On October 11-12, 2023, the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America met in person to conclude its Regular Fall 2023 Session in Springfield, VA, under the presidency of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon. The Fall Session began with a meeting via teleconference on September 28.
On Thursday, September 28, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon opened the Fall Session with a prayer and by greeting the new members of the Council and thanking those who had just concluded their term.
The Council conducted general business reviewing and discussing various reports. The Council heard a report from His Beatitude, who reported on his primatial activities, events of church-wide significance, his archpastoral work in the Archdiocese of Washington, as well as his work in the Diocese of New England currently under his locum tenancy. His Beatitude also offered some reflections on the relocation of the Chancery office and his own relocation to the greater Washington, DC.
Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, presented his report highlighting his various activities and the work of the Chancery, especially personnel changes, international affairs, and other domestic business. Fr. Alexander, in particular, highlighted his recent trip to Ukraine and his meetings with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy. He also provided the Metropolitan Council with an update on the search process for a new General Counsel for the Orthodox Church in America.
The Property Committee updated the Council on the sale of Westwood and reported on a number of interested parties. The Council acknowledged the progress of this process initiated in late 2020, and looks for its resolution in the near future.
Archpriest Nicholas Solak, Chair, and Archpriest Stephen Vernak, presented on the work of the Office of Pastoral Life especially reporting on the upcoming National Clergy Retreat slated to take place in greater Chicago, IL, on October 17-20. There are about 130 bishops and priests of the Orthodox Church in America registered to attend.
Archpriest Alessandro Margheritino, Secretary of the Orthodox Church in America, highlighted some of the sections of his report previously submitted in writing. Specifically, Fr. Alessandro reflected on the everyday operation at the new and temporary office and the gradual integration of the Chancery within the territory of the Archdiocese of Washington. He also reported on the recent in-person meeting of the Preconciliar Commission and the ongoing planning for the 21st All-American Council. Fr. Alessandro then reported on the relocation of the Archives of the Orthodox Church in America to St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Yonkers, NY. After completing the renovation of the space in the Florovsky Library, now designated to house the Archives, almost the entirety of the archives and supplemental collections were relocated between August and early October. A final move of the remaining documents is anticipated to take place before the end of the calendar year once the collection is fully sorted and organized in its new location. Fr. Alessandro shared some pictures of the Archives before, during, and after the move.
The Metropolitan then welcomed Archpriest Thomas Soroka, Project Manager for the Departments of the OCA, who presented the applications for the 2024 Mission Planting Grants. After thorough consideration, the Council voted on the recipients, and their names are now submitted to the Holy Synod for confirmation.
His Beatitude offered some final remarks and concluded the first meeting held via teleconference.
On October 11 and 12, the Metropolitan Council met in person at the Hilton Springfield to continue its Fall 2023 Session. As it has been previously reported, on October 11, the Metropolitan Council held a joint education session with the Pension Board in compliance with the resolution approved at the 20th All-American Council in Baltimore, MD. In attendance were also His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Episcopal Moderator, and Mr. Michael Stieglitz, Administrator. The education session was led by Mr. James Heinzman, CPA, CFP.
Later that day, the Council heard the report of the Pension Board, the Pension Committee, and considered various resolutions. The Metropolitan Council then approved the recommendations to continue the $9,000 contribution from the Central Administration to offset the Plan’s administrative costs, and a 2% employer contribution increase. The 2% increase is now submitted to the Holy Synod for final confirmation.
On Thursday, October 12, the Council gathered at All Saints of America in Alexandria, VA, where Fr. Alexander Rentel presided at the Divine Liturgy. Following the Divine Liturgy, the Metropolitan Council resumed its business, hearing a further update by the Property Committee on the interested parties on the Westwood property.
His Beatitude then asked Mr. David Lane, Chair of the Legal Committee, to present the Legal report prepared together with Judge E. R. Lanier, General Counsel of the Orthodox Church in America.
The Council then heard the report of Mr. Andrew Smith, Treasurer of the Orthodox Church in America, who presented on the financials and investments of the Orthodox Church in America. The Council welcomed via teleconference representatives from the external auditor, Satty, Levine, & Ciacco, CPAs, who offered a presentation on the recent audit. After this presentation, on behalf of the Finance and Investments Committee, Mr. Andrew Smith proposed the 2024 Budget that was approved by the Council.
At the end of two long and productive days, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon thanked the Council for its positive and profitable work and closed the meeting with prayer.
Minutes and reports from the Regular Fall 2023 Session of the Metropolitan Council will be posted on the OCA website as they become available.