Diocesan Assembly 2012: An Update For Parishioners And Friends Of The Parish

The Diocesan Assembly yesterday was good but made for a long day.  We were blessed to have the chancellor of the OCA, Fr. John Jillions, as well as Archbishop Nikon in attendance.  The first real issue of business to be discussed was the budget.  A motion was made to table the approval of the budget until after we discussed the “elephant” in the room–the situation with His Grace, Bishop Matthias.  This motion was approved and the remainder of the morning was dedicated specifically to this issue.  The majority of the people who spoke were concerned and even opposed to the idea of His Grace returning to serve our diocese.  The later portion of the morning discussion did see more people step forward to defend Bishop Matthias.

The assembly had a break for lunch and then reconvened.  Following lunch a few more, including myself, raised some points and the discussion was ended.

During none of the discussion was a motion from the floor allowed.  According to my understanding of what Archbishop Nikon said, any motion that could be conceived as some sort of position statement of the diocese would be ruled out of order.  The purpose of this portion of the meeting was for the synod (through Archbishop Nikon) and Fr. John Jillions to ascertain the concerns of the diocese.  What that left was  a series of points and counterpoints and perspectives.  Arguments ranged from the internet is “demonic” to Bishop Mathias should resign.  Some argued that we can’t know Bishop Matthias’ heart.  Others argued that forgiving him, regardless of his motives and intentions, do not equal placing him back into his position of oversight over this diocese., I believe the format was such that both Archbishop Nikon and Fr. John Jillions were able to ascertain real, serious feedback from many voices, lay and clergy (and clergy often referred to lay voices within their parishes as well).

After that, the budget was discussed.  The budget was passed but then amended.  The raise that Bishop Matthias had requested for himself was voted down, though it was not a unanimous decision.  Some believed he ought to have the requested raise (a raise requested prior to being found guilty of sexual misconduct by the synod).

A fund for seminarians in honor of Archbishop Job of blessed memory was established.  The monies for this came from a reimbursement from the national office.

There was an extended discussion concerning a motion asking that the diocese shift to a tithing approach of 12% rather than asking each parish to contribute a certain amount per member.  A motion was made to table that decision until next year.  That was defeated, but the tithing motion itself was also defeated after much discussion concerning concrete numbers.  Fearing that we really didn’t know what 12% tithes would produce for an operating budget, it was moved and approved that the diocesan council establish clearer guidelines and procedures for evaluating parish finances (in order to better assess what 12% of that would be).

Clergy and lay delegates were voted onto he metropolitan and diocesan councils.  I’m sure I’d get their names misspelled if I tried, so watch for the official minutes to be released.

Overall, while this was far from perfect, and although I’m still holding some concerns over various aspects of all of this, I do think this was a useful assembly and I do believe God was present within the discussions and interactions.  May the All American Council today likewise be a helpful step forward.

[Please note: because of the All American Council, to which I’m now going, I will not be in a position to approve and respond to comments until late tonight or tomorrow.]

10 Responses

  1. Marc

    It was my understanding that the Diocesan Council recommended that Bishop Matthias request the raise given how much less he was being paid than Archbishop Job had been. Was that not the case?

    1. I actually never heard that. All I know is that the request came from him. It did come before the sexual misconduct finding of the synod. That I know. I felt that point was important, lest people get the wrong impression that he requested it despite such a finding. It was overwhelmingly voted down, however.

  2. Athanasia

    For what it is worth, Fr. Herbel, the comment about the internet being ‘demonic’ is incorrect. What was said was that ‘certain blogs’ are demonic. I will not give their urls since I do not want them advertised, but I suspect you know which two I mean. Intending no disrespect to you, this is a classic example of misrepresenting what actually was said. Thank you for correcting the error.

    1. Anastasia, you could be right. I did not have a recorder. That said, I do know others heard it the same way and I know that no one stood up to clarify that point. So, you could be right. The comment might have been clarified as you suggest, but I don’t remember it that way, neither did others, and no one responded to those of us who took it that way. Regardless of whether it was clarified in the manner you suggest, I can think of one site that definitely is not healthy and I bet it is one of two you have in mind. The letter “M” comes to my mind.

      1. Athanasia

        Fr. Herbel, I proof read the document the priest used to make his comments. the session was recorded. Thus I can assure you what I wrote in the above comment is accurate. Thank you for permitting my comment to go through.

        Also, it has come to my attention via another Diocesan priest that Vladyka Matthias did not, in fact, request the raise which was voted down. It was requested by the Diocesan Council.

        1. Ah, glad to know it was recorded. I didn’t realize that. I know there was someone taking notes and we had him read back a statement or two. So, that was done. Thanks for the clarifications on both points. Interesting that the Diocesan Council requested because I remember the word “he” when mentioning the request. Regardless, I think the main points are that it was requested prior to the revelation of the text messages and it was overhwelmingly voted down. I suspect it’s an issue that can be revisited in the future, in a different context. No problem on approving your comment. There was no reason not to. Rational discussion of all of this is good and helpful for the church.

  3. Philippa

    Interesting to note…you & others didn’t ‘hear’ the comment as intended. A misunderstanding of what was said verbally and while present?

    If thatis the case at the Assembly how much more so for text messages? And those between friends?

    Just throwing that out there for your thoughtful and prayerful consideration Father.

    1. No problem, Philippa. I do appreciate your comment, and it is one I think is worth consideration. As I see it, the difference between the two is at least threefold:

      1) we can read the texts and the email; we can also re-read them; the comment was oral, in the midst of intense exchanges and whispers at tables and such
      2) the comment at the convention was a one time event; the texts and emails are over a period of time
      3) the comment did not cause widespread scandal or concern (at most, some of us have said, “no, the internet is not demonic,” and one priest said he was not a demon); the texts and email have caused scandal and distrust for many in the diocese

      I don’t think these differences are insignificant and I am sure the synod will carefully weigh all such considerations moving forward, just as I believe Fr. John Jillions and Archbishop Nikon carefully listened to everyone.

      1. Philippa

        Father, I hope you are right and the Synod carefully considers all of it moving forward.

        I understand your three considerations. Sorrowfully, the scandal that was caused was largely contributed to the material being made public when confidentiality was supposed to be kept. In that I feel a gross injustice was done not only to His Grace but also to the woman. I think she was used by her priest for a larger agenda, therefore abusing her. But that is only my opinion and worth about a ha’penny.

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