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News From Around the OCA

• Syosset, NY

The OCA website announced that the Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America have gathered for their 2008 Fall Session. The meeting began yesterday, October 14 and continues through Thursday, October 16. Items on the agenda include reports from the Chancellor, Secretary, Treasurer and Director of Ministries and Communications as well as decisions regarding final preparations for the OCA’s 15th-All American Council that will take place November 10 to 13, 2008, in Pittsburgh, PA.

In Dallas, the Diocese of the South’s website added this statement to their announcement of the Bishop's meeting:

“The Synod will .... consider forward looking financial matters given the real possibility of a significant cut in the OCA annual assessment in 2009. The Synod is also expected to review recent decisions of the Metropolitan Council which may have been enacted in an irregular manner. The Synod will also meet in closed session to discuss other matters including vacant sees.”

A “closed session” means that no minutes will be taken. The “review” of the recent decisions of the Metropolitan Council includes an appeal from Dr. Alice Woog, who was removed from the Council by the Council at its last meeting. It is not clear in what manner the decision could be deemed “irregular” since New York State Law permits such dismissals for cause.

• Detroit, MI

A new website, ROEANews.info has been created to carry forward the discussion concerning the proposed uniting of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in Amerca ( ROEA-OCA) with the Romanian Archdiocese of the Americas (ROAA-Romanian Patriarchate) under the canonical umbrella of Bucharest. A recent article by Fr. Anton Frunza (an ROEA priest in Michigan) has been posted which raises many serious, and as yet unanswered questions, regarding the proposed union.  The new website states as its purpose that “...healthy debate based on complete facts is a prerequisite to an informed decision.”
In related news, The Orthodox Brotherhood Conference, a fellowship of the ROEA, is being held this coming weekend at St. Mary’s Cathedral, (ROEA-OCA) in Cleveland.  ROEA-ROAA unity will be a major topic. ROEA Chancellor Deacon David Oancea is scheduled to attend.

• Milwaukie, OR

The Diocese of the West’s Assembly, held October 8-9 near Portland, OR, resolved to support a fair share assessment from the central church of no less than $90 and not greater than $106 at the 15th AAC. The resolution also expresses support for a change in the fair share assessment from a “head tax” to a system of percentage giving, with tithing as the suggested norm. You can read all the Minutes of the meeting and the resolution here.

• Ansonia, CT

All Saints Orthodox Church in Ansonia, CT, held a special parish meeting to revisit their decision to withhold their assessment to Syosset. At the annual parish meeting held in January, the parish voted unanimously to withhold the assessment until a complete report was released to the entire Church concerning the investigation into the financial scandal, and until Best Practices were instituted. 
Much discussion took place as to whether these conditions were in fact, fullfilled. While some called for releasing the monies, others felt that more needed to be done before the trust level was restored to the point of making it worthwhile to resume payment. The final decision was to resume payment, 30-20, with 1 abstention.
Uanswered though are the questions as to whether the clergy and lay delegates from the parish will be allowed to vote at both the upcoming New England Diocesan Assembly and the All-American Council, and whether Bishop Nikon will now allow three transferees from other parishesto become members of the parish.

• Melbourne, Australia

And finally, this story, with a photo, appears on the website of the Serbian Church in Australia:

“With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Irinej, the second Orthodox Youth Forum was held at St Sava’s church in Greensborough on Sunday, 12 October 2008. Holy Hierarchal Liturgy was served by His Grace, Bishop Nikolai, along with local parish priest, Fr Vladislav Sipovac and Archimandrite Isidore and Hierodeacon Panteleimon.  What a joy to see children come forward for Communion, along with most participants of the Youth Forum coming together in prayer. Afterwards, lunch was served by the local KSS, and Fr Vladislav gave a short introduction to his own life in the Church of Christ.  This was followed by a great presentation by Hierodeacon Panteleimon, who explained his life from childhood in the Orthodox Church, even though he is not from a traditional Orthodox background.  To everyone’s delight, Fr Milan Milutinovic of Keysborough, together with Deacon Goran Cecez of Brunswick joined afterwards and all present participated in the question and answer session.

After a short pause, the youth present were divided into groups where they each discussed their own experiences in the Church, exchanged views on youth and life issues, and prepared questions for His Grace to answer.  Bishop Nikolai responded to each question, giving relevance to the Forum and to Church life for the Serbian Orthodox youth gathered.”

Archimandrite Isidore (Brittain) and Hierodeacon Panteleimon (Erickson) are both currently under suspension from the OCA for abandoning their posts in Alaska when Bishop Nikolai, the former  OCA Bishop of Alaska, was retired by the Synod this past May. By his apparently contradictory reference to "life from childhood in the Orthodox Church, even though he is not from a traditional Orthodox background", Deacon Panteleimon may have been referring to his background in the Holy Order of MANS prior to his reception into the OCA.

- Mark Stokoe


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