The regular Spring Session of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) was concluded on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The first meeting of the session had been held a week earlier on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. Due to ongoing restrictions in conjunction with the coronavirus pandemic, these meetings were conducted by video conference.
The session consisted largely of reviewing and discussing reports, many of which were submitted in writing in anticipation of the meeting. At the first meeting on February 24, the Council heard a report from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, who highlighted events of church-wide significance and his own archpastoral labors in spite of restrictions related to the pandemic. The complete text of Metropolitan Tikhon’s address can be found here.
The Property Committee reported that there were no new developments regarding the sale of Westwood (the Chancery property).
The Council discussed marketing strategy going forward. Deacon Peter Ilchuk, All-American Council Manager, indicated that plans are proceeding smoothly towards convocation of the postponed 20th All-American Council in July 2022, and expressed hope that conditions related to the pandemic will allow for a Council that includes its usual activities and events.
A report on the OCA Pension Plan, delivered by Michael Stieglitz, Plan Administrator, provided an overview of the current status of the Plan. The Council reiterated its resolution adopted a year ago, requesting that the Holy Synod create a joint commission, composed of Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council members, to enforce compliance with the mandate of the OCA Statute and All-American Council decisions, that all eligible clergy are to be enrolled in the OCA Pension Plan.
The Office of Pastoral Life made a two-fold presentation to the Council. Archpriest Nicholas Solak provided an update on the Thriving in Ministry peer learning program for clergy and their spouses of all jurisdictions, which is funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment. He, together with His Grace Bishop Alexis of Bethesda, Chairman of the Office of Pastoral Life, submitted a proposal and funding request for a series of Clergy Health Synaxes. In adopting amendments to the previously approved OCA budget for 2021, the Council authorized this funding.
Priest Alessandro Margheritino presented his first report as OCA Acting Secretary, highlighting information technology issues, SMPAC, OCA Archives, and publications projects. He indicated that for the time being he is working remotely from Ohio but expects to relocate to New York after his release from the Diocese of the Midwest in late May.
During the second meeting of the session on March 3, the Council received the report of Archpriest Alexander Rentel, OCA Chancellor, on his activities and the work of the Chancery, especially personnel transitions and the need to fill several positions.
The report on legal matters was submitted jointly by Judge E.R. Lanier, OCA General Counsel and David Lane, Legal Committee Chairman. It highlighted successfully concluded litigation, participation in the work of the Legal Committee of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops, and work connected to the relocation of the OCA, as well as diocesan and parish support in legal issues.
Andrew Smith, Treasurer, introduced investment advisor Michael Crofton, who reported on the Church’s investments through Philadelphia Trust. Mr. Smith then reviewed current financials, the internal audit, donations in 2020 through Stewards of the OCA, and amendments slightly increasing the 2021 budget, which were approved by the Council. A suggested candidate was presented for a vacancy on the Auditing Committee and proposal of additional candidates was requested.
The final report heard by the Council at this session was an update from Archpriest Thomas Soroka, Project Manager for the OCA Departments, on the various completed, ongoing, or pending projects or tasks of the six currently active Departments of the Church.
Each report was followed by questions and deliberations by the Metropolitan Council. In conclusion, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon thanked the Council for its positive and productive work even during the pandemic and closed the meeting with prayer.
Minutes and reports from the 2021 Spring Session of the Metropolitan Council will be posted on the OCA website as they become available.