OrthodoxChristianity.net
October 20, 2014, 04:37:11 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1 2 3 4 »  All   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: OCA Financial Scandal  (Read 19348 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Robert
"Amazing"
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 2,442



« 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."]
Logged
Beavis
invertebrateischristian
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 245

Smooth sounds from Squidworth's clarinet....


« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2005, 03:14:47 PM »

ohh, dear Undecided
Logged

"Every entity is what it loves"----Vladimir Solovyov
Elisha
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 4,440


« 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?

Logged
Elisha
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 4,440


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

Ummm....Nacho?  This could explain some things.
Logged
Keble
All-Knowing Grand Wizard of Debunking
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 3,431



« 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.
Logged
JoeS
(aka StMarkEofE)
Site Supporter
OC.net guru
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Catholic
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 1,122


Global Warming Enthusiast.


« 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
Logged
Anastasios
Webdespota
Administrator
Merarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Greek Old Calendarist
Posts: 10,487


Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina

anastasios0513
WWW
« 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
Logged

Please Buy My Book!

Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.
Robert
"Amazing"
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 2,442



« 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

Logged
Keble
All-Knowing Grand Wizard of Debunking
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 3,431



« 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.
Logged
Elisha
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 4,440


« 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.
Logged
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,094


Goodbye for now, my friend


« 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?
« Last Edit: November 09, 2005, 01:54:09 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

Paradosis ≠ Asteriktos ≠ Justin
Robert
"Amazing"
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 2,442



« 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.

Logged
Nacho
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: EasternOrthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 1,482

The face of Corporate America


« 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
Logged

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."--Mere Christianity
Pravoslavbob
Section Moderator
Archon
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Catholic
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 3,183


St. Sisoes the Great


« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2005, 03:14:13 PM »

If these allegations are true, this is really shocking.
Logged

Religion is a disease, and Orthodoxy is its cure.
Keble
All-Knowing Grand Wizard of Debunking
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 3,431



« 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.
Logged
Bogoliubtsy
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 2,268



« 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
Logged

"When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist". - Archbishop Hélder Pessoa Câmara
Bogoliubtsy
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 2,268



« 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
Logged

"When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist". - Archbishop Hélder Pessoa Câmara
Bogoliubtsy
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 2,268



« 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

-2-
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

-3-
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
Logged

"When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist". - Archbishop Hélder Pessoa Câmara
Elisha
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 4,440


« 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.
Logged
Nacho
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: EasternOrthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 1,482

The face of Corporate America


« 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!
Logged

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."--Mere Christianity
Elisha
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 4,440


« 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.
Logged
Silouan
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 818

Bogurodzica dziewica zbaw nas


« 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.   
Logged
Strelets
Стрелец
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 444


« 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...
Logged

"The creed is very simple, and here is what it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ; and there not only isn't, but I tell myself with a jealous love, there cannot be." ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
Robert
"Amazing"
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 2,442



« 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.

Logged
TomS
Banned
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: GOA
Posts: 3,186


"Look At Me! Look At Me Now! " - Bono


« 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.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2005, 01:43:50 PM by TomS » Logged
Kizzy
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 229



« 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
Logged

In XC, Kizzy
Matthew777
Warned
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 3,497

Seek and ye shall find


WWW
« Reply #26 on: November 11, 2005, 01:38:03 AM »

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

Peace.
Logged

He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how. - Friedrich Nietzsche
www.aramaicpeshitta.com
http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/et/et0.htm
Nacho
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: EasternOrthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 1,482

The face of Corporate America


« 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
Logged

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."--Mere Christianity
Nacho
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: EasternOrthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 1,482

The face of Corporate America


« 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
Logged

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."--Mere Christianity
Silouan
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 818

Bogurodzica dziewica zbaw nas


« 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.
Logged
Elisha
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 4,440


« 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).
Logged
Bizzlebin
Theologian
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodoxy
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 714

MonkBot, Go Forth!


WWW
« 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
Logged

Fashions and opinions among men may change, but the Orthodox tradition remains ever the same, no matter how few may follow it.

-- Fr. Seraphim Rose
Elisha
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 4,440


« 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
Logged
Bizzlebin
Theologian
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodoxy
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 714

MonkBot, Go Forth!


WWW
« 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)
Logged

Fashions and opinions among men may change, but the Orthodox tradition remains ever the same, no matter how few may follow it.

-- Fr. Seraphim Rose
JoeS
(aka StMarkEofE)
Site Supporter
OC.net guru
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Catholic
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 1,122


Global Warming Enthusiast.


« 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
Logged
BJohnD
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 213


St. John of Damascus, pray for us.


« 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
Logged
Pravoslavbob
Section Moderator
Archon
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Catholic
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 3,183


St. Sisoes the Great


« 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.
Logged

Religion is a disease, and Orthodoxy is its cure.
Nacho
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: EasternOrthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 1,482

The face of Corporate America


« Reply #37 on: November 27, 2005, 04:59:05 AM »

Move along folks....nothing to see here... Roll Eyes
Logged

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."--Mere Christianity
Arystarcus
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Faith: Christian
Posts: 836


« Reply #38 on: January 11, 2006, 01:25:12 AM »

* bump *
Logged
Arystarcus
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Faith: Christian
Posts: 836


« 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.
Logged
LeftTheOCA
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1


« 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.


Logged
Fr. George
formerly "Cleveland"
Administrator
Stratopedarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox (Catholic) Christian
Jurisdiction: GOA - Metropolis of Pittsburgh
Posts: 20,089


May the Lord bless you and keep you always!


« 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?
Logged

"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the one who can't read them." Mark Twain
---------------------
Ordained on 17 & 18-Oct 2009. Please forgive me if earlier posts are poorly worded or incorrect in any way.
BJohnD
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 213


St. John of Damascus, pray for us.


« 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."  
Logged
Fr. George
formerly "Cleveland"
Administrator
Stratopedarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox (Catholic) Christian
Jurisdiction: GOA - Metropolis of Pittsburgh
Posts: 20,089


May the Lord bless you and keep you always!


« 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.
Logged

"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the one who can't read them." Mark Twain
---------------------
Ordained on 17 & 18-Oct 2009. Please forgive me if earlier posts are poorly worded or incorrect in any way.
BJohnD
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 213


St. John of Damascus, pray for us.


« 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.
Logged
Tags:
Pages: 1 2 3 4 »  All   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.19 seconds with 73 queries.