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Today the Orthodox Church in America convened the second Plenary Session of the 20th All American Council in Baltimore, MD. The first order of business was the delivery of the Metropolitan’s Report by His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon.
He began by addressing the response of the Church to the COVID-19 crisis over the past two years. He thanked the Holy Synod and parish priests for their work in implementing policies that ensured the pastoral guidance and sacramental continuity of the Church. The health crisis has been an important reminder of human frailty and the importance of depending on God and supporting one another. He also noted that, in spite of the pandemic, the life of parishes even flourished in many places, reflected in an increase of inquirers and conversions to Orthodoxy.
Turning to the administration of the dioceses, Metropolitan Tikhon lamented the untimely passing of Archbishop David of the Diocese of Alaska, and Archbishop Paul of the Diocese of the Midwest. The vacancy of each diocese has been resolved with the appointment of Bishop Alexei to Alaska and Bishop Daniel to the Midwest. The episcopal sees of the Diocese of New England and the Albanian Archdiocese remain vacant, with a search ongoing for possible candidates.
His Beatitude then commented on the restructuring of the Chancery — a process begun at the 19th All American Council — as well as the important work of the Office of Pastoral Life. On a sad note, he noted the repose of Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, who chaired the Office of External Affairs for decades. In his absence, his work has been carried on by other members of the Chancery. In particular, they have worked closely with His Beatitude in strengthening ties with both the Moscow Patriarchate and Ecumenical Patriarchate, even while navigating tensions between these two ancient sees.
Citing the theme of the assembly, “Becoming Vessels of Grace,” Metropolitan Tikhon concluded his report by emphasizing the reason for everything the Church does: to put Jesus Christ at the center and to “offer ourselves back to him.”
The second order of business was the presentation of the Pension Board Report ahead of a vote on a proposed amendment to the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America. Among others, the amendment would require timely and extensive reporting of the Pension Board to the Metropolitan Council but also change the method of appointment of members to the Pension Board. Treasurer Andrew Smith then offered an explanation for the proposed amendment. After a vigorous discussion, the amendment received a majority of approval but not two-third of the votes as it is required for a statute amendment, and thus failed.