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10.23.09 New Reflection

The Board, The Audit and the Internet
by An Antiochian Priest 

Metropolitan Philip and his administration seem obsessed with Mark Stokoe.  Mr. Stokoe was mentioned by name several times at the Archdiocesan Convention (as per the Word magazine) , numerous times in the meeting between +Philip and the leadership team of St. Vladimir’s (per the Archdiocesan website), and, according to witnesses, is frequently mentioned in private conversations by His Eminence.  So it should come as no surprise, unfortunately, that Mr. Stokoe was also mentioned at length in discussions at the recent Board of Trustees meeting in Houston.

This would be amusing, if it did not have such unfortunate consequences.

According to several people present at the meeting, Dn. Emile Sayegh, the new Chancellor of the Archdiocese, as well as several Board members, argued against an external audit of the Antiochian Archdiocese, on the pretext that conducting an external audit would “signal” that the Archdiocese was “being influenced” by Mark Stokoe.  Dn. Emile asked: “If we give in to Stokoe on this issue, what will be next?  What will he and the others on want next?”  After this discussion, and evidently in large part because of it, the Board of Trustees voted 18-11-5 in favor of an internal audit, rather than an external audit.
With this vote the Board of Trustees signaled its failure to realize two simple facts.  

1) As the above citations evidence, you cannot hear a speech of the Metropolitan, or read an Archdiocesan magazine, or visit the Archdiocesan website, or have a meeting where Stokoe’s does not pop up. That the Board voted against Mr. Stokoe and OCANews shows that they are already influenced by OCANews.  Having an external audit, or not, will not change that fact.  

2) Mr. Stokoe is not the problem. Mr. Stokoe wrote 300+  articles and scores of editorials in his successful three year effort to help bring accountability to the OCA. In the last eight months in reporting on the Antiochian Archdiocese's troubles he has written some 30 articles, and no editorials. It is not Mark Stokoe, it is the priests and laity of the Archdiocese that have been writing the scores of reflections, numerous open letters, and comments in the thousands to Mark Stokoe has just given us a place to do it. 
Dear members of the Board of Trustees: wake up!

 Whether you vote for or against OCANews, thousands upon thousands of members of our Archdiocese are reading OCANews daily. They are being influenced by what they read there.  If it wasn’t, it would be another website, for it is the issues, not the persons, that have given rise to these concerns.  In the end, all that matters is that you do the right thing, not the person, or persons, who suggest it. And the right thing now is an independent, external audit of the Antiochian Archdiocese’s finances. 
One cannot escape the world wide web. OCANews, or similar sites, will exist as long as we have the internet, and no one foresees the world wide web going anywhere soon. The internet is here to stay. Open, honest and when necessary, discreet (i.e. anonymous) discussion is here to stay.  If you react negatively against the internet, it is to your own and the Archdiocese’s detriment.  There are only two real two choices: you can rail against it and lose -  or you can use it positively for the building up of the body of Christ.
Dear members of the Board of  Trustees: wake up!

The next time you meet, it would be better to admit that thousands of Antiochians contribute, discuss and read than try to ignore the obvious. This is important because while an external audit will not eliminate  - or even slow down - the internet from our daily lives, you have the opportunity to change its effect.   You can’t stop the news - but you can vote at your next meeting for an independent, external audit of the Antiochian Archdiocese and make the news positive once again.



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