OCA bashing is somewhat popular on this forum, but I pray that your comments are not a thinly veiled attack .
I mean this both jokingly and seriously - actually, GOA and AOA bashing are much more popular - it's just this financial scandal that has put OCA bashing in Vogue.  And guess what?!?  Most of us doing the bashing.....ARE IN THE OCA!!!!


  When one`s house has suffered structural decay and is in need of repare ,do you move out or call a carpenter?
  When someone in your family is suffering from dysfunctions , do you disassociate yourself from that person or try to help that family member in need?
   To those that feel the need to leave the OCA over this issue........" The Church of Christ is guided by the Holy Spirit and cannot err" .....but those (people) in the church can(err) and almost always will.It doesn`t matter which Orthodox Church you go to ...there are always problems , big and small.
  It is unfortunate that Americans are applying their instant gratification needs to this situation and possibly considering leaving the OCA rather than making the hard decisions that are necessary and many shy away from these days. I have no respect for those that want to run away from this issue in our jurisdiction...I consider you weak and you probably run away from your personal issues as well.
  For once , stop your running , and deal with the problem and let`s get our house in order.
 
             Moses

Who said that anyone actually WAS leaving?  Some are just SPECULATING that some people MIGHT leave because of the scandal.  No one is "running" from anything.  Have you been reading?  ARCHBISHOP Job and many priests in his diocese have been the most vocal and have advocated the audit.  How is this running?  If the majority of the Bishops in the Synod plus the Metropolitan refuse to address the years in question, then what can we do?  Please enlighten us if you have a solution.  Praying is obvious.  Maybe it really is the solution and we need just do it (ala Nike).
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« Reply #91 on: March 02, 2006, 11:40:26 PM »

I'm going to get a petition going for the IRS to investigate the OCA.  If enough people sign, perhaps we can force the government to intervene and take care of the criminals who were involved in this scam.

Scripture exhorts Christians to settle disputes privately among themselves instead of going to Caesar.
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« Reply #92 on: March 02, 2006, 11:54:52 PM »

Scripture exhorts Christians to settle disputes privately among themselves instead of going to Caesar.

The problem is, that it appears laws may have been broken.

Anastasios
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« Reply #93 on: March 02, 2006, 11:56:14 PM »

The problem is, that it appears laws may have been broken.

Nonetheless.
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« Reply #94 on: March 03, 2006, 12:15:44 AM »

Elisha:
 I personally know more than one person who has fled the OCA because of this and I am perhaps a bit over reactive because of this.
 So in answer to your question ,yes I know people who are running.
 
 Does not my intial post show that I support the house cleaning that Archbishop Job has called for ?
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« Reply #95 on: March 03, 2006, 12:56:26 AM »

Hmmm.... I know that OCA bashing is somewhat popular on this forum, but I pray that your comments are not a thinly veiled attack .

I am inclined to think that you may be overreacting. If I was to "attack" the OCA, I would come right out and say it, as I believe that mincing words is frivolous.

Also, I was chrismated into the Church via the OCA and I hold a lot of respect towards Archbishop Job.

" The Church of Christ is guided by the Holy Spirit and cannot err" .....but those (people) in the church can(err) and almost always will.It doesn`t matter which Orthodox Church you go to ...there are always problems , big and small.

I agree wholeheartedly.

.....possibly considering leaving the OCA rather than making the hard decisions that are necessary and many shy away from these days.

When I was chrismated into the Church, I was received into the Holy Orthodox Church, via the OCA. I am not a member of the OCA - I am an Orthdox Christian first and foremost.

I have no respect for those that want to run away from this issue in our jurisdiction...I consider you weak and you probably run away from your personal issues as well.

I don't believe it is the lay people of the OCA that are running away from this issue, I think it is the upper echelons of the church that appear to be hoping that that this will all quietly fade from the memory of the people who have been funneling money into these appeals.

Case in point: how many of the people in the OCA will hear about this situation from their parish priest? Is this being announced from the pulpit, because the people should know and in fact, have a right to know what is going on in the church. There needs to be an admission of the goings-on, and this needs to be addressed to the laity on the parish level. I know that the OCA church I was going to has been "hush hush" about it and the only way anyone knows about it is via the web.

The question remains - "are the allegations true or are they false?"

For once , stop your running , and deal with the problem and let`s get our house in order.

The house needs to get in order starting from the top down.
   
It's just as Carpatho Russian said:

However, this just confirms my belief that respect is something that is earned and not something that is due to one because of a title.  Also, it will be a very long time before I even consider contributing to an appeal sponsored by the OCA.
 

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« Reply #96 on: March 03, 2006, 01:43:40 AM »

I agree with everything you have to say. It was you , however, that stated you would not blame people for leaving the OCA, hence my responce.
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« Reply #97 on: March 03, 2006, 03:44:55 AM »

Elisha:
 I personally know more than one person who has fled the OCA because of this and I am perhaps a bit over reactive because of this.
 So in answer to your question ,yes I know people who are running.
 
 Does not my intial post show that I support the house cleaning that Archbishop Job has called for ?

Well, I'm sorry that they did and that is their issue.  I am perfectly happy in my parish and plan to stay for the foreseeable future....regardless of the commotion in Syosset.
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« Reply #98 on: March 03, 2006, 11:32:44 AM »

Orthodox Leaders Reject Call for Audit
Bishops Vow to Improve Accounting After Accusations of Fund Mismanagement

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 3, 2006; A05



Leaders of the Orthodox Church in America, facing allegations that they mismanaged millions of dollars, rejected calls for an immediate investigation but promised to follow better accounting procedures in the future.

The 400,000-member denomination has been reeling since October from accusations by its former treasurer, Deacon Eric A. Wheeler. He says that during the late 1990s, its top officials diverted donations from agribusiness magnate Dwayne Andreas, U.S. military chaplains and ordinary parishioners, using some of the money to cover credit card debts and pay sexual blackmail.

After an all-day, closed-door meeting Wednesday in Syosset, N.Y., the church's Holy Synod, a governing body of 10 bishops, announced that it will adopt a set of "best practices" for financial management. The synod also promised to seek outside audits for 2004 and 2005, and to review all its fundraising appeals since 2001.

But the bishops postponed a decision on whether to look into Wheeler's allegations of sloppy bookkeeping as well as misappropriation of funds in the late 1990s. They indicated they might reconsider the matter when they meet again in the spring.

"On the threshold of the Great Fast [of Lent], we exhort the faithful to remember the Holy Gospel, to conform to the example of Christ, and to live as Christians in mutual repentance and forgiveness," the synod's statement concluded.

The delay drew criticism from some lay leaders of the denomination, which is informally known as the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States but has been independent of Moscow since 1970.

"It's bitterly disappointing, because we'll have to wait another three months to see if any investigation will be initiated involving the years in dispute," said Gregory Nescott, a lifelong member of the church who is a federal prosecutor in Pittsburgh. "The bishops had the chance to instantly begin to restore trust. . . . They chose instead to attack with a toothpick the python that threatens to swallow the church."

The church's highest prelate, who has the title of metropolitan and goes by the single name of Herman, did not return phone calls seeking comment. Neither did its top administrative officer, Chancellor Robert S. Kondratick.

The most senior official who could be reached yesterday was the Rev. Paul Kucynda, who has served as acting treasurer since July. He said the synod "left the door open" for an investigation, depending on the outcome of the audits for 2004 and 2005.

"Doing the independent audits will give them a sense of direction without being judgmental prematurely," he said. "It really isn't some kind of stonewalling."

On top of the allegations of misconduct, the church faces mounting debts. Its comptroller, the Rev. Stavros Strikis, said it is considering a bank loan of about $1.5 million, equivalent to about 40 percent of its $3.9 million annual operating budget.

Orthodox Christians for Accountability, a lay group pushing for greater transparency in the church's finances, suggested that the only reason the synod asked for the 2004 and 2005 audits is that they are necessary to obtain the loan. Kucynda said that was "simply not true."

"I am not interested, nor is he [the metropolitan], to cover anything up. But we have to methodically start somewhere," he said.

Financial experts said the Orthodox Church's problems show how easy it is for churches to avoid financial scrutiny. Other tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations must file annual financial statements, known as Form 990s, to the IRS. But churches do not have to make any public disclosure of how much they receive in donations, from whom, or how the money is spent.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company
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« Reply #99 on: March 05, 2006, 02:28:41 PM »

Nonetheless.

I'm sorry, I don't think St Paul's injunction applies here.  He is talking about people suing each other in court for church property and the like. This is a different animal; the people in charge may have broken the law and their behavior may spell financial ruin for the Orthodox Church in America.  Calling for the State to intervene in the case of a law being broken is much different than say suing your bishop for the church property.

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« Reply #100 on: March 07, 2006, 05:43:49 PM »

In a sense, it's hard to blame anyone for wanting to leave, but it would depend on one's closeness to his or her local parish and priest.  My view is that laity and clergy need to continue applying the pressure, which would include keeping the discussions alive online.  Furthermore, hold back on donating to all national appeals, which as far as I'm concerned make absolutely no sense except to waste money on a middleman (who, in this case, may be helping himself to the biggest share).  Give directly to the seminaries and missions, your parish, your local charities, or IOCC.  We need to make it clear that the regular membership dues go into the general operating fund and this account has been properly audited.  The questions are swirling around the donations on the side, as apparently the folks in Syosset think that's all discretionary and no one's business what they do with it.  They're not going to say anything more on the subject given that the FBI has already touched base with Dcn. Wheeler and anything said within Syosset publicly can be used against them later in the event charges are filed.
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« Reply #101 on: March 08, 2006, 11:12:35 AM »

Quote
Case in point: how many of the people in the OCA will hear about this situation from their parish priest? Is this being announced from the pulpit, because the people should know and in fact, have a right to know what is going on in the church. There needs to be an admission of the goings-on, and this needs to be addressed to the laity on the parish level. I know that the OCA church I was going to has been "hush hush" about it and the only way anyone knows about it is via the web.

The question remains - "are the allegations true or are they false?"

I'm glad my priest has been at the forefront of all this, he was one of the six priest who wrote that 'accountability" letter that was sent to the Metropolitan. He has made some comments publicly in the church about the situation and has gently prepared us for the situation at hand. It all really makes me sick, also seeing that that the Metropolitan and some of the other so called Bishops would love to depose of Archbishop Job, who has been practically the only one behind the scenes urging for accountability & change. When I think of some of our Hierarchs in the OCA,  they sadly remind me how the religious jewish leaders were portrayed in the Passion of the Christ with nothing but snarls on their face and ruthlessness in their hearts. Lord have mercy on us all!
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« Reply #102 on: March 10, 2006, 04:17:57 PM »

http://www.ocanews.org/

3.10.06

Major Diversion of Funds Confirmed By Internal OCA Financial Statement

The accompanying notes to the most recent financial statement of the OCA, compiled by the accounting firm of Konsen & Hostelley LLP of Independence (Cleveland) Ohio, confirms that major diversions of charitable and appeal funds took place as recently as 2001, 2002 and 2003.

These explanatory notes, dated May 2004 and addressed to the Metropolitan Council, were apparently never distributed to the Council. Sent only to the Bishops, and then only in November 2005, the notes reveal that monies collected from the three annual charitable appeals (Mission, Seminary and Charities), as well as 4 other project funds, (The Military Chaplains Fund, The Clergy Care Endowment (which provides support to retired clergy needing health care coverage beyond Medicare), The Publications Fund and The Archives Project) were not used for their intended purposes, but diverted to pay administrative and operating costs. The whole report, obtained by OCANews, confirms Syosset’s misuse of these “temporarily restricted” funds was not a singular event, but a pattern that has extended over years.

The Notes

In the five-page document entitled “Notes to the Financial Statements” that accompanies the Church’s statement of financial position as of December 31, 2003, Konsen & Hostelley reveal that:

“As directed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, the Chancery transferred $62,997 of temporarily restricted funds in 2003, $469,017 in 2002 and $98,461 in 2001 to meet current obligations of the Chancery.”

Recognizing the problem created by the diversion of the funds from their intended purposes, the report states:
“These funds will be transferred back to temporarily restricted funds as soon as practical”. However, the report itself makes clear that this will not be anytime soon given the growing debt of the OCA. In the same report under “Notes Payable”, Konsen & Hostelley write:

“As directed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, the Chancery obtained a line of credit commercial loan (sic) from Commerce Bank for $600,000 of which only $500,000 has been utilized to date, to meet the current obligations of the Chancery.”

Although the firm of Konsen & Hostelley does not specifically indicate when the loan was taken out, it is clear that this money was not used to repay the funds diverted above - but again, taken “to meet the current obligations of the Chancery”. Moreover, as “Funding the Vision”, a paper presented to the 2005 All American Council in Toronto made clear, the operating deficit of the OCA for the year 2004 alone was over $430,000. It is unlikely the diverted funds, totaling more than $630,000 by 2003, have even begun to be repaid.

There are, as yet, no figures detailing how much money was diverted from these charitable and other temporarily restricted funds for 2004 & 2005, if any. According to the recent press release of the Synod of Bishops, an audit of OCA finances for 2004 is expected no later than March 31, 2006 and may shed light on this question and practice.

The Missing 9/11 Funds

If what is stated in the report raises troubling administrative and ethical questions, what is not in the report raises even more.

Missing totally from this report is any mention of an additional $285,000 in funds raised in a special OCA appeal in September-October 2001 for the victims of 9/11. Nowhere in this statement of the OCA’s financial position as of December 31, 2002, or in 2003, is any mention made of a balance of funds for the 9/11 Appeal.  This can only mean the monies were either fully distributed by December 31, 2001 (since no opening balance was shown in the 2002 report) — or they have “vanished” from the OCA books entirely.


OCANews has reported earlier that the Committee created to disburse the 9/11 Funds met for the first time in December 2001. It was only at their second meeting, in February 2002, though, that the Committee agreed on how to disburse the Appeal monies. It is possible that all the Appeal Funds were distributed six weeks before the Committee that was to disburse them met to decide on how to do so? The only other explanation is that the money has indeed “vanished”.

Either option raises disturbing questions.

The Bishops’ New “Review”

The mystery of the 9/11 Funds may shed some light on the Bishop’s recent decision to “review the disposition of all monies collected through all OCA appeals from 2001.” On February 28, 2006 the Synod announced:

“Our objective is to have a report from the external CPA firm of Lambrides, Lamos, Moulthrop, LLP for presentation to the Holy Synod by the time of the Spring 2006 meeting.”

But critics ask why another “report” and not a full audit? The distinction between the two is important. As Konsen and Hostelley state in the opening remarks to this report: “A compilation is limited to presenting in the form of financial statements, information that is the representation of management. We have not audited or reviewed these statements and accordingly do not express an opinion or any other form of assurance on them.”

In other words, a “report” offers only those numbers that management, or in this case, Syosset, reveals. An audit, on the other hand, is the highest level of financial reporting. Only an audit requires full financial statement presentation, footnote disclosures, includes testing transactions, invoices, confirmations to third parties and other procedures to provide the highest level of assurance available.  A "report" does not.

A “report” from one external CPA firm - Konsen and Hostelley- for the years in question (2002-2003) already indicates where the monies are, and where they are not. If it is accurate, critics ask, what is the point of wasting time and money on a new "report"?

Or, are the Bishops implying that the 2004 Konsen and Hostelley report is not accurate? If that is the case, and as Konsen and Hostelley have been providing counsel and reports to the OCA since 1998, then perhaps everything needs to be revisited, not in yet another “report”, but in a full audit.

The Ongoing Problem

There can be no dispute that obvious ethical lapses — lapses bordering on outright fraud — have continued year after year, in the form of Appeal funds that are diverted from their intended purposes. Syosset’s own documentation now fully confirms this practice and pattern. But all the Appeal and project monies are still not accounted for - and only an audit can do this. Until this is done, and until those responsible are held accountable for the evident financial misconduct, questions regarding the integrity of the OCA and its leadership will continue to multiply...

- Mark Stokoe
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« Reply #103 on: March 10, 2006, 05:06:10 PM »

Already a thread on this topic.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=7534.0
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« Reply #104 on: March 10, 2006, 05:11:00 PM »

Wow.  Another one bites the dust.
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« Reply #105 on: March 10, 2006, 05:17:42 PM »

Already a thread on this topic.

So here's ya another one.  Shocked
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« Reply #106 on: March 10, 2006, 05:56:00 PM »

I just merged them mainly because I wanted to see if that function really works Smiley
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« Reply #107 on: March 10, 2006, 06:09:03 PM »

Have you ever tried seeing if the unmerge function works?  Grin
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« Reply #108 on: March 10, 2006, 08:42:05 PM »

If this scandal really exists, why hasn't it appeared in more mainstream news sources?
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« Reply #109 on: March 10, 2006, 09:18:41 PM »

If this scandal really exists, why hasn't it appeared in more mainstream news sources?
The first newspaper to report this story was The Bergen Record, a local newspaper in northern New Jersey, on 2/20/06.  On 3/3/06, an article on this "scandal" was published in The Washington Post and other newspapers associated with The Washington Post in major cities across the US.  Since the Orthodox Church is so insignificant in this country, I'm sure it didn't make front page news in the major papers.
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« Reply #110 on: March 11, 2006, 12:19:36 AM »

It's also been reported in the Chicago Tribune and Associated Press.  I heard Fox News ran a brief segment as well.
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« Reply #111 on: March 11, 2006, 12:56:32 AM »

While I want people to be aware of the problem, I don't like the mainstream media getting a hold of it only because of their lack of moral standing, their distaste for church in general, and for their perception of Orthodoxy as a strange thing...
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« Reply #112 on: March 11, 2006, 03:27:39 AM »

While I want people to be aware of the problem, I don't like the mainstream media getting a hold of it only because of their lack of moral standing, their distaste for church in general, and for their perception of Orthodoxy as a strange thing...

Indeed, this is the reason why the OCA should take greater steps toward resolving the situation. Better perform the audits and owe more money to a bank than owe an account to God Shocked
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« Reply #113 on: March 11, 2006, 03:30:24 AM »

I have read pretty thoroughly much of the news information provided at www.ocanews.org, and I must say as a member of the OCA that this saddens me very deeply.  However, I don't think anger or a judgmental attitude such as I've seen in some posts on this thread is the right response.

Who of us here has never sinned?  Not a one of us, I would venture to say.  We are all sinners, so none of us has the right to condemn another for his/her sins.  We are called instead to love, to forgive, and to pray for the salvation of others, especially of our hierarchs and clergy.

Don't get me wrong, though.  I do believe in accountability.  Those who have sinned need to be called to account.  One of the things I love about Confession is the structured accountability that this provides for me.  I have a loving father who hears me confess even my most shameful sins and helps and counsels me in my life of repentance--sometimes he's even had to take the initiative to scold me and call me to confess certain more eggregious sins that I committed while in states of delusion.  Even our hierarchs and clergy need to be called to account from time to time so that they, too, can repent of their sins.  Ultimately, the goal of accountability and repentance is restoration and salvation.

I've also seen in this thread a lot of talk of jurisdiction jumping.  Some see this as a viable way to escape the scandal for a "more perfect" church, whereas others believe that we have a responsibility to right our own ship.  To me, jurisdiction jumping is not an option.

I am Orthodox.  In my city, I just happen to feel most at home in an OCA parish--no offense meant toward any other jurisdiction, with whom I am rather active via pan-Orthodox social groups and liturgical activities--and I have a wonderful relationship with my priest, the delegated celebrant of the Holy Mysteries that are my life.  I detest the current situation in America where we have more Orthodox jurisdictions in my city than I can count on one hand, where I can escape a problem in one jurisdiction by just transfering my membership to another.  This is an uncanonical monstrosity that must come to an end!  GOA, Antiochian Church, OCA, ROCOR, ...  We're all Orthodox.  We all confess the same faith.  We're in sacramental communion with each other.  Why are we accused of phyletism because our jurisdictional situation in America does not bear witness to our unity of faith?

Yes, I long for the day when all Orthodox jurisdictions in America will be united administratively into one American church, and I choose to live as if this is reality today.  When this administrative unity does become reality, than jurisdiction jumping will not be an option for any of us.  Our only options then will be to right our ship or leave the Church altogether.
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« Reply #114 on: March 11, 2006, 06:37:31 PM »

I talked via email with a friend who is now serving as a priest in Archbishop Job's diocese, and he confirmed that much of what is published in www.ocanews.org is accurate.  He did say that the site is somewhat alarmist and that it therefore doesn't have all of its facts straight (maybe some exaggeration), but that he does support what the creators of the site intend to accomplish.

All I can say for now is that we should all (whether you are OCA or not) pray fervently for the hierarchs of the OCA that they will make the right decisions regarding how to address this scandal.  Pray that they can clean up this scandal in-house (and not by continuing to sweep it under the rug and hoping nobody looks under the rug) and give their clergy and faithful the transparency we need, because if the civil authorities have to get involved, this will turn into an even bigger and more publicized mess.
 Sad Sad Sad
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« Reply #115 on: March 11, 2006, 07:38:57 PM »

It's important to pray.

Protodeacon Eric Wheeler is a family friend and has been for decades. In the opinion of my family, knowing his character, he is beyond reproach.

As it stands, from here, we need to open the closet doors, clean up whatever mess there is, repent, pray extra hard, and move on in a better way. This is what all of our lives are about, and this only reminds us of our own sinfulness, our own planks. God's will be done.
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« Reply #116 on: March 12, 2006, 12:42:05 AM »

It's important to pray.

Protodeacon Eric Wheeler is a family friend and has been for decades. In the opinion of my family, knowing his character, he is beyond reproach.

As it stands, from here, we need to open the closet doors, clean up whatever mess there is, repent, pray extra hard, and move on in a better way. This is what all of our lives are about, and this only reminds us of our own sinfulness, our own planks. God's will be done.

AMEN!
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« Reply #117 on: March 12, 2006, 05:35:51 PM »

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06071/669024.stm
------------------------------------------------------

Accusations swirl around leaders of Orthodox Church in America
Did church mismanage funds?


Sunday, March 12, 2006
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For 400,000 members of the Orthodox Church in America, this first Sunday of Lent is troubled by staggering claims of financial mismanagement against two of their most respected leaders.

The accusations, squelched for six years as church financial officials and even a bishop sought an investigation, now are shouted to the world on the Internet.

Former insiders from church headquarters in Syosset, N.Y., say that, from 1996 to 2002, millions of dollars in grants and charitable gifts were siphoned into two unaudited accounts. One was controlled by former Metropolitan Theodosius, the now-retired primate; and the other by the Rev. Robert Kondratick, the church's chancellor.

A past treasurer says some of the money was used to pay personal credit card bills and even blackmail. He says that no full, certified, independent audit has been done on church accounts since 1996.

Father Kondratick said Metropolitan Herman, the current primate, has told him not to address the accusations for now.

"I hope, at some point in the future, to be permitted to express my own point of view," he said. "However, what I can say is that the church administration is working closely with our Holy Synod [of bishops] and with our CPA firm, which is currently conducting audits and reviews. ... Obviously, we look forward to their recommendations."

The acting treasurer, the Rev. Paul Kucynda, a Charleroi native who became treasurer in July, said every cent given for charity or special projects "is all sequestered and used only for that purpose. There will not be any invasion, for any reason, of any designated funds from here forward.''

But questions linger. Metropolitan Theodosius retired in 2002 to his native Canonsburg, where efforts to reach him were unsuccessful. Metropolitan Herman has promised an outside audit for 2004-05. Critics say that evades the key years, 1996 to 2002.

"What happened to the intervening years, and will the audits they have promised be audits of all the accounts?" asked Greg Nescott, a member of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in McCandless. He resigned from the OCA's Metropolitan Council, an executive body, citing a six-year failure to investigate.

Mr. Nescott, a federal prosecutor, said Archbishop Kyrill, of Western Pennsylvania, and his own priest, the Rev. Paul Suda, who heads the audit committee, barred him from becoming parish council president because of his call for an investigation. Father Suda did not return calls from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Archbishop Kyrill was reported to be out of town.

Those raising the alarm have not called for legal action but for certified public accountants.

"My only call has been to bring in an independent auditor," said Deacon Eric Wheeler, the former treasurer whose account of irregularities in Syosset caused long-simmering questions to boil over publicly last year. A Web site devoted to the issue went online Jan. 7 at www.ocanews.org.

Nearly 60 clergy from the Diocese of the Midwest and 70 of the most senior priests nationwide have petitioned for a thorough investigation.

A few priests who called for audits, including the 86-year-old former dean of the national cathedral, reported that Metropolitan Herman had silenced them.

"Good people who have raised honest questions have been vilified or silenced," said the petition from the senior priests.

The OCA is a daughter of the Russian Orthodox Church. About 40 of its 600 parishes are in Western Pennsylvania.

For 10 years, beginning in 1990, both inside and outside auditors warned of poorly kept expense records and chided church leaders for allowing the same person to handle deposits, disbursements and record-keeping, according to documents now on the Web.

Deacon Wheeler, 51, finance manager for a Long Island museum, had an accounting background before becoming secretary to Metropolitan Theodosius in 1988. He soon noticed that money constantly moved outside normal channels, he wrote in his 2005 "Call to Accountability," distributed to members of the church's governing council and now posted on the Internet.

The attitude was that "funds were needed to safeguard the church from scandal, cover embarrassing credit cards debts ... provide family members who leached off their relatives with a steady stream of assistance, pay blackmail requests," he wrote.

Father Kondratick's monthly American Express bills ran between $5,000 and $12,000, explained only by notations such as "Help for Russia," Deacon Wheeler wrote. He estimated that half of unrestricted bequests in the early 1990s went into unaudited accounts, as did some gifts for missions special appeals.

The treasurer then, as now, was Father Kucynda, who, Deacon Wheeler said, made a valiant but futile effort to enforce financial discipline.

"The weekly tirades and outbursts when he would discover the American Express bills being paid with little or no back-up ... fed a great deal of internal tension," he wrote.

From 1995 to 1999, he said, the church received $3 million to $5 million from the Archer Daniel Midlands Foundation and the Dwayne Andreas Foundation. It was to renovate St. Catherine's Orthodox Church in Moscow and build a religious conference center there, named for Mr. Andreas, the CEO of Archer Daniels Midland.

A spokesman for the Archer Daniels Midland Foundation didn't respond to an interview request. IRS records the Post-Gazette obtained from 1998 show that $400,000 from Archer Daniels Midland went to the church that year alone.

When the first $250,000 ADM grant arrived in 1995, Father Kucynda tried to put it into a segregated, audited account, Deacon Wheeler said. A month later, Father Kucynda and Deacon Wheeler were told to switch jobs.

"I had Father Kondratick affirm and reaffirm and reaffirm that the current financial practices would stop," Deacon Wheeler wrote.

Two years later, after he found that a $250,000 grant check was not in any audited account, he stopped signing financial reports.

Deacon Wheeler does not say that all the money was misused. Substantial work was done on the Moscow church, though there was once a plan to disguise a law office as the proposed Andreas Conference Center should Mr. Andreas attempt to visit, he wrote.

"As a ballpark, one-third of the money went for good purposes, one-third went into gray areas [that claimed to be charitable] and one-third was used for who knows what because there was no record-keeping," he said last week.

In June 1999, Deacon Wheeler confided in John Kozey, head of the church audit committee, and Robert Taylor, an outside auditor. Mr. Kozey, a financial analyst living in Syosset, said he was nominated for his elected position because of a friendship with Father Kondratick. He hoped a meeting with Father Kondratick, the church's attorney and other key officials would put things right.

"Father Bob acted very surprised, as if he had never heard of the irregularities before. He said, 'We have to address this. We have to fix this,' " Mr. Kozey said.

Minutes from that July 8, 1999, meeting describe a plan to hire a special outside accountant to determine whether the metropolitan's discretionary account was "used for purposes consistent with state and federal law."

But three weeks later, the Holy Synod of bishops suddenly declared that the metropolitan had a right to an unaudited, discretionary fund.

"We unanimously exhort the primate to deny any form of audit," the bishops said. Archbishop Job, of Chicago, later wrote that no one had told him that a large sum of money was involved.

According to lawyer Richard Hammar, of Springfield, Mo., an authority on church financial law, discretionary funds are common but can lead to tax problems.

"Any discretionary funds that could be accessed by a pastor and used for personal purposes can amount to taxable income, even if the funds are not ever used for personal purposes," he said. To avoid that, the church must limit the amount in the fund, prohibit the pastor from using it for personal benefit and have some church official review it.

Whether a church faces trouble for diverting designated gifts toward other ministry depends on the circumstances, he said.

In September 1999, Deacon Wheeler was removed as treasurer. About the same time, the outside auditor wrote that he could not complete the 1998 audit because of incomplete data and poor records.

Mr. Kozey promptly wrote to every member of the Metropolitan Council, asking to address its November meeting. Its administrative committee refused, but his letter moved the issue into some parishes.

After reading the letter, Mr. Nescott, the Pittsburgh prosecutor and an alternate to the meeting, decided to sit in on the council, as alternates had done before. He was shocked when the metropolitan's secretary called to tell him he couldn't attend.

That refusal "gave enormous credence to the concerns being raised by John Kozey," Mr. Nescott later wrote.

"Surely they didn't fear a few honest questions. Did they not have enough chairs at Syosset to seat me at the meeting? Or could the fact that I was a federal prosecutor have anything to do with it?" He later became a delegate.

At that November 1999 council meeting, the dormant plan for a special outside auditor to perform a "summary review" of the discretionary fund was resurrected. Mr. Kozey and a few others protested that a "summary review" was not an audit.

On Jan. 14, 2000, an attorney for Metropolitan Theodosius wrote that an outside firm had found the discretionary account statements of 1996-1998 "in conformity with generally accepted accounting procedures."

That satisfied most members of the Metropolitan Council. That April, Mr. Kozey said, chancery officials maneuvered him out of his role as head of the audit committee by scheduling meetings he couldn't attend. Father Suda replaced him.

Metropolitan Theodosius retired in July 2002. Archbishop Job, who had met with Deacon Wheeler, hoped Metropolitan Herman would bring reform. But, according to minutes of a talk the archbishop gave to Ohio priests, he was disappointed.

In June, Archbishop Job wrote to Metropolitan Herman, asking for a complete report on finances at the All-American Council in July. Father Kondratick replied that the metropolitan considered such a report "inappropriate."

Learning of that, Mr. Nescott resigned from the council.

"The Metropolitan Council that just a few decades ago was a reliable and respected body that offered professional and intelligent advice to the church in financial and related matters is no more," he wrote on an Orthodox Web forum.

Deacon Wheeler sent his summary of concerns to all council members. At their November meeting, Metropolitan Herman promised "to order independent audits by an outside CPA firm."

But, as echoed at two succeeding meetings of bishops, the audit would cover only 2004 and 2005.

On Nov. 28, Archbishop Job wrote to Metropolitan Herman, saying that "an independent audit of the finances of the church for only the last two years will not provide the necessary answers." He complained that church leaders had attacked Deacon Wheeler's character "while the issues were essentially ignored."

"What continues to perplex me is that the simple and most appropriate question was not asked. ... Are any of the allegations true, or are they false?" he wrote.

"Obviously there must be investigation."

But Father Kucynda, the acting treasurer, believes that the 2004-05 audit can lead to further audits.

"The accountants are going backward, wherever that takes them," he said. "Audits are expensive. We are a modest church. We are trying to do what we can to clarify all the accusations and, at the same time, limit the amount of auditing in the older records to whatever is really necessary to get to the heart of the matter."
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« Reply #118 on: March 16, 2006, 07:38:14 PM »

http://www.oca.org/News.asp?ID=960&SID=19

Administrative Committee meets
Article posted: 3/16/2006 5:57 PM
 
SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — In response to questions regarding financial accountability, the Administrative Committee of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America met today in Extraordinary Session at the church headquarters in Syosset, New York.

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman announced that as the Primate of the Church, he has retained the law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP to undertake an internal investigation of allegations relating to the finances of the Church.

He also announced that the accounting firm of Lambrides, Lamos, Moulthrop, LLP, presently engaged to conduct an Independent Audit of all Church financial accounts for the years 2004 and 2005, has been engaged further to examine the disposition of monies collected through OCA appeals from 2001 through 2005.

Metropolitan Herman also announced that he will authorize any additional engagements with the accounting firm as requested by the attorneys conducting the internal investigation.

He also announced that Protopresbyter Robert S.Kondratick has been relieved of his service as Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America.

Further administrative announcements will be forthcoming.
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« Reply #119 on: March 16, 2006, 09:18:29 PM »

GOOD.
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« Reply #120 on: March 16, 2006, 10:41:11 PM »

GOOD.

And I will be the first ditto.
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« Reply #121 on: March 16, 2006, 11:51:00 PM »

While I want people to be aware of the problem, I don't like the mainstream media getting a hold of it only because of their lack of moral standing, their distaste for church in general, and for their perception of Orthodoxy as a strange thing...

The reason they may look at us as strange just might be . . . as I said in response to another post . . . we need to get out more.  I don't mean that in a 'fellowship' way, but we need more exposure to the rest of the United States.  Anytime there is 'mainstream' news coverage of a Christian story, you never see an Orthodox priest or heirarch being interviewed.  We, as Orthodox need to market ourselves a little better than what we do now, if we do at all.
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« Reply #122 on: March 17, 2006, 08:32:07 AM »

you're completely right - the Orthodox do need to be better at getting out there with our presence and our message.... of course, the key to this movement will have to be the same as it was in the first 4 centuries: we have to live the life we preach, especially publicly, so that people will see our good examples and praise God in heaven.  This goes for financial management as well, I suppose...
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« Reply #123 on: March 17, 2006, 08:55:40 PM »

you're completely right - the Orthodox do need to be better at getting out there with our presence and our message.... of course, the key to this movement will have to be the same as it was in the first 4 centuries: we have to live the life we preach, especially publicly, so that people will see our good examples and praise God in heaven.  This goes for financial management as well, I suppose...

Very well said!
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« Reply #124 on: April 04, 2006, 10:09:58 AM »

http://ocanews.org/news/TikhontoHerman.html

Quote
4.4.06 Latest News

+Tikhon to +Herman:

Resign, Retire or Be Deposed

In the concluding paragraphs of his letter dated March 24 to Metropolitan Herman, Bishop +Tikhon offers the Primate of the OCA three stark choices: resign, retire or face deposition. +Tikhon writes:

"Please consider these alternatives which I consider to be ones which hold out substantial basis to hope of an early amelioration or even termination of the provocations afflicting the Body of the Church and which will end this putting of God to the test:

1. Resign and ask the senior member of the Holy Synod, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania and the Bulgarian Diocese, to assume the post of locum tenens (and temporary administrator). Your Beatitude's last official act should be to revoke any and all actions taken since the last session of the Holy Synod.

2. Retire, after immediate consultation and the most thorough possible physical and psychological evaluation. No one would question any expenses in excess of what the insurance plan allows. At the same time taking the actions in paragraph a) especially, 'the last official act should be to revoke any and all actions taken since the last session of the Holy Synod.'

3. Consider the canonical implications of remaining as First Hierarch and continuing on Your Beatitude's present erratic course over the sea of life, which might possibly result in discrediting of so much of what Your Beatitude had accomplished that was decent and orderly. The alarm voiced by prominent representatives of other Local Churches indicates to me that there would be no shortage of available Hierarchs to make up the required twelve.... Think of all those who have trusted you, rightfully! Do you care for their fate? Do you want to provide them an example of stubbornness, rather than firmness? An example of non-repentance and blaming others?

With love in Christ, Your Beatitude's most unworthy intercessor, +TIKHON"


Read more at the link above.
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« Reply #125 on: April 04, 2006, 11:20:31 AM »


Wow.  My Bishop really has gone off the deep end.  Maybe he can retire as well and have +Benjamin officially manage the diocese.
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« Reply #126 on: April 04, 2006, 11:26:27 AM »

Quote
Wow.  My Bishop really has gone off the deep end.  Maybe he can retire as well and have +Benjamin officially manage the diocese.

Not at all -- Bp. Tikhon's been one of the few voices of reason in this mess. The conduct by the OCA leadership has been inexcusable, but equally inexcusable has been the antics of those who make public accusations and disrupt the good order of the Church.
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« Reply #127 on: April 04, 2006, 11:32:01 AM »

I think Bishop Tikhon and Metropolitan Herman should both resign.  Bishop Tikhon seems hypocritical to me: mad at some for calling for direct donations to charities and appeals until accountability is restored, then calling on his own diocese to withhold funds.  His comments against Archbishop Job are nonsensical to me: Archbishop Job being one of the most missionary-minded, "real-deal" bishops around, a commended and well-respected hierarch, etc.  Archbishop Job understands how it works in America and is trying to save the Church from the embarassment of audits by forcing it to do it itself, I think.

Metropolitan Herman on the other hand, while personally a nice guy I've thought when I've met him, has started to act unilaterally and that really can't be countenanced, and on the other hand, he must have known about at least some of this before and as such probably should just step down.

Anastasios
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« Reply #128 on: April 04, 2006, 11:34:08 AM »

Quote
Metropolitan Herman on the other hand, while personally a nice guy I've thought when I've met him, has started to act unilaterally and that really can't be countenanced, and on the other hand, he must have known about at least some of this before and as such probably should just step down.

I've heard things from sources I trust about things he's done, and while I won't repeat it here as I have no evidence, and besides this isn't the proper place for it, it *will* come out eventually, and he would save everybody a *lot* of embarassment if he would step down now.
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« Reply #129 on: April 04, 2006, 11:40:57 AM »

This kind of scandals are common place in the old countries. The difference is that nobody resigns or is even asked to resign there.
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« Reply #130 on: April 04, 2006, 11:43:09 AM »

This kind of scandals are common place in the old countries. The difference is that nobody resigns or is even asked to resign there.

Which is part of the reason that Church attendence in those countries still keeps declining: hardly anyone trusts priests anymore in the Old countries, from my experience.

Anastasios
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« Reply #131 on: April 04, 2006, 11:53:36 AM »

This kind of scandals are common place in the old countries. The difference is that nobody resigns or is even asked to resign there.

augustin,
You haven't filled out your profile - are you Romanian or an ex-Patriate living in Romania?  Just curious.  Thanks.
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« Reply #132 on: April 04, 2006, 11:54:55 AM »

Quite surprisingly, despite all scandals,  church attendance has kept raising in the former communist countries
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« Reply #133 on: April 04, 2006, 11:56:51 AM »

Quote
augustin,
You haven't filled out your profile - are you Romanian or an ex-Patriate living in Romania?  Just curious.  
.
A Romanian living in the US.
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« Reply #134 on: April 04, 2006, 11:59:11 AM »

Quite surprisingly, despite all scandals,  church attendance has kept raising in the former communist countries

In Greece though it is not, nor is it in the Middle East.  In the Roman Catholic countries where there are all these scandals, church attendence is dropping, too.  Maybe it's growing in the Slavic countries and Romania because post-communism, people are happy to have a chance to go freely to Church. Or maybe they aren't as affected by scandals as others. I don't know.

Anastasios
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« Reply #135 on: April 04, 2006, 12:09:35 PM »

A Romanian living in the US.

Oh!  well, nice to have you on this board.
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« Reply #136 on: April 04, 2006, 12:13:49 PM »

Just a warning...  One could lose his faith by getting too involved in higher church politics such as this.  (I'm not insinuating that anyone here is.)
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« Reply #137 on: April 04, 2006, 12:26:36 PM »

Just a warning...  One could lose his faith by getting too involved in higher church politics such as this.  (I'm not insinuating that anyone here is.)

You're right about that.  It's important to remember that the OCA is just a jurisdiction that is a part of the Orthodox Church, and that it is only a very small number of OCA members involved in this at that.  The vast majority of OCA members--bishops, priests, laymen--are all well-rounded and respectable Orthodox people.

Anastasios
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« Reply #138 on: April 04, 2006, 01:47:51 PM »

 Bishop Tikhon seems hypocritical to me: mad at some for calling for direct donations to charities and appeals until accountability is restored, then calling on his own diocese to withhold funds.  His comments against Archbishop Job are nonsensical to me: Archbishop Job being one of the most missionary-minded, "real-deal" bishops around, a commended and well-respected hierarch, etc.  Archbishop Job understands how it works in America and is trying to save the Church from the embarassment of audits by forcing it to do it itself, I think.

Metropolitan Herman on the other hand, while personally a nice guy I've thought when I've met him, has started to act unilaterally and that really can't be countenanced, and on the other hand, he must have known about at least some of this before and as such probably should just step down.

Anastasios

I always had the greatest respect for Metro. Herman, I can't imagine what doing on right now.  As for His Grace, Tikhon, he seems to be on a self destruct mode.  Archbishop Job never acted like His Grace is now doing.  I wouldn't be surprised if he gets an official silencing.  Its sad when we forget the story of Noah and his sons after the flood...and are exposing our father's nakedness.  If His Grace, Tikhon needs to let off steam with his Metropolitan, then do it privately.  
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« Reply #139 on: April 05, 2006, 10:47:40 AM »

Wow.  My Bishop really has gone off the deep end.  Maybe he can retire as well and have +Benjamin officially manage the diocese.

 I am a great admirer of Bishop +Benjamin!  I believe that his future leadership of the Diocese of the West will be a real Springtime for our Church and a real needed change in direction.
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« Reply #140 on: April 05, 2006, 08:37:11 PM »

Great News!!!

from http://www.oca.org/News.asp?ID=970&SID=19

-------

Archpastoral Message of Metropolitan Herman, April 9, 2006

Article posted: 4/5/2006 3:33 PM    
April 9, 2006
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Saint Mary of Egypt

Esteemed Brother Hierarchs, Devoted Clergy and Monastics, and Beloved Faithful:

...

The work of resolving this controversy has begun on behalf of our whole Church. A law firm has been retained to undertake an internal investigation of all allegations regarding the finances of the Church that have been brought to my attention. An independent audit of all accounts for the past two years, an examination of the disposition of all monies collected through appeals for the past five years, and an evaluation of chancery personnel and operations have all been initiated and will be ongoing. As Primate of the Church, I pledge to you that my office, the Holy Synod of Bishops, the Metropolitan Council and the Chancery staff will cooperate fully with the auditors and investigators until these issues are resolved. As the independent audits for 2004 and for the special appeals are completed, they will be made available on our OCA website in a manner similar to those of other government-regulated not-for-profit religious organizations. Additional audit reports as well as the results of the internal investigation will also become part of our public records when deemed appropriate to do so by the investigators. The Holy Synod of Bishops, the Metropolitan Council, and then all of you will be made aware of the findings in a timely fashion and with good order.

I have further initiated “Best Practices” procedures in financial accountability and other administrative practices established for not-for-profit religious institutions, in order to insure that mistakes will not be made in the future. I realize that for some, these measures were taken too late; for others, they are too severe. I know that whatever decisions I make, I cannot please everyone.

I wish to state unequivocally that I take full responsibility for what may have happened during my service as Primate of the Church. The Holy Apostle commands me as first hierarch of the Church “that you should set in order the things that are wanting” (Titus 1:5). If I have failed in any way to do that, I ask for your forgiveness and God’s guidance to enable me to undertake whatever corrective measures may still be necessary. To all those who have been scandalized and pained by the weaknesses of the human aspect of the Church, and to all those whose faith has been challenged because of it, I apologize with my whole heart. I beseech the Lord, the divine Head of the Church, to heal and strengthen these members of His Body through His mercy and compassion and love for mankind.

Again, I ask for your understanding and forgiveness, and for your prayers for myself, for the hierarchs of our Holy Synod, for our clergy and for all our faithful. The time has come for us to unite our efforts to restore peace and harmony in our Church. If we are to become the co-workers with Christ that we are called to be, we must place our focus on our Savior, His saving mission and our shared participation in that saving mission. We must direct our energies to the work to which each of us has been called: our own salvation and the salvation of those around us.
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« Reply #141 on: April 05, 2006, 09:37:06 PM »

</Lent>
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« Reply #142 on: April 05, 2006, 09:38:30 PM »

Well, let's see the results... on the surface, it's a good step... but it still doesn't address the years that are thought of to be pretty bad.
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« Reply #143 on: April 06, 2006, 01:18:16 PM »

Well, let's see the results... on the surface, it's a good step... but it still doesn't address the years that are thought of to be pretty bad.

Which years do you mean?
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« Reply #144 on: April 06, 2006, 01:22:09 PM »

</Lent>
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<Lent>

What deeds are you looking for? He already said "I wish to state unequivocally that I take full responsibility for what may have happened during my service as Primate of the Church."
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« Reply #145 on: April 06, 2006, 01:37:24 PM »

Which years do you mean?  

I think the core years of the allegations were the 90's, right?  The OP states that the problems began in the 90's with a drive for an audit that got the dn. fired.
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« Reply #146 on: April 06, 2006, 01:39:06 PM »

He says that he wants full responsibility, but what if that means that laws were broken - will he step forward to match his words?  What if canons were violated?  There are a whole lot of "ifs" and "buts" here, but it is something that needs to be considered.
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« Reply #147 on: April 06, 2006, 01:48:49 PM »

I think the core years of the allegations were the 90's, right? The OP states that the problems began in the 90's with a drive for an audit that got the dn. fired.

Oh, I thought it was mostly about Sept. 11th funds or something, which would be included in the checking over of the appeals for the last 5 years. However, he also seems to indicate that the issues of the 90's will be investigated too:

"Additional audit reports as well as the results of the internal investigation will also become part of our public records when deemed appropriate to do so by the investigators."
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« Reply #148 on: April 06, 2006, 01:50:40 PM »

He says that he wants full responsibility, but what if that means that laws were broken - will he step forward to match his words?  What if canons were violated? There are a whole lot of "ifs" and "buts" here, but it is something that needs to be considered.

If he had no intention of taking responsibility, why would he even mention taking it, and not just do the "Tihkonian" thing? Whether he is guilty or not, this all seems to indicate he really is sorry and wants to make things right.
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« Reply #149 on: April 06, 2006, 01:51:53 PM »

Oh, I'm sure Sept. 11th funds are included; but he said the problems started in 99 when he wanted to do a 5-year audit (or something like that...).  

I hope they do have the moxie to go back that far, and correct the problems of the past.  Not that it will recoup the money any faster, but at least the accountability will be a start.
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« Reply #150 on: April 06, 2006, 01:52:51 PM »

I am inlcined to believe him - but it's always helpful to see the proof that he is as remourseful as his statement.
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« Reply #151 on: April 06, 2006, 01:57:04 PM »

I am inlcined to believe him - but it's always helpful to see the proof that he is as remourseful as his statement.

He has already done everything he has said so far, has he not?
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« Reply #152 on: April 06, 2006, 06:29:49 PM »

I don't doubt it - I'm just saying I hope it keeps up.  When it comes to this stuff, I'm not really a hardcore skeptic... just cautious.
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« Reply #153 on: April 06, 2006, 06:37:47 PM »

He has already done everything he has said so far, has he not?

Which isn't much, but this is a time consuming process.  It looks like now that we should just wait and see.
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« Reply #154 on: April 06, 2006, 06:57:08 PM »

I don't doubt it - I'm just saying I hope it keeps up.  When it comes to this stuff, I'm not really a hardcore skeptic... just cautious.

Oh yeah, I am definately cautious about these things too. I just don't want people jumping the gun and saying "guilty until proven innocent."
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« Reply #155 on: April 06, 2006, 07:49:12 PM »

Which isn't much, but this is a time consuming process.  It looks like now that we should just wait and see.

It may not look like much in the big scheme of things, but I'm encouraged by what he's done.  I throw my prayers and support fully behind +HERMAN.  He's doing a lot more now than has been done by anyone, and apparently without the vocal support from his fellow bishops.
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« Reply #156 on: April 06, 2006, 08:10:15 PM »

After the Jim and Tammy Fae Baker financial scandal, since the media wrongly branded those two charasmaniacs as evangelicals, genuine evangelicals such as Billy Graham's organization, World Vision and Prison Fellowship created an organization called (something like) Evangelicals for Financial Accountability. It is voluntary, but to be a member, the organization MUST subscribe to commonly accepted accounting practices, submit to an annual outside audit, be within certain perameters percentage-wise as to how much can be paid to executive staff, other staff, fundraising appeals, advertising etc. Members get to publish the seal Cheesy of approval from EFFC on their appeals. It is heralded as setting the standard for religious organizations.

Maybe the OCA could join! (just kidding! I hope no one had an aneurism over that one Grin)

Seriously, more important than who steps down is GETTING IT RIGHT THIS TIME.  Angry

This ain't the "old world." Get out of the 19th C and into the 21st dear hierarchs!

As I have said over and over and over and over and over on OC.net, at the local parish level and at the "denominational" level, Orthodox should sit at the feet of evangelicals and learn from them when it comes to financial stewardship. Church dues and ethnic food sales just
doesn't make it at the parish level and the hierarchs having secret discretionary funds at the
"corporate" headquarters level doesn't make it either.

BTW I will continue, as my mild form of protest, to use the term denomination rather than jurisdiction until there is one Othodox Church in North America.
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« Reply #157 on: April 06, 2006, 08:32:13 PM »

First let me say that I had been a member at one time of a parish where there were suspicions of, let me say it politely, financial irresponsibility.  It seemed that the money was controlled by one or two families mostly through bingo proceeds.  And these suspicions were made to me by some of their relatives.  The Diocese and Archdiocese seemed to wash it's hands of the parish years before, when they couldn't find a priest they could control and were playing musical priests,and allowed them to be a renegade parish.  The Bishop wouldn't even come to visit nor would they invite him.  As far as I know they have never been audited by anyone and wouldn't even consider an audit committee.  The council was always all one family, with an occasional outsider.  My point is that I agree that financial stewardship is the best and most appropriate way to support a parish.  And that the financial irresponsibilities are not only at the top but at every level.  I intentionally left out any identifying information about the parish or the jurisdiction, because it doesn't matter.  Unless you have been a member of this parish, you won't know which of the many parishes I have been a member of that I am referring to.
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« Reply #158 on: April 07, 2006, 02:05:06 AM »

New from Bishop Tikhon about Fr. Hopko's helping the Metropolitan:

"I have my own diocesan council, and a Presbyterium second to none. What do I need with a dogmatic theologian's, (I should say, 'popularizer of theology for the educationally challenged') kibbitzing advice? Any matushka and many other ladies in all my parishes have as good a grip, as advanced piety, and as many brains as Father Thomas Hopko. His letter to the Metropolitan Council is an unconscionable and mob-inciting RANT. What arrogance and self-delusion!"

http://www.orthodoxnet.com/articles/OCA-crisis/OCA_Tikhon_Attacks_Hopko_2006-04-04.php

I should also ask what the problem is with teaching Orthodox theology to those who don't have "advanced degrees" or why there is a need to insult them...
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« Reply #159 on: April 07, 2006, 02:29:06 AM »

You can't take anything Bp. Tikhon says personally. He's a paper tiger, don't let his roar trouble you.
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« Reply #160 on: April 07, 2006, 02:34:20 AM »

This is going to tear the OCA apart just watch.

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« Reply #161 on: April 07, 2006, 02:58:09 AM »

You can't take anything Bp. Tikhon says personally. He's a paper tiger, don't let his roar trouble you.

Oh I know. It's just quite sad to see a bishop do that type of thing continually.
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« Reply #162 on: April 07, 2006, 02:59:19 AM »

This is going to tear the OCA apart just watch.

I'm not so sure it will. There is probably going to be some bad news for Bishop Tikhon down the road, but I don't see this leading to a schism of any magnitude, if there is one at all.
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« Reply #163 on: April 07, 2006, 01:38:59 PM »

I'm not so sure it will. There is probably going to be some bad news for Bishop Tikhon down the road, but I don't see this leading to a schism of any magnitude, if there is one at all.

I have a friend who has travelled much throughout the OCA and visited a lot of parishes for extended periods.  She has told me that most of the clergy in other dioceses consider Bp. Tikhon the fundamentalist of the OCA.  It doesn't sound to me like he has a lot of respect from the other bishops of the Holy Synod.
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« Reply #164 on: April 07, 2006, 01:44:17 PM »

What's ironic is that while he attempts to play the role of most traditonal OCA bishop, we "traditionalists" (you know, us scary people who read orthodoxinfo.com!) do not consider Bp Tikhon a fundamentalist or traditionalist in any sense of the word. LOL.

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« Reply #165 on: April 07, 2006, 02:15:01 PM »

What's ironic is that while he attempts to play the role of most traditonal OCA bishop, we "traditionalists" (you know, us scary people who read orthodoxinfo.com!) do not consider Bp Tikhon a fundamentalist or traditionalist in any sense of the word. LOL.

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« Reply #166 on: April 07, 2006, 02:46:42 PM »

There's nothing traditional about a bishop spending all his time chatting, citing popular TV shows, not really being a monk, being rude to others, etc.  Having a beard, wearing a chotki, and serving perfect Slavonic services is not what makes someone traditional.

From my pov, as a member of the Greek Old Calendarists, there are positions of his that I object to that disqualify him from being a "traditionalist" but I would not like to cause any fights or dissention by listing those and pointing them out.  Anyone would knows anything about our positions would know where I stand, and those who don't, would probably be better served by praying and fasting during this Lent than trying to delve into this issue.

My whole point in writing what I did above is that I find the idea of one person taking a traditionalist stance and using that as an excuse to bash people to be horrendous, especially because there will always be someone else who thinks he is "more traditionalist" and who won't view you as traditional.  For instance, any Russian Old Believer would consider me a horrendous modernist since I accept the Nikonian Russian rites.  So it's better just to be a holy bishop who lives traditionally as an example rather than being a confrontational person who makes a point of being correct and "traditional."

Anastasios
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« Reply #167 on: April 07, 2006, 03:00:33 PM »

I agree with that Anastasios. I wouldn't label myself as a traditionalist or fundamentalist (the way I understand them, at least), but more of a very conservative Orthodox. Nonetheless, I am quite convinced that Bishop Tikhon is none of those things. I might go so far as to call him a pseudo-traditional polemicist, or something like that, if I had to name what he "fit into."
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« Reply #168 on: April 07, 2006, 03:17:47 PM »

Having a beard, wearing a chotki, and serving perfect Slavonic services is not what makes someone traditional.

The beard doesn't make the man, the man makes the beard.

Anyway, I agree with everything you wrote.  Thanks for the sober analysis.
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« Reply #169 on: April 07, 2006, 04:07:52 PM »

Well put, anastasios.

Bishops must have a lot of free time, I mean he posts on the Internet a lot!

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« Reply #170 on: April 07, 2006, 11:52:20 PM »

Are there not two Bishops with the name Tikhon - one of San Franciso and the other of Philadelphia?
Which one are you guys referring to?
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« Reply #171 on: April 07, 2006, 11:58:12 PM »

Are there not two Bishops with the name Tikhon - one of San Franciso and the other of Philadelphia?
Which one are you guys referring to?

Yes, two +Tikhons, referring to +Tikhon of San Fran, LA and the West
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« Reply #172 on: April 12, 2006, 04:01:58 PM »

And for heaven's sake don't let him catch you referring to as "+Tikhon"-- he had one of his rantlets on the Indiana list about that.
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« Reply #173 on: April 12, 2006, 04:32:25 PM »

And for heaven's sake don't let him catch you referring to as "+Tikhon"-- he had one of his rantlets on the Indiana list about that.


A little sensitive, is he??
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