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.]