The meeting was chaired by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon. In attendance were His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin and His Eminence, Archbishop Michael of the Standing Synod and the OCA’s Officers—Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor; Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary; and Melanie Ringa, Treasurer.
According to Father Eric G. Tosi, the session opened on Tuesday, September 19 with a one-day retreat on Christian Leadership led by Protodeacon Peter Danilchick and Charles Ajalat. Protodeacon Peter shared basic principles of leadership as detailed in his book, Thy Will Be Done: Strategic Leadership, Planning and Management for Christians, slated to be released in the near future by Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press. Mr. Ajalat offered practical tips for leadership and initiatives that Christian leaders can fulfill on a local and national level to encourage pan-Orthodox activity, ministry and growth.
In his opening remarks, Metropolitan Tikhon expanded on his vision of the Church for the future, highlighting specific issues of particular interest to members of the Metropolitan Council.
Representatives of the OCA Pension Board reported on the status of and changes to the Pension Plan, details of which will be made available in the immediate future. Council members also reviewed the work of the Metropolitan Council’s committees and the OCA’s departments.
Father John Jillions reviewed the work of ORSMA and SMPAC, while Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky presented a report on the work of the Office of External Affairs and reviewed recent developments in world Orthodoxy. In his report, Father Tosi highlighted recent developments with regard to IT issues, the OCA Archives and communications.
Other highlights of the session include the following.
- In response to a presentation by Father Tosi on long-range preparations for the 19th All-American Council [AAC], Metropolitan Council members unanimously recommended that the AAC convene at the Union Station Hotel, Saint Louis, MO during the week of July 23-28, 2018. The recommendation will be referred to the Holy Synod of Bishops for approval at their October 2016 session. Council members further recommended that a youth program, held in conjunction with the national convention of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America [FOCA], once again be organized.
- Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, and members of the Finance Committee reviewed the current status of the 2016 budget and presented the budget for 2017. The budget, which includes six planting grants for 2017, passed unanimously. Positive reports also were presented by the Internal and External Auditors.
- Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak presented a report on the work of Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America [SOCA] and the current Saint Herman Appeal, noting that the SOCA has raised $43,589.00 to date in 2016. After challenging Metropolitan Council members to fully participate in SOCA’s ongoing growth, an additional $4,960.00—which will be doubled by a matching grant—was raised “from the floor.”
- FOCA national President Marge Kovach and Archpriest Theodore Boback presented a report on the work of FOCA in which they highlighted accomplishments undertaken at its recent annual convention in Chicago.
- The Legal Committee presented a report on current legal issues and challenges.
- A strategic planning session, based on Metropolitan Tikhon’s “Four Pillar” initiative unveiled at the 18th All-American Council, was held on the session’s final day. A series of possible initiatives and action items on the four pillars—developing spiritual life, evangelism and outreach, stewardship and external affairs—was developed by Council members.
On Wednesday, Metropolitan Council members attended the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Metropolitan Tikhon at the Chancery’s Saint Sergius of Radonezh Chapel.
The Metropolitan Council is the permanent executive body of the Church Administration which exists for the purpose of implementing the decisions of the All-American Council and continuing its work between sessions. Members include the Metropolitan, who serves as Chair; the Chancellor, the Secretary, and the Treasurer; one priest and one layperson elected by each diocese; and three priests and an equal number of laypersons elected by the All-American Council.