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1.29.06 Breaking News

Bishop Tikhon: What OCA Collection?

In a shocking response to our story "The Continuing Mystery of the OCA 9/11 Funds" published last evening, OCA Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco, Los Angeles and the West wrote: "I'm having trouble remembering any OCA collection."

In fact, within days of 9/11, the OCA joined in the national outpouring of grief and support by establishing "The Orthodox Church in America's September 11th Emergency Relief Appeal". Parishes throughout the OCA - including Tikhon's own Diocese of the West - were asked to respond generously. OCA press releases from 2001 and 2002, still to be found in the archives at www. OCA.org, clearly describe the origin, nature, and outline the administration of the "Emergency Appeal", an appeal that roused the OCA to unprecedented generosity in response to this national tragedy.

Writing late Saturday night/early Sunday morning on his Yahoo group (normalorthodox) internet site, Tikhon continued: "If anyone had asked me I'd have said that parishes were advised to send directly either to IOCC or someone else, and that the resulting estimate of about $285,000 was an estimate reported from tht (sic) organization or another one. I hope someone kept a flyer or copy of an appeal letter, as well as the announcement from ? (sic) about that $285,000 figure."

The IOCC

As reported yesterday, the OCA has been silent for four years about where, when and how more than $250,000 of the 9/11 funds have been distributed - if at all. In our story, free-lance writer Margaret Pysarchyk of Cleveland relates how in her attempts to tell the OCA's 9/11 story, she was misdirected to the IOCC by the OCA Director of Special Appeals, David Lucs. OCA Chancellor Kondratick later confirmed to Pysarchyk that " ...the Orthodox Church in America did not present any of the 9/11 Special Appeal funds to IOCC." It would seem that Bishop Tikhon is now attempting the same misdirection, after that ruse has already failed once and been exposed.

The Amount Involved

Unlike the existence of the Appeal, or to whom the monies went, the Bishop's hesitation on the amounts involved is understandable. According to an OCA press release of November 30, 2001, available on the OCA website, the amount raised was "over $230,000."

However, David Lucs, OCA Director of Special Appeals, told Pysarchyk the amount raised was $285, 201. OCAnews.org has confirmed the accuracy of this higher figure by reference to the Office of Development Report presented to the 13th All American Council held July 21 - 26, 2002 in Orlando, Florida. This report, also prepared by David Lucs, clearly states on page 49 that $285,201 was collected for "World Trade Center Disaster Relief" thru Church-wide initiatives.

When It Went - If At All

To the openly conflicting amounts in Church reports about how much money was raised, must now be added openly conflicting statements about when the monies were disbursed. Yesterday we reported that there was no evidence that 9/11 Appeal Funds had been disbursed at all, with the sole exception of $25,000 given to Pentagon victims in Washington DC during Pascha 2002. A new review of 2002 financial documents presented by the OCA shows there is no line item for the 9/11 Appeal funds. This would indicate that all the 9/11 Appeal Funds had been disbursed by the end of 2001, fully two months before the Committee that was created to do so, agreed on who should recieve the money. Since this was clearly not the case, the lack of accuracy in OCA accounting, and their continuing silence becomes even more disturbing.

Questions Remain

Was misuse of 9/11 Funds part of the "errors, mistakes, lack of good judgement" and "sin" to which the Lesser Synod admitted last week? Only the Lesser Synod can say. However, it is now fully clear that a two year audit of the OCA books, a decision reconfirmed at the Lesser Synod, will do nothing to address the growing mystery of the OCA's 9/11 Fund.

-Mark Stokoe

 


 

 
 

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