Chancellors and treasurers from eleven dioceses of the Orthodox Church in America held their seventh annual meeting at the Chancery on Monday, January 23, 2018.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon opened the meeting following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy by Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, in Saint Sergius of Radonezh Chapel. Also present was His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa.
In welcoming the participants, Metropolitan Tikhon noted that the working group of chancellors and treasurers complements the work of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council and serves as a great example of the Church working together to solve common problems while pursuing the apostolic work of the Church.
“In today’s Epistle from Saint Paul to Peter, we hear of the hope that is in us, but our Lord also said that we have to make a defense that requires effort and work. We have that hope, but it takes a lot of work. To me, in a sense, that is what the administration of the Church does—it defends the hope in a positive way, in an effort to inspire hope in those we serve. This is a hard task because our human nature often causes us to be stubborn, even at times unwilling, to accept the good things that our Lord and the Church offer us.”
Turning his attention to the 19th All-American Council, slated to convene in Saint Louis, MO in July 2018, Metropolitan Tikhon explained that the gathering will be a “foundational council” that “begins a new chapter” in the life of the Church and provide the vision as to where the Church is going in the future.
“We pray during this our seventh gathering as chancellors and treasurers of the Orthodox Church in America that we can accomplish concrete and practical work as we prepare for the All- American Council and consider the financial support of the Church in the years to come,” Metropolitan Tikhon stated. “But more broadly, in terms of our life as one Church here in North America, we pray that the Lord will grant us the strength to continue building upon the strong bond that has developed over the years within this group of leaders, and that we do so for the glory of God and for the growth of our Orthodox Church in America.”
Metropolitan Tikhon concluded his opening remarks by referencing the “Four Pillars” he has been refining as a means of discerning how we can translate the Gospel into a message that can be received and lived out in our parishes and our missionary work.
In related matters, Father John Jillions presented information on clergy compensation, gathered from work that had been done in this regard by the Diocese of the West. Throughout the meeting, the chancellors and treasurers expressed concern over a potential shortage of clergy in the next three to five years, due in part to retirements and related factors.
Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, reviewed the results of the first two years of proportional giving—2016 and 2017—adding that the results were very close to the initial projections presented at the 18th All-American Council held in Atlanta, GA in 2015. She also presented options for funding the Church for the next three to four years, which was followed by robust discussion. Several options were discussed and will be presented for further discussion to the Chair of the Finance Committee at the February 2018 Spring Metropolitan Council meeting.
Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, provided a detailed update on plans for the 19th All-American Council, noting that online registration is now available.
Participating in the meeting were Archpriest Thomas Andrew, Chancellor of the Diocese of Alaska; Hieromonk Nikodhim [Preston] of the Albanian Archdiocese; Steve Timofeev, Treasurer of the Bulgarian Diocese; Archpriest Martin Browne and Joseph Tosca, Chancellor and Treasurer of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania; Archpriest John Zdinak, Chancellor of the Diocese of the Midwest; John Skrobat, Treasurer of the Diocese of New England; Archpriest David Cowan and Matushka Mary Buletza, Assistant Chancellor and Treasurer of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey; Archpriest Marcus Burch and Noel Busch, Chancellor and Treasurer of the Diocese of the South; Archpriest John Vitko, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC; Bishop Daniel and Mary Caetta, Chancellor and Treasurer of the Diocese of the West; and Archpriest William Evansky, Chancellor of the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania. Also in attendance were Archpriest John Dresko, Chair of the Metropolitan Council Finance Committee; Judge E. R. Lanier, OCA General Counsel; and Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak.