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01.16.06
Our First Week In Review

by Mark Stokoe

On Friday, January 6th, OCANews.org began operations with a courtesy email to 625 OCA clergy informing them of the public opening of the site the following day, lest they be caught unawares by parishioner’s questions. Hundreds of them logged on, and downloaded more than 11,000 pages of documents. On Saturday, January 7th, with the public announcement via the web and email, our traffic tripled.

In the course of the first seven days, more than 206,000 hits were registered, from 3,115 distinct computers, equivalent to visits from more than 15% of the contributing membership of the OCA. Readership is growing, on the average, by more than 400 distinct computers a day....

In short, the word is getting out. A significant second spike was seen on Monday, January 9 - which would indicate people shared concerns at church - and our address. Apparently in one Pennsylvania parish the subject came up at a Parish Council meeting, when one observing parishioner proceeded to bark out our address. She is reported to have
said: “What’s going on, Father? The OCA is in debt, money is missing, etc., with the poor priest lamenting that for the rest of the meeting he was forced to don his “damage control” hat ....

Not only the OCA is interested. Orthodox clergy and laity from other jurisdictions have contributed comments and questions to the site. This is no surprise, as OCANews.org is now linked or discussed, on every major Orthodox site in America and several abroad. Byzantine Catholics have found us, as well as the wider Christian community represented by such sites as Theology Web. A growing number of visitors, happily, are signing on from OCA.org itself. Syosset is watching.

Nor are people just visiting. They are reading. This is not casual, recreational browsing. People want to know, and are concerned, and if they do not have high-speed at home to download, they are accessing us at work. Visits remain constant throughout the day as we are almost dead even in the number of requests during work hours and after hours.
We know they are reading because the 77% of all visitors download more than a 1 MB of documentation.

What are they reading? The three most read documents to date lie at the heart of the Chronology of the Scandal, the most read section of the website. They are 1) John Kozey’s letter to Metropolitan Theodosius in September 1999 (#6) , 2) Rob Taylor’s warning to Archbishop Herman after Wheeler is dismissed (#7) and 3) the 2005 minutes of the Columbus Deanery containing the notes of Archbishop Job’s testimony to his priests (#40). More an more people are reading the Reflections as the week progresses, and more and more are reading “What You Can Do”. So what are our visitors’ reactions? The support is quite touching, and inspiring, as is the Soldier’s prayer of commentator # 10, or confirmation from such figures as Chris Banescu, webmaster of Orthodoxnet.com, from the OCA Diocese of the West: “Folks”, Chris wrote, “this is very, very, serious business. As an attorney and Orthodox Christian, descendant of four generations of Orthodox priests, it is my duty to also stand up and demand Full Disclosure and Full Accountability.” I add my name to the growing chorus of other Orthodox Christian laymen, priests, and hierarchs who are demanding a full,
independent, and open audit of what has happened with the millions of dollars in funds and expenditures during the years in question. Our faith demands it! Our Ethics require it!”

No less important are the questions being asked in our Q&A section. Fr. Kossey, a well-known priest in the New York area for his work through IOCC, asked about Paul Hunchak, and the others who left Syosset shortly after the scandal broke. Another asked what the Bishops knew, and when they knew it. I promised to contact all these people and ask, and I will. 

From all of us at OCANews.org, thank you for your interest, your support, your constructive criticisms, and your work in supporting accountability in the Orthodox Church in America.

 

 
 

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