WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MARK PHINNEY TO THE DC TOWN HALL
What has been the impact of the crisis on you personally?
It has strained my relationship with my wife. She is the Vice-President of our Parish Council and feels the great weight of responsibility in helping lead the efforts to keep the parish from splitting into opposing camps and losing members.
It has strained a number of friendships I have. In one case, a dear godson and his family have left the parish and the OCA with no further communications.
It is a source of disillusionment, doubt, and pain. Each and every Sunday I now see obviously fewer people in the pews at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy than I saw 12 months ago. Until the past year or so, my parish has been slowly accelerating its annual growth rate, having doubled it in the past six to seven years from single-digit net increases to double-digit net increases. Inspite of attracting significantly more families with young children in the past 18 months, our overall attendance has visibly declined.
For over 35 years I have served as an altar server, a reader, and a subdeacon. Those services with a hierarchical presence, until the scandal broke, were especially joyful. Where I once looked forward to a visit of an OCA hierarch with great joy, particularly the Metropolitan, I now fear the possibility that any OCA hierarch may visit my parish and I will then have to face the question of whether or not I will serve.
What would be the best case scenario for resolving the OCA's crisis?
Financial records: Open them all to the members – clergy, laity, and monastics – of the OCA. Conduct a total review of all records by certified forensic accountants. Publish the analysis in its entirety.
Hierarchs: Remove all who have served the OCA over the past 15 years from the episcopate and the clergy; return each to the rank of simple monk under strict discipline of their abott and father confessor.
Hierarchs: The AAC will appeal to the various Patriarchs to help in this time of crisis by supplying at least 3 replacement hierarchs, as was done for the Albanian Church after the fall of the Communist government.
Monastic formation: The OCA doubles the number of monks and fully endows all existing monasteries and sketes within the next 10 years.
What single thing would you like to see come out of the AAC?
The replacement of the current hierarchs with true monastics supported by professionally trained clergy and lay administrators.